If you want to expand your outlook, cultivate resilience and position yourself for the future, you’ve got to listen to this episode. Martin Rutte is an international speaker, a management consultant and a wealth of wisdom. Martin has worked with such organizations as The World Bank, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Southern California Edison, Virgin Records, Esso Petroleum and London Life Insurance. He is also a co-author of the New York Times business bestseller, Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work, with over one million copies sold. This interview will teach you about cultivating resilience in this ever-disruptive world, discovering why you are here and how that discovery leads to renewed energy. Martin also discusses his latest book, Project Heaven on Earth: The 3 simple questions that will help you change the world … easily, in which he shares how you can have a taste of your own heaven on earth in the next 24 hours.
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Cultivating Resilience Amid Change with Martin Rutte
I’m thrilled about Friday. Part of that is from my childhood where my dad, who was a civil servant and worked for the city of New York. He was a parks director, a recreation director and a preschool teacher. He taught four-year-olds at a time when men certainly were not tapped to do that work. It was a very interesting thing that he was able to do that work and loved it for years. I think twenty years as a preschool teacher. My mom worked as well and they took Fridays off. Growing up, it was an interesting thing because my friends’ parents worked, everybody worked on a Friday. We went to school on Friday, but my parents, even though they didn’t earn hardly any money, we grew up in a tiny little apartment in Queens, New York.
Friday was a day that they would do things they wanted to do. That could mean going to the chiropractic or go to the health food store. There was such a thing as a health food store back then. Now it’s in every supermarket, there are health food items. They would go to the gym and they do what they wanted to do. That was their day and it was their freedom day. To this day, my brother and I both have made Fridays very much the same thing for us. Whether it was when I was a lawyer and I would work until about noon and then go play golf in the afternoon. Whatever it took, I just made some part of Friday a special day. Now whether I’m thinking about it or it’s unconscious, Friday has a special feel to it. I feel wonderful. The most important reason is that I get to spend this with somebody I absolutely freaking adore. I’m going to read a bit of his bio and then get well past the bio. I absolutely love this man inside out.
Other than my own father and my brother, because we grew up in a house with kissing. It’s weird to see men kiss. Although in Europe it’s totally acceptable, in the United States it’s got a weird feeling or whatever. Other than my brother and my father, this man I kissed on the lips. I kiss him every time I see him because we got some simpatico thing. Maybe it’s something from a past life or whatever, but he’s a good man with a good heart and I respect him more than I can say. I enjoy my time when I get to see him and spend time together. His name is Martin Rutte. I am so grateful and feel this depth of gratitude for this moment, for this breath and for the opportunity to spend some time in conversation with a dear friend. That is also something that will help others or at least if it doesn’t help other people, it’ll help you. Hopefully, it’d be entertaining for you at a minimum, but selfishly, this is just a time I’m going to enjoy.
Martin Rutte is an international speaker and management consultant. He’s the President of Livelihood, a management consulting firm in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He explores the deeper meaning of work and its contribution to society. The company’s areas of service include strategic vision, corporate spirit, performance management and creative leadership. Martin has worked with such organizations as the World Bank, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Southern California Edison, Virgin Records, Esso Petroleum and London Life Insurance, helping them expand their outlook and position themselves for the future. He was the first Canadian to address the Corporate Leadership and Ethics Forum of The Harvard Business School, returning for four consecutive years as a keynote speaker. Martin is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work with over a million copies sold.
His book is Project Heaven on Earth: The 3 Simple Questions that will Help You Change the World Easily. He helps people discover what Heaven on Earth is for them and what simple, easy and concrete action they can take in the next 24 hours to begin making that real. He has presented workshops and given talks on Heaven on Earth in the United States, Canada, England, Germany, Brazil, Mexico, Spain, Sweden and Costa Rica. You can find more about him at ProjectHeavenOnEarth.com. Martin, I’m so happy and jazzed to have you on the show.
Martin, tell everybody what’s not written in the introduction that you would love for people to know about you?
I have a great marriage of 46 years. I love doing printmaking, it’s a hobby. I love good food. I’m a big opera fan, both my wife and I. She was an opera singer at one time. I love comedy. I’ve been studying comedy lately and watching a lot of the old masters and watching the structure, how it builds and the language and the precision of the language. George Carlin, God rest his soul, he would do an HBO special every two years. It took him two years of doing that show over and over until it was so finely honed and then he would come to HBO and do the show. It looked effortless. What you didn’t realize is the amount of work that went into that.
