July 10, 2005

Are We Evolving, Devolving, or Simply Revolving?

"Don't push yourself beyond your evolution." --Byron Katie

"The evolution of human consciousness" is the soup du jour for pundits of all stripes. New-agers, clergy, educators, business leaders, and even politicians have been addressing this topic for some time now. Most notably, The Dalai Lama tells us we are becoming more conscious, even as he instructs us in ways we must become "higher," through compassionate action and nonviolence. If we are to believe His Holiness when he spoke on the Great Lawn of New York's Central Park in the fall of 2003, war is an outdated concept: in order to be compassionate we must care for the earth, and when we hurt another we hurt ourselves. 65,000 people cheered him on when he claimed that we as a people are evolving and becoming more compassionate. But are we?

Even in this time of war and economic uncertainty, the popular author and modern mystic Eckhart Tolle opines that the entire planet is waking up...and that our current craziness is merely a symptom as the intensity of resistance personally and collectively gets triggered.

Then there are those who have something to sell to the highly-evolved or evolution wannabes. They certainly would have us believe in an evolution revolution. (I won't name names, but folks who exploit "indigo" children and write books about "cultural creatives" come to mind.)

Where's the proof of this evolution?

We can argue that in the United States, we have championed civil rights in the last century, yet we have failed to abolish discrimination in our own backyard, not to mention slavery elsewhere in the world. People the world over have become more aware of dwindling natural resources but we continue to deplete and destroy them in the name of progress. In response to terrorism many of the worlds' citizens are committing hate crimes while waving our nations' flags. We wage war while paying lip service to eventual peace and equality...while companies in which our leaders have large interest clean up the collateral damage and rake in the profits.

Of course, these are cheap and easy targets to shoot at from the safety of my little soap box. It is also very easy to make feel-good statements about the evolution of the human spirit. What is more difficult than taking potshots or spouting affirmations is to look within and see where each of us, personally, is evolving...or not.

If I point fingers outward and speak self-righteously about the unconsciousness of world leaders and mob mentality, how does this help? In the end, I am left with stressful thoughts about a world that's a mess. This isn't evolved behavior. If I speak from a mountaintop, and I don't live there, whom do I serve?

Looking inward, I must ask myself where I hate, where I treat people unequally, where I take what doesn't belong to me, where I lie, where I promote wars great and small, against others and against myself. To do this as a gentle noticing, without self-flagellating, is key. We don't need to wage any more war, within or without.

In short, whether or not humanity is evolving is none of my business. Am I evolving? Only when I see the truth of my own evolution (or lack thereof) can I begin to make a difference by acting sanely...to be the peace I want to see in the world, as Gandhi advised...to live the reversals in which St. Francis instructed us so long ago..."Where there is hatred, let me sow love."

Evolution is seeing that what we thought needed changing "out there" was just a case of mistaken identity.

©2004 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

July 6, 2005

Article about teaching processes in business settings posted at Noumenon website

I'm honored to announce that my article entitled "You Don't Need Another Process, You Need Results" has been posted at the website of Dr. Kriben Pillay, an expert in organizational processes. Dr. Pillay has been instrumental in moving Byron Katie's work in South Africa and has sponsored two of her tours there. He is the author of the book Radical Work and publishes the Noumenon Journal.

The article URL is

This piece previously appeared in the latest issue of PEACEtalks: the Newsletter for Self-inquiry in Business.

July 5, 2005

Transforming Shirkers to Workers: A Self-inquiry Approach

On the rare occasions that Dave fulfills his responsibilities in a timely manner, it's even more rare that he'll let you, his manager, know about it. He seems reluctant to take on new assignments, and he does not like rules. Clearly, Dave marches to a different drummer. It would be easy to label him a shirker and try to transfer him, demote him or fire him altogether.

You've known Dave for some time and he wasn't always this way. But things have changed at the office; downsizing, reorgs, and increased demands from senior management mean you're all expected to do more with less. As a manager or supervisor with direct reports, you're obligated to speak to Dave about the problem, particularly if it's performance assessment time. Rather than have a confrontational meeting where you present him with a list of no-no's, it might serve both of you to question your beliefs about Dave first.

Download the "Judge-Your-Neighbor Worksheet" from my website. Per the instructions, put your thoughts about Dave on paper. "I am disappointed in Dave because..." "Dave should/shouldn't..." "I need Dave to..." "Dave is..." Don't be kind, be critical, judgmental, even petty; inwardly this is what you are doing anyway, and no one will see this.

Your thoughts might look like this:

"Dave does not know the meaning of responsibility."
"Dave is not a team player."
"I want Dave to realize times are tough and we all have to do things we don't want to."
"I want Dave to stop reading e-mail at his desk."
"I need Dave to do his share."
"Dave should grow the hell up."
"Dave should not expect the team to cover for him."
"Dave should not leave at 5 on the dot every night."
"Dave should floss after lunch." (Why not? Even if this has nothing directly to do with his job, that's what you noticed, so write it down.)
"Dave is lazy, dishonest, and will never get anywhere in business."
"I don't ever want to deal with another shiftless employee."

Some who are new to this form of self-inquiry will feel relief at this point. Others will feel overwhelmed and exhausted. That's fine; go easy on yourself. Let the worksheet sit for a day if you need to. Then look at it again and perform self-facilitation of The Work. Choose the statements around which you experience the most stress or those which have the most "charge" for you, and ask yourself the four questions:

1. Is it true?
2. Can I absolutely know that it's true?
3. How do I react when I think this thought?
4. Who would I be without this thought?

