"Your assignment for this week... is to clean up your life... list every 'incompletion' you have... and deal with them..."
What is an 'incompletion'? What does it mean to 'clean up'?
The Landmark Definition
I am a student of Landmark Education (a global program that delivers transformative coaching) -- and this simply means that I adopt the organization's methodologies in working on personal and business performance.
Landmark has won raving fans, along with sharp and intense criticism. You'll find many articles that label it both savior and cult, empowering and annoying. I find this to be a rather balanced article - but will assert that this is not my single or complete view.
My view on Landmark Education is simply this -- it can be very useful.
It is important for me to clarify my position on Landmark Education. But that is not the point of this public letter that I write.
The reason I am publishing this openly -- is because I want to complete an assignment from a recent Landmark class.
It's not an ordinary assignment. And I don't want to complete it in an ordinary way.
What does it mean to clean up 'incompletions'?
Incompletions are the agreements, commitments, communication and promises -- both explicit and implicit, public and private/hidden, communicated and un-communicated -- that I have left unfulfilled, broken or poorly delivered.
And this refers to promises I've made -- not just to family, friends, colleagues, business associates etc., but also to myself.
A life with incompletions, is a life without Integrity (as defined by Landmark Education). Similarly - a business that lacks Integrity is one that has broken or delayed promises to customers and clients.
Without Integrity, nothing works.
And I've experienced it. A life littered with small and big things that have 'slipped'... Promised delayed, agreements broken, commitments unfulfilled, expectations neglected.
As small as being late to a meeting... as big as a failed project... as futile as living a life devoid of the vision I was committed to.
That. Is a life without Integrity.
But with Integrity, one can lead an extraordinary life.
The Extraordinary Life
That's what I seek.
This could be one of the most important letters I'll write. Or not. And I could go back to an ordinary life, filled with a million reasons why it was ok that I was not my word.
"It's ok" is not ok.
And I have been unexcited about that ordinary life for a long time -- because it was ok...
It was very comfortably ok... very easily ok... very conveniently ok -- not to be my word. My word on how I really want my life, my family, my relationships, my work and my dreams to turn out. My word to myself, and the people in my life.
And this letter aims to address that.
The Wife's Affirmation
This letter is also prompted by a conversation yesterday with my wife - who, not knowing about my intention to do this 'assignment' - suggested that I "deal with the incompletions" in my life.
I shared (with her) how I recently discovered -- that I don't feel truly and fully excited about life.
She detected my disappointment in several areas of my life and work, but distinguished that it was not about distinct incidences; or about the 'other people and outside circumstances' that failed.
She knew that it was because I've been living an ordinary life that was filled with things that were - for better or worse - 'ok'.
What this is about
Getting clear about life and work, and cleaning up requires light...
I choose the light of public scrutiny.
Turn the lights on Melvin Yuan.
Turn the lights on, Melvin Yuan.
As I write this sentence, two images of myself pop up in my mind -- me, tip-toeing in the dark to avoid being spotted - only to have an intense spotlight suddenly put on me. And the second - of me, turning the lights on to examine things (and presumably, mess) around me.
As a founder and CEO -- it's too easy to hide behind "I'm busy". Nobody knows what I'm doing, or not. And it's easy to get away with things because people give me the benefit of doubt. No one knows if I'm sincerely delayed or slyly slacking; if I was busy and forgot, or lazy and ignored.
And because I care a lot and work a lot - most of the time - nobody, not even my wife, my co-founders and business partners - would question me.
But it's not just about what I do or don't do. It's not just about who knows, or who doesn't.
This is about living an extraordinary life. And everything that holds me back from it.
And more important than extraordinary life -- or perhaps... the purpose of an extraordinary life... Is extraordinary relationships.
Why not just keep working on things?
I asked myself -- why not just focus on doing things, build successful organizations, doing practical things that can actually help my friends, family, team-mates etc.
Is this - cleaning up, dealing with even the smallest broken promise - truly important?
Well...... Yes. And I was only recently convinced about this.
That's because there's a never-ending list of things to do.
Having integrity. Being 'complete' with life -- is the foundation... the root. This is getting the caterpillar to stay in the cocoon and do the "unproductive" thing of being transformed.
So -- let's see how it goes.
Why so public?
Speed and scale.
These may seem like cold business words, when applied to relationships. But they are not (cold) to me.
This is my way of ensuring that I am thorough -- If I want to clean up my life, nothing beats the thoroughness wrought by an open invitation, and public scrutiny.
The 100% Commitment
If I invited you to read this, it's because I value your friendship, and our past.
Yes, I'm not hand-writing a personal letter. But it is 100% written with you in mind.
Yes, it's all about me, and how I want to live my life. But it's 100% about you, and our friendship.
If you stumble upon this without my invitation, and sense an issue of 'incompletion' between us, it's most likely because I have it in my blindspot, and did not detect it...
So tell me...
What agreement have I negated, what promise have I broken, what commitment have I abandoned, and where have I delayed or withheld communication?
I invite you to help me build an extraordinary life... one that has you in it...
August 2016, Melbourne.