Posts tagged ‘Ralph Waldo Emerson’

fault and change

The challenge Day 32, by Carlos Miceli: [Think of all the things that are not working in your life. That job you don’t like, that relationship that’s not working, those friends that annoy you. Now turn them all on you. Imagine that everything that’s not working in your life is your fault. How would you approach it? What would you work on to change your life to the state that you want it to be?]

I must be myself. I cannot break myself any longer for you, or you. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

The devil may wear Prada, but I am rather naked than gutless.

   ”Could you come into my office, now?

I was abruptly disturbed from my daydreaming by the voice in the intercom speakers. It was the voice of my boss, an arrogant woman with a charisma of a black widow spider in heat.

   ”What now?”

I dragged myself out of the chair, out of the office room, out in the corridor and in front of the closed-door. My hands were shaking a bit and I hesitated to press the button under the name I hated – Ms. Agnes Halliwell, CEO. There was absolutely nothing “Agnes” about her. I knew her name meant “chaste or holy”. She talks about it every Christmas party when she has the speech of the year to the staff. And what about her surname – Halliwell? She was far away from a “well of holiness”. Ms Agnes Halliwell was a stinking puddle of envy, wrath and greed. Wonder what aspirations her parents had for her, did they feel touched by God to have a baby and how then could she grow up to become such a despicable person? She was a cold-hearted woman and most people I knew at work despised her. She degraded my colleague in front of the rest of us for no reason whatsoever than that she had the power to do it. I pulled myself together and pressed the button and the light showed green which meant I could enter.

Sit” she said and pointed to a chair in front of her desk and signed that I be quiet. She was talking on the phone at the same time with someone else and was upset and angry.

Now listen to me, I don’t care who did what to whom or if you just got the information five fucking minutes ago! You work for me and I am the one that feeds your disgusting little children. I want it fixed within the hour,” she ranted and I watched her walk back and forth in the room.

She was impeccably dressed; black tailor-made dress, white shirt, pearls in her ears, fantastic manicured French nails and high-heel black Manolo Blahnik shoes. A conspicuous woman, in deed, but she was made of stone. She never exercised compassion or kindness. I couldn’t remember if I had ever seen her smile. She was beautiful but such a pain in the ass. She hung up the phone, sat down and grabbed her bag and pulled up her lipstick and refreshed her lips with a flaming crimson colour.

Take a look at this. I want to hear your opinion” she said and threw a pile of paper on the desk. I picked up the pile and started to read a business report. It was about a business deal about an acquisition that had its flaws but all in all it showed a good and sound business model that with some adjustments could be great.

Time is money, you know. The deal is not happening so I want you to tell me whose fault it is. Whom am I going to hang for this poor execution?” she said and looked at me with a stone cold face. She wasn’t going to let me off the hook easily.

Excuse me?” I said and couldn’t believe what I just heard.

You heard me. Don’t play stupid. Whose fault is it? Who’s to blame?

I have heard about her interrogations and pestering before but I haven’t been called into her office myself.

Don’t stall. Give me an answer. Now.” she said and reached for her mobile phone that announced an incoming text message.

“What do you want from me? I don’t think it is only one person’s fault if something goes wrong” I said and wondered if she was going to eat me alive. I put down the papers on the desk and hoped that she was content with my answer. I looked at her and could tell that she wasn’t.

Do you have an idea what it takes to run this business? Do you have at least some brain cells in there?” she hissed and pointed to my head. She made me feel like a squeezed lemon. I tried to look firmly into her eyes without yielding but I couldn’t. I gave way to her hard glance. I picked up the report again and started to look through it. There were some irregularities in the presentation, but they were minor and could be adjusted with some calculation wizardry.

Why does everything have to revolve around fault and guilt?” I thought and looked at her again. I noticed that even if she was a beautiful woman, she had a sort of thin tight upper lip, which made it easy, with little imagination, to turn her into an old ragged witch with a wart on her nose. That picture almost made me smile and I felt for her at that moment. I saw a very lonely woman who assumed that to be powerful she had to use the tactics of coercion, to threaten with reprimands for anyone that opposed her or failed to carry out to her satisfaction. I filled up with unfamiliar self-assurance. She couldn’t make me inferior unless I let her. She was actually in need of anyone or me to give her power.

