A Note From the Underground *

Just the other day, I was in the car with my wife and the boys, when she put her hand on my knee and said,
“John, can you listen to this please. There’s this mother on my Facebook group who sounds like she’s in deep trouble…
“Is there anything that we can say to her to help?”, she asked.
“What is the issue?”, I responded. So she read me this post:

We talked about this briefly, and how this feels familiar on certain days as well.
For when it comes to parenting, while it can be the greatest of joys in life, it also has this dark, insidious side… It can sometimes appear like a repetitive, thankless chore that you cannot wait to escape as to do something more ‘meaningful’.
Nobody should have to feel these things – for how can we be at our best with our children when we feel this way?
(And it certainly took courage to even admit these feelings on a public forum, lest she be judged to be a cold, ‘bad mother’.)
So here’s what I told my wife to write as a reply:

Tune in to the Telos-Vision

This is in many ways what is meant by the ‘Telos’ in the video above, and why it’s so absolutely important to identify it.
For it’s only when we have a vision in mind of the ‘cathedral’ that we’re seeking to create through our parenting, that our joy comes to the surface. It’s only when we answer purposeful questions that we even know what we are doing… i.e.
  • Who are your children to become through your influence?
  • What is the highest potential that you can foresee being actualized in them and how can you be their mentor?
It’s this Telos-vision that gives you the energy and enthusiasm to brave through the many repetitive tasks that motherhood or fatherhood entails.
It’s this Telos-vision that engages our higher faculties, where we are creatively engaged to figure out the best methods and principles, for how we may complete this ‘cathedral-like’ blueprint.
It’s this Telos-vision that makes parenting become dynamically stimulative and educative – encompassing principles of the political, technical, psychological, pedagogical and so much more – and not something that’s just a repetitive set of chores.
In fact, it’s only through having a living, breathing, pulsating ‘Telos’ of who your children are to become, that makes the process of parenting feel meaningful, in and of itself, at a daily level. (and not just when you look back upon your life in 50 years)
By contrast, without this Telos vision, how are we even able to lead our children to realize their best life and their highest potential?
How would you even know what meets the standards of an educational program that can take them there? Would you even ask yourself that question?
For without a living Telos vision in place, what could possibly immunize our children against the indoctrination programs that the sexually frustrated and afraid have already created?
How could our children be equipped to figure out those fine distinctions between what is good, better or best – and not succumb to that lazy, common-place thinking that ‘it’s all relative’?
Why wouldn’t a child be defiant and disrespectful? Why wouldn’t they in time think of you as a lame parent? Why wouldn’t they travel the paths of quick-release pleasures – like those from drugs, alcohol, gaming, porn, gambling, etc. – just like everyone else is doing?
Amidst the chaotic array of activities that others have in store for your child – it’s only this Telos-vision that can allow you, as well as your child, to figure out what is the right direction – just like a compass that points North, when out in the wild.

Telos-Vision in the Classrooms

This is especially relevant for anyone who seeks to be a great educator and to make a meaningful difference through his or her vocation.
For while a parent can intimately impact the lives of a handful of people – each teacher has the potential to impact the lives of hundreds, and even thousands of people, throughout their career.
But if as a teacher, one prioritizes data collection activities, performance reviews, goals, objectives, and targets – of what use are they, if these actions don’t move us closer to the true Telos of who a student can become?
Isn’t this just pointless busy-work, like spinning around in a circle?
Since our education about education, (that was given at university), have given us only a vague vision about what great education looks like – isn’t it up to us to get crystal clear, as to what is this Telos?
For like with the men building a cathedral, unless we know the Telos-vision of who our students can become – our work can also appear to be like a series of meaningless chisel blows… a monotonous quagmire of bureaucratic requests and activities.
For as interesting it may be to us the subject that we teach, what our students ultimately take away from us in our classes, are those indefinable moments when we spoke of something that made a profound connection with their soul.
The fine distinctions we teach in maths, or linguistics, or geography or science – sooner or later they’ll be forgotten.
But what will not be – and what we’ll find that really mattered in the lives of those we taught – are all those gems of wisdom that we shared with them in the ‘in-between times’, for how to live a life of meaning.
This is what most people remember above all.
Yet how are we to do this, when we have so little education or insight ourselves, regarding what were the highlights of our civilization, what were the peaks of our culture, and what is the best of our collective Wisdom?
How can we bring the best out of our students, when we don’t even know what are the patterns of true Greatness? (Let alone know how to form these virtues in others…)

