Life Without a Tie, Finding Your Path
Ray Martin, author of “ Life Without A Tie, Finding Your Path Amidst the Noise, Chaos, and Pressure to Conform “ says – “I won the Daily Telegraph Business Leader of the Year award, so I had public recognition.
So I had all the trimmings and trappings of success. But I have to say that honestly, for quite a few of those years, I wasn’t feeling like I was really, truly happy. And I felt like it somehow I’d managed to end up in someone else’s life. I was living a life that others expected of me and not life I truly wanted to be living.” “ I was trapped in it because it was very rewarding and very materially comfortable.
And I was kind of like not really wanting to walk out of it either, even though I wasn’t happy. So when I was forced to, because my business partner, the woman I was married to, said, “I’m leaving you and I’m leaving the company”. It was very sudden my father actually passed away at the same time”
And so began a deeper exploration as Ray courageously explores both his external and internal world daily in pursuit of greater insight and wisdom about life for himself and others.
In this journey of exploration, Ray set himself ten guiding principles, so that when he hit emotional turbulences he had a method and a system for dealing with them or put into a sense of despair. Ray never imagined that anyone else would ever read them!
The biggest shift for Ray is how he measures success today. “When I go to bed I look back at the day and I think, did I show up as my best self? Was I kind, was I loving? Was I patient? And if I can answer yes before I go to sleep, I’ve had a really successful day and I feel like a successful human being. It’s not dependent on whether I failed or succeeded or any of those things. It’s much more about how I show up in the world, and whether or not I’ve served humanity as well as I can. That’s how it is for me I’d say is a big change.”
00:00:00 Paula: Welcome to “TesseTalks” with your host, Tesse Akpeki, and co-host me Paula Okonneh, where we share with you top leadership and management strategies. This is a journey of discovery. In “TesseTalks”, we learn about leadership. We learned that leadership is personal and professional, and we hope you are listeners, and of course our guests will walk with us on this adventure. Let me tell you about our guest today. He’s inspirational, his name is Ray Martin. And today’s theme is “Life Without a Tie, Finding Your Path Amidst the Noise, Chaos, and Pressure to Conform”. So Ray Martin is also known as “The Daily Explorer” is an entrepreneur and award-winning business leader. As a coach, a mentor, facilitator, writer, speaker, and mindfulness teacher, he is a torch bearer for greater human consciousness. He courageously explores both his external and internal world daily in pursuit of greater insight and wisdom about life for himself and others. He’s created the calling “All Angel Foundation” and runs marathons to raise money for causes he believes in, which include an orphanage in Nepal and an elephant sanctuary in Thailand. Whatever he does, his mission is to bring more joy and happiness into the world. Thank you for saying yes, and welcome to “TesseTalks” Ray.
00:01:43 Ray: Thank you. Wow. What an introduction. I feel honored, humbled, thank you.
00:01:48 Paula: There’s a quote from your book that we do want to outline, and your book is called” Life Without A Tie”. And the quote is “uplifting, challenging, courageously, honest and enlightening. An Invitation to Rethink Your Life by Steve Chamberlain, author on Purpose”. Tesse.
00:02:08 Tesse: I’m super excited as always, Ray, when I meet people like yourself, and I’m so pleased you’re on the show. You know, when I read your book, one of the things that stood out for me, were “10 guiding Principles of Life”. You know, and I think our listeners would be really intrigued about these. Could you share, please, some of your principles with our listeners?
00:02:30 Ray: Yeah, I can do that. But I think it’s worth saying a little bit about why they’re even there. Just to put it into context.
00:02:38 Tesse: Context is always good. It’s everything.
