Empathy comes from the heart, not the mind

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If we look down upon the planet, and the U.S, in particular, from 30,000 miles out, it’s evident that this country is mired in a fair amount of strife, especially our institutions – government, health, education, financial, law and safety, sports…. To me, I believe it’s also evident that one common thread that underlies, and perpetuates, the strife is politics. When cooler heads prevail, one common call is for folks to take a step back, to breathe and to engage in conversation, to communicate. My take is, and has always been, that to communicate effectively one needs to first engage in some deeper, honest, self-reflection (simple, not easy). Self-reflection is what supports us to discover what it is “about me” (my emotional reactivity) that contributes to the strife. Too, self-reflection goes beyond the cognitive, intellectual and mental constructs that “define me” – reified, calcified constructs that I use to make myself “right” and you, “wrong”, the vicious cycle that  never leads to resolution – i.e., peace, calm, harmony, acceptance, love and empathy that can help to reduce and eliminate strife.

See what  I mean here:

In his book, Empathic Civilization: The Race to Global Consciousness in a World in Crisis,” Jeremy Rifkin, in one of the chapters, concludes, “…what is needed is a more transparent public debate around views of freedom, equality and democracy – a moratorium on the hyperbolic political rhetoric and incivility…and begin a civil conversation around our differing views on human nature. This would offer us a moment in time to listen to each other, share our feelings, thoughts, concerns and aspirations, with the goal of trying to better understand each others’ perspectives, and hopefully find some emotional and cognitive common ground.”

On the face of it, I believe most would agree – at least 99.9% of us would agree. It’s like saying, no one in the world should be hungry. Most would agree. But…

While Rifkin’s book is a detailed explanation of how we came to be a culture of incivility, and how empathy is a “way out,” his conclusion, for me, falls short of a real solution. Why? Rifkin essentially equates “cognition” with “consciousness” and assumes we can talk ourselves into being empathetic. Not so fast.

Love and empathy are matters of the heart, not the mind, and I think here is where Rifkin, and so many others, who posit intellectual and cognitive solutions for social ills, and social change, come up short.

Cognition and consciousness are poles apart
Cognition and consciousness are not synonyms but polar ends of a continuum. Here’s my take.

We live in challenging times – socially, politically, economically and spiritually. Incivility, disrespect, and out-and-out personal attacks are a consequence of this un-ease many are experiencing.

So, can I just “think” myself into being empathetic with those who push my buttons? I think not. At least not in any sustainable way.

Empathy is deeper stuff
Empathy is the ability and willingness to relate – not just cognitively or emotionally – but spiritually, from “within,” to what another is thinking and feeling and thus behave in a more compassionate way towards others. As Psychology Today describes it, “Empathy stands in contrast to sympathy which is the ability to cognitively understand a person’s point of view or experience, without the emotional overlay.”  As social policy analyst, Elizabeth Segal, writes,  “Empathy is more than ‘I hear you’.”

Amy Copland, Ph.D.,  Philosophy Professor at Cal. State, Fullerton, says being empathetic means we take an “other-oriented” approach to another, rather than a “me-oriented” perspective towards another. She writes, “Other-oriented means that I imagine I am you in your situation, not me in your situation. And because we are different people, I may need help to understand how you are feeling because imagining what your life is like is not the same as actually experiencing what your life is like.”

While empathy does certainly involve “brain stuff,” i.e., thoughts, and cognitive functioning, etc., empathy does not “originate” in the brain. Wanting and choosing to imagine what it’s like to be the other (or others), needs to come from deeper recesses, i.e, heart-driven, if it is to result in real, authentic and sustainable social change.

Being empathetic, then, means we do not express any egoistic need or intention (conscious or unconscious) to “fix,” teach, tell, one-up, advise, sympathize, interrogate, explain or “set another straight.” Empathy is a heart-felt choice to engage intimately with others, on a deepest level, by “be-ing” with another – providing a safe container for another to be vulnerable in our presence – feeling safe, secure, valued and heard. Simple, right? So, why is empathy so hard?

Why being empathetic is challenging
“Underneath the hood” of surface-level anger, distrust, incivility and disrespect between folks, there’s an element that sources our incivility – fear. Fear of what? Fear of losing control. Control of what? Our “identity,” our need to feel like a “somebody.” Our need to be seen, heard, recognized. Our need for psycho-emotional safety and security.

