Self-Mastery and conscious use of self have a broad purview. We use ourselves with everything we do, think, feel, and believe. Most of the time our automatic behaviors and thoughts serve us well. No mastery is needed. However, when we want to shift the dysfunctions around us including our own, being on automatic can be counterproductive.
Self-Mastery and the Ways We Waste Our Time and Energy
Time is a resource. And leaders never have enough of it. There are staffs to be managed, customers to coddled, finances to figured out, superiors to satisfy, and the partner and kids at home to be pleased and loved. The list goes on and on. Time’s a wastin’. Yet, we rarely think about the things we do on automatic which waste time and energy. I’m not talking about watching TV, resting, having a glass of wine, or playing with the kids. Those activities are not wasteful. They are useful for both pleasure and energy renewal. Do them well.
It’s the complaining, blaming, worrying, making excuses, and rationalizing that concern us. Procrastinating is another—too often I go shopping or clean the kitchen floor when I should work on this article. Another is analyzing for the 30th time how I’ll talk my editor into giving me a bigger advance. Arguing and trying to convince are too rarely useful to be anything but energy sponges.
When life isn’t working for you, when you aren’t getting the results you want, when your followers are stumbling around as you are; what to do? These situations happen to us all. At these times, we most need the power of conscious choice. We make many choices every day. We don’t notice most of them. Most are pre-made, automatic habits that require no conscious thought. We go through our routines: we wash up, have breakfast, check the phone, drive to wherever we are going, and interact with those around us. On most days, we give those actions barely a moment’s thought. It’s all automatic and works well…unless it doesn’t. Even then, still on automatic, we blame, complain, make excuses, and worry. We feel sorry for ourselves. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Such a waste of perfectly good energy.
People ask me why I use a rather fierce looking dragon as my Center for Human Systems’ logo.
Dragons are known throughout the world in all climates, cultures, and eras. There are dragons with horns, claws, breath of fire, great size (some small), wondrous wings (some wing-less), and marvelous colors. These serpentine creatures forever populate our myths, legends, novels, and movies. Dragons are strong, fierce, powerful, and persuasive. They are creatures of magic, power, and beyond-normal insights. In Western cultures the magic and power of dragons is destructive; they are to be eliminated. In other cultures, dragons are positive symbols: Chinese dragons are symbols of good fortune. In the Aztec, Olmec, Mayan world, their dragon—Quetzalcoatl—symbolizes sustenance and re-birth. In the old Slavic world, some dragons—Zmaj—were friends of humans while others—Azdaja—were friends of witches and such. When they fight, great storms occur.