The Blog + Video Series #15 – The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

The Transformation Video Series

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.

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Photo by Fernando @cferdo on Unsplash

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.

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Photo by Sammie Vasquez on Unsplash

Alright, here, then is

The 4 C’s of Vulnerability: Why Vulnerability is Transformational

1. Connection

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?

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Photo by Callum Shaw on Unsplash

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.

2. Compassion

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.

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Photo by Matt Collamer on Unsplash

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.

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Photo by yulia pantiukhina on Unsplash

3. Courage

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.

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Photo by Toa Heftiba on Unsplash

4. Collaboration

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.

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Photo by Evie S. on Unsplash

Closing

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.

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Photo by Product School on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Edurne Chopeitia on Unsplash

#emotionalintelligence, #growth, #leadershipdevelopment, #selfdevelopment, #vulnerability, #vulnerabilityandcollaboration, #vulnerabilityandcomfortzone, #vulnerabilityandcompassion, #vulnerabilityandconnection, #vulnerabilityandcourage, #vulnerabilityandleadership, #vulnerabilityandresilience, #vulnerabilityandstrength

The Social Construction Series Part 3: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Your Identity as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life

Photo by Noah Buscher on Unsplash

Who are you, and what do you do? How much do you enjoy a typical exchange like this with another human being? Oh, hello, my name is, insert any name you like here, who are you; or, what do you do? Sound familiar?

We get these types of questions all the time. And, did you know that how you answer this question is, well, rather powerful? Why?

Because when we describe ourselves in language, we are, in effect, solidifying our identity as the person we are today.

Yet, what you may or may not know, or have only general cursory knowledge about, is that your identity, my identity, all identities are socially constructed.

Meaning that they are a product of socialization; they are productions caught in a particular time and place. Bound, if you will, in language to ideas we have about who we believe we are, about who we were told, and or are told we are.

Photo by Nadine Shaabana on Unsplash

Yet, because identities, like all things, are constructed in language, and are embedded in particular geographic, cultural, and societal contexts, they are not fixed. Again, they are not fixed.

They are, rather, fluid, and understanding this fact is important to everyone’s development, and, yes, to our lives as well. Why? Well, many reasons, however, for now, let’s take a look at

7 Reasons Why Understanding Your Identity as A Social Construction is Important to Your Life

  1. Empowered – when we understand that our identities, like all of life and the world, are socially constructed, we are immediately empowered. Empowered to let go of preconceived notions of who we were told we are, are told we are, or think we are. When we subscribe to a fixed identity, instead of one that is socially constructed, we are limited. And, limitation is stressful. However, when we subscribe to the idea that our identities are socially constructed, we are unlimited, able to create the identity and person we dream to be.
  2. Engaged – when we let go of our previously conceived ideas about who we are, we also let go of the types of people that we are “supposed” to engage with, be friends with, and partner with. Also limited. Yet, when we let go of those limitations, we free ourselves to engage with anyone that sparks our interest. Anyone.
  3. Unlimited – when we get clear on our identity, both the identity we were handed, and the one that we created around that identity, we break the limitations that were handed to us, and the ones that we’ve created for ourselves. The only limitations we have are the ones we continue to believe in and the ones we continue to create for ourselves.
  4. Reality – reality becomes more clear. We can see where social institutions, like the family, government, and educational system, have placed limitations on our lives. And, we can make choices to break free from these pre imposed limitations. How? By creating a new life, a new way to conceive of the human being we are today, and the one that we want to become.
  5. Freed – when we can clearly see the limitations we’ve been living within, bound by stories we have about who we are as a human being, we can make different choices. Make different choices to free ourselves from those stories. When we are free from these stories, we can act in new ways, and become new. Seriously. We become a new iteration of the human being we’ve always been, living free from the constraints we were given, or created.
  6. Energized – when we let go of the ideas we have about who we are, we can create a more energized life. A life that is present to all that we have, and want to create. In this kind of life, you will be more often tired, yet, overall, you will have more energy, and feel more regularly energized.
  7. Loved – when we realize that we are not the human being someone has always told us we must be, we are free to love ourselves for the human being we are right now, and the human being we are going to become. And, guess what? When we begin to love ourselves more deeply, we can love others more deeply. We get deeper connections with those we choose to have in our lives. Pretty special.
Photo by Allef Vinicius on Unsplash

Phew, that went quick. Obviously, there are many more to add to this list, yet those are some of the most powerful reasons why understanding that your identity is socially constructed is important to your life.

