“To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self is to be enlightened by all things.” – Dogen
Dōgen Zenji, the founder of the Soto Zen School said that. What does this have to do with your career management or job-marketing plan? Everything! Let me explain why this matters to you.
First - Study the Self:
Who are you? Can you answer that question? I don’t mean what your name is … or your profession … or your title … or whether you’re someone’s wife or husband … or someone’s father or mother, daughter or son. I mean this:
- What do you value? What motivates you?
- How do you communicate with people? How do you like to be communicated with? How do you behave? Are you an extrovert or introvert? Do you communicate directly or indirectly? Do you gesture a lot when you talk, or do you talk with your hands in your pockets or arms folded?
- What makes you anxious? Depressed? What makes you angry? What causes you to lose sleep? Do you ever feel insecure? Why?
If you take time every day to check in with yourself, you will be able to answer all the questions I posed above. Instead of running through your day reacting to circumstances, you could be actively managing your life, each and every day.
There is a text studied primarily by Tibetan Buddhist practitioners called The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas by Ngülchu Thogme Zangpo. I will share the 36th practice as something for you to consider adding to each day. It says:
“In short, in everything you do,
Know what is happening in your mind.
By being constantly present and aware
You bring about what helps others — this is the practice of a bodhisattva.”
Generally, we react to circumstances without knowing what is happening in our minds. When we react, we are subconsciously responding to beliefs, thoughts, and stories we’ve harbored—for years, maybe—without ever questioning where they came from and if we really truly believe them. Some of these stories were put in our minds by others: friends, family members, and the media that is constantly yammering at us. Some we put there ourselves by repeating stories of old hurts, injustices, or regrets.
A PRACTICE TO TRY: A suggestion to build the habit of looking at your mind is to check-in with yourself, instead of checking Facebook or your email, at least every other time you do check your email, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn. If you pick up your phone twice every hour, skip the half-hour check and check-in with yourself. Do this all day, every day for 3 weeks.
Second – Forget the Self:
Once getting to know the contents of your mind becomes a habit, you will start to notice that you are beginning to forget yourself. What does that mean? It means, instead of worrying about what people “out there” are doing … instead of worrying about what you need to be doing, but aren’t … instead of constantly analyzing … instead of making resolutions and plans … instead of avoiding and procrastinating, helplessly stuck in your old stories and paralyzing behavior, you will be paying attention to what is right in front of you and you will naturally and holistically act on it or interact with it.
You will forget yourself when you accept what is before you and take action. Instead of spending hours worrying about why something is happening to you or how you’re going to deal with what is happening to you, you will take action by accepting it. According to Gregg Krech of the ToDo Institute (http://www.todoinstitute.org/), who wrote the book The Art of Taking Action: Lessons from Japanese Psychology, taking action is “doing what needs to be done when it need to be done in response to the needs of the situation.”
Pretty simple, isn’t it? This “secret” derives from a model of psychology referred to as Morita Therapy. It is a therapy based in Zen and an Eastern worldview. Morita Therapy has four key elements:
1) Acceptance. When we are in situations that make us physically or emotionally uncomfortable, the first thing we do is to try to change or manipulate the circumstances. We find a way to escape. We escape through avoidance, resignation, and complaining, rather than accepting what is.
2) Avoidance. This is a strategy based on resistance, rather than acceptance. The problem with this strategy is that resistance, too, causes discomfort by our preoccupation with how to avoid and what we are avoiding.
3) Resignation. This sounds like acceptance—and it is what most of us with a Western worldview think of as acceptance. Resignation is a passive acceptance or depressed acceptance. It is the languishing in our negative feelings or procrastination.
4) Complaining. Complaining perpetuates our discomforts. As Gregg Krech wrote: “Who is hotter—a person who constantly complains throughout the day about how hot it is or a person who doesn’t complain?” Complaining reminds us, and those around us, of our discomfort, rather than helping us to focus on something else.
This brings us back to acceptance. As my Sensei, Rev. Koyo Kubose teaches, “Acceptance IS transcendence.” The only way to transcend your discomfort is by actively accepting things as they are. This is NOT resignation! The word for this is arugamama, meaning “to accept things as they are.”
When we accept things as they are, we stop wasting time wishing things were some other way … wishing the people around us were different … wishing we were different … wishing our boss was different or our job was different. This state of arugamama is the same quality of non-resistance taught in marital arts. When an opposing force is strong, direct resistance is ineffective, but if you don’t resist, the force flows through us and back to it’s source.
When you’re unhappy, anxious, or worried, accept and move forward. We can move forward now because we aren’t trapped by our thoughts. We have forgotten ourselves and moved on to the task at hand. Gregg Krech writes that “acceptance—of our internal human condition as well as external conditions— is at the very heart of action.”
Third – Be Enlightened by All Things:
Released by the prison of our own small, self-involved set of endlessly repeating thoughts, we are free to engage with all things.
Rather than worrying that we will never find a job or find a better job, we have forgotten ourselves and engaged mindfully with the situation and tasks at hand. Once engaged, we will begin to actually see the companies right in our neighborhood … or town … or consider positions we wouldn’t have considered before, because we were trapped in old stories.
We may even see new opportunities to contribute value in different ways on our current job, because now—instead of avoiding, being depressed, escaping, or complaining—we have forgotten ourselves and we actually can see outside of ourselves, at what needs to be done or what could be done in a better way.
Let’s Start Now! Don’t decide that you will do this. Do it. Take Action!
Start by asking what is in your mind that you’re avoiding or escaping? Who are you? Who do you want to be? Just asking those questions will prime the pump of the next action.
And, the next time you pick your phone to check email or Facebook, ask yourself instead: What’s in my mind? What can I do about it now? GO!
Would you like to learn more about these techniques? Would like to talk to me about helping you take action in your career … or your life? Contact me:
Wendy Haylett, CPBA, CPRW
Certified Behavioral Analyst * Certified Professional Resume Writer * Career Coach
Buddhist Sensei * Spiritual Friend
www.DISCareer.com | www.AboveAllResumes.com
1-585-387-0276 – PHONE
I was intrigued from the first moment I read the bold claim accredited to Socrates that "the unexamined life is not worth living" and it has been a touchstone throughout my life. And, through the power of hindsight, I see its influence powering many of my career choices and life activities.