A Coaching Power Tool created by Kishore Rao
(Business and Executive Coach, INDIA)
Silence is the space in which one awakens, and the noisy mind is the space in which one remains asleep. If your mind continues chattering you are asleep. Osho
Awareness and Ignorance
Most Business and Corporate Executives have been very adept, skillful and comfortable with running organizations, implementing projects and managing people. They were good at what they did and this was reflected in their own individual success – a sort of validation, so to speak. But if they did a deeper introspection, there was little that they would have done in managing themselves –understanding their true life purpose and intent, their values and underlying beliefs, and their own confidence in trusting themselves. Viewed from this perspective they would have discovered they were relatively quite ignorant.
Since school days we have been conditioned that knowing and memorizing information – be it in languages, the arts or sciences as the cornerstone of our success. Distilled to a finer degree this is what manifested in us as awareness. Thus awareness to many of us meant information – knowing the facts, and what was going on in the world.
If you were on top of these facts you were considered well informed, intelligent, aware. Thus, in the midst of all the noise and cacophony in our existence we lost the true signal and vital information lying within our own selves. Worldly knowledge, while necessary, by itself is not awareness – knowing our own selves and who we truly are is.
What the Wise Say
Osho uses the word “awake” to amplify awareness and his observations on the subject. Here is what he says.
One of the most important things to be understood is that man is asleep. Even while he thinks he is awake, he is not. Just by opening the eyes don’t befool yourself that you are awake. Unless the inner eyes open – unless your inside becomes full of light, unless you can see yourself, and who you are- don’t think you are awake.
How true? – let’s look at our own lives – most of us are on auto pilot and being driven rather than driving –always doing rather than being.
Where is the time in the constant activity of an endless information seeking society to be truly awake? We are all sleep walking victims in a cause and effect world – constantly reacting rather than responding.
He also says:
Why were Adam and Eve expelled from paradise? They were expelled because they had eaten the fruit of knowledge. They were expelled because they had become minds, and they had lost their consciousness.
The same still applies to the human race today. Our constant search for information and knowledge has put our own consciousness into the background and thus our own self awareness.
This is not to say that information and knowledge is superfluous – it is necessary for our existence and to be an enabler for other material pursuits to address the basic human needs as defined by Maslow – but deeper awareness is necessary for us to go down into our own subconscious and attain our true aspirations.
Heraclitus, the ancient Greek philosopher said:
Men are as forgetful and heedless in their waking moments of what is going around them as they are during their sleep” In sleep you are not aware of what goes on around you, but in your waking hours are you aware of what goes on around you? Much research has been done. Ninety eight percent of messages coming to you, your mind never allows to enter – 98% percent! Only 2% enters and that 2% the mind also interprets. The net result is one becoming judgmental and being trapped in one’s own beliefs – the first step to ignorance.
This is powerfully summarized by Lao Tzu, the ancient Chinese philosopher who said:
Everybody seems to be wise except me. Everybody seems to be very clever except me – I am a fool.
This is what interpretation and judgment in our minds lead to – ignorance!
One recurring question of those seeking awareness is “ Who am I? “
Lin-chi, the Chinese philosopher has this to say:
Do not ask me. Go inside and find out who is asking. Close your eyes. Do not ask “Who am I?”. Go inside and find out who is asking, who is the questioner inside. Forget me. Find the source of the question. Go deep inside.
Awareness cannot happen unless we are truly awake. Awareness cannot happen if our minds continuously interpret, Awareness cannot happen if we constantly sit on judgment, awareness cannot happen if we always react (rather than respond). Continuance of strongly embedded habits and beliefs leads to ignorance of the truth within us and ignorance of our own true potential as individuals.
What is Awareness?
Here are Seven Levels of Awareness in a Business/Executive Coaching Context. There are perhaps more – but these will go into the spiritual realm (not in the scope of discussion of this Power Tool)
All of us will be operating at one or a combination of these levels. Our ultimate awareness aim is to attain the mastery level.
Here are some brief descriptions of each
- The Animal Level: Here we only react and there is no calculated or thoughtful response. In our professional lives it means not sticking to our ideas and/or compromising on our convictions or fleeing away from criticism. Thinking is not an option here.