An Education for True Leadership 

What this boils down to is an education for total leadership.
For the core issues that we face in our homes, or in our classrooms, are really the same ones that managers and leaders face in an organization. It’s the ever wanting pursuit of realizing one’s potential through a great vision.
Leadership teacher Bill Hybels – who built one of the largest congregations in the world, as well as the founder of the largest leadership training conferences – had a powerful image for what it takes to be a great leader:
“People come to realize their potential when they have a full ‘bucket of vision’.
Your role as a leader is to keep this vision topped up, because vision leaks out.”
The imagery he used is to think of leadership to be like one who keeps his team well hydrated with the ‘vision’, and you as a leader are to fill up their a ‘buckets’.
A great leader always remembers that these ‘buckets’, have holes at the bottom. Some people have large holes, some small, but all have holes in them. Meaning that slowly, slowly, the vision drips out and this most valuable of content gets lost…
The role of an outstanding leader is to continually ensure that on a regular basis one tops up this bucket because vision ‘leaks out’.
Jonah’s Clubs are here for this very purpose – for leaders of all kinds, to top up our buckets with the ‘Telos-vision’.
And we’ve set this up for you in 3 phases:
  1. First, engage with the many free resources we have prepared for you. They will present you with many useful distinctions – whereby even if you do not go any further – you’ll have a great set of tools that you can apply in your family, your classrooms, your organization, and your community.
(These are important distinctions from within the classical worldview, which is today a much-misunderstood technology and science… As such, the distinctions and tools you’ll find here – as part of Virtue Formation Praxis – you’ll not find anywhere else.)
2. Second, and if all these free resources are making good sense – then join together with others of like-mind, as a Jonah’s Club member. As a member, you’ll experience a life-transforming education that directly studies and applies the 40 greatest books in our history, on virtue formation.
Here we both learn (i.e. read, study, discuss and debate), as well as practice (i.e. contemplate, visualize, rehearse and act out), the ‘best-of-the-best’ books, from some of the wisest people that ever lived.
As members, we continually top up our buckets with the Telos-vision of our highest potential for truth, goodness, beauty and being – by taking one classic book at a time and over a period of a month, (or sometimes two or three months), seek to integrate its wisdom into our lives.
In other words, we have some real ‘Yoda-like’ characters to sit on our shoulders, (i.e. the greatest sages in our history), that coach us on how to build up our seven strengths of mental wellbeing.
This education is our rightful inheritance as free individuals – as coded by our wisest grand-grand-grand parents – who wanted for us that we live out our fullest potential. We will hear what they had to say and to experiment directly with their wisdom, with action.
This is not only a rich and fertile ground to nourish our Telos-vision like never before, but it is also a treasure-trove of innumerable insights, ideas, stories, and weapons that help us win the day.
Life is just too precious for us not to know and not to apply the greatest wisdom that our culture has yet produced.
3. And third – and only if your membership with us is delivering on what is promised – I then invite you to enroll in specific, intensive live programs, that can help you become happier, more powerful, and more masterful with your seven best strengths.
Of highest recommendation is the iLifeChange program. This is a trilogy of transformational programs that start shortly after each New Year – beginning with the 40-day coaching intensive, ‘The Essential Happiness Experience’.
And regardless of the choice of education you make with us, the agreement we make with you is this:
Love our programs, or be fully reimbursed for your fees for a full 365 days thereafter.
That is, you are fully covered by Our Ironclad Guarantee!
So what do you have to lose?
Carpe Diem,

* ‘Notes from the Underground’ was the title of a book by the great Russian novelist, Fyodor Dostoyevsky. The book was a reply to another book from around the same time, titled “What Is To Be Done?”, by Nikolay Chernyshevsky. This was a national ‘bestseller’ capturing the imagination of many Russians at the end of the 1800s.
“What Is To Be Done?” was championing the idea of a future utopia, of a society that was organized by small socialist cooperatives, ‘collectives’, which ushered in a society of total equality and ‘eternal joy of the earthly kind’.
It was written as a kind of new ‘social science’ insight and was the precursor to the idea of communism. It was a major cultural movement in Russia, and many credit this book, (and not Karl Marx), to have had the biggest influence upon what would later become the Soviet Union or USSR.
Dostoyevsky saw the great evil that lay hid at the heart of this ‘Trojan Horse’ and his ‘Notes from the Underground’ were written as a counter-response and a warning – in the hope that it may prevent a cultural catastrophe.
Unfortunately, Lenin picked up ‘What Is To Be Done?’, read it several times, and the rest is now history… tens of millions dead and hundreds of millions made utterly miserable.
The arguments made in Notes from Underground were of course true. The ideas from ‘What Is To Be Done?’ were a trap, and the communist ideology would bring about the very opposite of what was promised – ‘deep suffering of the earthly kind’.
In the same spirit then, these ‘notes from the underground’ are a continuation of this tradition – seeking to preserve some sense and reason, against the cultural assault at play with us today.
For the best response we can give to bad ideas, are better ideas.
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© 2023 Jonah's Club by Center for Meaningful Leadership Inc - A Non-Profit Organization


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