Sustainable long term solutions vs conflicting short term interests

Should I resolve my shoulder pain with a quick fix operation or should I change my personal behaviour in order to resolve the source of this pain? Should I go on pushing myself or accept a drop in income now in order to create space and time to secure a more suitable and sustainable source of income for the rest of my life?

Even in such crucial topics as our own health short term interests (such as income or defending our trusted assumptions in live) almost always prevail are even when they are counter productive on the long run. And actions focused on realising what is good for us on the longer term are being pushed forward. This is not only true at a individual level but at group level (in organisations, politics etc.). In long and fruitless debates (in our mind or with others) we strongly defend our personal short term interests leaving us with the unsatisfactory feeling of knowing that we harm ourselves in the long run.

Reason for me to bring this up is that when we manage to discuss that very same topic whilst putting our personal short term interest aside for a moment (which is a challenge in itself), it very quickly emerges that we usually hold a very similar or non-conflicting views on the ideal longer term solution….. It then becomes clear that what seamed to be a difference in opinions in fact is no more then our fear of the short term consequences of that solution for our personal interests. This realisation creates room to move our energy from building defence lines to clarifying these very understandable fears and helping each other to resolve these.

Holland village, Singapore, 1996

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Work to do on ‘limiting beliefs’

Looking back at my time with the NL Healthcare initiative I believed then that I had gradually managed to create an environment in which the people I worked with could feel free to express alternative, far-out or contradicting views. Although this was probably relatively true when compared to most other institutions, it doesn’t mean it was also true in absolute terms…

Leaving your comfort zone…?

Although creating a safe environment is very important to me, my focus was mainly on aspects that confirmed this belief and not enough on to the signals that there was still much room for improvement! In doing so I based myself on false assumptions: main one being that if people (based on their experience, knowledge or intuition) knew of a better way they would speak up. As a consequence (even as early practitioners of distributed leadership principles) we did not live to the potential of the organisation.

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First steps into my next U (2)

Having handed over a number of operational roles (around NL Healthcare) I start to have more ‘nothing planned in advance’ time. This allows me to gradually recharge various well used batteries and to glide down the left side of the U. Just trying to revive my senses and to see what comes up if I do not let myself guide by a sense of ‘must’ or ‘fear’.

Every other week I still need to remind myself to focus on letting go and on opening up to whatever (is already there and) ready to show itself instead of following my old habit of thinking ahead (what am I going to do next? and how will I get there?). Another relatively new topic for me is to become more aware (and get rid of) of a variety of sometimes well hidden ‘limiting beliefs’ etc. I wasn’t aware I had so many ;o)

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Use your body (1)

In my case, when I try to change some undesired behavior, mental exercise provides a temporary solution but usually no sustainable results.

The good news is however that undesired behavior (ultimately) always translates into some kind of physical discomfort. Growing an ongoing awareness of these (small or large) discomforts in a compassionate manner somehow activates behavioral change in a healthy and sustainable way. Main reason being that physical discomforts are easier to spot, allow a more objective analysis and more difficult to hide or disregard than mental discomforts.

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Can I talk before I walk?

One of things I’m still struggling with is that I’m ‘preaching’ concepts like: transparency, openness, vulnerability, authenticity, natural purpose, sustainability etc. whilst I’m not fully there myself… So when I speak to others about this I also speak to myself!

Somehow that doesn’t feel right. My temporary solution is to be open about the fact that I’m not there yet. Hence this small post about the process I’m still going through!

Training the mind is quite a challenge. The picture below (I took in a Tibetan monastery 2 years ago) depicts a well known buddhist tale about the meditator (you and me), the elephant (representing our ‘mind’) and the monkey (representing ‘distraction’).


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