I do have brain cells and they tell me you are making an unnecessary assumption. You look at business as fault and entitlement. But mistakes can be rectified and success is relative. ” I said and surprised myself that I managed to sound so calm. I looked straight at her and put down the pile of paper. She stood still and looked at me with the same stone cold face she had all along.

Why does someone have to hang if the deal isn’t going to happen anyway?” I asked.

Because as long as one or two persons are held responsible for a mistake or misfortune in our business, the rest of the team can go home with illusion of happiness and come back tomorrow and be better workers than they thought they could be the day before” she answered without hesitation and sat down.

But that’s just scapegoat mechanism and isn’t sign of strong leadership. It’s just bullying. It’s scare tactics.” I said and anticipated her to start arguing. The intercom speaker crackled.

Ms Halliwell, there’s a call on line two

Debby, what is it you don’t get? I’m in a meeting. Take a message and don’t disturb me

Yes, Ms Halliwell. I am sorry, Ms Halliwell”. The speaker crackled again when the nervous secretary hung up.

Well, it’s interesting to hear what you think leadership is all about. Now let me tell you what I think” she said and stood up and walked around her desk and stopped in front of me. She had a malicious smile on her face. At least it was as close to a smile she would have I thought and felt uneasy having her so close to me. I was certain she could smell my growing nervousness. I was her prey and she got ready for the kill.

I don’t need people to like me. I need people to do as I say. I do business. I do it well. I make huge profits for the company. People get paid well. People are happy. But when things go wrong, and it always does. You’ve heard of Murphy’s law, haven’t you?”

Yes

Good. Then you know that if anything can go wrong, it will. So when it does, people need to see that they aren’t the ones that caused it but someone else. Then people can continue to be happy. So they obey and do as I say. I am the one that have to make that call. Strong leadership is the necessity to send someone to be hanged and held accountable for mistakes so the show can go on” she said. I knew she was uncompromising but I didn’t thought that she could be like a piercing winter storm on the tundra. She was relentless.

I think responsibility for one’s actions is important, but I can’t help but wonder how constructive ‘fault’ really is? At the end of the day, you are the one that is responsible for it all, for the company. So if someone fails, you fail. You think in terms of mistakes. What if the mistakes can be looked at as opportunities instead, opportunities to do better?” I said and watched her when she laughed out loud. It was a scornful laughter. I felt ridiculed but I decided to not yield into her bullying. She was pitiful.

Oh dear Lord, you are one of those. Do you really believe in an idealistic world where you’re in service for the betterment of others? People only serve for the betterment of them selves” she said and an air of attentiveness flew over her. She sat down and watched me.

There is a Chinese saying that says if you point a finger towards someone else, three point back to yourself” I answered after a while hoping she would get my metaphor.

Oh is that so? All I have to say to that is only if you believe in mumbo jumbo like that.” she said and leaned back in her chair. She looked like this amused her; as if it has been a long time she had a hunt like this, a prey that actually gave her a fight. I felt as if I just was bit by a venomous spider and could only wait for the paralysis to kick in.

Are you going to proclaim it’s my fault then?” I said and felt my courage disappear. It seemed I had nothing to gain by trying to resist her habitual accusations and blame games.

Oh no, that would be too easy and no fun at all. No, my sweet Ms. Clueless, you are going to do the finger-pointing for me. You will step into my shoes.” she said and for the first time I saw her actually smile. My god, even her teeth were white, straight and immaculate. Her soul, however, was suppressed to the extent that it seemed totally absent. Then I felt a flood of tremendous force, a courage and strength I haven’t felt before. I stood up and straighten my back.

No, I won’t. I will not point out a person to carry fault and blame alone so the rest of us can pretend everything is okay and fine. That’s your ball game. Not mine. When I walk out the door, I will never come back. And I feel for you, you know. You are one of the loneliest persons I have ever met. You carve your name in marble because you don’t know what a heart is. I will leave you with one thought to ponder, when you die, and you will, who will attend your funeral and from their heart say they miss you because you were such a loving and caring person. Who?

I turned around and walked out the door. I was tempted to look back to have a last glimpse of her to see her reaction. But I didn’t. I knew she was knocked right out off her Manolo Blahnik shoes.

