Dear Why Team member,
I hope this week’s message finds you making the best of each new day.
2020 has certainly already been a year to remember.
No doubt many of us are thinking and rethinking on how best to live our lives and why we lived them the way we did before the quarantine.
It occurred to me many years ago, that absolutely everyone serves, either as an example of what to do or an example of what not to do; and most of us get turns at both.
Human behavior, ours and others, can provide many life lessons.
On my personal journey, life has provided me many profound insights and understandings about myself and the world around me.
Because those insights and understandings have literally transformed me. I am not the person I used to be and am pretty certain I am not the person I will become. To think anyone remains constant throughout their entire life is a very naive view of the world, but also very understandable if one has not yet lived much life.
Life is a journey, not a destination; and on that journey, new teachers appear as we become more open and ready for their teachings. Passing one class is only preparation for the next.
It is fascinating for me to look back on the person I was in my youth, what preoccupied my mind and why - and how I behaved in accordance with my preoccupations. I think it is a very valuable exercise to sit, remember, and write about one’s development over time; to notice the progress and improvement and not to be defined by past mistakes born from ignorance. Why do we remember Scrooge for who he was before the visit from the Spirits? Why don’t we remember him for who he became that fine Christmas morning at the end of the story?
It is easy – especially when we are young - to become self-righteous: believing we are right and everyone else is wrong. If this is you, how’s that working for you? Is your behavior attracting others to you or repelling them from you?
It is particularly helpful to recognize that we are all learning and growing and subject to that classic realization: “If I only knew then what I know now”. When we are particularly harsh on our own ignorance or the ignorance of others, we are given an opportunity to experience a less optimal way of living. Noticing our own personal development, admitting our own past ignorance and lack of understanding, can provide clues that we are all a work in progress. There is always more to learn. As the old saying goes, “Even the best of us have made that mistake”. Notice that the one who offers this statement, in a particular moment, is providing grace to whomever made an error and grace is what we all so desperately need for ourselves and others. Grace defined here as free and unmerited favor toward our fellow man.
Here is an invitation for you:
set aside at least one hour of quiet uninterrupted time and create an outline for your life thus-far. Because we all live out stories that have continuity from beginning to end, note the chapters of your life. Stay away from any details for now and work to assign titles to your chapters. Notice the span of your life thus-far and how many times you might have thought: “If I only knew then what I know now”. The key here is not to produce shame for lack of knowledge, but rather to have empathy for the ignorant developing soul.
Early on, when I was first working with a life coach, a significant chapter in my own life began; when through his teaching, I experienced an incredible sense of oneness with my fellow man. As I gained deeper understanding of why I did what I did, it helped me understand why others do what they do. The awakenings transformed my life, so profound was the experience that I felt called to share what I was learning and experiencing with others; hence my public speaking, the books I’ve authored and this public blog. There is a reason, of course, for which I titled my first book:
“Don’t Believe Everything You Think”.
We can all learn from the imperfect - in fact it’s through mistake we learn the most: our mistakes and the mistakes of others. But here is the key insight, a mistake is a miss-take. Perfection is not accomplished by anyone; we are all on a path either of construction or destruction. And often is the case that the one who is most focused on others rarely sees themselves, and thus rarely attends to themselves. It is written in the ancient text to first remove the beam from our own eye before we point out the speck in another persons eye.
In this way we best serve others by “becoming” a positive example to follow.
Perfection does not qualify a teacher, the lessons come from what they learned on their journey through trial and error and how it served them. Great advice is great advice, no matter who wrote it or said it.
Great accomplishments are great accomplishments no matter who did them. Exceptions to a rule do not disqualify the value of the rule. The baby still has value even when it is surrounded by dirty bath water.
We learn greatly from our miss-takes, it is one of the most valuable ways to learn, let us seek out the lessons that have stood the test of time; what has been very useful and what has not. Those who fear making mistakes are limited greatly in their learning and in their ability to live a full life. The know-it-all rarely learns at all.
Brene Brown teaches that regret is “I made a mistake”, shame is “I am a mistake”. Don’t ever believe you yourself are a mistake just because of your miss-takes. Move, make mistakes, regret and learn, but know that you yourself are not a mistake.
I can’t share this enough. We were not born moral. We develop our morals over time. Having compassion for ourselves and others on our individual journey is paramount if we are to lead lovingly. Attacking someone for not being where you think they should be on their journey is rarely received well and not likely to be perceived as a value. Becoming more is likely the best path to helping others do the same. It’s pretty simple when you think about it:
Leaders Go First.
Lovingly leading rather than angrily attacking seems to not only be most effective, it’s often the best way to live one’s life. Anger serves a purpose, but it seems to me that love and understanding, combined with grace, gratitude and forgiveness, has far more power to affect change.
Have the courage to seek out the beams in your own eye and notice how their removal will improve your vision, your life and the lives of others.
Make it a great week!