When individuals or groups fear a loss of democracy or status, or feel terrorized about losing their jobs, their homes, their health care, their educational opportunities, their families and, most of all, their sense of self, they fear being relegated to the ranks of “nobodies.”

Nobody wants to be a “nobody”
How am I dealing with these marginalized, fearful folks? Am I pushing them away? Do I see them as a threat to my identity, to my feeling like a “somebody?” Do status, ranking and “somebody-ness” depend on my doing, being and having more than them – a “zero-sum” approach to my living life, where I feel, “if you get yours, then I won’t get mine?” Is life a “me. vs. you” proposition? Do I see folks as a means to end? This is where empathy comes into play.

I am you
One tenet of many spiritual traditions is the notion that “I am you” – a metaphysical (far from cognitive) concept that points to the interconnection of all of life. An “I/Thou” approach to others is not based on the another’s packaging, i.e., looks, net worth, degrees, quality and quantity of material possessions, etc. The I/Thou personalness of relationships focuses on a heart-felt “we,” rather than “me vs. you.” How we are more alike than separate. I/Thou assumes a higher level of “consciousness” – how I orient to the planet and the people on the planet. This yearning, seeking is not simply “cognitive” stuff.

Four levels of consciousness:
Unconscious – instinctual, follower
Subconscious – habitual, robotic, drone-like, reactive
Conscious – aware, intelligent, conceptual
Higher Consciousness – intuitive, guiding, truthful, loving, universal

Empathy reflects a state where one interacts with another with (from) a higher consciousness. It’s not about “deciding” to do so; it’s about an “inner knowing” that I choose to connect. It’s heart-felt, love-based. Empathy results from “going inside,” asking our hearts if our unconscious, subconscious, or conscious “stories” about others are honest, sincere, and authentic or are really defense mechanisms to protect my “ego” self, suppress or repress my fears about others. Higher consciousness allows us to enter into communication and harmony with others from a place of a “universal mind” where we relate to others as “my brothers and sisters.”

From a place of true and real empathy, i.e., higher consciousness, the energy of love and warmth fills the space between two people (or peoples), not the energy of coldness, resistance or resentment of a “me vs. you” ego-perspective. Empathy allows equality between and among individuals, all individuals.

Higher consciousness, not cognition, is the “secret sauce” of cooperation, collaboration, compassion and connection with others. Higher consciousness is a heart-based state that allows me to “feel your pain” – I am you.

Empathy is not thinking
What’s needed is a shift from an unconscious, subconscious and even conscious state, and cognition, that puts a microscope on our emotional, psychological and spiritual orientation to the planet and the peoples inhabiting it. This internal exploration is quiet, slow, continuous and intentional. It’s not “thinking about,” it’s not intellectual. Here we query our heart, not our mind.

Einstein said “The significant problems we face cannot be solved at the same level of thinking we were at when we created them.” My take here is that “thinking” is not the problem, but consciousness. While folks may be thinking differently, they are not moving in a sustainable way to a higher level of consciousness, of “be-ing” differently, of truly transforming (I’m no longer the person I was.). And this is the challenge – without transforming, we have old wine, new wine skins. Not sustainable.

The Indian Philosopher Krishnamurti said: “Thoughts are like furniture in a room with the windows and doors closed.” I wrote about  this recently. Much of the dialogue, books, articles and sharings of well-meaning folks who seek “solutions” to incivility, cross-cultural and social issues are in this room, with the doors and windows closed. Lots of listening, agreeing, disagreeing, and “solutions,” but it’s the same old furniture, only now with different colors and textures. Why? Discussions are mostly intellectual and cognitive. Only the heart will allow fresh air and lead to true and real change and transformation.

Empathy is co-relating
The solutions to our challenges are not about new (cognitive) flavors of democracy, freedom, economics and the like; they are about co–relating and co-creating on a spiritual (not religious or theological), deeper, heart-felt level. Our mean-spiritedness, anger, mistrust, and intolerance will not be reduced or eliminated by a cognitive understanding alone, but through the application of the salve of a higher consciousness produced by our hearts and souls. True empathy is not a matter of cognition. It’s a matter of heart. The common ground we seek to find is not in the real estate of the brain; but in the fertile fields of our hearts.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Have you engaged in uncivil, demeaning, or disrespectful behavior recently? Did you justify your behavior? How so?
  • How do you generally interact with folks who think/believe/live differently from you? Truthfully.
  • Do you live life from an “I need to be right” perspective? If so, why do you think that’s so? Where/How did you learn to come from this perspective?
  • Do you ever view compromise as a weakness? How about being empathetic?
  • Do you ever rationalize or justify another’s uncivil or disrespectful behavior? If so, how or why?
  • Do you ever use “passion” as an excuse to behave inappropriately?
  • Have others ever accused you of behaving in an uncivil manner? If so, how did you respond to their accusations?
  • How did you, your family, deal with disagreement or the notion of being “different” as you were growing up?
  • What do you notice if/when you think others on the planet are your brothers and sisters? What’s your comfort level around this notion?
  • Can you envision a world where it’s possible folks respond to disagreement or differences without being uncivil, bullying, angry, enraged, fearful or otherwise disrespectful?

