I’ve been a big believer that accomplishing and succeeding requires thinking more, gathering more data and planning more to yield a better decision and result.
Now I’m not so sure that More is always better or even necessary.
David Eagleman, in the second chapter of his fascinating book about the brain, Incognito, provides illustrations of how we do "not need to be consciously aware to perform sophisticated motor acts.”
Ducking from tree branches or stopping just out of harm’s way when a car suddenly appears - the whole ‘feeling lucky’ and feeling as though someone or God is ‘watching out for us’.
God may have us on his radar screen, but science has also shown that we are born with some amazing ‘circuitry’ that is fully functional and ready to go without us consciously thinking about it. How great is that!!!
Think about an instance when a flying object comes unexpectedly straight at us. We do not take the time to think through options. We duck or bat the object away or move to the side - all done in a split second and with no conscious thought involved. ‘More thinking’ 'More Data' and 'More Planning' in this instance are certainly not relevant.
In relationships, I've also noticed that 'too much thinking' often leads to more problems instead of better understanding. If we stress out over every comment we make or that was made to us, just think of the time and energy we use, let alone the worry and stress.
We all make mistakes at times, and that's ok. Strong and authentic relationships will survive occasional 'slip ups'.
While mistakes happen, words do matter. Often more fretting and more words don't improve the situation.
What I am suggesting is to Create the possibility of choosing words from a loving place, and then just enjoy the relationships. We are in relationships in the first place to share our love and experience the warmth and joy of connecting.
If we all speak with care and love as our default way of speaking, that will help!
Then there's our work situations. Have you ever experienced leading teams or being on teams that painstakingly gather as much data from as many sources as possible? What about 'thinking more' to anticipate every possible roadblock and obstacle to the successful completion of the project?
Have you been required to 'cross every T and dot every i' and try to think about problems before they arise? All the while, did you wonder how the projects were even related to the overall mission of the company or organization?
It's no wonder we often find ourselves in "analysis paralysis" and feel so stressed and miserable at work. More meetings, more thinking and more data are often done to the extreme. We often justify the need for our jobs by engaging in a bunch of tasks that we can check off as completed. Look how much I and my team did, so we must be really needed.
And then the project report sits on a shelf, perhaps not even thoroughly read by those who requested it. And the team is off on another project.
I eventually realized that for me, pushing myself and others to always 'do more tasks' , 'gather more data', 'think more' wasn't necessarily leading me or others to truly succeed in the more important goal of living a life we love.
Making a living, supporting ourselves and our families and contributing to the success of our companies and organizations are laudable and necessary components of life. Equally important is approaching our relationships, our work and our lives with the ease and simplicity of loving language and intent, less stress, less struggle, less criticism and even less thinking.
Maybe less = better?
Please share your thoughts and tell me what you think?
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From the time I entered grade school, my “thinking cap” was securely on my head and on high alert. I raised my hand so fast with answers that it became a game for others to try to beat me. Rarely did others succeed. Not that I got called on by the teacher all the time, but my hand shot up knowing the answer every time. My challenge at that time wasn’t knowing the answers.
As my 1st grade teacher, Mrs. Wallman, reminded us often, “anything worth doing was worth doing well”, and to her that included silence from her students, unless called on. Now for me, That (silence) was a challenge!
The first row, first seat in our classroom was reserved for the “Best” among us. 100% correct papers were required, and that part was pretty simple for me. And I was lucky enough to have a last name that started with a “D”, and that gave me pretty good positioning. And So, I rather quickly moved into 1st Row, 1st Seat “Best” status.
That is, until 1st Row, 2nd seat, Peter poked me in the back, and I turned around to ask what he wanted. Mrs. Wallman snapped to attention as I turned in my seat and quickly proceeded to inform me that I had to move out of my cherished spot for talking. Usually this talking mess-up meant going to the back of the row I was currently in - so back of the 1st row.
But, such an ‘injustice’ to me warranted argument and telling my teacher just how unfair she was being and advancing my insistent plea of innocence because 'it wasn’t my fault that Peter poked me'. I’m not sure just how brazen I became, as my memory recalls much more of Mrs. Wallman’s penetrating looks and pointing with her finger to show me which seat I was now entitled to take - and thus I was booted to the last row, last seat. Arrrrrgh, I was so angry with her.
