The words “I am” are potent words; be careful what you hitch them to. The thing you’re claiming has a way of reaching back and claiming you.
~A.L. Kitselman, American author, early 20th Century
Some days back, on the seventieth Birthday of the iconic Mohammed Ali, I watched some of the old grainy footages of another time, another place. Of a newly crowned world heavyweight champion declaring, “I am the Greatest!” Did these words come from a space of vanity and arrogance? Of projecting a ‘bigger than life’ aura as a shield against racism and perceived injustice? Or was it simply to frighten and unnerve the opposition?
In my childhood, my parents and teachers told me, “Do not fall prey to self arrogance, be humble. Shun personal greed, be generous in giving, be of service.” And there were enough morals like ‘thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself’’ floating around to reinforce the belief in me that anything to do with ‘Me, mine, I am…etc” reeked of selfishness and a self serving attitude and thus needed to be hidden from view.
And as I have gone through life, I have had my share of successes. In areas of family, work, money. I have run these races and done better than many. And at times like these, as I have looked at the other faces, did I feel those twinges of guilt deep down? Was this the underlying belief rearing its head to derail me from further success?
It was only the other day that my moderator Leon led me to the TBOLITNFL website featuring “The Deuce Lutui Story”. This is a story of Coach Steve Hardison and his coaching relationship with footballer Deuce Lutui. TBOLITNFL means ‘The Best Offensive Linesman in the National Football League’ and this is what Deuce transforms into. Watching the site video is a moving experience and brings home the sheer power of ‘I AM….’
For Deuce Lutui ‘I AM….’ resonates with the infectious positivity of ‘Personal Internal Commitment.’ As Steve Hardison writes to Deuce in one of his E mails, “Your commitment is so profound and so deep and so powerful. I believe that if we took a blood sample right now and put your blood under a microscope and looked at the individual blood cells you would see letters floating in your blood cells. Do you know what letters you would see in the blood cells? These letters: TBOLITNFL :)”
‘I AM…’ is about ME. But does it only relate to my personal internal commitment? The ancient Vedas of India speak of Soham which means, “I AM…” Soham is a Universal mantra with its breath like vibrations creating a bridge between the individual’s senses, actions and his awareness. But at a more fundamental level, Soham also celebrates that deep underlying essence of Being. The Being that does not need to react, that just is and is part of the universal consciousness.
I see the connection.
“I AM…” is what I am committed to, what I am passionate about. It is about rewiring my long held beliefs, my internal sinews and muscles as I proclaim “I AM…” to the outside world. But my senses and actions come from the space of Being. “I AM…” therefore is neither my arrogance nor my selfishness. “I AM…” is no longer a zero sum game in which my wins are at the cost of someone else. I make the transformational leap allowing my personal commitments to be at peace with my values of humility, generosity and service to others. “I AM…” is my tryst with the universal consciousness.
I realise now that Mohammed Ali’s declaration so many decades back had more to do with his belief in himself and his personal internal commitment than the opposition or the outside world. AsLeonbeautifully sums it up, “Failure to commit to I AM… is high cost of low living”.
I am an inspirational leader of men.
I am a loving and positive minded husband and father.
I am the best CEO and Executive Coach for this age of discontinuity.
“When you truly want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.”
Paulo Coelho ‘The Alchemist’, 1993
In learning……. Shakti Ghosal