About Steve Monahan

I’m a writer on the hopes and fears of being human; an inspirational speaker and coach; fearless death survivor, life long learner, passionate about life, creative, animal lover, driven, and contrarian thinker. 

Steve’s Speaking Topics:

1.    Steve Jobs was wrong – Don’t follow your passion!
2.   From Fear & Shame to Passion & Hope
3.    Are women superior leaders in business? 

Having been a corporate executive at three Fortune 500 Corporations, G.E, I T T Corp. and Deutsche Bank and then a self reliant entrepreneur a serendipitous happenstance occurred, that sent me off onto a totally unexpected journey to self-enlightenment.

My journey started when out of the blue I became critically ill. After two difficult years of fighting this deadly phantom the doctors told me my body was shutting down and I had but a few months to live. Fate it seems had a much experience for me however. Again out of the blue a cure was found and through a highly risky and long operation; part of my heart was removed and I was healed and survived.That encounter with death and rebirth altered my thinking and life path forever. Since then I have never experienced this amazing world in the same way.

If I have come to know anything, it’s that while much of life is a deep mystery, we can create a powerful life and career of meaning beyond the seemingly senseless and trivial pursuits most people follow. We can overcome our deep seeded fears and shames, find passion and hope and reach self-enlightenment in this world of confusion and false truths.

Subscribe to my free newsletter  and get regular updates, books and advice to help you master your career and life. 

Sorry But Steve Jobs Was Wrong – Don’t follow your dream  

Steve Jobs

 

Early in my career as an executive with ITT we financed Apple Computers dealers and distributors. I met the Apple executives in California, and Charlotte on a regular basis and have always admired Steve Jobs and all the Apple people. Steve was a brilliant man and a wise deep thinking person – but on one thing I think he got it only partially right. “Find and follow Your Love”

The title of Steve Jobs’ commencement address in 2005 at Stanford was “you’ve got to find and follow what you love’. He eloquently spoke about as you start out after college you’ve got to find a career that you love. His follow your love is enlightening and is appealing to young new graduates looking to do something ideal that will enrich themselves and hopefully the world as well. When we are at that age we are idealists and have courageous goals. Frankly we should be that at every age and stage in life as well. His word follows the other career guide phrases such as follow your passion, or as Joseph Campbell coined “follow your bliss”

I really admire Steve Jobs as a brilliant man and a wise person, but on one thing I think he got it only partially right. “Find and follow Your Love” The title of Steve Jobs’ commencement address in 2005 at Stanford was ‘you’ve got to find what you love’. He eloquently spoke about as you start out after college you’ve got to find a career that you will love. His follow your love is enlightening and is appealing to young new graduates looking to do something ideal that will enrich themselves and hopefully the world as well. When we are at that age we are idealists and have courageous goals. And that should be at every age and stage in life as well.  His word follows the other career guide phrases such as follow your passion, or as Joseph Campbell coined “follow your bliss”

As inspiring and as lofty those three phrases are they are not fully accurate and for someone starting out in life they are misleading at best, and very damaging at worst.

I believe we should say instead of follow your passion, or “follow your love” as Steve Jobs said; say instead “build a bridge to what you love”. Why? Because the truth is most of us starting out, going into school, or graduating from college have no real idea of what our love, or passion, or bliss is, much less where or how to find it! Why? Because we are not born with a destined love or passion somewhere waiting “out there” for us to mystically discover.

The life and career advice to follow your love, follow your passion, or follow your bliss, as different people call this “thing” out there, just patiently waiting ahead of you, has been the favorite and most quoted catch phrase and generic career advice, given by the all-knowing Gurus of life, to all the newbie’s starting out in life.

This cure-all advice, for the past 30 years is however actually pernicious and only partially correct. For in truth we start at the beginning of our life and career not knowing what will eventually mature – via dedication and diligent work on “building” something good and something valuable into our passion.

The reality is that we have to start working not knowing, totally unaware of what our final passion will be. We do not “find” our passion! Why? Because it is not lost! And it is not cleverly hidden in our DNA. And it is not “out there” hidden in the infinite vastness and energy of the Cosmos. Our passion for a particular job, industry or profession is not immediately found at the beginning of our path, but recognized somewhere in the middle of our path.