George was a true professional. I think the first time I heard George Carlin, maybe it was a year or so before The Seven Words You Can Never say on TV. I remember I had the vinyl album of it. This friend of mine who I knew since grade school, his older brother had an 8-Track of George Carlin. People are going, “What is an 8-Track?” Some people are going, “I remember what an 8-Track is.”
My favorite joke of his was he’s in a supermarket, he gets his groceries and he goes to checkout and it’s all done and he pays and everything. The cashier says to him, “Have a nice day.” He says, “I’m sorry, I’ve got other plans.”
The Hippy Dippy Weatherman, “You have widely scattered daylight, followed by night.”
Didn’t he do the sports figures too absolutely talking about nothing? “We’ve got to get in there and we got the teamwork and then more effort.” Now people know who I am.
I met Martin years ago at a TLC event. Here’s this guy and he gets up on stage. I’m wondering, you look like you were stammering or something. It’s like you didn’t know what you were going to do or what you’re going to say and we hadn’t met yet. All of a sudden you open your mouth. I found myself needing ten minutes later to go to the bathroom because I’m sweating profusely and I need to go. I’ve been laughing so hard that it’s caused this reaction where I had to go to the john. I haven’t laughed this hard since I was sitting next to my parents in the Catskill Mountains where I’m eight years old and Buddy Hackett was performing. If you ever talk about George Carlin, this is a sloppier version and more vulgar. You can imagine, George was pretty vulgar. I don’t even like the word vulgar. He would curse a lot. George would curse a lot, but Buddy Hackett was dirty.
I didn’t know that. I saw a show he did in Vegas and his timing is just brilliant.Improvisation is a form of innovation. Click To Tweet
Do you remember he went to this thing with the Filipino? He replaced all the P’s with F’s and the F’s with P’s. You could do this in ten minutes. He said it wasn’t a Filipino, it was a Pilifino. Everything was a P was an F and an F was a P. Anybody that’s ever been in show business or the performing arts or as a speaker, any of these kinds of things, it’s so practiced. Everything is so much more practiced. You tell me because you’re a consummate performer. The best of all is when it’s so practiced that it looks as though you’re doing it for the first time in the moment like impromptu.
The two guys I love are Martin Short, he’s totally making it up in the moment, and Robin Williams. They totally made up in the moment. They both were not made up in the moment. They may make some stuff at the moment.
That’s improv. It’s interesting because we’ll find our way into some of the topics that our community is used to from this show, which is pivoting and the change, the art and science of change, of managing and utilizing change. One of the aspects of that that we honed in on has been this concept of resilience. I definitely want to talk to you about resilience both from a leadership standpoint and what it means for companies to be resilient. For people to model resilience in the company so that the culture, at least this is our theory, is that in the disruptive environment we’re in, which is not going to get any less disruptive in my humble opinion, that we’ve got to be more resilient. On a cultural level, it’s important that we are cultivating resilience. An aspect of that is this idea of being able to utilize and improvise because that’s a form of innovation when we can improvise in situations that otherwise could take us out or take us into a fear place or what have you. You yourself are an incredibly funny guy. Is it always planned? How much improvisation is it for you?
When I do this stuff at TLC on the stage, that’s all practiced and it’s a lot of work for me to do that. When I’m fooling around with you and the people at TLC, that’s just spur of the moment and it comes as an interesting background. When I grew up, Yiddish is my native language and I learned English on the streets from Canada. I went to Hebrew school, I had French in school, Latin. I hear sound differently than most normal people. I could hear the discrepancy or the unresonance in sounds. That’s where a lot of my comedy comes from.
That’s because you’re deaf.
Beethoven and I both. Your resilience thing I think is very important. We were in Britain and Brexit, you can’t believe what it’s doing to people.
What a crap show. I always thought the British were smart. I went to school there for a while. I thought they have it on us. They’ve always had it on us. They’re a little bit more refined, a little more clear thinking. What have they been thinking for the last few years? A lot of people are asleep at the wheel in Great Britain. I’m sorry to say, but it feels true.
