For my entire adult life, I have devoted myself to cultivating self-awareness.
For me, self-awareness implies something that is applied; in other words, self-awareness in action.
What does self-awareness look like as we go about our daily lives?
What are the behavioral corollaries to self-awareness?
My teacher, Swami Muktananda, exemplified self-awareness in action; everything he did had the distinctive qualities of clarity, competence, completeness. In a word: impeccable.
He set the bar quite high for us. We were expected to align our inner work (meditation) with our outer work, whether it was sweeping garden paths, chopping vegetables for the communal lunch, or managing ashrams. In my case, I did all three at one time or another in my ten years of living with my teacher.
Inner and outer work: one was not more important than the other because they were one and the same, mirror images. What we did and how we did it were an equal expression of our state of awareness.
We weren’t encouraged to lose ourselves in the inner world of meditation; we were encouraged to find ourselves there but to express that found self in our daily actions.
In my case, as a manager of the foundation, with considerable worldwide responsibilities, I dared not let the good work of helping to run an organization dedicated to spreading meditation and spiritual development overwhelm how I did each thing, how I interacted with each person, how I accounted for each nickel and dime, moment to moment.
Inner experiences of expanded awareness and expansive being were expected to manifest as impeccability in our words and actions. After my ashram years, I brought this notion of applied self-awareness into my work as a leadership advisor and organizational consultant.
After some 35 years of working in my teacher’s non-profit organization and then working with numerous for-profit organizations, I discovered a single principle the practice of which definitely increases self-awareness, while at the same time creating an organizational culture that fosters interpersonal connection, trust, reliability, accountability, enthusiasm, wholeheartedness and all kinds of other good things.
One principle does all this. And I want to share that with you now.
Do what you say you will do.
Everything. All the time. Every time. No excuses.
Do what you say you will do: I’ll call you right back. I’ll send that to you tomorrow. I’ll have that done by Wednesday. I’ll meet you at noon.
Do you do everything you say you will do. Do you know anyone who does?
Why don’t we do that?
Well, we might not be fully aware of what we say when we say it. So, that’s where it all begins. We have to be present enough in our speaking to know what we say we will do. Then, we have to maintain our awareness all along the way to the delivery point of our promise. It’s all about awareness.
Don’t blame not doing what you say on other things. Don’t blame the traffic, computer problems, memo mix-ups, global financial crisis. Awareness is superior and supreme. If you notice that you are falling behind and will likely miss your promise, than immediately contact the people impacted and renegotiate your delivery date. That is okay.
That is still functioning from awareness.
Think for a moment about what it feels like when someone habitually does not do what they say. What does that feel like? In personal relationships, what does that feel like? In a work setting, what happens to your levels of interest, engagement and participation? What happens to your level of trust in people who do not do what they say?
When you do what you say you will do, you show respect to others. You shine with dignity and distinction. You leave a trail of applied self-awareness for others to follow. I know what it’s like to be busy, to have multiple projects and many unforgiving deadlines. I know that things “out there” are always changing, and that others drop the balls you were counting on.
I’m not saying it’s easy. It’s a practice. Some days we do better than other days.
The important thing is that we practice, that we endeavor to do what we say we will do. The leverage in this is applied self-awareness. Don’t let what you do, the good works, overwhelm how you do what you do.
How is the moment-to-moment expression of your degree of self-awareness, higher consciousness. How you do what you do distinguishes yourself; it is what communicates your level of awareness and consciousness. Doing what you say you will do, all the time and every time, brands you as being conscious, purposeful, intentional.
It will truly amaze everyone.
You will be a super hero of awareness.
Do what you say you will do. All the time, every time. No excuses.
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Editor: Emily Bartran
Photo: Tim Green/Flickr