I dedicate this blog to my friend and brother Goran Đorđević PhD, the man who long time ago, helped me to know myself, but who unfortunately passed away after I wrote this blog. He helped both me and many generations of students he used to teach, amongst which was my son Vladimir. May he rest in peace!
A long time ago all the humans were Gods, but they abused their divinity and the supreme God Brahma decided to take it away from them and hide it where they would never find it again. The question was where to hide humans’ divinity? So Brahma gathered the council of Gods to help him decide.
“Let’s dig it deep into the ground“ said the Gods
“This is not a good idea, since humans will dig the ground and find it“ said Brahma
Then the Gods made another suggestion: “Let us submerge it into the deepest ocean?“
“We are not going to hide it there“ Brahma disagreed and said “they will learn how to dive into the ocean and find it“
The Gods then replied: “Let’s take it to the highest mountain and hide it there“?
Brahma answered: “No, this is also not good, since during time they will climb every mountain and reclaim their divinity again“
Eventually the Gods gave up and said:“We do not know where to hide it, it seems there is not a single place neither in the ground nor at sea where humans won’t be able to reach“
Then, Brahma said:“Here is what we shall do. We shall hide their divinity into the deepest part of their own being, into their heart, since the humans will never search it there.“
All the Gods agreed this was a perfect hiding place, so they did as Brahma suggested. Since then, humans have explored the Earth to and fro, dug and dived searching for something that has already been in themselves.
The Indian educational story.
One of the main principles of all mystery stories is the self-revelation. Above the entrance to the Apollo’s Temple in Delphi, there are familiar words: “Man, know yourself“. From the other side of the door, there is the inscription: “And you will know the world and the God“. Some believe the meaning of this is:“And you will know that you, yourself are the God“
The Hindus and Buddha also contemplated on self-revelation, as well as the famous Greek philosopher Socrates, who said:
“Only the revelation coming from inside is the true revelation“
Socrates thought that nobody, not even himself, can teach anyone anything, but can only point him out the way to know the truth about himself. He claimed to be maieutic, not a teacher, determined to help people find the truth about themselves.
Does this look familiar? If you are a true leader with strong coaching skills, use this wise quotes in daily conversation with your employees, people whose mentor you are and your friends.
This is exactly what I tried to implemet in one of group sessions with my managers. I gave them the role of a group coacher, while I was a coachee. I let them enter deep into my heart and thoughts, to understand my pains and frustrations, as well as what I think about when getting up and going to bed.
At the end of the whole session, we concluded that our experiment was not successful, since the coaching session had no effect on me. Still, for some of them, the session was more than a success, which from the beginning was my secret goal, since based on everything that had been said, some people had serious thoughts and asked themselves about their role in everything I talked about. Each of them admitted they liked the way I gave them the feedback to their work – while asking me the questions during the session.
You probably ask yourself how do I know who exactly benefited from the session and who did not? Simply, by body language and the questions they asked me. Their actions in the days following the session, proved how right I was. The reason for partial success of this session lies in the fact that it was a group one, and coching is always most successful when done one on one. The other, even more important reason lies in the Hindu story from the beginning, that people will plough the Earth to and fro and dive the oceans in search for something they have in themselves. So do not be surprised when your co-workers tend to seek reasons for failure in a bad karma and external factors they can not influence, or what is even more common – in the others. One of my managers almost patented this approach by saying: “Every good manager will find a good excuse why something is wrong, always excluding himself as a reason“. My answer to them was that the person good in making good excuses is usually not good for anything else 😊. However, everything would be nice if there had not been a bitter truth – that turning your head in a wrong direction, will never solve the problem – but facing with the source of the problem – even though it is sometimes in ourselves.
Having all this in mind, there is a logical question why do we still turn our head on the other side? Well, there are several very pragmatic reasons – the first one is that we do not want to face our demons, because we do not like our mirror image at all, because we are afraid to become vulnerabe and because we know that the process of facing and changing ourselves is too long and painful and that in the end we are not even aware of ourselves. I would add another important reason – that we are not capable of doing this alone but we need help from the person who’s main role is just that – to help us, and such person is our leader.
To bring this more closer to you, I will take myself as an example. If you would ask my co-workers to describe me in one sentence, most of them will tell you that I am passionate about my work, communicative, friendly, open-minded and creative. In one word – a wonderful person 😊. What most of my co-workers think but will not tell you – is that I am pretty impulsive, which is clearly visible in critical situations, usually when I oppose someone wishing to make him accept the atitudes of Retail Departnment.
As you can see, I am pretty much aware of my weakness, but it took me a very long time to face it. It was even harder for me to understand, how it is possible that this “small thing“ triggers much more negative reaction with some people, than all the positive things I stated about myself in the beginning do. It is here where we come to the famous sentence from the previous posts – that every leader should be capable to adjust to each of his co-workers individually, rather then expect all of them to adjust to himself. We are often not aware of positive reactions caused by small things we do for our people since they are so usual for us, as well as how negatve reactions caused by actions we undertook “in the best interest“ – can be. But, to get back to my impulsiveness. During all those years of my managerial experience – I found so many excuses for it that you can not imagine – from the belief that this was not impulsivness but a passion for my work and that for someone leading such a large Retail team this is even a desirable characteristic – to the conviction that a single voice or initiative suggested by Retail team would not be heard at all, had I not been so impulsive. I have never seriously dealt with the cause of such behaviour. However, the cause for my impulsiveness, as well as the majority of others affecting our behaviour, does not lie neither in my business environment nor it is of a recent date – but it stretches long in the past and my early childhood. Remember the story from the last blog about the working environment created by the company, work culture, as well as the culture created by a leader within his team. It is the environment that creates behavioral patterns within a company, a team or a family. In my particular case the mere fact that I was born in Niš, where people are emotional and “of warm southern blood“ somehow determined my behaviour. Besides, my family – where everyone speaks loudly and where such emotion is heated up to the maximum, where you have to raise your voice if you want your attitudes to be heard and taken into consideration – is practically the main reason for my impulsiveness. Actually, everyone in my family and my close environment is pretty passionate and impulsive. When something is so deeply rooted in the past, it is of course – difficult to change it in the present, but as long as there is self-revelation, the chances are much bigger than in the beginning of this story.
To sumarize, self-revelation which is the milestone for solving many issues – is often difficult to reach on your own and in most cases you will need help of your leader. As we said earlier, only the revelation coming from inside – is the true revelation, which directly determines the role of a leader as initiator, and nothing else. When a Socrates could claim for himself not to be a teacher – you should also not claim such a role for yourself. The process itself is very long, and the roots of the problem lie much deeper than we can see as observers, the same as the iceberg that sunk the unsinkable Titanic.
I often mention Simon Sinek in my blogs, quote parts of his motivation speeches and give his books as presents to my associates. If you wish to find out whay I am so fascinated by his personality, watch the following video https://youtu.be/CZx4DTglHJc that consists of five simple piece of advice how to become more successful as a leader and in life in general. Pay special attention to the 2nd advice which is about the topic of the blog you have just read, as well as to the 5th one that stretches through all my blogs so far
Last but not least, I would like to use the opportunity to say thank you to my „faithful reader“ who signs himself as such under his comments and who inspired me to write this particular blog. I also encourage all of you to comment and exchange your thoughts, and to read the comments posted by „faithhful reader“ since they are very useful.