Posts Tagged ‘flexibility’

Flexible Focus #46: Lens on Consciousness

by William Reed on March 24, 2011

In the last eight articles we have looked deeper into the realm of the mind, looking through the lens of consciousness to see our life from higher, bigger, and deeper perspectives. And yet even from vastly different perspectives, it is all in the context of our daily familiar existence. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart.

The images are assembled in the Mandala shown here, referenced from the articles and downloads below. In the conventional Mandala fashion, they are marked A (bottom center), B (left center), C (top center), D (right center), E (bottom left), F (top left), G (top right), F (bottom right).

Here are a few notes to set your thoughts in motion. For easy reference, and to trigger new insights, download the Mandala Charts and review the original articles from each of the links below.

MIND MANDALA BODY (From Flexible Focus #38: Flexibility without Forcing)

Out of your comfort zone…into freedom

Many people like the idea of flexibility more than the practice of it. This is understandable, for if the experience takes you out of your comfort zone, you may prefer the familiar to the flexible. When your body is stiff, then physical stretching can feel more like pain than gain. A similar thing happens mentally when your values or beliefs are forcibly stretched beyond their limits. The key to expanding your comfort zone is to have more degrees of freedom. A brittle stick has no degrees of freedom, so anything which bends it, will break it. The fear of breaking causes many people to retreat into their comfort zone when stretched, but rigidity is ultimately a zone of discomfort. When you have more degrees of freedom in your mind and movements, then you experience flexible focus in action!

A NEW MODEL FOR COACHING (From Flexible Focus #39: The Principle of Gratitude)

You are not the only one in trouble…Make the world a better place

One of the hardest lessons of flexibility is letting go of the ego’s attachments. Pride prevents you from achieving flexibility, because it insists on being right, being first, or being better than others. It’s companions are alike, inflexible, stubborn, righteous, and condescending. These attitudes have ruled and ruined empires as well as personal relationships throughout history, and of course are equally evident today. The ancient Greeks called it hubris (hybris), excessive ambition or pride leading to a fall, or to total ruin. In Asian tradition, pride is like the brittle stick which does not bend, but only breaks. The inflexibility of mind, also known as the hardening of the attitudes, is ultimately the cause of the problem. It is better to be flexible, like bamboo.

A NEW KIND OF NATION (From Flexible Focus #40: The 8 Frames of Life: Society)

Social Media is a classless…and virtually free territory

What is your place in society? At one time, and still in many countries, this was a not a question which you were permitted to answer or control. Rather, it was a matter of birth, circumstance, good or bad fortune, and your place in society was largely determined by people and circumstances beyond your control. Throughout history in various times and places, individuals and groups of people have raised this question, and asserted their right of self-determination, the right to determine their own role and mission in society. Now due to the momentum of such movements in the past, and the amazing impact of technology to connect people and facilitate communication, these questions are being raised widely around the world, not just in the traditional style of political movements, but in a brand new style of personal movements.

YOUR ENTIRE LIFE IN A MANDALA PERSPECTIVE (From Flexible Focus #41: Your 100 Year Lifespan)

The past can be changed…and the future is fixed

You periodically encounter popular sayings that life ends or begins at 30, or at 50, depending on the attitude and experience of the person saying it. It is a poor and arbitrary perspective really, and let’s face it, sour grapes living produces sour grapes sayings. Yet there are many people who lose the plot of their life somewhere along the way. If you look closely there is a plot, and although life’s drama unfolds differently for each person, there are underlying themes that are remarkably consistent in a meaningful life. The originator of the MandalaChart system Matsumura Yasuo created a framework using the 8×8 B-style Mandala Chart, called the 100 Year Life Span. He said that, “The past can be changed, and the future is fixed.” How can this be? Commonsense tells us that you cannot change what has already happened, and that no one can say for sure what is coming. However, using the Mandala Chart you can reframe what has happened, and you can pre-frame what is coming.

