Watch and read John McInroy’s inspiring talk at Successness Fest 2017
John’s inspiration highlight: To make some space for the magic to come into our lives we have to let go of some of the things that are no longer serving us.
This is the full transcription of John McInroy’s motivation talk at Successness Fest Cape Town 2017:
“Ok… letting go!
So the other day I started juggling, and you know what the most difficult part of juggling is, I mean I’m 35 years old and I’d never been able to juggle and I kind of just gave up. I was playing around and you know you kind of think that you’re juggling but the one ball just won’t leave, and the friend that I was with in Berlin, just said: “You’ve gotta let go and you can’t juggle unless you let this ball go”. But somehow it just felt like I couldn’t do it. And suddenly when you start to let it go. I mean it’s a bit lame to be doing that after that other guy had like 17 balls, but just like in terms of progress, it’s been quite cool for me and it was just amazing to experience that, from understanding that I literally couldn’t let go of the third ball. I could throw the two balls up but I couldn’t let go of this third ball. Like I was grabbing it so tight and it wouldn’t let go. This hand is so beautiful, it has so much it can do, but when you’re holding on to something so tight, it is basically useless.
The other way that I explain “letting go” is, I love chai tea, and imagine you’ve got like a cup of beautiful chai tea, obviously with almond milk or no milk and it’s like it’s at the top and someone else comes along and he or she has the most amazing tea, like tea that you’ve never seen. And you’re like in this conundrum because you have no space for this amazing tea because your cup of tea is so full, and no matter how beautiful this tea is coming in, it’s going to spill all over the floor.
And the third thing to explain “letting go” is actually inspired by Alan Ambor. I used to go to the Spur a long time ago and the salt canisters always used to be so full full full. Obviously the waitresses and the waiters were doing a great job, and were filling them up to the max, you know because then you don’t have to repeat it. But when a salt canister is filled to the max, nothing comes out. You just have to let go of a little bit and suddenly the flow of the salt comes.
This is what I want to share with you guys today. I was holding onto some things in my life, like literally so tightly that I couldn’t let them go. I’d started two social organisations, people were telling me that I was great. People were telling me that this is awesome, keep going, keep striving, keep stepping, keep moving. I couldn’t let them go because what would they be without me? And what would I be without them? Who – who was I? and no matter how dark it got and how much pain I was going through, most of which I couldn’t tell anyone about, because on social media you don’t tell people about what you’re truly going through, and what you’re truly feeling, and how it is truly to be in your skin.
So there was this thing that was wonderful, was amazing and still is, and I was holding on to it so tight that it was harming me. I knew that it was making me sick but I couldn’t let it go. And when you don’t let it go the balls just fall. The salt doesn’t move. The beautiful chai tea can’t come into your life.
And then I got some luck, well I think I call it luck now. It was the night of my birthday last year, the 15th of July 2016. I had stayed up really really late that night, it was the 14th and then it was like 2 in the morning on my birthday, and I stayed up really late because the next day I was staying with Mama Tutu in her home. She’s such a beautiful amazing woman and she had planned this amazing get together for my birthday, which normally I try and avoid, but it was just so wonderful to experience this. So anyway, to try and sort of clear the deck, so the next day I could just be present and I could just enjoy it I went to bed at 2 in the morning.
But the thing with Mama Tutu and the place that I was staying was like “what’s mine is yours and what’s yours is mine” and it was such a beautiful thing for me to experience, that community and love and support. This meant we shared a cupboard in our room. So it was a small room, with one little cupboard, where Mama Tutu had her stuff. She’s like about 4 foot 10, but she’s got energy like a whirlwind. She’s actually the mother of Thami Tsolekile, and the way he used to play cricket, I think Sheryl called him those Thami Tsolekile, but his mom is just, she’s just a Xhosa, she’s just – she’s incredible.
