Self-expression is one of the most empowering experiences. Being able to feel and say what is needed. Important. Often, people hold back, as I once did, for the sake of “not rocking the boat,” or fear of reprisal. The issue?
When we hold back how we feel and what we think, we are actually still continuing to communicate those feelings and thoughts. Though, because we’ve been holding back, they will come out in a less than productive communicative way.
Today I find it better to express the truth about how I feel and what I think, even when, and, maybe, most importantly when, it means how I feel and what I think may spur a difficult conversation. It is really okay, and is needed.
We communicate more about how we feel and how we think nonverbally than we do verbally. That is the truth. Which is why it is so important to be transparent with ourselves, first, about how we feel, and what we think, and then to communicate that to those we care about.
Again, if we choose to not communicate how we feel and what we think, we will still communicate these feelings and thoughts through nonverbal communication.
Whether that is an skance glance or gesture, or some other form of nonverbal cue. And? People close to us will pick up on it, even if they are unconcious of it, and, yep, will react to it. The issue?
When we lead communicative experiences that are healthy and transparent, we have the opportunity to create a context that is free of the fear of reprisal, or the inauthentic experience of “not rocking the boat.”
By the way, when we actively try to “not rock the boat,” know that the boat is probably already rocking. And?
It can be settled a bit by being open and communicative about how we feel and what we think.
Shaping Our Experience
Communication really does shape our experience. As my awareness has grown over the past three years, I am able to notice when my nonverbal cues are picked up on by other people, and, likewise, when I pick up on theirs.
It is an interesting experience, and is one that is ultimately empowering. We have the potential to create contexts that are communicatively healthy once we are aware. Aware of just how important healthy communication is, both verbal and nonverbal.
We all get frustrated, and, yes, even angry sometimes. That happens to us all. It is part of being human.
However, it is important to practice communicating with others when we feel this way; and, to take the time necessary to understand why we are frustrated or angry in the first place.
For, as we know, when we are frustrated or angry, we are not frustrated or angry because of what other people are doing. We are frustrated or angry with how we are thinking and feeling about what other people are doing, or what we are doing, or not doing. It’s always that way.
All communication starts with us. How we communicate with ourselves is the beginning for how we ultimately communicate with others. And?
When we take the time to communicate with ourselves, which includes listening, we understand ourselves that much better; and, we also understand the people we love and care about that much better too.
And, for me? That’s what it means to live and love a communicative life. It’s about taking the time to practice communication. Practice communicating with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. It is quite lovely.
A 3-minute Reflection on Leadership and Systems Thinking
What do you think that coaching, communication, and insight have in common? Hm. Not sure?
Or, maybe, you’re thinking it’s that they’re interactive, and that’s what they have in common, and, yep, that is true. Yet there is one more. Yep.
They are all part of a single system. Each one, coaching, communication, and insight, all of them, is a piece of a larger whole. Let’s take a look at these pieces so we can see the whole. Ready? Here we go.
Alright, I’ve written about coaching before, and, even wrote about a developed model that works pretty well. Yet, guess what? Yep. That model has iterated. Today? Here’s what it looks like now.
Define the Gap
Create Next Actions
Yep, it is a complete system. And, yes, it is a system within a system. Meaning, that coaching is, yes, one piece in an overall system, and, yep, you begin with safety and end with it. Every time. Why?
Because creating safety for people is one of the most important aspects of developing high-functioning teams. Seriously. Watch.
What does it take to have a high-functioning team? Any ideas? Yep. Here we go.
There’s five. And, to have those five? Yep. Safety. Always.
In order to have high-quality coaching conversations, good communication must also be present. And, what, pray, are the components of good communication. Here are a few.
Tell your truth
Sounds simple, yes? Well, it is, and yet, is a paradox, like most things in life. Why? Because it takes practice, and a commitment to persevere. You will make mistakes. And?
That’s okay. It’s part of it.
If we think that good communication feels good all the time, or looks one way or another, we set ourselves up for disappointment. Most of my favorite conversations today are loaded with work, for both people.
Here are a few more important concepts to develop good communication.
It takes work and time. Yet, when you practice listening and being present, all kinds of wondrous things happen. Really.
Ah, yes, one of my favorite topics. Insight. Beautiful.
