When I was younger… and much more cool… I was invited to a New Years Day meal. It was in the home of a friend from the bowling league where I spent most Saturday nights. My wife and I showed up early and we left late. While it was described as a meal, it was more like an event.
We made new friends, and we spent time with older folks that had wisdom beyond my experience and years. There was beer, grilled chicken, and black-eyed peas. There was poker and the sitting around a living room. Many things on that day created fond memories, but the hearing of those stories stick with me to this day.
While I sat with my friend Mildred, who is around my age, I began to ask her questions. Questions I believed to be innocent enough. I was excited to get to know her more. Suddenly, she looked up, and said, “Kevin, I am not playing your games… you are trying to read me.”
She may have been concerned about the poker game later, or she may have been uncomfortable with my questions. Either way, she was having no more of my digging into her past. It was not that I overstepped, but it was that some things are better left unsaid. In some ways, I suppose I really was trying to read her.
Not, however, for a poker game… but for getting to know her story. Stories have always fascinated me. What we do with the stories we hear fascinates me also. What stories we are, and are not, willing to share, fascinate me more than the ones I hear.
There used to be a special skill among our collective groups, which was admired. Discernment. We valued those with insight and wisdom. Discernment, has been delegated to body language, emotional and professional profiles, and behavior traits. It fits nicely into the part of our minds that has to figure everything out before it is able to rest.
A few years ago, I was asked to take one of the many available “scan” tests to determine my strengths. The funny thing, is that one naturally assumes, what is not registered as a strength is a weakness. This particular scan was billed as a tool to “self-awareness” tool. I might also suggest that the consideration of snails, jack rabbits, and Rumi, are also just as effective as personality profiles for self-awareness.
Regardless of what the advertised use might be, these scans are designed to “read” individuals. Once an individual is “read”, we can place them in different positions, treat them with what we think they consider respect, and try to be all things for all people. This, of course, is impossible. Even in poker and even in corporations. Those that issued this particular test, claimed that the traits will never change, and there is no need to ever take another.
On one hand, this is disturbing. On the other hand, it is terribly amusing. Amusing because we all change from day to day, moods affect our answers, and those that offer the test feel they “figured out” a complex spirit taking the form of a human. What is disturbing is the belief that we, as human beings, are unable to change.
I work with a few managers in helping them grow as managers. On purpose, in a recent meeting, we considered and discussed “manipulation vs motivation”. We are for every team member, but we are also aware that there is a difference between manipulating a person and motivating them. The difference is not the goal, but the bringing to a team member, as many options as possible, and with humility, asking them to join in a mutual objective. We ask harder than normal questions on a regular basis.
And here is the rub. We think we can place everyone in our minds as this puzzle piece, for that part of the puzzle. We believe we can index others and file them away. Understandably, we do these things to give ourselves the illusion of predictability. We cling to certainty in the face of an uncertain future. We can say we are creating rosters for a team, but baseball is not the caring for team members. If we are going for more than wins as opposed to losses, we are obligated to grow in the way we consider others and ourselves.
There is good news in all of this consideration. You are not your past. Period. End of story. You are not a collection of what others, or even you, consider yourself to be.
When your employer, your grocery store, your government, or your friends and family, think they have you figured you out, let that be about them. When you think you have yourself figured out, let the be about you. Surprise yourself every day. Try something new every day. Do not be content with knowing yourself, work to change yourself, for the better. Let the data miners, the personality profile enthusiasts, and the cell phone trackers, file whatever they need away. And surprise them… every day.
Pigeon holes are for pigeons. Eagles soar above all of the hype about this or that new fad. Be an eagle. Plain and simple. Be an eagle.
You may indeed have subconscious programming. Change that through hypnosis, EFT, whatever Bruce Lipton offers, or by brushing your teeth with your left, instead of right hand. Listen to new music or visit a new place. Pray in a different way or consider different thoughts. Be grateful for everything and do what you do with only the sake of love in mind. Take deeper breaths on occasion, spend a minute more on the phone with loved ones, or whistle a different tune when working.
Do not believe what others, or especially you, believe to be true, about your life. Realize your immense worth, the miracle that is you, and the happiness of the creator as you were created. There are people speaking about you in rooms where you have not entered. Worry for it not. Trust that the universe wants only what is good for you and go with the flow.
And when people place you in holes designed for pigeons, sore above it all and smile, as you allow them to find contentment in their perceptions which chain them to the ground.