If you have not viewed my video, Overcoming Racism, What Stands in the Way, it’s here: https://youtu.be/nJ3rRSSCnus

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(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!

FFT 8-21-20

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Don’t Just Do Something, Stand There!
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Ever been involved in a situation where there’s conflict to be resolved, a problem to be solved, a dilemma to be unbundled, a conundrum to be clarified, or a story to be heard. Who hasn’t?

Quick to the rescue!
In such circumstances, do you immediately jump in, reactively, with a quick solution, answer, or retort?

How often in such situations are you hearing, but not listening? How often do you find that after jumping in with a solution or other response, you did not get the whole story, see the complete picture, or understand on a deeper level?

One reason we have a tendency to jump in is because our minds are working at 90 miles an hour, making judgments on the fly, wrapped up in our judgments, preconceptions or assumptions judgments, preconceptions and assumptions that are often quick, misguided and incorrect.

Listen to understand.
“Listen to understand before being understood.” is a principle bandied about in most of the “effective listening” literature. We say we “get it.” We feel we have this capacity were “good at” listening. But, how often do we really, really listen before being understood? Honestly?

Listening is not easy, especially today. In an age when we’re caught up in 25-second sound bites, when we’re inundated with input from our electronic devices, listening is a very real challenge a challenge not easily met by most folks. Why?

Products of a “media age”
Being raised in, or living in, a “media age,” many of us have become addicted to the need for hyped and immediate stimulation, resulting in a brain that is under-developed and one in which hyperactivity (moving from stimulus to stimulus – iPhone to iPhone, Smartphone to Smartphone, to Facebook, Twitter, TikTok,  Instagram, email, etc., incessantly, impulsively and addictively). The result is that focused attention for many is impossible – resulting in our inability to listen, reflect and think more deeply.

Because our brains now need change almost every few minutes (seconds!?) to sustain focus, listening, concentrating and conscious attending are often very challenging and sometimes often well-nigh impossible.

Need for ever more stimulation
Since we have conditioned ourselves for more and more immediate stimulation, our low-brain areas require this consistent stimulation and our cerebral cortex (the thinking/listening-related parts of the brain) are underutilized.

One unfortunate result of this conditioning is an inability to listen, to empathize, to be quiet and contemplative in a sustained way in the presence of another or others, especially when the situation calls for deeper reflection and understanding.

When listening is called for, many of us instead have a knee-jerk reaction in some way –  advising, “fixing,” “one-upping,” educating, telling, directing, training, hijacking the others experience, correcting, and, of course, suggesting an immediate solution – our need to “do” something.

Unfortunately, when this happens, those across from us often feel unheard, unappreciated, invisible, angry, resentful, frustrated and, often, attacked anything but “listened to.” Not a great way to build trust, engender safety or create healthy relationships.

So, the next time you’re in a situation that calls for listening, perhaps don’t be so quick to reassure, give advice, or explain your side or perspective.

In other words, in these situations, “Don’t just do something, stand there!”

Some questions for self-reflection:

Do you feel you’re a good listener? How do you know? Would you feel comfortable asking others (at work, at home, at play, in your relationship) what they think?
Have you recently been told you’re not a good listener (at work, at home, at play, in your relationship)? How did that make you feel? Why?
Do you have a tendency to ping-pong from electronic device to electronic device? Be honest.
Are you addicted to any of your electronic devices? If you say “no,” can you do without it (them) for an hour, a day or a week? If not, you’re addicted – justifications and denials notwithstanding.
Would folks say you’re often the first to jump in with a suggestion, a solution, an answer, even when they may not be asking for one?
Do you have a reputation as one who’s always “fixing” others without their asking?
Do you ever feel unheard, unseen, invisible when speaking with others? How so?
Do you ever hijack or “one-up” others’ experiences?
Would you consider yourself to be a compassionate and empathic person? How so?
Do you ever ask others if they think you understood them, before you claim you did understand them?
What one or two ways this week or next can you “listen to understand before being understood?”

