BE CAREFUL WHAT YOU WISH FOR

I wrote in a previous column about the concept of Abundance Thinking, through which one attracts wealth by esoteric means (for the spiritually poor who missed it, that’s www.ideaswillhappen.com/s4tw/whose_money_is_it_anyway.htm).  Since then, I’ve come across the concept several times in its wider guise of what is generally called Manifesting.  Put simply, you focus very clearly on what you want, and it will find its way to you. 

Don’t titter at the back; this is Serious Stuff, and it’s not just the preserve of yogis and bearded people from Gloucestershire (whether male or female).  Granted, there’s plenty of it about in the spiritual domain, but it’s also a component of Neuro Linguistic Programming (yes, I know that’s also practised mainly by bearded people from Gloucestershire, but bear with me). The average leadership course has a fair smattering of it as well; except then it’s known as Developing Vision. (What a bizarre world we live in: we lock people up for having visions, but we demand them of our leaders.) I’ll come back to this in a moment, but for now let’s stay on the spiritual plane.

As you can imagine, I couldn’t resist trying out the technique. And, friends, it really works. I thought I’d keep it simple for the first one and try and manifest £100; five minutes later a £50 Premium Bonds cheque arrived in the post (presumably the missing fifty was taken by God as overhead recovery).  From here on, things went a bit downhill, but in the process I learned something very useful about the power of intention…. 

Last Easter, we had booked a week’s holiday in Suffolk, in a location notable (among other things) for world class fish and chips and a local brewery.  In the build up to the holiday I was going through some existential angst about the amount of food and alcohol I was consuming (note to my clients: never on expenses).  If only I could abstain for a couple of weeks, I would be able to enjoy a week of over indulgence with a clear conscience. I wondered whether the Manifesting technique might be a cheap alternative to the Priory (apart from anything else, I’d spent three months trying to manifest another £50 cheque, and needed a change). I decided to have a go at manifesting ‘freedom from compulsive consumption’.

Now, one of the rules of manifesting is you cannot specify a deadline for the thing or condition you seek (not so keen now, are you?), so I had to shrug off the fact that my calorific consumption did not change immediately.  But the minute we arrived on holiday, I came down with a stomach virus.  How convenient: I couldn’t manage even a chip for the week we were there. Of course, you murmur, this is just coincidence; but it got me thinking.  I had indeed achieved my wish: the only way my body could free me from compulsive consumption was by incapacitating me. 

It’s food for thought: suppose you send a request into the ether for half a million pounds.  A week later, your parents die and leave you their £500,000 house.  Clearly, knowing what you want is not always enough.  The Government have run into this very problem over targeting in the NHS.  They wish to manifest a world in which an ambulance arrives within a fixed amount of time, so that’s what the target focuses on.  What this means, as a friend of mine discovered, is that when you call for an ambulance you get not only an ambulance, but a paramedic in a car and another one on a motorbike – just in case any of the others get delayed on the way.   It’s the ironic downside of the performance management pi-jaw “what gets measured gets done”.

Most organisations are attempting to manifest something for the future.  It gets expressed in different ways: Vision statements, Mission statements, Values statements, Performance goals, Key Performance Indicators…  Like the would-be lottery winner sitting in the lotus position visualising a big house, when the process doesn’t work we assume the process is flawed.  But maybe the thing we say we aspire to isn’t really what we want.  We say ‘We value Honesty’ - except when a customer wants to know our margin; we say ‘Our aim is 100% customer retention’, and then wonder why the sales team are discounting their prices and losing money.

And when clients tell me “We have trouble coming up with creative ideas”, I suggest they ask first what it is they actually want to achieve.  Chances are if you haven’t worked through the dilemmas inherent in what you want to manifest, you will inevitably find yourself stuck trying to manifest it.