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Who Are "You"? + Knowing vs. Doing

May 9, 2018


Interesting Thought: Who Are "You"?


Lately I've been thinking a lot about personality and the connection between ego and experience. One of my favorite thinkers and writers, Robert Pirsig, once said something to the extent of, "Personality is what you reflect on others and also what others reflect on you."

But maybe personality is limited? What if we were to go one step further, and say that soul is what you reflect on the universe and what the universe reflects on you.

On the difference between personality and soul no words I can offer are as thoughtful as those of another one of my favorite thinkers and writers, the poet David Whyte:

“The personality’s wish is to have power OVER experience, to control all events and consequences. The soul’s wish is to have power THROUGH experience, no matter what that may be."


Knowledge comes from personality. Wisdom comes from soul.


You can think of your basic nature, what you may consider your "soul" — your underlying foundation, your awareness — like a canvas.


Everything that you experience — your interactions with other people and nature, your emotions and feelings, even your thoughts — is like paint.


Without getting and staying in touch with the canvas, it’s all too easy to get overly caught up in the paint. And yet at the same time, you also need to realize that the canvas is influenced — and to some extent, changed — by your experience of the paint.


The more you can be in touch with — fully present for, nestling deeply in your awareness, trying to understand—the paint that is your unfolding life, the richer and more textured your underlying canvas will become. The more you can be in touch with the canvas, the less attached to thrown around by the paint you’ll be.


With every passing moment the canvas is holding, perhaps even becoming, the paint. But with every passing moment, the paint is setting in in a certain way depending on the stability and texture of the canvas, which, though sometimes it can be hard to separate the two, is always lying just a bit underneath the paint.


Perhaps this is what the art of living is all about.


Coaching Corner: Knowing vs. Doing


As a coach, I've seen countless athletes finish a race only to have their coach walk up and light into them for not "executing" the plan. "We talked about it," the coach might say, frustrated by the lack of follow through. I've even done it myself. 

The frustration is valid. How could the athlete (or workplace professional) not follow through on the plan that was discussed and practiced for ages? The coach or manager might then walk through what the athlete or employee did wrong, providing more information and repeating what was discussed before the competition even began. The implication is that the athlete had all that she needed, but she didn't follow through.

It's easy to fool ourselves into thinking that when we've detailed the plan at the whiteboard or in a discussion the follow-through is simple. "Just run this play" or " run these splits." It seems so straightforward.

But is more information the solution? Or, if the athlete didn't follow through, perhaps the message you sent didn't transition from knowledge to action. In other words, the athlete didn't fully conceptualize and/or internalize whatever the plan was.

Sometimes, lack of execution is due to stress. Other times it's the fact that a game day environment is entirely different. The feeling of running a certain time or split gets shifted with the excitement of a race. Other times, the behavior of competitors may cause an in-the-moment shift in execution (i.e. the entire race goes out much quicker than expected).

Instead of yelling at the individual for failure to follow the plan, I prefer to first understand why they weren't able to follow through. Second, it's my job to figure out how to put the athlete in the best position to translate the information into action. 

Far too often, we make an assumption that if we convey information, the execution will take care of itself. But information is not action. The former is simple. The latter is far more complex.


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