As part of my leadership reading list on Lead Self, the book: The power of Coincidence: How life shows us what we need to know by David Richo is probably one of the more spiritual books I have read on self-awareness… While some the content of this book is beyond my grasp (or maybe my interest) I do take away three self-awareness insights.
Much of this book is centered around letting go of the things that lead to needing to “be right”, “be in control”, “stay in fear” or “wanting to retaliate.” In letting go of those you make room for generosity, openness and letting life and love in. It also allows you to be a better leader in making more room for others.
Pause at the Pauses in Life
Life comes with its share of unexpected changes and events. Many of us have the tendency to fill the “in between spaces” with action and activity to avoid the quiet. Maybe the pauses are similar to the quiet in between plot developments in a book. The pause we take in these “in between” stages are an important part of growth. The hard part is to be quiet and observe rather than fill the space with “busyness.” A quote: “impatience is a refusal to honour the built-in timing of events.”
Take away: Have the courage to be quiet and to let go of controlling and willing events in the “in between” stages. Great thing show up when we are least looking for them.
Spot Fear, Attachment, Control and Entitlement
There is quite a bit in this book about the Ego and the Self – lots of it is based on Jung’s theories. The bottom line is that the Ego can get in the way of who we want to be and can show up as fear, attachment, control and entitlement. Time is spent in the book on converting this to the opposites:
- Fear becomes love
- Attachment becomes letting go
- Control becomes allowing and honoring others’ freedom
- Entitlement becomes standing up for our rights without retaliation if they are not respected
Takeaway: Fear thrives on isolation and powerlessness. When we admit our fears and share, it decreases the power it hold over us.
Mindfulness Exercise – letting go of 5 layers
Many of us have the tendency to distance ourselves from emotional reactions or to give in to drama. Mindfulness is simply “noticing our feelings and paying attention to them.” The book speaks of mindfulness as a way to visit the mind rather than be a prisoner to it.
Here one exercise to try.
Form an image of your current problem, concern or crisis. Sit comfortable and imagine that your problem is cupped in your hands in the image of a ball - a ball that is covered in 5 layers. Feel the weight of the ball and ask yourself the following questions:
- What is scary about this problem and how are you holding on to fear, or being stopped or pushed by it?
- Once you are aware if it, imagine yourself peeling it away and dropping it as you let go of the need to fear this.
- How invested are you in controlling the outcome of this problem and how are you trying to maintain control of others around you?
- Imagine yourself peeling away this layer and letting go of the need to control this.
- How are you blaming this problem on someone else?
- Let go of this layer and affirm that you let go of the need to blame anyone for this.
- How are you feeling shame or guilt about having this problem?
- Peel it away too to let go of the need to feel ashamed of this
- How are you letting your serenity become dependent upon whether you can bring everything back to normal?
- Peel this final layer away and let go of the need to fix this.
Now ask yourself what is left of the original problem. What does the ball feel like now and what is left of it? Let go of that.
Takeaway: Letting go of fear, control, blame, shame and the need to fix things creates space for new insights.
If you are interested in exploring these aspects of self-awareness as part of your leadership journey – this book is a good introduction with plenty of practical exercises and reflections.