Anyway, she would normally come in around 6 in the morning before she went to work. She’s a teacher, and I would I wouldn’t know her feeling, no knocking, no anything. I’d be sleeping, I could have been masturbating, I mean it didn’t matter. We just had this openness. Anyway this day that I went to bed on my birthday, like I learned her touch, her feel, how she felt, like the noises she made, she’d open the door. But something was wrong that night. I heard noises in my room and thought it must be Mama Tutu. I was so far, I was so tired and I heard these noises. I thought maybe it was a dream, I wasn’t sure what was going on and then the noises became stronger, and they weren’t in the same place that they would normally happen, and it wasn’t the same energy, the same love that normally surrounds her. Then suddenly the noises were close to me, there was rustling, there was moving, I was just like: “I don’t want to deal with this, like just go to sleep and wake up again – wake up in the morning and everything will be fine.” I didn’t want to deal with it, I couldn’t deal with it. Suddenly it was clear, there was someone in my room and it wasn’t Mama Tutu. And I was literally frozen, I couldn’t move, I couldn’t speak, nothing came out, probably thankfully. Anyway in my kind of awakening, this person left the space, very quickly but I was still a little bit disoriented and all of a sudden I stood up and I walked to the kitchen and I’m just kind of walking, thinking what just happened, then I went back to my room and I turn the lights on and all the electrical equipment, like the wire to my laptop, my phone was uncharged like underneath the shelf, all of it was gone.
Then I was like: ” Oh fuck, it definitely wasn’t Mama Tutu. I think I just got robbed, but I still couldn’t say anything so I went back to the kitchen, I turned the lights on and the entire kitchen window was gone, and I was like: ” Fuck we’ve definitely got robbed, like it’s not even, like it’s for sure now, it’s not a dream”.
Then I walked into Mama Tutu’s room and I didn’t even, I couldn’t say anything, you know those dreams when you have no voice and it’s kind of like holding onto something that doesn’t serve you, and anyway that experience took away my cell phone, took away my laptop and enabled me to let go, which I’m so grateful for. My laptop, my cell phone attached me to social media, to this purpose, to this mission, to Unogwaja, to the Red Socks, every moment I wanted to push, I wanted to go, I wanted to strive, I wanted to be, I didn’t know any other way, I wanted to control, I wanted to be a success. and that day, the very thing that I could not let go, I could not let go with all my heart no matter how much it was paining me, it was killing me, it was destroying me.
Someone, somewhere, came and just quietly stepped into my room, did a beautiful job with the window and just took my laptop, took my iPad, took my cell phone, and if I could see that person I would really be so grateful, and I hope that they’re doing some beautiful things with that. So, sometimes we need help in letting go, and it’s something that’s not easy to happen. I’m so grateful that I was able to see that.
One of the persons that I met soon after I let go of the reins of Unogwaja and of the Red Socks, I even had 4 matches left as the coach of Langa hockey club, and we were fighting for relegation, but I said I have to look after myself.
One of the first people that I met was a lady called Bella in India, and I was telling her my story and I was animated, I was so pained, and she just grabbed my hand, and she said: “Are you breathing?”. I can’t explain it to you because sometimes, random things open up something in you. You know, they say that when the student is ready the teacher appears. And it just happened that way….that she grabbed my hand and said: “Are you breathing?” And I realised for my entire life as a great sportsman, a so-called freaking Red Socks superhero, that didn’t stop running, and didn’t stop walking, that I never breathed, that I never breathed.
And this is part of what I want us to do today. The other day I was in Berlin, like 2 weeks ago, and in Berlin it’s pretty cold, and you know, I was doing what I do every day, like putting on my clothes and on Friday I put my red socks on.
, but I was pulling on my socks, and I was like why? For the first time in my entire life I said to myself, what is the purpose of these socks? my feet are the point of contact that connects us with this Earth, they are so full of intelligence, intellect, intuition, God knows how many sinews, maybe Alan and Sam will help with, Sheryl’s also pretty clued up with uh, 2 World Cup gold medals, beautiful, so nice to see you Sheryl.
But our feet are so magnificent, someone said to me the other day, shoes make feet stupid. And so that day in Berlin I took off my socks and I walked around in Berlin, freezing Berlin, rainy Berlin, and glass all over the street and I felt the connection with the Earth. And everything changes when you feel the connection with the Earth.
So if you don’t mind, I’m going to ask you guys, really encourage you to take your shoes off and just feel the surface beneath your feet. Don’t be frightened if you’ve got smelly feet it’s all part of it, it’s totally normal. One of the most amazing things guys, like if anyone says I’m the crazy one, please it’s not me that’s the crazy one, feet are so magnificent, and we are covering them.