- The Mass Level: We are in follow the crowd syndrome or subscribing to the herd mentality. You are born into this world as a unique individual, but raised into conformity. Mark Twain cleverly said “Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority it is time to pause and reflect. “
- The Aspiration Level: The dream state or desire state. It is good to dream but dream without action and desire without implementation will not help you reach your intent or life’s goals.
- The Individual Awareness: This is where one begins to express his/her uniqueness. This is where the shift to the conscious mind occurs. You begin to question fundamental thoughts and concepts of yourself and the world around. Once you are aware of your uniqueness you begin to do great things.
- The Discipline Level: The Commitment to Intent and Actions to achieve through multiple odds and challenges. Discipline does not mean conformity here.
- The Experience Level: Action by doing and not just learning; transformation by executing and not just strategizing. Experience builds overall awareness; the previously invisible becomes visible.
- The Mastery Level: The point at which one truly begins to respond. You are no longer a robot driven by other but driven by your own intellect and unique thoughts. The sub-conscious mind is now not filled with doubts, but with optimism and possibility.
What is Ignorance?
The highest form of ignorance is when you reject something you don’t know anything about. Wayne Dyer, American psychotherapist
The Dictionary describes ignorance as a state of being uninformed (or lack of knowledge). Ignorance is also described as witlessness and the word ignorant is an adjective describing a person in the state of being unaware.
There is an interesting observation that individuals with superficial knowledge of a topic or subject may be worse off than people who know absolutely nothing. Charles Darwin stated:
ignorance more frequently begets confidence than does knowledge
The Wikipedia further states that ignorance can stifle learning, in that a person who falsely believes that he or she is knowledgeable will not seek out clarification of his or her beliefs, but rather rely on his or her ignorant position. He or she may also reject valid but contrary information, neither realizing its importance nor understanding it. This concept is elucidated and captured in Justin Kruger’s and David Dining’s work:
Unskilled and Unaware of It: How Difficulties in Recognizing One’s Own Incompetence Lead to Inflated Self Assessments otherwise known as the Dunning – Kruger effect .
Ignorance – the Bigger Problem
The bigger problem with ignorance is not in ignorance itself but in “Choosing to Ignore”. This could be described as Willful Delusion. The purport here is that matters which are obvious are sometimes ignored, not taken into consideration. This phenomenon is not limited to persons with basic knowledge and ability, but people in positions of high power and authority. This can even extend to the highest level of human governance resulting in nightmarish scenarios that could, with more wisdom, have been avoided.
Let me illustrate with an example. Hitler’s Nazi party – there was no compulsion to belong to it. But a country like Germany- one of the most educated, cultured, sophisticated and advanced – a country that has given the longest list of philosophers, a long line of thinkers and important philosophers of that age – fell victims to an absolute mad man. Even Martin Heidegger, considered being the foremost thinker in that country, fell victim to Hitler’s lunacy. It’s not that Martin Heidegger was not aware – he chose to be ignorant.
In the WW 2 Nuremberg trials, many of Hitler’s top men (most of them highly educated) simply said that they were not responsible, and they didn’t feel guilty. They were simply being obedient, doing what they were told to do, and they did it with as much efficiency (and ruthlessness) as they were capable of. Again, they were aware of their actions and what they were doing but they chose to ignore. Many of these were good people – but were heads of concentration camps! They were good fathers, good husbands and good friends. Nobody could conceive that the same “good “people were murdering thousands of Jews every day. They chose to ignore…
Satya is a successful Business Executive. He joined a leading and successful MNC as a Plant Accountant and rose through the ranks to the position of Financial Controller – a resounding career success by any standard. Satya was a whiz at financial numbers and analysis and his virtuosity in this area won him many accolades, recognitions, and rewards. But Satya has a basic problem with people – he is a poor delegator and micromanages all of his key people as well as people down the order. He is very uncomfortable in strengthening his department by recruiting competent and senior people from outside due to his own insecurities. Satya’s life revolves only around his work and he expects the same of his people. His organization in the company is the most de-motivated and de-energized. The company does an Employee Opinion Survey every year and Satya’s department over the last many years consistently gets the lowest scores. The Company leadership, HR and Satya’s boss have for many years strongly advised Satya to change his management style to set this right but to no avail. Satya is completely and fully aware of what his employees think and what he needs to do but he is choosing to ignore. He does not believe this is important as he is doing well in his career. But the bigger issue, and therein lies the rub, is that the Company bosses are equally aware but they also choose to ignore. Satya is, perhaps, more important to them than the employee satisfaction of the entire staff in the Finance Department. The Employee Opinion Survey has thus been reduced to a meaningless ritual as both Satya and the Organization play only lip service and persistently choose to ignore.
