Coming to Consciousness: Personal and Organizational Growth

Each time I thought I suffered most, I came out of the experience knowing more of my self.  More accurately, each incident shook me, pushing me beyond ego. It was the earthquake that shook-off another layer of who I thought I was.

Each incident so hard, so painful at the time, now has become a memory that still fills my eyes with tears. I’m not sure if the tears are for the love of the moment that squeezed my conditioned beliefs until it yielded a diamond of greater consciousness or if I’m experiencing echoes of healing continuing to taking place. Either way, the tears have turned from pain to joy.

I’ve come to shake off the notion of who “I thought” I was through each incident. Organizations and teams; like individuals will go through a similar coming to consciousness or greater understanding of group relationship dynamics, if they are to become a high functioning, high achieving team. 

What began to occur more and more is that, I could “see” the separateness of my conditioning and who I really was. In other words it became increasingly clear that my life existence is just that, an experience that makes an impression on me. However, what I choose to carry with me from my experiences is that which I believe, “I am”.  Specifically, if I continue to carry the burdens and beliefs of the past, I am operating from those burdens and beliefs. Yet, if I let go of the past, I am able to see the present moment through no filter of beliefs but, as it actually is. By removing the filter or lens of past conditioning I am free to make decisions and take actions on what exists not, what I believe to exist which is biased from my experiences. It comes down to better relationships and decision-making; two of the most critical factors in business success today!

When we recognize our lens of past beliefs and conditioned thought we then have an opportunity to evaluate why we believe as we do. Do our beliefs serve us and our connections to others? Or does it separate us and create a divide from others?

All things being the same, had I been born into another family, those experiences would no doubt be different, yet, they too would not be me, but my experiences. Again, it is only when we hold onto these experiences and operate from them that we are relegated to exist at the level of our experiences alone.

I am not a thought as you are not a thought.   Yet, if we are to live beyond thought (conditioned beliefs), how does one reconcile this with modern life?

Meditation first and foremost by the very practice of it, enables one to rise above thought and truly see the interconnectedness of people.

Businesses, non-profits and even sports teams are taking advantage of the benefits of meditation for creative thinking, wellbeing, visioning and execution of highly focused tasks. What these groups have found through meditation is a higher level of cognitive functioning enabling better decision making due to a reduction of emotional influences which limit higher cognitive functioning. In other words, we are able to make decisions based on the collective highest good and not from fear and self-protectionism.

Experience and genetics are what separate us physically.  We have been taught to limit our focus to the material and consequently we miss what’s in front of us. Our common humanity! Our common humanity must be the solid foundation from which organizations build their labor force, in order for the full capability of employees to be realized and experienced daily.

All too often, I see businesses that maintain an external focus, neglecting the people who do the work and support the business. Because many Executives are externally focused on sales and service to customers, they may not realize those they depend on to serve may not be well equipped or properly aligned to provide the best service possible. Therefore, companies begin to lose customers and market share due to poor service or incapable staff.

Let’s look at it this way, as it is consciousness expanding for individuals willing to reflect on beliefs and alignment of actions to achieve goals so, too is it true that teams and organizations benefit through self-reflection and examination.

Providing a safe space for employees and leaders to practice critical thought, challenge the status quo and engage in self reflection is a great start.  Lunch and Learns or facilitated “tough conversations” can begin to provide the environment of practice and dialogue that lead to employees feeling safe to act from their personal authenticity.

The following saying is not just true for sales, but, in organizational engagement and leadership as well, “People don’t care what you have to say, until they know you care”.

Whether you’re interested in maximizing your own individual capabilities or you’re more focused on group achievement; providing permission, support and modeling are critical to make the shift to high performance leaders and teams.

By Ryan McShane

Ryan McShane, has been serving the Human Resources Profession for over 20 years and currently operates a consulting firm specializing in Human Resources Consulting, Leadership Development and Career Transition Services.

Prior, to that Ryan worked in the public, private, start-up and not-for-profit sectors, learning the various cultural norms, principles and practices of each sector and applying that learning to create High Performance Leaders and Organizations. Ryan is also the immediate past president for the largest Local SHRM Chapter in the state of Maryland, Chesapeake Human Resource Association (CHRA).

