I am incredibly excited and grateful your path has led you here. Life is magical, and your experience of it should be nothing less. It is from a place of non-judgment that you realize you are already perfect and complete. It’s how you see yourself that contains flaws and limitations.
I look forward to being a part of your journey, as much as you being a part of mine.
Q&A with Chris Cirak
Q: Would you share with me, why did you write this book and why did you choose this topic?
A: First of all, I didn’t write this book. The book wrote itself through me. That’s not some woo-woo statement, that’s how creativity works. That’s how life works. You are the vehicle it expresses itself through. Feeling yourself as the vehicle gives you access to the incredible creative force that is behind everything in existence.
But we tend to get in the way of it. I can distinctly feel when it’s “me” trying to write, versus when the writing flow is there. All artists experience this. But it doesn’t have to be limited to art. You can learn to live your life this way, because, well, living is art. The world is your canvas.
You have to tune yourself to be the optimal vehicle. That’s the experiment we’re all participating in. How to receive that which resonates the most. How to be you. So, I would answer your question by saying I didn’t choose the topic, I was ready to receive it.
Q: What is your background? What motivates you?
A: I’ve always had an intense interest in understanding what makes us tick as humans. In my 20+ year career as a designer and researcher, and later teacher and lecturer, I’ve felt drawn to designing experiences that are joyful, meaningful and accessible. The book applies those same principles of joy and meaningfulness and accessibility to the deeper wisdom of life that we all yearn to tap into.
In my own journey, I’ve found that it’s primarily the vocabulary and presentation factor of the teachings that keeps us from going deeper within ourselves. The wisdom is always the same, but the messenger and packaging of it are important. If we hear words that trigger us, or there’s no connection to the speaker, it creates resistance in us and we stop listening and learning. Be You is written in a way so you stay open, so that your inner wisdom can emerge. Whether or not someone likes me as the speaker comes down to natural chemistry. I try not to put myself before the message, but I recognize that I’m part of the message. Fortunately, if I’m not your cup of tea, there are many other styles out there, so everyone can find that which resonates.
Secondarily, often the message inspires intellectually, but it lacks a practical aspect – a technique or method – to help you put it into practice. Be You is a method you can start implementing immediately to positively impact your life quality on all levels. It doesn’t matter if you are a high-powered executive or stay-at-home dad, there’s no greater feeling than to be you.
Q: You mentioned your journey... can you share some details?
A: When I started teaching at UCLA Extension in Los Angeles, my primary occupation was still working as a design consultant. But I could feel the desire to mentor and give back was growing in me. Teaching and doing workshops have been at the center of my life since then. Around the same time, I experienced a rather significant shift from living in my headspace to letting my heart space lead the way. It didn’t come from hitting rock bottom. I came from our innate desire for expansion, if only we let ourselves expand. It wasn’t easy – growth never is – but over the next few years, I immersed myself in the subject matter. I explored every known practice and followed all the great teachers of our time… Eckhart Tolle, Byron Katie, Deepak Chopra, Marianne Williamson, Brian Weiss, Joseph Campbell, Alan Watts, as well as some of the great younger voices out there, like Brene Brown, Russell Brand, Kyle Cease, and Jim Carrey. Too many to mention. Overall, it’s a wonderful time for self-discovery. It’s important to recognize that different things resonate at different times of your journey. No one things holds the truth. It’s more like different things hold different parts of your truth.
Q: Did you have a major aha moment?
A: In hindsight, I recognize the life experiences that have led me to this place, but I could never have dreamt up where it would all lead to. And that’s what the book is about. Staying open to all possibilities. Letting life reveal you to yourself. Because that’s what it does. We just have to get our self-judgment out of the way.
Some people just know who they are from the get-go, for others it takes time. Others, still, need variety and they experience many different chapters. I’m definitely in the latter group. There have been break-through moments throughout my life, but there’s usually a quiet buildup to them. In the case of Be You, I had been journaling for a long time before suddenly it became apparent my writing was turning into a book. I credit a great Intuitive Soul Coach, Kimberly Alleyna, for illuminating this path in me.
That is the message of Be You. We just can’t know why things happen, and what they can lead to down the road. It only makes sense to not try and control things in hopes of specific outcomes, but to enjoy the continuous unfolding of life.
Q: Labels can be hard sometimes. Would you call yourself a kind of self-development guru?
A: I don’t know about the word “guru”, but I am all about facilitating self-discovery in ourselves. We are all already perfect and complete, it’s how we perceive ourselves that contains flaws and limitations. Most of it comes from self-judgment we have been imprinted with by our environment, our lineage. My role is simply to help shed the light of awareness onto any self-limiting beliefs so that the person you are designed to be can emerge.
Q: Why should I go on a retreat with a Design Thinker Fortune 500 expert?
A: Some of my best skills have come from learning to navigate corporate environments. I think that’s why I can connect with creatives, as well as MBAs. Ultimately, it’s about connecting with their humanity, seeing them for who they truly are.
As for the retreats… You need to feel safe to explore who you are. Unfortunately, there are few environments that can provide that safety, be it the workplace to personal relationships. Be You workshops and retreats create a safe environment that bring out the person you are designed to be, and to develop the confidence to take that person back into your life and make changes. All your joy and prosperity flows from your ability to be you.
Q: There's a section on your site called “ask“. What kind of questions can people ask of you?
A: The Be You Method can be applied to any and all situations of life. All the answers we seek are already contained within us. We just need to be able to access them. Be You is a hands-on approach to creating self-awareness around our life issues, so you can realize your inner truth. Applying it may look a little different for various situations in life. I’m here to help!
Chris Cirak has spearheaded empathy-based experience design in education and corporate environments for over 20 years. He has worked with over 20 Fortune 500 companies and dozens of startups. He lectures at UCLAx on Design Thinking, a design methodology based on empathy, listening, mindfulness and human values. In private, Chris enjoys meditating, writing music, and playing tennis. He is a graduate of Loyola Marymount University and resides in Los Angeles, California.