You may be asking, okay, now what?

Well, you can, right now, begin to get clear on the fact that everything you know to be true about the world has been handed to you.

Handed to you by the various social institutions that make up any society or culture, such as parents, educators, friends, churches, healthcare, and the government, to name a few.

When we understand that all knowledge, thus all identities, are socially constructed, we have the power to let go, and create, learn, and recreate.

Let go of ideas and concepts that don’t help move us forward as human beings, and create, learn, and recreate new ideas and concepts that do move us forward as human beings. Fun.

Hard work? Yep, for sure.

Letting go of ideas and concepts we’ve held onto for years is extremely difficult. Yet, know that the reason it is so hard is that we, as humans, like habit, like patterns. We are comfortable with the known.

And, what we know, is how we think, and then act. Yet, when we act from a space of outdated ideas and concepts that no longer serve us, it is time to let go. And, guess what?

Though it is difficult, it does get easier. And, after time, you will wonder why you hadn’t made the choice to let go of those stories, ideas, and concepts much earlier.

No time like the present.

#development, #empowermentandidentity, #energizedandidentity, #engagedandidentity, #freedandidentity, #growth, #identities, #identity, #lovedandidentity, #realityandidentity, #selfdevelopment, #selfimprovement, #socialconstruction, #thesocialconstructionofidentity, #unlimitedandidentity

3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Building Relationships

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Photo by Liz Weddon on Unsplash

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.

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Photo by Mike Clark on Unsplash

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.

In the post, 3 Reasons Why Creating Alignment With Your Why Is Important; And, 3 Simple Steps to Create Your Why, I walk through three simple steps you can take to create your why. If you’ve not created one, create one; if you have one, maybe take a look at it again. Why?

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.

Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

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.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

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.

Photo by William White on Unsplash

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.

Pinterest

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.

Why do you do what you do?

#buildingrelationships, #creatingapersonalmissionstatement, #creatingconnection, #creatingdeeperconnectionswithothers, #creatingdeeperconnectionswithourselves, #creatingrelationships, #creatingyourwhy, #developinghighqualityrelationships, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #emotionalintelligence, #growth, #highly-effective-relationships, #highqualityrelationships, #huamndevelopment, #personalmissionstatement, #relationship-conversations, #relationship-development, #relationships, #relationshipsystems, #selfdevelopment, #transformational-relationships, #understandingrelationships, #workrelationships

10 Reasons Why Asking Questions is Important to Your Development

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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

Goal Cast

And this one.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates

Goal Cast

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.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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.

  1. Learning
    1. 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.
  2. Knowledge
    1. 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.
  3. Clarity
    1. 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.
  4. Collaboration
    1. 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.
  5. Strategy
    1. 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.
  6. Innovation
    1. 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.
  7. Vulnerability
    1. 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.
  8. Leadership
    1. 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.
  9. Trust
    1. 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.
  10. Relationships
    1. 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.
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

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.

Photo by qinghill on Unsplash

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.

#clarity, #collaboration, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #growth, #growthanddevelopment, #growthmindset, #innovation, #knowing, #knowledge, #known, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #learning, #questionsandstrategy, #questionsarestrategy, #relationships, #socrates, #socratesandknowledge, #strategy, #trust, #unknown, #vulnerability

Storytellers and Meaning-Makers Part 1: 5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Current Reality

Photo by Melanie Deziel on StoryFuel.co

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.

Example? Okay. 

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.

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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.

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5 Ways to Create More Power Over Your Reality

  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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. 
  4. 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.
  5. 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.

Be well. Choose well.

#connectingdispirateevents, #covid-19, #creatingmorepoweroveryourreality, #creatingpower, #developingnarratives, #development, #faultythinking, #growth, #growthmindset, #humandevelopment, #institutionalracism, #makingmeaning, #meaningmaking, #mindfulness, #psychology, #reality, #selfdevelopment, #stories, #storytelling, #systematicracism, #thepowerofchoice, #wildfires

3 Reasons Why Creating Alignment With Your Why Is Important; And, 3 Simple Steps to Create Your Why

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Have you ever thought about why you do what you do? Maybe you already know, and maybe not. Either way, know that knowing why you do what you do is very important.