Deeper introspection of our self awareness can help us understand our levels of awareness and ignorance better, and shape our thoughts and actions to lead more enriched, fulfilled and happier lives
Awareness has to begin with the individual and requires a deep dive within one’s true inner self. Some thoughts…..
- Be aware of our values – what are our most important values that and choose to live by. By doing this we will know the real drivers and enablers that make us happy. This will also lead to the successes that we aspire for in it’s truest sense
- Be aware of our behaviors at work and at home. Reinforcing behaviors that are energizing for us and others will lead to a positive cycle of fulfillment all around
- Be aware of our strengths and weaknesses– harness our strengths to confront future challenges – be aware of our weaknesses to guard against disempowering behavior in the future
- Be aware of our judgments and perceptions. Clearer understanding will help us in making the necessary shift to new thinking and breakthroughs in life’s journey
- Live in the present and do not dwell in the past – particularly past disappointments and failures – instead be inspired by past successes
- Do not choose to ignore – be it uncomfortable or unacceptable situations or people. Make the right choice even if it is the harder one
- What are your own thoughts on the seven levels of awareness and the ones you confront most often ?
- What can you do to shift your thoughts and actions from disempowering to empowering ones at each of these levels (e.g? standing by your convictions vs agreeing to what is not acceptable to you, implementing vs only planning and strategizing etc )
- What are the uncomfortable circumstances or situations that you are choosing to ignore at work, home or with yourself. What can you do to change it?
- What are the dogmas and prejudices that are holding you back? What can you do to changes these perceptions to positive ones
- What are the short term and long term action plans you can initiate in each of the above?
Business/Executive Coaching Application
People go through complete careers following the crowd and replicating other’s lives and their achievements measured by the accepted norms of monetary, business and career success, and the recognition that comes with it. The Business/Executive Coach is thus provided an immense opportunity to open a client’s eyes and make them “awake” to see and know their true inner selves.
Helping them know their values, underlying beliefs , strengths , prejudices and judgments and then to make them shift from disempowering to empowering behavior are important starting points.
People usually want to have better results and ever increasing success (success being a constantly moving target) . Their benchmarks, more often than not, are connected to their own peers – peers who have achieved greater success than themselves or role models outside, role models they aspire to emulate. Very often they get similar results because they are not aware of their own uniqueness and intellect. By going with the herd they operate on the same level of awareness and cannot break through to higher awareness levels. In other words they choose to ignore their own capabilities and lose the opportunity to blaze their own new trails.
By awakening clients, coaches do the following……
- Help the Client to think. Help them realize their own truths and goals that they really desire rather than those that someone thinks is good for them
- Help focus on their Intent and their Life Purpose. Visualization is a good methodology to help them do this
- Help them understand that each one’s experiences and beliefs make people see the world in their unique way. Judging people therefore is disempowering. It is the same way other people may see and judge them (the clients). The “other “people are the same as you. In the final analysis we are all one
- Help them remove negative thoughts and behavior; and to choose what to remember – acknowledging their own successes and not dwelling on past failures.
- Help them understand the power of true and active listening, the power of Acknowledgement and the power of Self ManagementHelp them to Imagine and Dream – help them transfer their vision and dream from the conscious mind to the sub-conscious
- Help them to not ignore recurring irritations, frustrations and situations that do not resonate with their values and seek ways to resolve them
- What is the Coaching Roadmap/Model that can help you work through the process of Creating Awareness and addressing Ignorance?
- What methodologies and assessments can you use to “awaken” the client?
- What are your own experiences and past learning that can validate your coaching intervention and enrich the Coaching process?
- What can you do if the client does not see the connect with “Awareness vs Ignorance “and his own future success aspirations ?
Ignorance is the night of the mind, but a night without moon or star. Confucius
Awareness – Osho
Soul of Leadership – Deepak Chopra
Think and Grow Rich – Napoleon Hill