by Christian R Komor, Psy.D.
This article is reprinted from Association Trends Magazine.
In today's market place, organizational success depends largely upon the creativity, innovation, spontaneity, and enthusiasm of each team member. Our North American culture teaches us well how to DO and produce but often neglects our BEING side which alone can give us access to the cutting edge of business. To DO better we need to rediscover our innate ability to BE!
"You must learn to be still in the midst of activity and to be vibrantly alive in repose."
- Indira Gandhi
Do you have the patience to wait until your mud settles and your water is clear? Can you remain unmoving till the right action arises by itself?
- Lao Tsu (5th Century B.C.)
In our growth towards higher personal and organizational achievement and increased individual and team productivity it is easy to overlook that the most important resources we have at our disposal are those within us. These inner personal abilities are often best found when BEING, as opposed to rushing, forcing, or DOING. Like the tortoise from the famous children's story we need to transcend our hare-like tendencies towards agitated, goal oriented activity in order to allow our truly innovative and creative side to emerge.
The recovery of our ability to BE has, in turn, direct benefits for our work and workplace. When we look at the available outcome studies concerning individual and organizational excellence at least 12 factors tend to stand out:
All of the above factors are primarily expression, or direct products of personal growth, or what can be thought of as our BEING side. Collectively they represent what we will be referring to in this article as our POWER OF BEING.
In other cultures the abilities which can be realized through the cultivation of active BEING are familiar and well understood. Indeed, in China the term Wu Wei is used to describe the state of actionless action which proceeds true innovation and creativity. On the other hand, in North America our approach to goal-oriented productivity has successfully placed a high value on DOING through control, achievement, efficiency and production. Our standard of living is, of course a testament to our success in this style of productivity.
Unfortunately, our DOING oriented approach to business has had some dangerous byproducts. Most of the major illnesses of our time have now been linked directly, or indirectly to the escalation in our cultural stress level. Our biggest killer, heart attacks, occur most frequently on Monday mornings, the start of our workweek. Our natural environment also is giving us warning signs that we are pushing too hard. Experts suggest that we are running out of time to correct the trend towards over utilization of natural resources and toxification of the planet.
What is required today is a healthy balance between the DOING and BEING aspects of our approach to the marketplace. Only by joining these two elements can we both increase our productivity and avoid the collapse of our personal and environmental systems. Too, it is through balancing the BEING and the DOING elements of our work that we are able to travel even beyond expected levels of performance and venture into the realm of true excellence.
In order to do this we need to begin to develop a new technology of BEING including specific strategies for accessing a state of inner BEING. It is not enough to acknowledge the importance of perspective in today's business climate. We must guide our development towards a attitudinal approach which will increase our productivity through inner balance. With that as our goal let us look closer at just what this BEING state involves and specific methods for learning to appreciate and maximize our BEING abilities.
Healthy BEING can be understood as an experiential way of perceiving and relating to the world characterized by a centered, choiceful self-ownership. Many of us come closest to experiencing this BEING state when we are first awakening in the morning, in moments of quiet meditation, or even when we are engaged in a repetitive activity of some type. For example, many of us are confronted by the power of our BEING when we realize we have been driving our car successfully even though our attention has wandered for seconds, or even minutes.
During such BEING times we, in effect, allow the churning mud of our awareness to settle enough that the person that we truly are is able to emerge. We find that there is life beyond, or more accurately beneath all of our roles and expectations and pressures and lists and control and goals.
As you will note, however, BEING is not something that we DO, or achieve, but rather something that we allow to happen. Like sleep, sexual intimacy, playfulness, or other more subtle human activities BEING happens when we LET GO. BEING is like the butterfly which, when pursued, eludes our grasp, but if you sit quietly long enough alights on our finger.
Of course, BEING has played a significant role in most philosophic and religious traditions. What is more recent is the discovery that cultivating our POWER OF BEING can have a dramatic impact on our performance and the performance of the organizations and systems within which we work. For example, Albert Einstein, well known for his creative use of leisure time, revealed that many of his most significant ideas arose naturally and unbidden while he was lost between the wind and the water on his sailboat. When we are skilled in listening to our BEING side creative solutions often arise without conscious effort.
Learning to activate and appreciate our BEING nature is not as easy as it may sound. Perhaps that is why this elusive ability has remained on the cutting edge of organizational growth for so long. We are not used to thinking in terms of less being more and the idea of cultivating periods of stillness in our demanding schedule can be daunting.
Therein, however, lies the paradoxical nature of BEING. In order to access BEING we first need to be willing to confront the twin roadblocks of fear and paradox. Many of us in the business community are naturally uncomfortable with the leap of faith needed to quietly and proactively center oneself when a forceful reaction to a problem seems the quick and easy solution. It is difficult to see the immediate pay-off But, like investing time in the growth of a long-term relationship, developing a relationship with our BEING side yields a power that transcends more forceful and goal-oriented approaches to productivity.
As we move beyond our fear and look towards developing a technology of BEING seven general principles can serve as trusty guides:
Using these principles in our daily life assists us in cultivating our BEING. It is also particularly important to allow time each week for "non-doing" practice. As opposed to doing nothing (which is still doing something), non-doing is the art of reducing our outside stimuli (no radio, television, mail, or telephone) for a period of time so that we can learn to listen to our self. As we practice this discipline our thoughts and worries will generally begin to still. Eventually, we make that critical internal shift from the feeling of reactivity that our environment seeks to impose upon us to the proactive sense of choicefulness and spontaneity.
Many of us have been exposed to the concepts of stress and time management. While helpful, these ideas and exercises can be elusive given the demands of our present marketplace environment. What we require, and what the BEING state provides, is an orienting principle which we can carry with us into all situations and relationships.
When we are operating from our BEING nature our reactions are naturally centered and appropriate. We naturally pace ourselves and are more flexible in our choices. We work smarter instead of harder with increased output and decreased use of material resources. Our joy and self-esteem increase, bringing with them a more relaxed relational manner. Amidst those changes we become increasingly capable and successful while having more enjoyment in the process.