          I say “We must build a Bridge to it”

Steve’s Job’s passion turned out to be computers. But he did not have that passion when he started college. He did not go to college to be a computer geek. At the beginning Steve was on his way to being a metaphysical hippie of sorts. Then he took a turn and he decided to go to Reed College {Reed College is a private and independent liberal arts college located in Portland}. As Jobs said in his Stanford Commencement,

“Reed at that time offered perhaps the best calligraphy instruction in the country. Throughout the campus every poster, every label on every drawer, was beautifully hand calligraphed. Because I had dropped out and didn’t have to take the normal classes, I decided to take a calligraphy class to learn how to do this. I learned about serif and san serif typefaces, about varying the amount of space between different letter combinations, about what makes great typography great. It was beautiful, historical, artistically subtle in a way that science can’t capture, and I found it fascinating”.

 

Does that sound like a computer marketing wizard? Not to me. Now lets leave Steve Jobs advice and move onto Cal Newport, a Gen Y author, who believes as I do that “Follow Your Passion” is really not achievable advice. Cal wrote the new book – “So Good They Can’t Ignore You: Why Skills Trump Passion in the Quest for Work You Love” 

Cal states it as such -”Generation Y was raised during the period when “follow your passion” became pervasive career advice. The phrase begins its rise in the 1990s and sprockets in the 2000s: the period when Generation Y was in its formative schooling years.

Why is this a problem? Because this simple phrase, “follow your passion,” turns out to be surprisingly pernicious. It’s hard to argue, of course, against the general idea that you should aim for a fulfilling working life. But this phrase requires something more. The verb “follow” implies that you start by identifying a passion and then match this preexisting calling to a job. Because the passion precedes the job, it stands to reason that you should love your work from the very first day.

It’s this implication that causes damage. When I studied people who love what they do for a living, I found that in most cases their passion developed slowly, often over unexpected and complicated paths. It’s rare, for example, to find someone who loves their career before they’ve become very good at it — expertise generates many different engaging traits, such as respect, impact, autonomy — and the process of becoming good can be frustrating and take years.

The early stages of a fantastic career might not feel fantastic at all, a reality that clashes with the fantasy world implied by the advice to “follow your passion” — an alternate universe where there’s a perfect job waiting for you, one that you’ll love right away once you discover it. It shouldn’t be surprising that members of Generation Y demand a lot from their working life right away and are frequently disappointed about what they experience instead”

I had great passion for my work of 25 years at GE and ITT, then Deutsche Bank. But I, like 95% of the world fell, or stumbled into my career. I started at entry-level and built my skills and value. And then somewhere along the way I realized I was passionate about my work and career. But at first there was nothing remotely called passion associated to being an entry-level kid in a global corporation. It was not easy, or sexy. But it gave me options and avenues to try out and as I got good at it and stuck to it, I created value for myself and for others. When you do the research you will find that compelling careers most often have stumbling, twisting or turning origins that reject the simple idea that all you have to do is “follow your passion.”

I happen to believe that all work has value and can become your love or your passion eventually, if it at first observation it can satisfy these four minimums.

  1. Is this work of “interest to you?
  2. Does this work align with your “values and beliefs?
  3. Will this work give you options now and down the road in 5 years time?
  4. Will this work eventually lead to greater responsibility and autonomy for you as you grow intellectually?

Additionally, even though you do not feel love or passion for the opportunity at the get go – if they meet these four points then go for it. Now don’t take a job if it is a dead-end job. A job, that after 5 years you will still be earning the same low pay and doing the same low-level work. You will never build a bridge to passion if the job is a dead-end!

Now, how do you build this bridge to passion?

You start out choosing something that will provide the basis for these four points. Then you show up, give your best, enjoy as you learn and build your bridge each day. Build it by doing good things. Build it by doing valuable things. Build it by stretching and learning new things daily. Create things others need and value. Building your bridge leads to a sense of accomplishment. It leads to people recognizing the value you are creating. Soon people will say that you are really passionate about what you do. And then you will realize that you are passionate about what you do! Only you can build your passion. No one can do it for you. No one can wrap it in a box with a pretty bow and give it to you. You must work, build, persevere, grow, learn and build your own passion.

So while you must have your 4 point criteria met; what job you start at is less important than just starting – and sticking to it till your passion gets created. Studies show that the longer people are at their work, the more they say they are following their passion. In an age when everyone wants instant everything, passion, is one of those valuable truths of life that we cannot get instantly.

