Trusting our instincts doesn't come naturally for most of us.
We've had years of training to suppress our natural tendencies and to tone down our emotions. It is part of being human, and learning to function in a society of other human beings.
We are taught how to eat, sleep, communicate, behave and a host of other "how to's", from a very young age. Success, we believe, is most often attained from mastery of these basics and many other more complex life skills.
We are generally taught from a framework of 'what's wrong here?'
We are encouraged to learn the 'appropriate or currently acceptable fixes' for 'what's wrong. Young children hear 'no, not that way', or 'this is the right way' or 'do it this way' when learning pretty much everything.
We tell them 'what is wrong' with how they are being, and we teach them to be how we want them to be. This is how we all learned.
Some silliness is encouraged; while too much is discouraged. Loud enough to hear language is applauded; while 'inside voice please' is the message if the volume gets too loud. Playing in controlled situations is rewarded with praise and smiles from parents; while curiosity and open exploration are curtailed and dealt with cautiously.
While there are many good intentions and reasons behind each instructional message and toning down, including safety of the child, there is nonetheless, a suppression of natural instincts. We all learned we had to act in a certain way to 'fit in'. We learned to fear not 'doing it right'.
'Doing it right' had nothing to do with instincts.
I would say that most of my life I was a rule follower. Yet, I was also a rule avoider and a creative rule bender. I used plenty of "white lies" and other, charming perhaps, but manipulative techniques to do what I wanted, rather than what I was supposed to do.
My 'do it the right way' indoctrination was quite strong though, and I learned to question my own instincts and not trust them.
Typically, the mind is held in much higher esteem, so decisions and choices dictated by thoughts rather than emotions or feelings are deemed preferable. Instincts are in the 'touchy-feely' category, and so we downplay them.
Leaders are most respected when they exhibit confidence and articulate to anyone and everyone that they 'know the answers'............even if they haven't got a clue. Successful people are often scared to death that others will realize they don't know what they are doing.
Yet, no one gets to be a leader that admits they don't know the answers for today and the future. And we are all guilty of holding degrees and pedigree in too high esteem.
A somewhat comical story from breakfast with my aunt:
Her company moved into a new building - a specially designed, award winning green building that is very beautiful to look at. Top notch and highly pedigreed architects from a top notch firm designed the building, with great attention to the environment.
Yet, it takes 2-3 hours of employees wearing coats in the offices each day, before the temperature is relatively warm in the building. There are so many windows, that the light and glare make it impossible to see the computer screens for substantial periods of the day. The recycled water in the bathrooms has days where the smell is so bad that my aunt avoids going to the bathroom all day.
Certainly the architects and builders used intelligent design. Yet, I question whether some attention to instinctual comforts of the employees would not have been more productive for the company and a truly better environment for the people working there.
Another funny story comes from my brother who shared that his high profile skyscraper implemented energy saving lighting, through the use of motion sensors that automatically turn off the lights if no motion is detected.
As he tells it, you can often see him waving his arms overhead and crossing them back and forth to make enough motion that his lights stay on while he is quietly reading long documents in his office. I laugh every time I picture him doing this.
Again, good intention with highly degreed and skilled professionals yields a rather ridiculous result.
I am a big believer in education. This blog is not saying otherwise.
I am also a believer in strengthening, rather than burying, our natural instincts. The instincts we are born with are to be trusted and listened to and considered as part of the path to any and all solutions.
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