Full transcript of serial entrepreneur Peter Sage’s TEDx Talk: Stop Waiting for Life to Happen at TEDxKlagenfurt Conference. This event occurred on September 12, 2015.
Listen to the MP3 Audio here: Stop Waiting for Life to Happen | Peter Sage | TEDxKlagenfurt
As a keen student of human behavior, I’ve been fascinated by watching people over the years. And one of the things that fascinates me the most about us as a species is we seem to be hardwired to disagree with each other. You know, whether it’s the social taboos of religion or politics, every one of us has an opinion that we seem to defend.
Yet, I think one of the things we can all agree on is that we’re living in a time in human history that is absolutely unprecedented, a time that not even our ancestors could have dreamed about in their wildest dreams. I mean, think about that. How many of our ancestors looked up at the cloud and wondered what it would be like to see life from the other side? What would the Pharaohs of Egypt give them 5000 years ago to be able to step onto a machine and meet the other side of the world in hours? Wow! Kingdoms.
Yet the reality is for many of our ancestors, they gave a precious gift. Childbirth was uncertain for many many years. In fact, my grandmother on my mother’s side actually died in childbirth, giving birth to my mother. It was very uncertain time and if you could just connect for a second to the fact that some of our ancestors gave their life in agony, so that we could be standing here today.
The question that, that poses my friends is this: what do we do with the gift that we got? Now some of us would say quite a lot, some of us would say we’re living in a time now where technology is so overwhelming, so incredible that even just 20-30 years ago we couldn’t have imagined the world that we live in today.
But that technology comes at a price. It generates its own level of paradox. One of the paradoxes — right now there’s so much information that’s out there that we are literally overwhelmed and the emotional route tends to be overwhelmed which leads to confusion, which leads to inaction. In other words, we learn so much we do nothing. For every one second that YouTube is up right now there’s between 5 and 10 hours of new content uploaded, unbelievable!
The other paradox that technology has brought is that in a world of 7 plus billion people, we’re all just a push notification away from each other. Interconnectivity is a time that we’ve never even had the foresight in history to ever even dream of.
Yet in a world that is so connected at every single level, why is it that so many of us feel so alone? Hmm, the evidence of this is everywhere. Labels of ADD, ADHD with information overload, or prescription drugs for depression at an all-time high. And one of the reasons for that is so many people I believe are drowning in technology but they’re starving for something more.
What are they starving for? Well, I believe that the ultimate app that you can download from the App Store these days is not Facebook, it’s not LinkedIn, it’s none of the myriad of millions of different apps with billions of downloads. The ultimate app comes down to love. Love, such an old-fashioned notion.
Why do so many people have such an aversion to understanding what unconditional love is? Well, I looked at that, and it really comes down to understanding what our first and earliest memory is. You know, if we go back nine months before we were born, a certain event happened which unleashed one of the biggest battles in human evolution, in human history: the battle to be here. 400 million to 1 and guess what you show up, in a battle that was in the dark and uphill.
Why did you want to be here so badly? Not only that but if you look under the microscope and see what actually goes on, it’s not just the first person that was there, is it, one of them is actually chosen. Yes, my friend, you were chosen to be here. But the challenge is once we’re born we’re born we can’t do anything wrong. Yeah, we throw up on mama two o’clock in the morning, it’s inconvenient but we still get love.
But something happens around about 18 months old where the parents suddenly realize there’s a communication issue. And now it’s going two ways. And at that moment a lot of the parents impose their model of the world on how to bring up a child because nobody wants to be a bad parent. But the challenge with that is this: that what we do is we then say if the child behaves in a certain way we reward that with positive reinforcement. And if they behave in a different way, the perception of the child regardless of the reality is that we then withdraw love. And that creates frustration.
It creates frustration but it also creates the perception that love needs to be earned. So by the time we get our earliest memory at about three, four, five, six years old we’ve already had almost a lifetime of learning that love is conditional: we have to earn it, we have to behave a certain way in order to be good enough, to be worthy of the one thing that we most want. Wow! We then live the rest of our life projecting that into our lives and our relationships and wonder why nobody can figure out how to download what I call the ultimate app of love.
