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Posts Tagged “insecurity”

Smarter? or Wiser?

I’ve been involved in many situations where leaders were smarter than most of the people they were trying to influence, but were oblivious to the fact they were no wiser. That doesn’t  work out very well. Being “the smartest person in the room” creates an opportunity for the leader to find the humility that enters hand-in-hand with wisdom.

First of all, wisdom is the great equalizer.  All human beings have access to wisdom; no one person is innately wiser than another. It’s always possible to sort people out by “smartness”, but when it comes to wisdom, it can arise in an insight, at any moment, from anyone. When groups are working optimally, there’s huge respect for that, and a true willingness to listen for it and appreciate it, no matter the source.

Catching on to the difference between smartness and wisdom is a hallmark of the “Aha!” moments that strike people coming to understand how our understanding of life arises from the inside-out. It isn’t “learned,” it is realized from deep within our own capacity. People who used to be voluble —  quick to answer and first to speak — become quiet and reflective as they look within for deeper answers. They are much less excited by the content of their analytical thinking. They are much more patient to await insights and simple common sense. They appreciate silence, the rich quiet that precedes fresh ideas, and enjoy it — rather than disrupting it with hasty reactions to questions or issues.

Let me give you a few  examples. I once worked for a company that was always looking for small ways to improve the flow of work and save money. They had “experts” walking around to “figure out” what instructions they could give here and there across the company. Someone new in leadership came up with the notion that the people who actually DO things every day probably have better ideas than anyone else how to do them better, quicker or more easily. So they put little boxes with pads of “tipsheets” around hallways, elevators, meeting areas labelled TIPS (Thrifty Ideas Produce Savings) and offered small incentives for the TIPS of the month. Just as anticipated, the boxes started filling up with small, helpful ideas that would really make a difference. They had found the source of wisdom about the work.

Here’s another example. 

DominateA consulting firm that was once a client of mine was operated by extremely smart, highly educated people who constantly competed to offer the “best” answers. When they tried to work together to strategize about their own company, it was a nightmare. Everyone wanted to be “right” and “smart” and everyone tried to dominate the meetings. No one listened, at all, to anyone else. To attend their discussions was like listening to a symphony where every section of the orchestra was playing from a totally different score and there was no conductor. One of them said to me early on, with disdain: “Screw wisdom! Wisdom is for hippies and sissies. We’re playing in the big leagues. With the smart people.” Well, that was before they started losing money. Then wisdom began to look a little more appealing. When they finally agreed to a retreat and reluctantly calmed down, they started to realize that their arrogance was coming directly from their own insecurity. (Insecurity drives ego and urgency to prove oneself right.) Things changed quickly. Within a year, everything turned around: They were learning from each other’s experiences, learning from their own work, enjoying their company’s meetings and the shared challenges of looking to the future. One person couldn’t abide the quiet and good will and left the group, but the others found themselves happier and more successful, quietly confident that they were operating from strength, not raw power. 

Does all this mean there’s no reason to be smart or get educated? Of course not. My colleague Bill Pettit often quotes Albert Einstein in this regard, saying, “The intuitive mind is a sacred gift; the rational mind its faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” Wisdom points to the knowledge we need, guiding us to use our intellect in less personal, more constructive ways. We think in service to the task at hand, not in service to our own self-importance. We paint the big picture, not a self-portrait, when we act and speak. We listen to others from the stance of “not knowing,” rather than thinking our way through others’ talking to come up with something to shoot them down or sound smarter. We are tuned into other’s (and our own) feelings, and nurture warm feelings and security, while overlooking bad feelings and insecurity that will pass if we don’t feed them.

It’s a huge relief to not know, and feel no pressure to have to know. The irony is that as soon as we quiet our minds enough to enter the unknown, all the answers flow into that space, gracefully.












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Why facts don’t matter

Last week among my Facebook and Twitter friends across the U.S., commentary exploded after the Portable and Affordable Health Care Act (detractors call it “Obamacare”) was declared Constitutional and thus the law of the land. Those who were delighted to see that millions of uninsured Americans would be able to get insurance and receive health care cheered and shared their enthusiasm. Those who were devastated to see that millions of uninsured Americans would have no choice but to have  insurance or pay a penalty jeered and shared their dismay. And then they started talking to each other, and the feverish venom began to spew.

Those who love the law have their reasons, based on one set of facts. Those who hate the law have their reasons, based on a different set of facts. Flinging their reasons and facts at each other with ever-increasing force and anger created such hateful exchanges and obscene name-calling that many people just stayed away from the social media discussion for a few days to let things settle.

It was a perfect storm of bad will, complete with torrential rains of hyperbole, crashing waves of distortion and piercing thunderbolts of  moral indignation. It was a perfect example of why disagreements are never resolved with “facts”. Even though I sincerely wish that more people in this debate would actually be able to look at the neutral facts of the case before spouting off about it, I know that in the state of mind my country is in, it wouldn’t change anything. Facts don’t matter.

“Facts don’t matter?!?”, I can hear some people thinking. What do you mean? If information doesn’t matter, what the heck does matter? How can we make progress without information?

