Friday, August 31, 2012

Stinking Thinking, Politics and The New Professionalism

Most of us consider ourselves professionals.  But we’re old professionals, not in age, but in how we think about things. We rely on rationality, science and our left brains to the exclusion of intuition, spirit and our right brains. To relate to our work, families, communities and even ourselves more effectively we need to be new professionals, using both science and spirit, left brain and right, head and heart.

          Such a new professionalism would offer a way beyond using only the cold technique and icy expertise of old traditional professionalism, to enable us to include the enthusiasm, joy and compassion of our spiritual power, what Ralph Waldo Emerson called the energy of the “divine circuits.” 

          We don’t have to put that energy into things, Emerson tells us, it’s there already.  To reach it in ourselves and others, to have our personal and professional lives filled with that glow, we have to get the blocks, what Emerson called, our “bloated nothingness,” out of the way. 

          Ring true?  Emerson’s saying we’ve had it backwards all this time.  Spirit -- enthusiasm, warmth, creativity and trust -- is the rule, not the exception.  If we can get our bloated nothingness – our worry, fear, and solitary dependence on science and rationality, out of the way, spirit is what’s left. 

Three steps do that.  First, realize you have a bloated nothingness and it operates through your conceptual frameworks (conframes), the invisible patterns connecting thoughts, feelings and actions.  Second, be mindful of which of the four conframes you’re using.  Third, consciously shift to the one for the new professionalism, the one that interferes least with the divine circuits.


Shape Shifting Consciously

The shapes below represent the thoughts, feelings and experiences produced by the four basic conframes.  Since shifts between them are usually unconscious, if you become more mindful, you’ll know which conframe you’re using (Step 2) and which to shift to (Step 3).  Only one conframe shape represents the new professionalism and connects scientific expertise with inner wisdom and spiritual power to provide the skill, enthusiasm, warmth and creativity we want in our lives.  Before going on, consider the shapes and see if you can identify which that is.


blob                dichotomy                     pyramid                         continuum 


When using the Blob, you’ll have blah experiences.  Everything will seem the same, without meaning or significance.  Nothing will matter very much and no thing will be all that different from any other thing.  Key word: one dimensional. 

           With the Dichotomy, things are experienced as two dimensional.  As in: “you’re either for me or against me,” and, “things are either good or bad.”  Key word: either/or.  With the Dichotomy there’s no middle ground. 

          Key words for the Pyramid are hierarchy and scarcity.  Judgments and rankings are instantaneous and automatic.  Best is at the top, worst at the bottom.  The moment we experience something, we judge it. 

          The Continuum connects.  Its keyword is both/and.  By virtue of its shape alone, the Continuum communicates a sense of wholeness and completeness; without barriers, levels or other forms of separation.  Striving and proving are replaced by flow and intuition.  It is the shape of the new professionalism, a relationship with customers and others emphasizing trust and cooperation instead of the strife and struggle represented by the Dichotomy and Pyramid. 

Next time you reach the limits of your expertise or feel you’re losing it with yourself or others, shift to the Continuum.  And remember, shifting begins in the easiest and hardest places -- your own heart and mind. 

Easy because believe it or not, in spite of what your parents, teachers or society did to you, your heart and mind are, and always have been, 100% your own.  And hard, because being 100% your own, you have to face yourself and accept responsibility for what goes on there.  The most difficult journey is the eighteen inches between head and heart.


Let the Continuum Work for You

          Though the Continuum’s best, it’s not the most popular.  Just as people thought the world was flat in 1492, so now most people think professional relationships and life in general, are best understood as a Pyramid or Dichotomy -- the conframes of the old professionalism -- the bloated nothingness that blocks the divine circuits.

          You have to consciously choose the Continuum.  It will not operate automatically as our bloated nothingness, the Dichotomy and Pyramid, do.  Here are a few examples that show both how to use the Continuum, and it’s superiority.

          Put water on a continuum of hot and cold.  Ice at one end, steam at the other, liquid in the center.  You can differentiate between them and simultaneously understand that they’re different forms of the same thing, water.  The Blob couldn’t do that. 

          With the Blob, you’d perceive only water and wouldn’t be able to make the very useful distinctions between its solid form, ice, and its gaseous form, steam.  The Dichotomy would reduce the three -- ice, liquid and steam -- to two.  And the Pyramid would arrange them into a hierarchy with one at the top.

          Here’s another.  Put the skin color of human beings on a continuum with one end being white, the other, black.  Each color is visible but we can clearly see the larger truth, all are part of the same thing -- humanity.  The Blob wouldn’t detect differences at all.  The Dichotomy would focus only on differences, missing the connections.  While the Pyramid would include them all, but suggest some differences, those at the top, are better than others.

          Do emotions.  With the Blob we’d have nothing but emotions.  The Dichotomy makes emotions either good or bad.  While the Pyramid says some emotions are better than others, perhaps love at the top and hate at the bottom. 

Except during a war, when it would be reversed.  The Continuum shows all emotions have a place.

          The Continuum connects you, your client, and learners instead of separating them.  By adding warmth, creativity and enthusiasm to expertise and technique it creates a new professionalism, one that is more effective and life-affirming than the tired, over-worked old professionalism we’re used to. 

          Become a new professional.  Use the three steps.  First, realize you have a bloated nothingness and it operates through your conceptual frameworks.  Second, be mindful of which of the four conframes you’re using.  Third, shift to the Continuum.  Put your thoughts, feelings and experiences on it and let the Continuum’s level flow become the pattern for your life.


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