Today we're exploring what cognitive psychology calls "The Arrow of Time"... something that you do not understand - you'll know just what I mean when you watch this short video.
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Do you know why - exactly why - you got out of bed this morning? What have you to achieve today? Even if you're in the middle of an ongoing project, there are two or three things that you can achieve today.
Write them down... just two or three things that you have more than a fighting chance of achieving. More than three is headless-chicken stuff. But two or three gives you that fighting change of being able to tick them off as done this evening.
And that means that you've achieved one the things we all want: to know that we're doing well and that we're moving in the right direction.
I want to pick up on the point I made in last week's Reflection - where I said that we modern humans like to get an immediate "hit", we like to see quick results. We're actually built that way and, as I said, if we don't get that immediate hit from mindfulness meditation, we're likely to discount its true potential. But there's also a darker side to this need for a quick hit.
If we don't think we're doing well, if we can't point to immediate results to prove it, we get frustrated and that frustration leads to stress. In practical terms, I work with lots of people in large organizations who cannot point to an immediate result from a day's, a week's or even a month's work. And the higher up the food chain you go, the more acute the problem. I know people who have spent 12-18 months working on some big project that is so convoluted and complex that they feel they're never going to be able to give themselves the proverbial pat-on-the-back. Or even worse, some give their all to a project that does indeed never come to fruition because of a change in strategy or prioritites or a restructuring of the organization.
These people are suffering from stress. There may be many contributing circumstances (like unattainable timelines or undue pressure) but, if they knew that they were doing well, if they could see some tangible results, if they could see some of the fruits of their labours, this would undoubtedly mitigate one of the key underlying causes... that of needing the proverbial quick hit.
That's why "regognition" is key in managing and leading people... not because recognition panders to the normal human desire for approval (would take a lot more than a short reflection to delve into the wonderful world of "approval") but because it addresses a fundamental human desire to know we're doing well, to know that we're moving in the right direction and to know why we're getting out of bed every morning.
You may well remember Father Ted - the bizarre comedy TV series!
Mary was at a funeral mass with her brother and sister... both of whom, after well over an hour in the church, needed to go to the toilet. Shuffling over to the side of the church they asked Sandra (who arranges the flowers) if they could use toilet in the sacristy. "Of course" she said "follow me".
The priest's fine words were flowing eloquently and solemnly as they entered the room off the altar. But, just as Sandra returned with the key to the toilet, the priest, having finished speaking, glided into the room. He glared at the three of them and turned on Sandra...
"What the feck is going on here?" he said "Who are these two feckers?" - when Sandra started to explain, he turned to the others... "Get out of here, the pair of you, you're not using my fecking toilet... you pair of feckers!"