Fault turns easily in to a blame game. Human societies are founded upon myths of sacrifice, to hold a complex structure of power together, so we habitually oppose force upon another. As long as the receptive community accepts it, the balance of power is kept even if one side lose more than the other. It goes something like this: “If you do work for me and serve the needs of the greater group (like a workplace) I will protect you and what you produce”. The scapegoat mechanism is part of that power exchange. If something goes wrong, force of coercion is used to keep people on track and remain in power. Hence someone has to ‘pay’ and made into a scapegoat and held responsible for the misfortune, and that scapegoat will carry the fault alone and relieve the larger group from the burden.”

I read a wonderful short novel “They that leave Omelas”, by one of my favourite writers Ursula Le Guin, on which I took the inspiration for this prompt. In that she writes about an invisible child that has to suffer awful abandonment, isolation and cruelty for the sake of the village’s happiness. The inhabitants were aware of the child, but thought as long as that one child carried fault, guilt and blame they could continue to live in blissful ignorance. But there were a few people, who couldn’t bare the knowledge of placing guilt upon one single child, and left the village to never return. They chose to enter the uncomfortable but liberating realm of responsibility of one’s Self and one’s actions.

So I don’t think fault is constructive. Mistakes are lessons in disguise. Do I place blame and fault upon others? Yes, sometimes I do and on myself too. Because my narrow-mindedness makes me believe I see the whole story. But however I justify the fault, or what I believe I am right about, never makes me happy. It always leaves me aware of my ignorance. It takes a lot to have 360° vision but I work to have one. I believe that what might be one man’s vulnerable wilderness is another man’s theme park. Fault never tells the whole story. But if we change our view or at least have the courage to hear other versions of a story we might get a wider perspective.

 

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image

The bonus? challenge Day 31, by Matthew Stillman: [Mess up your hair. If you are wearing makeup – smudge it. If you have a pair of pants that don’t really fit you – put them on. Put on a top that doesn’t go with those pants. Go to your sock drawer. Pull out two socks that don’t match. Different lengths, materials, colours, elasticity […] Take a picture. Get ready to post it online. Are you feeling dread? Excitement? Is this not the image you have of yourself? Write about the fear or the thrill that this raises in you? Who do you need to look good for and what story does it tell about you? Or why don’t you care?]

Ministry of Self Reliance

Seriously, is this woman really an aspiring writer?! @2010 T. Jorgensen

All of us misunderstand and are misunderstood. If not by others, so help me God, by our selves. We don’t have to be geniuses to be and do that. Take this prompt for example; Trust30 says 30 days of writing, so yesterday was a closure for those of us that had reached challenge 30. We said our goodbyes and complimented each other for having ‘hung in there’ and some felt, as yours truly, exhilarated to have started to see them selves as a writer prospect.

This morning I stretched out in my bed with a fantastic image of myself. “Goddamn, I feel good about myself. I had actually done it; I wrote for 30 days in a row and enjoyed every bit of it. I got out of bed, had breakfast, and started to write about my next post, which was a sort of answer to a comment I got on one of my posts. I wrote and I wrote and then I felt the urge to see what the Ralph Waldo Emerson site said about the project.

What? Another prompt?” What can I tell you, I felt stupid (Don’t I know how to count?!), then a bit annoyed (don’t THEY know how to count?!) and then rebellious (nope, I am NOT going to write about this!) and then rather entertained (Is this The Domino Project’s way to let us know that they are great and so are we, because we misunderstood?) Don’t know and frankly don’t care that much either, I am in a writing spree, so shoot, “Let’s write!” I feel very self-reliant while I write this. 🙂

Take a picture?!” Well, my self-image is VERY differentiated, it depends on what mood I’m in: goofy / funky / ugly / sexy / totally undesirable / beautiful / tall / short / fat / thin / funny / boring / intelligent / stupid / young / old / all / nothing / alien / human… I wouldn’t know where to begin. I have no trouble to look silly, be silly, act silly, talk silly and even walk silly, if I am in the mood. Life is too short to not have fun, as they say. True, but sometimes we aren’t able to play. As I’ve written before, my dark night of the soul is no fun or silly. But just for today, let’s seriously play! I will walk sillier, talk sillier, and look sillier so I can embrace the freedom of being capable to laugh at my self and others, not to humiliate or be humiliated but just to acknowledge I AM what I AM. So what if I am misunderstood or misunderstand?! I feel alive and it’s been a long time coming! In’Lakesh and let the fun begin!