Well, what’s the deal with insight anyway? When we typically think about insight, we think about that moment of clarity where we learn something we’d not considered before. Right? Yep.
However, insight can come in many forms. Seriously. Here are a few.
Yep. Insights are created through collaboration, whether that is through collaboration with yourself, yes, that’s true, or with another individual or team member, or with the entire team, organization, or community.
Insights are a product of high-quality communicative contexts that are safe. Period.
A Single System
Alright, so what does creating coaching, good communication, and insight have to do with each other? Yep, you got it.
They are all a part of the relationship system. First, the relationships we have with ourselves, then, the team, organization, and community. True.
And, the relationship system is applicable in all social contexts. Meaning, you can substitute family with the team in the aforementioned example, and you have a whole and complete system for the family. Same.
There we go. That’s my 3-minute reflection on the relationships system, and why considering these pieces as connected and a part of a larger whole is very important for leaders, and, well, for everyone. Really.
In fact, one could argue, as I would, that your very relationships depend on it. Truth. Phew. That was fun.
Ever thought about the power of language? Yes, no? I hadn’t until about three years ago. Why? Well, as I’ve mentioned in many of my posts, about three years ago I began to develop myself, really develop.
And, when you work on yourself, from the inside out, which is the only real way, you begin to understand the power that we, you, hold within you. It is a vast power, and language is a part of that power.
Before we begin to look at the power of language, let’s start with a definition.
NOUN 1. The method of human communication, either spoken or written, consisting of the use of words in a structured and conventional way.
Alright, pretty straightforward, right? Do you read anything in there about the power of language? No, me either. However, it’s there, believe me. Let’s take a look then at 4 reasons why language is so powerful.
1. Language is what we use to create meaning
As I’ve written about in other posts, human beings are meaning-makers. We continuously construct narratives, or stories, about life. We take in information, a stimulus, and we convert that information into a patterned story about how we perceive ourselves. Then we respond.
We respond from the space of the story. From the beliefs we hold about who we are. Can you see the power in that. Pretty powerful.
For instance, if we believe we are limited, because someone told us that when we were little, we will respond from a space of limit. Without thinking about it. Important.
In this example, it’s not as if we are consciously thinking about these limitations. These limitations live in the stories we tell ourselves, and others about who we are. They operate independently. Aware of them or not, they are there. Powerful.
Imagine deciding to not do something because someone told us not to do that thing when we were little. If we really sit inside of this concept, it may fill us with sadness.
Know, however, that at the end of this article we will discuss how to get in touch with the stories we have. Why? Because when we are aware of them, even though we don’t know all of them, we can choose a different response. We can create new stories.
2. Language is what we use to communicate
Though verbal and written communication are not the only ways we communicate with each other, they are two of the primary ways we do so. We take that which we know to be “true,” drawn from the stories we have about ourselves, and use it to construct language to communicate with people.
Further, when we communicate with people, and they do or say something to confirm the story we have about ourselves, that story becomes more codified.
These stories, then, have been “confirmed” over years and years of inner-dialogue, and are also “proven” by those we interact with. Complex. And simple.
For instance, if I believe that I am limited, and act that way, then those around me, after time, will stop asking me to do things that stretch me, or make me uncomfortable.
Not because they don’t want me to stretch and grow, rather because I always say no. I confirm for them my own self-perceived limitation. And, in return, they confirm that limitation in my mind by not asking me to stretch and grow.
Thomas Cooley wrote about this concept over 100 years ago.
“The looking-glass self describes the process wherein individuals base their sense of self on how they believe others view them. Using social interaction as a type of “mirror,” people use the judgments they receive from others to measure their own worth, values, and behavior”
And, then sociologist Erving Goffman took Cooley’s work further.
“The term ‘symbolic interactionism’ refers, of course, to the peculiar and distinctive character of interaction as it takes place between human beings. The peculiarity consists in the fact that human beings interpret or ‘define’ each other’s actions instead of merely reacting to each other’s actions. Their ‘response’ is not made directly to the actions of one another but instead based on the meaning which they attach to such actions. Thus, human interaction is mediated by the use of symbols, by interpretation, or by ascertaining the meaning of one another’s actions.” (Blumer, p. 180, in Paul Gingrich)
Therefore, how we think is how we act, believe, and perceive. And, those around us do the same. Have you ever had an interaction with someone that didn’t know you, and they interacted with you in a way that didn’t fit the story you have of yourself? Yes? What did you do?
