Good communication begins with the art of listening. Listening is not only about listening to the other; it is also about listening to oneself. An individual who has learnt to listen to himself, who is aware of his own thought processes is more willing and also better at listening to another. One who is a stranger to himself is also a stranger to another. And when you listen to another, you not only pay attention to what the other is saying but also to the assumptions and concepts that arise within you even as you listen.
When destructive emotions and self-centeredness eat away at the human heart among the leaders, organizations become cancerous. They grow only to self-destruct from within. When happiness and well-being of every single member of the organisation becomes a priority, we are creating a new culture, a new generation of organisations for a new age.
Awareness is the observation of the mind in action. Awareness of oneself helps resolve conflict and move to a place of peace and joy. Right actions are born from right decisions and right decisions are made from a right state of mind/being. Awareness enables you to create a better world for yourself as well as for the people around you.
Life is both about doing and being. We all know that ‘doing’ is external. It is about action. ‘Being’ is about the internal experiences of life in terms of joy, peace and harmony. And the two are mutually inter-dependent.
We know that psychological structures have over powered the external systems, be it a family or an organisation, the community or the country that you are living in. Hence, a change in the system alone is insufficient, what is necessary is also the transformation of the individual.
How many of us like to believe that success in our professional careers determine our feeling of self-worth and our ability to love ourselves? How many of us experience a rising or dwindling of love for ourselves based on our professional achievements or failures? While our achievements definitely determine the extent to which we earn respect and fame in the society we live, can they really become the basis for loving and respecting ourselves? This raises a very crucial question: is the ability to love oneself dependent on external circumstances at all? For if it did, it would defy the unconditional nature of joy or love. It would also defy the proverbial saying, ‘Money can’t buy happiness or love’. So, once again, it is important to reiterate that change should never occur to escape from situations. Rather, it should be born from a feeling of self awareness.
To stay on the path of progress and not be driven by the ideal of perfection, an enquiry into the self is vital. Self-enquiry is one of the most important tools in determining the best way forward in life. It is a mirror of our minds and helps us understand ourselves and our actions. In the case of perfection and progress, self-enquiry could reveal whether one is driven solely by the idea of perfection when faced with a task or whether one is propelled to move forward using awareness, inspiration and passion as tools for growth.
Perfection maybe a good thing, but when one is driven by the idea of perfection to the point of obsession, one can experience enormous stress, which keeps one from being constructive. The irony of trying to be perfect is that while you believe you and everyone else benefits from it, it often leads to a profound sense of self-lack because however well you may perform you always fall short of your own high expectations. This keeps you from moving forward. A perfectionist arises from an unhealthy place in his or her drive towards achievement.
As we set out seeking for a change, let us first ask ourselves as to what really needs to be addressed. We could thereby spare ourselves the arduous effort of trying to change the world instead of ourselves with merely a deepening of awareness. The crux of this understanding is in enquiring into the very motive behind this seeking. Does this seeking for change arise from wanting to grow or taking our life to the next level of perfection? At the very outset this question might seem redundant. One might ask: “Why else would I be wanting to experience something new if not to experience growth?” However, an astute observation could shockingly reveal that this desire for change could be the result of a desperate need to avoid the sense of an inner void - a sense of struggle with one’s own existence compounded by feelings of self-hate and purposelessness. Once again, we might be inclined to think: "Well, is not the need for change always felt only when there is a sense of inadequacy? If I am totally contented, where is the need to look for newer vistas or fresher pastures?" It is here that we need to understand the subtle difference between seeking for growth versus being uncomfortable with or trying to evade one’s own reality. Though very different, these two experiences could appear similar to a mind clouded in conflict. Often, what could be masquerading as a passion for change might well be a desperate attempt to get away from an existing problem.
While the need for change is undeniable, it is necessary to shed the light of awareness on the factors that govern or dictate this need. This is extremely important, for the direction of change in our lives is determined by the extent of our awareness or unawareness. Growth and learning in a positive sense could be defined as a process of change initiated in awareness, going hand in hand with joy and well-being. On the other hand, a process of change initiated in unawareness often tends to be rash and unmindful of the impending consequences on oneself as well as on others and therefore becomes a harbinger of pain and conflict.