PUTTING TIME IN A NEW PERSPECTIVE (From Flexible Focus #42: Time Lapse as a Mandala Movie)

The Mandala Chart takes you out of conventional time…gives you a new perspective

The 3×3 framework of the Mandala Chart lends itself well to showing the relationship of the frames as a visual Gestalt, a whole which is greater than the sum of its parts. The bird’s eye view gives you a 3-dimensional perspective. But what about the 4th dimension, that of time? Most discussions about the 4th dimension focus on its abstract geometry, trying to visualize what it would be like to be 90-degrees perpendicular to the 3rd dimension, in effect looking at the transformation of a 3-dimensional object over time. This is not so difficult to imagine if you look at the effect you get in time-lapse photography, where you can watch a flower grow, or see a full day of cloud transformations in the span of a few minutes. Time-lapse in real time – it is even closer at hand than that, because we all experience transformation moment to moment.

WHAT YOU SEE IS NOT WHAT YOU GET (From Flexible Focus #43: 8 Levels of Consciousness)

The central premise…is that our thoughts create our world

As central as the number 8 is to the Mandala Chart and the original Buddhist framework of Wisdom which it is based on, it is not surprising then to find that in this framework there are 8 levels of consciousness. The first five are quite familiar. We call them the five senses: Visual, Auditory, Olfactory, Taste, and Touch, which are how we perceive the world, through our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and touch. The sixth is Ideation, our conscious thought, referred to in Buddhist thought as the Monkey Mind, because it is typically unsettled and constantly chattering. The first six levels of consciousness then make up the conscious mind, the part that we are mostly aware of. What gets interesting is when you delve into the subconscious mind, which has two layers; the Mana (Obscuration/Shadow) consciousness, which we refer to as the Ego, and the Seed (Storehouse) consciousness at the core.

A BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF BALANCE (From Flexible Focus #44: Lessons in Life Balance)

How many things are juggled already in perfect balance…without any effort or interference on our part

The common word for it is Work-Life Balance, the challenge and stress of giving proper attention and time to both work and family. Part of the challenge is that every individual’s situation is unique. No one pattern fits all. Sometimes the stress is generated not so much by the situation, as by the person’s thoughts and attitudes in responding to it. Particularly stressful is the effort to give equal attention or equal time to everything. This cannot be done, though you can work yourself into a frenzy trying. At the end of the day, what really makes for Life Balance is not how you juggle the parts, but whether or not you maintain a calm center.

ABUNDANCE IN 8 AREAS OF LIFE (From Flexible Focus #45: My Cup Runneth Over)

Gratitude grows into giving…and is a principle seen everywhere in nature

In our pursuit of prosperity, we tend to take for granted the blessings that we already have in abundance. A Greek myth which made a big impression on me as a child was the story of King Midas and the Golden Touch. The King was granted a gift to his greed that whatever he touched would turn to gold, but the gift was a curse because he petrified everything and everyone he touched, turning it into a golden object devoid of life. Gold is as perennial in our culture as greed itself. While we talk about a heart of gold, good as gold, and the Golden Age, we often find that gold can bring out the worst in human nature, from gold diggers to Goldfinger. It is often taken as a symbol of wealth, the gold standard. But it is seldom seen as a symbol of abundance. Let your helping hand be one of Kindness, not a golden touch.

NOTE: The articles in the Flexible Focus series are updated with graphics, links, and attachments on the FLEXIBLE FOCUS Webbrain, a dynamic and navigable map of the entire series. It has a searchable visual index, and is updated each week as the series develops.

Flexible Focus #16: The decision trap

by William Reed on August 26, 2010

Ambiguity causes anxiety in those who are inflexible, and creates possibilities in the minds of the people who have flexible focus.

But tolerance for ambiguity drops when you have to make a decision. Urgency adds pressure, and when the decision affects the core areas of your life, you can feel as if you are lost in a labyrinth of choices.

