“Labor for learning before you grow old; For learning is better than silver or gold. Silver and gold will vanish away, but a good education will never decay.” – Desmond Dekker
As a small child growing up, we would recite this at home and in classrooms until it was committed to memory. Sayings such as these have become part of what defines me. This post is inspired by my mother, Muriel Griffiths, a woman who epitomizes what it means to care for others, gives heart to all that she does and characterizes self-awareness.
The International Coaching Federation(ICF) defines creating awareness as “the ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results.” My mother often utter the inciteful words “Look around you” playing on what seemed like an endless loop in my surroundings. It was only years later that I truly understood. “Look around you“ means being aware of the people and things around you and how energies move. It also means, being conscious of how your mind and body reacts to energy’s presence. Newton’s law states that for every action force, there is a reaction force. So the way you react to the forces around you could drive dramatically different results. Don’t let things go unnoticed.
Awareness drive results. There are two schools of thoughts in relation to education that Philosophers have long contended. “The one that is given to you, and the other which you get yourself”. The one, formal, through established institutions, is essential for a strong foundation. It is a proven strategy to success and sometimes brings riches in abundance. The other, informal, through life experiences, stories and encounters, is special and has tremendous rewards. I would not be writing this article today if this were not true. When we take the initiative to learn from others or from a particular experience, it brings greater nourishment to the mind than what we are taught.
When we were children, we would question everything. Mommy, why do I need to drink milk? Where do babies come from? Why do people die? Why can’t I do this? Why can’t I do that? And as we grow older, we don’t ask as many questions. Today, use the time to ask yourself some tough questions. Once you ask, the answers will come, because your spirit will actively be seeking out the answers. As we enter the post COVID norm and among social unrest, mark this as a time to challenge yourself. Mark this as a time to question the accepted norms of this world. Mark this as an occasion to break your minds out of captivity. Mark this as a time to heighten your awareness.
Leading yourself and others with heightened awareness requires you to look deep within yourself and act with patience, resilience and optimism. One of my mom’s favourite books is The Battlefield of the Mind. Recently she read a passage to me. “Be careful what you are hearing. The measure of thought and study you give to the truth you hear will be the measure of virtue and knowledge that comes back to you.” At times, things will happen that make you want to sink into the ground. But know and understand your truth in order to heighten your awareness. We share some practical steps to get there.
- Step 1: Take a walk and meditate – be aware of the sounds around you. The birds chirping. Your footsteps pounding the pavement. Think back as a child, put no filter on the questions you ask yourself. The answers will come.
- Step 2: Your thoughts determine your actions so to become aware, you have to first believe. When tempted to ask, “I wonder if I can…”, ask instead “How can I…”
- Step 3: Whatever comes to your hands at work or at home, do your best. Be comforted that whatever the outcome, you know you gave it your best shot. This is a journey not a sprint.
No one else can create awareness but yourself. Explore conditions that provide a safe and supportive environment, engage in conversations and ask yourself tough questions. Look around you! The answers will start to unveil in compelling ways.