Bringing attention into action

So I want to give you two formulae that I've found helpful for bringing attention into action. Neither of these come from Buddhist sources, but, well I can kind of fudge from a Buddhist source, but it isn't really.

When you're in a situation and it doesn't really matter what, and things aren't going the way that you want or expect, five things:

First, get the facts. Find out what is actually going on.

Our tendency is to make up stories about it. And whenever there's something happening which we don't understand what's really going on, we make a up story. And it's astonishing how quickly we make up that story. And there's a very important characteristic of that story; we're always the hero of it, which makes it suspect right there. So rather than make up a story, get the facts. What's actually happening.

Second, rather than react emotionally, and particularly defensively or judgmentally, which is what we usually do, empathize and understand with the other people.

Find out what they're experiencing and try to understand that. And so that makes an emotional connection, which really changes things.

Focus on what needs to be done, not on what isn't going right.

Focus on what needs to be done. As one person says: "Stop messing about with the past and look to the future." I put this in terms of: "Focus on the direction of the present." What actually needs to happen here to make this work?

And be strategic. You may think it should happen a certain way but that way may not work in this situation. So you've got to figure out what will actually work.

Often when people are consulting with me about problems they're facing, I'll make a suggestion and they say, well, we can't do that because of this, and we can't do that because of that and I can't do that because of this. And their tendency is to regard all of this as obstacles. What they're actually describing is the territory in which they are living at that point. And these are things that have to be negotiated and worked around but they aren't actually obstacles unless you regard them as an obstacle. And I've found that shift in perspective is very helpful to people.

And then the fifth one is: whatever happens receive it and keep going.

One of my favorite quotations is from Churchill. "When you're going through hell, keep going." Certainly applicable in Britain in the Second World War.