Missed me the last couple of weeks? Yeah, it’s been frustrating for me, too. Try as I might, I’ve been unable to write anything I felt good about.
And that’s because there’s a very large, very gray, very wrinkly elephant in the room. Standing right there between us.
See, it’s like there are competing voices in my head. One says “write things people who might hire you will like because you are a business person, after all.” And another voice says, “Wow, writing like that feels contrived and inauthentic. Don’t do that.”
After some reflection and journaling and a few macaroons (the kind dipped in dark chocolate, if you’re interested), I’ve realized that when I merely show up and show myself, things tend to work out just fine.So that’s my intention with this space.
It’s a crazy world out there and – elephant alert – I want to write about how to cope and how to manage dealing with it all.
Here’s this week’s critical topic: How can you express yourself – how can you show up and be seen – in times like these?
Times where partisanship is applauded more than cooperation.
Times when trolls with screen courage unleash blistering vitriol at the slightest provocation.
Times when you’re not sure if you can take one more news report, one more headline.
But I’m here to tell you that if you swallow your voice, if you make yourself mouse-like, if you keep your head down and mind your own business, you will feel increasingly more awful than you feel now.
You will begin to feel as though you’re vanishing.
I work with clients who are Democrats, and clients who are Republicans, and clients who are independents. And some who live in Europe, Latin American or Asia. All of them – each and every one – are stressed by the tenor and tone of even chatting with people we’ve always thought of as friends these days.
Want to know how I try to navigate?
First, I never assume that anyone believes what I believe or interprets situations exactly how I do. As Stephen Covey suggests in his classic Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, I seek to understand and then to be understood.
This means that sometimes I get to say, “I get what you’re saying. I don’t happen to agree – can I tell you why?”
The best case scenario is when they say, “Yes, I’d love to hear your perspective.” And if they say, no, they’re not at all interested in what I have to say…I move along.
Second, I remind myself all the time that I am a learner. Curiosity is my hallmark and my day is not quite complete if I haven’t satisfied that particular interest. With that framework, I can hear your perspective with and open heart and mind…
Unless, third, you are voicing hateful, exclusionary, racist beliefs. If that happens, I will tell you directly that you are wrong and I will not stand for slurs, epithets or threats. And then I get myself out of your presence.
Because what we need in our world today is far less hate and far more cooperation.
We need people to show up and show themselves – the best parts of themselves – as we find solutions to all the problems we face.
I’m going to do my part in my own little patch. Join me by doing what you can in your own patch. And, patch by patch, we’ll become the change we seek.