David Cameron thought he would just have this little referendum and it would put the issue of Brexit to sleep and it didn’t. The point I wanted to make about resilience there is as I asked people over there, “What do you think about Brexit? What about Brexit?” Consistently the language was, “I don’t know.” I was reading The Guardian from London online and the amount of people going to therapy has skyrocketed. They were talking about one of the benefits of Brexit is that industry has skyrocketed. It’s tough do that resilience in an unstable culture, whether it’s in Britain now or Macron’s France or the US for me now. What causes us to have that resilience? One thing for me and I’ve been doing this for a while, is I take a Sabbath off. Sometimes I go to synagogue, sometimes I don’t, but generally no computer, no phone. I just stop and it’s very powerful. I also go on vacation a lot. I love the resilience that comes from being quiet, meditating. I love the resilience that comes from the printmaking. I do a form of printmaking called monotype. You only have one print and you don’t know what’s going to happen, what it will look like until it comes out of the press.
That explosion in creativity in another domain, not management consulting or the regular work that I do, that’s another form of resilience for me. I feel when I go into that room, I can explode. I’m so excited about being there. To not be overwhelmed by the current condition for me is what the essence of resilience is. The two ways for me is to break, to take a day off religiously, pun intended and to engage in other forms of creativity that allow this spirit of mine, this soul of mine to explode out. I tell my wife that when I go into the print shop, I literally feel like I’m going to explode. I’m so excited to be there.
Thank you for clearing something up too, Martin, which is that when you’ve talked about monotype before, I always thought it meant you were typing the same letter over and over again. The resilience day, that just got it clear in my own head. That’s what my parents were doing on those Fridays. That was their resilience day. It was their day to catch their breath. They had it easier back then. Some things were more difficult before the advance of our communications technology and some things we’re so much easier to not be reachable. Some of us remember this. When you leave the house, that was it. The tether was cut, the umbilical cord to the phone and that form of communication. How are you going to reach somebody? There’s no cellphone back then. There’s no beeper. You’re out of the house. Smoke signals? I don’t know. The way my mom would get to us when we’re out of the house growing up in New York was she opened up the window of the apartment building and called out. That’s how kids got called back to the nest.
Me too, it’s the same thing. No matter where you were, you will hear that voice, didn’t you?
Martin, give us the recipe for resilience for you if you can put it into a couple of steps.
Stop what I call the addiction to the phone, the computer, all that and to engage in a creative pursuit that allows your soul to come out in a way that you don’t normally do through work. Resilience also comes to the force stronger when you’ve discovered your purpose in life. There’s a phrase about my work, “Why were you born?” which I loved. The discovery of why you’re here and the doing of that gives you that energy. People say to me, “Are you retired now?” I say, “What would I do if I retire? I would just do what I’m doing now.” It’s because I get energy from it. Good friends, good community, those are the aspects of the recipe for me.
Let’s talk about your work in the world because this to me is where our lives have intersected where it’s purposeful or at least something that’s divinely guided. The truth is it’s guided for us. I think you feel the same way. Share about the work that you’re doing in the world.
I’ll give you the three major stages of my life. The first major piece that I did was about vision. I was interested in vision. What is your vision? Why aren’t you doing your vision? What’s the stuff in the way and what would it take for you to engage in your vision? The same applies to your purpose. Purpose comes first. Purpose answers the question why, the vision answers the question what? Why is always the primary question and then vision. That went on for years and years. I spoke at Harvard. I had major corporate clients in the US and Canada, Southern California Edison, Virgin Records, Sony Pictures. I went into a funk and I didn’t know why. I’ve come back from speaking in Hong Kong on vision.
Long story short, I discovered that what was missing in my life was the spiritual aspect. I wanted to have my work be about that. Everybody said, “No, you can’t do that. You’re going to lose your credibility. People think you’re proselytizing.” None of that was true for me. I wanted to discover how do you bring your spirit, your soul into your work? I spent a good twenty to 25 years opening that conversation. As far as I know, I was the first person to use the phrase spirituality in the workplace. No one was using that. There was one woman who’s saying spirit in the workplace. I helped begin a center for spirituality in the workplace at the Sobey Business School at St Mary’s University in Halifax, Canada.
I helped catalyze conferences all over the world. I got that conversation going along with other people as well, thinking about my life now. Many years ago, I was going to do a speech on spirituality and work. I said, “If every business in the world is spiritual, is that what you want?” I said, “No.” Because business is the temporal power in the world now, if we can transform business, we can transform the world. This thought popped into my mind, “You mean heaven on earth?” I said, “You can’t say heaven on earth.” I thought, “Why not? I can talk to you about the hells on earth. We began in this conversation talking about them. Why can’t we talk about heaven on earth?”