Is it so bad, then, to be misunderstood? Pythagoras was misunderstood, and Socrates, and Jesus, and Luther, and Copernicus, and Galileo, and Newton, and every pure and wise spirit that ever took flesh. To be great is to be misunderstood. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

10 year text

The challenge of Day 30, by Tia Singh: [Imagine your future self, ie, you 10 years from now. If he/she were to send you a tweet or text message, 1) what would it say and 2) how would that transform your life or change something you’re doing, thinking, believing or saying today?]

Ain’t No Mountain High Enough

Thanks Me! I was spirited away by this writing event and shown my talents. I know that nothing can be hidden in the light, so I will continue to write and do what I can until my destiny is revealed. I am another you – In’Lakesh 🙂

 

 

 

overcoming uncertainty

The challenge of Day 29, by Sean Ogle: [Write down a major life goal you have yet to achieve or even begin to take action on. For each goal, write down three uncertainties (read: fears) you have relating to each goal. Break it down further, and write down three reasons for each uncertainty. When you have three reasons for your fear, you’ll be able to start processing the change because you know where the fear stems from. Now you’ll be able to make smaller changes that push you towards your larger goal. So begins the process of “trusting yourself.”]

© Adam Hughes "Snowbunny Padme and Yoda"

I read a quote somewhere (I forgot who it was, sorry!); ”Fear is just growth coming to get you”, and what I add to that quote is that fear is part of our intuitive system which resides in our right brain and should be listen to. Note, I said listen to, not ruled or governed by fear. To succumb to fear can be very paralysing, but perceived as a guide it’s a great teacher, if we dare to listen. Most of our experiences are about personal growth. I have found myself in absolutely fearful situations where fear is an adequate reaction, but mostly my fear portrays my resistance against change.

It’s not personal Mr Ogle, but I won’t jot down one major goal and attach 3 ‘fears’ and 3 ‘reasons’ for each fear to overcome whatever uncertainty I perceive. That’s enough of that in this #Trust30 challenge. Dark Night of my Soul will absolutely suffice in that respect. It’s not a major goal per se, but the profound knowledge and insights that comes with it is. Dark Night is all about confusion and uncertainty and one shouldn’t take it lightly, not at all. Anyone who experienced it knows what I talk about. I lived and breathed uncertainty, confusion and fear as almost palpable, and oh so insisting, friends in that type of darkness. I wanted to ‘die’, so I could live. It’s awful and is all-consuming and during this Ralph Waldo Emerson challenge I see that I have come a long way towards a new dawn. It’s a process and I think I’ll write a book instead or create a seminar, as a fellow writer suggested.

But what I will do, when uncertain and fearful, is to read my post ‘Alive-est’ again and again and say:   Getting wiser in my life I will

Nothing can bring you peace but yourself. Nothing can bring you peace but the triumph of principles. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

alive-est

The challenge of Day 28, by Sam Davidson: [When did you feel most alive recently? Where were you? What did you smell? What sights and sounds did you experience? Capture that moment on paper and recall that feeling. Then, when it’s time to create something, read your own words to reclaim a sense of being to motivate you to complete a task at hand.]

“Getting wiser in life you will” 

An archery teacher’s lesson on how to become one with what is.

Goddess of Wilderness / Huntress of Forage

”Don’t hold the bow so tight”. I am at the archery club for my third time and had just aimed for the target hundred feet away. ”Try to barely hold it at all” he said as he stood diagonally behind me. The teacher was old in the game. He had shot archery for 52 years. He was quite short, had white hair and fingers that seemed casted in a different mould, like resilient and flexible timber. He took my elbow and showed me that I had to pull back my arm all the way so my hand was at the same level as my ear.

“And use three fingers to hold the string. You seem a natural at this, but the trick is to hold the bow lightly” he said and let go of my elbow. “Don’t focus on the target itself, then you lose your ability to relax and let go. Don’t force your will upon the arrow; don’t try to ‘make’ it hit the target, because then you are going to miss it for sure”. I absorbed his words and felt as if no one else was in the room. I felt as a goddess roaming in wilderness or a huntress foraging for food. I thought of my grandfather who hunted. He said it is important the rifle becomes a part of one’s body, one’s arm. If not, you get tense and may hit the animal in a way that forces the animal to die an unnecessary painful death.

