It’s Your Natural State When the Drama is Gone
A writer once illustrated a story about Michelangelo’s strategy to overcome the difficult pursuit of carving the masterpiece statue of David. In an unassuming analogy, he wrote that Michelangelo simply chipped away any stone that didn’t look like David.
And in over 20 years of working with leaders and employees of all levels, many of them come to me searching for creativity, collaboration, success, happiness, love. And possibly the biggest surprise to each of them is when they discover these outcomes are already part of their DNA.
Happiness and success aren't something that we need to pursue, learn to add, or go after.
My belief is that happiness and success aren't something that we need to pursue, learn to add, or go after. Happiness and success is really our natural state, once we can chip away all the drama. Let me tell you how I had this life-changing epiphany.
Our Stories Stifle Success
I was at a conference with the wonderful teacher Byron Katie (check out Byron Katie at thework.com. It is definitely a worthy pursuit!). After a mind-blowing day of realizing that reality isn't as harsh as we make it up to be by teaching us to stop believing everything we think, she sent us out to dinner with the following assignment: to act intentionally and stay in a neutral place rather than naming things and assigning motive, judgment and adding meaning to things. These things are all the work of the ego. Our goals were to hold direct relationship with reality.
I went out with six individuals and we took the assignment really seriously. We sat down outdoors at this wonderful restaurant. Being positive, which comes pretty naturally to me, I made the statement, "It's just a beautiful night and the stars in the sky are absolutely beautiful." Someone in my group shared with me that even though my statement was positive, it also contained judgment. They were right. Because, if I work with just the facts, I would instead say something like, "There's approximately 1.2 trillion stars visible to the naked eye." I noticed that even when I was positive, I was still adding meaning. I was adding judgment. Our goal was to get really neutral.
After a bit of silence, someone said, "The chicken is really good." We all laughed because even that was judgmental. She immediately edited her own statement and said, "Well at least we're eating chicken." She edited it again to, "Well, at least we're eating what the chef calls chicken…and, actually I'm not eating right now, I'm talking.”
We shared great laughs because we noticed how almost everything we said, so much of what we thought, really attached meaning and a story - both positive and negative. We realized how challenging it can be to live in daily reality and connect with other people without our statements having judgment.
After we realized this, we all got very quiet as there didn’t seem much to talk about, and it was a bit of an uncomfortable feeling. As each of us was trying to think about what we could talk about to connect with one another, I self-reflected: How could we be together without judgment? Positive or negative? Without adding our own meaning?
Achieving a Higher Frequency of Happiness
One gentleman broke the silence and started talking about his vision for the future and to create something that would help others. “In retirement, I would love to make sure that people in the world have clean water." He experienced the lack of this necessity when hiking in the Grand Canyon when he unexpectedly encountered some weather that left him stranded for three thirsty days with only one day’s supply of water.
As he said that, people teamed up to collaborate, innovate and help come up with ideas to realize this goal. One person said, "I know a person who is part of a foundation and they do exactly that. Here's their number." Another person said, "Gosh, I would be willing to contribute." And others helped him brainstorm about the ways that he might get involved with different organizations to make his dream come true.
This was an incredible energy shift when just a few moments prior, it was about trivial, lower conscience subjects. When we shifted into talking about the future, what we could create and how we could help, the energy flowed at a higher frequency into an unstoppable connection at a higher level of consciousness. Just a few minutes ago, we were uncomfortable and disconnected.
But when we left behind the judgment - the drama - our natural state of innovation, collaboration, teamwork, helping each other, working for the benefit of one another was revealed. It was abundant. It was unlimited. It was a state of teamwork that most leaders want to create.
Innovation, collaboration, teamwork, success, engagement, happiness – they were our natural state once the drama was gone.
Happiness and Success are Revealed, Not Added
After that experience, I realized that every single thing that people were calling me to train on: innovation, collaboration, teamwork, success, engagement, happiness – they were our natural state once the drama was gone. The epiphany occurred at that table that we didn't have to teach anybody team building or collaboration. We didn't have to develop trust. In fact, most of these people I had just met. It was our natural state at the higher level of consciousness that lives beyond our ego, our stories, and our belief of everything we think. It was this incredible space where we had really tapped into a better part of ourselves – a space that we can teach others to reveal, as well.
Now, when people call me for coaching or a training program to help move through change, or teambuilding or innovation, I know that they don't need me to teach another strategy or process, because it is already their team's natural state, it's their authentic way of being. It’s revealed when we chip away at the drama and the emotional waste that doesn’t contribute to those outcomes.
What we teach groups is the principles of reality-based thinking and simple tools to shift energy out of ego and “why we can’t” into an innovative state of “how we can.”
Shift your energy from “why we can’t” to “how we can.”
These practical tools use self-reflection to go beyond ego, revealing the state of success and happiness we all desire. It’s our natural state once the drama is gone.
For more self-reflection assignments that help you move beyond your ego, and into an accountable place where success and happiness are revealed, be sure to check out my new book, No Ego: How Leaders Can Cut the Cost of Workplace Drama, End Entitlement, And Drive Big Results, available for pre-order now.
Follow Cy Wakeman on Twitter.