Even though I had a year on sabbatical in 2022, I did work with 2 clients facilitating them through their Conscious Business Blueprints.
A new business networking group LYFTA, of which my husband James Sutherland is a co-founder and my yoga teacher, Helen Heppingstone’s brilliant presencing system for schools and corporates – unruffled.com.
2022 was a year of questioning for me and as it turned out it was the same for my clients.
Becoming more conscious is about questioning. Questioning assumptions and beliefs, exploring disparate ideas, observing actions and being present enough in the moment to remove the self (our ego and emotional attachments) and objectively discern.
This isn’t how many of us operate. Many of us get caught up in the fast pace of busyness and because we don’t have the time, we can gamble with our decisions or blindly follow someone we think knows what they are talking about. This is also how we can lose control of our lives and lose our autonomy. (And why its important to have our Conscious Business Brand Energy Blueprint so we can stay true to who we are, no matter what chaos is happening out there).
My two clients – gave me two complimentary perspectives around questioning.
The LYFTA directors are passionate about encouraging Critical Thinking. “We facilitate Critical Thinking – to challenge, investigate and understand our choices, to gain new insights and uncover new possibilities for prosperity”.
LYFTA defined their values as Real, Adventurous, Spirited, Generous and Accepting. As part of their intention for Real – they state – “We’re not here to sugar coat. We value honesty and encourage and support real conversations with care and respect for each other”.
And as part of their intention for Adventurous they, ” … play in the zones of the comfortable and uncomfortable. It’s a deliberate balancing act, to open ourselves up to new ideas and ways of thinking. When we expand our perspective it brings fresh new clarity.”
Just think of James Clear, author of Atomic Habits, and the compounding improvements you can make with continual little one percenters in your life and business. LYFTA is all about exploring the boundaries of our thinking and to help us see our business challenges with new eyes, hopefully identifying those subconscious blocks or assumptions that may be holding us back, so we can make those small and big improvements.
But what is Critical Thinking? According to Wikepedia it’s the analysis of available facts, evidence, observations and arguments to form a judgment. I would also add to that definition that it is also about examining what is not plainly in front of us. To also contemplate the context that this information is presented to us in, and to question, what are the gaps? What information is missing? And does this missing information or evidence mean something?
Critical Thinking is about exploring both sides of an argument, the polarities, and forming an opinion or belief at one pole or somewhere between the two.
When discussing this with Helen Heppingstone from unruffled.com, she suggested that the step above critical thinking is discernment. Helen’s offering ‘A dose of stillness’ is the culmination of over 30 years of study and practice in eastern wisdom, western science and corporate life.
Critical Thinking involves using just the mind, the brain, thinking and gathering knowledge to make a judgement.
Helen adds that Critical Thinking uses your lower mind, your lower self. This what Buddhist teachings describe as the basement of your mind, where all the seeds of your emotions sit, along with the constructs, filters and flavourings you have assumed from your experiences. So you are gathering information, and reviewing it based on your biased personal perspective and your current view of the world.
Discernment comes from disconnecting from the mind, dropping into a void of silence, peace and spaciousness, in that space posing a question and releasing it without any expectation or attachment, then staying present in that spaciousness to sense a response. Some would call this day dreaming, musing or meditating on an issue. This is not to gain knowledge but to arrive at a sense of knowing.
Helen adds, that discernment shifts us above our individual lens, way beyond all the constructs we have experienced. It uses the higher mind, or Higher Self. In this space we can open up to insight and innate wisdom.
Discernment comes from letting all notions of knowledge go and sensing what arises.
Easier said than done, as so many of us are time restricted and distracted by so much unnecessary white noise in our lives, there is no space or silence to tune in and discern. And the paradox is, all of this white noise wastes our time and does not serve us.
Helen’s offering ‘A dose of stillness’, helps us to get in the daily habit (only 10 minutes) of grounding, engaging and focussing, so we can connect with peaceful spaciousness and develop the ability to readily tune into this space when we need it, regularly and easily.
As Osho states in ‘Take it Easy – Zen and a totally different approach toward life’.
“All knowledge burdens and closes you.
In the state of ‘no mind’ there is knowing.
Knowledge and knowing are not synonymous.
Knowing is existential.
Knowledge is just intellectual.
Knowing is out of intelligence”.
I resonated with this – because I believe the premise that everything is energy.
As Albert Einstein said –
“Everything is energy and that’s all there is to it…This is not philosophy. This is physics”.
We are part of a huge vibrational field. Matter that we can see, (including us), is just vibrating at a lower frequency than energy we can’t see. We are energy, and all around us is informational energy, which, if we take the time to be present, we can tap into. I have had many clear insights and questions answered in meditation. Elizabeth Gilbert discusses this downloading from the universe, in her book, Big Magic. An author friend of hers wrote a book with the same intricate plot she had penned and shelved years previously. Gilbert believes that inspiration will be given to you and if you don’t use it, the universe will give it to someone else. There’s literally something in the air (informational energy), when discoveries and breakthroughs occur simultaneously across the world.
The meaning of Discerning from the Merriam -Webster dictionary is showing insight and understanding.
Critical thinking can provide the rationale and that is a good fall-back position and great fodder for the boardroom but the next level as Helen suggests, or perhaps the first step is to discern.
It’s like the example, Malcom Gladwell gives in his book ‘Blink’, of the Greek kouros statue that the J Paul Getty Museum in California bought for just under $10 million in 1986. Before they bought it they engaged scientists and experts over a period of 14 months to determine that it was the real deal, however a host of professional curators and experts, after their first viewing discerned it wasn’t authentic. And the second group turned out to be correct. It was just a sense, a trusted intuitive feeling they got when they viewed the statue that it wasn’t the genuine article.
When “…they looked at the kuoros and felt an ‘intuitive repulsion’ in the first two seconds of looking – in a single glance – they were able to understand more about the essence of the statue than the team at the Getty was able to understand after fourteen months.”
Critical Thinking can expand perspectives, Discernment can switch parardigms.
It’s great to foster both skills.
Your Conscious Business Blueprint offers you a compass and tethers you to what you discern really matters to you, your team, your business and your relationships and importantly how you want to do business. It keeps you in integrity – that is, integrated with your true self no matter how adventurous you get.
We need to raise our awareness and question more. To not be afraid of questioning. Welcome it, have fun with it. To poke at those egos so defiantly holding onto their positions.
Questioning lets light in and the critical thinking and discernment around our questions can lead to breakthrough innovations or even identifying those one-percenters, including our ‘dose of stillness’, to improve our business and lives.
What questions can you pose around what you and your business is doing? What would you like to know?
Do you know who you are as a collective to start with? Because I can help you with that.
Don’t blindy follow, find your stillness, discern, engage in critical thinking and lead.
Integrate your truth
Check out LYFTA on LinkedIn – Lyfta Local Business Networking Collective, and join in one of their regular meets if you live in Perth.
And get in touch with Helen for your daily ‘dose of stillness’ at unruffled.com, or come to one of her yoga classes at Twisting Fish in Claremont (also in Perth). I’ll see you there.
Cath Sutherland is the Director of Conscious Business – helping businesses to understand who they are, so they can do business better. Cath facilitates teams and leaders through her unique Creating Brand Energy process to develop, through collective consensus, their unique Conscious Business Blueprint – a clear, multi-level guide to manage, direct and develop relationships, operations, and product delivery. Cath can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org