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(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.
I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

The Pandemic, Lab Rats and The Re-Opening of Schools

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Who and what are underneath the push to re-open schools in the Fall of 2020? Are our children the lab rats in this experiment?

view here (14 min.)


(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

“Heck, it’s only a touch-up!

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Bankim Desai  Unsplash

 

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Just launched – three exciting new products

“Those who would preserve the spirit, must also look after the body to which it is attached.” – Einstein

Many countries require manufacturers to place health warnings on tobacco and alcohol products, and on processed foods containing genetically modified ingredients.

Not too long ago, a news item pointed to the French government’s campaign requiring all photos appearing in advertisements, on product labels and on campaign posters to show a warning if they feature a photograph that’s been digitally enhanced.

Of course, the advertising industry was up in arms saying that such rules undermine the attraction of “perfectly photographed people.”  Many advertisers could care less that confusing an enhanced photo with the real thing is misleading. Those supporting the new rules wanted warning labels to say something to the effect, “Image retouched to modify the physical appearance of this person.” A fine would be imposed for violations.

So, what about my image?

OK, so we’re being taken for a ride by the advertising and marketing industries. We’re pretty much aware of that. However, the deeper question is, “Who am I taking for a ride by the image I put out to folks?”

What image do I want to project to folks and is that image my Real and Authentic Self? Or, am I altering and enhancing my own image to persuade the world that I am who I’m not? Here are four short scenarios around “self-enhanced” images. Does any resonate with you:

First, physically. How do I dress and carry myself? Am I enhancing myself in some way? What do my clothes (and what I wear underneath my clothes), my accessories, and my posture say about me, and how does this image sync up with who I am inside? What kind of persona am I trying to project? And why? Am I appearing successful when I’m not, or unsuccessful when I am? Am I “puffed up” when, in reality, I feel lost, unsafe or insecure?

Second, mentally. Do I enhance my image, for example,  by projecting a walking “Trivial Pursuit” or “Jeopardy Champion” persona, a know-it-all, a faux intellectual who is always spouting facts and others’ ideas but who never seems to have an original thought of my own? Do I use my intellect as a shield against allowing others in?

Third, emotionally. Am I projecting a happy-go-lucky persona when, inside, I am unhappy, sad, depressed, angry, jealous , resentful or ashamed? Am I projecting a quiet, silent-type, a “go-along-to-get-along” accommodating, compliant persona when, inside, I disagree, or want to have my voice and be heard?

Fourth, spiritually. Do I project a chameleon-type personality, espousing others’ values and causes when they go against my inner Core Values? Do I engage in the art of the “put-down,” gossip or bullying even though deep down I know it’s inappropriate? Do I project a “faux” spirituality?

False expectations and living in a parallel world

“The gentlemen in Berlin are gambling on me as If I were a prize hen. I don’t even know whether I’m going to lay another egg.” – Einstein

Enhancing one’s own image is based on false expectations – I’ll gain acceptance, recognition, approval, support, an/or love by projecting the enhanced, “Photoshop” version of me – expectations that, at some point, will lose their allure, their luster and, in the end, reflect the unenhanced “me.” How will I react when that happens – if it hasn’t happened already?

Living a life that is more a minute-to-minute, hour-to-hour, person-to-person conflict between my expectations and my reality is the basic source of pain unhappiness. Not only that, living the enhanced life is exhausting – mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.

The enhanced version and the negative

While the French legislators would impose prison terms and fines for people who promote and encourage this digital enhancement, what consequences do you experience from putting out a persona that promotes an unreal and fake you? Be honest.

Choosing to be “enhanced,” rather than authentic and real, we never get to work on ourselves, never get to mature and develop, never get to forward the action of our life � to experience true and meaningful self-fulfillment. And, sadly, the enhanced version says, deep down – and we all know it – “I” don’t exist.” Dead Man Walking was the title of a popular motion picture. Isn’t that who we project when we enhance our “photo” and present it to the world as “me?” And, is Dead (Wo)man Walking the title of the enhanced image that reflects how you live your life?

