Living with Paradoxes
In our private life and at work we are so often confronted with paradoxes that we just accept to live with them. Already the distinction between life and work is a paradox.
In this Newsletter want to help you in solving two paradoxes that are not mutually exclusive.
If we don’t solve these, apparent, paradoxes it will be difficult to progress in life as an individual and to progress as a corporation in an environments by which it is respected.
Some Paradox Thoughts
1. You will never fully understand what you know until you explore what you don’t
2. You can’t grow if there is no more room to know. The lever of life is switched by the desire to learn.
3. Optimism smiles at a challenge
4. Creativity begins when all traditional routes end
5. You must give before you forgive
The Paradox of Personal Change
How often are having plans to make changes in your life that are difficult to implement? In that case you are probably trapped in the paradox between increasing knowledge and skills and limiting belief of your identity. A paradox often addressed by NLP developer Robert Dilts.
The continuous process in our life of acquiring new knowledge and skills leads to developing new beliefs and setting new goals. However, often it feels as if we are not able to really use acquired new knowledge and skills and if we apply them it can feel awkward and not genuine. There can be a fear of change as we think it would require us to give up who we think we really are, it would require us to give up our identity. This happens because our identity and our belief system have developed very early in life. So we have the paradox of a an identity and belief system based on limited knowledge and skills that has formed in the past, and a current set of new knowledge and skills with the desire for a new belief system but without clarity about a new identity. Hence, we need to look at it in systemic way and integrate the different parts of our identity into a new more actualised identity. A systemic process would also take into account the ever evolving process of needs during our lifetime, from a very basic level (physiological, safety) when we were young up to a more spiritual level (self-actualization) to when we grow older.
First of all we have to understand this process of evolving needs. We start in the present looking at our feelings, both the positive and the negative feelings and we identify what needs are associated with these feelings. Once we understand our current personal needs, and how in the interaction with the external environment they develop into new beliefs, we can get a clearer perspective on our current identity. Now we can identify what is holding us back to adhere to our new beliefs and implement personal change. We can now become aware of the blockers, “old” beliefs that are holding us back from developing our identity.
In the next step we go back in time to locate the moments in our life when these blockers were formed. You might want to this on your own or with the support of a friend or coach. What was the situation at that time, what were our feelings, what were the needs that we want to get met, and what were the resulting beliefs? What skills did we have at our disposal at that time? It will become clear that many beliefs about ourselves were based on a different need level suitable for that time in our life, on limited skills and were often influenced by people that were not impartial in our life.
The most important step is not make the old or new needs and beliefs feel wrong as this would only increase their opposition against each other. Instead look at both set of needs and beliefs from an external and objective perspective and bring them together at the intentional level of growth and success. It will soon become clear that although the needs level and the beliefs have changed during our life, the intention for growth and success has not changed, and it becomes apparent that they are not enemies and there is no reason for the “old” beliefs to hold back development of a new identity. Transformation of the “old” skills and beliefs into playing a positive role in the current phase of your life will contribute to the creation of an integrated identity. Work Life Balance – Another Paradox
Most of you will be familiar with the terminology “Work Life Balance” (WLB) which is generally defined as “The idea that you should have enough time to be able to work and to have outside interests and responsibilities for example time with your family”. Personally, I think it is an outdated concept as it only focuses on time and not on meaning, on quantity and not on quality.
In almost all corporations the WLB is high on the agenda and is often on their scorecard. Individual staff has on their individual performance scorecard an item related to WLB. To what extend companies are only “ticking a box” instead of being really concerned about the well being of their staff is one issue. Another issue is whether WLB makes any sense. Let us start with the latter.
WLB signifies a separation between something called “work” and something called “life”. Work is defined as a physical or mental effort or activity directed toward the production or accomplishment of something. There are many definitions for “life” but they are always referring to human existence, relationships and activities. The word balance refers to a state of equilibrium between the two different but related aspects of something, in this case a human being. The definitions for work and life show that they are not mutually exclusive, and therefore how can they be in balance? Especially in this era in which employees work more often from home, are available by phone or email 24/7, have flexible working hours, can attend the corporate fitness club in work time, work for months in distant locations, stay with their partner in remote places for their work for many years, make use of childcare at the company location etc.. What is the meaning of “work” nowadays, is it voluntary work, employment, self-employment, taking care of the household, attending company events after “work time”? What is the meaning of “life” as the definition can be applied to “work” as well? The conclusion is that the wellbeing of a person, whether it is an employee or a human being in any other environment, cannot be described by Work Life Balance (anymore).
A systemic perspective is required to understand the wellbeing of a person, a perspective that takes into account the needs of the individual at all levels from physiological to self-actualization. I would like to advocate that the self-actualization level, that of meaning, is the most important level. Even when physiological needs are not met, a person can often cope with the situation if there is meaning in his/her life. An excellent example is Nelson Mandela life in prison. If we take the perspective of employees in a corporation, the most essential measure for wellbeing is an alignment between the needs of an individual, the needs of the corporation and the needs of the environment. I have never heard a supervisor ask for the needs of an employee!
So, where to start?
To recognize that, especially in nowadays fast moving economy, we need to really care about people, companies and the environment in a systemic way.
To support employees at all levels, from CEO to cleaner, in understanding their needs and aligning their challenges at an emotional and intellectual level.
To foster open and respectful discussions in corporations between employees and their partners and management about needs and meaning, about values and norms, about the present and the future, about the company and the environment.
To be truly dedicated to create a fulfilling present and future for this generation and for generations to come.
And not to consider it a “tick of the box” exercise as many other corporate initiatives.
All labour that uplifts humanity has dignity and importance and should be undertaken with painstaking excellence.
(Martin Luther King, Jr.)
bron: Mindfulness Newsletter February 2007