I’m often approached by people in my business for advice or to share their problems. The thing is, more often than not, these ‘problems’ are actually opportunities – whether an opportunity to better serve their customers and colleagues, or an opportunity to improve themselves.
Just the other day, someone came to me quite stressed and worried because he had been given a ‘show cause’ letter. He was almost beside himself. I asked him why he would be worried about being given a ‘show cause’ letter? I told him that he should actually be happy. This letter shows that they respect him, and they’re giving him an opportunity to share his side of the story. His answer to this was, “But you don’t understand! They’re questioning me! I must defend myself!”
I asked him why would he not want to be questioned and why he thought he had to ‘defend’ himself? For, it is in being questioned that keeps us on our toes and forces us to question ourselves in a quest to improve ourselves. His attitude to the situation was stemming directly from fear and insecurity, and this led to his instantly defensive reaction.
After our discussion, he was able to see the situation from an entirely different perspective, and I could almost physically see the stress leaving his eyes and his defiance and ego disintegrating into a new recognition of the situation; of the opportunity.
It is unfortunate, but fear and insecurity happens in the workplace and in our personal lives everyday. Together, they act as almost insurmountable hurdles to our own development and as proverbial blinders to opportunity.
Ignorance is the root cause of fear. If we are ignorant to our own faults, we allow fear and insecurity to breed within us. We will defend ourselves and we will always be too conscious of what others think of us… and this is to our own detriment. If we are ignorant, we will build up a façade of someone we’re really not. We will build a wall around us that we think is protecting us, but all it is doing is imprisoning us. It is denying our insecurities, instead of allowing us to face them. If we live like this – if we live in fear of scrutiny and in insecurity – we will never be able to be happy. We’ll always be trying to be someone we’re not and always trying to live up to what we want others to think of us, instead of just being who we truly are.
Think of a mouse that is stealthily crawling and sneaking around trying to steal food and living totally in the fear that someone will step on them or lure them into a mouse trap. The mouse has no peace or happiness, for he lives in fear and insecurity. Although the world is a dangerous place, we are human beings and we can release ourselves from this fear by simply giving up this false ego; by giving up all of our walls.
The nature of the soul is that we want to love and be loved. We cannot openly and fully do that from within our walls of fear and insecurity.
In the workplace, there is nothing worse that not being able to accept criticism. We think that if we don’t cover our mistakes and if we don’t defend ourselves against criticism, that we will be seen as incompetent and that we’ll be fired. We are always in fear of judgement.
But we are all imperfect. And when we realise that we are imperfect, we are much more understanding about others’ imperfections. And if we have that understanding of ourselves and of others, then humility becomes a natural by-product. It’s not bad when you see other people who are better than you. Accept it. Learn from it. There’s no reason to pretend you’re better than them. Why the competition? That’s stressful! You are causing your own stress and that’s unnecessary baggage for you, not them. When you feel good about yourself, it radiates out to others.
If you want my advice… my basic, humble advice, then it is quite simply to be down-to-Earth. Be real. Accept an opportunity to improve, when at first you may think that someone is challenging you or criticising you. Real humility is courage. Courage is accepting what you are, despite your disabilities. Real humility is service. And that is our core. What is the greatest service? To turn materialistic consciousness into spiritual consciousness… this is humility. This is courage. This is true service to humanity.
Group Managing Director