However, a labyrinth is only a mystery to those trapped within its walls. The way to free yourself from the trap is to gain a bird’s eye perspective, which helps you see where you are now, and how to find your way out.

Decision is a strong word, a choice, a judgment, a commitment to a purpose. Decisiveness is a quality of successful people, who make decisions quickly and change their minds slowly. This enables them to take advantage of opportunities that are missed or go unnoticed by those who take a long time to make a decision, and then easily change their minds.

Your decision sets the wheels in motion, whereas with indecision the wheel turns without you. This insight is the origin behind such sayings as, he who hesitates is lost, and strike while the iron is hot. As long as you are in motion you can steer the vehicle. The moment you stop moving you start to drift, and are at the mercy of the elements.

Opportunities come in critical moments

So says Roger Hamilton, author of Your Life Your Legacy, who compares decision making with what you do the moment the soccer ball is passed to you. Depending on your position on the pitch and who is around you, you may pass, run with, or kick the ball. If you hesitate then the ball, and the opportunity, will be taken away from you.

Roger also recommends Six Criteria for Decision Making, which can keep you moving in the right direction.

  1. Fits Passion and Purpose
  2. Allows Value Creation
  3. Allows Leverage
  4. Failure steers not sinks
  5. Downside learning motivates
  6. Upside learning inspires

When faced with an important decision in your career, the alternatives usually contain some attractive elements mixed in with other elements that make you hesitate. The temptation is to compromise and take what you can get, rationalizing that no option will be perfect. However, if you disregard an important element now, it will eventually come back and cause you to regret or revise your decision.

If you can align all six of the decision criteria, then you are already out of the labyrinth.

Learn from others with a better perspective

A great way to gain perspective is to gather quotes from people who have wisdom and experience with decisions. You can search famous quotes online using key words such as decisions, dilemma, choices, or whatever word works best for you.

Here are some quotes that I searched and selected using the word decisions.

  • Pressure is nothing more than the shadow of great opportunity. (~Michael Jordan)
  • It is never to late to be what you might have been. (~George Eliot)
  • You will always miss 100% of the shots you don’t take. (~Wayne Gretsky)
  • It’s not hard to make decisions when you know what your values are. (~Roy Disney)
  • Life is the sum of all of your choices. (~Albert Camus)
  • Indecision becomes decision with time. (~Unknown)
  • Once you make a decision, the universe conspires to make it happen. (Ralph Waldo Emerson)
  • Fortune favors the prepared mind. (~Louis Pasteur)

When you face an important decision that does not easily yield to logical choices, place your favorite quotes on a Mandala Chart and use them as a tool for accessing the best perspective on your decision. You can download a PDF featuring the quotes above as a DECISION MANDALA for practice, and then create your own.

This is quick way to create a roundtable of advisors to help you with your decision, a portable mastermind that costs nothing and transcends time and space. The process of collecting the quotes helps you refine your criteria, and the time spent looking at the quotes in the Mandala Chart format brings things into sharper focus.

You can apply the same process working with decision criteria. Eight criteria should be enough for most situations. The Mandala Chart can be useful as a self-coaching tool, or to organize your thoughts before seeking outside advice. It can sort through the insignificant many, and give you a field of focus for the significant few.

Making better decisions

How do you make good decisions when the choice is not easy?

Do you list the advantages and disadvantages of each alternative? A good beginning, but it is often hard to weigh emotions and intangibles.

Do you consult with your friends? Nice to have moral support, but friendly advice can end up making you more confused than ever. Advice is cheap, and none of people you ask are likely to have as much invested in the outcome as you do.

Do you gather more information? Worthwhile to a point, but too much analysis leads to decision paralysis.

Do you flip a coin? Consult an oracle? Ultimately the decision will be back to you.

The only way to get clarity on a decision is to reflect on it with a calm mind and a broad perspective. The Mandala Chart can help you do this.

The quality of your decisions determines whether they become traps or opportunities.