I am saddened with the worlds loss of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). I am reposting a short post I created a few weeks ago in honor of RBG.
Rest in peace, Ruth.
An Insight, An Inspiration, and A Quote: On Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG)
A couple of weeks ago I watched the movie, On the Basis of Sex. The movie is about the early career of Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG). There were several insights and inspirations that came from watching this movie, which I am sharing with you now.
There is a moment late in the movie where RBG has a choice. Choose to stand, embrace vulnerability, walk through it, and give the District Court Justices all she had. Wow. Was a pivotal point.
It reminds me that we all have choices. When we are confronted with difficulty, people telling us we can’t, we’re not good enough, not pretty enough, not thin enough, not insert here whatever you’ve been told. We have a choice.
We can allow these people to have power over us by accepting and holding onto the reality they are creating; or, we can create a different reality. One that gives us the space to love ourselves for exactly who we are. Right now, in this moment.
We must first accept ourselves, both our “weaknesses” and our “strengths.” Every aspect of who we are. Why? Because when we resist aspects of ourselves, they actually grow and become more present.
Choose love over fear.
RBG. Period. Did you know that when at Harvard Law School, her husband was diagnosed with testicular cancer. What did RBG do? Hm. Only attend both of their classes, and assist her husband with his school work, while, yep, also completing all of her work. Impressive and inspirational.
RBG was also told repeatedly by many different people that creating gender equity was impossible. RBG was given every reason in the world to quit. Give up. And? Mm. Persistence.
RBG is responsible for massive change in the progression towards gender equity in this country. Insightful and inspirational.
I had a hard time choosing my favorite RBG quote, so, well, I’ve included many.
“Real change, enduring change, happens one step at a time.”
“So often in life, things that you regard as an impediment turn out to be great, good fortune.”
“Reacting in anger or annoyance will not advance one’s ability to persuade.”
“When a thoughtless or unkind word is spoken, best tune out.”
“Fight for the things that you care about, but do it in a way that will lead others to join you.”
“You can’t have it all, all at once.”
“I’m a very strong believer in listening and learning from others.”
“In the course of a marriage, one accommodates the other”
“In every good marriage, it helps sometimes to be a little deaf.”
“A gender line…helps to keep women not on a pedestal, but in a cage.”
“If you want to be a true professional, do something outside yourself.”
“Reading is the key that opens doors to many good things in life. Reading shaped my dreams, and more reading helped me make my dreams come true.”
“Don’t be distracted by emotions like anger, envy, resentment. These just zap energy and waste time.”
“You can disagree without being disagreeable.”
“If you have a caring life partner, you help the other person when that person needs it. I had a life partner who thought my work was as important as his, and I think that made all the difference for me.”
“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made. It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”
“I would like to be remembered as someone who used whatever talent she had to do her work to the very best of her ability.”
I’ve written a lot about vulnerability lately. Why? Well, for many years, I avoided vulnerability at all costs. Really, I did. I was not interested. Actually, I was disinterested to the point of high levels of anxiety. Today? Not the case.
Today I believe that, although being vulnerable is hard work, it is where all the wonders of being a human being live.
Wonders like innovation, resilience, love, compassion, and much more.
In fact, writing an article like this just a short two years ago would have been impossible. Too vulnerable, too much unknown, too much anxiety. We can pretend, or feel as if, anxiety is only our issue. Let me tell you unequivocally, it is not.
Many, many people all across the world suffer from anxiety. An aside, real quick, promise.
I was once in a therapist’s office, and they were talking to me about anxiety levels, and I said something like, I believe the entire population of the United States suffers from low-grade anxiety. What did they say? Yep, that’s true.
Now, I could write more about that, however, I’d like to get back to the current topic. Vulnerability.
I believe that vulnerability is important to our individual development. Showing us where we have growth opportunities if we choose, to be vulnerable, and grow into and eventually out of these opportunities. That’s development.
I also believe that vulnerability is a transformational space, which anyone can enter. Of course, of their choosing, when they are ready. What happens, you ask, when you are vulnerable on a regular basis?
Well, many things. However, I think there are 4 things that are distinct to being vulnerable where we get back much more by being vulnerable than we do by making the choice to not be vulnerable.
Alright, here, then is
The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational
There is something about being vulnerable that exposes us to more of our own humanity. And, when we are exposed to more of our humanity, we get to know more about everyone else’s humanity. It works that way.
And knowing both about our own humanity, while also knowing about everyone else’s, gives us more sight about our shared humanity.
Connecting more deeply to the similarity of those around us. When we can connect with others in that way, we get more out of our relationships. Really.
Think about the relationships you have. Are you able to be vulnerable? Hm. If not, well, you may want to rethink those relationships. Why?
Because to be vulnerable you must be in a context that is safe, and with people that you trust. If you are not, vulnerability is way too scary, and rightfully so.
When we are vulnerable, we are exposing parts of ourselves that we don’t normally expose. And, it takes safety and trust to get there. It does.
Therefore if you are in relationships with people where vulnerability is out of the question, I would question the need for those relationships. Hard. Yet, might be needed.
When we are in a safe space, with people we trust, we can be more open, and inside of that openness, being vulnerable becomes more available.
And, as was aforementioned, when we get to share that vulnerable space with someone else, we transform that relationship into something quite different. Beautiful.
Another quite lovely byproduct of being vulnerable is the opportunity to develop more compassion.
See, when we are vulnerable, we have the opportunity to experience grace for ourselves in doing something that makes us either nervous, fearful, or anxious.
