Archive for November 26, 2012

Eric Berne: Hurry Neglects The Present Moment and Environment

Written by Sean Murphy. Posted in Quotes, skmurphy

Another story from Chapter 16 (“Autonomy”) of “Games People Play” by Eric Berne offers another perspective on how to cultivate awareness:

[…] the person who is aware, and who will not hurry because he is living in the present moment with the environment which is here: the sky and the trees as well as the feeling of motion. To hurry is to neglect that environment and to be conscious only of something that is still out of sight down the road, or of mere obstacles, or solely of oneself.

A Chinese man started to get into a local subway train, when his Caucasian companion pointed out that they could save twenty minutes by taking an express, which they did. When they got off at Central Park, the Chinese man sat down on a bench, much to his friend’s surprise. “Well,” explained the former, “since we saved twenty minutes, we can afford to sit here that long and enjoy our surroundings.”

The aware person is alive because he knows how he feels, where he is and when it is. He knows that after he dies the trees will still be there, but he will not be there to look at them again, so he wants to see them now with as much poignancy as possible.

If an entrepreneur never daydreamed or planned ahead they would be uncreative and ineffective.  So there is value in losing track of your surroundings and focusing on something that is out of sight down the road (either as a possibility or a likely eventuality).

But there is a real risk of dividing your life into an early period of 100% dedication to work and a later period  where you enjoy the fruits of your success. I think this leads to corner cutting and fantasies of telling people how you really feel once you have enough money.

I like Robert Louis Stevenson’s model of “travelling hopefully” as a metaphor for mindful awareness.

Here are two quotes from Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1888 essay “El Dorado.” The first is from the opening paragraph and second from the closing paragraph:

To be truly happy is a question of how we begin and not of how we end, of what we want and not of what we have.

To travel hopefully is a better thing than to arrive, and the true success is to labour.


Update Tue-Nov-27-2012: A better title for this post is probably “Eric Berne: Hurry Inhibits Awareness.” Berne makes a distinction between hurry and flow (without calling it flow) in an example from the same chapter:

Less common is the “natural driver,” the man to whom driving a car is a congenial science and art. As he makes his way swiftly and skillfully through the traffic, he is at one with his vehicle. He, too, is oblivious of his surroundings except as they offer scope for the craftsmanship which is its own reward, but he is very much aware of himself and the machine which he controls so well, and to that extent he is alive.

I think hurry also inhibits empathy and an entrepreneur’s ability to engage in appreciative inquiry, both of which are critical to forming a deep understanding of a prospect’s situation and needs.

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