self-management

Until a being setteth his foot in the plane of sacrifice, he is bereft of every favour and grace; and this plane of sacrifice is the realm of dying to the self, that the radiance of the living God may then shine forth.

‘Abdu’l-Baha

Let’s take a moment for a philosophical exercise. I took an interesting training course for work today, entitled “Managing Multiple Priorities”, designed to help me—guess what! Manage multiple priorities. Among the many propositions made during the class was that there is, in effect, no such thing as “time management“. Well, how can that be? Don’t we all have to manage our time to fit in our various responsibilities, such as service, family, work, school, and so on? Not so, young grasshopper. How can you “manage” something as abstract as time? Time is something that happens whether you want it to happen or not; we have 86,400 seconds in every day to do with as we wish. When we speak of “time management”, we’re really talking about managing our own self and our own actions, that those 86,400 seconds may be put to their best use. So rather than “managing time”, we’re managing our own selves and striving to choose the actions and reactions that are right for each second of every day. Sound legit?

‘Abdu’l-Baha was the Master of such “self-management”; wholly detached from all trace of self, his only thought was to serve humankind, putting into the practice the Teachings of Baha’u’llah in all their manifold glory; he did so ceaselessly, thoroughly and systematically. A glance into ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s life reveals that the Perfect Exemplar of Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings kept to a rigorous schedule, tending to the poor, the sick and the infirm with clockwork regularity, entertaining rooms full of guests every evening and addressing correspondence to the Bahá’ís throughout the world well into every night, organizing children’s classes to ensure the education of the children in his midst, all the while subsisting on a few hours of sleep and a modest meal each day.

Food for thought. I’ll undoubtedly return to this topic soon, as I strive to bring “self-management” strategies to bear on my own life.

Update: Wikipedia has this to say about self-management:

In business, education, and psychology, self-management refers to methods, skills, and strategies by which individuals can effectively direct their own activities toward the achievement of objectives, and includes goal setting, planning, scheduling, task tracking, self-evaluation, self-intervention, self-development, etc.

So it’s actually a recognized term. Huh. Who knew?

4 thoughts on “self-management

  1. Nice topic, ‘Abdu’l-Baha definitely had it goin’ on. Divine Assistance is the key to self management as I understand it. The dynamic interplay between human striving and the Holy Spirit, between reason and revelation is what makes things happen in our lives. Learning how to function most effectively within this dynamic is what spirituality is all about in my way of thinking. This is something I intend to write about soon so thanks for giving me more to think about. I really enjoy your more essay style posts.

  2. How much I long to manage myself, but it’s a trick I just can’t master. I’m just not mindful enough or my mind isn’t focused like the proverbial laser on the one thing I’m doing right now. I just LOVE the Bab’s prayer in which He says: “in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration.” My life is full of moments of heedlessness and I utterly depend on His guiding my steps aright.

    So, as Phillipe says, there’s a dynamic interaction between human striving and the Holy Spirit – and the Master had it figured. I guess I just gotta keep on keeping on along the endless path of perfection.

  3. Self-management quite often eludes me. I lack that laser-like focus that ‘Abdu’l-Baha applied to everything He did. Brain research shows that the human brain is actually very inefficient at multi-tasking. I think ‘Abdu’l-Baha did many things, but only one at a time.

    I just love that prayer of the Bab’s that includes these words: “in moments of heedlessness guide my steps aright through Thine inspiration.” Many are my moments of heedlessness; how much I rely on His inspiration.

  4. Nice topic. Agree with the idea of ‘manage ourselves’. My hectic life with study, child and work all the time revolve the matter of ‘time management’ which I sometimes find difficult to deal with. until recently I recognize it’s the managment of the self, the job I intend to do and the peopl e invloved. Gradually getting into a habit of spiritual approach to everyday tasks: deep breathing. I need more absorbtion of holy spirit.
    Look forward to more talks on this.

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