When someone dumps their toxic feelings on us- explodes in anger or threats, shows disgust or contempt-they activate in us circuitry for those very same distressing emotions. Their act has potent neurological consequences, emotions are contagious. We catch strong emotions much as we do a rhinovirus-and so can come down with the emotional equivalent of cold. The speed differential between these two systems- the instant emotional one is several times faster in brain time than the more rational one-allows us to make snap decisions that we might later regret or need to justify. By the time the low road has reacted, sometimes all the high road can do is make the best of things. As the science fiction writer Robert Heinlein wryly wrote- Man is not a rational animal, but a rationalising one.
I like to think of the mind as the big boss, and the senses as his five secretaries. In any bureaucracy it’s difficult to go directly to the boss. If he is a busy man, and the mind is surely that. With lots of appointments and lots of high level negotiations on his hands, you are wise to start by winning the goodwill of his secretaries.
For a long time the situation resembles those movies from 1930s, where Spencer Tracy breezes into the office, flings himself onto a corner of receptionist’s desk and turns on the charm= Hey honey, how is the bossman today. She gives him the icy look. But gradually the ice melts and the secretary becomes a strong ally.
To win over the senses, when they are clamouring for the second piece of pie, or a cigaraette and a stiff drink, you will need more than Hollyword charm. You will need systematic practice of meditation and the other spiritual disciplines. If you want to be admitted to the boss’s office, you will have to persevere over a long period of time. And if you want to be boss’s boss, that will require lots of hard, hard work on the spiritual path.
During the early days of Iraq invasion, a group of soldiers set out for a local mosque to contact the town’s chief cleric. Their goal was to ask his help in organizing the distribution of relief supplies. But a mob gathered, fearing the soldiers were coming to arrest their spiritual leader or destroy the mosque, a holy shrine.
Hundreds of devout muslims surrounded the soldiers, waving their hands in the air and shouting, as they pressed in toward he heavily armed platoon. The CO, Lt Col C Hughes, thought fast.
Picking up a loudspeaker, he told his soldiers to take a knee, meaning to kneel on one knee. Next he ordered them to point their rifles toward the ground. Then his order was smile.
At that the crowd’s mood morphed. A few people were still yelling, but most were now smiling in return. A few patted the soldiers on the back, as Hughes ordered them to walk slowly away, backward still smiling.
That quick-witted move was the culmination of many split-second social calculations. Hughes had to read the level of hostility in that crowd and sense what would calm them. He had to bet on the discipline of his men and the strength of their trust in him. And he had to gamble on hitting just the right gesture that would pierce the barriers of language and culture
I once had a physicist friend who would gladly discuss electric power, but harnessing the
power of a passion or a craving-well, that was not dynamics, that was poetry. Power, he told me sternly, is the capacity to do work. Work is the energy required to move a definite mass a definite distance. No movement, no work. No work, no power.
Day or night, I had never seen my friend far from the desk. Then late one evening I came out of a movie theatre and saw him striding along like an athlete, several miles from his office. What got you up from your desk-I asked, you are breaking the habits of a lifetime.
Coffee, he muttered, I ran out of coffee.
Here, I said, a very definite mass has been propelled at least three miles, simply by one little desire for a cup of coffee. He got my point.
Mind and elephant trunk by Eknath E. Purity of heart is to will one thing. –Soren K. There is a Hindu story comparing the mind to the trunk of an elephant-restless, inquisitive, always straying. In our villages in India, elephants are sometimes taken in religious processions through the streets to the temple. The streets are crooked and narrow, lined on either side with fruit and vegetable stalls. Along comes the elephant with his restless trunk, and in one sinuous motion, it grabs a whole bunch of bananas. He opens his cavernous mouth, and tosses the bananas in – stalk and all. From the next stall he picks up a coconut and tosses it in after the bananas. No threats or promises can make this restless trunk settle down. But the wise mahaout will give that trunk a short bamboo stick to hold. Then the elephant will walk along proudly, holding the bamboo stick in front like a drum major with a baton. He does not steal bananas and coconuts now, because his trunk has something to hold on to. The mind is the same way. We can keep it from straying into all kinds of situations if we just give it a mantram.