Not in a way that I’m going to lay it on you or proselytize it, but rather in a way that evokes it from you. This is my newest book. Project Heaven on Earth: The 3 Simple Questions that will Help You Change the World Easily. How I discovered those questions is by going around to people and asking, “What’s heaven on earth for you?” Because I didn’t have an answer. I wanted to learn. I distilled what I’d learned down into three questions. I think I asked you this, you, your wife and daughter, but it bears repeating here. Can I ask you the three questions? Recall a time when you experienced heaven on earth? What was going on?
The first thing that came to mind was when the kids were born. Each time the baby was born, it was heaven on earth for me.
The second question, imagine you have a magic wand and with this magic wand you can have heaven on earth. What’s heaven on earth for you?
This moment. I’m in peace in my body, my mind, my heart and my soul. I’m enjoying exactly what I’m doing. I know I’m doing what I’m meant to be doing and I’m sharing what I’m doing with somebody right this moment. Not just you, Martin, but the people who are presently reading this, which is in the future. This is like a back to the future moment because 50 years have gone by and people are reading this right now or it’s five months later. Either way it’s the same thing as though it’s happening at this moment. They’re reading this as though it’s happening in this moment. That means I’m in a relationship, you’re in a relationship with those people we may never ever meet. That to me is heaven on earth because what else are we here to do but share some piece of what it is that we’ve learned in our life experience that might assist other people in their life experience.
The third question is what simple, easy and concrete step will you take in the next 24 hours to have more of that?
It comes back to gratitude because the gratitude for that moment could pretty much make a good case. I was a lawyer for eighteen years. I can make a good case out of a bad case. That’s my dirty little secret. The truth is if you can make a good case for loving your life in this moment, your life is going to love you back in a big way. Make a good case for it. You can make a crappy case for it very easily. I can make a crappy case where it’s looks like it’s cloudy out and foggy. There are a zillion things that come to mind if I want to make that case. That’s not the case I want to make.
Let’s go through those three questions because I want you and your readers to understand the structure. These questions are on ProjectHeavenOnEarth.com. Recall a time when you experienced heaven on earth. I want to talk about what you did. You answered the question with when your children were born. What you did not do and what no one does is ask, “What do you mean by heaven on earth?” Nobody says that. Why? My assertion is that there’s a place in you that already knows what heaven on earth is and when the question is asked, you go there and you go, “The time I experienced heaven on earth was when my children were born.” People do that and they go right to it. It’s astounding to me how they know.
The second question, here’s a magic wand and with it you can have heaven on earth. The purpose of the magic wand is to remove the necessity of how you’re going to do it. If you don’t have to know how, you can go deeper into the what, which you did, “This is heaven on earth.” Other people have said, “No more hunger, no more war, making a relationship with my wife or husband or children that I hadn’t been working. That’s heaven on earth. It’s having that relationship work, my country working, leaving a value in the world.” I’ll get to that in a second in terms of how I want to tie the book back to this.
The third question, what simple, easy, concrete steps will you take in the next 24 hours? What you said is to be grateful. It’s interesting the answers that people come up with. They know what it will take to create heaven on earth. By you being grateful, and in your case saying, “That is my contribution to heaven on earth,” you are helping co-create heaven on earth. Those are the three questions that have been distilled out of speaking to thousands of people and asking what’s happening on earth for you.Your purpose answers the question 'why,' and your vision answers the question 'what.' Click To Tweet
The book Project Heaven on Earth, then goes into asking the three questions and then the fourteen gateways that I’ve discovered. There are patterns of answers when you keep asking this question over and over again. Whether heaven on earth is within you and having more of that out in the world, ending suffering, making my country heaven on earth, our nation, relationships being heaven on earth. One of the other ones, that gateway, is this here now, which is where you went to. This here now is heaven on earth. Our belief that it’s not makes it not. How can we create heaven on earth in this particular moment right now? It’s easy. We’re going to just stop. We’re going to experience heaven on earth, just like that. That’s how present it is and available always. The book is about doing that. I want to do something with you. Tell me the name of the book. I don’t want you to read the tagline, just the beginning.
It says Project Heaven on Earth.
There’s another title, Project Heaven on Earth. It’s the noun which you said and also the verb.
Was that by design or did you just notice that afterward?