Not a quitter by nature and with a ‘born in me’ determination beyond reason, I focused on working my way back to “perfect” and that revered seat in the front of the room. Each day I controlled my natural talkative and playful self to prove to Mrs. Wallman that I was the ‘best’ in the class. I realized in those first few months of first grade, that if I worked hard enough and did exactly what I was told, that I could be “perfect” and be in Row 1, Seat 1.
Anyone who knows me wouldn’t be surprised that I worked my way back to “perfect”, only to bounce in and out of that seat numerous times that year. Though Never Again did I return to the last seat, last row. My arguing and my standing up for “injustice” were held at bay the rest of that year.
The takeaway that was decided by little Mary in first grade was that “perfect” was indeed possible. I also decided that I wanted to be “perfect”, and that if I worked very hard and did exactly what I was told to do, that the end result was “Perfect”.
I have chased perfection my entire life. Not altogether a bad thing, since that striving for perfection led to high grades, numerous awards and accolades, high achievements, high level positions of leadership and accompanying salary - AND very high expectations for myself and for others.
I also lived my life with a “Perfect Facade” shown to the world, while having inner feelings of ‘never being quite good enough’. I knew all my imperfections and was fearful that if others looked too closely, they’d see the real, less than perfect Me that existed behind my own Wizard of Oz curtain.
Luckily for me, I’ve exerienced transformative learning immersion of Landmark Forum. My past hasn’t changed. It will always be my past. Though I now realize that “What happened?” and our stories about What Happened? are rarely the same. So, to be a little more accurate, my version of my past will live on. The transformation comes from my perspective having changed and my focus being much more on the present and actions of today that can impact the future.
Why does any of this matter to you? I am sharing as I work to figure things out - even though Landmark basically debunks our need to keep ‘trying to figure it out’ and urges we keep taking action instead of thinking about it so much.
With that said, and I agree on Landmark’s point. For those of you who are ‘trying to figure it all out’, sharing my stories and experiences and what conclusions I’ve come to for me…just may be the advice or message you needed to hear today.
Please share - What do you think about perfection? What's been your experience?
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I’ve spent countless hours researching, reading, watching, listening and even meditating on the current Best Practices out there to add insight and valuable understanding for my own life and the life of my coaching clients.
When I chose to leave my secure and relatively high paying government job shortly after I reached the Vibrant Age of 60, I also set in motion the start of a new business. My last day in the office was December 31, 2013, and BestYOU LLC was formed on January 1, 2014. Though I had never been in business myself, I was determined and had done my homework - lots and lots of homework. Completing coursework and certification to be a career and life coach the year before was just the beginning.
Researching ‘how to start and register a business’, filling out forms and completing paper work, online application process, more research, domain name selection and registration, more research, website host selection and then content writing, graphics selection, layout and navigation and page creations and more research on website analytics and placement and security. There were a myriad of other steps and processes to learn and navigate in order to officially start and register a business with an official website.
And I was fortunate to have had experience in website development and understood the jargon and process - It's much easier with today's technology, yet it still required a substantial time commitment, energy and work.
I also was fortunate to have made many contacts in my prior business and public roles.
When I thought about it, the number of people I have met and personally interacted with in my life, numbered in the tens of thousands. Wow, how awesome is that!
One of the truisms I realized recently, in Landmark Forum is that all those people and all those names and connections were in the past.
What really counts is Today and the Present.
How many of those tens of thousands have I actually kept up with? How many have changed jobs, email addresses, phone numbers and even last names? How many were contacts only while I had a certain role or position that might benefit them? And were all those contacts the right fit for now?
So, those tens of thousands diminished in number very quickly. Not a worry, just 'Is'.
You may have noticed in what you just read, that I shared first the challenges, and the required process realities of starting a new business, being an entrepreneur and self employed coach/consultant. Research shows that challenges and complaints are icebreakers, and humans more easily relate to other humans' difficulties.
I could just as easily have shared the freedom and the flexibility of my day and the joy of growth from learning that I now daily experience. Controlling my own schedule and determining my own priorities are benefits that are not easily measured, but certainly are positive. Whether presenting the challenges or the benefits, each are valid views of the same reality. The positive view would have been met with more skepticism and deemed less relatable. Interesting, isn't it? (a topic I will return to in the future)
From current trends and best practices to life experiences and discoveries on my own life journey, I hope that my posts will be of value to you as you walk your own path.
I’d love to hear what you think and welcome you to share comments and thoughts you may have. If you know someone who may like to sign up for my blog posts, please share this link with them.