We may not always extend ourselves that grace and the accompanying compassion, yet it is there. As was aforementioned, I was actively disinterested in vulnerability for many years. Over 20 in fact.
However, that does not mean I was never vulnerable. I was. And, inside of those vulnerable moments, some of which were long moments, I did not extend myself grace, nor the accompanying compassion. Nope.
Yet, know that developing more compassion for yourself inside of being more actively vulnerable, is possible. How do I know? Because I am actively vulnerable on a regular basis today. Every day in fact.
Anyone that participates in contexts and experiences that stretch them, that make them feel vulnerable, deserves grace and compassion; and, I can provide both to myself today. Growth.
Another opportunity inside of being vulnerable more often, and developing more compassion for yourself, is that you will also develop more compassion for others. It works that way.
Anytime we can extend ourselves more of something, we can now also extend it to others. And, believe me, everyone can use more grace and compassion today. Seriously.
Inside the space, you create to be more vulnerable, while extending to yourself and everyone else around you more grace and compassion, you have transformed yourself and that relationship.
In those precious moments, our shared humanity is realized, and we can recognize ourselves in each other. It is a beautiful experience. Connecting with another human being on that level is transformation.
It takes courage to be vulnerable often; and, when we are more often vulnerable, we get to develop more courage and resilience. Often, I think, people believe that some people have courage and resilience and others do not. Not true.
Like any other skill set, courage and resilience can be developed.
You can grow yourself into a more courageous and resilient self by doing things that are outside of your comfort zone.
And, it just so happens that being vulnerable is outside of most people’s comfort zone. I would actually argue that it is outside of everyone’s comfort zone. That is the nature of vulnerability inside of being human.
When we create the opportunity to grow into a more courageous and resilient self, we also get to model that behavior for people around us.
Family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, and, yes, even people we don’t know at all. Inspiring.
And, inside of creating more inspiration in this world by being more open and vulnerable, developing ourselves, while also showing others that developmental growth is possible for them too, you get transformation.
Transformation for yourself, yes; and, transformation for those that choose to journey with you into vulnerable situations and contexts, which are created by stepping out of your comfort zone and into spaces that are vulnerable.
When we have deeper connections with ourselves, and likewise, with people close to us, built upon safety and trust, there is an increased likelihood of more collaboration. Fun.
Though I think I’ve always naturally gravitated towards collaborative contexts and people that share a collaborative spirit with me, I was not always available to these types of contexts or people.
Remember, I actively avoided and resisted my own vulnerability for a long time, which also means that I, in many ways, missed out on deeper relationships with people where collaboration was more possible.
Now, I am surrounded by these types of contexts and people.
Even with people that I at one time did not share this type of connection, that connection is more apparent today. And, it can be for you too.
When we are available to a natural human inclination within us to share ourselves with others, to connect with them deeply, and to share all that we have to offer, we are or have become natural collaborators. Really. At that moment, or in those moments, it is true.
A byproduct of entering into collaborative contexts more regularly also means that there is a higher likelihood for innovation to occur. And, inside of innovative contexts transformation is regularly apparent. Why?
Because when we are vulnerably collaborating, we are out on a limb, deeply connected to others in that safe and trusting context, where courage flourishes, as does innovation. And, what often follows innovation is transformation.
In closing, I will also offer that where there is the possibility of developing more of a vulnerable self, there is also the possibility of developing less nervousness, fear, and anxiety.
What I’ve learned in the past three years, is that avoiding and resisting things that make us uncomfortable only brings more nervousness, fear, and anxiety. An example? Sure.
When I was working in the private sector, before going back to University at 33, I worked for several large corporations; and, at one of them, I wanted desperately to be promoted into a leadership role.
Well, at that time, I had a great supervisor and mentor, and that goal became a reality.
As many of you know, when you are in leadership roles, the need to speak in front of groups, your team, business, or organization is rather mandatory. It’s part of it. How did I feel about that? Horribly anxious. Really. Sky-high anxiety.
I remember the first time being in front of the group, I would eventually lead, at a district meeting. I had a 5-minute speech to give. 5-minutes, that’s all. Might as well have been an hour. Phew.
I was so anxious that the paper I was using for a guide, actually I was reading directly from it, was shaking like a leaf in my hand. Actually, my whole body was shaking like a leaf. Really.
Well, I continued to take on small parts in the meetings, 5 minutes became 10, and 10 developed, over time, into giving entire 1 to 1.5-hour district meetings to the group by myself. The point?
It took time. One step at a time. Bite-sized chunks, as they say, within a context where safety and trust were present.
And, yep, I developed more courage, resilience, much deeper connections with that team, and we did become highly collaborative. Fun.
Since that time, I’ve led several teams, including the team I am on right now and have taught at University. Transformation.
And, you can also be a part of a vulnerable transformation. It’s not complicated, yet it is, as we’ve discussed. Difficult.
Yet, when you take it one step at a time, one action at a time, knowing that it is a process, not a light switch, you can rest in ease knowing that if you persist you will be doing vulnerability more often.
And, guess what? Without even knowing it you will have developed deeper connections, more compassion, and courage, and you will probably find yourself in collaborative contexts more often.
Vulnerability is transformational, and you can partake in it if you choose. Choose well.
Alright, so I’m driving home from the store about an hour ago, and it occurs to me that music, like many things in life, is a paradox. Well, that is, the music that one likes and listens to may be seen as a paradox. Do you know what I mean? No. Hm. Okay, let me try it this way.
What I actually mean is that human beings are paradoxical; and, that the things we think, feel, and do can be seen as paradoxes, which includes the music we like, and the music we listen to.