It was by design but not my idea. A friend of mine, Richard Porter, I was going to call it The Heaven on Earth Project and he said, “No, Project Heaven on Earth.” I was like, “Richard, that’s brilliant.”
We are these projectors. Everything we’re doing is a projection and it’s projecting into the space for other people to see. We’re constantly modeling things in the world for our kids, for our friends, colleagues, for ourselves and for everybody,.
The verb project is a state of being. We’re projecting heaven on earth. The noun project, Project Heaven on Earth is about doing. We’re being and doing so that we can have more heaven on earth.
Is it a Canadian thing? Would it still be “project” or would it be “project?” I know we have this whole thing with I can tell a Canadian fast. It’s like when they say “process,” I know whether they’re American or Canadian.
I go back and forth between the two countries so often I have no idea.
There are just days we’re confused. That is how it is for you.
The days of our lives we would call it.
Martin, take us back to maybe a time in your life where you experienced the challenge, the proverbial pivot as it’s been that is most closely associated with times disruption. In a business context, a pivot is usually a business model or a thing that didn’t work and then people make a change. They do a quick right turn or a quick left turn, whatever it is, they changed something. People don’t dig change. In our research on that in the same way that you’ve done with a lot of conversations, people resist it, they defend against it, they hide from it. Change is scary. Tell us maybe about a time when either the change was the result of your own making or you design the change because you realize some things weren’t working or the change was sudden and came upon you. Maybe there have been signs of it and you ignore those signs or what have you, but the universe said, “Time for change,” and now you have to deal with it all.
There are two major ones that come to mind when you asked the question. One was early in my management consulting and speaking career, I heard about this word, vision. Now this is Canada in the early ‘80s. I’d come back from California and I spoke to some colleagues. I want to do some work on vision. They’re like, “Vision? Are you nuts? That’s California talk. You must be smoking dope to talk about vision.” Now you’re talking about vision and nothing. I said, “I want to do this work on vision.” All of them said, “You can’t do it.” I’d also spoken at that time to the major developer in Toronto. He has shopping centers, condos and apartment buildings. He also said vision is crazy, it won’t work. In both cases, their, “No, you can’t do it,” was what I used as fuel to go forward. The pivot point for me was the strong negation of what I wanted to do had me go deep inside, look at it and go, “No, that’s not my truth.” It had me discover more of my truth and that was a pivot point.
Meaning somebody’s telling you no. Somebody said you can’t do this or it wouldn’t be smart, it’s a bad idea.
Exactly. In those points in your life, I’m speaking to the reader now, you’ve got to look inside and say, “Strong no in the world or even a weak no, there’s non-agreement. What’s your truth?” Operate from that truth. That’s the test, I think. That’s the pivot point, to use your language. That’s a great way to say it. The other one was when I started doing work on spirituality in work. I had this profound epiphany experience at a retreat center. I came back and I said, “I wanted to talk about spirituality in work.” Again, everybody said, “No, you can’t do that. You’re going to lose your reputation. People will think you’re proselytizing a religious point of view,” which wasn’t true for me. I wanted to explore the notion of spirituality. At that time I did shut down because it was so strong externally. I went to California and I spoke with Jack Canfield, amongst some other friends down there, all of them said, “Go for it.” That was a turning point as well because I realized that my issue was I was afraid of what you were going to think, where I had to bring up this new topic of spirituality in work. Once I saw that, it was game over. I was off.
Let’s say disruption happens. We’re calling it disruption. It’s a word for these days, but the truth is we’re just talking about good old fashioned change. It’s the way seasons change, everything changes. It’s the law of manifestation in the universe. We don’t see new things happen unless something changes. Things are born and they die. That’s the evolutionary process. Are you waiting for change? To me this is a question that I ask myself and I ask business leaders all the time. Are you waiting for change or are you creating change as in is it waiting for disruption to occur or is it self-disruption? It sounds to me like in the situation you’re describing that you are about creating a disruption by design, that you are going to do something different. When you went to the market to ask their opinion, the market said, “No, it’s not a good idea.” This is where for a lot of people reading this now, this is an area of growth.
If you want to do something where you have an idea, there’s a brainchild that’s happened and you asked some people, a lot of people will tell you not to do it in the conventional wisdom. “It’s not a good idea, it’s not good timing.” I don’t think you’re saying to ignore feedback from wise people about whether it’s a good idea or a bad idea. Ultimately, and this is the question I have for you, is you had to go somewhere else to be able to get a clear yes to go forward with that. I want to understand a little bit better because you spoke to some people, they said no. You speak to the people like Jack and others who are a little more open-minded and they go, “You should go for it,” especially if you’re getting a strong internal yes. What was it that helped you to start to speak about spirituality in the workplace when the conventional wisdom was to say no to that?
