We usually think of welshing as something that someone does to another. And yet we welsh on ourselves every time we kick ourselves for falling short. The agreement we break with ourselves is the one that says we are enough just the way we are. And yet we still expect perfection when we know it’s not possible.
Consider this: The pursuit of perfection is inherently flawed. The pursuit of refinement, betterment, and progress is entirely worthwhile.
I’ve worked in and with large organizations in which teams operate in a continual state of fear of failure. Only the ideas that seem like a sure thing are pursued, or unless the ideas came from on high. When projects fail everyone runs for cover and the key learnings are swept under the rug because no one wants to call any more attention to the failure than necessary.
Organizations that fail to foster an entrepreneurial spirit in which failure is encouraged have become creatively stagnant. Large organizations have become used to cruising on momentum, like a locomotive that can coast for miles before noticeably slowing, their momentum masks the mistake of not honoring mistakes.
Mistakes and blunders are our greatest friends because there is always a gift in them—the gift of learning, experience, and greater self-awareness.
I’ve noticed in myself and in others that the cycle of self-criticism is very hard to break. Similar to the culture of fear that prevails in most large organizations, self-criticism is deep seated and habitual. But there is a way to break the habit.
There is no ten-point system for breaking the habit, no magic trick or special technic. There is a path though, a road with a beginning that stretches far into the future. This road, the road of moving from self-criticism to self-acceptance (not an aggrandized egoic self-image), but true self-acceptance, is the road of slowing the pace of the mind and becoming still.
Stillness of mind is the place in which we can begin to discern the absurdity of thought patterns that cause us to exist perpetually in a state of feeling as though we never fully measure up. It’s the only place where we can examine the patterns of thought that have caused us so much mental and emotional anguish. It’s a place of serenity and patience. It’s a meditative place like a slow moving stream with a glassy surface brushed with the strokes of a gentle breeze. In this place we stop welshing on self because we stop judging ourselves.
This is not an easy road, but it is highly worthwhile. This road is not easily discernable, but it is deliberate. This road is not only still, it is action.
When we journey on this road we will also find ourselves being less critical of others, and in so doing we will notice the absurdity of fostering a culture in which failure is admonished. We will naturally shift from pointing the finger to patting on the back, from stagnation to innovation, and from playing it safe to taking a leap.
It is in this space of honoring self that our culture will shift.
Tip of the Week
If you don’t already have a meditation practice: Set yourself to meditate for just ten minutes per day for one week. There are myriad techniques. For beginners it is best to try the simplest form. What ever form you use, whether horizontal or upright, ensure that your spine is aligned. Focus on deep steady breaths and feel the air within your lungs, coming in, going out. Then imagine you are like a monkey with a tail, except that your tail is extremely long. You feed this tail into an imaginary hole that you sit next to that goes all the way to the center of Earth. Your tail reaches the center of the Earth and attaches to the core. The core is full of light energy. Visualize the energy from the core traveling back up your tail into the base of your spine, traveling up through your spine and out through the top of your head. Visualize this and continue focusing on slow even deep breaths. That’s it. Just ten minutes per day. And notice how your thoughts change in just one week.
If you do practice meditation regularly in your life: Set yourself to doing some special meditations on releasing self-judgment and being in that place of stillness of mind. The longer you can hold yourself in that space the more you will notice a change in your thoughts throughout the day.
If you already do meditations on releasing self-judgment: Set yourself to helping others by teaching them about meditation.