Live By Your Principles

Sunday 20 January, 2002

11.30 E&M 60 mins. Robert phoned at 12.30 to say that he was running late and would pick me up at 13.10. As I waited I became more and more frustrated with him. It was happening again. First Earl made me late after lunch during last week’s men’s group and now Robert was doing the same. I had allowed myself to be fucked with once again. I phoned the house and found Sunil there – and Robert! I asked Sunil what the hell was going on. He told me Dev was on his way to pick me up. I calmed down, told Sunil it wasn’t his fault, asked him how he was and then waited for Dev. He arrived at 13.20, by which time I was livid. Talking to Dev I discovered that, contrary to my assumption, they had not got up late at all. This made it even more inexcusable that Robert had failed to honour his word.

Another Strong & Effective Challenge

As soon as I arrived at the house I challenged Robert. I told him that I was not happy with him and that I felt he was undermining me. Having done so I spoke briefly to Priya about her hotel and then returned to Robert. He did not see it at first but both Dev and Sunil said that they saw it the same way as I did. We all talked it through in a way which reflected the practice we have had with challenges, feedback and supervision sessions over the years and, in particular, over the last few months.

In her feedback, Priya was impressed with the way I had challenged Robert – immediately, without wallowing in my mood – and how the four of us had systematically worked through it. She was impressed to see Sunil, a Sikh male, challenge a white man and also how we did not let Robert off the hook. I also brought up his version of the time Sunil accidentally set himself on fire. The one he had given to George and Harriet in their session earlier in the month.

He had given a false account which implied that I was the only one who could do anything because everyone else was holding a very heavy girder (wrong). It had left me with a feeling of someone who could have done something but hadn’t, and was squirming with his conscience, trying to excuse himself. The way he told his version of events that night he undermined me and he did it again this morning. Eventually he could see what he had done, and also he became aware that this is precisely what he does at work and is doing with his boss. It all showed me what I am capable of. I challenged effectively, calmly and authoritatively and everyone benefited.

The Battle For The Mind

Then we listened to the tape of this morning’s sermon from the church. It was a good one entitled, The Battle for the Mind. I made the following notes:

  • Catch your mind and submit your thoughts to God immediately
  • Carnal mind or spiritual mind? – your choice
  • Why do you think the way you think?
  • Whoever’s got your mind has got you
  • I need to choose what I think
  • As a man thinks, so he is – right thought
  • You cannot stop birds flying over your head but you can stop them nesting
  • What’s on your mind? Who’s on your mind? Who’s got your mind?
  • Change your mind set
  • I can discipline my mind
  • Transform yourself through the renewal of your mind
  • Love never fails
  • Here and now

Live By Your Principles

In the evening I encouraged Priya with her letter to her former CEO regarding the latter’s appearance in the newspaper. Again, I was able to make a contribution by verbalising my immediate sensations. The same happened when Dev asked me to help him with his brainstorm on his Cambridge feedback. He was trying to make amends for the poor quality of his original feedback. I felt – and told him so – that he was still not communicating his enthusiasm for the course.

After a late lunch we sat together for a supervision session. Dev was challenged about his brainstorm and about the moral dilemma he had put Karaj in. Karaj does not want to cheat by sending an altered feedback sheet to Cambridge yet Dev’s, as it stands, is unprofessional and weak. ‘Karaj is consistent in his course and in his therapy.’ It could mean anything and the reference to therapy is wholly unnecessary and irrelevant.

Karaj left us (Robert, Sunil, Dev, Priya and myself) to discuss the possible solutions. We talked about it and decided that the best thing to do was for Dev to get himself out of the negative, blocked space he is in and then add to his original comment. Robert summarised our discussions to Karaj but left out the solution which Sunil had voiced. Karaj told us that Robert had left out Sunil’s contribution because Sunil was not there – he is never there. Karaj deemed our proposed solution unacceptable. He told us that all of our considered solutions were superficial – we had not gone deep enough. He went on to talk about principles. His principles will not allow him to send the document and Dev must pay the price for what he has done. But what is the price?

I had told Dev during our discussion that he must pay the price, but I had not gone far enough and imposed the consequences. By this we are excusing Dev’s behaviour and in doing so we excuse our own behaviour. There needs to be a punishment and Dev should decide what the consequences are to be, according to his own principles.

Karaj added that if you don’t live by principles then you live by feelings, and then anyone can buy you. When you go down, that is when you lose your principles. He told us the story of the principled King who, when challenged by the Gods, gave away his kingdom and, subsequently, his wife and son – all for his principles. In the end the Gods intervened, but the moral of the story is that principles are principles, and if they are flexible then they are not principles at all.

Consequence & Punishment

There followed a long debate between Sunil and Karaj about the differences between consequence and punishment. The conclusion was that the level of awareness is important because:

  • A wise man will always consider the consequences of his actions.
  • Punishment, when on a social level, frees the individual to get on with their life.
  • Consequences always occur, whereas punishment does not.
  • The expression, to ‘take your punishment like a man’ implies that it is optional. It is important to note, however, that unless the individual pays the cost of his actions he cannot grow.
  • Punishment is finite – it is for a limited time – whereas consequences are continuous.
  • Consequences can be both negative and positive. Punishment is always negative.

I Have Moved On

At the end of the session Priya read out her short letter to her former boss. It was intended merely to make contact and congratulate her on the article, which it did perfectly. Subsequent contact, in a month or so, can go further, if Priya wishes. It is all about forging and maintaining relationships. This cannot be done overnight and needs time and commitment. During the break, before she read the letter, I spoke to her about the traders I worked with at the banks in Germany. I trotted out my usual, negative viewpoint: the traders are arrogant and greedy. As I said these things, they did not feel right. As I reflected, I realised that I have moved on from that mind set. I wanted to put the record straight with Priya somehow but did not know how. My chance came when I gave my feedback on the whole weekend.

I said that over these last few days I have achieved things I didn’t think possible of myself a year ago. I have challenged people and pursued them to wake up to themselves and to stop their negativity. I am beginning to glimpse my potential. In my contributions to people I have had favourable responses, reactions and outcomes, which have encouraged me even further. I’m beginning to see how effective I can be.

I used to be intimidated by the traders at the bank and labelled them arrogant, but I realise now that they were just doing their job. Whether they are arrogant or not should not affect me. They thrive on the pressure and I am seeing that I too can work under pressure, work long hours, do demanding work, and demand the same of others. Maybe that’s why I disliked the traders so much; they revealed to me my own shortcomings, which I am now addressing. As a result I am becoming stronger and stronger.

The session ended at 2am.


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