Where do Those Darn Mental Models Come From?
Is a long dead person running your life?
Persons who take Creativity and Personal Mastery (CPM) find their lives transformed. Many shake their heads in disbelief as they discover entire systems of beliefs that were running their lives and ruining their lives.
Wherever did I pick that idiotic notion from, they ask?
Let me tell you about one mental model that hobbled a close relative. It might well have kept her family from fame and fortune.
It took me far too long to recognize that I, too, had adopted this model. Perhaps I shed it too late and therefore missed my road to fame and fortune.
One of my aunts grew up really poor in hardscrabble rural India. Her husband opened a small store that sold knick knacks and a few essential items. Competition was fierce. Her husband – and later their children – worked devilish hours and seven days a week.
That hard work paid off and they achieved a middle-class lifestyle.
She was enormously proud that “We stood on our own two feet and took no help from anyone.”
As a small child I heard her recount tales of how countless persons offered aid but she turned them down every time. Oh no! She was not going to be indebted to anyone. Credit was declined. Partnership offers were spurned.
And their modest success was held up as ‘proof’ that this was the right way to go. In fact, the only way to go.
So I grew up believing that I had to be fiercely independent to succeed. That I should never take help from anyone. And I most certainly should not ask for help.
After two MBAs and a Ph.D. from Columbia Business School I now have a different take. That hard work could have launched a global empire if married to some vision and management skill. They were striving for wealth and systematically sabotaging their efforts without ever realizing it.
It is a bountiful, benevolent universe out there. Treat it like an affectionate parent and ask for what you want.
Now, here is where it gets fuzzy and many get confused.
The trick to truly reaching your spiritual fulfillment is to gradually eliminate desires. So what is all this about ‘asking’ for more? How does ‘asking’ for what you want fit into this picture of eliminating desire?
The answer is that wanting to give up desires does not mean you have no desires. It simply means that you know at some level that it would be wonderful if this unsettling force was not driving you.
But, while you have these desires, use them as constructively as you can. Fulfill them if you can and if they are not illegal, immoral or unethical. See if you can marry your desire to some means of also ‘bringing good to a greater community’. Perhaps you wish to become a world-renowned speaker. Speak on topics that help your listeners deal with the tribulations of their lives.
Remember, you can ask the universe for help, but that help will come to you through a person. So, ask freely. In many cases the person you ask will actually feel honored and be glad to extend that help. You will have then done him – or her – a favor and enriched their life.
Don’t be a pest.
Bhagavan Ramana Maharshi, when an ascetic, would stand in front of a house and clap once. If the housewife came out with alms, he would receive them. If she did not, he would leave.
Use this as a model. You will ask for help. You will not beg, plead and importune.
In your mind, have the intention of what Shakespeare said about mercy. “It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.”
And never forget – just as you are ready to ask and to take, you should also be ready to give and not keep score. The not keeping score is important.