Let me show you.
Here is a band I’ve loved all of my life. As I’ve written about before, I was scheduled to see them play the month that my dad passed away unexpectedly. A difficult time.
Well, I recreated that possibility about 6 months later, so got to see them play in Santa Ana, California last fall. I love all of their albums, and songs, yet this one is more present for me today.
Ah, yep, Bad Religion. I hadn’t seen them in, oh, should I say? Alright. It had been 20 years. That is a story for another day.
Anyway, as much as I love Bad Religion, I also love this.
Mm. Billie Holiday. Love that. Beautiful. And, let’s not forget about this.
Oh, and then this.
Alright, alright, though there is so much more to add, I’ll stop now. 🙂
What I am writing about to you today, is to listen to what you love. Especially when it seems like a paradox. It’s for you, no one else.
Likewise, do what you love to do, be who you want to be, and cherish all the apparent paradoxes that you know and feel about yourself. They are a part of you. And, guess what?
They aren’t really paradoxes. Not really. Because they are a part of you, those things that you love, that inspire you, that move you, that touch you, they are one. They are you.
And, when you are inspired, everyone around you will also be inspired. It works like that, and is fun like that.
What are some of the apparent paradoxes that make you the human being you are today?
Establishing trust must come before people will feel safe. If people do not feel safe, they will hold back. Makes perfect sense. However, when there is trust, people will give all that they have, and they will also be vulnerable, try new things, go out on limbs; and, that is where innovation lives.
When there is trust between you and the team, and between each team member, you have an opportunity to create outputs and outcomes that have never been seen before. Why?
Because trust + safety + vulnerability = innovation.
Once trust and safety are in place, creating alignment is next. Creating alignment can take time. It took the team I currently work on over 2 years to create alignment. Year 1 was creating trust and safety. Year 2, creating alignment.
2. Create Alignment
Alignment takes time. Really. It is normal for teams to move in different directions at the beginning. If you are unsure about this truth, that’s okay.
You can implement systems and processes upfront to ensure creating alignment quickly. However, as was aforementioned, creating those systems and processes early will also create a barrier to innovation. Why?
Because innovation thrives in an open environment where all the answers are not figured out. Though this can be stressful, know inside of an innovative environment, where safety, trust and vulnerability thrive, systems and processes will come.
Alignment comes when a vision is cast and strategy is created to tie the day-day operations to that vision. Each person on a team has a role to play in the execution of a vision.
When you get clear on everyone’s role and responsibilities, you are ready to create alignment between the vision and the day-to-day operations.
Here is how it looks linearly.
Create a 10-year vision
Create a 5-year vision
Create a 3-year plan
Create this year’s objectives
Create 90-day priorities
Create work of the month
Create work of the week
Create work of the day
Though that list looks long, it really isn’t that much, though it does take time. There is a very good resource for creating this kind of vision system, it is called Traction: Get a Grip on Your Business, by Gino Wickman. I highly recommend it to all leaders in all organizations.
Alright, now that you’ve established trust and created alignment, the next step is to develop balance. Sounds simple. Yet, developing balance takes practice. Let’s take a look.
3. Develop Balance
As a leader, should you focus more on culture, or more on performance? Hm. Both are important. I like to think about culture and performance, like a see saw. Focus going back and forth. Sometimes, culture takes precedent, and sometimes, performance.
However, you must have both.
If you have a strong culture, and performance issues, you are not moving forward. If you have excellent performance metrics, and no culture, people will burn out and leave.
Developing a balanced approach to culture and performance takes practice, and an open mind. Meaning that when people bring you intelligence that a shift towards culture, or towards performance is needed, be open to shifting focus. Important.
In an open environment where trust and alignment have been created, the team will let you know. Really, they will. However, you still need to pay close attention to the team, and each individual on the team.
Like anything, developing balance takes time, and practice. You will know when you stray too far into one realm or the other. You can feel it when a team is not moving, or is moving too much. Watch, listen, and feel.
Collaboration is another important component to build in the journey towards creating an innovative culture. Some might say it is one of the most important.
4. Build Collaboration
Why is collaboration so important? Well, to develop an innovative culture, building collaboration is a must. On teams where trust, alignment, and balance have been instituted, vulnerability will also typically be present.
And, being vulnerable with each other in an environment where collaboration is high is a natural breeding ground for innovation. Why?
Because where vulnerability meets collaboration is an open space ready for innovation to occur.
Actually, where vulnerability meets collaboration is where innovation is already happening. Really, it is.
Innovation needs spaces that are open, collaborative, and safe. Further, alignment and balance also help create innovative spaces. Though we’ve already discussed these two, there are two more reasons that showcase just how true the last sentence is.
Because when your team is aligned, you are all on the same page, moving in the same direction. You are one.
Because when there is balance, you also have balance with innovation. For instance, if all you do is innovate, then nothing will move forward. Similarly if all you do is execute, then innovation will founder. You need both. Both innovation and execution. A must.
Alright, now, let’s talk about accountability.
5. Institute Accountability
You may be asking yourself right now, what in the world does accountability have to do with innovation? Well, a lot actually. Let’s go.
Fostering an innovative culture, which also executes is imperative to actually creating newness in the world. You have to develop both sides of the equation. Similar to developing balance. And, how do you instill accountability into your culture? It starts with you.
You must practice accountability. Holding yourself accountable, first. You must also be open to the team holding you accountable. Accountable for what, you ask? For what you say and do. Integrity.