00:02:40 Ray: Yeah. Because, you know, most people who have seen the book will know that I was a CEO of a business in England, and considered by all accounts to be a successful man in as much as I have materially successful. And I’d won the Daily Telegraph Business Leader of the Year award, so I had public recognition. So I had all the trimmings and trappings of success. But I have to say that honestly, for quite a few of those years, I wasn’t feeling like I was really, truly happy. And I felt like it somehow I’d managed to end up in someone else’s life. I was living a life that others expected of me and not life I truly wanted to be living. But I was trapped in it because it was very rewarding and very materially comfortable. And I was kind of like not really wanting to walk out of it either, even though I wasn’t happy. So when I was forced to, because my business partner, the woman I was married to, said, “I’m leaving you and I’m leaving the company”. It was very sudden my father actually passed away at the same time, and that really compounded the impact of it all. I found myself thrust into a completely different life, and on the advice of friends I decided to take a six month sabbatical and go traveling and backpacking around Asia, something I’d never done. A complete change of scene to give me a break away from my regular way of looking at life in the business world and a new way of thinking. So I found myself in Thailand on paradise, beaches, you know, lovely sand, palm trees, everything looking and feeling great in appearance. But on the inside, what was going on with me was feelings of anxiety, fear. A fear about the future, lots of guilt and shame for having been an awful husband that my wife could have left. I was really in a lot of turmoil on the inside and I thought, wow, I never thought when I left to do this traveling, how to psychologically prepare myself and keep myself safe. And then I did after six months, I did a 10 day silent meditation retreat in a Buddhist monastery, and that was a game changer for me, because my vibration level changed. I became much calmer, much more grounded, and I realized at that point if I’m to continue with this journey of exploration, I need to set myself some guiding principles, so that when I hit these emotional turbulences. I’ve got a method and a system for dealing with them and not being kind of crushed by them or put into a sense of despair or something like this. So I came up with these 10 guiding principles, as if you like instructions to myself. I literally just wrote them for me. I didn’t ever imagine that at the point I came up with them that anyone else would ever read them because I had no intention of being a writer or write a book at that stage. And so the first guiding principle was “Presence”, is what I called it. And that was the principle that I was so used to living in my thinking mind, virtually spending almost 90% of my awake time, either in thoughts about the future or in thoughts and sadness about the past, but never actually fully present in the moment I was in. Keeping my undivided attention to the people I was actually with and just enjoying the moment I was actually in fully without paying any reference to the past or future. And I thought, wow, I’m going to make that a principle of being present, because the more I can practice doing that, the more clarity I’ll have and the more I’m going to improve the quality of my life and the more I’m going to be enjoyable for other people to be around. So that became a principle that I adopted and practiced as much as I could. Another one was the principle of “Self-acceptance”, because I was so used to beating myself up in my own thinking. If you could sit in my head and listen to the voice that I was speaking to myself in, you would just be shocked to hell. You know, I would be so horrible to myself. If I had lived in an apartment with someone else and they spoke to me in that way, I’ll kick them out. And they would no way would they stay there the way I spoke to myself. And so I made a decision that whenever I started being cruel or critical to myself, that any kind of failings on my part that I would adopt the principle of self-acceptance and start practicing being my own cheerleader and saying, okay, you did that. You’re now going to improve things and you’re on the way to becoming a better human being. And you are learning and you’re growing, and you will become a master at self-acceptance eventually. I won’t go through all 10 unless you want me to, but the next one was “Non-attachment” because I think in life as a businessman and certainly somebody who drove a revenue targeted company. You get very used in the years I was doing that to be pushing the targets to be achieved no matter what comes up. I’m kind of this boiling kind of energy to push, push, push, and so you’re driving towards a specific outcome and it’s that outcome or nothing. Nothing else is acceptable. Now, in my life, I wanted to live completely differently for a while. I wanted to be in a place where I could go, you know what? I have this vision of happiness and I think it might look like this if I go to this place, but if it’s not, I’ll go somewhere else or I’ll go somewhere else. I’m happy to accept any one of a number of different outcomes, and if it’s one of those, I’ll be happy and not be attached to one specific thing. So if a person didn’t want to come with me on a trip, I’d say, “okay, no worries, I’ll find another person”. And just really let go of attachment to life, having to look a certain way, which I’d been very, very used to in the life. And I wanted to experiment with that for a while and see if that evolved a different kind of life to the one I had before. My life became a bit of a laboratory and a massive experiment, and included in my principles. I included minimalism as a principle. I basically got rid of all the things I owned. I either sold them or gave them away and decided not to accumulate any more material goods. So I just had a 22 kilo bag for 14 years and didn’t add anything, didn’t buy anything except to replace things that got worn out. And so on and so on. So the 10 are all described in the book and why I chose them and how I use them. And I’ve said to people who read the book, these won’t be your 10, but they might inspire you to know what your own 10 would be, or your own eight or 12 or however many you’d have. Does that answer the question?
