6th article of the Series
At the start of this series of articles, I introduced the concept of Inner Life and Outer Life on opposite ends of the Balance of Life. I also stated that there are a total of eleven dimensions overall to balancing the Life Wheel in order to achieve harmony, joy and success in one’s life.
Both work life and home life exist on the same side of the scale – the Outer Life. They each have 4 dimensions in them. In this article, my focus will be on the home life which has these 4 dimensions in it: Family, Social, Financial – aka ARDHA and Ethics & Beliefs – aka DHARMA. In the next article, I will discuss the work life which has the following 4 dimensions in it: People, Productivity, Execution – aka KARMA, and Leadership. On the opposite side of the scale, the Inner Life consists of 3 dimensions: body, mind and spirit/soul to complete the Life Wheel with 11 dimensions to it.
Many people wonder why they do not have the success that they want in life. Most of the time, the reason will be right under their nose; they are just unable to see it. The first thing that someone who is not successful in life should ask is, “Am I successful in my personal life and relationships?”
If the answer is no, then you now have your answer as to why you are not successful in life. You cannot have a successful life if you do not have adequate personal and social development.
Family life typically reflects our capability to cope with abundance and affluence. There seems to be a lack of internal strength to walk the talk. Two reasons emerge for explaining that inability to build successful human relationships in the midst of an increasingly materialistic consumer culture. One is our often unconscious acceptance of a self-centered individualism that insists on the right to do what is best for ‘me’. The other reason follows from such thinking and can be called a mindset of unrealistic expectations. Whatever comes our way, it does not seem good enough.
Successful family life needs both, a spiritual commitment and relationship skills. In my view, such a lasting commitment for improving family relationships has its roots in our love for God and the ensuing active spiritual life for all family members. What is included in that understanding of the original God-given potential of a fulfilled family life? Human development advances in stages of building loving relationships. The experience of love does not just happen in a general way by reaching out to others, but it is originally designed to take place within the family. In other words, first we need to build loving relationships with family members, thus experiencing growth towards maturation, and then we will be able to extend our love to the world around us.
It is the family where we experience four successive stages of loving relationships, namely, children’s love, sibling love, conjugal love and parental love. Each of these loving relationships affects a distinct formation in the personality of the family members. It may take some effort to understand the unique characteristics of these four basic types of love that define family life. The experience of the four types of loving relationships in the family then contributes its formative influence to our personal development. Thus, the family provides education for the experience of love and it also reveals the ultimate meaning of love as the connecting medium between the temporal and the eternal realms. That is to say, the experience of loving family relationships in the physical, temporal order prepares human beings for their existence in the spiritual, eternal order. In short, loving relationships have a distinct spiritual dimension by virtue of manifesting different aspects of God’s love. A vision statement of healthy family life needs to pay special attention to that spiritual aspect of love.
Returning to the four types of love within the family, we discover a unique significance for each of them. First, there are sibling love and conjugal love that show mainly a horizontal nature, emphasizing growth and development in the physical order among family members of the same generation. Brothers and sisters express their love through sharing, mutual respect and cooperation, thus undergoing a growth process in preparation for marriage. They develop their sexual identity and face a unique growing experience during the time of puberty. The unmistakable sign of human self-transcendence consists of our identity as sexual beings.
Conjugal love begins with marriage and marks the fulfillment of sexual love as originally intended by God. Husband and wife within their horizontal loving exchange of mutual self-giving develop a two-in-oneness and in this way establish the ideal of becoming a perfect object partner for God, thus being able to respond to HIS love. That is to say, God’s vertical love finds its substantial expression in the horizontal love of the mature couple, thus forming a three-in-oneness between husband, wife and God. The realization of true love through the God intended ideal of marriage affirms also human co-creatorship. God’s fruitfulness is expressed in human fruitfulness. The birth of children then marks the propagation of true love through the establishment of lineage. Ultimately, we can understand that the married couple and the family become the full expression of the image of God, thus expanding the earlier notion that individuals are the complete divine image.