Developing an innovative culture means that each individual, starting with the leader, holds themselves accountable for the actions they take, and sometimes, don’t take.
The same goes with the team. When each individual holds themselves to the culture of innovation that you are developing, the team is also simultaneously held accountable. And, when people don’t perform?
Well, you must understand why. If it is a skill issue, offer them the opportunity to develop, to grow. If they are interested, great. If not, well, that is their choice.
If it is will. Then they also have a choice.
Bottom line. Developing an innovative culture means that accountability is taken seriously. As seriously as having fun, growing together, learning from each other, and innovating new products and services. Same.
Alright, that’s the Big 5 of developing an innovative culture. Fun. And, guess what? You can develop an innovative culture anytime. Really. How? Well, like all things, one step, or action at a time.
I originally conceived of this topic and the associated article as one for business. An article about how to create deep connections with the people we work with, and the people we’d like to work with.
However, after reflecting upon it throughout the day, it occurred to me that this topic is applicable to everyone. Why?
Well, relationships are the cornerstone of life. Really. Think about all of the people in your life. You have people that are very close to you, friends and family, work associates and colleagues, and, maybe a little further from you, aquantinaces, clients, and neighbors, to name a few.
And, connecting, really connecting with these people, all of them, requires understanding ourselves.
Understanding why we do the things we do, why we feel the way we do, and think the way we think. Knowing ourselves. Why?
Because in order to connect deeply with another human being we must know ourselves first. Then, we can know them; and, know them as deeply as we know ourselves. If, however, we only know ourselves on the surface, we will only ever know them in the same way. Not a deep connection then.
Alright, let’s take a look at three things you can do to build deeper connections with the people that are currently in your life, and the ones that will show up in the future. Ready? Let’s go.
1. Know Your Why
Remember being little where everything we saw, thought, and felt was done with a sense of wonder and amazement? Yep, me too. Well, does life still feel that way to you? If not, don’t worry, it’s not a demerit; and, you are not alone.
As we grow older, we lose some of that wonder and amazement. Yet, we can intentionally create opportunities to get it back. How?
First, we must get back in touch with the things that drive us. You know, the reasons that get us up in the morning. And, I’m not talking about intellectual reasons. Nope.
I’m talking about those things deep within us that make us the person we are today. Can you feel them? If not, don’t worry. They are there, and you can get back in touch with them.
It’s important to connect deeply with that why, or to reconnect with it if it’s been a while. When we reconnect with the why of why we do what we do, we are actually reconnecting with the vision we have of ourselves as human beings. And, in that moment, we create new possibilities. Really.
When we know who we are, what we are up to in life, we can share that with others. We can touch someone else with the passion we have for life. Just like when we were little.
The reason people connect with children, watch them, smile at them, want to be around them, is that, to them, everything is a wonder.
They are a wonder. Everything is amazing. And, reconnecting with your why can move you in that direction.
Further, when you reconnect with yourself on that level, you can now connect with someone else at that level. Sharing something of yourself that, in some cases, as it was for me for a long time, was buried underneath other intellectual ideas, concepts, and pursuits.
Remember one thing. People are not moved by their intellect, or by their head, they are moved by their emotional-center, or ther heart.
Now, you may be wondering, alright, I’ve got my why, then what? Well, now you can create a statement about your why. Something that you can share with those close to you and those that are further removed from you. Anyone really.
2. Create Your Personal Mission Statement
A personal mission statement is something you can create, which declares why you are doing what you are doing; it will also give the people you are connecting with a sense of who you are as a human being. Example? Sure.
Here is my why.
To increase access to higher education for everyone.
Right, yet there is more to it. Yep. Here, then, is also part of my why.
Develop leaders, inspire creativity, and assist with personal transformation.
Okay, so now lets fashion a personal mission statement. Ready? Okay, here we go.
To increase access to higher education for everyone, and to develop leaders, inspire creativity, and assist with personal transformation.
Hm, that’s not quite right. It has the components, yet is not really getting at the crux of the why. Let’s try again. Here we go.
To increase access to higher education for everyone, while also working with students and clients to develop their leadership skills, expand their creative potential, and assist in their personal transformation.
Closer. The point? That there is no one way to create a why, or a personal mission statement. They are yours, and should be created by you for you to share with others when you choose, and how you choose. Simple.
You must simply create from within you. Important. If you don’t, and it is something that you don’t really believe in, well, you will know, and so will everyone else. Believe me. They will know if it is not sincere.
And, really, the point is to deepen your connection with yourself, first, and then with other people. You want it to be real. Real from your heat to the hearts of others.
Alright, you’ve got your why and you’ve created a personal mission statement, now what? A reminder.
3. Understand that Relationships are Everything
In the post, Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?, I write about understanding that every relationship in our life is important. All of them. That, in fact, everything we do, everything, is about the relationship we have with ourselves, first, and then with everyone else.
Remember the relationships system? Looks like this.
There we go. Alright, so as you can see from the above system, everything we do starts with us. Everything. And, then as you move from the center circle, out to each corresponding circle, all that we do, goes out to those closest to us, first, and then to those that are further from us.
And, what do they get from you? From me for a time, they got cynicism. Yep. Not a judgement, just the reality as it was, not as it is today. Today?
They get everything I can give them, just as I do for myself, including the why of what I do each and every day.
The coolest thing about sharing your why, your passion, purpose, whatever you want to call it, with others is that they then get to know you on a level that will inspire them. Really.
Think about the people in your life that inspire you. What do they do? I bet they are up to all kinds of cool things, creating change, transforming themselves, working at changing the world. One step at a time.
