The Changes We Need Most

We may think we know ourselves, but what others’ see is often invisible to our eyes.

Remember the first time you heard your recorded voice? It didn’t sound like the voice in your head did it?

A similar thing happens every time I look in the mirror!

Prior to retirement, I managed a large staff. One of the requirements of my role was writing and conducting annual “performance reviews.” Nobody looks forward to these!

I actually liked chatting with people about their development and always followed one simple rule. I told them the unvarnished truth. Evidently that was rare because people often said it was new feedback. I found that strange because the improvement needs I commented on were clear to all.

Remembering this, I began wondering about my own “flat-side,” knowing that it’s obvious to others!

I believe I have found a candidate for what it might be. I was reading The Book of Ecclesiasticus, (a collection of ancient Hebrew ethical teachings), and found the following verse: “One who despises small things will fail little by little.” It sounded to familiar to ignore!

I am pretty good at coping with big issues, but little things get to me, like a driver going 5 mph below the speed limit in the left hand lane, or being placed on holds of indeterminable duration when calling the cable company.

My daughter refers to these annoyances as my Buddha, and recommends that I read my own blog. She is probably right. Yet, I feel having successfully navigated many larger issues in life, my intolerance for smaller things is allowable.

Perhaps it’s always true that the changes we need most, we want least!

I began searching for a “practice” that would help address my intolerance and found a little book titled: “Relax and Be Aware” by Myanmar monk Sayadaw U Tejaniya. The book details thirty-one daily practices designed to help us increase awareness when emotionally upset.

Stoic philosophers referred to such practices as the “God Test.” They believed difficult circumstances were sent by the Gods to test one’s character. The “God Test” involved immediately recognizing circumstance as a test and then acting accordingly.

Tejaniya’s book is helpful, but I’m still not passing many tests.

In coaching people at work, I found “flat sides” are rarely eliminated. However, people who had a sincere desire to improve always made progress, that’s my goal.

Life is humbling!

The older I get, the more I find it takes an entire life to learn how to live!


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