And the challenge is it fosters the illusion of separateness. Why do I say the illusion of separateness? Because there isn’t a physicist on the planet right now that wouldn’t argue the fact that every single one of us is connected at a much deeper level than we ever give credit for. It’s just that we don’t have a reference for unconditional love based on the child.
I was having a conversation last night at dinner with Dr. Raj, beautiful soul, and these two people, they never met, they came together and we had a wonderful one-hour connection where what was touched was the stuff that we’re made of. Yeah, I saw a guy sharing stories and feeling something that you can’t feel when you’re left brain, technology drives us into our left brain. Why? Because it can be measured, that’s why we’re taught at school left brain principles. Because if I take a math test and I score 75% you can measure that.
How do you measure creativity? How do you measure how much you care about somebody? How do you measure love? And last night there was two people from different backgrounds, different colors, different beliefs, born at different times, both with different life paths on their own journey, probably die at a different time. The illusion of separateness, just as if I was to put my hand through a saucer of milk and you would see the tips of my fingers the illusion would be that we’re separate, whereas if you take the milk away we realize we’re all connected.
Allow me to give you another analogy. If we take the human body between 50 to 70 trillion cells, give or take, some of you more than others. If you go to the bloodstream and you take two blood cells: white blood cell, red blood cell, both different colors, both born at different times, both have different paths in life, different jobs to do. One delivers oxygen hemoglobin around the body, the other takes stuff out of the bloodstream and dumps it into the lymph. Both probably going to die at different times.
Now if these two blood cells were to meet each other in the bloodstream and have a conversation, and red blood cell goes, ‘Hi, white blood cell, how you doing?’ And the white blood cell turns around and says, ‘Oh my goodness, a talking blood cell’. But if they could communicate would they not have separate senses of identity? Absolutely.
Now the thing is we don’t throw a funeral every time we have a blood cell die. We have a different and a higher level of consciousness and understanding about where it fits into the scheme of things. What if just as a possibility, just as a question you and I started to realize that we’re just different types of blood cells in the universal body of consciousness, would that upset you if it was a possibility? The illusion of separateness.
And what keeps us from that illusion of separateness is usually we’re too focused on ourselves, too focused on trying to defend ourselves, to try and get the ultimate app which is love, which is what we really seek. But we can’t do it when we are engaging from a thinking center rather than our feeling center. Everything is connected.
Now how do you move forward in life to be able to live from that place rather than get swamped by the overwhelm? Well, sometimes it takes tragedy, sometimes it takes a significant emotional event.
September 11, 2001. My neighbors remember where we were on that day. Just notice your emotional connection to the date itself. I myself was in Hawaii at the time on a seminar with Tony Robbins, I was part of the leadership team. And you know, we were facilitating a nine-day event called Life Mastery. And what happened, happened at about two o’clock in the morning local time, so we woke up to that news. And we realized that we had 2000 people about to wake up to that news from 80 countries, including Palestine, Israel, Afghanistan, many from the US and over a hundred from New York.
Our job was to get the people into the room so that they can understand – try and make sense of what was going on and Tony would come out and hopefully reframe, and de-frame some level of meaning, so that we could have some level of certainty as to how things were going to continue or not. While Tony did an amazing job it was hearing some of the stories that came out of the room that day that was so impactful. One of them I remember clearly.
There was a woman who stood up and she turned around and says, ‘You know, now I know the reason why I’m here’. She said, ‘Two years ago, my fiancé was killed in a car crash. But the meaning that I chose to take out of that was that love isn’t for me, never get too close to people in case it’s taken away’. But six months later, 18 months before she met a guy and they started dating, but she kept her distance. And it got to a point where he wanted to take the relationship to the next level but she wasn’t comfortable. And she said, ‘You know, I know I want to go to the seminar in Hawaii’ and he wasn’t really that agreeing, and she says ‘I want to go anywhere, there’s a reason why I want to go’, and says ‘I now know the reason I came’. She said, ‘Last night I was listening to one of the speakers. One of the speakers was a woman called Kathy Buckley’, beautiful beautiful woman.
Now Kathy’s story is incredible, she has a great message. She was born 50 years ago hard of hearing but at the time it was misdiagnosed and it was misdiagnosed because in those days we just didn’t have the ability to look too far ahead like we do today, too stuck here, not enough here. And so she was put into a special care where she wasn’t really given the love that we so crave. As a result of that, she developed poorly, she was introverted and she couldn’t really communicate very well.