Did you align with your own story about the person you believe yourself to be? Or, did you act in a different way? Most of the time, people will continue to behave as they have, which is consistent with the actions, beliefs, and perceptions they have of who they are.
Reason? Because to act, believe, and perceive otherwise is incongruent with their perceived identity. And, all of it, the actions we take, and the beliefs and perceptions we have first of all live in language. That is powerful.
3. Language is what we use to make sense of the world
When you look out your window, what do you see? A tree? A bush? The sun or moon? Whatever you see, and the words you use to describe the world all live in language. All of it.
Think about the word sun. Where did that come from? Well, let’s take a quick look.
“Old English sunne, of Germanic origin; related to Dutch zon and German Sonne, from an Indo-European root shared by Greek hēlios and Latin sol .”
And, even cursory searches of the internet will show that the roots of the word sun cross cultures.
“This is ultimately related to the word for “sun” in other branches of the Indo-European language family, though in most cases a nominative stem with an l is found, rather than the genitive stem in n, as for example in Latin sōl, Greek ἥλιος hēlios, Welsh haul and Russian солнце solntse (pronounced sontse), as well as (with *l > r) Sanskrit स्वर svár and Persian خور xvar. Indeed, the l-stem survived in Proto-Germanic as well, as *sōwelan, which gave rise to Gothic sauil (alongside sunnō) and Old Norse prosaic sól (alongside poetic sunna), and through it the words for “sun” in the modern Scandinavian languages: Swedish and Danish solen, Icelandic sólin, etc.”
Yet, is the sun, the sun? Or is it a star? Same with a tree. Is a tree, a tree? Or, is it something else. The point? That the language we use to describe the world becomes just that. The world we see. The world we know.
When we see a tree, we don’t question the fact that at some point a tree was not called a tree. Nor was the sun called the sun. They were called something else, or nothing at all.
The relationship we have with the language we use to describe the world we see and perceive as our reality, is therefore extremely important, and powerful. It must be.
4. Language is what we use to create our reality
Yep. Truth. Language is what we use to create meaning, to communicate, to understand the world, and to create our reality. In another post, I wrote something like, there are 7 billion different realities on this planet. Truth. How’s that?
Because we all understand our reality as we understand it. Yes, based on the stories we are told about who we are, the stories we then create to fit these stories, and the conformations we get from those around us that codify our notions of the stories we know to be true about who we are.
And, that is creating our reality. One thought, belief, and perception at a time.
However, because language, and our interpretation of it, is so powerful, we can also use language to create a different reality, with different stories, beliefs, and perceptions. Yep, we can.
As with most things, first you need to be aware of the power of language. Check. Then, it is about learning to notice when you are creating a reality that consistently fits the story of who you think you are. If that is what you want for your reality. Awesome. Done. If not?
Once you are aware, and notice how you consistently continue to create a response to a stimulus that is in alignment with, let us say, limitation, you can begin to choose a different response.
A response that aligns with the reality you now want to create. A reality without limits. Powerful.
Phew, that was a lot. More than I expected in this one post. Yet, because language is so powerful, there is a lot more to write about. A lot more.
Yet we will leave that to a future post.
Language is powerful. We can use language to confirm all the things we think about ourselves, given to us by someone else, and continuously confirmed by ourselves and everyone around us. OR.
We can use language to disrupt that which we believe we know about ourselves, and use the power of language to create a whole new reality for ourselves. And, guess what?
Everytime someone chooses disruption over the status quo, everyone benefits. All of humanity does.
This week I’ve been thinking more about relationships in general, and also more about the ones in my life. Relationships are so important. I’ve written several posts about relationships, and the importance of all of our relationships. Even the ones we don’t typically consider, or think about often.
Well, let’s consider them all; and, what makes up a highly-effective relationship. Do you know?
I think deep down we all know, yet, we often get confused in our relationships. Swayed by commitment, personal ties, expectations, memories we have, and emotions we feel.
