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When ‘good’ is the enemy of ‘great’

Lifestyle blogger Hana Tapiata uses matauranga Māori to help decode some of modern life’s curliest questions. This week – recognising the need to change and grow.

“We cannot change what we are not aware of, and once we are aware, we cannot help but change.” – Sheryl Sandberg

I don’t know about you but I don’t make the same mistake twice. I’ll make it six or seven times, just to be sure. There’s been a shift in the way I process and plan, in order to produce different outcomes in my life. The process has been easy in some areas, a struggle in others. It’s a struggle because I get into a rhythm of ‘doing life’. I get a good flow going, then one by one, the processes and systems slowly become redundant; how I’ve been doing things have got me as far as they have, but don’t appear to be helpful in getting me any further. Great.

How do you recognise flaws if you’re not aware of them, or don’t know what they look like?

When I start getting frustrated at my methods and processes and how they don’t work as well as they used to, it usually means I’ve reached my potential in some way and it’s reset further out of reach. ‘Damn! I was doing so well. Everything was good, there were flaws but I made it work…’. And everything was good. But good is the enemy of great and I’m sure my tūpuna didn’t circumnavigate the Pacific and endure all they did for me to strive for good.

I wonder if that’s what the atua were thinking when they were stuck between Ranginui and Papatūānuku –‘it’s cramped but it is what it is, let’s make it work.’ That is, until Uepoto was exposed to the vast space beyond his parents embrace and eagerly shared his news with his brothers. Until then, the cramped life in between their parents was all the atua knew, they were unable to change what they weren’t aware of. Then when they became aware of the space beyond their confines, the atua couldn’t help but satisfy their curiosity.

Uepoto’s discovery of space was the catalyst that lead to Tāne separating his mother and father and the dawn of Te Ao Mārama (world of light, enlightenment). The atua experienced discomfort and cold for a time, but this motivated them to seek out opportunities to create and explore a world where they could stretch themselves to their capacity and realise the bounds of their newfound potential.

If you aren’t aware you’re doing anything wrong, or could be doing something better, there’s no desire to be put right. If you aren’t aware you have a problem, have ineffective methods or could be doing things better – do those problems exist? No. If those are the parameters of your reality, you only know what you know. You’re in Te Pō (realm of darkness) and unaware of what lays beyond your known realities. You’re like the atua between their parents, accepting the life you’ve been assigned.

But like our creation story, there’s light and life after Te Pō; enlightenment comes after phases of the unknown.  But first, there must be a moment, an experience, there must be something that forces you to reflect on your thoughts, actions and behaviours and really challenge what you know to be true.  There must be a catalyst to motivate change. Do you know what this will be for you?

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