“Focus on how your body is facing the target. Then your breathing, your arm, your sight on the arrow and how you stand with your feet will become one with the arrow, the bow and the string and thus part of you. Make a ritual every time you aim with an arrow; inhale, exhale, relax, tighten the string and let go of it. Then let the arrow do its work.” he said and moved away to the left side beside me. I closed my eyes and took a breath and did the steps he said and all scattered fragmented crystal pieces of my Self became fused into one whole piece. I felt very much alive and made into one with something greater than myself.

“Feel it, don’t focus so much on the arrow, the bow is strong enough”. I tightened the string, looked through the sight on the bow and let go. I hit the bulls-eye in the middle of the target three times in a row. This was a symbolic and intuitive moment for me. I ‘saw’ how to connect the dots in my life. If the bow is my soul, the string is my stamina, the arrow is my intention or truth and the target is my change (longing, dream, aspiration and so on) then lesson with my archery teacher was a sort of initiation to higher perception.

So let’s do an interpretation:

”Don’t hold the soul (bow) so tight. Try to barely hold it at all”

“And use three fingers to hold the stamina (string). You seem a natural at this, but the trick is to hold the soul (bow) lightly. Don’t focus on the change (target) itself, then you lose your ability to relax and let go. Don’t force your will upon the intention/truth (arrow); don’t try to ‘make’ it hit the change (target), because then you are going to miss it for sure”.

Focus on how your Self (body) is facing the change (target). Then your breathing, your arm, your sight on the arrow and how you stand with your feet will become one with the intention/truth (arrow), the soul (bow) and your stamina (the string) and thus part of you. Make a ritual every time you aim with an intention/truth (arrow); inhale, exhale, relax, tighten the stamina (string) and let go of it. Then let the intention/truth (arrow) do its work.

“Feel it, don’t focus so much on the intention/truth (arrow), the soul bow is strong enough.”

There are many situations in my life where I feel alive – good moments and in bad:

• each morning I wake up to my boy friend’s word “ I love you”. I am a very wealthy woman in that respect.

• when I have an engaging conversation even if it’s provocative

• when I listen to people who needs someone to talk to and ‘see’ them and I am good at that. It’s a In’Lakesh exchange;  I am another you (Mayan greeting)

• when my kids hug me for no other reason than they want to

• when I feel angry and outraged by ignorance, but can let go if it

• when I have an urge to poke an idiot’s eyes out, but resist because I know I am judgmental  (even if I am, of course, right! 🙂 )

• when I cry for any reason I can think of

• when I learn new things, even hard learnt lessons. I want to learn and seek and gain deeper knowledge about life itself.

• when I perceive myself capable of being in between time scales; that I can analyse the past, dream about the future but stay in the present because it’s where the action really is.

• when I realise, in hindsight, that my dark night of my soul was and is a process of ‘emptying out’, so I can be filled with tremendous, deep-seated and bright life force. Not necessarily a situation I had thought of as an alive-est moment before writing this, but it was and is.

The trick is ‘Don’t hold on to the soul so tightly, it’s strong enough’. That was an ‘alive-est’ soul lesson from an old master of archery on how to become one with what is. It’s really about Self Reliance.

 

 

personal recipe

The challenge of Day 27, by Harley Schreiber: [Think about the type of person you’d NEVER want to be 5 years from now. Write out your own personal recipe to prevent this from happening and commit to following it. “Thought is the seed of action.”]

A personal recipe to prevent becoming what you DON’T want to be? Well, I believe that thought is the seed of action, so…

 

 

 

call to arms

The challenge of Day 26, by Sasha Dichter: What if today, right now, no jokes at all, you were actually in charge, the boss, the Head Honcho. [Write the “call to arms” note you’re sending to everyone (staff, customers, suppliers, Board) charting the path ahead for the next 12 months and the next 5 years. Now take this manifesto, print it out somewhere you can see, preferably in big letters you can read from your chair.]

I have written a manifesto two years ago. I have it as desktop wallpaper and written foremost for myself. Then I thought as I am building up a business with my partner, we give this Manifesto of Self to everyone that work with us.

THE MANIFESTO OF SELF

Michi's Manifesto of Self

 

ps. I have posted this manifesto before as an addition to an earlier published post.

 

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