Thus we may know that there are five essentials for victory.
He will win who knows when to fight and when not to fight.
He will win who knows how to handle both superior and inferior forces.
He will win whose Army is animated by the same spirit throughout all its ranks.
He will win who prepared himself, waits to take the enemy unprepared.
He will win who has military capacity and is not interfered with by the sovereign.
-Sun Tzu, The Art of War.
Appliance sales at GE had slowed alarmingly and the manager was dismayed. Studying a chart showing a steady dip in sales, he and team realized that appliance division was having serious trouble with marketing. The conversation quickly turned to finding a solution. Should they concentrate on pricing? Advertising? Or some other marketing change.
Then someone from co.’s financial services arm Ge Capital showed a chart that consumer debt was reaching saturation levels. It was not that the company was failing in its marketing , but that people were having more trouble paying for appliances.
Suddenly everyone had a whole new angle on the problem. This fresh info led to discussion away from marketing to financing, searching for ways to help customers pay for such a large purchase.
This organizational intelligence represents that capacity as it emerges from the complex interplay of people and relationships,culture and roles within an organization.
Any orgn is cybernetic i.e. being engaged in continuous and overlapping feedback loops, gathering info from within and outside and adjusting operations. Systems theory tells us that in an environment of change, entity that can take in info most widely, learn from it most thoroughly, and respond most nimbly, creatively, and flexibly will be the most adaptive.
Whenever we worry about something in the past or the future, we are setting up our own little haunted house and peopling it with our own special ghosts.
Many years ago I stayed at the home of a hospitable woman who happened to believe in ghosts. Her home had a beautiful view which took in a cemetery nearby, and though she was very fond of me, nothing I could say could convince her that ghosts from that cemetery did not pay her visits. So one day I announced casually that I was going for a walk in the cemetery.
When I returned she was wringing her hands-Did you see any ghosts? She asked anxiously.
Oh, yes-I said- Three. I told them you were too nice a woman to be living in fear all the time, and they should go away and leave you alone.
And what did they say-she giggled.
They said-We can’t. As long as she believes in us, we have to stay.
She stared at me for a second, then laughed out loud. Those ghosts never bothered her again.
“This is the true joy in life, the being used for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one.” –GB Shaw
All of us have tasted the freedom and happiness that self-forgetfulness brings. In watching a good game of tennis or becoming engrossed in a novel, the satisfaction comes not so much from what we are watching or reading as from the act of absorption itself. For that brief span, our burden od personal thoughts is forgotten, then we find relief, for what lies beneath that burden is the still, clear state of awareness we call joy.
The scientist or the artist absorbed in creative work is happy because she has forgotten herself in what she is doing. But nowhere will you find personalities so joyous, so unabashedly light-hearted, as those who have lost themselves in love for all.
“As irrigators lead water where they want, as archers make their arrows straight, as carpenters carve wood, the wise shape their minds.” –Buddha.
The compassionate Buddha sums up spiritual life in one simple phrase, going against the current, the current of all our conditioning, in how we act, how we speak, and even how we think.
Talent is any recurring pattern of thought, feeling, or behaviour that can be productively applied.
David Boies is a dyslexic. He was US govt. lawyer in the antitrust suit against Microsoft. He was the one who wore down Bill Gates with his persistently polite questioning during the pretrial deposition and won over the judge with his clear exposition of the govt.’s case. His dyslexia causes him to shy away from long, complicated words. He knows what these words mean but does not use them in his arguments because of the fear of mispronunciation. Happily this need to rely on simple words makes his arguments very easy to follow. He comes across as a commonsensical man of the people.
For David, dyslexia is a talent because he has figured out a way to apply this recurring pattern productively and by combining it with knowledge and skills, to turn it into a strength.
Other talents can be
From- Now, discover your strengths