Sometimes, then, we stay in relationships, against our best interest. Yep. Most of you reading this know about that, as do I. Happens to us all.
Let’s then consider some of the keys to highly-effective relationships. A guide of sorts. Now, there are many keys to highly-effective relationships. Dependent on your standpoint, some of these may resonate with you more than others. Yet, I’m sure you will see yourself, or someone you know in some of these.
7 Keys to Highly Effective Relationships
Being in a relationship that is mutually reciprocal is important. Why? Because too often there are balance-issues in relationships. Meaning that one person is adding more value in the relationship than the other. What happens then?
When this happens, people can become resentful. This is especially true if the people in the relationship believe they must stay in the relationship at all costs. For some of you this might sound odd. Yet, believe me, people stay in relationships all the time that are not healthy, that are even toxic. Not helpful. Rather destructive.
The most effective relationships are those where there are clear distinctions between the two I’s that make up the relationship. In effect, in every relationship, there are three relationships. The one’s each individual has with themselves, and then the one they have together. 3 relationships.
And, all 3 of these relationships are important. When the relationship someone has with themselves is sacrificed for the partnered relationship, there is likely to be resentment, anger, and frustration. Again, not helpful.
When in a relationship we should support our partners growth and development. Too often, however, relationships are founded on a set of principles, ideas, and expectations, that prohibit, or at least mitigate growth and development.
When this happens, it means that the people in the relationship are, in effect, limiting themselves, and each other without knowing it. And, when one of the individuals in the relationship embarks on a developmental trajectory that upsets this previously created foundation, there can be pain and discomfort. Difficult.
Integrity is important in any highly-effective relationship. Integrity simply means doing what you say. Being your word. And, if you are out of integrity, to say so. You actively create a context, and conversation to let the people you are in relationship with know that you are out of integrity. That’s it.
It is important because humans are often out of integrity. Happens to us all. Think about a time you committed to be at a meeting, and you were late; or, committed to be at a restaurant at a certain time, yet were late. Two simple examples. And, they happen to us all.
Being out of integrity does not automatically mean that there is a problem or an issue; what it means is that there is a need to communicate about a change to the commitment that was made. Think of the two aforementioned examples, to continue to be “in integrity” a call about being late is all that is needed. Pretty simple, really.
How does it feel when you are inspired? Pretty good, right? Yep. Well, as I’ve written about in other posts, inspiration comes from within. It is our job to create inspiration; and, being in relationship with someone that lives an inspired life can create more inspiration.
If someone you are in relationship with is not living this way, it can lead to confusion, conflict, and possible resentment. Better to be clear about this from the outset.
Further, it doesn’t mean that you will both find the same things inspirational; maybe, yet not necessarily. Being with someone that leads an inspired life, is less about being mutually inspired by the same things, though that is possible. It is more about understanding what living an inspired life is about. Looking for ways to grow individually and together. Fun.
How important is communication in your life? Yep, pretty important. In fact, it is one of the most important keys to a highly-effective relationship. Why? Because when we are communicating, we are in a relationship; and, when we are not communicating, we are not in a relationship. Simple.
And, when I write communication, I am not talking about saying good morning, and good night. Or, even, how was your day. That’s not it. Communication means you are talking about your hopes and dreams, and having hard and difficult conversations about how to move them forward.
These conversations can be very difficult; yet, being in relationship with someone is not supposed to be easy. If your relationships are easy, chances are you are simply living each day as you did the previous one; and, this is not a judgement. I lived this way for most of my life, which is why I know the difference.
Being in relationship with someone, means being in communication with them. A must.
It is also important to be who you are. When we are in a relationship where we have to be someone other than who we are, think of performance, there will be a tendency for disagreement, unhealthy conflict, and resentment.
We all change over time, even if we are not interested in change. Change is a part of being human. When we are interested in change, we may change even more. Regardless, being in a relationship where you can be who you are, at whatever stage of development you are is important.
Being who you are doesn’t mean that you are always in agreement in your relationship. In fact, there may be disagreement often. It does, however, mean that you are supported, and advocated for. Important.
Know that there are many important aspects to highly-effective relationships. Yep, some of the ones you are thinking about did not make the list. Maybe they’ll make a future list. Don’t know.
