Welcome back! September is here, the holidays are over (for most of us), and there is a chill in the air – Autumn has crept up, while we were not looking and its cold breath is already starting to make misty and frosty mornings in our local park. A big difference from Miami where we spent for some of August, where we had a great time. Miami is a wonderful city, active, Cosmopolitan, with a lot of Latin American influence, in particular of course, Cuba. Cuban food, music and language was ubiquitous. And there were quiet tree lined suburbs too. Bit coming back to the English Autumn is a climate shock and a culture shock.
Today we want to talk about ‘reality’ – not in an abstract way , but how to get the idea to work for you to help you accomplish real things.
First of all – a pop quiz
Who said the following quotes:
‘What we achieve inwardly, will change outer reality.’
‘Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.’
‘Reality leaves a lot to the imagination.’
‘Humankind cannot bear very much reality.’
Here’s some clues… the first was by a philosopher, the second from a scientist,
The third quote was made by a rock star and the fourth by a poet.
And for a bonus point, who said the phrase that is the title of this letter?
(Answers at the bottom of this article).
So our topic is reality – inspired by some thoughts of Srikumar S. Rao, an author and former business school Professor who now teaches a course on creativity and personal mastery developed for Colombia Graduate School of Business. He is an excellent writer and speaker, and we recommend looking into his work for yourself. He suggests a question you can ask yourself that can set you on a good path, and this is also where ‘reality’ comes in.
Think about one of your goals – could be professional, personal, long term or short term, it does not matter. Now ask yourself, ‘Do I want this…?’
Chances are, you will answer, ‘Yes! of course, it’s a goal isn’t it?’
Now ask yourself, ‘Do I really want this…..?’
As Rao says, we often ask the wrong question about our goals.
When we say we want something, (and particularly when we keep something), at the back of our mind we actually ask, ‘Could this be useful?’ or, ‘Is there a situation where this could be useful?’ And of course there always is. That is why people keep garages full of stuff they will never use, but they might….it might be useful one day, best to play safe….
It is why you have a wardrobe with some clothes you will never wear again, (be honest), unless you go to a fancy dress party. (I once bought a lime green embroidered leather jacket, that the person who sold it to me, said once belonged to Mick Jagger. Oh – the vicarious fame made it irresistible! I wore it once, then put it in the back of the wardrobe. My only excuse is that I was very young at the time, and I failed to realise that rock stars never wear in real life what they wear in concerts, because concerts are not real life.
So when you ask the question, ‘Do I really want this…?’ you are invoking some important ideas and measuring yourself against reality – meaning something important that cannot be escaped.
‘Is this your best thinking about this? is a question often asked by coaches, and is very similar. ‘We all have ‘top of the head’ answers, the first answer that springs to mind, easy, true in a sense, but not deep or connected to our best self. So a good coach will not accept the first answer, but will always go deeper.
So this ‘reality question’ is a good way of getting rid of things that are no longer serving you, you can clear the garage of your mind to put something better in there. It is also a way to make sure you do not accumulate stuff that will not serve you, or embark on a journey that you may regret, but only when it is too late to turn back.
The question makes you question your sincerity, and puts you in touch with your best self, and that is who makes the reality that you will experience, because we are all creators of our reality. Life is not a stage we step onto where the props are set and the lines learned, it is a constantly evolving film where you are actor, producer, stage designer and script writer – if we want to be.
Do you really want to be?
Pop quiz answers
1. Plutarch – Greek Philosopher
2. Albert Einstein, the only scientist equally famous for his hair as his theories.
3. John Lennon
4. T.S. Eliot, author of ‘The Four Quartets’
And the title of the article comes from one of my favourite comedians – the late Robin Williams.