by Nico van Haastrecht, Warnsveld, The Netherlands
After more than 25 years of working in the profession of electrical engineer I finally became conscious and aware of what I had felt for a long time in my work. This slowly was revealed to me when I had become a student of Universal Medicine.
What I had felt all the time was unpleasant and made me over time dislike my job and profession more and more. Now I look at it with different eyes and am able to more observe what is happening and to not get that much involved in it. Now I am in the process of re-evaluating my job and am starting to appreciate what I do because there is still that much to learn for me – and for humanity as a whole. Below I will describe some of my observations that annoyed me in the past – but now I can see what is behind it and that it is not about me, but about systems and patterns that play out. The most beautiful thing is that we can change these patterns by being present and trusting that our feelings are true.
In my profession as electrical engineer I work in engineering offices on projects for the development of industrial plants. There we work in multidisciplinary project teams in which different disciplines – like civil, mechanical, structural, instrumentation, electrical, procurement, construction, etc. – work together to materialise the project, with each of them bringing in their specialisation, and at the end all parts must work together as one installation. What appears to be the most challenging in these projects is that we have to work together as people, with each other’s personalities, lifestyles, characters and moods, in order to get the job done, getting the plant built. The technical part, thus far in my career, has never been the difficult part for me.
So it is not the technical part that makes it difficult but the interaction with other people that brings the issues on the shop floor. The interaction of people’s characters, moods and emotions are not based on meeting each other in essence – the part of us which is always expressing towards love and harmony with others in the world – but on meeting with what is built around this essence. This can be represented in our bodies as being hard or defensive, in our communication as being blunt and aggressive to timid and condoning, and almost always as competition, all with the focus on being right and getting validation.
As I realised, what we build around our essence is for protection against getting hurt, and lets us avoid meeting each other in truth. I understood that every time we meet not from our essence, we harm each other. So we build a way of being that is all about protection and how we think the world wants us to be. It hurts to not be our true selves and it hurts to relate to others from this place also. From deep within we know that we are all the same and we crave being met for who we truly are. Simple things like truly meeting my colleagues, before providing a service or a product to them, does make the difference. This meeting may be as simple as having eye contact, a hand on the shoulder, or a considered handshake. When I come from my essence, simply my voice and my body invite the other person to feel their own essence.
Engineers in general, including myself, are educated to provide complex solutions and improvements for apparent problems found in society. Whilst there is tremendous mental skill and ability in this, I have also observed that we bring in complexity because we are disconnected from ourselves and from humanity, and therefore look only to the latest technical marvels available, searching for a way to impose them onto humanity (this is the complexity), thinking that we are improving the world and doing good. When we truly connect to humanity however, we can only provide the simple solutions that will serve all in equality, nothing more and nothing less.
The scope of work is not always clearly understood between the client and the contractor at the start of the project. Before we make an offer on the ‘invitation to bid’ we must get a clear picture of what the client needs, otherwise the client can have a different understanding of what has to be delivered compared with what has been offered. Most of the time this misunderstanding becomes apparent in a stage of the project when a change has a big impact on the budget, the planning, and on the relations with the client. This causes stress on the project that the employees at the other end have to suffer. I have found that such simple things as meeting the client in truth, without the arrogance of “we know what you want and this is what you get”, we explore the needs of the client, resulting in a mutual understanding of what has to be delivered, coming to the conclusion of “we know what you want and this is what we can offer you.”
They say that it is the budget and the time schedule that put projects under pressure, but are these schedules and budgets realistic? Most are based on targets that are set because some people want to have that outcome for any reason, without envisaging if they are realistic and feasible (that is, if all is in harmony). Some clients enforce the schedules to be adopted by the contractor, and the contractor accepts because they want to have the order – out of need, and the belief of scarcity in the market, amongst others. Once this has settled in the project, it is very difficult to challenge it; in practice, the budgets and schedules most of the time cannot be met and they overrun significantly. In my experience a certain quality, with a given quantity and budget, has its own schedule regardless of whatever we want of it. We must be truthful to clients about this fact and not compromise from a neediness to have the job or project executed. We have to tell the client if a schedule or budget is not feasible; it is part of the role of an engineering office to present this.
The above-described observations do help me in how I do my job, where I place my way of living against what is presented in my daily work. I know that I do not have the direct influence to change them all, and it may take some time to get them changed, but up to the point where I have a say I am standing up and bringing into practice what I have summed up above. This brings back a joy I had missed for a long time.