I have always been interested in the interconnectedness of things, of cause and effect, of actions and of consequences. Playing this over in my mind I started wondering if actually problems are simpler to resolve than we realise.
The way I see it a lack of connection or a lack of awareness of what might connect brings about most problems. Don’t overthink this though- I’m not saying we need to map out all connections. What I am suggesting is that if we think of a few simple principles and then work with them our lack of awareness of connections won’t matter so much.
If we step outside our own little fog of expectations and instead look at the world as an on-going process neither for us or against us we may be able to do some interesting things. I think we have got hung up on our selfish right to do stuff regardless of impact. Take a simple case in point – the drive home. Really we are all just trying to get home; we are not in a race, not police officers, just people all trying to get somewhere. So what do we do, do we just get along? Often we stress ourselves about who is ‘right’ or who has the ‘right’. Rather than just pulling out slightly to avoid the bonnet of a misplaced car we feel the need to blare our horn and swear. Where is the interconnection here you may ask? I can guarantee your stress has not reduced. Someone’s error has made you cross, or rather you have allowed someone’s error to make you cross, and in addition you have now angered another person. Both of you have gone off in a slightly worse mood even though nothing actually happened.
This ripples through the rest of the day, now you may be a little more snappy at work, a little more curt with your partner and so on and so forth. None of these needed have happened as the ‘benefit’ of imposing your right outweighs its ‘cost’. Try another example. On the way home from a bar you are all having a sing-song, a harmless bit of fun you tell yourself.
But in so doing you have woken a few people sleeping, scared the odd individual making their way home and put pressure on the bar’s licence renewal – is that really worth it? Could you not have waited until there was no one around?
At work we can do a similar thing, it’s not my job we can say, not my responsibility, I leave at 5. We can push our rights to the fore regardless of the impact they have on others. This is not a manifesto for obedience and puritanical values mind. I am not advocating mindless compliance. What I want to suggest is that we think a little about the action we are doing and if our only
justification is that it is ‘our right’ then we may want to stop and think.
Your need to leave at 5pm is based on a combination of your right and desire to get home (I guess), but that individual you serve that pushes your time five minutes over may actually have a far better day not having missed the close of business – let’s face it there are hundreds of genuine reasons for lateness. Now the stress of lateness has been replaced by gratitude and a more positive mood, it has cost you nothing and that’s a powerful thing to have done, to have changed someone’s life for the better……