You Must Look Into People as well as at Them

“You must look into people, as well as at them.”

—Philip Stanhope, 4th Earl of Chesterfield, 18th Century British Statesman

Image of a man on the beach staring into space

Taking a sincere interest and seeking to fully understand the thoughts, feelings, and beliefs of another could be one of the most important things we can do to change the world around us.

How many of your problems and life challenges – not to mention those of the world – are due to breakdowns in relationships and communication in general?

How often do you find yourself or someone else engaged in surface observations of others, with a critical or judgmental perspective? How does doing so diminish the relationship qualities including respect, trust, and cooperation?

EXERCISE:

Where and how can you look more deeply into the people in your professional and personal life, to change your world for the better?

how you interpret the world

“Be careful how you interpret the world: it is like that.”

—Erich Heller, 20th Century British Essayist

image of flowers through a magnifying glass

image from Flickr by marco magrini

We humans are interpretation and opinion machines. As we navigate our worlds, we continually assess our environments and relationships through special filters we have created. Our perceptions really do create our reality and our experience of the world.

As talk show host Dr. Phil often says, “How’s that workin’ for you?”

What is your level of fulfillment, satisfaction, and general happiness with things as you see and interpret them?

EXERCISE:

Make an effort to expand your filter choices as you view your world today. Consider trying on a more hopeful, optimistic, open, forgiving, or creative perspective and see what happens.

how would you like

“How would you like things to be different in your life?”

—Fran Peavey, Social Activist

Image of shapes with questions in them

Fran Peavey was a social activist who passed away in 2010. Through her travels across the globe, she developed a process she called “strategic questioning,” which is characterized by questioning with an open mind and a caring heart.

Using this open, curious, and often provocative but not judgmental style, she conducted thousands of interviews over the course of two decades. She believed that this approach put people at ease, lowered barriers, and helped them find common ground around shared concerns.

EXERCISE:

Take 3-5 minutes to ask and answer one of Fran’s favorite questions: “How would you like things to be different in your life?” Consider engaging others in your personal and professional communities in this inquiry, so you can help one another make changes.

Feel free to let me know what happens by replying to this post!

Leading the Pack

“Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack.”

—Author Unknown

Image from www.fanpop.com

Image from www.fanpop.com

Today’s quote makes me think of the times my clients state that a colleague, coworker, or client “threw them under the bus.”  In almost all cases, they say it was in an unfair, unjust, and detrimental way.

Blaming, bullying, one-upmanship, and office politics are common occurrences. How we respond to such attacks, and how we rise above their potential negative impacts is a skill which we could all benefit from time to time.

EXERCISE:

A book that I have read numerous times over the years – The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz – points to fundamental ideas that can help us all return, leading the pack, when we are thrown to the wolves. They are:

  1. Be impeccable with your word
  2. Don’t take anything personally
  3. Don’t make assumptions
  4. Always do your best

“We have a tendency to want…”

“We have a tendency to want the other person to be a finished product while we give ourselves the grace to evolve.”

-T.D. Jakes, Apostle/Bishop of The Potter’s House

Image from responsiveuniverse.me

Image from responsiveuniverse.me

How guilty are you of having a double standard regarding the people in your personal and professional worlds?

How often do you hold people to some form of ideal to which few ever match up? How often do you use this same standard of excellence as a measure of your own efforts, behaviors, and achievements?

EXERCISE:

If you are in the smallest way guilty of this double standard, examine the costs it may have in key relationships. What adjustment can you make in your perception and point of view to accept and embrace that we are all “works in progress”?

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

“Awareness is the greatest agent for change.”

-Eckhart Tolle, Canadian Author and Spiritual Leader

 

Photo from Flickr by Miguelanger Guedez

Photo from Flickr by Miguelanger Guedez

Although we live in a world that is constantly changing, I would suggest that much of our internal worlds remain the same.

Examine your own attitudes and beliefs about the world around you and you will likely notice that most have remained relatively constant for years, and perhaps throughout your entire life.

Examination and internal exploration are key in enhancing our journey of self-awareness. This  allows us to determine if and to what extent our long-standing beliefs and perspectives serve us optimally.

In the event they do not, this new awareness can act as an agent of change as Eckhart Tolle suggests.

EXERCISE:

What daily habits, rituals, behaviors, and practices can aid you in the development of your awareness muscles, that support positive change in your professional or personal life?

Here are some strategies to consider:

  • Journaling
  • Meditating
  • Prayer
  • Reflective walks in nature
  • Reflective forms of exercise, such as Yoga
  • Deep Breathing

Feel free to reply to this message to share your own self-awareness practices.