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.
A 3-Minute Reflection on Being Alive and Experiencing Aliveness
It’s interesting to title a post as a reflection series, as every post and/or article that I write is a reflection. Really. All of them. A reflection of myself and the world. Yep. And?
Well, I wanted a place to create a similar dialogue, conversation, and discussion with you in a shorter format. Yes, yes, it’s true. I do tend to write, and write, and sometimes, even write more. My challenge, then? Good question.
My challenge in this series will be to connect with you similarly , yet to do so in under 3-minutes. The next question? Yep, that’s it. Can he do it?
Don’t know. Yet, I do know that I’ll have fun finding out. Ready? Alright, here we go.
A 3-Minute Reflection on Alive and Aliveness
What does being alive really mean? I mean, really? Have you ever pondered what it means to be alive, to know your alive, to really feel alive, and the resulting aliveness, if you will? Hm.
As you reflect upon those questions, let’s take a look at what I see.
When I was growing up, being alive simply meant not being dead. Really. You were alive, that’s all. You breathed in and out, and you did this or that, whatever this or that was, and you lived your life. Yep.
Yet, as I’ve aged, and developed, I’ve come to think about being alive differently. Being alive, or experiencing aliveness, is different from simply accepting, passively, that you are alive, as in my aforementioned example.
Aliveness, for me, is an active activity. Yep, I did just use active and activity back to back.
Right, so being alive is about feeling, loving, working, being, and doing, and doing so intentionally. Creating our intention to live the fullest life possible, whatever that looks like to you, or me, or anyone for that matter.
There is an important distinction here. Let’s spell it out more clearly.
Passively alive – reality happens to me.
Active aliveness – I create my reality.
A very important distinction. Why?
Because when we believe that reality happens to us, our locus of control, stay with me, is pointed outward; whereas, when we believe that we create our reality, or locus of control is pointed inward. Very important distinction.
Locus of control? Yep, here we go.
People with internal locus of control tend to expect reinforcements (1) to be the consequences of their own efforts or behavior, whereas people with external locus of control expect them to be the consequences of chance, luck, fate, or the actions of powerful others.
Basically, locus of control is how we think about the world, and our place in it. Do we believe that we create our life, or is the creation of our life in the hands of someone else.
Now, there are two more important distinctions here. Ready? Here we go.
Locus of control is not a binary – meaning that how people view their reality, and the creation of it, lives on a continuum.
Locus of control is psychological and also philosophical – we will look at the former in this post, and, maybe, the latter in a later one.
Now, when we believe that we create our reality, that our actions cause change in the world, change for us, and change for others; we have an internal locus of control. And?
And, if we regularly act on this internal locus of control, creating the life we want to live, one action at a time, we will experience more aliveness.
More feeling, more joy, more of, well, everything; and, this moreness in this example, if you will, does also include sadness. Why?
Because we are living more, doing more, creating more, risking more, loving more. Well, doing everything more, so it does follow that we will experience more joy, and also more sadness. It works that way.
Yet, we need not think about experiencing more sadness as a problem or an issue. It’s not. It is beautiful, because we are creating and living out our own authentic life. Fun.
Remembering that we are the creators of our experience, and, thus, our life.
We create our life, feel our life, and live our life via our intention. An intention about the aliveness we want to experience, which we create in every moment of every day. Now, and, now, and now. Just like that.
Why Care, Compassion, and Accountability Are Engaging
I’m always reflecting upon service. It’s always been a big part of my life. I started out in the “service industry” at 16, and never, really, ever looked back.
What I’ve been reflecting upon even more recently, is just how important service is in, well, everything we do. It’s not just about the work we do, in the professional sense.
It’s more about all of the work we do. All of it. And, it starts with each of us, and how we take care of and, in effect, serve ourselves. Really.
I was telling a colleague of mine today, as they prepared to train a group of local leadership, that in order to hold other people accountable, we must first hold ourselves accountable. It’s how it works.
Something this colleague knows very well indeed.
And, as was aforementioned, service is no exception to this rule. In order to serve others, we must first learn to serve ourselves.
We are all looking for places to serve. Places where we can make a difference, where we can be a part of something larger than ourselves. A paradox? Yep.
Because in order to be a part of something larger than yourself, you must first be in touch with yourself, know yourself, treat yourself with love and kindness, and hold yourself accountable to a standard.
A standard that is engaged with and committed to creating and effecting change. Changing that which we know, the status quo, with something, well, quite different.
Within this possibility, there are innumerable opportunities to serve. Fun.