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • In what ways do you allow your True and Authentic Self to show up? And how do you suppress your True and Authentic Self through enhancement? Truthfully.
  • Would your spouse/partner, co-workers, colleagues and friends describe you as being “authentic?”
  • Are you aware you (sometimes) “enhance” your image? What does enhancing your image get you? How so? Is it sustainable?
  • Do you ever long to be “real” with anyone? What prevents your real-ness? How so?
  • What was being “real” like when you were growing up? Were you around “real” people? What was that like?
  • Do you ever give away your power, your voice or your real-ness? How does that make you feel?
  • Can you envision a world where folks are real, where there’s no need for “enhancing” one’s image?

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(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Common Good

photo common good

 

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

What is the Common Good? What values drive the pursuit of the Common Good? What areas are commonly associated with the Common Good. What activities do we normally engage in to pursue the Common Good? What challenges stand in the way of the Common Good?
https://lnkd.in/d-GpZS8


 

(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Age Quod Agis

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Just launched – three exciting new products

He who is false to present duty breaks a thread in the loom, and will find the flaw when he may have forgotten its cause.”  – Henry Ward Beecher

I recall a Latin phrase we were taught in elementary school – Age quod agis. In essence, the phrase means “do what you do and do it with all of yourself.” When we do what we do with our whole self, it means working from our center, our core i.e, our heart and our soul (not only from the neck up).

When we work from our heart and soul, we’re not talking about some airy-fairy, new-age, “soft,” religious, theological, or subversive approach to work. We are, however, talking about a deeper approach to work – what might be called a spiritual approach.

This deeper approach to work focuses on excellence, ethics and fairness. This deeper approach to work asks questions – sometimes tough, challenging and uncomfortable questions, such as:

How can business promote sustainability and the environment?
What is a fair and just compensation, wage or bonus?
When are outsourcing, downsizing, and layoff efforts justified?
How does business promote the family and/or social responsibility?
How can I find my true calling?
What is  “Enlightened Economics?”
How can we restore trust and integrity in the workplace?
Can our workplaces be more ethical and humane?
Does work have to be dull, boring, routine and meaningless?
Is the separation of spirituality and the boardroom a “given?
Can people do the “right thing” without “management control?”
Why do so many, when they reach the top of the ladder, find it resting against the wrong building?
How do we respond to unethical conduct?
How do we make money and meaning?
How do we resist the “bribe and kickback” way of doing business?
How do we avoid gossip and bullying and demonstrate humility and respect?
What will I do with the rest of my life after retirement?

Warren Buffet said, “I’ve seen a lot of not-very-good human beings succeed in business; I wish it were otherwise.””Now, there are probable many Warren Buffet-type-thinkers among us who would agree. Moreover, with the ups and downs in the economy, many folks are discovering not only are they doing just fine with less, and being happier, but now wonder why they needed more in the first place.

Age quod agis is about integrating spirituality with business. There’s no question people are becoming more introspective about who they are and how they are at work given the incidents of unethical, immoral, and illegal shenanigans we read and hear about daily.

Given an unhealthy, unhappy, fear-based, and worrisome workplace environment many folks find themselves in, the creative energy that flows from the heart and soul might just be one catalyst that can transform today’s workplace into a healthier, more engaging, more ethical place to spend the majority of our waking hours.

What we do with our “whole” self
To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Research and self-reports show more and more workers are seeking calm and well-be-ing in the midst of the storm by “going inside” and reassessing their values and motivations, and discovering that when they come to work (or life) from a deeper, non-egoic place, they experience a greater sense of meaning, fulfillment, and well be-ing than what they formerly experienced when driven by ego-based needs and wants, driven by greed and speed.

Many are finding that spiritual and humanistic assets are becoming greater desires than wealth and material gain and serve as greater psycho-emotional supports than sustaining an “image” or “persona.”

Coming to work with our whole self means focusing on “who you really are” – your being and your character – within your team, your group, your silo, your organization and in your civic and social community.

Coming to work with our whole self means consciously and proactively dealing with the “tension” between spirituality and spiritual values, and work.

Coming to work with our whole self means choosing to take the time to look up from our spreadsheets to consciously focus on people and values, to speak out for what’s right, and by making an effort to act with compassion.

Personal discontent
In today’s workplace, constant competition, fear, vigilance, gossip, bullying and stress are leading to personal unhappiness, dissatisfaction and dis-ease – not a very productive way to live life at work.