It’s a conundrum. When we are fearful and insecure, we cling to familiar thinking and cannot reflect or accommodate anything new. Anything we don’t already think or know does not penetrate the walls we build around our familiar thoughts. When we are at peace and secure, new information is interesting, but the goal is to transcend all current thinking through reflection to arrive at higher common ground. Facts don’t matter in a state of fear and insecurity because anything new is threatening. Facts don’t matter in a state of peace and security because they are simply ideas that pass through our minds on the journey towards ever more evolutionary ideas.

Looking at the state of mind of a whole culture, a whole nation, it isn’t difficult to understand why people find it so difficult to get along. We are living in low mood times, characterized by all the negative feelings and defensiveness associated with insecurity. No one in a position of leadership is addressing the prevailing state of mind. Instead, we are all continually hammered with more facts, more information, more misinformation, more to think about. That is not the cure; it is the symptom of rampant insecurity. It fuels the fires of anguish and hopelessness.

The cure is peace of mind.  Our state of mind matters. Peace of mind matters.

Here’s a

“>brief chat about that.

In the words of Sydney Banks

“The consciousness of humankind must be elevated. Only then, when the spiritual and physical realities are united, will we find the power and intelligence to guide us through life. Wisdom cleans the channels of your mind and brings sanity into your life. You must find it for yourself.”                                                                                  

The Missing Link, p. 134

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Too Good to be True?

I shared some written stories and

” target=”_blank”>a video about people who had an insight about being the thinkers of their own thoughts, not the victims of circumstances, with someone new to the ideas of Innate Health recently.  His response was, “Yeah, I read the stories and I watched that video and I gave it a lot of thought. It’s not that I don’t believe that these are real people genuinely saying what they think happened to them. It’s just that as far as I’m concerned, I think it’s too good to be true. I really don’t think this would ever happen for me. I’m not like them.”

Such is the dilemma of the power of thought. If I THINK something is too good to be true, then, for me, it is. I have created that reality. If I don’t THINK something could happen for me, I have created that reality. As long as I never question that THINKING, I continue  creating a self-fulfilling prophecy and I get to be right. The only thing that IS true for each one of us is the reality we are creating for ourselves in the moment we are thinking it.

Being attached to what we think builds a firewall against change. Since the only way we can create our present-moment reality is via the power of our own thinking, as long as certain thoughts are held in place, they continually self-reinforce. The space for insight is not opened by “giving it a lot of thought,” but by feeling — being touched, being affected,  allowing ourselves not to know and wondering “What if there’s something I don’t see yet?”

Big-time thinkers who take themselves and their thinking very seriously get insecure in the face of  feeling. It speaks to something beyond thought, something that could up-end their whole thought system, something scary to a person who has built a self-construct by thinking a lot about him- or herself. Feeling points to the formless spiritual nature of the Principles of Mind, Thought and Consciousness. Deeper feelings quiet the mind and clear the way for insights, things we have never thought before, wisdom. Even change.

It’s easy to get discouraged when a client thinks about it, then argues about the relevance of spiritual, innate resiliency to his/her own situation. Now what? Well, the answer is not in a strong counterargument, that’s for sure. Something that further engages the thought process in a circular discussion about the person’s already formed thoughts will lead nowhere. (We have to learn this about ourselves, too. When we find ourselves going over and over the same pros and cons, it’s time to stop thinking about whatever it is and look to quiet down, allow our minds to rest.)

When someone argues against their own innate wisdom by insisting they don’t THINK it’s true, what could open a new possibility? The answer lies in looking deeper for shared feelings of love and respect, and avoiding judgment or argument, negative feelings that take us and them farther and farther from the potential for insight.

The more deeply we understand how thinking works, the more deeply we respect how powerful it is, and how important each person’s own thinking looks to them, especially if they feel insecure in the face of an idea unfamiliar to them. To reflect on it and seek their own insights about it, they need to feel more secure. To feel more secure, they need to quiet their minds and be in a more peaceful state. If we are trying to be helpful, then we know the pathway to peace and quiet is paved with love and respect, with loving the person no matter what they think, and respecting that their thoughts are as important and real to them as ours are to us.

When we are genuinely immersed in love and respect, our own wisdom leads us through the conversation. There’s no right or wrong thing to say or do because whatever comes to mind through love and respect will be fine for that very moment in time. If I shared with you how the rest of my conversation went, that would suggest I think I know a technique that would work. Not so. It worked out well only because I know to take care of my own state of mind when I want to be in service to others, and not blurt out my own insecurity.

Anything we didn’t already think looks “too good to be true” to us in an insecure state of mind. When we are insecure, we cling to what we already know, what we have thought before. The key to constructive interaction about change is to recognize the insecure state of mind and address that, leaving the content of the insecure thinking alone. When insecurity passes, anything is possible.

To quote Sydney Banks,

“Our feelings are evidence of our mental well-being. Find positive and loving feelings,  for they will guide you through life far better than resentment and grudges. Positive thoughts and feelings will assist you to discover the mental health and wisdom that lie within you.”

The Missing Link, p. 112.

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