Insignificance – Perspective, Happiness, Experiment, NYC, London, Zurich, My Most Read Poem

An Experiment

Two weeks ago, Luce and I and our girls moved to Switzerland to reconnect to a part of Luce’s family history and begin a three month experiment to integrate adventure and work.

We’ve been exploring the mountains and forests and constantly stumbling in our attempts at Italian. It’s been an incredible experience for us all.

On the work front, I set a goal for a “world tour” this year for my speaking.

So as well as continuing to coach from here, I’ve been focussed on connecting into New York, Austin, London and Zurich. I’ll be presenting my core workshop called Reinventing Mindset about how the science of psychological flexibility can help us manage our wellbeing, lead and perform in situations of stress and pressure. (PDF of the workshop details here.)

Thank you so much to those of you who have made introductions. They’ve opened up conversations and opportunities with sporting clubs, entrepreneur organisations, global corporates, tech start ups, media companies, international schools and more. I’ve loved the exploration and met great people through the process.

I’m still working on the outreach, so if you know anyone who might be interested, please let me know on email: tj [at] I’d love an introduction.

Insignificance & Perspective

According to Professor Arthur Brooks, Harvard author and researcher on the science of happiness, a feeling of being small is an important contributor to our sense of wellbeing.

That’s certainly been one of the privileges of being here amongst the mountains.

There’s nothing quite like seeing the peaks in the valley where we’re staying to make me feel completely insignificant. (It’s already started to snow nearby which means the lakes are perfect for practicing some cold water love too.)

I find that same perspective in other places – the ocean, forest or the Australian outback. I find the enormity of nature awe-inspiring and gives me an expanded awareness of time and scale that strips back some of the day to day.

The Stoic practice of contemplating death does the same.

And there are many other tools available to practice that expanded awareness.

In keeping with that theme of finding and practicing perspective, today’s article is a little different to my usual.

I wanted to share the poem I’ve read the most in my life: The Invitation by Oriah.

I first read it in 1998 while I was training at the Australian Institute of Sport. At the time I was struggling with non-selection and wondering if I’d ever be good enough.

I’ve re-read and reflected on it many times since and I hope you find it as useful a tool to shift perspective as I have over the years.

The Invitation

It doesn’t interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn’t interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn’t interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon…
I want to know
if you have touched
the centre of your own sorrow

if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals

or have become shrivelled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain
mine or your own
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy
mine or your own
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn’t interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see Beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure
yours and mine
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn’t interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn’t interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the centre of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn’t interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

By Oriah

Get The Monday 3 newsletter in your inbox
The Monday 3 is my free weekly newsletter. Each issue is sent to thousands of people around the world with quotes, insights and actions I've found useful. Plus you'll get my favourite decision making tools, articles, exclusive event invites and more. Enter your email and sign up for free right now.