You can think about your why as the part of you that drives you to be the person you are today. It is something emotional, not intellectual. It lives deep within us, gives us our sense of purpose, and it also gives people that we know the knowing of who we are as human beings.

Here is a great Ted Talk by Simon Sinek about why your why is so important.

Simon Sinek

Though Simon’s Ted Talk is framed as a leadership principle, it’s applicable to all human beings. To anyone interested in connecting with other human beings on a deeper level.

As I was thinking more about my why this past week, it occured to me that creating alignment with our why, connecting it to those we know, teams we lead or work on, organizations we work within, and communities we belong to is also very important. Why?

There are three main reasons.

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1. Connection

When we connect our why to those closest to us, we create and have a deeper connection with them. We are able to better understand their why through the connection we see in our why.

And, the converse is also true. People can better understand our why through the connection they see in their why. And, this holds true even if they don’t know their why, or we don’t know ours. Really.

Further, we can also deepen our connections with people that know us very little by creating alignment with our why. Why? Because inside our why, they can see aspects of themselves. Really. Think about a time when you were moved emotionally. What happened?

Chances are you felt a deep connection with the person, company, movie, insert here whatever you were engaging with. When we are moved deeply, we can see aspects of ourselves in that which we are engaging with. Powerful.

Photo by Adam Winger on Unsplash

2. Relatability

Creating alignment with our why creates more relatability with those closest to us. And, when we connect our why through all of our relationships, the relatability connects us on a deeper level to everyone in our lives, including our teams, organizations, and community.

We instantly become more relatable as a human being. Again, this is so because people can see aspects of their own humanity in your why, or your story.

These deep connections keep us coming back for more. Really. Think about all the people in your life. Think about their why, even those that are unspoken, or unrealized. What do you see? Still thinking? That’s okay. Here is what I see.

I see that we are pulled closer to those we can relate to and understand. We are also pulled closer to those that move us, inspire us, and touch us in some way. Why’s are powerful.

Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

3. Purpose

Simply, when we create alignment with our why through all of our relationships, our connection is deeper, there is more relativity and relatability, and we also create alignment with our purpose, or vision.

When you share your why with others, and intentionally create alignment with your why, you create a very special context. A context that welcomes a shared vision of a future that you are creating together. Whether that is within a relationship, a team, an organization, or a community. It works the same way.

Working within a vision is a much different experience than working without one. Truly. Visions are powerful. Visions are created from why’s.

3 Simple Steps to Create Your Why

If you’ve already created your why, awesome. If not, create one. It’s not difficult. Really. How, you ask? Here are 3 simple steps you can follow to create your why.

  1. Write down why you do what you do.
    1. Now, I’m not talking about pay, benefits, or some other intellectual reason why you do what you do. I’m talking about your emotional-self. The part of you that is inspired to create change in the world. Now, with this frame, answer why do you do what you do, and write down all the ideas that come into your head and heart. All of them
  2. Pick your top 3 reasons from the list
    1. Pick your tops 3 reasons from the list that resonate most with you. You know, the ones that send tingles up your arms and through your body. The ones that make you smile really big, giggle even, as you think about creating that outcome, or result. Yep, that’s it. Those are the ones.
  3. Create your why statement
    1. Now take those three reasons and fashion a statement. Sometimes it will be a single sentence, sometimes it will be a paragraph. Depends. There are no rules here, except that it needs to move you, inspire you, touch you in some way. If it does, it will move, touch, and inspire others. Trust me.

There you go, nice work.

Alright, that’s 3 reasons why creating alignment with your why is important; and, 3 simple steps to creating your why. Pretty simply, yet very powerful.

Next time we will take a look at 5 simple steps you can take to create alignment with your why.

Until then, keep creating. Creating your why, aligning your why with other why’s, and keep inspiring others to do the same.