00:09:09 Tesse: Oh, more than. I mean, I’m very intrigued by that and, you know, you started the context by talking about how the split from your ex-wife Charlotte, how that actually set this journey that you went on in tow. How is that relationship now? How is it sitting now with you?
00:09:29 Ray: Well, that relationship is, I have to say, it’s one of the things I’m the most proud of in my life. I love Charlotte to bits and she knows it. And her, I, but you know, obviously we’re not married any longer, it’s been 18 years. She’s married to another man. She has two lovely kids and a life with that family. But we somehow found a way to stay friends throughout the entire process, mainly because we really brought our kindest selves to the situation. Which really didn’t work for either of us, the truth be told. You know, that was one of the things in the “Six Rules for Happiness” that you might come back to at the end of the book. I wrote these six rules for happiness. One of them was, take full ownership for everything that happens to you in life. If you adopt that as a principle or as a rule, you’re going to be a lot happier. Because it would’ve been quite easy for me to present the story of what happened with Charlotte as, oh, poor me, she left me, and it’s so hurtful. I’m the justice poor victim of the situation, and how could someone do that? I could have easily sold that story to the outside world, but I knew that wasn’t the truth. You know, it was an event at which I had co-created, I was complicit in that event materializing because of things I’d done or not done. You know a combination of both of those things. It forced me to say, okay, so going forward, who do I want to be in the future? What improvements and changes do I want to make to myself to be showing up in the world? Much, much better than that. And it forced me to have to be responsible and take ownership for that. And I love that. It was a huge gift in a way. So I’ve always appreciated Charlotte, the gift she gave me, even though it seemed luck on the surface to be in our great event. And I have to say, at the time it wasn’t, I had one year that was awful, really felt low. But aside from that, you know, these things pass, I mean, we are great friends. And in fact, a testimony to the Power of Love, 18 years later, like literally in November just passed, she came to London from Switzerland where she lives, and she co-hosted the book launch of “Life Without a Tie” With Me.
00:11:37 Tesse: Wow.
00:11:38 Ray: And she sat on a stage in front of a hundred people and faced the audience and said “the fact that we are sitting here today about to hear about Ray’s book, was possible because I walked out of our marriage and I was the catalyst that started this entire journey. And I’m absolutely thrilled and honored to be here with him on this platform talking to you about the story”. And she gave me a full permission to write about her in the story. And you read it so you know , you know? Yeah. I mean, because it’s very, can you imagine what it must be like? And for me, it was quite tough to write my raw emotion about what I was feeling. But for her, you know, she’s going to be talked about in the same way, you know. But she gave her complete permission and support to it because she really wanted me to have my voice out in the world. She really didn’t want anything to stop that. So I just feel like we have such a special relationship. It really, really is brilliant.
00:12:33 Tesse: Wow. Talking about voice and special relationships. I’m going to bring in my favorite co-host. Paula, you know you’ve been silent.
00:12:41 Paula: I’ve been silent cause I’ve been listening to you Ray, talk about three or four of your principles, you know, 10 guiding principles of life. And I love how you said, you know, you are able to bring your wife, your ex-wife on. I mean, that kind of to me just concluded from what I heard of the three or four that, you know, you have experienced inner happiness and that you and her could sit on the same platform and not be frightened, you know?
00:13:10 Ray: Yeah.
00:13:10 Paula: And she working hand in hand with you to promote the success of your book, that’s beautiful.