I knew it was right for me and I knew it was right for the world, not in an impositional way, but I wanted to bring the possibility of that conversation up for people because I saw how shut down the spirit and the soul had become. You can’t talk about those issues in the workplace. If we go back 20 to 30 years, you couldn’t talk about, “I’m gay, I’m black, I’m a woman, I’m an alcoholic, I’m a drug abuser.” You can’t talk about that. We found ways to talk about those issues that were beneficial to me, the individual, and to us, the enterprise. This was the same thing. You can’t talk about spirituality, but when I came in and began speaking about it in a way that was not impositional, it was just like, “I’d like to talk about this. If you don’t want to, I’m fine.”
People saw that I meant that. It was like the dam burst open. “Do you mean we could talk about spirituality in work in a way that would be nourishing to my soul?” Why can we only talk about spirituality around the dinner table or at places of worship, but not at work? Are we not spiritual beings? We are, but in a way that would benefit us and the enterprise.” That’s what was new. Once I saw that deeper truth, I was off in the sense that I listened to their counsel, as you said. I listened very deeply to their counsel. I listened to my wife’s counsel. Sometimes she is very right and I’m very wrong and I give up. Sometimes I listen, “No, that’s not accurate for me,” and then I go and do it.
I will listen because I don’t pretend to know it all and there are people who are wiser in many cases. It was the same with heaven on earth. You can’t talk about heaven on earth. Why? Because it’s religious. You’re going to impose some Christian or some other religious dogma. That’s coming from heaven on earth as proselytizing, as I have the answer to what happened on earth is and you don’t. No, what this book does is evoke what’s already in you. Even if I never see you again, we’ve evoked the heaven on earth that’s in you so that you could be simply, easily and concretely within the next 24 hours now begin the process of moving that forward.
I should give you some examples of what I’ve seen in terms of what people have done. Metaphorically, Project Heaven on Earth is like a piece of software. Whenever you boot up a piece of software, all these new possibilities and opportunities open up that you had never realized before. The program stops and it says that it can’t continue without your content. Project Heaven on Earth is like that. It opens up this possibility that you can experience and help co-create heaven on earth. What have people done? Some examples. A woman in Hawaii grew little green micronutrient plants. What can I do? I can’t do anything but heaven on earth. We helped her discover what heaven on earth is for her. She now embeds that at the bottom of every email message that she sends out. “Heaven on earth for me is…” She says, “What’s heaven on earth for you?” It’s simple.
For a police officer has written a 28-page manual, Heaven On Earth For Law Enforcement. A real estate woman in Canada who when I talked to her about sufferings in the world, “I’ll tell you what the suffering is. It’s homelessness,” and she was mad. “What can we do about that?” “Homelessness is impossible.” “Fine. What’s heaven on earth for homelessness?” “A home for everyone.” “Good. What are you going to do about it?” She goes back to her agency, sits down the small agency of ten agents and says, “We are going to create a home for everyone.” How? “Simply, I’m asking you that when you sell a home or a commercial office, you commit to having $100 taken off your commission and we’ll stick it into a pot.” In five, six years, they’ve raised something like $250,000. They have a program called A Home for Everyone, in which they ask every year, people in the community, individuals and associations to submit proposals for what they would do with X amount of money and then they fund that. It’s so elegantly simple.
There’s the one I just adore. There’s a woman I was on a webinar about heaven on earth and we’re talking about the sufferings in the world. “Is there a suffering that’s bothering you?” “Yes, violence against women. I’ve been to the police, I’ve been to the government, there’s nothing. What would you do?” I said, “I don’t know your financial position. You could donate $5,000. You can donate a penny.” “What difference would a penny make?” One of the other women on the call said, “What if everybody in your community donated a penny a day to help in violence against women?” She and a group of women put together a program called Making Change in which they handed out little mason jars with a picture of a woman, half her face beaten up, bruised, half her face, bright alive with the light coming out. They asked people to commit to a penny a day or more for an entire year. They raised $2,500 and they took that to the government of Canada who gave them $100,000 for each of the subsequent three years, all based on a penny a day. What difference does that make? You have no idea what difference your contribution can make.