If it really drives you crazy that Dave leaves at 5 PM when there's a deadline, start with that. Dave should not leave at 5. Is it true? What is the reality of it,? He does leave at 5. That's what's true...and this does not mean that you won't ask him to stay later. But for right now, can you absolutely know that it's true that he ought not leave at 5 PM when there's work to be done? Can you know you'd be happier and that he'd be better off if he did what you wanted? It might be that if you insisted he stay till 6, he'd spend that entire time on the phone or the internet anyway, unless you stood over him. Do you want to stand over him until 6 PM?

How do you react when you think the thought, "Dave should not leave at 5," and you believe it? What goes through your mind at the sight of his empty cubicle at 5:15? Where do your thoughts travel? How do you treat him when he arrives in the morning? When you hand him an assignment? How do you speak about Dave to other team members as a result of thinking this thought? And have you even asked him to stay later?

Where is your proof that it's better to stay past 5? What are your beliefs about that? Are people who work longer hours more committed, more productive? Does his early leave-taking mean that Dave hates his job and has no respect for you? Make a list.

Who would you be without thttp://beta.blogger.com/img/gl.link.gifhe thought, "Dave should not leave at 5?" You might be someone less apprehensive about giving a performance review...someone more willing to ask your employees for what you want...a manager who includes your direct reports in your vision for the company or the department. You might be the team player you wanted Dave to be.

Turn the thought around: "Dave should leave at 5." He should because he does...for now. If you can question your thoughts before confronting Dave and meet as a collaborator towards common goals instead of as a disapointment and a burden, there's no telling how he'll respond to that courtesy. He might even return the favor.

(For more about The Work in your profession, visit Clear Life Solutions and subscribe to the Transformational Inquiry newsletter to receive your free report on inquiry in the workplace.)

©2004 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.

The Work of B.K. Diet—Made You Look!

Have you noticed how America's self-help gurus are turning to the world of diet and health? Dr. Phil seems to be dedicating his entireshow this year to weight loss, not to mention his publishing schedule. "Life Makeovers" coach Cheryl Richardson has teamed up with her health and fitness expert husband to pen a new book about why people don't lose weight. There's even—I kid you not—a Mars-Venus diet, peddled by John Gray. (What's next? Fat Women Who Should Run With the Wolves? The Four Agreements Diet? The Power of Be Thin Now? The Prayer of Flabez?)

So I thought I'd beat Byron Katie to the punch and introduce The Work Diet.

There are always new diets on the market because of two factors: 1) many people are unhappy with their bodies, and 2) as a species, we don't like to diet and have trouble sticking to eating plans, so we're looking for the one that's tailor-made for us (in other words, easy and with immediate, tangible results).

Notice the words, "are unhappy," "don't like," and "have trouble." These are thoughts that have nothing to do with the body or even dieting. If we were clear, we could be happy and beautiful at 800 pounds, and at the same time, no diet would pose a problem.

But none of us are living on the mountaintop just now, so let's get real. Let's say you weigh 20 lbs. more than the weight charts call "normal." You can't button the top button of your jeans. Your blood pressure is through the roof, and your doctor says it's because you're too fat. In addition, your partner wants to break up with you because s/he's no longer attracted to you.

You are too fat, is it true?

Well, yes, we think, and here's all the proof: the numbers, the pants, the blood pressure, the disgusted partner.

It's time for The Work Diet, but don't run to the health food store just yet; all that's needed for now is a writing implement, a piece of paper and four questions.

With the education of the inquiry, we begin to see exactly what we've been "eating" all our lives—and what's been eating us—when we think the thought "too fat." For one thing, digits on a scale or a tapemeasure become a basis for self-hatred and an arbiter of attractiveness; we believe a number is bad without ever having "asked us." What of physical symptoms? High blood pressure turns us into a bad person who made ourself sick...so now we're sick and we're wounding ourselves too. And our partner? A disgusted spouse means we really must be disgusting. (That sure motivates me to lose weight, how about you? NOT.)

Then there's the regimen: if you follow it you're "good," if you "cheat" you're "bad." Innocent foods become either "legal" or "the devil." If you lose weight, then diets work, you had willpower, you did well, you're golden...and if you stayed the same or gained a pound or two, diets never work for you, you have a bad metabolism, you are out of control, you don't deserve to live. You may notice that these thoughts have nothing to do with food. Without a story, food is what is and you ate what you ate.

What are your can'ts, won'ts, nevers, shouldn'ts and shoulds about matters of weight loss and weight gain, body size and eating? Discovering and investigating underlying beliefs about food, diets, and the body might reveal that foods, dieting, and our bodies were never the problem. How do we know? Because of the way we change when our thoughts change. With the thought, "I'm too fat," stress and the behavior that comes of it: racing to lower that number on the scale, or racing to the fridge in a fit of "what's the use." Without the thought, peace...and that does not mean that you will not eat properly, exercise, and take care of yourself.

We can weigh 20 extra pounds in heaven or in hell; we can also get "buff" right here in the paradise of reality or down in the depths of the purgatory of thoughts that don't serve.

Here's to thinner thinking!

©2004 by Carol L. Skolnick. All rights reserved.