“We cannot teach people anything; we can only help them discover within themselves.” ~ Galileo Galilei
That is a burden in my heart to share principles that I believe would make a profound impact to people’s lives. Principles that changed my life, how I see and experience life and everything. But sharing deep insights is easy, but not easily received the same way by others. As the saying goes, “Some things can only be caught, not taught.”
I’ve done numerous talks and training sessions, and I’m always amazed that everyone has a unique takeaway from each of them at the end. No two opinions are exactly the same. I find that a beautiful and mysterious thing!
How do we then create a conducive space for new insights to be more easily “caught” by someone?
We receive information in various levels. At the surface level, they’re just a bunch of information that may or may not make sense. Even if they do, it may or may not carry much meaning. If they do not make sense or carry any meaning, they’re politely rejected or sometimes, ridiculed. And there are those which are strongly opposed.
When they do make sense or mean something, we now grasp it intellectually. They’re now a bunch of theories and concepts we wrap around with our intellect mind, like so many others that we have learnt in the past. Hardly life-changing and easily forgotten.
So, how do you cause someone else to catch those profound insights, especially the paradigm-breaking ones?
How do you share information that leads to transformation?
One, of course, is through time. In time, many truths can be come clearer and more apparent. But that usually takes a really long time. In history, we learnt Galileo was put on house arrest in 1633 by the Catholic Church by promoting the Copernicus’ theory that the earth revolves around the sun like the other planets in the system, and never the other way round. That was deemed as heresy by the Church and Galileo imprisoned till his death in 1642. But eventually the experts began to accept the heliocentric theory and it seemed like the obvious truth!
“All truth passes through three stages. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident.” ~ Arthur Schopenhauer
Yeah, time will tell, but that may not seem like a good idea if I want to see revolutionary change within my lifetime.
Change. Now, that is something what many people want in other people. Everyone is trying to change somebody, people try to change the world. And that reminded of something I heard from Jim Rohn’s audio seminar. Here’s an excerpt from his book The Keys To Success:
“Inspiration is somewhat of a mystery. Who knows why some people are inspired and some are not? Some people have put up the money for this book while others have decided not to. Some are excited to be reading, others couldn’t care less. These are what I call mysteries of the mind.
There is a story that the day the Christian church started, a great sermon was preached. It was preached to a multitude and there was a variety of reactions to the sermon. Some people were perplexed. Some laughed and mocked the speaker. Some who heard it had no idea what was going on. But some believed and the number was about three thousand.
There is a lesson in that you can’t change people. I used to waste a lot of time trying to change people. But people can change themselves…”
You can’t change someone, but can you help create a condition so that change are more likely to occur?
You can point someone to the direction of an understanding, but that does not guarantee that he would get it. You have no control of the outcome. And the more you try to “force” it, the further the understanding evades the hearer. With whatever good intention, we may actually be at a disservice to the people we try to serve.
In Coaching, we are not quick to tell, give advice, or suggestions like consultants do. Although certain solutions may seem obvious to us coaches, we want to evoke the insights to surface within the coachee. We use questions, we ask some powerful ones. The questions are powerful not because they are intimidating, but because they can uncover the underlying hidden issue, the heart of the matter. Imagine peeling layer after layer of the onion to get to the core. The answers are often found in the questions.
Besides coaching questions, I tend to use metaphors, analogies and stories. Some stories are real accounts (mine or others), many are made up. Just like Jesus who taught his disciples using parables. Mental imagery is a powerful tool. Through neuroscience, I learnt that we have many millions of neurons between our ears, and we use a very tiny percentage of them at any given time. Because it would be terribly inefficient to use that huge resources for most tasks. We use more for learning new things, and thereafter, our brain form patterns and images, and they become a template (mental map) of which we make sense and navigate the surrounding world.
Because we see and live through our thought images, we do not experience the world directly. We live in the feeling of our thoughts. That is the Principle of Thought.
In my previous post: Overcoming Fear, I wrote that our thought images are made up by our beliefs, core values and experiences. I also realized that they are also influenced by many random factors which we have no control over.
If the people who attended my talks and training sessions gave the same feedback and opinions, then they would have experienced my message directly as what I’ve intended to project. But no, what they have experienced were their thought images in the moment.
In taking the use of imagery further, I would also use the power of distinctions. By illustrating using two contrasting images, important points could be highlighted and easily caught. That is why my Power Shift series of posts were quite popular last year (according to Google Analytics).
Also, I found that silences are invaluable. Don’t be afraid to use the power of pause – allow spaces of silence that allow deeper understanding to occur all by itself.
Miracles do occur in between the questions, stories and whatever images you’re helping the hearer to paint in his own mind. In between the words, he may find clarity.
You see, clarity is our mind’s default state of being. When nothing gets in the way, our mind always return to clarity. Just like the muddy pond, when the water is not stirred and left alone, it settles and return to clarity. That is why meditation works. But more importantly is the principles behind why meditation works. We can experience the state of meditation without the act of meditating. Jamie Smart wrote a great, insightful article on this.
Our mind experience thousands of thoughts daily. Like the river, we cannot control the flow of the water but we can move and dance with its flow. New thoughts and insights are flowing all the time, we experience them when we do not stand in their way. From my experience, the easier I could let go of old thoughts, the freer new ones flow in to inspire me, and the lighter and happier I am.
I still consider myself a student, an amateur, new to the mystery of how information leads to deeper understanding that leads to transformation. I’m enjoying my fascinating journey of learning about the Principles, how they have impacted my life and how I could share them in a better way.
Stay in the conversation with me.