So anyway, in Germany now there is a freaking beautiful thing called “Freiheit fur die Fusse”!! It means “Freedom for the feet” and I am all over it. And as a guy who has been involved in a movement that has sold over 50000 pairs of red socks, how ironic is that, that I’m like, I got to the moment, but I do wear these on a Friday and I just really pray in Berlin that it’s freaking cold on a Friday, and I get to wear my long red socks:)
So guys what I want us to do is to stand up, just ground yourself, feel, wiggle your toes, feel what is beneath you and then close your eyes. Now we’re just gonna do some breathing together. Try and be still as much as you can. Then what we’re going to do is start focusing on our inhale and exhale. Try and make them equal as far as possible, inhale through your nose and exhale through your nose. And when on the inhale I want you to silently say to yourself – I want you to silently say – “Let go”. Somehow it feels like space is created in us by just allowing ourselves to be still and present in our body. So much information will come to us, so much insight. There’s a beautiful Sanskrit chant that goes “Gate, Gate, Paragate, Para Sum Gate Bodhi svaha” and it means “Let go, let the most go, let the beyond go and what remains is the ultimate wisdom that is inside all of us”.
You can open your eyes if you haven’t done already. Sit or stand, do whatever you want. Have you ever considered, what this is? What purpose does this serve? This is part of the message that I want to get across to you today. I want us to think about things that are happening in our lives, that don’t serve us, and I want us to let them go. Because when you let go of something that doesn’t serve you, something beautiful has space to enter. And – and the most magical thing about it is you just have to wait and receive.
So I’m so excited about this. Today does anyone know the origination of these things? Unbelievable! During the 30 Year War, back in the whatever century with King Louie and a whole lot of other dudes killing each other, they brought in some Croatian army mercenaries and they wore this kind of French style cravat. That was the start of the tie becoming a fashion item for men. Have you ever thought about the fact that it strangles you? Have you also ever thought about what it looks like! Where does this tie point? It’s like an arrow, right? It’s a fucking arrow to the penis. It’s time that we cut our ties, and today I will never wear a tie again.
An have we ever thought about a suit? Have we ever thought about how freaking ridiculous a suit is! It is all about ego. It is all about bravado. It is nothing about nakedness and vulnerability. And do we understand that in order for us men and some women to wear suits, we have to take them to the dry cleaners. And there’s a thing called, perchloroethylene, in short it’s PERC. We know and have known for centuries, that this substance is doing harm to our environment and to people. Yet we keep using it, and why?
Can you help me? Please just… go go go go… oh that’s a problem hey, we should have rehearsed. Ok you finish the cut though, but hang on let me just do this quickly.
It’s the last time that I contribute to this because I know, hang on, don’t worry I have got pants on underneath, my dad is literally going to kill me, and also Gozzi, he’s getting married in December, there’s no ways I’m wearing a suit bru.
Why do we keep perpetuating things that don’t serve us? We need to make sure that we are aware of what is around us and start questioning stuff.
Oh fuck that feels so much better. I don’t know, some people who know me saw me earlier and they were like totally freaked out.
So I’ve definitely run out of time. In order to finish up I’m gonna ask you guys to stand up and I want us to sing together. So I’m just going to say the words and you’re gonna repeat them and then we’ll see if we can get a bit of a vibe going. It’s the chant that I said earlier:
“Gate, Gate, Paragate, Para Sum Gate Bodhi svaha.”
So basically what you’re saying is we’re letting go, we’re letting go, we’re letting it all go, we’re letting it totally go, and what remains is ultimate wisdom that is in us all.
“Gate, Gate, Paragate, Para Sum Gate Bodhi svaha.”
Ok you’re gonna say with me. “Gate, Gate, Paragate, Para Sum Gate Bodhi svaha.”
Guys, I want to say thank you to all of you guys for being here. For me thethe last message that I want to get across is that our life should not be about impact anymore. It should be about lightness.
“Lokah Samastah Sukhino Bhavantu”
“May all beings everywhere be happy and free. May the thoughts, words and actions of my own life contribute in some way to the happiness and to that freedom for all.”