“Look closely at the present you are constructing: it should look like the future you are dreaming.”
― Alice Walker
Every now and then we experience something – an event, a person or an encounter that is truly thought-provoking, uplifting, almost transcendental.
Alice Walker, the internationally acclaimed author, poet and winner of the Pulitzer prize for her novel, “The Color Purple” enriched us in her hour-long conversation at the booked out event at the Auckland Writers Festival. She covered much and her compelling message was multi-layered, rich and deep.
A standing ovation with moist eyes was the least we could do to express she had touched us with her words, mana and presence. The three Maori ladies who sang the waiata at the end made for a fitting tribute and a moving finish.
Alice Walker touched on many pertinent themes from personal to societal, from individual to the universal including compassion, the contribution each of us can make using our gifts and talents in the context that we find ourselves including all with which we share the planet, making the world a better place and how our consciousness affects our reality.
Bringing out your best
Alice Walker also highlighted how important it is for us to engage in some practice that centres us and brings us back to our core….shifting from doing to a more reflective space.
This is a constant struggle not just for mangers and leaders but most others – working people or busy mums to make time to go within, to become more reflective. As a busy practice manager put it, “ I would not know what to do with myself and end up finding something to do!”
The tyranny of busyness
What dominates our time are tasks, activities and other commitments demanding our attention right now. Even if we are lucky enough to get through much of this, there is always more…..and more!
In the words of another client, “the tap is always turned on and the buckets are overflowing! I have to stop chasing my tail – there is no end!”
The tyranny of to-do lists and incompletions end up driving our agenda and become priorities at the expense of three critical things:
1) Drawing on Stephen Covey’s excellent time management matrix, we end up neglecting the important.
These things may not be urgent but they will be important and significant for you at the level of its meaning, purpose or values. For example, advancing a new project, hobby or passion, scheduling time with significant others, doing exercise or re-fueling one’s spirit through meditation, nature walks or however you like to do this.
2) We miss out on the vital perspective that only distance, detachment and some form of reflective practice can provide.
3) Fresh insights also come when we create the “gap” of not being involved in the minutiae.
Reflection enables us to dig deeper and come up with insights and gems that may not have been so apparent initially – often tapping into the wisdom of the collective unconscious.
The gift of deeper understanding
As per Alice Walker’s message, we owe this to the world and ourselves. As she said, this is what enables us to take the best, centred us into a situation – be it a meeting with significant stakeholders or with a loved one.
So go on, think about what and how you might integrate this more in your leadership and personal life …now!
Jasbindar Singh is a coaching psychologist who loves helping her clients achieve their goals as they explore their contribution, meaning and what truly matters to them.