00:13:16 Ray: Yeah, amazing. I’m very, I feel very, very lucky and very fortunate. And I feel like it honors a couple of guiding principles because two of the others I didn’t mention, one was, “Connection” and I stayed connected with Charlotte throughout the entire time I was traveling. And we’d often connect through a phone call or Skype or something like that. And I went to visit her when her children were born in Switzerland and just stayed as much involved as I could from a distance. Which was challenging for her, especially because her husband didn’t really appreciate me showing up some of the time, if I’m really honest. That was a tough challenge as well.
00:13:50 Paula: Understandable.
00:13:51 Ray: But that aside, you know, so that principle I honored and that really I think worked for our relationship. And I also wanted to be always making a contribution wherever I was, whatever I was doing. The principle of “Contribution” was incredibly important to me, and so when I started the journey, I decided to write a blog so that I could actually stay in touch with all of my friends and family back home and write stories about what I was experiencing, what I was learning, what was changing for me, what I was discovering. And 00:14:31 Paula: Fantastic. Fantastic. And you know, if we talk about that, it makes me think, I know that you also talked about six rules for happiness.
00:14:40 Ray: Yeah. That was my editors pushed me to that when I was writing the story. I mean, it’s great having editors who really are brutally hard on you. I’ve got to say, that really worked for me because they’re totally dispassionate. They just know what makes the story stand out, so they are brilliant. When I got to the end of the story, they said, I think you should write a further chapter, which is you looking back over the 14 years and sharing the wisdom and knowledge that you’ve gleaned from this story. And so I distilled that wisdom and knowledge into these six rules. If I had to write six rules for my own happiness, what would they be? And I shared them in those. They’re not six rules for anyone, there were six rules that make me happy, but I think they’re generally applicable for most people. But people could tweak their own, of course they might be slightly different.
00:15:28 Paula: Would you mind sharing like three of them?
00:15:30 Ray: Yeah, yeah. I mean, I’d really be happy to. I mean the first one, the rule is to build a core foundation in yourself. Now, I learned this because at certain point in my journey it was about 2008. I’d been traveling for three years by then, I started to realize there were things I’d seen where I wanted a support through doing fundraising or something to help them. And I didn’t know what to do, I was thinking, what could I do? What could I do? And then by chance, I just met a guy on my travels who was a marathon runner, and his name was Matt Campbell. And I’ve spoken about him in the book, and I said to him, Matt, I’ve been racking my brains for months trying to think of something I could do to raise money for this elephant sanctuary and this orphanage in Nepal. I said, do you think I could run a marathon? I was 49 when I asked him this, and he looked at me and he said, well you look sort of fit, have you ever run before? I said, no, never, you know, I really haven’t. He said, look, I’ll tell you what, if you stay in this part of the world where I’m living for six months, I’ll train you to run a marathon. I’ll show you how to do it. I’ll work with you, I’ll coach you, I’ll train you. I said, okay, I’ll do that. So I agreed to do it. Now, we started training and we didn’t really sort of focus much on the running in the beginning. He started working on my core strength physically, my abdomen, and that middle part of my body, which supports the rest of your skeleton and structure. And I realized that you need that core strength before you sort of train the rest of yourself. Because without the core strength, you just won’t be able to handle it. And I think the metaphor in life is the same. If your core strength mentally is strong, you can handle whatever comes at you. And so what do I mean exactly? So specifically, core strength involves things like, what are my values? What is most important to me in every minute of every day that I show up in ?What values do I need to honor? So for me, it’s like the value of love, the value of integrity, the value of freedom, and the value of exploration. If I’m living through a day and i’m not honoring anyone or all of those I feel very bad in myself. But if I’m living every day and touching on things and saying things in a way that honors those