Ryan’s professional affiliations include serving on the Board of Chesapeake Human Resource Association (CHRA), Board member and Membership Director of Hunt Valley Business Forum, a founding member of Conscious Capitalism- Central Maryland, a Member of York, PA’s local SHRM chapter, a Member of UMBC’s Instructional Systems Development (ISD) Advisory Board, and a former Member of the Boomer Council, an advisory council focusing on civic engagement and mature workforce strategies.

Ryan is passionate about creating and leveraging practices and systems to enable both, individuals and organizations to achieve their highest potential. By promoting greater self-awareness and a conscious approach to workforce management, Ryan seeks to enable a stakeholder orientation, giving rise to equal consideration of People, Planet and Profit.

A Choice in Thought & Perspectives- “This is Water!”

The following piece is a reflection on the prolific writer, David Foster Wallace’s YouTube video, “This is Water!” http://youtu.be/gGLavCC9H5E

 

As David begins his narration of the video, he describes an encounter between three fish, two of whom were swimming along lazily when they see another fish, who asks, “how’s the water boys?” As the third fish keeps swimming by the two fish look at one another and ask at the same time, “What the heck is water”?

 

This anecdote speaks to awareness. The two fish being surrounded by water all their life do not recognize water as anything separate from themselves, only something that has always been there and a part of their lives. This ancient story of a fish in water is often told to bring awareness to people about living more conscious lives often resulting in a more fulfilling, joyful and impactful existence.

 

Much like the water, seeing that our thoughts are separate from us, we have a choice that if exercised can contribute to the raising of consciousness for not only us as individuals but for all of humanity!

 

The video goes on to illustrate unconscious thought patterns that lead to frustration, feelings of being trapped and events that appear to be happening “to you”. These all too familiar scenarios of commuting through traffic and navigating busy, grocery stores, illustrate a few ugly aspects of unconsciousness.

 

When we are not aware of our thoughts and thus react to whatever “comes up” in our minds that is said to be our “default mode”. The default mode is an unconsciousness that leads to a belief that it’s, “all about me”, “all these people are in my way and interfering with my interest in getting home to make my dinner.” (Notice all the me’s and my’s)

 

However, as David Foster Wallace states, if we are fortunate to be awake enough to realize that we have a choice of thought, then we have options and we have freedom in how we see situations. But remember, this is not our default setting; it does take effort and practice.

 

Mental default settings are like a blinking 12:00 on a watch, clock or DVD player. The blinking 12:00 is the default setting we see anytime power was lost and then returned to the device. Just like the clock, the mind can easily be changed from the default setting. All one has to do is change it. Yes! It really is as simple as that, once you have awareness and willingness.

 

So, by now you may be thinking, “But Ryan what does this have to do with employment and human resources”?   Our level of consciousness impacts everything we do! It is a gauge for how we interact with the world around us, from interactions with co-workers to considering all the realms of possibility when it comes to solving an operational challenge. I believe education and more specifically, workforce education will soon include a focus on conscious leadership.

 

Here, we boil it down to the basics: Am I aware of my thoughts? Are these thoughts helping me or someone else? Yes? Great, continue! No? Can I learn something from these thoughts? Yes? Then create action around that learning to reinforce new habits. No? Then change your mind.

 

Yes, it is just that simple. However, it has been discovered that we have a major influence working against us, biology. Biologically we as humans tend to resist thoughts and actions that are outside of our prior experiences, because of the potential for or actual discomfort this may create. Yes, most people are naturally conflict avoidant. But, biologically we are also highly adaptive, if we choose to be.

 

So, here are a few tips to keep you moving in the practice of conscious living, when you encounter thoughts (which lead to feelings) that don’t serve you or anyone else, examine those thoughts. Discuss them with others to see these thoughts from a different perspective. Suspend judgment and consider all angles and perspectives on a particular thought or situation before taking action. By doing so, one will have a fair and balanced context, often leading one to find the least objectionable ranging to the most efficient solution.

 

Perspective shapes our world view. An unconscious perspective (default mode) of being in the center of the world and everything around us is either working in our favor or against us, leads us to being in a constant state of self-seeking, judgment and clash with opposition. But, what if we adopted a conscious perspective, leading us to choose our thoughts for a greater good?

 

By: Ryan McShane, Vice President, Marc3 Leadership Solutions [email protected]

 

Marc3 provides small to medium sized businesses Fortune 500 Level Resources, creating “High Performance Organizations” with Greater Profit, Top Talent, and Outstanding Culture.

 

Contact Ryan to get the results that, elevate individuals and organizations to their highest potential.

marc3solutions.com, 410-688-5054

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