I'm pleased to share with you several time-tested ways of understanding ourselves and relating to others that, taken collectively, serve as a wonderful foundation for achieving a solid balance of peacefulness and productivity in our lives.
The invitation is to learn how to become a more powerful observer of ourselves, at home and work and everywhere in between. Noticing how we have historically oriented ourselves in these areas is the starting point for new choices and new possibilities in our lives.
Ground Rules for Improved Productivity and Peacefulness
Imagine a big eye in the sky, looking at a stick person. This is meant to indicate you taking a look at you; in other words, self-awareness. As an initial starting point, make a long-term commitment to become a better, a more powerful, a more competent observer of yourself. Declare yourself to be a beginner in the area of self-observation and self-awareness, and begin practicing and flexing the “big eye” muscle!
This ability to observe ourselves in action is absolutely critical, especially if we want to bring about new results in our lives. This focus on strengthening our capacity to see ourselves (and what we’re up to) is supported by the following Ground Rules or Basic Claims:
- You cannot change another human being. Who has tried? (Think about spouses, employees, colleagues, kids…!.) While we certainly do influence one another, at a basic level you cannot change me. I can change me. But I can’t change what I don’t see – first I have to notice. Then and only then do I get to be conscious about choosing something different.
- We are not hermits. We are always and already connected to other human beings. We can be connected in such a way that we produce the results we want, or be connected in such a way that we don’t… but we can’t punt! We live in an ongoing web of commitments. Because of this, the way that we make and manage commitments (promises) is crucial – at home and at work. At some level, everyone is in the relationship business.
- If you always do what you always did, you always get what you always got. It’s not magic, it’s cause and effect. If you want to produce a result you have not historically produced, you must take an action you have not historically taken. And a great many powerful actions available to us are not physical actions at all – they are in the form of new listening and new speaking, new internal and external conversations.
- We are always at choice. And we are where we are because of the choices we have made. We always have choices, and we are always choosing. Virtually every moment of every day, in one way or another. Becoming an observer of our choices – and taking responsibility for them – is key.
- How we “see things” matters - A lot. And none of us sees things “like they are” – we are all interpreting. So a powerful question is: Is the way that you see things working for you? Are the internal stories you have built, the internal conversations you have invented, serving you well? Moving you in the direction of your declared goals? Because if not, we each have the power to author new ones, ones that can shift our perspective as well as our mood… and provide better options and new choices as we take action and produce results for ourselves in the world.
- Change is permanent, so get used to it. First point: this means that ongoing, lifelong learning is absolutely critical. It also means that the way we think about change, orient ourselves around change, manage change, purposefully induce change... all have a dramatic impact on a wide variety of our organizational and individual results.
So no matter what initiative you may be beginning, no matter what issue you may be working to solve, no matter what sort of situation you may be navigating, the invitation is to see how any or all of these Ground Rules may serve you in moving forward in the most productive manner possible!