#businessalignment, #creatingalignmentinyourwhy, #creatingconnection, #creatinginspiration, #creatingpurpose, #creatingrelatability, #creatingvision, #creatingyourstory, #creatingyourwhy, #development, #growth, #humanconnection, #humandevelopment, #inspirational, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #organizationalalignment, #selfdevelopment, #simonsinek, #teamalignment, #vision

Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction

The Transformation Video Series #1

#creatingchange, #development, #developmentalgrowth, #growing, #growth, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #leadershipprinciples, #personaldevelopment, #professionaldevelopment, #teamdevelopment, #transformation, #transformationalgrowth

Coping With Our Emotions: Why Hope And Despair Are Two Sides of The Same Coin

Photo by Ron Smith on Unsplash

Have you ever considered hope and despair at the same time? Hm. I’m not sure that I have. I would like to. Thoughts? Well, let’s do a cursory look, and see what we get.

In 4 Reasons Why Language Is Power, I wrote about the power of language. We don’t typically consider the power that lives inside the language we use. It is very important. It shapes experiences, expectations, and trajectories that we set our lives on.

Similarly, in The Social Construction Series Part 1: 7 Reasons Why Understanding Social Constructions Is Important, I wrote about the importance of understanding that all things are socially constructed. All of them. Hence, this post is also a social construction.

Yet, knowing this frees us from the fetter of worrying about attaching ourselves to social constructions, or concepts that we agree with or disagree with.

Alright, let’s define our key terms.

hope

Pronunciation /hōp/ /hoʊp/ 

Translate hope into Spanish

NOUN

  • A feeling of expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen.‘he looked through her belongings in the hope of coming across some information’

despair

Pronunciation /dəˈsper/ /dəˈspɛr/ 

Translate despair into Spanish

NOUN

  • The complete loss or absence of hope.

Well, look at that. Hope is defined as a feeling of expectation and desire about a result. Hm. Interesting. And, despair is defined as the lack of hope, or lack of such a feeling of expectation and desire about a result. Mm, this will be fun.

Photo by Stephen Leonardi on Unsplash

Expectations and desires for a certain [result] thing to happen

If hope is, at least as it is defined here, associated with an expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen, when we hope we are essentially concentrating on a result.

And, if that result doesn’t occur? Then we may fall into despair, which is the lack of the expectation and desire for a certain thing to happen. The issue?

We cannot have hope without despair. They go together. If you can feel hope, then it is equally possible to feel despair. Not a problem. Important, however, to understand. Why?

Often, people get upset or frustrated when in despair. Yet, as we can see from the language itself, it is only natural. If you subscribe to the feeling of hope, then you will sometimes feel despair. And, vice versa.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

Another way to look at hope and despair

Another way to think about hope and despair is as two sides of the same coin. The world is full of these opposites. Sad and happy, life and death, and so on. For the world to occur as it does, they are needed.

Yet, we can create more power over these concepts by understanding that they always occur together. Meaning that if you are sometimes hopeful, you will sometimes feel despair. It is a must.

When we understand this as true, we can shift our thinking, and mindset to incorporate this apparent paradox with a new understanding.

The new understanding is that these concepts are one. Think about the coin analogy I’ve used in this post. A coin is one thing, yes? Yet, it has two distinct sides; head and tales. Hope and despair are the same. As are all pairs of opposites.

Photo by Simon on Unsplash

When do we run into trouble with these concepts?

When we expect hope, for instance, to show up more than despair. Why? Because then when despair shows up, we get down, frustrated, maybe even angry. Not helpful.

By accepting that despair is a part of hope, as sadness is a part of happiness, we increase our awareness about the fact that despair will come; and, guess what?

When it does, it’s okay. It’s normal to feel despair sometimes. Just as it’s normal to feel sad sometimes. If you never feel sad, or despair, then happiness and hope will elude you. True.

It is also important to welcome despair as much as you welcome hope. Why? Because when we resist feeling despair, we avoid it. And, when we avoid things, we actually attract more of those concepts into our life.

Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash

I avoided sadness for such a long time, that I was often sad. Really. Did I look sad all the time? No. It was internal. Yet, believe me, it was there. As was despair.

Yet, when you openly accept that all feelings happen, you create a space to be with them when they come. No judgment. Being in despair or sad doesn’t mean anything.