Coming to work with one’s whole self fosters calm and provides a perspective that gives one an edge which is a genuine resource in overcoming angst, agitation, anxiety and aggression. Coming to work with a heart-soul-mind-driven focus provides mental, emotional, physical and psychological balance and harmony – a balance that supports a workplace characterized by “we” instead of “I” vs. “you,” and engenders a strong ethic of personal responsibility for, and self-management of, “who I am” and “how I am” at work.

Discernment
Coming to work with one’s whole self fosters a spiritual practice known as “discernment” – a way of quieting the mind and moving away from the constant din and chatter – internal and external – and allowing the wisdom of the “unknown” (intuitive “right knowing,” “right understanding” and “right action”) to arise from within instead of always forcing our “logical-contrastive -comparative” mind to answer questions and find solutions which are often quick, simple, easy and…wrong.

Dealing with people
The most intangible and complex element in any business equation is the people. Age quod agis means dealing with people by first dealing with yourself; as Socrates suggests, “Know thyself.” Having a firm grasp of one’s core values, inner motivations and purpose for being on the planet, coupled with a emotional maturity are what allow one to show up in integrity, authentically and real.

Age quod agis, when combined with effective leadership and management thinking, creates a high-performing workplace where ethical behavior, trust and trustworthiness, respect and meaning inform one’s day-to-day do-ings and be-ings.

Age quod agis means acting with wisdom, discernment, integrity, empathy and compassion – qualities that emanate from one’s deeper self – qualities that are not co-opted by greed or speed. Age quod agis means doing the right thing, from moment to moment, with your whole self.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you check your heart, soul and values at the door when you show up at work?
  • Do you deal with the “whole person” in your relationships with others at work (and at home, and play)?
  • Do you ever take time out during your workday to be quiet (walk mindfully, reflect, meditate, breathe…)?
  • Are greed and speed the two major driving forces at your workplace? How so?
  • Do you feel others see you at work as a “whole” person or simply as a “function” (how about at home)?
  • Do you feel workplace decisions are generally ethical and fair? What about your workplace decisions and choices?
  • Does your organization give attention to social and civic concerns, corporate social responsibility?
  • Do people commonly do the “right thing,” even when no one is watching?
  • Does your organization take your family into account in some way, shape or form? If not, how does that make you feel?
  • Does your organization make efforts to reduce the dull and routine and add meaning to work. Do you?
  • Do “not-very-good human beings” succeed in your workplace. How so?
  • Can you envision a workplace where the Age quod agis approach to work is “business as usual?”

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(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

The Pandemic and Integrity at Work

priority

 

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

Greetings,

Like many, the pandemic has given me pause. So many facets, so many pros and cons – and on so many levels. My latest food-for-thought focuses on the Pandemic and Integrity at Work. It’s a 6:13 video and you can view it here.

Stay well and stay safe.
Peace,
Peter

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful.
Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”
I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship. 
I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering

Overcoming Racism – What Stands in the Way?

photo

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Like so many, I’ve been affected – mentally, physically, emotionally, spiritually and psychologically  – by the events around race and racism that have occurred over the last months.

Since 2004, when I began writing “food-four-thought,” I’ve written about political issues probably twice. My work is all about conscious living and I’ve been feeling some sense of urgency and importance about sharing my thoughts. My work is all about change, and, moreover, what stands in the way of change.

So I want to express my thoughts about change, as it reflects current events. I’ve done this in a short video (11:19). It’s on YouTube, . You can view the YouTube video here:

Take good care.

Professional relationships – what’s missing?

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Charlie Foster on Unsplash

Speaker pageFacebook Page, Becoming a Better You book page

Just launched – three exciting new products

A few years back, here in the United States, Representative Anthony Weiner (D-NY) was one of a long line of high-profile figures in politics, business, sports, arts and entertainment, law and the like who have fallen from grace as the result of personal relationship issues. Jenny Sanford, is another. Alabama Governor, Robert Bentley is more recent (March 2016). There are others. This intrigues me.

Professional vs Personal
We’re surrounded by people who possess the social skills required to create professional relationships. They are great at relating to their peers, their bosses, their clients, their mentors, their coaches, their followers and their stakeholders, but when it comes to personal relationships with spouses, partners and close friends – there is no “there” there. In fact, they fail miserably when it comes to creating and maintaining healthy, conscious, loving and intimate relationships.