And, you know the second coolest thing about sharing your why with someone else? You get to learn about their why. Yep. You get to know them on a level that might not have been previously available.
These deep connections are what drive people together. Actually the more appropriate language here, would be that they pull people together. Pulled by inspiring ideas, yes, and by inspiring actions.
Inspiring people to be all they can be is a pretty cool thing; and, guess what? You can be a part of that kind of connection anytime. You can create it. Yep. How? Well, as I’ve mentioned it all starts with you.
I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase color inside the lines. Maybe you were even told to do so. Well, consider that all socialization is about living inside the lines. The issue? Well, being socialized to live inside the lines means that living outside the lines, while possible, is hard to create.
Yet, it is possible. Yep. Let’s take a look at 3 things you can do to start coloring your life outside the lines.
3 Things You Can Do To Start Coloring Your Life Outside The Lines
Before we get too deep into our discussion, let’s define socialization. It’s topical to this conversation, and important.
noun /ˌsəʊʃəlaɪˈzeɪʃn/ /ˌsəʊʃələˈzeɪʃn/(British English also socialisation)[uncountable] (formal)
the process by which somebody, especially a child, learns to behave in a way that is acceptable in their society.
Now, what does coloring inside the lines have to do with socialization? Well, socialization is the process of ensuring that children obey and act in accordance with particular expectations.
And, it is inside of these expectations where people learn to limit themselves again and again. How?
Well, as we mature we continue to repeat these acceptable behaviors into adulthood. And, often, in fact, probably more often than not, these behaviors actually work. We’ve learned how to make them work for us. Yet, they are still limiting.
Know that I am not arguing that socialization is a problem. Not entirely. I am arguing that socialization limits our creative potential. It keeps us inside of a very narrowly defined box (inside the lines) of what other people have determined is possible in this life, our life.
However, when we become aware of this fact, which can occur many different ways, we have the opportunity to learn to color outside of the lines. How, you ask. Alright, let’s look at a few.
1. Ask Questions
One of the powers of language is the ability to ask questions. To question what we know, what we think, and what we are told. Socrates said something about asking questions. Hm. Let me see. Ah, actually it’s about knowing, and is still applicable. Here you go.
“The only true wisdom is in knowing that you know nothing.“ – Socrates
Now, here is a great quote about asking questions.
“The best scientists and explorers have the attributes of kids! They ask questions and have a sense of wonder. They have curiosity. ‘Who, what, where, why, when and how!’ They never stop asking questions, and I never stop asking questions, just like a five year old.” – Sylvia Earle
Now, you may be thinking, well, I’m not a scientist, or an explorer, so? Fear not. Everyone has the right to question. And, here is an invitation. Consider yourself an explorer, and your life an exploration. Fun.
2. Embrace Vulnerability
I’ve written a lot about vulnerability of late. Am very present to it, in fact. Why? Well, it was something that I avoided, or resisted, for a time, and now? I am embracing it more and more every day.
Here is a quote I adore about vulnerability.
“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.” -BRENÉ BROWN
Learning how to embrace vulnerability is a necessity to develop and grow. It is. When you are vulnerable, you openly admit that you don’t know everything, that there is much to learn from everyone around you.
You also intentionally wade into uncomfortable developmentally appropriate contexts and conversations. Why? Because you are interested in growing, in developing.
Though uncomfortable, you realize that being in that context, in that conversation, is the way to increase your own resilience, and at the same time? Yep, grow your tolerance for engaging in vulnerable situations.
You also show that you know yourself enough to know that growing, stretching, and developing is something that you take a stand for; and, in many ways when you do this, you get back, yes, and? So, does everyone else. Really. You are modeling growth and development. Inspiring.
3. Ask For Help
Right now, you may be thinking, wait, what? What in the world does asking for help have to do with my development? I understand. Stay with me.
Asking for help has to do with modeling humility. And, humility is a developmentally important concept. Let’s define it shall we?
noun /hjuːˈmɪləti/ /hjuːˈmɪləti/[uncountable]
the quality of not thinking that you are better than other people; the quality of being humble
There we go. Humility is important. When we show humility, we model the unknown. And, what have we learned about the known and the unknown? Well, factually there is much more to learn, than any one person, or even a collective of people know.
When we model the unknown, we model our support for development and growth. We show that we understand both with our head and our heart that we are just one part in the overall system of life on this planet.
We provide people around us with the knowledge that we are open, always actively seeking more information, more ideas, and more experiences that will help us grow and develop. And?
When we take action in this manner, we will get back way more from those around us. See, when we are open, people can see it, hear it, and feel it. Important. We create safety. Safety for them to be the human being they are. To share themselves with us; and, then we get to reciprocate.
We learn more. We become more. Fun.
Alright, there are 3 things you can do to start coloring your life outside the lines. Fun.
Remember, take it one action at a time. Meaning, when we are interested in coloring our life outside the lines, interested in developing and growing, in creating intentionally contexts to do so, it can sometimes be overwhelming.
Take your time. Take it one action at a time. Example? Sure.
If you usually don’t ask questions, next time ask one. Just one. Start from there. If you usually avoid vulnerable situations, next time you are faced with one, venture out and into that situation. See what you get back.
And, if you don’t ask for help, which is something I work at all the time, next time you are feeling overwhelmed, ask for help. Just try it once.
Developmental growth is a process, not a light switch. It takes doing things differently, creating that intention, and then acting upon it. One day at a time, one action at a time.