In her teenage years she was abused by members of her family. In her 20s she got cancer. She managed to get over that and then a little later in life she was lying on a beach and a lifeguard run over her face on a four by four. And we think we have problems. And Kathy stood up and says, ‘You know something, I can’t rely on life giving me what I think life should owe me because it doesn’t work that way. Life is a mirror, my friends. It will reflect back what you put into it. You get angry with the mirror, it has no choice but to get angry back. Why? Because outer world follows inner world, not the other way around’.
And when Kathy finally understood that she had been complaining at the mirror whole life wondering why she wasn’t getting what she wanted, she took a stand. She learned how to communicate, she found out she had a gift for making people laugh. She stood in for a friend at a comedy night at a local bar, she won the night, she went to the regional final, she won that. She went on to produce a book, she got her own show, she turned her life around and really became an example for so many people.
But her message was very powerful. Her message was this: that you cannot drive through life looking in the rearview mirror, you’re going to crash and miss the scenery. You cannot dance through life with a ball and chain of your past around your leg, it just doesn’t work.
And this lady in the morning of September got up and she says, ‘When I heard Kathy say that I knew what she meant. I found my breakthrough. I knew what I’ve been doing. I ran back to the room and I called my partner and I left a message on his voicemail and says, ‘Hey honey, I’m coming home after the seminar. I see what’s happening, let’s get married’.
And the next morning he called her and left a message on her voicemail, from the 104th floor of the World Trade Center, to say that the building had just been hit, was filling up with smoke. And he thought he was going to die. But he didn’t care if he was going to die because having listened to her message if that’s what it took to get to the place in his life where he could feel like that, he’d die a happy man.
‘Now I listen to that voicemail, I can hear the people screaming in the corridor, and then the line went dead. And he went down with the building’. And this woman stood up in front of 2,000 people with every right to turn around and say, ‘You know something, see, I told you so. Life’s doing it again. This just validates everything that I’ve just lived for the last two years, but she chose not to do that’. She says, ‘You know something, I’ve played that game. Yes it’s a tunnel with no cheese. Instead the meaning I choose to take out of this is that life is precious that I’m going to live every single day squeezing every single drop out of every moment that I can. Do you know why? Because if I had done that two years ago, I’d be married by now’.
And she inspired me and 2000 other people to step up and live from a place over the next nine days of that seminar with more passion, more commitment to playing full out, more commitment to serving and getting with each other than we could ever have done. And people say to me, you know where were you on 911, and I tell them the story. I also say that out of all of the growth that happened through that experience, out of all of the lessons that we took, all of the transformation that we saw to this day, 911 was probably one of the most incredible amazing and uplifting and inspiring days I’ve ever had the privilege of being able to live.
But the message was clear: it never matters what happens to you in life, my friends. That’s a story, that’s what keeps us here instead of here. The only thing that matters is what we do with the story, for some people divorce is traumatic, for others it’s freedom. It’s how you write the story. How do you hold the pen?
Now if we can come from that place, if we can start letting go of the chains of our excuses and playing small and embrace the potential that we have as people, life opens up, then we can start to use technology for what it was designed for, to further the human potential, to further the human spirit, not hide behind it. And from that place we can start moving forward. It doesn’t take a lot. Leaving your phone downstairs at night so that the first thing happens when you wake up is you get in touch with how grateful you ought to still be rather than check your email before your feet touch the floor, to be able to sit across from somebody you love, having a meal without checking your phone but being able to communicate while you feel your body about how grateful you ought to be in that moment that night, like I was with Dr. Raj, precious moment. Doesn’t take much to be willing to step forward and say you know something, here is who I am, vulnerability, authenticity I don’t care if I risk losing connection or not, I’m going to step up and be who I am and from that place you’ll find the paradox is that we get more connection because that’s really what people want, is it not?
You see from that place, my friends, from that place we can start the next journey of human transformation. We can soar to the daring heights of the next epoch of human development through heart, not just technology. And with that we can move forward unshackled from the stories of the past. With that we can leave a legacy that our ancestors can be proud of. And that, my friends, is an idea worth spreading.