It is time to drop slogans and inject into our cultural conversation facts on just how to create satisfying work — a conversation that Gen X and Y need to hear. These generations are not lazy or spoiled as some pundits say. They are full of hope and have high ideals for a better world than this one. And they are ready to work hard. They just need our support, and be pointed in the right direction for investing their energy. “Follow your passion” “Follow Your Dreams’ and Follow Your Heart” are inspiring slogans, but their value today as the cornerstone of career advice for a new working world paradigm needs to end.

 

Steve logo Fear Shame Passion Hope

 

 

 

 

 

With three months to live – I turned to Faith

SteveMonahan Round

Although it has been ten years now I can still hear the Doctors words ringing in my ears every morning…”You have about three months to live. Every day when I awake…still here…I repeat his words. Why? – because every morning that I awake I feel blessed. And remembering his words daily; no matter what happens that day, I take it all with a grain of salt and never let anyone or anything upset me.  Life is a magical gift to be enjoyed and savored each day.

We humans are very complex. We have the capacity for great love but also the capacity for great hate. We have the capacity to do acts of valor and acts of horror as well. When I was a very young child my dad brought home a little black puppy he found abandoned while working his night shift. He gave it to me and I named it Lady.

It was a kind act on his part. As I said we humans can show great acts of kindness. My dad and I also had a very distant relationship. To this day I still hear his voice saying one night, “I wish you were never born”.

When I was about 8 years old I made a conscious decision to walk away from him. I put my heart in a box to protect it from further hurt and emotionally, not physically left him behind.

Fast forward 50 years and my story continues.  Out of the blue I became sick. And for two years I visited specialist after specialist. I had enough nuclear dye injected into me from special X ray tests to light up Atlanta for a month; yet specialist after specialist could not find out what was shutting my body down. My organs were dying. First my liver, then kidneys, then heart and so on. I had lost a third of my body weight. Family and friends put on a good face, but I could see the pain and fear in their eyes. Finally after two 2 years of lugging myself from one hospital and doctor to the next my primary care doctor said they could not uncover what was shutting my body down. We talked more and then I finally got up the nerve and asked him. Am I dying? The answer was blunt – yes – and unless something amazing occurs you have a few months to live.

I was to say it mildly, stunned. But being a life long optimist my mind screamed there must be another way! Another answer!  Despite what everyone told me I had faith that a healing would occur and that I would live. Faith gives us hope. And hope gives us life. The first thing that came to mind was alternative healing. I have been a practitioner of Zen philosophy and so I know the energy power available within and around us to heal our emotional feelings of dis-ease. But would faith and this unseen energy also heal physical disease as well.

Here are words on faith from one of the world’s most brilliant minds, Leo Tolstoy.

“I understood that faith is not merely “the evidence of things not seen. Faith is the strength of life. If a man lives he believes in something. If he did not believe that one must live for something, he would not live. Without faith man cannot live. For man to be able to live he must either not see the infinite, or have such an explanation of the meaning of life as will connect the finite with the infinite.”

So with 3 months left I turned to Faith, and a miracle…I had nothing else.
It was then that I remembered a woman I met at a cocktail party one year earlier who told me she was a healer, particularly a medical intuitive. I had her card and gave her a call.

This video is the story of the unseen power of Infinite Faith and what happened next: 

 

The Eagles Got it Right

Grand Design Poster

 

We have been given dominion over this earth.

We are the Stewards of Destiny.
We have Free Will to do as we “damn” well please.
Will we be praised or will we be “damed” by our actions over this planet
What are we doing with our responsibility?
Are we caring for this planet…or destroying it?