Alright, so I got home form work today about 5 pm. I was feeling tired before even getting home, so took a nap. Yep. Today, I sleep when needed. Not something I did for most of my life.
Anyway, after my nap, I wanted to go outside. As I walked out of my apartment and looked up and to the left, I squinted. The sun, wait, what?
For those of you wondering what I’m talking about, I live in Oregon, where for the past 7 days the sky has been filled with smoke and ash. No sun in 7 days.
Now, no sun is a normal part of living in the PacNW, yet, not, as it was these past 7 days, due to the largest wildfires in OR history, burning over 1 million acres.
I looked back down, and up and to the right. And, there it was. The sky! The clouds, wow, what a wondrous sight. Beautiful. And, at the same time I was feeling joy and wonder, I was also feeling sadness and worry. Why?
Because the fires are still raging across the state. Many of died, tens of thousands have had to evacuate their homes, many, many, many have lost their homes, and, in several instances, whole towns have been destroyed.
This post is for all of them, and for the amazing firefighters on the front lines battling the wildfires each and every day.
We are thinking about you, sending love, energy, and support to all of you, and appreciate your leadership, dedication, and persistence.
To question, or not to question? Hm. How many times do you remember being in a class, with a group of friends, or in a work environment where you wanted to ask a question, yet didn’t? Yep, me too. Really, we all have those memories.
Many people are afraid to ask questions, to speak up generally. Why? Afraid of looking silly, asking the “wrong” questions, not being taken seriously, or being made fun of. Has happened to all of us at some point.
Yet, the ability to ask questions, to discern relevance out of a context that is unclear, to move toward more clarity, while acquiring more knowledge and adding to the knowledge-base within the context is really important. Why?
Well, let’s ask Socrates, shall we. Here we go.
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates
Powerful. Simply, there is so much unknown about life and the world, that to not ask, to not speak up in a way cheats ourselves and all of humanity out of possible progress.
The topic of questioning is so important. Important to life, the world, the production and eventual dissemination of knowledge, and, yes, it is also very important to our development. Why? Well, I’ve got 10 reasons.
Ready? Very well, let’s go.
Seems simple, yes? The more questions we ask, the more we learn. Though this concept is simple, in practice, many people struggle to ask the questions they have deep inside them. They do. As was aforementioned, though an extrovert, I too once struggled with asking my questions. The issue? When we don’t ask, we actually carry that question around. Literally. We have it within us, unanswered, which can cause us pain, and frustration.
When we ask our questions, we gain knowledge, and we also contribute to knowledge acquisition. Yep. In every question there lives the possibility of more knowledge. We know so little about life and the world. Yet, with every question that we ask, we create the opportunity for us, and everyone else, to learn more.
The more questions we ask, the more clarity we have. And, the more clarity everyone else has. As we learn, so does everyone else. And, as we all learn, we transform the nature of the context we’re in, to a context where questions are possible. A context where those that are fearful of asking questions, as you are, or once were, will be empowered to ask their questions. Powerful.
Asking questions is also the breeding ground for collaboration. When we ask questions, we are naturally contributing to a collaborative context, where learning from each other is embraced. We are actually fostering a collaborative context by asking our questions. Seriously, it is true.
Asking questions is also super important to developing and executing on strategy. Without questions, you will only ever produce what was produced yesterday. Questions are the birthplace of strategy. And, with strategy, both concepts and execution, we get movement, and with movement, eventual traction in whatever it is we are doing.
Like strategy, innovation depends upon asking questions. Creation and innovation are intertwined with curiosity, and those that are curious ask tons of questions. They have to, they are curious. With questions comes the possibility of innovation, and new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
When we ask our questions, we are also being vulnerable. We are modeling an attribute that is a necessity for development. Developmental growth is dependent upon being vulnerable, and when we accept our own vulnerability, even enter into vulnerable spaces intentionally, we will ask our questions.
Well, if questions are important to strategy and innovation, they are equally important to leadership. Leaders are interested in what others think, know, and feel. They have to be interested, it’s part of being a leader. And, to learn how people think, know, and feel, you must ask questions.
When we ask questions we also contribute to a context or environment of trust. When we are actively interested in someone else, and what they know, or how they feel and think, we are modeling trust. Especially when we get back questions from those around us, which by leading through asking questions, we will definitely get.
Asking questions means that we get to learn more about those around us, which also means that we get to deepen our relationships with those people. It is inevitable. Learning about someone necessitates a relationship. And being in a relationship means knowing about that person, and to know, we must ask questions.
Alright, there are 10 reasons why asking questions is important to your development. Let’s take a look at how they are interconnected. Ready? Here we go.
When we learn, we know more, and when we know more we have more clarity about our life, yes, and of the lives of those around us. Learning and knowing are part of development. And clarity is an output of learning and knowing more.
When we collaborate with others we get to know people better, and we also get to know ourselves better.
Knowing others better will always shine a light on the parts of ourselves that we want to develop. It is normal, and is also very healthy.
Within a collaborative context that embraces strategy, we also create the possibility of developing an innovative culture. And, inside of an innovative culture, we create more innovative possibilities, which also contributes to future strategies. All of which contributes positively to our development and growth.
I’ve written in other posts that vulnerability contributes to and fosters innovation. Vulnerability is actually where the seeds of innovation will eventually grow. And, like innovation growing through vulnerability, we also develop and grow when we are vulnerable.
Relationships are created, in part, through trust. When we trust each other, we can be real, be vulnerable, learn more from each other, and grow together. When we are open to each other, we get so much more from each other.