What is more important is to know that the 7 in this post are important; and, if you’ve never considered one or more of them as important, you can now do so, if you choose. Your choice.
Now, how to put them into action? A few examples.
Putting the 7 Keys into Action in Your Life
Notice when your relationship is not reciprocal. When it is out of balance, ask why, first of yourself, and then of your partner. What can be done to create more balance? Again, first of yourself, and then of your partner. Asking these questions will create a context for open communication.
Create them, and talk about them. We all need our own time, away from all things and everyone. When you’ve created a boundary, you must talk about it, or else your partner will not know about it. And, when it is transgressed, by you, or your partner, get back on track and put the boundry back in place.
Openly communicate about the support you need. As often as needed. And, if you are not getting the support you need. First question yourself. Are you supporting yourself and your partners development? If you are, ask for that same support. If you are not, start there.
When you are out of integrity, talk about it. Openly communicate when things change, or get in the way. Don’t hide from it. And, if you do, make sure to talk about it at some point. Better to be open and openly communicate than hold something that is causing confusion or a possible misunderstanding.
Create inspiration for yourself, first, and always. Ask questions of your partner – what inspires them? How do they find their inspiration? And, what do they do with that inspiration? And, share your inspiration. Once known, inspiration can become something that is talked about often.
Create contexts for open communication often. Especially when a difficult conversation is needed. Hiding from a difficult conversation will only make it more difficult for everyone. Communicate openly and often.
Be who you are, in whatever iteration you are in. Remember, being in a relationship is a choice. A choice for you, and your partner. Sometimes, it will be best to leave the relationship than sacrifice your true self.
As you think about your relationships, always remember that we are in many relationships in our personal and professional lives. Some of these keys may resonate more with you from a professional perspective, and some more from a personal one.
Either way, if you feel stagnated in your relationship, try one of these keys. If not these, then try something new. For, it is in the trying and doing of something new that we can create the change we feel we need, yet are often unsure of how to achieve.
Why do you think people write? I’ve been thinking about this this past week, as my writing has increased, well, exponentially since the shelter-in-place order went into effect. And, now as States and Counties all across the United States start to reopen, I am wondering more about my own intention to write, and how it may or may not change in the coming weeks and months.
As we get busier doing things that we’ve not done in some time, we will all need to set our intention to continue to do those things we’ve picked back up again during the COVID-19 shelter-in-place orders were put into effect. For me, that will be continuing to write.
Writing is an outlet. It is an outlet for many things, such as creativity, innovation, passion, inspiration, and so much more. It is interesting to reflect upon my writing the past 10 years, most of which involved writing in school. Though I did not take the “traditional” path to and through higher education, without it, writing would not be as present for me as it is today.
Factually, I did take time away from writing, as, for a long time, I did not consider it an endeavor that would yield much for me. However, that was long ago. Today I realize that when I am writing about something that inspires me, or moves me in some way, the words are not hard to find.
There are many reasons people write, and have written for centuries, across all cultures and geographies. I believe most people write today, and wrote throughout history, to communicate their ideas to other people. Writing is no different than any other art form. When someone creates a painting, or a sculpture, or a piece of ceramic stoneware, they are communicating a passion for that medium that lives deep within them. Writing is the same.
Even the most simple writing is elegant. I love to read. It was not always that way. I did not grow up reading. It was not until I was in my 30’s that I picked up reading as a habit that would last until today, and will continue until I am no longer on this earth.
I’ve said many times that it is harder to write something simple, than it is to write something complex. It is difficult to write something in a very simple way, with less words communicating the same idea that it might take someone else many more words to convey.
Take the current book I’m working on. Lot’s of language, too complex, and yet, I will endeavor to continue writing that book. Anything less is not an option. Yet, in the editing phase, when I someday get there, I will take the time needed to simplify the complexities. Simpler is better. Yet, remember, simpler does not mean easier. In fact, often times it may mean it is harder to do.
I think people also write as a way to work through their inner selves. Digging deep within to get in touch with their humanity. Sometimes these people write for the masses, sometimes they write in their own personal journal. Know that either way, both are considered writing endeavors, and those that do them, are writers.
You do not need to be famous, and have sold millions of copies of a book, or books, to be considered a writer. If you write, you are a writer. Simple. Do not let anyone tell you different.