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It’s more important to do the right thing right.

Posted on November 29, 2017

One is encountered twice by everything in life. 

Do you know that feeling? You read a book in one phase of your life and many years later it falls into your hands again and the exact same book triggers completely different, sometimes even contradictory thoughts and sensations in you? It was like that for me with a quote by Peter Drucker, which I recently encountered again in the commendable blog from our Austrian collaborators, the Pioneers of change:

“It is more important to do the right thing than it is to do something right.”

When I first came across this quote during my organizational development training seventeen years ago, I waved it away with a nod saying, “Exactly, he’s right!” Now it crosses my path again and I think: Stop! Wait a minute! I see that differently!

How or what?

More and more I am coming to allow the “how” I do something to take on a greater meaning. In my work I deal almost exclusively with people, about whom one can whole-heartedly say that they are doing the right thing. They are engaged in climate protection or refugees, or they initiate moving cultural projects. And a very essential piece of my own work with the Visionautic Academy is to be gung-ho about right projects. 

And yet…what do we bring, defining ourselves as supporters of what is good, beautiful, and right, and in spite of it all still unaware of the way we do it, the how?

Unwanted Side-Effects

It has often happened to me, for example, that I was on my way in a very important mission and I forgot to really notice the person I was dealing with, or to listen to him with my full attention and an open heart. Or, for all the world-saving craziness in my head, I didn’t have the calm to take the time for myself to look at and appreciate what other people had built. It’s also often happened that I was running a project in which I was full of worry, doubt, and fear, for example that I wouldn’t get it done on time, that I or the project would be rejected or would not be good enough. More and more it became clear to me how powerfully these unintended side-effects of even my right projects worked, and how I was strengthening not only good results, but also fear, doubt, unawareness and cluelessness, which was affecting my children, my friends, and my coworkers. And it became clear to me that “Walk the talk” means to me to not only do cool, right projects, but that it is very important to me to think of the way in which I do them.

We are far more powerful than we think

The good news: we can move and bring about much more than we are often aware of. Here and now, in fact, with direct, positive feedback right away and not only when the project is finished, the social endeavor established, or the world saved. To pay attention to the how is a through and through fulfilling and nourishing practice, because it plants positive qualities in one’s self and in one’s own surroundings. Then both are strengthened and love, lightness, and joy (or whatever you want to carry into the world) only grows.

Here are a few things that helped me to practice a conscious “how”:

1. Clarity. It is helpful to know the values that you want to advance. If you’re unsure, you can download the little workbook, “Live Your Dream. Begin Now. Begin Here” for free and do the exercises on pages 3-6.

2. Intention Setting. For me, setting an intention for the day is a fixed part of my morning routine. I imagine what will be waiting for me throughout the day and which quality, considering the upcoming day, I want to bring to the day. Sometimes it is confidence and trust, sometimes it’s curiosity and joy, and on some days the quality of radiating and showing my size or or or—depending on what I suspect might do the day and its situations and people a bit of good. The intention operates powerfully and unconsciously. Usually I forgot it again during the day. And yet it leads my tongue and my hand and makes sure, for example, that I bring calmness and trust to a group full of worry, before the situation escalates. One of our biggest jumps in quality in the Visionautic Workshops was the moment where we started to begin the Seminar Day by setting intentions with the team of trainers.

3. The Joy of the Daily. We all have a pile of things to do, that we just do because they need to get done. They don’t fill us with passion; maybe we even find them rather dumb. But we do them. Shopping, writing an organizational email, paying a bill. What would happen if we used all of these seemingly dumb activities to transport the values that lie close to our hearts? I do it very often and I can highly recommend it. Suddenly despicable daily crap becomes an inspiring adventure. As you pay the bill, you can think: Shit, so much money again! Or you can carry thankfulness into the world by reminding yourself how great it is that someone did this service for you and that you have the money to pay him or her, thereby expressing your appreciation. You can fill every interaction with people, whether real or electronic, with joy and love. And suddenly normal emails become little embassies of friendliness, which bring others joy or make them laugh and remind them that a person wrote the email, and not an efficiency robot.

I have three big role-models in “doing things right.” The first is Jeanet Heinz, a cleaning lady from Ghana, called Gifty, because she is such a gift to the world. She gives to the world by running the toilets in the Strandperle in Hamburg with her whole passion and such dedication that a quick stop for the toilet becomes a makeover for body and soul. My other two role-models are indeed fictional characters, but no less inspiring. The ferry man in Hermann Hesse’s Siddartha and the tanker in Dan Millman’s “Way of the Peaceful Warrior,” who both serve through and through with their whole wisdom. Indeed, none of these three has won a Social Impact Award and their professions don’t sound like anything special. And yet, or maybe because of that, they show me that there are many ways to do the right thing, for example, by doing—anything—right.