values, I feel really in love with who I am, and it’s a very different feeling. So values, what is my vision for my life? Do I have a clear vision for where I’m headed? What is my purpose? Why was I born? What am I here to do ? For me, as you know from what you said at the beginning, my purpose is to serve others who want to walk on their true path in life. That’s what I’m here to do, I’m pretty clear about that. It’s taken me 60 years to get that clarity. First time in my life I really known for sure I am here to serve people who want to walk their true path. I’m good at that. I know how to do it. I’ve got so much wisdom about that and I love doing it. So it’s all of the things that I think make it work being a purpose. What puts me in my element, this is something I learned from the wonderful Sir Ken Robinson that you might know. He died, I think last year sadly. But he had so much to say about creativity and how schools crush it out of kids when they’re processed through the education system. And he always used to say that everyone’s looking to be in that place in their life where they have what they’re really brilliant at, what they’re extremely good at, and what they passionately care about, and where these two things intersect is he called it being in your element. Because when you’re in your element doing that thing, you literally lose all track of time. It doesn’t feel like work. It feels like you could do it forever. You know, it’s like a bliss state for most people. But we rarely, we don’t spend much time in our element most of us. We do touch on it here and there, but a lot of people don’t get to sit in that place very often. But what if your half your life was in that, even the quarter of your life was in your element, and how different would that be? And then the last thing I think is worth considering as part of your core strength is things like, what are the beliefs I hold? Because some beliefs are extremely empowering. Like if you hold the belief, being generous is a great thing to be, that’s a very empowering belief and it would change how you show up. But also, we hold a lot of limiting beliefs. I’m not good enough. I’m not strong enough, I’m not smart enough I’m not rich enough or not sexy enough, or whatever it is. All of us have got tons of those that we need to expose and ask the two checking questions, which is, is it a hundred percent true all of the time no exceptions? And is it really helpful to think that, because usually the answer to both is no. And then you’ve got the opportunity, at least the chance to start building a new neural pathway in your mind where you can start experimenting going beyond those beliefs in the actions that you take and seeing what happens. So those are some of the things in core strength that I bring into all my coaching work and you know work with people to strengthen. Once those are robust and they’re strong and they’re clear and they’re solid, you know, I see people starting to really fly when they’ve got that in place.
00:20:42 Paula: So powerful. Such powerful, powerful principles.
00:20:47 Ray: Yeah, and I’ve spoken about all of these in the book. In one of the chapters I touched on all of these, because I work as a leadership coach in the UK and I’m working with, in fact I’m in London this week four days with a software company with 50 people to coach and train this week in that core strength principle type stuff. So I’ll be doing that every day this week.
00:21:09 Paula: Wow. Tesse.
00:21:11 Tesse: Yeah, it sounds really fabulous. I mean, what’s coming into my mind is elegant. You know, the swan that looks calm on the outside and then up and then below they’re kind of, you know, working from a core, you know.
00:21:25 Ray: It’s horrible, isn’t it?
00:21:27 Tesse: Sort of those things.
00:21:28 Ray: When do you see a ballet dancer performing, you just think it’s beautiful, it’s.
00:21:32 Tesse: Yeah. Yeah.
00:21:33 Ray: But what you don’t see is the years of practice and all the falls and injuries and broken bones and everything, you know, we just don’t see that bit.
00:21:42 Tesse: We don’t see that. I mean as you were speaking Ray, I was thinking about Seligman’s, you know, Flow, the concept of Flow, the things, the ease. You know, Nancy Klein talked of the ease you get and time to think and also time to be. And I’m just wondering, you know, what’s, according to me as you say this, is how through the lens of your visiting over 28 countries in the marathons and your encounters with people and relationships, what success for you is? You started off by saying what you thought it was before you went on this journey. What would you say it is now?
