The way we do anything . . . Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Monday, 25 March 2013 16:46
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“The way we do anything is the way we do everything.”

I once had a friend who told me that you should really pay attention to the way people eat. Do they hunch forward, attack the plate of food with purpose and shovel it all mouthwards in record time?

Are they neat and polite eaters? Do they keep the napkin at hand to wipe their mouths? Do they talk so much that they just take a distracted bite at their food every now and again? Or do they savour each morsel, lick their fingers, get their cheeks all oily in the process and make hmmm-hmmm noises?

These things would tell you pretty much all you need to know about someone. Well, girlfriend – go figure.

All life coaches know that the way we do anything is the way we do everything. In strictly life-coach-speek we set goals for ourselves to give us a sense of purpose and direction, mostly so that we can feel as if we know where we’re going and what we want to do.

Two people’s goals might be the same, but the way they go about getting there is sort of like a fingerprint – your own brand of planning, prioritising and procrastinating shows who you are.

Martha Beck tells the story of how a labyrinth she and her friends built in her back garden has brought her face to face with the way she lives her life. Walking the circuitous route in a labyrinth is an ancient meditative custom and Martha says that now she knows exactly why.

About halfway through her first walk, her thoughts went something like this: “This is such a waste of time. What am I doing here? I was two feet away from here before, now I’m doubling back for no reason – where is this taking me? What’s the goal? I can get there faster than this . . .”

It made her realise that these are the same thoughts that torture her, whatever else she’s doing. “I should be going faster, getting somewhere. I should have more to show for this. I shouldn’t have to double back, to revisit old emotional issues, to wipe the same damn kitchen counter every day.”

“The labyrinth is teaching me to question the bits of driven, linear, achievement-based dysfunction that can make me miserable in a life of incredible blessings and good fortune.”

The text-book Type A personality part of me cringed as I read what Martha said. The whole I-should-be-going-faster-I-could-be-doing-more-and-doing-it-better thing is way too close to the bone. Maybe labyrinths are supposed to teach us that the point is not to get anywhere, but to realise that ‘there’ is here and that you’re already ‘there’ – always have been.

I think somewhere the possibility lurks that the glorification of being busy is pretty much an acceptable way to avoid being present in your own life. Martha says that of course there’s an element of achievement, of beginning and ending, but those are minor compared to being right here, right now. After all, we didn’t enter life to get it done.

So, why did we? According to Neale Donald Walsch the purpose of life is to know and express who you are. He asks why you’re doing what you’re doing right now. To avoid loss? To achieve gain?

Neale says that both of those are wrong reasons. Life is not about win-and-lose. It is about being or not being, expressing or not expressing who you are. Look, when your life is so to say over, you might not care all that much what you did for a living, but you’re going to care what you were being while you were doing whatever you were doing. According to Neale you should do things to feel personal authenticity. Then your life will make sense, no matter what is going on around you.

Just-be-who-you-are is not a hippy let-it-all-hang-out sort of thing. It’s actually why you’re here.

Conversely, the biggest sin would then be to hide who you are, wouldn’t it? We’re sort of consistent with this style of expression or hiding: the way you don’t give yourself all out in a game is the same way you hold back in life; the way you cheat at cards; the way you lose a bet . . .

You see, the way we do anything is the way we do everything.

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