Back to Plato’s cave. In the outer part of the cave, behind the prisoners there is a divide. Behind this divide are puppeteers who are holding aloft objects which deflect the light coming from the fire at the front of the cave creating the shadows which shape the prisoners’ version of reality (see last month’s blog). Those shadows are not real, they are the product of deflected light. The prisoner escaping the cave, having questioned his or her assumptions, comes face to face with the DEFLECTORS responsible for shaping those assumptions. Getting out of the cave and achieving your potential is impossible without dealing with these Deflectors.
The Deflectors in our own lives are the EXPECTATIONS of others. Of course, our parents are in there, our teachers or mentors, the media, our culture or religion, our peers and so on. These deflectors have the power to shape our lives, but only to the extent that we let them. To some extent we are all a product of our pasts… I remember when I realised this. I am one of five children. My mum was a teacher, my dad was a banker – five children: four teachers and a banker! And I thought I became a teacher of my own free choice! We know this about society. We largely stay within the confines established by the norms and expectation of the people around us. Social mobility is lower now than in the year 1900!
Why do these forces hold so much power over us? Ruth Berenda conducted a famous experiment on peer pressure and found that 75% of the time people of all ages will go along with what they KNOW to be wrong simply because that is what the majority are doing. The issue is the quest for VALIDATION: these Deflectors have power over us to the extent that we seek validation from them. But does our validity come from any of these sources? I think not. Each human is valid, has infinite value simply because they are a human being; each with the potential to make an invaluable contribution to this world. And yet we constantly make decisions, many contrary to our best interests, in order to achieve this elusive validation.
I heard a fascinating Buddhist tale about a particular method some villagers had for catching monkeys. They would attach a narrow -necked jar to a tree containing some nuts. During the night a monkey would come out of the forest, smell the nuts, put its hand in the jar and grab a handful. But then, with its hand now balled into a fist, it couldn’t get it out of the jar. So it sat there all night, and in the morning the villagers would knock it on the head with a stick. All the monkey had to do to stay free was let go of the nuts.
How much are you limiting your own freedom as well as the growth of your business or yourself because you will not let go of your need for validation from the Deflectors? You are hesitant to pursue your true dreams and be your authentic self because you fear the opinions of others. If you want to be free you have to let go! Of course this isn’t easy; but it simply CANNOT be bypassed if you want to find your true definition – outside the cave.