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Saturday Musings – The Strength of Enlightenment

20180428_enlightenment

Becoming enlightened is that “aha” moment when the penny drops as you perceive something that you were not aware of before. It’s often the power of these enlightened moments that drive innovation and entrepreneurship as individuals gain a glimpse of what could be rather than what is. So how do you become enlightened?

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On the "Life Principles" diagram that I have been sharing with you over the past weeks enlightenment is the relationship between the truth and learning. You can not have enlightenment unless you are open to both these characteristics.

Enlightenment

For example, at the core of the scientific method is the quest for truth. A scientist will not achieve enlightenment in their field of studies if they refuse to face what their data is showing them.

There’s a problem with this position though….we view the truth through our own set of filters. This means, one person may look at the data and see one thing and another person see something completely different. Does this mean the first person is wrong? Not at all……and this is where learning comes into play.

Learning is the foil to truth that provides the check and opens us up to the idea that there may be other answers to the problem we are trying to solve. Learning is all about possibilities and it acknowledges the fact that everyone can potentially contribute to the issue at hand.

Learning forces us into a mindset of radical openness where we are forced to acknowledge potentially crazy ideas. For learning and truth to be effective companions there also must be mindset of radical transparency.

How often have you been in a meeting at work where the loudest mouth has won the day or what the boss says goes or ridiculing of new ideas is the norm? Most people have experienced this sort of behaviour and it is the antithesis of enlightenment. Let’s explore the two concepts of radical openness and transparency and how they are the precursors to enlightenment

Radical Openness
The first step towards being open to new ideas is to learn to listen. We have two ears and one mouth, use them in those proportions. To be radically open to new ideas we must first truly understand what another person is saying. So much so that we can argue their position as well as they can.

We also need to consider who the other person is and whether they are an authority to speak on a particular topic. It’s the classic case of not going to the butcher to learn how to invest in gems. If you want to invest in precious stones, then go to the jeweller. If we don’t do this, then we can end up taking on board ideas that may derail us in our problem solving.

Radical openness also means we need to hold our own conclusions lightly. What does this mean? Don’t dig your heels in just because you came up with an idea. Radical openness demands we need to be prepared to relinquish our own ideas if someone else’s is better. We also have to have the humility to accept the fact that we don’t have all the answers.

Radical Transparency
Let me share with you an example of radical transparency to help provoke your thinking. I recently attended a very important meeting where I’d spent hours preparing my thoughts and writing them down. At the beginning of the meeting I asked those present to table their own notes. Not one person out of the ten or so people had done any pre-thought prior to getting together.

This thrust me into a very awkward position where I had to decide what do to about this situation. To me, it’s unacceptable to attend any meeting unprepared but there is something potentially even more insidious in this situation. In the following discussion my opinion would count as much as everyone else’s around the table even though they’d spent no pre-thinking and hadn’t considered all the issues.

In the interests of transparency, I shared my disappointment and that in our decision making we needed to be appropriately aware of the weight of the opinions prior to coming to any conclusions. This process involved moving the entire team (somewhat kicking and screaming) into a learning mindset by highlighting the truths of the situation. It’s safe to say that you could have heard a pin drop in the meeting.

Too often we sweep bad behaviour and other issues under the rug because we don’t want to “rock the boat”. What this does is create a farce of the team as it rewards bad behaviour as being acceptable and effectively punishes good behaviour. Radical transparency is committed to holding everyone to account so that everything, the bad and the good are tabled and dealt with.

I can almost guarantee the next time we have a meeting all of the attendees will have done the pre-work. This is the outcome that is desired as it means that all ideas will have equal merit and through the discussion the best idea will be identifed and enlightenment achieved.

If you are committed to truth and learning, then enlightenment will be an outcome of your mindset. Let me give you a little warning…..most people have no idea about these concepts and would rather play games then reach a better outcome. The good news is there will be some that will join you on the journey towards enlightenment. My advice, work with these people, get great results and show how enlightenment to intractable problems can come through a commitment to truth and learning.

Have a great weekend!

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Monday, 16 July 2018
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