Days 9-10: 28th -1st March 2018: University of Makati (UMAK)
We set out for an early start at Makati University, but are asked to delay our arrival. I have no idea why. “They’re not ready yet,” I’m told. Here, I am to run two back-to-back presentations of about two hours each. I will then repeat the whole thing the next day. On both days, the first presentation will be ‘A Journey to the Land of Risk,’ a repeat of my main presentation from last year, for audiences who have not heard me speak before. The second presentation will be the all-new, ‘The Story that Changes Your Future,’ as yet untested on a live audience.
As the car pulls up at the entrance, the reason for the delay becomes clear. The welcome is nothing short of tumultuous. As I exit, I am taken in arm by a young lady and young gentleman in traditional Filipino costume. They escort me towards the door to the sound of a brass band and a large group, cheering and waving. Around twenty or so students hold up placards that spell out ‘Welcome Mr Forester.’ As I move forward party poppers explode, releasing a storm of coloured confetti. UMAK appears pleased to see me again. I’m observant like that 🙂
I am seated for photos, while a Filipino cultural dancing group enact a complex dance in traditional costume that reminds me of Morris Dancing in the UK. After twenty minutes or of of ecstatic welcome, I am finally admitted to the building. And by now I’m thinking, “If the welcoming committee’s like this, whatever’s going to happen in the lecture theatre?” Last year they put on a human diorama of scenes from my short story collection, ‘The Goblin Child.’ I’m hugely intrigued to find out what follows. We head up to the staff room and I am invited to sit. That’s not abnormal. It was the same last year. It only lasts a few minutes before I’m taken to the lecture theatre. So I wait. A poster on the wall catches my eye. It says, ‘A good teacher is like a candle – it consumes itself to light the way for others.’ My heart nods in agreement. If this be true, it seems I have the heart of a teacher, for this is all I want to do with the remaining time I have.
But thirty minutes or more later, I’m still waiting. Dr Pascual, my tour organiser, is apologetic. But it’s clear something has gone wrong. Gradually it emerges that a significant administrative disconnect has occurred. Finally I am told that many students have not arrived and the lecture theatre is half full. There are apparently competing events taking place. I don’t knowwhy.
Finally we go to the lecture theatre and wait some more, but nothing changes, and by now over half the time allocated to the first two hour presentation has passed. All the while, I’m tempted to grow irritated. I say nothing. And then the reality of my own life-learning begins to dawn. My angels are engaged in the business of teaching me, yet again. I’m not here for the students who didn’t turn up. I’m here for the ones that did. This, unquestionably, is the synchronicity of spirit at work once more in my life and the life of every person in the room. These guys need to hear what I have to tell them, in metaphor, about breaking out of the comfort zone and pushing forward into the land of risk, in order to fulfil their calling. This is a living, breathing example of what I’m here to tell them. My spirit soars. I’m going to pour my heart out for these folk. And what an amazing lesson I am learning in the process. I thank and apologise to my angels. Then I mount the stage, and roar with Harmony the dragon.
When I finish, as I might have expected from such a spiritually charged event, the questions are deep and penetrating. That tells me that the message has hit home. The one that throws me, the one question that I wasn’t anticipating is, ‘How do you motivate someone who doesn’t want to be motivated?’ I answer, but I am dissatisfied with my answer. Later, in the car, it will dawn on me that this is actually an NLP question and that the answer lies in the second presentation, ‘The Story that Changes Your Future.’ The time having now run out, we forgo this presentation for today, and tell the students it will be delivered tomorrow. I hope the young lady who asked the challenging question will be present.
In the afternoon we are to visit the Mall for me to buy some shirts. On the way across we pass through some shanty areas, where modernisation has not yet reached. I watch two little boys, maybe two or three years of age, fight for possession of a football. The bigger wins the ball by dint of superior strength alone. How early in our lives we learn how to manipulate power, in order to draw energy to ourselves. It takes the rest of our lives to learn to derive the power that lies in releasing the energy that flows from spirit.
The next day is much better organised. I enter the theatre to an audience of over 200, all of whom have heard me speak before. I must have done something right last year!
My subject is ‘The Story That Changes Your Future.’ Humans have told stories since we sat around campfires. The stories we tell ourselves now, the ones in our heads that we refer to as ‘beliefs’ have a profound impact on shaping our lives. For the next forty minutes we explore what it is that make stories powerful or not and in particular, the stories about ourselves and our world, that we carry around in our heads. Most important of all, we focus on how to make changes to the stories that contain our limiting beliefs.
As I deliver, I watch. As usual, there is a peppering of those whose attention has drifted away. These are not my real audience. The true audience are the ones who are ready to begin to learn how to create their futures. From their eyes and body language I see they are listening closely, periodically slipping their attention inward, when the times comes to work on creating their own stories, the future they want. These are the people I am here for. These are the ones who will use the material to change their lives. And they are in a majority.