The basic tenant of servant leadership is that service is paramount to leadership as a philosophy and a practice. Both.
That to lead, we must lead from a perspective that fully understands that nothing happens without the entire team; and, that, it is because of each team members contribution to the team that movement and traction are even possible.
Servant leadership upends the traditional leadership hierarchy, putting the needs of front-line workers first. Important.
And, as we’ve already discussed, servant leadership is, both conceptually and practically, a leadership style that works for all aspects of life.
When we take care of ourselves and lead from within, we can then take care of others and lead from without. If not, well, true leadership of any kind is impossible.
Sometimes there is confusion about servant leadership.
Meaning that people sometimes connect servant leadership to a laissez faire type context. And, servant leadership both conceptually and practically is far from that type of context.
In fact, a servant leadership context will often be full of standards and expectations that are higher than other leadership contexts. Yep. Common. Why?
Well, inside of serving, as was aforementioned, is the need to create change. Creating new possibilities, new ways of communicating, new ways of, well, doing most things.
When you create a context that is committed to changing the status quo, no matter how small or large that change is, there have to be higher standards and expectations.
And, in some cases, the highest standard must be demanded. Why?
Because there is so much more to accomplish. That’s it really. More work, more movement, more traction, more change. Amazing.
And, where there is change and innovation of this magnitude, there must be great care, compassion, and accountability, both for the self, the team, and the organization. And, yep, for the nation, and the world too.
What is engagement, really? When you think about that word, what do you see, or think about? Hm.
For me, I think about contexts that are brimming with challenges and difficulties, yep, and celebrations. Why?
Because when you are truly engaged with yourself, and the people around you, you will experience both. You have to.
Being engaged, is living a full life, and the giving out of that life to everyone around you. It is extremely fun and rewarding and, yep, also difficult.
All service, regardless of the context, professional or personal, requires determination, persistence, and resilience. Oh, and great care. Yep.
When you are engaged, you care. Simple. Oftentimes, people get confused and think that when things are difficult that there is a problem. A paradox? Yep.
When things are difficult, you are engaged, you are doing, and you are creating. No problem here.
When are there problems?
Well, if you subscribe to notions of problems, then the only time there are real problems is when there is disengagement. Where things are easy, moving simply, no speed bumps. Why?
Because, if there are no issues, nothing to overcome, then, nothing is really happening. Yep.
Now, that’s not really a problem either. Not really.
It’s only a problem if you are looking to be engaged. I always know when I am most engaged at work or in my life. How?
Because there is always, and I mean always, something to celebrate, and something to overcome. A challenge, always.
These engaging contexts also require, as was aforementioned, great care. Really. Why?
Because when you are fully engaged, and are working through issues that arise, care about all things and everyone, yourself, and all those around you, is always there.
And, that is because you are going through something.
You are developing, iterating, and, yep, in some cases, even transforming. Beautiful.
Because a servant leadership context is a highly engaging one, where people will bring their all every day, compassion is also required.
Compassion for yourself, for how very, very hard it is sometimes, and for those around you. Sometimes, people will decide it’s just too much, and that is okay.
There was a time when I desperately wanted everyone to stay. And, I would coach people endlessly to this end. No pun intended.
Yet, a servant leadership context is not what everyone is looking for, and that is also okay. Knowing this releases you and everyone else from an obligation that truly doesn’t exist.
And, practicing compassion is what that looks like. Understanding that people will leave. And, guess what?
It’s better for them to do so.
Better to find a context that suits them more, feels better to them, and will in the long run be much more beneficial for them. Important.
One of the most paradoxical aspects of servant leadership is in the area of accountability. And, there was a time where accountability within a servant leadership paradigm also confused me.
The bottom line?
Accountability matters. People actually want to be held accountable to a higher standard. Knowing that their work and service, whatever it is, is making a change in the world.
Again, no matter how small or large that change is, matters much less, than that people get to participate in something that, yes, inspires them, and, even more importantly, actively creates change in the world. Fun.
It is a ton of work. Yep. Yet, who ever said that life was supposed to be easy?
I know. That is such a cliche, and yet it does work here.
Think about any change, nay, think about some of the largest institutional and cultural changes of all time. Now, answer this question.
Were they easy?
Nope, not a single one. They are not supposed to be. Therefore, having a high standard and instituting accountability is not only needed, it is also positively reinforcing the servant leadership context that has been created. How?
Because serving yourself, setting the highest standard for yourself that you can, means that you will also set that same standard for the people around you. And?
They will rise to meet it, just as you are.
