Thursday, January 7, 2010

The importance of self-assessment.

Post 402 - "Man knows himself completely until he makes his first compromise. The more he compromises, the more he takes in that which is not himself. Soon he forgets who or what he is. He becomes his name rather than receiving the name that is his." - traditional American Indian saying.

Jung emphasized the importance of balance and harmony. He cautioned that today we rely too much on science and logic, and would benefit from integrating spirituality and an appreciation of the unconscious into our lives. He also recommended that we treat conflict as a gift because challenging conversations deepen trust. He cautioned to remain an “I” in the face of “we” pressures. It’s important not to give up who we are because of pressures for ‘togetherness’ and not to become an emotional domino by fusing with others. Remain differentiated instead, saying, “I’m really uncomfortable with XXXX and I’d like to explore it further.” Be an ‘I.’ But don’t take a stand and then disconnect. The challenge is to take a stand and remain connected.

Synchronicity, as Jung talks about it, means meaningful coincidence. We don’t do anything without a reason. “We are what we think about all day long.” It’s destructive to be controlled by negative thoughts because our subconscious mind won’t hold a negative. Instead, create and hold a positive vision of people lined up at the door to see us, then having wonderful meetings, giving spectacular service, etc. Having a truly successful life depends on having a really clear intention. How much depends on having the means to realize that intention? Not much. If we’re genuinely committed to the intention, we’ll find the means to make it happen. Ask yourself, “Is what I’m doing right now getting me closer to what I really want?”

Use language to sustain awareness that doesn’t write excuses into our thoughts that are disempowering and self-ensnaring. We need to mind the intentionally of how we talk. Start using “I want to” (implies choice), not “I need to” or “I have to” (implies addiction). Don’t join others in “pity parties” when they complain and bring problems to us. Tell them, “Here’s what I think the problem is. You’re the only one who can fix it. So stop complaining - come up with an action and a resolution.” Point out that there are only three choices: fight, flight, or stand and deliver. Start by taking our finger off someone else and putting it right on ourselves. Remember, when we point our finger at someone else, three fingers are still pointing at us.

Circumstances don’t determine our experience; our perspective - how we view our circumstances - determines our experience. An optimist thinks he has the best of all possible worlds. A pessimist is afraid he’s right. Events are neutral. How we contextualize them determines what happens to us. To see clearly, we have to stop being in the middle of the picture.

“Consistently and overwhelmingly, the evidence showed that experts are always made, not born … if you want to achieve top performance as a manager and a leader, you’ve got to forget the folklore about genius that makes many people think they cannot take a scientific approach to developing expertise … the journey to truly superior performance is neither for the faint of heart nor for the impatient. The development of genuine expertise requires struggle, sacrifice, and honest, often painful self-assessment.”

This quote is from a major study reported in the Harvard Business Review (July-August 2007) “based on rigorous research from over 100 leading scientists that looked at exceptional performance using scientific methods that are verifiable and reproducible.”

Although Jung's ideas can be very helpful in guiding our self-assessment, they aren’t typically included in the psychology or business curricula at most major universities. However, you’ll occasionally find them explored in courses on personal development and the humanities. Here are some suggestions for further reading:

Connie Zweig, “Meeting the Shadow,” “Romancing the Shadow.”

Robert Johnson, “Owning Your Own Shadow”

Shunryu Suzuki, “Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind.”

Phil McGrath, “Life Strategies”


One Woman's Thoughts said...

I really needed affirmations to believe in my choices, that they are right for me and not feel guilty for not compromising. Profound thoughts. Thank you.

john cotter said...

“The important thing is this: To be able at any moment to sacrifice what we are for what we could become.” - Charles du Bois