“The text has disappeared under the interpretation.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
This quote is a great reminder – what is happening today has all sorts of “interpretations” about the events. Each person, each side, each movement, has its own interpretation of the “event.” The “event” can be a pandemic, protests, political rallies, etc.
If we want to look at the “event” itself, we are not honestly in a position to have a real interpretation if we were not there. So, the “event” takes on a meaning which people have assigned to it that represents a bigger movement. In essence, the “event” has no meaning other than a “symbol for a movement” which has been going on for a long time.
Do you see how we interpret “events” and “assign” them meaning? Our minds do that. Our minds do that to feel safe. If we can give a meaning to something then “Ah, I know what this is and how to act in this circumstance.”
What if we remained neutral to both sides? What if we observed with non-judgement and compassion? Wow. That’s difficult to do, right?
Let’s talk about non-judgement and how it is one of the BIGGEST elements to becoming a great LEADER. This element instills TRUST from others in you.
Did you know that we are judging others every moment of everyday?
“Do not judge or you will be judged; for you will be judged by the same judgment with which you judge others; and it will be measured out to you with the same measure you have used” — (Matthew 7:1-2)
Our minds are running on autopilot for most of the day, whether we realize it or not. It’s telling us things all day long: “It’s time to get up!” “Make the coffee” “That woman’s dress is hideous, she needs a makeover” “How could that crime happen; what is wrong with people?” “My mother is driving me crazy.” We don’t even realize these thoughts are being fired off throughout the day, but unconsciously we’ve already made these judgements in our minds. Most of them were likely put in place while we were children, formed from the opinions of culture, society and personal experiences to emulate the opinions of our parents, family and friends.
Now there is nothing wrong with this. We all do it and it’s mostly done automatically. I’m sure there are times when we sit around with friends and have very strong conversations and opinions about our judgments of others. For example: pandemics, protests, race, wars that are going on, the refugee situation, terrorist attacks, politics, our current President, etc. Again, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having strong opinions and sharing them; but when we get to a point where they are absolute and finite, it is actually limiting to our growth potential, our own peace of mind, as well as limiting our career growth potential. Do you know that person at work who always has to have the loudest, strongest opinion and has to prove themselves “right?” I’m sure you do. The environment they are creating is not a productive one – it’s actually stagnating.
Believe it or not, as soon as we take steps to stop judging others (this is a very difficult thing to accomplish and it does take practice) we stop judging ourselves. One of my teachers always says the ruler by which we judge others is the same ruler by which we judge ourselves. We are incredibly hard on ourselves, every moment of everyday. Really, really hard on ourselves. If we stopped and took a moment to hear our inner voice constantly judging, we would be shocked to realize that we would never say those sorts of things to another human being; and yet we say them to ourselves.
One of my mentors told our class to take one entire day and not judge anyone. First, you have to actually notice when you are judging because it is so ingrained in us. Then you have to hit pause and observe that you have been judging. It was more like a game. I decided to try it. That morning my alarm went off and I immediately looked at my phone, reading some of the news for the day. There was a story about a woman who had thrown a chair at her own mother. Immediately I started judging her and thinking she was a horrible person for doing this. I caught myself. I hit pause. I rethought the situation. I didn’t know anything about this woman, her life or the circumstances leading up to that moment. I decided to just leave the story as just that. A story. On my way to work that morning in New York City, I caught myself, making judgements about the commuters all around me. This woman’s dress; that guy’s suit; her shoes; the person walking their dog too close to me; the building super who was washing the sidewalk and splashing me, and on and on. Each time I caught myself. I hit pause. I asked myself, “Why am I judging these people? They are just like me, off to work for the day. We are all in the same boat. We are all one.” A magical thing happened that day. The more often I hit pause and stopped myself from judging, the more the internal voice judging myself silenced. The tightness in my chest opened up, I could breathe more easily and I felt free. I felt like the world was my oyster because no one was stopping me. And of course, the only one stopping me all along was me.
When we can observe without judgement people can feel it. They can trust you. You aren’t judging them. They are not afraid to speak up, to voice their own opinions, and they aren’t afraid to hear yours. When we judge, we put out that energy – one can feel it and people begin to put walls up to protect themselves from being judged. This is where communication begins to break down. Walls go up. Communication breaks down. Do you see that?
Homework: (I love to give homework!)
I would like you to take one day and catch yourself judging other people (because we all do it) and hit pause. Then catch yourself judging yourself and hit pause. Don’t think anything after that. Just hit pause and observe. Just one day…at…a time…to a life of non-judgement and freedom from self-judgement. You Got This!