If how to’s were enough…

From Brian Klemmer’s book of the same title

Have you ever met someone who knows what needs to change in their work or life and yet they stay stuck in it? Maybe you’ve given them advice knowing full well they’re not hearing a word of it. Even if they’re nodding and making all the right noises? So what’s going on here?

I’ve not read Brian’s book but I entirely agree with the sentiment of the title.

We’re so busy running around sharing ‘how to’s’ with the world, and seeking them back, that we’ve forgotten we have our own in-built ‘how to’ guide for almost every situation.

Take a look at wherever you go to read content, connect with other people, work with other people. All around you are others giving advice, sharing top tips, success strategies,… All of these were perfect for them, and they are not you.

Before I go on, let’s be clear, there is absolutely nothing wrong with learning from others and their experience. The problem occurs when we allow this tail to be the one that wags the dog. The more powerful exploration is to get the dog’s anatomy back in the right order because the running around we’re doing, seeking the best ways from those who seem to have ‘made it’, take no account for two other key factors.

  1. Your non-conscious thoughts
  2. The wisdom behind your system
Photo by George Hiles on Unsplash

1. Your non-conscious thoughts 

These are your own unique (and yet fundamentally incredibly similar in everyone) story-teller of your life. It’s where your conditioning from all your years on the planet — but especially from childhood — has been planted.

And it’s beyond that. Increasingly genetics are showing the ongoing influence of generations before us on our experience today, and prior to that from our ancestors.

What happens is these stories get repeated, decisions are made beyond our conscious experience and our life plays out according to those rules.

Pause now and notice…are there patterns that seem to come up over and over in your life? Is there a theme of being rejected in one form or other? Is there a theme of never quite making it? A theme of always helping others? Or a theme of working all hours no matter what your intentions about rebalancing?

It’s like a movie being played from our mind and us, as a conscious being, bring it to life in a full 4D lived experience.

So those people you give advice to who don’t seem to be listening — they literally can’t hear you. What you’re saying would go against the movie that plays and so, like a director and editor of their own blockbuster, those words end up on the cutting room floor.

The same is true when we give advice to ourselves. So even if we say ‘I’m going to start this new approach’ or ‘I’m going to do it differently this time’ if we haven’t seen the non-conscious movie that’s playing out, it’s going to keep playing and will come back with the same storyline, in a slightly different context, maybe with some different characters, again and again.

When this is happening, you can listen to all the ‘how to’s’ in the world but you’ll end up back in the same situation.

2. The wisdom behind our psychology

We all have it. You will have experienced it — this wisdom.

In those moments when an idea comes out of nowhere. Or when you’re trying to remember X, then you stop trying so hard to remember X and the answer pops up.

There is an intelligent wisdom behind our human system which provides us with just what we need, just when we need it.

Intelligent because it doesn’t provide a ‘how to’ for changing a nappy while you’re trying to write a presentation for work.

Wise because it gives us brand new, fresh ideas and thoughts that can leave us marveling at where they came from! It feels beyond what we thought we were capable of.

And, like those moments when you’re trying SO hard to remember X, if we keep ourselves immersed in others ‘how to’s’ we’ll continue to grind away, applying our intellectual muscle to make their solution fit our problem. Tail wagging the dog.

If we would ease off for a moment we’d catch a glimpse of the wise intelligence coming through our own system and this wise intelligence is perfect! Perfect for our exact situation. Perfect for us.

That wise intelligence might now include looking at some ‘how to’s’ but the tail has been put in its proper place. Now the ‘how to’s’ are going to be read or listened to in service of the solution we’ve found that is perfect for us. From here instead of being in cookie cutter mode we’re in synthesis and curation mode, combining the elements that are most useful to us, involving the people who have the knowledge we haven’t learned and now using our intellect to apply all that and move forward.

From here, change can actually happen! We now play the movie we had hoped to play, not reverting to the same old script within a few days, weeks or months.

Sounds great! 

So how do we do it?

Did you spot it? The ‘how to’ question. We can’t help ourselves 😀 What’s the ‘how to’ that will get us this. We want it too! It sounds like I’ll be OK if I have that.

The good news is you already have it. The intelligent wisdom has always been operating. It can’t not, although it can get drowned out by the noisy intellectual voice, so if there’s something to do here, it’s just to notice it. Tune into it. Shine a spotlight on what’s already happening.

Spot those moments for yourself when you have fresh ideas, when just the right thing happens at just the right time. Begin to marvel at its brilliance. Begin to wonder at its origins.

The more you spot it, the more you trust it and the more it shows up.

Some practical, manufactured ways to hear your wisdom are to get involved with The Thinking Environment work of Nancy Kline or attend a Street Wisdom event. These approaches both give access to this wise intelligence in action.

And for the conditioned mind? There are a multitude of different ways to change the movie being played, and it can be a gradual or dramatic path to wake up to the one that’s been on loop.

Primarily, go with what you’re drawn to because that’s just how we navigate life. In my experience of this for myself I now recommend people to find a coach. I wrote here about why coaching works which could help you choose a coach for yourself. The critical factor is how clear they are that how they’re ‘being’ is more important than what they’re ‘doing’ or ‘saying’ during their work with you.

This ultimately is the journey we’re all on so make it easy on yourself, put down the ‘how to’s’ for a while, open up to wonder, and see what happens!

With love, Helen

I work with disillusioned leaders. Disillusioned about their career, about their leadership development till now, or about their life. I work from the level of the human experience system — guiding clients to insights about the mechanics of the how the system works, for sustained change and lasting clarity. Find out more here.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Fill out this field
Fill out this field
Please enter a valid email address.
You need to agree with the terms to proceed