You are not having “issues” because you sometimes feel despair. Funny how we create language around “negative” emotions and associate them with problems. Not helpful. In fact, detrimental, and untrue.

What can you do?

When you are hopeful, notice. And, be hopeful. Be just as you are in those wonderful moments of hope. Or, happiness, joy, or elation.

And, when you are in despair, notice. And, be in despair. Be just as you are in those wonderful moments of having despair. Or, sadness, melancholy, or misery.

Our emotions come and go. It is important to expect them all to show up. All of them. And, to welcome them all. When we welcome them all, they stop having power over us.

In that moment of acceptance, we create a space to be with our emotions in a completely new way. Free of judgement and created meaning that one emotion is better, or should be more expected than another.

Remember that our emotions just are, and that hope and despair are two sides of the same coin. Just like the heads and tales of a coin, hope and despair are one.

#copingwithemotions, #despair, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #dualism, #emotional-development, #emotional-intelligence, #emotional-self, #emotions, #emotionsareone, #growth, #hopanddespair, #hope, #leadership, #leadershipconcepts, #leadershipdevelopment, #personaldevelopment, #personaltransformation, #selfdevelopment

From Confusion to Clarity Part 0: Change As A System of Related Parts

August 16, 2020

It occured to me after writing, From Confusion to Clarity Part 1: From Confusion to Clarity in 5 Simple Steps, that there was a need to create a post about the context of change. How and why change occurs, prior to thinking about the distinction between developmental growth and transformation.

I created the above video for this purpose. Let’s also discuss it here for a few moments.

A system of change?

Change is actually a rather ordered system. Meaning that it always occurs, and in a similar manner, no matter how small or large. Important to remember that even when we don’t notice, change is always happening. Always. Alright, let’s take a look at this system.

Here are the four parts.

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Photo by Yan Ots on Unsplash

1. Order

We live, work, and love, and we do so in an ordered system. Yes? Meaning that we order our world. It’s different for everyone, yet everyone has some sort of way they order their lives. Even if we don’t write out our goals, objectives, and priorities, we have them, and know them. At home and at work.

We believe that how we order our lives is unchanging. Solid. Stable. Then what?

Something Changes

Most recently, COVID-19. Massive amounts of change. Changing all that we thought we previously knew about our ordered lives. At home and at work.

Creating a necessity to pivot businesses, and create new goals, objectives, and priorities. Yes, in business, and yes, at home. Both. Personally and professional, we’ve all been affected.

When this happens we all go into disorder. With the scale of change that COVID-19 created, the whole world went into disorder.

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Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

2. Disorder

In disorder, we are trying to understand what is happening. Confused, worried, fearful, yes. And, at the same time, we are in survival mode. What can we do? How can we do it?

Moving anything and everything forward that we can. Personally creating new ways to shop, to exercise, to socialize. Professional, creating new business models in our new reality. Everything delivered remotely. New engagement methods, new financial models, new everything. Right? Phew.

And then?

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Photo by Edgar Chaparro on Unsplash

3. Reorder

Professionally, we begin to once again create longer term goals, objectives, and priorities. Sometimes going out a year, and working backwards to priorities for the next quarter, then the month, and then the day. Beginning to create a sense of order once again.

Personally, we also begin to think about longer term goals. Creating new ways to think about living inside of our new reality. What’s possible? How can we create it?

Then?

4. Order

We have a new order. Phew. Lot’s of work. And inside of this new order, we continue to move forward. Creating, moving, creating, moving, creating, moving. Again, and again. Life.

Something Changes

Of course inside of this new ordered system, we must keep in mind that it is inevitable that another change will occur. It has to. It’s part of the system we call life.

And, what happens when that change occurs. The cycle starts all over again. Really, it does. Here.

  1. Order
    1. Change
  2. Disorder
  3. Reorder
  4. Order
    1. Change
  5. Order

And so on.

Another thing to note is that even the most subtle changes cause this system to move. It is always moving. We may not notice it, yet it is there. In the background it is always functioning.

Usually, it takes larger changes for us to notice.

Alright, that’s thinking about change as a system, which I think will be helpful in engaging with the aforementioned post on developmental growth and transformation.

