“I have always believed, and I still believe, that whatever good or bad fortune may come our way we can always give it meaning and transform it into something of value.” – Hermann Hesse
Our circumstances are mainly a wind vane, pointing us in the direction of least resistance, but our choices are based on our values (our compass) and sometimes our compass is at variance with the wind vane.
What do you do when your circumstances are at variance with your values? Accept the present and own it, without being possessed by it.
To accept and own anything, there must be understanding. Understanding is hinged on curiosity. To change our circumstances, we must see old things with new eyes – Vuja de. It is déjà vu backwards, and no, I did not make up the word. In a déjà vu, you get a feeling that a new circumstance has been experienced before and so it seems familiar. I prefer vuja de. In a vuja de, you get a feeling that an old circumstance is bringing new insight, and this triggers your curiosity, ensuring you pay attention.
It is a sort of serendipity that can only be harnessed by looking for the learning in every experience. If every experience has a learning, then every experience is for you and not against you. There is a unique approach in a man that understands his circumstances, through the lens that each circumstance is for him and not against him. You will walk, talk, think and sleep differently.
I know that one of the most difficult tasks of humans is to accept reality as it is, especially as we are wired to think we deserve better outcomes, while retaining input. An entitled man is always a victim.
We do not always have or need the best outcomes, but we need to consciously work on understanding the value in each experience and make better inputs daily.
I have noticed that writing helps me experience vuja de. Writing forces me to think more deeply about my circumstances, seek the learning and challenge the conditioned biases that act as filters for my experiences. When I read my old articles, poetry and letters, the experience is priceless. I realise how naive I must have been, to be so sure, yet so wrong. It helps me stay humble, present and pay attention to what is, without the burden of what should have been.
Visiting new lands and making new connections also helps with vuja de. There are little differences between humans, but how we interpret the world is very unique. When a new land or new connection lets you in on their interpretation of your experiences, you get new eyes.
There is value also in reading books and listening to podcasts outside your core expertise. I never spend my time buying books on Supply Chain. They are gifts from people that think I should treasure them. Indeed, I do treasure them as gifts. I will more likely buy a book on bungee jumping and boxing, than a book on six sigma, because I experience more vuja des when my curiosity is triggered, than when I am constantly arguing in my head with what I am reading.
The quote below summarizes my last vuja de:
“Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the wise; seek what they sought” – Matsuo Basho
What was your last vuja de?
– Osasu Oviawe