Today I want to share a few reflections that emerged from one of those random life events that most of us experienced, bird poo.
As I am waiting for the traffic light to turn green on my trusted, muscle-powered, metal steed, I have my eyes planted on a group of five people just across the road.
All of a sudden a big dollop of shit drops from the sky and it skilfully misses all five people. I look up and I see a Javan Myna perched on a lamppost and strategically placed to soil unaware passers by.
What amazes me most is that despite the size of the dollop, which I obviously noticed from the distance, none of the five bystanders flinched. They didn’t even notice it.
Witnessing this scene immediately brought to awareness two reflections:
We each live an individual version of reality
Like all things subject to gravity, shit comes from the top
INDIVIDUAL VERSIONS OF REALITY
It is no secret that our brains can only capture, process and consciously manage a limited version of reality.
Look around you, wherever you are, and begin to mentally list everything you see; I mean EVERYTHING, no matter how small the detail.
If you were to really make justice to this exercise, you would be describing your immediate environment for an infinite period of time…and that is just your immediate environment.
Imagine how richer the environment and how much more complex reality as you expand your awareness to everything else happening in your daily life. It would clearly be impractical and maddening to pay attention to every detail our senses are constantly bombarded with.
Our very creative and innate solution is to “select”, consciously or otherwise, the details from reality that we consider relevant and useful to our existence.
SHIT COMES FROM THE TOP
Corporate organisations are very complex systems. The number of moving parts is so great, that these systems “virtually” become impossible to manage.
If you followed the latest events in the USA in relation to Wells Fargo, you would see yet another example of corporate complexity at work.
This is by no means an isolated incident. In fact, most big banks (Standard Chartered, UBS, Citibank, Credit Suisse, JP Morgan, Barclays, etc, etc, etc) have amassed a record-breaking amount of fines since the financial crisis begun in 2008.
According to a report by CNBC from October 2015, banks had collectively paid a whopping $204 billion US dollars. And according to a report by the Financial Times from September 2016, banks “have already paid out almost as much in fines and penalties so far this year as they did in the 12 months of 2015 ($9.8 billion US dollars), dashing hopes that the outlay for misdeeds had begun to taper off.” [References below]
This is relevant, because the CEOs of these banks would have us believe that they are not responsible for these debacles.
Whichever way you look at it, something is amiss. If it is true that they are not responsible and not aware of what was happening, they prove that such systems cannot be managed and should be broken up.
However, if they insist that such systems can be managed, then it is likely that they are colluding.
The Javan Myna brought all of this to my awareness because of this cartoon that I came across a few weeks ago. [Credit below]
Shit in my personal experience always comes from the top. Please note, I am talking about systemic shit, not the unethical, individual employee who acts in isolation.
So, what is the moral of the story?
The moral is that whether we see it or not, life always has some shit falling from the sky and at all times we concurrently are its producer and its receiver. Accepting that we play both roles gives us the chance to be skilful and helpful in many life situations.
For partners, next time you are arguing, ask yourself, “how can I shift perspective to see reality from my partner’s perspective?”
And for our corporate friends, next time you look “below” and see shit, ask yourself, “how am I being the asshole that is contributing to this mess?”
Thank you for reading my article.
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