We love and need certainty, don’t we? To know what to expect in returning home and walking through the front door. To know that the shelves in the super-market will continue to display an abundance of food. To know that drinkable water will flow through the tap. Much of our lives revolve around assumed certainties and securities – from relationships to oxygen in the atmosphere.
‘Suddenly’ is becoming the new normal…
And then, one day – suddenly and with no warning – something changes, from a status of a long-standing certain, into a small or big uncertain. Overnight, an entire financial system can crash. A company we work in or do business with can suddenly swing into a heavy loss. A food chain can collapse. Credit that we rely on can be withdrawn. A hard won market-share suddenly shrinks. A long-standing relationship ceases.
Change – a big, radical change – is in the air and all around us. We are changing and evolving. In the seen worlds, the last 100 years delivered incredible leaps in technology that have profound impact on our lives: From the Wright brother’s flying machine to landing on the moon; from the slide-rule to quantum computers. In the unseen worlds of human development, our mental and spiritual capabilities are evolving at an astounding rate, translating into a creative impulse that gives birth to all that we witness in the seen, with mind-boggling more waiting to be discovered in the unseen.
Learning to Adapt to Survive and Thrive
Every sector of society needs to now develop ways to cope with uncertainties brought about by change. Agriculture with unpredictable, extreme weather; information technology companies with futuristic game-changing innovations; the financial worlds with the consequences of reckless attitudes; governments with the consequences of not caring for the individual; humanity as a whole with radical change… And then, there is you and me. How do we cope and what do we need to know and do to cope and thrive, regardless of today’s unique flavour of volatility and uncertainty.
Our ability to cope, respond and progress is directly proportional to our distance from ourselves: The greater the distance, the bigger the struggle. Personal development is a journey of integration with our limitless potential done in a way that makes it possible for us to be liberated, responsive, future-based, forward looking individuals.
A big part of this journey concerns becoming one’s own person.
Being one’s own person
It starts with being able to think, feel and perceive for oneself, to a point that when we think, no-one else’s influence does the thinking or feeling in us – or at least very minimally. When a person surrenders themselves to another person’s – or a crowd’s – influence, large parts of their thinking and feeling space is invaded and occupied by it. So decreasing portions of one’s thoughts and feelings are original to them and their reactions are therefore disconnected from their core. Often a person knows it but due to lack of developed will-power is unable to do much about it.
Enters decision-making. Every day, we make hundreds of decisions. Who and what is making the decisions? Who’s or what influence in us? How much of our long or instant decision-making processes is directed or governed by someone or something else’s positive or negative influence?
Consider the mass media – newspapers, magazines, television, CNN, big interviews of ‘expert analysts’, celebrities, ‘influential people’ and so on. How much of it do you take into yourself in a way that shapes your convictions, thinking and points of view?
And then also consider parent influence, childhood experiences, new and old friendships, teachers, mentors, impactful encounters with strangers…
We carry in us a huge range of potent influences that live in different parts of our minds, emotions, psychology and genetic formations.
Somewhere in this jungle of influences there is the person.
The greater the distance a person is from their core, the greater the inner roller-coaster factor when they walk into today’s new flavour of volatility and uncertainty. And, the greater the stress factor and stress burn-out danger which, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) is one of the three most lethal diseases of the 21st century.
Being one’s own person is a never-ending journey of personal development. It is also a deeply healing, liberating and connective process; a journey of self-realization, revealing new, exciting developmental horizons.
The big task: Creating space for one’s personal evolution
Here is one practice that, like taking a vitamin pill, needs to become part of one’s daily repetitions. And it concerns creating new inner space for what is really important.
All too often we end up making too much space for the unimportant and too little space for the important. The first developmental task is to reverse this fatality.
Prime time for quality space-making processes is the last thing before going to sleep and the first thing after waking up in the morning. Say, 20 – 30 minutes each to begin with.
There are a number of reasons for it being prime process time. Engaging in a reflective and projective process before we go to sleep ensures that we relegate what needs relegating, harvest new learning and self-awareness and confirm what we want to bring into prominence into tomorrow’s new beginning. Doing this also helps to create an inner focus and intactness into which one wakes up in the morning.
Amongst other things, sleep is a cleaning, clearing and energizing process. When we wake up in the morning the mind is like a sparkling clean glass that has been in the dish-washer waiting to be used. To those who seek to take charge of their inner states, it is therefore essential to ensure that the mind gets condtioned and aligned into the day through core-forming processes.
The morning invasion
What is the first thing that happens to us when we wake up? Unless we know how to side-step it, we get invaded and hijacked by the pressures and demands of the day. It’s so instant, isn’t it? Before you know it, something else is already in charge of your life in a new day – new days are the building blocks of our future – and you find yourself in catch-up mode yet again. If sleep had a voice, it would say: “Hey, I worked for a few good hours to clean you up and energize you to make you ready for a new day and so much of my work is gone in the first few minutes after you wake up”
What do you want to fill the vacuum in your mind first thing in the morning? With pressure or with a quality self-aligning process? Read on if the answer is the latter…
To begin with and for a while, the process – evening and morning – revolves around questions such as:
- What is important?
- What is really important to me?
- What do I value?
- What do I really want?
- What can I improve and how?
- What tiny change will be the one that will create the biggest impact?
Note-taking in a dedicated notebook will help to keep track and monitor how this evolving process is progressing and to record thoughts, ideas and decisions that are come to. This practice has many purposes – doing one thing to get multiple results.
The first task is to create a continuity of processes that are as clean as possible from influences and pressures that do not belong. The most challenging part of it is to be able to occasionally just sit there for 20 or 30 minutes and do nothing. It goes against all of one’s programming. But after a while, the results will begin to show in all sorts of small and also not so small ways.
So you start your day with something else. It’s a bit like doing a meditation in the sense that nothing that does not belong is allowed in.
The more focus and quality one introduces into it, the greater will be the return. It’s like investment. In the development worlds, however, on every 10% genuine effort that you make, you get multiples in return in ideas, enhancements, energies and new capabilities.
This connective practice will create the space for discovery and a deepening union between you and parts and aspects of your innate qualities that may be too suppressed by the daily grinds of both your work and private life to ‘come out of the rabbit hole’. It will introduce more of the natural you into what you do and into yourself and people leadership.
It’s a seemingly simple practice that will challenge your habits in many ways. A big part of you will resist it, mock it, deride it and make you find all sorts of reasons why you don’t have the time for it.
There is a saying: “Look at the mirror to see your greatest stopper”. Lead yourself to then be able to lead a multitude.
Try it for a few days and let the experience decide whether to continue or not. I have been practicing this for 25 years – it works wonders.
Our greatest self-realization is that we are so much better and more capable than we think we are or are conditioned to think that we are – each of us in her or his fascinating, unique way.
There is of course a lot more to the developmental processes of becoming one’s own person. But this is an important component of it.
“When things change inside you, things change around you”
With best wishes,
31 January 2010
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