I heard this phrase from Oprah Winfrey, who heard it from her mentor, who no doubt heard it from someone in her life. It’s stayed with me ever since and then it came up in an exploration with a client this week. This is what we noticed.
In my work, I explore with clients what might seem ethereal and intangible. We talk about the nature of reality, we explore who we really are behind the ideas of who we think we are. We work way upstream, before thought, in the empty but alive and rich space from which all thoughts, all ideas, all freshness comes.
What’s the point? We’ve got jobs to do, lives to get on with, lives to save even.
And yet, when we know better, we do better.
When we go all the way back there, changes happen without trying. Shifts happen without effort. Because we’re getting right back to the source of change. To the place where learning happens. To the place where our ‘knowing’ really is.
By reconnecting to that place and learning how our psychological system really works, we start to know better at a very deep level. Then we do better — naturally, obviously. It’s the inevitable downstream effect of realising — knowing something fresh — at the source.
The same as when you’re shown a shortcut on a computer programme. Once you get it, why would you ever go back to doing it the old way? It’s just obvious to do it this way now — you know better.
So the impact of the work I do is most definitely felt in the real world of jobs and lives, and it’s the real world of jobs and lives that gives us access to explore what’s going on. The two are innately interconnected.
And what did my client and I notice this week?
My client was thinking about the nature of change in work and how, when there are changes to be made, some people can put up apparent resistance. It especially seemed to her to be the people who’ve been around the organisation for a while — those who seem more stuck in their ways, who like the familiarity of what they do and how they do it.
For the person leading the change, a reaction to this can easily be frustration. You can see the benefits ahead. You can see the efficiencies or cost savings. Maybe you’ve made a change like this somewhere else so you’ve also lived the benefits — seeing how the work can now become more rewarding because the basic tasks are automated.
It can be easy to cling to all that ‘knowing’ you have — desperate to make this change happen here because you think you know it’s good for them.
See the distinction there of ‘you think’ you know. Hang on Helen, you just said before, when you know better you do better! I know better! I’ve done this change before!
But when you think you know, you’ve just got lost in your intellectual knowing.
Knowing, at the deep level, is an evolving, changing process of input — process — output. New information — consider that information — change behaviours and actions. You’re connected to the wifi of the most super-speedy network in the universe and change happens with ease and a natural obviousness! This is the real ‘know better — do better’.
Whereas knowing at the intellectual level — thinking you know — gets us stuck. When you think you know, you’re now working off your hard drive. You’re taking past knowledge and past experiences and bringing them to now. Holding them as truths rather than possibilities. Believing them as definite and fixed, 100% this will work, when they were just ideas back then and they’re just distorted and mis-remembered ideas now.
In the presence of that ‘I know’ intellectual mind, you will get resistance. That’s how it works. And the more you think you know, the more resistance you’ll get. (Ever had a head-to-head with one of your kids? Yes, that.)
So what do we do instead?
The more you know what’s really going on at the deeper level, and the more you know where your experience of ‘resistant others’ is really coming from, the better you do.
Know better — do better.
Because when you see the resistance in them is created from a momentary fixedness in you, you see the futility of the fixedness.
You see that you’re trying to lift and drop an old change programme into this place now, in a change-programme-cookie cutter style.
You see that you’re clinging to an imagined past that you think must be replicated, and to an imagined future that you think must happen. Crowding out what’s here already, because all that imagination is being held as definite truth.
You see that the ‘resistant others’ are gifts — here to bring discomfort to wake you up from the fact you’re trying to turn imagination into truths.
All of that drops us back into the space before thought. Into the empty but alive and rich space from which all thoughts, all ideas, all freshness comes.
Now you know better at a deeper level—you know who you really are and what’s really going on — and so you naturally do better at the visible level of life being lived.
Now it becomes obvious to listen to the others and what they have to say. Now it becomes obvious that there are nuances about this place, this time, this organisation which makes adjustments to the plan obvious too. Now it becomes obvious what the fears that the others were holding as truths were which can be talked about and understood.
Now you’re back in connection. Now change can happen — easily, naturally, obviously.
The more you see that this is always how our experience of life has worked and is working, the more you know it. It’s always been like this, but nobody has told us before. Like the computer shortcut. Now we can see how the shortcut is so much simpler than we ever imagined it could be and, in knowing better, we do better. Now we work in alignment with the whole thing. Why would we go back to the old way?
When we know better, we do better.
With love, Helen
I work with people who want a quieter mind and a more fulfilling life. They’re smart, passionate people who are curious about there being a better way. They’ve worked hard to get to here and yet something’s still missing: ‘is this it?’. In our work we explore and reconnect to innate brilliance so they rediscover a quieter mind, fulfillment and balance. Find out more here.