If its all about who you know, why not start with you?

If its all about who you know, why not start with you?

“It is all about who you know.” We are encouraged to network, to get close to key influencers and difference makers. While this is good advice and I do believe a broad professional network is vital, I would suggest that in order to grow, the most important person to know is yourself. Self knowledge is power and will prove helpful in every aspect of life.

I spend a lot of time in my head. I find it an interesting place to dwell, at times it is ridiculous, frequently scattered and every once in a while heady (pun intended). I spend this time both formally and informally, but without a doubt, I am a student of my own mind and the thoughts that it produces.

I feel this is time well spent. I know there is a direct benefit. I am more predictive in the way I will react, I’ve recognized the things I step towards and those from which I retreat. I’ve learned that a thought is but a mere passing cloud and not a permanent life force for which I must act. Most importantly, I have slowed things down. I have allowed the time to catch myself in thought, before acting. Doing so has also helped me to take myself far less seriously. I find so much humor in my habit energy. Being able to laugh at those caught thoughts, has loosened their kryptonite like effects.

I mentioned I go inward both formally and informally. The formal aspect comes from a daily meditation practice. I would encourage everyone to add this to their routine. To sit and watch your mind is far more entertaining than any realty TV show, with the exception of maybe “Keeping Up with The Kardashians”, who can top that? When you realize that a thought, regardless of how visceral or powerful it may feel, is no more than a leaf floating on the top of a stream being carried by the current, it is liberating. Understanding that it is your choice to provide that thought with the energy needed for it to manifest, is powerful.

Informally, I find “mind time” when driving, walking or just sitting out on the front porch. It is also my place of refuge. Again, when I need to slow things down, or check-in, I go inward. At times, and often to my wife’s dismay, I do so in large social setting when the din of conversation becomes too much. Oddly, doing so has also helped me to recognize this retreat mechanism and I have therefore, become more mindful of this behavior so I less frequently leave my wife to explain why her husband appears to be a disinterested jerk.

The key, is that spending the time of getting to know yourself makes you a better giver of time to others. It helps you become a better listener, more aware of your habit driven reactions or those propelled by pride, ego or insecurity. You become more present, which is a tremendous thing to offer the person you stand before. How often are we truly there, in that moment, when we meet another person in conversation? It is a very rare occurrence and something the receiver will undoubtedly notice. Presence is a great networking tool, as is its’ partner; listening.

Let me offer a little bit of caution. I have been working on this both formally and informally for years. My batting average, in terms of catching my thoughts before acting on them, is far lower than I care to admit. This is a journey, a practice. Habit energy is hard to break. Slowing things down is a difficult undertaking. Yet, over time, it will happen more and more frequently. You will emerge from the time spent inwardly to more fully meet this moment outwardly. You will be more present for those you interact with and a better giver of your time. In short, by knowing yourself more intimately, you become more effective in your interaction with others. This is especially critical if you find yourself in a leadership position.

There are many ways to begin this practice. I find a formal meditation process to be very important for my journey. Countless resources are available, but a few that I have used and recommend are as follows:

John Kabat-Zinn’s book “Wherever You Go, There You Are”

Lorin Roche’s “Meditation Made Easy”

Gil Fronsdal’s website has an audio lecture series on meditation techniques

I would ask that you share your experiences with getting to know yourself in the comment section below. I believe the collective wisdom of a group would benefit many.

I would be happy to share in more detail the tools I employ to study my own mind. Please reach out and leave your contact information.

Thanks for reading.

 

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