Knowing that we, as Socrates might say, know so very little about life and the world. Knowing this fact is at the center of development and growth.
Leadership is dependent upon all of the aforementioned. And, I am not only writing about leaders in the traditional sense. I am also writing about every human on the planet. We all have the opportunity to lead. Lead from within, and from without.
When we lead by asking questions, we model our interest and support of contexts that are open to development and growth. We create more possibilities for ourselves, and for everyone around us.
Possibilities to learn, to know, to have more clarity, to build collaborations and strategy, which foster vulnerability, trust, and relationships; and, that is leading.
Ask your questions, and develop yourself and everyone else around you.
Have you ever considered becoming an agent of change; or, considered, how to move yourself into the realm of transformation? How about considering what leadership, change agency, and transformation have to do with each other?
Simply, the distinction is that transformation is internally driven, whereas development is externally driven.
And, of the former, becoming a change agent as a leader is transformative. Why? Because when we move on the leadership spectrum away from the status quo and toward becoming an agent of change, we create the possibility of transforming ourselves and everyone around us.
Alright, let’s take a look at becoming a transformative change agent as a leader. There are two parts to this conversation, and they are as follows.
4 things you can to do to move into the realm of transformation; and,
3 things you can do to become a change agent.
Ready? Let’s go.
4 Things You Can Do to Move Into the Realm of Transformation
1. Question All of Your Current Beliefs
When we are living in and for transformation, we always question what we know. Why is this important? Good question.
Because if we know everything there is to know about a particular topic or subject, we can’t learn more. And, when we are closed to learning more, we are also closed to transformation.
The entire realm of transformation occupies the unknown. Why? Because when we live today as we did yesterday, which is essentially what happens when we are closed to learning something new, we simply reproduce today as we lived yesterday. Not transformative.
However, when we are open, and question all of our beliefs, we immediately create a space where learning is possible. Yep.
Now, though learning is possible when we are open and we question our beliefs, we must also be willing to let go of our beliefs. Questioning our beliefs is the first step, and we must also learn how to let go.
2. Let Go of the Beliefs that No Longer Serve You
When you begin to question your beliefs, the next step is to let go of those that no longer serve you. Can be difficult. Why?
Because we are socialized to think and act in certain ways. And, socialization is powerful. However, when you begin to question your beliefs, you will see there is much to learn. And, it is often necessary to let go of our previous views. It’s okay.
Letting go of beliefs that no longer serve you is not a problem. You don’t get a demerit for letting go. Know also it’s not a sign that those that taught you what you know, were wrong.
It’s not about right and wrong. It’s about knowing that letting go is a natural process of growing, first, and, second, letting go is necessary and needed to find your transformational path.
Once you question your beliefs, and begin to let go of those that no longer serve you, it’s time to begin re-creating your belief system.
3. Recreate Your Belief System as Often as Needed
People interested in transformation, are actively interested in recreating their belief systems. They are always searching for new ways to learn, to develop, and to be.
Though development and transformation are different, they are related. Development is a wonderful platform to gain the knowledge necessary to enter into the space of transformation.
Recreating your belief system simply means that you are open to doing the internal work necessary to transform.
When we are quiet and do the internal work necessary to question all that we believe, and then let go of the ideas, concepts, and emotions that no longer serve us, we automatically create the space needed to recreate our belief system.
Know that in a space of transformation this process is continuous. It becomes a daily practice. And then? Well, then you are ready to act from a new space, with new beliefs.
4. Taking Action From Your New Belief System
When we question our beliefs, let go of the beliefs that no longer serve us, and then recreate our belief system to fit our current transformative iteration, we automatically take action from that new belief system.
We begin to act from a new space and in a new way. Does it happen all at once? It may, yet often it is iterative, which simply means, as was aforementioned, that it is a continuous process.
Transformation is a continuous process of inquiry, investigation, and in some cases interrogation.
Old beliefs, habits, and patterns can be hard to let go of; yet, with practice, and guidance as needed, new beliefs, habits, and patterns can be created.
Yet, because these beliefs, habits, and patterns are so deeply ingrained within our beings, it takes being intentional.
Much like development, you must want to transform. You must create and set the intention to develop, and you must do the same with transformation.
Alright, once you’ve intentionally embarked into transformation, there are three more things to consider in order to see the connection between leadership, change agency, and transformation.
3 Things You Can Do Today to Lead as a Change Agent
1. Create Your Future From Your Future
When we create our future from our future, we recognize that to do other, is to create our future from our past. Happens often. It’s not a demerit.
However, to really create change, we must move into a space where we let go of the past, and stand in a reality that is being imagined as a future concept of a reality we want to live into. Important. How, you ask?
Imagine. Dream. Create. Repeat.
You have within you all of the imagination and dreams that have been present for, well, possibly, your entire life. Time to let them out.
Once you have, you can begin to create the future you want to live into. Create? Meaning, you can begin to take ideas and put them into systems and processes to see them realized. Concept meets execution.
Three simple steps, ready?
Put your imagination to work. Get those dreams out of your head and heart and into the world somewhere, anywhere. Write them down. Don’t limit yourself. Just write them down.
Create a map of those ideas, connecting the ones that are connectable, and then categorize them, or prioritize them. What do you want to create first?
Now, one at a time, create plans and associated actions to see these dreams into reality. Doesn’t matter how “big” or “small” these dreams are. What matters is that you put them into a system to make them a reality. Try it.
2. Don’t Worry About Barriers, or People That Don’t Understand
People that actively work to create change in the world are often met with barriers, and people that say it’s not possible. Normal. Why?