In short, a central factor that determines the difference between achievement and failure, maturity and instability is the energy that drives the individual. It is the ability to convert frictional energy to creative energy that gives one the critical edge to be an effective employee, at every level of management.
Our feelings are old. Our perceptions are old. They are habit driven. Observe yourself and you would see, every time there is a challenging project, a dead line to be kept up, an office meeting to go to or a party to attend; you go through very similar thought processes. Every time you are questioned, every time you perceive rejection there is the same feeling you go through. It is these repetitive feelings and thoughts that make us feel life is monotonous. When we do not pay attention to our own inner thoughts, we unconsciously get caught in a life of habit. Since our responses and behavior are driven by our perceptions, we also tend to respond mechanically, almost predictably. Mechanical, habitual responses to life, day after day, go on to creating an inferior destiny. Destiny is not created in one special moment; it is our response to everyday life. A life of habit is a mediocre life.
Everyday life presents us with a choice - the choice of response. As you wake up in the morning, you have a choice – the choice to live a habit or the chance to begin your day with awareness. When you walk into a meeting, you could walk into it with your habitual feeling, attitudes and behaviour or could choose to walk in with greater awareness of your own self. As you begin to pay attention to your thought processes, you will find that very often we are caught in a loop of habit driven thinking and responding. Our feelings are old. Our perceptions are old. They are habit driven. Observe yourself and you would see, every time there is a challenging project, a dead line to be kept up, an office meeting to go to or a party to attend; you go through very similar thought processes. Every time you are questioned, every time you perceive rejection there is the same feeling you go through. It is these repetitive feelings and thoughts that make us feel life is monotonous. When we do not pay attention to our own inner thoughts, we unconsciously get caught in a life of habit. Since our responses and behavior are driven by our perceptions, we also tend to respond mechanically, almost predictably. Mechanical, habitual responses to life, day after day, go on to creating an inferior destiny. Destiny is not created in one special moment; it is our response to everyday life. A life of habit is a mediocre life.
What is fear born out of? It is primarily an emotion linked to some painful experience of the past. It is a learnt response which one uses in defense. Over-cautiousness makes you fearful and as a result your confidence can take a beating. You learn to withdraw from a situation even before being exposed to it. This habit is not one of self-protection; it is one of fear and is therefore not a positive one. It can prevent positive experience and growth. Some organizations use fear of authority to maintain order. When fear of authority becomes popular-culture, creativity, commitment and efficiency take a back seat. Fear does not allow freedom of thought and enquiry and results in imperfect products and imperfect services.
Trade began as a way to make life mutually comfortable and livable. It was an understanding born of each others needs, assets and potentials. It was born of a need to live and work together harmoniously. The spirit of trade was 'service'. When trade unfortunately became business and we all got lost in the 'busyness' of making more profit and even more profit; mutual welfare took a back seat. We have increasingly become self-obsessed. Self-obsession alienates the employee from the employer, the share holder from the board, the organization from the consumer. It isolates one human from another, one family from another, one nation from another. Our separate interests make us into warring entities. If we woke out of our nightmarish ambition for 'more', reality would be easier to deal. Solutions would become evident. We obviously cannot find solutions to our organizational problems with the same mindset because of which we have landed ourselves in troubled waters. A new mind and a timeless recognition of 'the spirit of service' has to permeate every wrung of the organization, be it our board rooms where decisions are made, our research labs where innovations are done or our sales meetings where we plan to sell our wares. Expansion, profit, team work, integrity, quality - all follow the spirit of service. The spirit leads the way.
Look around, you will find all kinds of people - people who have achieved very little but have lived their life in a very hurried manner. They live complaining lives; they complain about everyone demanding too much from them and people complain that they give too little. There are others who achieve massively and yet find time for family, friends and themselves. They live fulfilled lives. The prime difference between the two is a conflict-free mind.