We are present in every movement, every task and every interaction. In the same way, we are contained in whatever we create. In this post I offer two examples which highlight firstly how much information is available about ourselves (and others), and secondly how important it is to carry out everything to the best of our ability. Both stories relate to my own personal development training in the UK.
I was talking with a carpenter last week about how the last two years of my training were made up of intensive weekends working with the core group on a variety of landscaping and building projects. The main purpose of the projects was to make visible our behaviour so we could see it for ourselves. The way an individual approaches a project and interacts with the team, the materials and the tools provides insights into character, personality and behaviour patterns.
Do they handle the tools confidently, tentatively, nervously, cautiously? Is the material used sparingly, recklessly, with disrespect or appreciation? Do they take part in the project fully or half-heartedly, with conviction or ambivalence? Do they support their colleagues appropriately or are they oblivious to their needs? Is their communication clear and effective or mumbled and unsure? Throughout the work we did, hourly feedback sessions ensured that everyone contributed and every issue was addressed.
The carpenter explained how he had once been involved in helping a small group of people build a spiral staircase. They had no power tools and had to learn how to use traditional tools over the course of the six-week project. The construction of the staircase involved a great deal of work with a chisel. A straightforward tool but, within the context of the training I underwent, the way a person uses a chisel and goes about their work, would provide information about how they live the rest of their lives: how they deal with problems, how they approach different tasks, and how they interact and relate to others.
Feedback sessions would then allow the individual to become aware of how he uses his chisel, how he is relating to his fellow workers and how he is contributing to the whole project. When he sees for himself what others have told him, he will notice similar patterns elsewhere in his life. And once that is happening, as the ‘Heisenberg…’ post points out, transformation is already taking place.
The other example comes from my journal entry for 15th February 2002. It will not be published here for another year, but below is an excerpt. Karaj and I had spent three days constructing a temporary building for an outside toilet. Here we were putting the finishing touches to our work:
We finished the toilet today and it looks fantastic. The detail is staggering considering its temporary nature. When working on one of the shelves in the cupboard I said that it didn’t really matter because nobody will see it. Karaj told me that the work is all about me. His attention to detail is not about the toilet or about what others see or think, it is about himself, and the same is true for me. I am working on myself, inside and out, on the things people see and the things they don’t. Whatever I do, I do it for myself.
Every time we do something we create who we are. And every time we observe ourselves doing so, we see who we are. We have a choice about the former, and the latter is our feedback mechanism. It’s like that for everyone because all of us are in everything we do.