Who we are is very profoundly impacted by what we know and believe. As we grow in life, we realise that four essentials create our identity – our relationships and friendships, our knowledge and belief systems, our experiences and our memories. And all of this keeps getting stored in our memory.
In the early years of my work life, as i moved from a smaller town to a large metropolitan city, i found myself reporting to a person many years my senior, and he had considerable experience in leadership positions. Since I had joined as a management trainee, I had the privilege to report directly to him and learn the ropes. This gentleman was an extremely tough taskmaster. He really made me slog in my entry years. Yet, he also played the role of a father figure and a mentor to us freshers. Once a week, he would conduct a group meeting in which, other than discussing operational matters and sales targets, he would spend a fair amount of time in imbibing in us the traits that we should adopt to be successful leaders.
We were told that we should always operate with a very high level of dignity and ethics, try to avoid getting provoked, and that we should learn to keep our composure as much as possible. That we should seek to understand before being understood. That we should accept the fact that failures are a much better teacher and learning experience. As young management trainees wanting to make a mark in the corporate world, we were greatly impressed with these philosophies.
Yet, it got more and more confusing to observe that, in practice, this gentleman’s behavior was in sharp contrast to his teachings. With this two-faced approach being experienced at the very start of our career, it was difficult for many of us to fathom why someone who knew what was the right thing to do would actually resort to the exact opposite in their own behavior.
Over the years and decades, the realization dawned that this strange dichotomy – ‘TRUE KNOWING” AND “GENUINELY BEING” is one of the biggest challenges of genuine, authentic leadership. Interestingly, not only does this dichotomy exist in the corporate world, but also in the roles being played in a family, a religious institution, and any other formal or informal group of humans.
‘True Knowing’ what is to be done, and ‘Genuinely Being’ that person are not necessarily the same thing. Though, to be honest, for all of us, they coexist in the same space, which is the human brain.
Having the intelligence and the sense to state what is right is very possible. All it requires is knowledge, and good command over speaking or writing. But, to be that person, more so, in a crux situation, and that too in a sustained manner, requires huge amounts of discipline and support of the subconscious mind. In essence, the intelligence and the sense is like those mid-journey halts on a long, winding trip. The destination is a far bigger challenge.
Over time, as more of my generation continued to gain more life experience as well as in the working world, the realization began to dawn that our own “true knowing” and “genuinely being” gap was increasing with time. Not only at work, but also in personal and family life. This realization has made some of us realise that, while we have been busy pointing fingers at several around us, we too may be part of the deeper malaise in our own way.
Upon reading and more introspection, and by attending more leadership development courses, the realization dawned that the subconscious mind is continuously at work, controlling all our body functions. Our breathing, our hearing, the working of our heart, our vision is all being processed every nano second by the subconscious mind. The subconscious mind is ninety percent of our mind and the conscious mind is just ten percent. Hence the deeper realization that if we want to reprogram anything in our life, the actual process of change has to happen at the subconscious level. If we make changes at the conscious level and the subconscious mind hasn’t changed, then the shortcomings continue, and finally the conscious mind gives up and the old habits reign supreme. This applies to anything that we wish to correct in order to narrow the gap between “True Knowing” and “Genuinely being”. Whether it is exercise, diet, work, or just living the right way.
Now comes the biggest dilemma. How much can the gap between “True knowing” and “Genuinely being” be bridged. Can the gap be completely bridged at all times? At a hundred percent level, its surely utopian, and probably a lie.
Some of us have realized that operating within a band where 70 to 85 percent of the times, “True knowing” and “Genuinely being” are matched up is a difficult goal, yet one that could be pushed for diligently. Going below that would make it difficult to see ourselves in the mirror and be happy with what we see. Going above that would make life far more complicated, and may derail the process of trying itself.
Each of us could decide which band we wish to operate in.
Yet, as a legacy, if we truly wish to leave a better world for our next generation, this gap needs to be sorely bridged, on a sustained basis, and at the highest possible level of the scale.