The path of personal development and spiritual growth

The art of window cleaning: Personal development and spiritual growth

“The art of seeing specialities means to see both the positive and the negative but then to let go of the negative.” – Charles Hogg
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When I lack love and respect for myself, it manifests externally as arrogant disapproval of others’ weaknesses and mistakes. My own flagging self-respect is bolstered through dwelling on the weaknesses of others. A friend of mine worked as a news reporter for one of the main TV networks in Sydney. He often wondered why we rush home each night to watch the evening news which is a litany of negativity, pain and tragedy. Research showed that when we watch others suffering from the comfort of our lounge rooms, we don’t feel so bad about our own lot. It is unconscious, but a very strange way of feeling better about ourselves.

How many new philosophies and technologies appear on the market each year trying to encourage leaders and managers to improve their game? I feel the most powerful tool of any leader is positive vision towards those he or she is working with. Here, positive vision means an inner attitude of trust and respect, and acknowledging the specialities of colleagues. If people receive a double message; what they hear being different from what they feel, they will always trust their feelings. In other words, I can’t hide my inner attitude.  If I carry mental criticism of those I live or work with, no matter how much I verbally encourage them they will never fully trust me. If I see the specialities of those around me, it is a natural form of empowerment.

In learning the art of seeing specialities in others we need to apply the first Law of Spirituality, which says we are responsible for our own experiences; if I see the negative in others I feel unhappy; if I see the positive I feel happy. It is up to me to decide. To justify the way, we feel we have become highly skilled at the art of blame. It is a skill we have refined over a long time to escape our conscience. The media often seems to encourage this skill by glorifying intelligence as the ability to analyse weaknesses in others. With calculated intent the character of another is pulled apart. We learn this skill and pass it onto others. The great irony of the whole process is that I become the target. I am deeply hurt. We forget another law of spirituality, that of cause and effect. I will reap the fruit of my attitudes. It makes it even more important to consciously educate myself to see the specialities in the self and others.

It is often hardest to see the specialities in those I am familiar with: my family, friends and work colleagues. Below are some exercises that have helped me improve the art of window cleaning.

Exercise 1: Virtue inventory

In my diary, I keep one section where I write the names of those closest to me. During a working day or at home when I notice a speciality or I learn something from someone, I make a note of it in my diary. It is like an inventory of their good qualities, and it can help me at a later date. When I become influenced by one of their negative qualities I can then refer to my diary and rectify the balance. I am reminded of the good in the other and not consumed by their mistake or temporary weakness.

Exercise 2: Acting not reacting

If there is a person who has certain personality traits that upset or disturb me, I make that person my teacher. Why? Because their company will make me change. They make me aware of my own negative reactions. They teach me to act and not react.

Exercise 3: Editing my memory tape

Before going to bed I replay the day’s activities on the video of my mind. If I am carrying negative feelings towards someone let me resolve them by forgiving that person from my heart. I don’t only erase the negative feelings, but edit in something positive, so I consciously remember a speciality of that person, which will remain recorded in my sub-conscious. I then go to sleep and wake up much lighter.

Exercise 4: Seeing the intentions

Another method of learning and holding the specialities of others in my mind is to see the intention and not the action. Sometimes people do make mistakes, or maybe I disapprove of the way they do things. If I focus on the activity, then I will get upset. However, if I see a sincere motive, I can maintain an attitude of love or acceptance which will enable me to resolve disagreements respectfully.

Is this kind of thinking a bit naive? Do I see only good and remain blind to the negative? No, the art of seeing specialities means to see both the positive and the negative but then to let go of the negative. Why should I add to the negativity? Let my response to others’ weaknesses be with compassion rather than anger or hatred.

On the path of personal development and spiritual growth, the art of window cleaning is essential.

By Charles Hogg

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