My husband claims my instructions are sometimes missing steps. Here’s an example.
It was around 5:00pm and I was in the kitchen getting an early start on dinner. When Peter came in I told him what I planned for the dinner menu and he said, “Sounds great!” I told him I was starting early because I had a client call from 5:30-6:30 which I meant I couldn’t finish the preparation. We typically eat around 6:30 and we share the cooking and cleanup chores.
I did not ask Peter to finish preparing dinner. I thought it was obvious.
When I finished my call and returned to the kitchen, the meal was in the exact stage I had left it and Peter was in the living room reading.
Fortunately I got curious, not angry. “Peter,” I said, “Did you consider finishing the meal prep while I was on the phone?” “No,” he replied. “I figured you would have told me to finish it. You didn’t say anything so I thought I’d wait for further instructions.” We actually had a good laugh when I told him that asking him to finish the prep never crossed my mind because it seemed so obvious.
This is the human dilemma. We live in the experience of whatever thinking we have from moment-to-moment. This process is instantaneous, constant, and invisible. Our experience does not look like it is thought created – it looks like life, it looks like reality. And it looks accurate. Since most of our thinking (creating) is invisible, we have no awareness that there is thinking behind the scenes of our experience, and that this experience is unique. After 40+ years of exploration and teaching about the nature of thought and reality, I’m still surprised when I catch myself in the act of thinking, when I realize that I have created a fully formed, absolute reality that is solely mine.
I coached a client who, for nearly 3 years, has been the product manager for a very lucrative product. Except for some very minor tweaks, little has changed in its production process since its inception. My client, Jake, had received many kudos for his work.
Jake was surprised when a new boss asked him to prepare a report – not the usual monthly status report but Jake’s “thoughts and reflections” about everything related to the product. Nothing fancy or formal, the boss said.
Jake’s initial reaction was worry and upset. What was this guy up to? He’s on board for 2 months and he wants to make changes to something that’s working well? Fortunately, Jake let his reaction pass before sitting down to write. Because he’d been managing the product for three years, he had a great deal to record.
Then an interesting thing happened. Jake realized how much thinking he was holding. Not that this was bad, Jake knew the product inside and out. But he noticed lots of old thinking and assumptions. He saw how real and absolute this thinking was. He had never noticed how much his thinking was showing up as “the way things are.”
When he reviewed his report with his new boss, Jake discovered some questions and insights. Not everything is going to change but Jake’s new ideas are flowing into the mix. He left the meeting energized and focused and looking forward to implementing innovations.
Sometimes life events help us examine our thinking and assumptions. When this happens, it no longer makes sense to keep operating according to the status quo. These discoveries can be fun and/or helpful or maybe just necessary. The pandemic forced us to create new strategies and develop new behaviors. Some of those innovations will be sticking around after the pandemic is over. (Hopefully not the mask-wearing!)
We can’t escape the fact that our thinking is creating our experience in the moment any more than we can escape gravity on this planet. Do we need a crisis (or a new boss) to get us to reflect and to check in with our behind-the-scenes thinking? I don’t think so. Looking in this direction not only reminds us of the immense intelligence running the system, but also that the “reality” of our experience lasts as long as we think it.
Check it out.