The remaining two kinds of love, namely, children’s love and parent’s love are primarily of a vertical nature where the mutual response of dependence and unconditional giving connects the two generations. Children take mainly a receptive position that is best described with a disposition of piety and gratitude, while parents assume an actively loving role that reflects a sacrificial disposition. When referring to its spiritual dimension, the parent-child relationship signifies the loving relation between God and human beings. We are created as God’s children who themselves become fathers and mothers, thus experiencing the parental heart of God. Furthermore, the family becomes the place for the unfolding of God’s love through establishing a family lineage through the appearance of the new generation. In fact, inasmuch as establishing the family lineage communicates the parental experience, it marks also the goal of personal maturation, namely, to become the image of God by inheriting his parental heart. Here, human beings have the potential to realize the essence of their own personality by reflecting God’s unchanging parental heart of unconditional giving.
Discovering our God given potential to become loving personalities involves an internal change. Our understanding of the aforementioned vision of the healthy family may well be the starting point for such an inner transformation. To carry out all good intentions for change in our marriage relationship, we need to be constantly motivated by the ultimate purpose of our lives, namely, to respond to the love of our Creator. Not only the spouses but all family members will understand the importance of a strong spiritual life that functions as the foundation for our desired internal transformation.
We have explored our God given potential for a healthy family life. As much as we may acknowledge such an essential orientation towards loving relationships in our human nature, nevertheless, our contemporary culture rallies behind a different message, of individualism. We are supposed to believe that a complete life is the result of paying attention to the self. The self is selected as the locus for advancing the quality of life, resulting in a pre-occupation with self-realization, self-gratification and self-fulfillment. Here, emerges the need for an internal transformation from secular self-centered individualism towards a God-centered individualism that cares for others first. At the core of the needed inner transformation lies in a new vision of the family. Such a vision implies that individualism cannot be an end in itself but needs to be redefined in terms of including the higher purpose of building a loving family and serving the community.
The essence of the above discussion is that we need to experience such an inner transformation on three levels to reach a new human self-understanding that serves as the foundation for lasting peace.
We need to redefine the healthy personality by allowing reason to exist in the service of love. The past emphasis on our rational faculty has caused an analysis of the self that often ignored our God given potential to focus first on building loving relationships. The healthy personality attains a mind-body unity that is directed towards realizing the ideal of true love. In this way, we reach the consciousness of a new individualism that is centered on self-transcendence and the higher purpose of living for the well being of others.
We find the resources for making the ideal of true love substantial. The secular individualism needs to be transformed into a culture that affirms the new individualism of living for the sake of others. Once the love of parents finds fulfillment in mutual commitment and affection while embracing God’s loving partnership, the raising of good children will follow ‘naturally.’
We need to leave behind our narrow agendas of partisanship and historical divisions rooted in ethnicity, race and nationalism. Such a healing of the past is effected by the new consciousness for humanity that is best described as the consciousness of the global family. Here lies the ultimate vision for world peace. I may add that peace is not just the absence of conflict but it marks the active state of a fulfilling family life for all humankind. Let us go forward and support with our own lives the centrality of God loving families for our common goal of attaining lasting world peace.
Social development is about how you deal with other people. Obviously, people skills and social development are necessary for the development of one’s professional or Outer Life. How you interact with your co-workers, your boss, and your customers, clients, or prospects is just as important as your actual work performance. Social development skills include situation management, stress management, problem solving, dispute resolution, and communication skills. Without proper social development, you cannot have a successful career.
Our personality traits come in opposites. We think of ourselves as optimistic or pessimistic, independent or dependent, emotional or unemotional, adventurous or cautious, leader or follower, aggressive or passive. Many of these are inborn temperament traits, but other characteristics, such as feeling either competent or inferior, appear to be learned, based on the challenges and support we receive in growing up.
One of the biggest risks entrepreneurs and owner-managers face is the potential financial exposure if the business fails. Especially where personal assets have been used to secure business finance, or personal guarantees have been given.
However there are other situations where financial exposure can arise. Withdrawing funds from the business can be treated as a loan and, along with the ultimate need for repayment, can bring a variety of tax implications to bear. The blurring of the distinction between business funds and personal funds is an area where great care is needed.
On a less tangible level, but equally significant, is the area of personal development. How can you progress your career and personal development if you are the boss; you tend not to involve yourself in external training, do not have a mentor and are basically accountable only to yourself.
It is possible for you to continue to grow professionally, but there is a risk that you will overlook your own development. In fact, there is a risk after a long period of self-employment that you will become less attractive to other employers.
It’s possible that the business side of life can overtake and subsume your personal life, to the point where you may not have any personal activities or interests at all. This of course, is not a sustainable situation and work effectiveness can decline, stress levels can rise, relationships can become strained and your health can suffer. The idea of a better quality of life can become a distant dream.