The curious thing is that many of these people have all the “right stuff.” They come from “good stock,”, attended the “right” schools, played all the “in” sports, engaged in the “acceptable” and revered extracurricular activities, pledged the “right” sororities and fraternities, and received the undergraduate, graduate and post-graduate degree(s)-du-jour accompanied by all the accolades that now line their walls.

Part of the climb
But on the way up, they also learned how to be egotistical, narcissistic and arrogant. They wear their successes as coats of arms on their sleeves. In their chosen professional fields, they paid their dues, moved up the ranks, and climbed the ladder of success by cultivating the relationships they needed to support them to achieve whatever it is their ego-driven desires needed to achieve – be it power, rank, status, control or recognition. To be honest, they knew their stuff; they knew their craft.

Adept at cultivating relationships, they used their tools: false modesty, false intimacy, false trust, cloudy transparency, fake vulnerability, fake charisma, insincere charm, forced gracefulness and the like. The downside – their dark side – is their narcissism, their consistent need to be “on,” to play the role, to always be in the limelight, to wield their power, to be in control, to be the center of the Universe.

When it hits
Then, it hits – sometimes subtly, sometimes not so-subtly. One day they wake up and they feel alone. They experience feelings of loneliness and deficiency and a reality that “the game is up” – their mask, worn thin, is disintegrating. Their personality costume covers but a skeleton. They begin to experience sadness, depression, self-loathing and self-pity.

They discover they really don’t know who they are. At home with their partners, at play with their friends, in their life (outside of work), they stumble, feel disoriented, disconnected and ungrounded. They feel like a stranger – emotionally distant, incapable of forging deeper, heart-felt and loving intimacy.

They experience estrangement from their spouses or partners, distance from their loved ones, and often end up engaging in superficial affairs – online and off – one-night stands. Their grasp for connection is uncomfortable and clunky; they seek a deeper self that has alluded them. They have no idea who they are.

Looking for…what?
What they’re searching for, longing for, really, is their True and Authentic Self – long lost and abandoned. Along the way, they gave up their need for true and real friendship, for true and real relationship, for true and real connection – all for the sake of ego-driven needs for control, recognition, power and security.

They created, then lived out, their fantasies that shored up their egos, but never supported their deeper relationships. They created and lived their fantasies focused on a superficial, fake and phony persona.

So now, lost, lonely and unhappy, they don’t know where to turn.

In the end, the person they’re really seeking, is “inside.” That’s where their True, Real and Authentic Self resides – the Self that knows, understands and thrives on honest, sincere, healthy and self-responsible relationships.

Some questions for self-reflection:

  • Do you know people who play a role more often than they show up as their and real self?
  • How about you, how do you feel you show authentically up in your relationship?
  • Do you have a need to be in the limelight? What if you can’t fulfill that need?
  • Do your self-images revolve around some aspects of sex, power, recognition or control?
  • Does your moral compass ever deviate from True North? When? Why?
  • Have you ever “used” people to get ahead? How so?
  • Is there a gap between the level of closeness or connection between you and your spouse/partner? If so, why?
  • Do you ever feel unhappy about your love relationships? How are you contributing to that unhappiness?
  • Have your loving relationships grown over the last year or two. If not, why not?
  • Have your friendships deepened over the last year or two? If not, why not?
  • Do you invest in your relationships and friendships? Do you take them for granted?

—————————————————–
(c) 2020, Peter G. Vajda, Ph.D. and True North Partnering. All rights in all media reserved.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to share this reading with you and I hope you find it insightful and useful. Perhaps you’ll share this with others, post it on a bulletin board, and use it to generate rich and rewarding discussion.

What is the one thing that is keeping you from feeling successful, happy, confident, in control or at peace as you live your life – at work, at home, at play or in relationship? Maybe you know what that “thing” is…maybe you don’t. You just have a feeling that something has to change, whether or not you embrace that change. And how would that change support you to show up as a “better you?”

I’m available to guide you to create relationships that reflect honesty, integrity, authenticity, trust, and respect whether at work or outside of work. I support you to focus on the interpersonal skills that enable you to relate to others with a high level of personal and professional satisfaction – unhampered by personal inconsistencies, beliefs, “stories,” and behaviors that create barriers to a harmonious, pleasant, conscious, compatible, healthy and productive relationship.

I coach by phone, Skype and in person. For more information, 770-804-9125, www.truenorthpartnering.com or pvajda(at)truenorthpartnering.com

You can also follow me on Twitter: @petergvajda.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/TrueNorthPartnering