All the way up to a woman in Austria, Elizabeth. I said, “Do you have a project?” “Yes.” “What?” “Austria is a heaven on earth nation.” “What? Why do you say that?” “Because it’s simple and she taught me that I don’t know what simple is for you. You have to discover what’s simple is for you. When you discover what the simple act that you can do to contribute to heaven on earth is for you and begin doing that, this is the larger thing now. You’re creating the new story of what it means to be a human and what humanity means. You’re contributing to co-creating heaven on earth. That’s the game that we’re up to now. What other game would there be?
I can’t think of a better game. I was listening to you and earlier you said you are listening to your wife’s counsel. I thought to myself how interesting because it sounded like cancel. I know you were saying counsel, but that’s brilliant. I was listening to my wife’s cancel. Oftentimes, we will listen to other people’s cancel and their counsel for sure.
We got two in this, divinely guided and my wife’s counsel.Change is the law of manifestation in the universe. Click To Tweet
Listen to their counsel and their cancel for sure. The paradigm is what I’m focusing on because I think where we look at the status quo, where we look at things that are going on, we have the inclination to complain about or the places where we feel like we’re powerless in life situations. I hate the expression, “It is what it is.” If I hear one more, I could drop an F-bomb now and I just won’t. If a person says, “It is what it is,” it drives me nuts because it is such a resignation statement. It’s not it is what it is. It’s it is what we say it is. It is what we accept it is.
To me that self-disruption of the status quo is part of what we’re talking about here because it’s embedded in every one of those heaven on earth accounts, which are so beautiful. The work you’re doing and the ripple effect of it is profound. They are people that are either of their own accord are not willing to accept the status quo, that it’s hell on earth? Instead, they create heaven on earth in a moment through a shift that you facilitate or that the book and the work facilitates.
They’re also disrupting through guidance, through other people helping them to disrupt that status quo. Sometimes we’re just the ones in our own way. That’s the truth. Anybody reading this, we’re always the one in our way. In a moment where we don’t experience or feel heaven on earth in the language where we dovetail with you, where we don’t love our lives in that moment, which if you said to me, what is heaven on earth? Heaven on earth is I love my life no matter what in this moment. That’s it. In a moment when I don’t love my life no matter what, in a moment where I don’t experience heaven on earth, it’s of my own making.
We could end the interview here, Adam. That’s for me is so profound. The fundamental misbelief about heaven on earth is it is not heaven on earth. It has never been heaven on earth and it can never be. We were expelled from the Garden of Eden and that’s it. It’s over. We can’t go back in. There’s a whole section in my book about that. That’s not accurate. Would God want us to live in hells on earth? We’ve made this. We’ve viewed it as hell on earth. You can shift it, we can shift it and we are shifting it.
Martin, give us the three questions for our audience again.
Recall a time when you experienced heaven on earth. What was going on? Imagine you have a magic wand and with it you can have heaven on earth. What is heaven on earth for you? The third, what simple, easy, concrete step or steps will you take in the next 24 hours to move that forward to make that real? By answering those three questions, you’re in. What I would suggest is ask those around you the three questions as well. It’s a lovely thing to do. Our friend Ray Blanchard from TLC asked his board those questions. He said they were bawling their eyes out. It was so moving. Don’t impose your answers.
I remember I did a workshop once and a woman stood up and said, “Heaven on earth is the end of hunger. No hunger, heaven on earth.” The next guy stands up and says, “It’s about love. You have love in the world, you have heaven on earth.” They start getting into it, “No. It’s about ending hunger.” I went, “Stop. We’ve got to make her right. Empower her for the end of hunger. We’ve got to make him right. Empower him for it’s about love.” Listen deeply for what their answers are and see if you can in any way support them to begin making that real in the world.
Literally, the end of days for us is when we take our last breath on earth because I don’t believe in the end of anything. I think it’s an eternal cycle for what it’s worth, for me anyway. At the end of days, we won’t be thinking about anything other than whether we experience heaven on earth or not. That will be the resonance of our life. It’ll be a blink. They look back on it. I say that because while I’ve not had the “near-death experience,” I’ve seen how ten, twenty, 30, 54 years go by in a blink. It’s an instant; time and space just collapsed. We’ll get to the end of our days at some point and we’ll have that blink moment where we go, “It was that fast.” The belief I have is that we’ll lie there, sit there, I’ll be surfing on my board in a great wave and in that moment it’ll either be that I did experience heaven on earth. That was part of what I feel in the moment as I had more heaven on earth moments than hell on earth moments. Our only goal is to create a life that has more heaven on earth moments than hell on earth moments. We’ve done a good job with this particular life, I think.
