February 21, 2018

Postpone the analysis, stay in the moment

Group of business peoplePeople interacting with one another have sensory experiences involving images, sounds and feelings.

Yet we’re often tempted to reach for analytical models; to turn the flesh and blood experience into an intellectual exercise and try to manage relationships at that level. With a professional training, we’re particularly prone to going “into our heads” and disassociating ourselves from the direct experience.

And the problem is…

The opportunity to act is lost, because we’re no longer fully “present” and, so no longer influential. Again and again we do this, every time losing the opportunity to work with the live energy in the situation. Why? Because it feels safer perhaps.

Instead, we could stay in the moment and leave the analysis until later—much later.

To influence other people, we need a real-time, in-the-moment connection; not to disappear into our heads, and instead to stay present, focused on the other people there; to be open and take what seems like a risk (though maybe it’s actually the safer path).

How do you know when you’re fully present? How do you tell? A certain heightened physical awareness of the space and other people, and a feeling of groundedness perhaps? What are your inner signals?

Time to forgive yourself

Sun and treesForgiving others’ perceived wrongs is such a freeing thing to do, both for them and for us.

History shows that those that get the best results over time act as if other people are doing their best, even if they don’t seem to be doing as well as they could. There is a difference between learning to do better next time and raking over what’s done.

Even more liberating is to forgive ourselves…

We were doing our best back then; back when something happened we regret. It doesn’t serve other people, or even the “victims” of what we did wrong, to burden ourselves with the past.


Take the learning and forgive yourself. Now’s the time. You have all the permission you need.

Not where you’d like to be?

Bridge across a gapWe’re pretty used to being clear about what we want, what our vision is—clear enough that if it showed up, we’d recognize it.

But what if we can’t get to that straightaway?

That’s where “creative tension” comes in.

Creative tension is what Peter Senge (author of “The Fifth Discipline”) calls the gap between our vision and our current reality, which may not wholly fit with what we want.

Part of the practise of “personal mastery” is being able to sit with both a vision in mind, and a clear view of our current reality (and the emotions that go with it), and accepting the difference between them, and just being cool with it.

Now here’s the good bit…

If we hold this creative tension diligently, accepting the gap between where we are and where we want to be, and not stressing about it even as we work away to move toward our vision, it’s funny how our environment starts to rearrange itself in such a way as to close the gap. Things show up that help us move toward our vision; people get that we’re on a journey and support us; they accept that things are changing.

How does this work?

Well, we could go metaphysical about it and say that we manifest the change we want, but even at a prosaic level, somehow we just give off clear signals about what we’re looking for that others respond to, and, at the same time, we’re ready to recognize opportunity when it appears. They key is calmness. Nothing flows without the calmness.

Being OK with the creative tension of a gap between where we are and where we’d like to be not only helps us get there, but sets us free from stress in the meantime.

Pretty cool, I think.

And part of being an inspirational leader.

What’s your experience of this?

(With grateful thanks to Peter Senge and Robert Hanig for my own learning here.)

How do you react to others’ successes?

People clappingYou celebrate them, of course.

If you’re anything like me though, that’s sometimes after a twinge of envy—a brief moment of wishing for a similar success.

That’s not the way of personal mastery, of course. There, others’ success is an enabler, a contribution to the greater good, and no threat at all to our self-esteem.

If you’re working on a change goal, here’s a useful test of your motives and purpose…

Were the goal to be achieved without you, would you welcome that, or is it more important to be contributing to the success?

Which matters more to you, working on change, or seeing the change happen?

Worth a moment’s reflection.

How do you benefit from others’ success?

Why some arguments are pointless, and how to improve your world in 2012

The earth from space with the sun risingHappy New Year! May it be a good one for you and confound all gloomy predictions.

Often in an extreme can be found its opposite. As atomic physicist, Niels Bohr said, “The opposite of a correct statement is a false statement. But the opposite of a profound truth may well be another profound truth.” Items can seem to have several contradictory characteristics.

Light behaves either as a wave or a stream of particles depending on the experiment—two apparently mutually exclusive properties.

Bohr also said, “everything we call real is made of things that cannot be regarded as real” meaning everything we experience involves sub-atomic particles with a dual nature of mass and energy. In other words, all is not what it seems. Our senses deceive us.

For us…

When faced with an argument, the useful question is often not which “truth” is right, but what makes the opposite truths whole; what is the picture in which they both co-exist?

It’s profoundly liberating to stop trying to choose between competing truths and instead hold them both in balance.

What changes in your life if you decide there is not one right answer to a question but two opposite ones? How much energy can be saved from pointless arguments either as participant or onlooker?

You’ll find…

It’s a fundamental change in attitude—and experience—to expect two answers instead of one.

Even in ourselves, we often know deep down the opposite of our own argument is also true. Yet we make others play the other part in our own debate, and they will. They’ll give us back the argumentative energy we put out.

We can choose a different way…

We can reconcile our own inner conflict. Then we will be whole and peaceful in ourselves and experience a world around us that is balanced and calm. And that in fact is the only way. It’s an energy thing.

Saving our world, if that’s not too strong a word, can only start within—with our own return to wholeness.

And we can see pointless arguments for what they are.

All the best for 2012.

Sometimes words get in the way

Sun and treesWe’re in almost complete silence. The background noise level is very low. We hear a little noise from outside, but not much. The winter sun streams in from the large windows. Everyone is aware of everyone else. Nothing is said. Nothing needs to be said. Connections are made in other ways: By the sharing of an experience, by the sharing of a space, by the sharing of energy. Aspects of personal presence are noticed and acknowledged. Individuals are honored and respected. Much is communicated without words being said. Whether people knew each other beforehand or not makes little difference.


I learned a long time ago that the spoken word is often rather unimportant in face-to-face communication. Tone of voice is more important, and more important than that is what is said by our bodies and our energy.

But now I would go further…

Sometimes the spoken word actually gets in the way, and we’re better to leave it out altogether. Our attempts to articulate what we see, feel and hear are often inadequate and we do better just to show these things. Attempts at verbal communication can distract both us and the other person from what really needs to pass between us.

Sometimes it’s better not to speak at all and leave the space to other forms of communication.