I believe the Eagles were trying 20 years ago to get us to wake up and think about this. Here are their words to us.

~~~~~~

“Who will provide the grand design?
What is yours and what is mine?
‘Cause there is no more new frontier
We have got to make it here

We satisfy our endless needs and
justify our bloody deeds,
in the name of destiny and in the name
of God”                      The Eagles – Last Resort

 

Why You Need Wealth More Than Money Today

 The traditional perspective is that money is your goal and a lot of money is wealth.

monopoly man

Before we start this discussion it will help to understand what money is. In the entire history of civilizations money is a comparatively recent invention. Wealth however has been around forever and is not the same thing as money. Money flows from wealth. We create wealth and spend money. Wealth is as old as human history. Wealth is the basic thing. Wealth is stuff we want or need: shelter, food, health, safety, clothes, cars, cell phones, travel to fun warm places, and so on. You can have wealth without having money. If you had a magic Jeanie that would on your wish make all the things you needed you wouldn’t need money.

Today I want you to look at money and wealth as two separate and very different things. And to view them as two very different goals as well. And instead of pursuing money, as is the inside the box thinking, lets start thinking about pursuing wealth instead.

Think of money as dollars in a bank account. Think of wealth as ideas first created in your head. Money is cash to buy things. Wealth is things to sell to get money, or tangible things to use to support yourself.

Still not sold, or a bit confused? Let me illustrate.

What would you prefer, $1 million in cash, or two chickens and a machete?

Before you answer that seemingly ridiculous question let me add something. You are not in downtown Atlanta, but you have just been in an airplane crash on a desolate island in the middle of the Indian Ocean. Only you and one other person have survived. The other person has $1 million in cash in his Gucci briefcase. You have 2 chickens and a machete in a paper bag. OK, a really large paper bag.

You may be rescued or you may be there forever, who knows. Who has the wealth? You with two chickens who will lay eggs to feed you daily. You with a machete to clear land, build a fire, build a hut, kill wild animals and cut down coconuts. Or, the other person, the rich guy with 1 million in cash in his fancy briefcase? Will he eat his 1 million dollars? Will he burn it to keep warm? Will he throw it at the coconut trees hoping coconuts will fall from above?

So, is it better to have money or wealth? You say that’s a rigged scenario. Well is it?

Wealth I say is the ability to feed yourself and survive and then thrive. I believe that wealth resides in your mind and money resides in a bank. I say your mind is your real wealth – and your mind, not your cash is better. The product or service you provide generates money. Your product or service, not your cash is your true wealth.

“Wealth is the Chicken – Money is the Egg”

Reality is not what it always appears to be. Cash, sitting inside a tangible solid bank seems real. Wealth generating Ideas on the other hand, which are in your intangible, seemingly ethereal mind seem unreal. What is more real or better however, the tangible paper sitting in the real bank, or the unseen money in the unseen mind?

Beliefs are hard to change so let’s look at this money vs. wealth idea in yet another way to further demonstrate the benefit of pursuing wealth over money. You get money by building something people want and selling it to them. Your ability to deliver a product or service people want is your real wealth. Your wealth is your gift from above and in turn your gift back to the world.

You earn money by providing products or service’s someone wants and pays you money for it. That ability to provide the service is your real wealth. Money is passive and dead. Wealth is active and alive.

“The Mind is the truest wealth creator”

Money was not always around. For most of Humankind’s history we used to be mostly self-sufficient. We grew our own food and made our own clothes. If you wanted a goat you gave the man a bushel of your tomatoes and a bushel of your potatoes and he gave you his goat.

Since the Industrial age however money, not goods or services is the tokens of trade. In a specialized society such as we now all live in, most of the things you need, you can’t make for yourself. If you want a potato or a goat or a place to live, you have to give money tokens to get it from someone else.

What you create and sell to people; the skill or knowledge you possess is still your real wealth, not the metal or paper tokens. Money is only the bi-product of your wealth. Your wealth – your service, product or skill is your real generator of money.

Additionally, we think that we need money to get wealth. I believe however that my true wealth is my mind and the ideas it generates to devise services and products is all I need to get money. Wealth and money comes from your mind. Steve Jobs wealth was his mind. He started with no money in a garage. The product he created came from his mind. And in selling his product he generated his money.

- HOW TO CREATE WEALTH

So, how do you create wealth? Zig Ziglar said “Give enough people what they want and you will eventually get everything you want” He knew the secret of wealth vs. money. I must say in coaching people who want to start a business, or grow their business they think just the opposite. They think first what they want. And they make it even worse and focus first on money; not first creating wealth. Wealth is the service or product and skill and knowledge you have that you can provide for others. Give people what they want and you’ll build the business you want. Build your business – your wealth – and the money will follow.

