“Carefully watch your thoughts, for they become your words. Manage and watch your words, for they will become your actions. Consider and judge your actions, for they will become your habits. Acknowledge and watch your habits, for they shall become your values. Understand and embrace your values, for they become your destiny.”Mahatma Gandhi
During these testing times of isolation, we have come to rely on information from the outside world. With more time to think, it has led me to question the values of some leaders and the way they are handling the current situation. Since I have been participating in Mindful in May, it has prompted me to re-examine my own views on mindfulness and what it means to be perceptive? When I first set up my blog site, I wrote an introduction about why I had named the site My Perceptive Journey.
I wrote that “having a natural curiosity, I am always seeking out new and interesting things wherever I go. Being perceptive I travel with an open mind so that I can observe all around me. It is quite ironic that we can all visit the same place and yet each of us has our own unique image as well as a different memory of what we have seen.” https://moirayeldon.com/why-perceptive-journey/
Perceiving things differently is due to our different experiences and mindsets. It is also important to learn from the perception of others as having an open mindset allows you to approach any situation with greater clarity and leads to further growth. Having a fixed mindset allows anyone to interpret data to suit their individual prejudices.
While being perceptive is about how we see things and view the world, it is not simply how we think. While our thoughts may seem real to us, they are not necessarily true. It is important to teach our children to seek the truth and not simply believe what they hear. Events in history have taught us how easily propaganda can be spread and while Hitler was not an intelligent man, he managed to convince the masses that what he was saying was true. It is not enough to rely on statistical data, we need to question the facts.
As adults we at least have the advantage of knowledge and experience to support our perception. Children do not have the benefit of these. It is by acquiring the right knowledge and meaningful experiences that help to change our existing perceptions.
At one time if we were attributing virtues to past leaders, we would say they were great thinkers. But it is not what they think that is important. It is about being able to see, sense and feel what is going on around you and paying attention to detail. Welcoming the ideas of others is essential to our personal growth for without diversity of thought, mindsets become fixed and rigid. We only need to look at Donald Trump.
Gandhi who meditated daily found that looking within and focusing on the moment allowed for greater clarity which helped him to make important decisions based on his perception. A well-known leader in business management, Peter Drucker whose texts were compulsory reading in university courses I attended, seemed to agree.
Like Gandhi, he also says “Follow effective action with quiet reflection. From the quiet reflection will come even more effective action.” In his book, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, Drucker reminds us that “When a change in perception takes place, the facts do not change. Their meaning does.” Perception influences how we understand the facts and how we respond to them.
He too realized the importance of mindfulness and incorporated it into his business management courses. According to Drucker, “the most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said.” With greater perception we are listening and observing all around us.
The main principles of mindfulness are paying attention and being aware. It is also important that we have the right intention and attitude conducive to meditation. By letting go of our thoughts we are creating a space for new ideas and creativity to flow into that space. Opening our minds to perception, we are also accepting while learning to understand before we make judgement.
In Chasing Marigolds, I wrote about India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi who when taunted by his political opponents during an election campaign commented, ‘There’s a lot of mudslinging… but the lotus blooms only in mud.’ He added that he was thankful to those indulging in mudslinging because this would help the lotus to bloom yet again in his state of Gujarat.
Buddhists and Hindus alike consider the lotus blossom to be a perfect analogy of the human condition. Despite the flower having its roots in the mud, it ascends through the murky waters toward the light. Something they believe is possible for everyone. Let us hope that our world leaders of the future will be more mindful when it comes to understanding and embracing their values. For it is their values which will determine not only their destiny but ours.