“Wisdom is not finally tested in the schools, Wisdom cannot be passed from one having it to another not having it, Wisdom is of the soul, is not susceptible of proof, is its own proof.”
Walt Whitman (1819 – 1892)
A couple of weeks ago I attended the Wisdom 2.0 Business Conference at the Palace Hotel in San Francisco. It’s a gathering of more than 500 people exploring ways to bring wisdom, consciousness, presence and mindfulness fully alive in the business context. It was a fabulous conference and I highly recommend you consider attending the next one in February 2013, I’ll be there! You can find more information here: Wisdom 2.0 Conference.
There was a great deal of positive optimism, hope, and inspiration present in everyone. However one of the things I found very interesting was also a sense of cynicism and skepticism. As we all know, “there is no crying in baseball” right? The world of business is a tough, dog-eat-dog world where you put your nose to the grindstone, don the flack-jacket and take no prisoners. This is no place for weak, mushy things like love, compassion, caring, appreciation, and whatever this thing “mindfulness” might be. Right?
Frankly, there is SOME truth to this. The business world is unique in its demand for efficiency and careful allocation of resources. The margins for error (think wasting time and money) are narrower in the arena of business than pretty much anywhere else. If you waste too much time and money, eventually you have no business. So it’s understandable why folks might believe you have to be an intense driver and make things happen. Hello! You can’t just be sitting around meditating! Time’s a wastin’!
But I want to go deeper into this belief – deeper into what’s really driving and underlying this “take no prisoners” attitude. People at the conference knew it would take a new level of courage to bring about this change we were all seeking. Why will it take a new level of courage? What’s this all about? Why so much resistance?
In this blog we’ll go a little deeper into this resistance and see why true wisdom takes real courage. Being able to access your own wisdom is a major outcome of the Major Good Mojo System.
Read on and enjoy!
True Wisdom Takes Real Courage
As a wise and conscious person I bet you can guess what is underlying the “take no prisoners” attitude about business. Yep, that’s right, fear. We are afraid that if we don’t MAKE THINGS HAPPEN AND CONTROL EVERYTHING, that everything will go to hell in a hand basket and everyone, including us, will be screwed. AKA “out of business, broke and on the streets, a loser in the world.” Right? We are afraid of that happening so we get very busy, trying to dominate and control everything.
Parker J. Palmer wrote a fabulous little book called Let Your Life Speak. At one point in this book he outlines what he calls the “shadows of leadership,” negative concepts or beliefs that we hold that can block us or render our path almost impassable. Examples are insecurity about identity and worth, the belief that the universe is hostile, and fear of the chaos of life. These are some of negative concepts that can block us. I’ve seen and experienced them in myself and seen them in others. But there was another that Palmer described, called “Functional Atheism.” This is a BELIEF that ultimate responsibility for everything rests with us.
“This is the unconscious, unexamined conviction that if anything decent is going to happen here, we are the ones who must make it happen. This belief leads us to impose our will on others, stressing our relationships, sometimes to the point of breaking. It often eventuates in burnout, depression, and despair, as we learn that the world will not bend to our will and we become embittered about that fact. It drives collective frenzy as well and explains why the average group can tolerate no more than fifteen seconds of silence: if we are not making noise, we believe, nothing good is happening and something must be dying.”
Wow. And ouch. This need for control stems from fear and underneath that fear there is distrust. Or said another way, a lack of trust, and this lack of trust is ultimately in the Universe itself. Can you see that? We don’t trust the Universe, therefore we are afraid. Because we fear things are not going to turn out, we must dominate them and force them and control them in a mad frenzy. What fun. I have a friend, who, after regaling me with the troubles and stressors in her life, wailed, “Oh, if I could just get CONTROL, then I could RELAX!” When she realized what she had said, we both burst out laughing.
So where did this distrust come from? Why do we have this underlying lack of trust in the Universe? Is it founded on good data? Do we distrust the Universe to beat our hearts for us? Do we distrust the Universe to provide us air to breathe? Do we have to make the sun rise each day? Do we have to create gravity each day so we don’t fly off the planet into space? Do we have to make the rain fall so we don’t die of thirst? ALL of life is ultimately a partnership with life itself. Even making money, making products, delivering services, any project or activity you can think of, is actually a partnership with life, with the Universe.
Fundamentally any effort-filled, forceful, tiring, stressful struggle is based in ignorance. It’s a lack of awareness of life energy itself. It’s based in fear (that the results will not happen), distrust (the Universe will not provide), attachment (that if the results I want don’t happen then bad things WILL happen), and separation (I’m the only one who can make this happen – just little ole’ me who must shoulder this burden). Fear, distrust, attachment, and separation…hmmm. We can start to see why there is skepticism and cynicism when it comes to bringing Wisdom alive in the workplace, and why a fair amount of courage will be required to bring it about.
The truth is you DO have a role, and effort is required, it’s just that it’s not ALL about you. What I’m talking about is awareness and partnership. It is about maximizing and optimizing your role and the role of the Universe. It’s a dance, a dance in awareness that you are part of something far larger than your self (small “s”). The truly wise person will partner with that something else, TRUST it and work with it to maximize the experience of being alive, (and yes, this is a practice that is engaged day-in and day-out, over time). Ultimately, you can maximize the results you have been inspired to create, even bottom-line business success.
There IS room for wisdom, compassion, mindfulness, presence, joy, trust, and even love in business. Frankly, these are all traits or characteristics of a spiritually grounded and connected person. Or instead of using the word spiritual (since business does not like that word) you could say awake, alive, and fully integrated human being. This is what is missing in most corporations today. There is a HUGE opportunity not only for each of us as individuals, but also for corporations in this. And it’s up to us to bring it alive
To develop your felt experience of true wisdom and a deep trust in the power of the Universe herself, I invite you to engage The Major Good Mojo System.
Your Major Good Mojo Assignment:
Our lives are so full of stuff. Not just material physical stuff, but sound and noise as well. How often during our days do we get to really experience a powerful silence?
Parker J. Palmer said the average group of people can tolerate no more than 15 seconds of silence. 15 seconds! This is how long most people can be quiet before someone feels compelled to “make some noise” and say something. He points out the belief that if we aren’t making noise then NOTHING is happening and likely something is even dying. So we get busy and fill the void with noise.
There’s some kind of discomfort that arises in silence, especially in groups – I’m sure you’ve experienced it, I know I have. We even have a name for it, “the uncomfortable silence,” as in “an uncomfortable silence fell over the room.” But we also have another term, “the pregnant pause,” that is pointing more toward what I’m talking about here: there is something in the silence that wants to be born.
Close your eyes, take a slow deep breath, and give yourself the gift of 60 seconds of silence and just notice what you notice. Relax into the arms of the Universe and make some space for GRACE.
The more powerful you become sitting in the silence, the more you can access Major Good Mojo!