Because the status quo is more comfortable, and it’s what people know. People are fearful of what they don’t know, and don’t understand. You will be met with resistance.
However, when you are aware of this, you can meet those barriers and people where they are at. No judgment. And, no problem.
Where there is a barrier, or a person that says what you’re doing is impossible, there is another path toward the realization of your dream. Truth. Often, there will be several other paths, you just need to be patient.
They will show up. How do I know? I’ve experienced it many times. When you are creating change in the world, you are in action, you are pushing on systems that have been in place, in some cases, for years and years.
Yet, they are changeable. All of them. With a little persistence without resistance, you can create the change you want to see in the world.
Well, sometimes that force can also feel like resistance. Like we are resisting our current reality by trying to create something new to supplant our current reality. It can be subtle.
Or, have you ever just plain resisted your current reality? Maybe, more common?
Either way, when we resist our current reality, we are, in effect, creating more of that reality. Paradox? Yep, yet it is true. There is another way.
Be persistent without resisting your current reality. Meaning, accept your current reality, just as it is, with all that you enjoy and dislike. Then? Begin to create from that space. A space of no judgement about all that is in your life. Can be difficult.
Yet, in a space of persistence without resistance, we have the best opportunity to actually manifest the reality we are working so hard to create. Yep, just like that.
Alright, so we’ve now discussed 4 things you can do to move yourself into the realm of transformation, and we’ve also covered 3 things you can do today to lead as a change agent.
And, there, then is 4 + 3 = 7 Ways to Become A Transformative Change Agent Today. As I’ve written in many other posts, we need more transformative change agents. In fact, I would argue, we need every one of us to step up, and work to create the change we want to see in the world. Why?
Simple. Because you deserve it, we all deserve it, the whole world does. We all deserve to live in a world where dreams, imagination, innovation, and positive change are regularly created by each of us, you and me.
I’ve written several posts about the fact that human beings develop narratives about what they know, what they see, and what they are told. All of us do. We are natural storytellers, and meaning makers. It is how we make sense of the world. However, there is an issue here. Can you see it?
As we create stories about our reality, about what we believe to be true about the world, we can get stuck inside of faulty thinking. And, inside of this faulty thinking, we can begin to create realities, which are not really real. Yep, it’s true.
Right now, on the west coast of the United States we have a raging wildfire issue. At this same time, we are living in a pandemic, and have people all across the country in the streets, like they have been in Portland, OR, for months, protesting against systematic and institutional racism. The issue with the latter, of course, is not the protesting, it is the fact that systematic and institutional racism still exists.
Okay, what’s the issue with these issues, you ask? Hm. Let me explain it this way. Here you go.
Connecting Disparate Events and Situations
I’ve talked to several people this past week that are connecting these disparate events, creating stories about the compound effect of this year. However, these issues, while severe and highly problematic, are not connected. They are separate, and are just happening.
Because we are storytellers and meaning-makers we create something more out of what is happening than is really happening. We make these connections. That we do this is not a judgment or a demerit. It is how we are programmed.
However, it doesn’t help our mental health when we connect disparate events. Why? Because when we do, we can go into overwhelm more easily, and start blaming these situations on other people, and, yes, even ourselves. It happens all the time.
Think about a time when you failed a test, or didn’t get a job; and, in that same week or during that same timeframe, a friend or coworker upset you, and then a family member did something you didn’t expect, which also upset you. Well, did you pull these events apart, or did you rather, like most humans, connect them? Important distinction.
If you did connect them, you are not a problem. You are human.
Understanding that our brains work this way instantly creates a new awareness, which can be used to our advantage. How? By understanding that when events happen, they just happen.
We may not like them, or understand them, however, that is part of life. And, these events that just happen are not connected to each other. They are separate.
When we fully grasp this, we have more power over our reality and our life. How? Hm, okay. Here are 5 ways you can create more power over your reality by understanding that disparate events are just that, disparate.
5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Reality
Notice when you are making connections between events that are disconnected – the first step is always to create more awareness about how our mind works. Knowing that all human beings are storytellers and meaning-makers instantly creates a new awareness. Now that this awareness is there, notice when you are making connections between disparate events. Just notice.
Pull those events apart, separate them – when you start to create stories about your reality, which include connecting events or pieces of information that are disconnected, you can pull them apart. Separate them, and leave them that way. More power.
Reorient yourself to the current reality – now that these events, situations, and or information have been separated, you can reorient yourself to the reality as it is, instead of the reality you’ve been creating. Be with that reality, connect with it, really see it as it is.
Notice the difference in how you feel – as you practice noticing your mind and how the mind connects disparate events and information, notice how you feel. How do you feel when you have the power to pull those events apart? Empowered, maybe? Excellent. If you don’t feel empowered right away, don’t worry, keep practicing.
Repeat – building healthy habits, as has been aforementioned, takes practice. Humans also like patterns, or habits, so continue to practice noticing. It takes time. Know though that the only way to become experienced in this practice, like anything, takes doing it again and again. There is no one way, and there is not right and wrong. There is just doing. Again, and again, and again. And, you will get better at it.
There we go. Now what?
Well, if you are so inclined to do so, practice. If not, that’s okay. What I can say is that there was a time when I suffered from terrible anxiety. Much of my anxiety had to do with the stories in my head, which were, of course, not really real.
They were created through habitual thinking. Through connecting disparate events about the world, myself in the world, and about information contained in my head.
You do have a choice. Today, right now. You can choose a different path. One with more power, and empowerment. It takes time. Yet, anything worthwhile always does.