A couple of years ago, I had this exercise that I did for a year every day in which I said, “I have to discover and experience at least a minimum of three heaven on earth experiences every day.” It forces you to look for them. It’s an amazing exercise. As you said, we can look for the hells on earth. I had a fight with someone, I went into the gas station and they didn’t work.” I can tell you the hells on earth. What about the heaven on earth moments? That is so special. I spoke to a friend here who is a Lutheran Pastor and he works with dying patients. It’s profound what’s important for them. The things that they regret, “I didn’t complete with this person. I didn’t believe that person.” To be with him is such a privilege because you hear what’s really important to people on their deathbeds and/or those people who’ve had near-death experiences and come back. Dr. Eben Alexander wrote the book Proof of Heaven. He didn’t believe in that, but he does now. The near-death experience people get it about heaven on earth. They deeply get it.
Winding this show down in this way, it just feels perfect if not more perfect than any other transition for me speaking about transition, that is to ask you a question I ask all of our guests. Did you wake up today, Martin?
It’s funny because you’ve got to think about it for a second.
A lovely enlightenment experience when I woke up. It was great.
Are you awake?
When you went to sleep last night, was it guaranteed that you would wake up in the morning?
It wasn’t for me either and I haven’t met anybody yet who could prove to me that it was guaranteed they’d wake up in the morning. It’s a lot of things. You could make a lot of conclusions from that. The conclusion I draw is that our waking is a blessing because it wasn’t a guarantee. If you questioned that at all, you could think of a truth or a reality, which is that as you were waking and taking your first waking breath, there were people taking their last breath. Even in this moment as we’re breathing and taking our breath, there are people receiving their last breath in this moment. To me, it makes the moment holy, every one of them. This is my hope, it’s my intention and it’s also a prayer that, Martin, you get to wake up again and your family and I get to wake up and my family and everybody who’s reading this, that you all get to wake up in all the truest sense of that word, physically, mentally, emotionally, spiritually.
In that moment of waking, realizing as you’re taking your first conscious breath of the day, that there are people who are taking their last breath and it does make that moment a heaven on earth moment. To use this language is so appropriate. That is a heaven on earth moment from the very start and feeling grateful for that isn’t difficult. That won’t be a stretch to feel grateful for experiencing heaven on earth from the moment that you open your eyes to start the day. If you want to include in that ritual, that morning moment which we’ll call a waking ritual, the opportunity to say out loud these words, I love my life, I love my life, what are the words, Martin?
I love my life.
That’s a nice way to begin a heaven on earth day. Martin, thank you so much. What a true honor to have you. I really enjoyed our conversation.
Adam, I think we’ve just taken our relationship again deeper. Every time we’re together, for me, my experience as we go deeper and deeper and more joy and more humor. I kiss you on the lips again.
I accept it. For the audience, ciao for now. Let us know what you thought about this episode. The feedback is so important for us and we get to learn and grow from it. You can go to AdamMarkel.com/podcast, leave a comment. It’s a great place to share your thoughts. You can go to iTunes. The reviews are helpful. We love people to find this show and learn more. You can subscribe there, as well as on the website. The Facebook group Start My Pivot community is growing with the help of all of you. It’ll continue to grow. Thanks again, Martin.
Thank you, Adam.
- Chicken Soup for the Soul at Work
- Project Heaven on Earth: The 3 Simple Questions that will Help You Change the World Easily
- Project Heaven on Earth: The 3 Questions
- Proof of Heaven
- Start My Pivot Facebook group
About Martin Rutte
Martin Rutte is an international speaker and management consultant. As President of Livelihood, a management consulting firm in Santa Fe, NM, he explores the deeper meaning of work and its contribution to society. The company’s areas of service include strategic vision, corporate spirit, performance management, and creative leadership.
Martin has worked with such organizations as The World Bank, Sony Pictures Entertainment, Southern California Edison, Virgin Records, Esso Petroleum and London Life Insurance helping them expand their outlook and position themselves for the future.
He was the first Canadian to address the Corporate Leadership & Ethics Forum of The Harvard Business School, returning for four consecutive years as keynote speaker.