Possibility thinking believes that you are the integral part of this universe which continuously creates variety of species, flora & fauna, stars, nebulae and so on. One philosophy is “you are created and brought here without your consent and as a helpless creature governed by karma”; the other school of thought is “you are the creator itself as you came from the same intelligence that brought this universe to its existence”. If you believe the former philosophy, you are swayed by the wind like a boat without sails. If you believe in the latter, you take charge of your life like a captain of your soul. The possibility thinkers are the ones who believe that they are the creator of their destiny and feel there is no boundary for future as there is no boundary for this universe which even science is yet to find.
Why we are what we are?
Psychology says that our personality is a function of what happened in our formative years in childhood from 10 months to 3 years. The legend in modern psychology Sigmund Freud says that our “Script” of life is written during these crucial formative years. The following anecdote will clarify the point.
I happened to facilitate a Personality Development session long time back in which Suresh (name disguised for confidentiality) shared his life’s ambition as “To Show to the World that he is somebody and he will achieve this by owning a Mercedes someday”. Upon digging deep into his childhood, he narrated an incident as follows:
“My dad suddenly died when I was 2 years old leaving me and my mother without any means for livelihood. My mother without any means to survive, carried me in her hip and knocked the doors of her brother’s home at midnight – the only asylum she was left with. My uncle was shocked to see us standing helplessly and drove us away mercilessly saying that he had no means of supporting us! That was the day I decided to prove my worth to this World”
This incident in Suresh's life created an operating system in his sub-conscious mind which was running all his life “to prove himself” thereafter – which Sigmund Freud calls it as script. It is also a fact that vast majority of us are living life like Suresh as we have no means of knowing our scripts. If “Script” is the programme or operating system that runs our life like computer helplessly responding the way in which the program was written, all human beings would be robots and would not have produced great leaders.
What is the main point?
The subject matter for me in this episode is to explore “Are we the product of our circumstances or do we have a choice? – What do Leaders do to challenge their “Scripts”? Leaders are possibility thinkers and hence their past has no influence on them. Let us examine what is possibility thinking? In simple terms Possibility thinkers are “Future focused” and followers are “Past focused”. Suresh chasing a Mercedes to prove himself is a typical example of “Past focused” – there is no one in this planet to prove as “everyone of us are trying to prove to a non-existent entity and no one is interested or having time to notice who achieved what?” I wish to refer to a Zen story to illustrate this point:
“There was a Zen master living in a monastery where many people used to visit. After worshiping him they used to stand outside the monastery and exchange their pleasantries & problems with each other. There was a blind beggar sitting outside who used to listen to their conversation. The beggar being blind, his listening was quite strong to capture the inner dialogues of the people while they were sharing or listening. The Zen master one day died and there was a condolence meeting in which the beggar was invited to speak along with many of the devotees. The beggar spoke as follows:
“I was listening intently while people were sharing the events of their life with each other. Whenever one shared happy news I found the other person congratulating in words but fuming and fretting in his heart due to jealously. Similarly whenever one shares his problems the other was responding with sympathizing words; but feeling happy internally that it had not happened to him. I could get the inner feelings from their tones. But I found whenever the Zen Master responded he was happy when he heard happy news and really sad when he heard sad news. In other words he was “authentic” and the common men are “hypocrites” – and that is the difference between the ones who have “arrived” and the vast majority who are in the maze of mundane ephemeral life.
The above story proves the point that there is no one in this universe who is waiting to acknowledge our achievements and trying to “prove ourselves” to this non-existent entity is like chasing the mirage and leave nothing behind to the legacy. The Leaders never try to prove themselves but keen to make a difference in this planet.
Human beings can be classified into two major categories – the one who always wants to challenge what life has to offer and the other believes in fate and karma who generally succumb to them eventually. Some of us are on the side of the “problems” and some of us are on the side of the “solutions”. The leaders are generally the “possibility thinkers” which is my main topic of discussion today.
The Possibility Approach:
Possibility thinking believes that everything is coming from “Sunya-nothingness” (sunya is a Sanskrit word for nothingness). Looks complicated? Let me explain with an example. Where was the cell phone before its invention? The answer will be “Nowhere” Is it not? Where was this universe before big bang? Nowhere again! Vedanta says everything is in its “Un-manifest” form and comes into “manifest” form. The mango seed is the “un-manifest” form of the mango tree! We are in the planet now; where we were before birth? The answer is the same - everything from "Nothingness"
Another characteristic of possibility thinking is “Everything is cyclic”. Before Galileo’s time people believed that earth is flat and if we continue to travel in one direction we may fall out of it!! Galileo was poked in his eyes for challenging this belief and unfortunately for him there were no satellite image of earth to show what he was saying! Now we know that we can fly to US from India via east or west. In the universe we notice all phenomena are “Cyclic” – the day & night, seasons, planetary motion, flora and fauna, and so on. Science also confirmed this through “Law of conservation of mass or energy” which says energy or mass can neither be created nor destroyed and they can only be changed from one form to another. This is what I mean by "Cyclic" - No beginning and end! One cannot show where the beginning and end in a Globe.
In essence, a Leader always believes that he can create anything from nothing and moves forward keeping his /herattention always in the side of the solution and not on the side of the problem as a common man do. Creating something out of nothing offers lots of “ambiguity” as future is unknown. It is always easier to run life through “Script” as nothing is “ambiguous”.
Allergic to Ambiguity:
One of the Blocks psychology identified is “Allergic to ambiguity” which means that we get intimidated by the lack of clarity of an un-born future which has full of possibilities. Vast majority of us are capable only in “conforming” situations which are quite familiar to us. I dealt this in detail in my earlier topic “Rocking the boat”. Overcoming the intimidating feeling due to lack of clarity is the ability the leader develops over a period of time. Let us look at a simple scenario the leader faces – How big the business can grow? How to enrol the people for the common vision of the company? Is it not an ambiguous situation to answer these questions? Like these the Leader faces lots of questions on a daily basis; in other words “Ambiguity” is the order of life for a leader. In essence the future is unclear and creating it has infinite possibilities. The possibility thinking with tremendous optimism is the only way the leaders create the unborn future.
- Script is the operating system of your Life which is the result of your childhood conditioning
- Script makes you to live your life “Past Focused” to prove yourself as Suresh did – it has no possibility
- Possibility Thinking is “Future focused” – creating anything you wish.
- You are the integral part of this universe which has perennial creativity
- You can create your future with the support of this universe as you have the same capacity as the universe
- Future is ambiguous as it is coming from “Nothingness”
- Allergic to ambiguity will intimidate you from moving forward to create your future.
- Leaders will overcome the Allergic to ambiguity and live life in possibility thinking to leave something for legacy