Since the 1970’s too many people have come to feel “entitled” to something for nothing. The real world does not work that way. Unless you are pleased living on the bottom rung of the ladder to success – and take what the government gives you for free then you better learn the difference between money and wealth.

The only way to get money without first delivering value is to rob a bank, steal it, print it, be a politician – just kidding - or go on welfare. If none of those appeal to you then stop thinking first about money and think first what can you provide that people want and need and will pay you for it.

“Remember this….money eventually runs out, while wealth is renewable and never runs out. Wealth generates more wealth and more money”

Too bad schools don’t teach us about money and wealth. For some it takes a lifetime to get it, and sadly some never do.I hope this advice this will reduce your learning curve. Follow this newsletter, buy our short book, join our Mastermind Group Coaching group, get our private coaching on wealth and business, or meet for coffee to learn more.

” Our pleasure and our passion is to help you become wealthy “

Take the time now to go inside yourself and ask these 5 questions. One will give you your answer as to what to create others need.

  1. Where is my wealth? – you may have hidden it.
  2. What knowledge, or skill, or training do I have that others want or need?
  3. What do I do well, love to do, that others want or need?
  4. What’s broken in our world that I can fix?
  5. What’s OK but I can make better?
  6. Whats needed that I see and others don’t yet see?

Now use your mind to create wealth – and the money will follow and continue to flow.

Steve Monahan
info@SteveMonahan.me
www.SteveMonahan.me

What Do I want?

man afloat

men afloat

It seems we want to know and control everything. But we cannot control anything but our reaction to that which occurs. Yes we can “intend” to make happen. But what I intend to make happen and what I “will” to make happen in my life, does not always happen. 

Seems we have to accept  the paradox of control and total un-control as part of living. 

We do not want to let go – but what are we holding onto when nothing is permanent and everything changes? 

I know from experience that at times I must allow life to happen and must leave the door open for the unknown to make its presence. I know that I must let go at times and allow the door into the dark to magically swing open. 

Why because that is where new life and where the most important things come from; where I came from; where you came from and probably where we will go back to from this moment we call “here”.   

 
When I know what I want my controlling mind thinks it’s in charge of my life. But, then when I do not know what I want it is because I have entered my heart, my spirit side that wants to be in it’s domain of freedom and searching.

Perhaps our knowing what we want one day – and the next not knowing is just part of the process of controlling and allowing life to manifest itself within and around us..

About Life – Jack Kerouac Philosopher Writer

shack picture

The world you see is just a movie in your mind.
Rocks dont see it.
Bless and sit down.
Forgive and forget.
Practice kindness all day to everybody
and you will realize you’re already
in heaven now.
That’s the story.
That’s the message.
Nobody understands it,
nobody listens, they’re
all running around like chickens with heads cut
off. I will try to teach it but it will
be in vain, s’why I’ll
end up in a shack
praying and being
cool and singing
by my woodstove
making pancakes.

Jack Kerouac writer-philosopher   1922-1969

Is life but a Dream?

 

mountainssite

” I have lots of things to teach you now, in case we ever meet, concerning the message that was transmitted to me under a pine tree in North Carolina on a cold winter moonlit night.

It said that Nothing Ever Happened, so don’t worry. It’s all like a dream. Everything is ecstasy, inside. We just don’t know it because of our thinking-minds.

But in our true blissful essence of mind is known that everything is alright forever and forever and forever.

Close your eyes, let your hands and nerve-ends drop, stop breathing for 3 seconds, listen to the silence inside the illusion of the world, and you will remember the lesson you forgot, which was taught in immense milky way soft cloud innumerable worlds long ago and not even at all. It is all one vast awakened thing.

I call it the golden eternity. It is perfect.” – 

                                                               Jack Kerouac – Writer Philosopher – 1922 / 1968

The Secret of Life and Death

mountainssite.jpg

” We were never really born, we will never really die. It has nothing to do with the imaginary idea of a personal self, other selves, many selves everywhere: Self is only an idea, a mortal idea. That which passes into everything is one thing. It’s a dream already ended. There’s nothing to be afraid of and nothing to be glad about. I know this from staring at mountains months on end. They never show any expression, they are like empty space. Do you think the emptiness of space will ever crumble away? Mountains will crumble, but the emptiness of space, which is the one universal essence of mind, the vast awakenerhood, empty and awake, will never crumble away because it was never born”

Jack Kerouac – Writer Philosopher – 1922 / 1969