I like it when other people change. Every day I make demands and issue small orders to this end. I’m sure I drive my wife crazy. When I really get carried away she gets in my face and gives me some straight feedback about it. Sometimes I snap out of it and realize I’m just taking the easy out. As painful as it is I start to think about the Gandhi quote that I use in my workshops: “Be the change you want to see in the world.” It’s so easy to want other people to change. All I have to do is ask, hint, or badger. It doesn’t always work but it sure seems like a great place to start. I know deep down inside I’m just avoiding the inevitable, which is facing up to the fact that there is always something I can do to make a difference. I could change! I could make some effort!
It’s easy to externalize things and focus on things outside of our control. It takes more courage, determination and will power to look inside and confront the real truth. The facts are that if I want to see something different around me there is probably something I can do differently.
There is where the thinking of Lao Tzu comes in. Lao Tzu was a 6th century BC Chinese philosopher and founder of Taoism. When he was eighty years old he recorded his teachings, authoring the Tao Te Ching (The Way and Its Power).
One of the quotes attributed to him reflects the belief that the way to live an enriched life is to examine one’s inner self or being: “The way to do is to be.” Another way to put this in the context of growth, learning and accomplishing one’s goals is to realize that the way we are (our being) drives what we do and what we do impacts what we have (our goals). This is the principle known as Be Do Have. Here is a visual example of how it looks:
Our values, attitudes and beliefs contribute to our being: our outlook on life, the way we feel, our aspirations, our intentions-our overall mindset. For example if I am upset and angry because a co worker did not keep a important commitment they made and I confront this person to give them “feedback”, what kind of conversation is likely to occur? If my belief is they are incompetent and my anger has consumed me, I am quite likely to have an angry and confrontational conversation. However, if my mindset and intention is to first understand what happened and then be very honest and direct about the impact of the failed commitment it is more likely that a productive conversation will happen.
So the leverage to create more outcomes, better relationships and to be proud about the way we behave comes from not just changing what we do, but the real power lies in understanding how our being, our mindset influences what we do, and subsequently what we get or have. This is why Lao Tzu’s words are filled with deep wisdom.