What are the warning signs?
While it is possible for a good accounting system to manage personal payments coming out of the business, a better approach is to keep all monies separate. A disciplined approach to the petty cash tin and the business checking account is needed to ensure they are not used for personal activities.
It’s not a good sign if you feel your friends and past work colleagues seem to be learning more than you are. If you feel you are a bit out of touch, take it as a warning sign that you need to structure some personal growth and development activities.
As for quality of life; Well! We all know the warning signs here. Not sleeping well, putting on weight, being short tempered, not getting proper holidays, and losing interest in things, only able to talk about the business… This would be familiar territory for many owner-managers and entrepreneurs, but take it for what it is – a big message.
There is a legal distinction between a business owner and a business no matter how interdependent they are. Keep a sense of separation. Lack of a business plan is often a sign of an owner manager who has no direction.
You need a plan for your life and a separate plan for the business. Blurring the line between the two can lead to confusion, misdirection and financial disorder.
Ethics and Beliefs Dimension
It has been said that values, morals and ethics are inextricably tied together. Values are what we learn from childhood; the ‘stuff’ we absorb from our parents and immediate surroundings. Morals are the intrinsic beliefs developed from the value systems of how we ‘should’ behave in any given situation. Ethics, on the other hand, are how we actually do behave in the face of difficult situations that test our moral fiber.
Belief systems are established early in life through environments of home, church, school, and social gatherings which help to mold and shape these beliefs. Most of these beliefs and patterns of behavior are established through the unconscious observations and experiences of childhood in the aforementioned environments. These I refer to as ‘outer’ experiences which are akin to the ‘nurture’ piece of the ‘nature-nurture’ developmental processes.
Our values, morals and ethics and intrinsic functionality in society stems from ‘inner’ experiences, or what I feel akin to the ‘nature’ element of the developmental processes, although it is the ‘outer’ details that generally rule the scene. For most, the internal experience is often ignored because of the lack of external acceptance or validation.
In order to raise ethical standards, we need to bring back a sense of equilibrium to where we live by solid, moral standards without being consumed by them. This is called balance. Ethically, we need a sense of stability whereby we do not take it for granted yet we are able to make firm moral decisions without panic, guilt, or indecision. Being ethically balanced refers to your state of mind rather than your ethical scorecard.
If you live your life oblivious to any deeply held moral and ethical beliefs, then you are out of balance. Sure, you may exist peacefully and honestly for some time, but when the inevitable crisis occurs, your natural response will be for self-preservation or doing what “feels” right at the time of the decision. That’s not balance.
If you live life by maintaining only minimal ethical standards or none at all, you are out of balance. Even if you live by the letter of the law with perfection as your only standard, you are likely out of ethical balance.
So, what does good ethical balance look like? To some extent, everyone has a little bit of all these extremes lurking somewhere. But an ethically balanced person has values, perspective, responsibility, and character.
Values are the fundamental principles or rules when lived by make you “ethical” or not. You must have deeply-held core values that show themselves visibly in the everyday moral decisions you make.
Perspective prevents you from leaning to one extreme or another. Having an ethical perspective requires the ability to be flexible in interpreting and analyzing things within a morally principled framework. That is, you are not judgmental of others yet you have a solid moral foundation to see the big picture and live in peace with it.
Ethically balanced people accept responsibility for their ethical shortcomings and make a genuine effort to change for the better. It is more than blame. It is an effort to do what it takes to change and move forward.
There must be a genuine self-awareness of who you are at your very core. What do you believe is right or wrong? This is the real you behind the façades and outward appearances. Your character should not change with the circumstance but be a constant moral anchor.
To summarize, you want to be “in the zone,” when encountering ethical crises that push you to the limit. There, you are ethically balanced and see situations with clarity and certainty despite the obstacles in front of you.
Next week, I’ll take a look at the Work Life and discuss the four dimensions that comprise the outer life part of the Wheel of Life.
In the meantime, I welcome you to share your Self-awareness story in the comments section below and I promise to read your story.
Dr Surya M Ganduri, PhD. PMP. is the Founder & President of eMBC, Inc., an international firm specializing in strategic and executive leadership development processes that Help People Succeed in an Evolving World. Dr Surya has over 28 years of business experience in management consulting, leadership development, executive coaching, process improvements, organizational development and youth leadership. For more information visit www.eMBCinc.com or contact eMBC, Inc., directly at (630) 445-1321.