Wednesday, August 5, 2009

When Spiritual Means Practical

In the middle of the last century, Werner Heisenberg, in the process of trying to determine the speed and position of an electron spinning around an atomic nucleus, discovered instead that it was a theoretically impossible task. His path to discovery brought him to the realization that his very presence as an observer changed the observation. Few of us reading this are - or will ever be - nuclear physicists. Yet, all of us have to cope with the problem of perspective as we try to figure out what a balanced life looks like to us right here and now. Our observation - our very awareness - of our own balance (or lack of balance, as the case may be) changes the very conditions of our observations.

Imagine yourself on a moving carousel horse. You're going in numerous directions: serially up and down, and simultaneously around in a circle. Some of parts of the carousel travel with you while you merely watch others spin by. At any given instant, where are you? At least on a carousel you can anticipate where you're going to be in the next second. Your motion is hardly random. Even so, by the time you've figured out exactly where you are in space at any given point, you're no longer there. The same thing happens when we try to figure out what 'now' means: the instant we've figured it out, it has already become 'then'!

Let's dig just a little deeper, shall we? We've just taken a quick look at the difficulties we experience trying to navigate through space and time. Even though our senses are attuned to performing this function, disorientation often accompanies on our perceptions. Now, what happens when we try to improve our life balance? Like Heisenberg, trying to focus on the process of our conscious awareness causes us to become unaware of our surroundings. We can't simultaneously exercise awareness and awareness of our own awareness. When we focus on our own process of awareness, we become less aware of our surroundings.

This sounds all very nice and philosophical, but does it have any practical application? Yes, indeed it does! The only practical way to plot our future course around the carousel is to get off the merry-go-round! Only then can we take the stance of an observer of our own process of living life. Can you think of a time in your life when you've been able to spend some time alone with your thoughts (and maybe with a mentor or adviser) to consider your short-term and long-term future? When was the last time you took a retreat from action? More pointedly, have you ever taken a retreat from action into reflection? The world looks a lot different from the sidelines. Of course, while you're on retreat, your life or business could be taking off in unforeseen (and undesirable) directions.

What if you were able to maintain your active role on the carousel and at the same time have a mirror outside the moving system that shows you your exact position in real time? Where can you find such a mirror that allows you to both live your life and stay aware of your position in the stream of its evolution simultaneously? You don't have to look very far; in fact, you already possess the capacity to perform this minor miracle. We call this remarkable (and often-overlooked) ability 'spiritual intelligence.' This remarkable intelligence (which Dana Zohar calls "the ultimate intelligence") enables you to maintain a higher perspective on the direction your life and career will assume without abstracting you from the mix. You're able to see where you're going while you're deciding where to go.

By fully embracing your spiritual intelligence, you have the opportunity to go on a 'retreat' from the daily grind at will. You get the chance to recharge your intuition and your discernment, and finely tune their functions so that your inner guidance system works smoothly and almost effortlessly. By maintaining a conscious contact with a Higher Power (however you choose to define that), your powers of discernment will allow you to cut through whatever confusion, uncertainty and fear that may threaten to paralyze your decision-making capacity. The baffling dizziness that comes from having too many options with too many consequences will begin to melt away as your destiny emerges from the fog in the light of your spiritual focus.

When you begin to appreciate the critical function that spiritual intelligence plays in informing your decision-making capacity, you'll realize that what at first seemed to be at most a marginal concern (if not just an annoying distraction) is, in reality, the most practical of all your core competencies. How clearly you see your way forward determines, to a great extent, the success of your life and career. How much more practical can you get than that? Get oriented: get spiritual!

H. Les Brown, MA, CFCC
ProActivation Coaching

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