Listening to feedback with a calibrated internal compass
An old man, his grandson and a donkey from a village were on their way to the city. The grandson had fun sitting on the donkey and his grandfather walked beside it. When they passed a few people, someone whispered just enough loudly for everyone to hear: "How bad, that little boy is letting his poor grandfather walk all the way while he's comfortably sitting on the donkey". The grandfather and his grandson found the criticism justified and quickly changed places.
After a few minutes a man and a woman walked by and looked at them indignantly and asked: "How can you let that boy walk all the way and keep riding that donkey yourself?" The grandfather and his grandson thought this criticism was justified as well and decided to walk the rest of the way next to the donkey together.
After a while they passed a group of youngsters who shouted in amazement: "How can you be so stupid as to walk all the way while you have a healthy donkey with you?" The grandfather and his grandson agreed and they both decided to travel further on the donkey.
Just before the big bridge that would lead to the city they met an old woman. The woman looked up and said: "How awful that you burden that poor donkey all the way by sitting with the two of you on his back!". The grandfather and grandson didn't think for a second, jumped off the donkey and decided to carry the donkey to the city together.
Halfway through the bridge, they lost their grip on the donkey, causing it to fall into the river and drown.
The moral of this story is that if you listen to everyone, you (or your donkey) can have a very bad time.
Who do you have to listen to and who don't you have to listen to?
It is difficult for many people to determine who you should and shouldn't listen to. Who is right and how do you know that? You can therefore choose to listen only to yourself. Even though in many cases this is the best solution, it can have two disadvantages.
There is a good chance that you are displaying socially highly undesirable behaviour that is culturally determined. This can lead to annoying situations. Walking naked on the street in Cairo, Egypt, because you feel like it, usually results in years of imprisonment.
If your own inner compass is not calibrated, you can make impulsive choices or exhibit behaviour that you will later regret (much) and that does not show what you stand for as a human being.
You could say that there is actually only one good counsellor. Your internal compass that has been calibrated with your highest intentions, norms and values.
How do you calibrate your own internal compass?
Your internal compass is calibrated by clarifying your highest intentions. Your highest intentions are answers to questions such as:
- Why are you here on earth?
- What makes you intensely happy?
- What happiness do you have to bring to earth?
- What are you intensely connected to that is bigger than yourself, but of which you are still a part?
Continue asking to calibrate your compass
One of the methods to find big answers to big questions and use them to calibrate your compass is to continue asking. For each answer you ask the same question until you feel that there is a big answer. The magical question here is:
How is this important to you?
This magical question automatically leads you, as it were, to your inner layer of meaning and takes you up until you find an answer that really matters.
When you have found your answer(s), you will discover that you also have frameworks for what your norms and values are and you will have the power to listen only to your own internal compass.