00:22:17 Ray: Well, it’s a really fantastic question, and I think about this a lot. The biggest shift in how I measure it, is in the past success was something I would put on a date in the future. So like success would be if I achieve this revenue target by the end of this year, I will consider I’ve been successful. And if that doesn’t happen I’m a failure. So it’s a black and white on or off thing, and all of my measures of success were tied to something, if this happens, I will be happy and successful. So it’s all placing the responsibility for happiness and success on the external event. Now, I think success is when I go to bed tonight and we finished this conversation and I look back at the day and I think, did I show up as my best self? Was I kind, was I loving? Was I patient? And if I can answer yes before I go to sleep, I’ve had a really successful day and I feel like a successful human being. And it’s not dependent on whether I failed or succeeded or any of those things. I mean, those things are important obviously, cause we live in a society which attaches money as a token to things that we do, and we have to pay our bills and buy food and pay rent and things like this. So of course those things, I’m not denying those things exist, but a big shift in my way of looking at success. And it’s much more about how I show up in the world, and whether or not I’ve served humanity as well as I can. That’s how it is for me I’d say is a big change.
00:23:47 Tesse: I think a lot of people will take hope from your response actually, because it’s so doable and it’s so now living in the moment and appreciation of what is going on now.
00:23:59 Ray: Basically, it’s a balance really. It’s a bit of a tightrope, because what I’ve just said is completely true. Yet when I’m in the room with 50 people and they’re asked at the end of this experience of four days to do their evaluations, the company will be looking at how did they score it? You know, can we sell another program? Can we do this? Can we do that? You know, so there are hard measures too, you know it’s a bit of both. It’s everything really. But it’s for me, I think if you get the fundamentals right, those other things all fall into place, that’s how I see it.
00:24:34 Paula: If someone could come to you and say, Ray, I know why you wrote the book, but what do you Ray want people to leave with? What do you want them to learn?
00:24:43 Ray: I love that question. I love it. I know exactly what I want them to have, and it’s something that I was taught by one of my brilliant mentors, which is there’s only one agent for change in an individual’s life, and that is when that individual has a new insight of their own. We can bring ourselves as coaches to these relationships, and we can say whatever we want. You know, we’ve got great ideas about what that person could do. But only when the person themselves has the new insight and it goes deep that . And so that’s what I want people to take from my book. Any form of new insight, which creates the space and potential and possibility for a change in their own lives that will improve it for them, you know, however they interpret that. But new insight, and that’s why I’ve gone to the nth degree of really sharing in a very raw and honest way all the things that I experienced, including the screw ups, because I didn’t want to write a book where I presented myself as someone, like typically these kinds of books, you get a guy who says, I really messed my life up. I went on this journey, I figured it all out, and now I never have to feel anything ever again. I’m all sorted, you know, you just have to follow my methods and you’ll be the same. This to me is completely not true, and I just didn’t want to be that guy. You know I wanted to say I had really not shown up very well in my life. I went on this journey and now I’m working on showing up better, but I still mess up. And here’s some examples of where I didn’t the 14 years, and I did mess up a couple of things really badly, and this is what happened and this is what I learned from it. And this is how I got back on the wagon and now I’m improving again.
00:26:25 Paula: I absolutely love it and I think you have achieved that. I mean, just listening to you, I can hear your passion. I can hear your purpose. I mean, everything is intertwined into this book.
00:26:36 Ray: Thank you.
00:26:38 Paula: No, we have to say thank you so much, you have been absolutely amazing Ray. I mean, I said at the beginning, thank you. And I still have to say again, thank you so much.
00:26:49 Ray: It’s such a pleasure. You make me feel really comfortable, so thank you.
00:26:53 Paula: Awesome. Thank you so much. To our listeners who are tuning in, we ask that you head over to “Apple Podcast”, “Google Podcast”, ” Spotify” party or anywhere else you listen to podcasts and click subscribe. Also, if you loved what you just heard, we always ask for reviews, so please write us a raving review and for our listeners if you have any questions or topics you would love us to cover on Leadership or governance, please send us a note. Remember, your notes or topics can be personal as well as professional. And if you’d like to be a guest on our show “TesseTalks”, please head over to our website, which is “tesseakpeki.com/tessetalks” to apply. Ray, this has been fantastic.
00:27:43 Tesse: Yeah Ray great having you. Your book a must read. It changes things. Thank you so much for coming on.
00:27:50 Ray: Thank you.