Be well. Love well. Live well.

#change, #confusiontoclarity, #covid-19, #creatingnewpossibilities, #decreasingconfusion, #development, #disorder, #fromconfusiontoclarity, #growth, #increasingclarity, #livingunlimitedlives, #mindulness, #order, #orderedsystems, #reorder, #selfdevelopment, #systemofchange, #systemsofchange

A Blogger’s Diary 8/15/20: 4 Months In

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Four months in, almost 100 blogs, and SO MUCH learning. Phew. What a ride. I’ve loved every minute of it. Every minute. What have I been up to lately? Hm.

Well, like most of you, writing, creating new ways to engage, and learning a lot about myself along the way. A lot.

I’ve finally made the decision to merge my two sites into one. It will take some time, yet it is time. My oldest son, Justin, will be assisting. Fun. So funny. When I started blogging in April, I created 5 websites. Phew. That was a lot.

Since that time, I have whittled them down to two. And, now there has been a natural confluence of the two sites. I am really excited about merging them in the coming weeks. It will help me focus, and I think it will be much more efficient.

This past week, I’ve been reflecting a lot about transformation. I’ll be doing a new blog series, actually it started today with, Developmental Growth and Transformation: A Distinction, and a new video series over the next several weeks.

Photo by Max Felner on Unsplash

The series will cover, change agents versus the status quo, integrity, vulnerability, communication, and a couple of other topics. I am also working on a new series on sociology called the social constructionism series.

Super excited about both of these series. I think they are very pertinent right now, and I hope you all get something from them. I know I will get many things from reflecting upon them and writing them. 🙂

And, here are a couple other blog topics I am currently working on.

  • The illusion of control
  • Confusion to clarity: order, disorder, reorder, order
  • Why letting go is so hard

Work? Busy. I’ve been working more on my social media presence, especially on LinkedIn. If you’ve not connected with me, and would like to, please do. You can find me here.

Photo by Kelli Tungay on Unsplash

We are almost ready to launch fall classes. We will have over 120 remote community education classes on offer. Pretty amazing. If you’ve never taken a remote community education class, and would like to, you can email me at fleschj@linnbenton.edu. Registration opens on 8/31.

Personal? Spending time working on me. Like many of you, I would like desperately to be with other people right now, yet know that is not helpful, or necessary. So, I am spending my time writing, reading, watching a show here and there, meditating, and going for walks and hikes while the weather is so nice.

Because the theme of the next couple of weeks is about transformation and the social construction of life, here are a couple quotes on these two topics.

“Yes, your transformation will be hard. Yes, you will feel frightened, messed up and knocked down. Yes, you’ll want to stop. Yes, it’s the best work you’ll ever do.” -Robin Sharma

Awakenthegreatnesswithin

“Transformation isn’t sweet and bright. It’s a dark and murky, painful pushing. An unraveling of the untruths you’ve carried in your body. A practice in facing your own created demons. A complete uprooting, before becoming.” -Victoria Erickson

Awakenthegreatnesswithin

“Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As man externalizes himself, he constructs the world into which he externalizes himself. In the process of externalization, he projects his own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.80 b.”
― Peter L. Berger, The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge

Goodreads.com

Forgive the highly gendered language in the last quote. It was written a long time ago. Actually, let’s write it again, with more appropriate language. Here we go.

Human existence is, ab initio, an ongoing externalization. As [humans] externalize [themselves], [they] construct the world into which [they] externalize [themselves]. In the process of externalization, [they] project [their] own meanings into reality. Symbolic universes, which proclaim that all reality is humanly meaningful and call upon the entire cosmos to signify the validity of human existence, constitute the farthest reaches of this projection.” (Berger, 1966.)

Alright, that’s it for this entry. I hope that you are all doing well, living well, loving well, creating well, and developing well.

Citation

Berger, Peter L, and Thomas Luckmann. The Social Construction of Reality: A Treatise in the Sociology of Knowledge. , 1967. Print.

#blog, #blogging, #confusiontoclarity, #development, #diary, #growth, #illusionofcontrol, #lettinggo, #linkedin, #socialconstruction, #socialconstructionism, #transformation