For more on Servant Leadership check out these resources.
Okay, honesty and morality, such as right and wrong and good and bad. Hm. I’m not the biggest fan of right and wrong and good and bad. Why?
Because, good and bad and right and wrong, like happiness and sadness go together. Meaning?
That you cannot have goodness without badness, nor can you have rightness without having wrongness. Striving, then, for such concepts, such as being right and good, is folly, and can cause pain and suffering.
We are all going to be both bad and good, and wrong and right sometimes. Inevitable. Hm.
Let’s try something different.
How about we think about integrity as whole and complete. Here is the next part of the definition from Oxford.
Well, a state of being whole and complete, or undivided, increases the workability inside of the concept of integrity.
It takes away the judgment that can be found, and cast in the previous portion of the definition focused on good and bad, and right and wrong. Yep.
Therefore, if we think about integrity as being whole and complete, and a matter of that which is said, or our word, integrity stays within us; an, internal concept, if you will.
Here you go.
“We distinguish integrity as a phenomenon of the objective state or condition of an object, system, person, group, or organizational entity, and define integrity as: a state or condition of being whole, complete, unbroken, unimpaired, sound, perfect condition.” Werner Erhard
When we start the conversation about integrity as an understanding that we are all just as we are supposed to be, today, right now, just so. We start from a place of understanding, not judgment. Important.
Further, adding our word as the highest state of integrity, there is always workability. How? Simple. Communication.
Meaning, that if we are going to be out of integrity, we simply communicate this fact. Sounds simple, yes?
Well, many people struggle with this concept. Really. Think about how many times someone said they were going to do something, and they didn’t.
And, then think about how often they communicated to you they weren’t going to do it. Yep. Happens all the time. To me, to you, to everyone.
And, this is not a judgment. It just is. We are still whole and complete, regardless. We all are. Having integrity within this conversation means creating an intention to do as you say, and when you can’t or choose not to, to communicate about it. That’s all.
Why does this conception of integrity work?
Here are three reasons why.
1. Release Right and Wrong
When we know that we are whole and complete, just as we are, right now, in this moment, we can release notions of right and wrong. Integrity in this conception is not about being right or being wrong.
It’s about being our word, and when we are unable to do something we said we would, we simply communicate about it. That’s it.
Releasing right and wrong from our notions of integrity decreases stress and anxiety about trying to live up to an ideal that no human can really live up to, and need not try.
2. Let Go of Good and Bad and Right and Wrong
Being whole and complete also means that we can let go of ideas we have about being good and right, or being bad and wrong.
Integrity in this conversation has nothing to do with ideas of good and bad, or right and wrong, which is helpful. As was aforementioned, we are all “good and right” and “bad and wrong” sometimes.
Letting go of being good and bad, and right and wrong also reduces stress we might feel about trying to be something other than we are right now; and, may also reduce stress-associated anxiety that we may feel striving for conceptions of integrity that are impossible to fulfill.
3. Accept the Reality of Integrity
We are all out of integrity sometimes. Everyone says they’ll do something, and then is unable to follow through for some reason. Remember, integrity is not about being perfect, nor is it about being right and being good.
It’s about doing what we say, and then if we are unable, communicating about it.
Understanding and practicing integrity this way also reduces stress and anxiety people have about trying to live up to a perfect ideal of integrity that does not actually exist.
You are already a perfect human being, just as you are. Really. The iteration of you that you are today is exactly who you are supposed to be. How do I know that? Well, because that is the iteration you are today.
It is not the iteration that will exist tomorrow, nor in the next moment. It works that way.
You are whole and complete just as you are. And, your word is all the integrity you need. Chasing after other conceptions of integrity, such as being right and good is a never ending merry-go-round that will only ever leave you dizzy, stressed, and anxious.
In the first installment of the Social Construction Series, we discussed why understanding social constructionism is important to our daily lives. How we interpret our world, think and feel about it; choices we make, and practices we keep, or let go of. Important.
In the second installment, we discussed the importance of understanding that all knowledge is socially constructed. All of it. And, how the production, distribution, and access, or lack thereof, to knowledge affects our lives. Also important.
In the third installment, we discussed the importance of understanding that our identities, every part of them, are also socially constructed. Giving us power and the freedom to create our identity as we want it to be, not as someone has said it should be.
In this fourth installment, we will discuss the social construction of reality; and, why considering a different way to think about reality as important to our lives, to your life. Important to the human being you are today, and the human being you want to be tomorrow. Ready? Let’s go.
Well, what exactly is reality? How does it function, and why do we understand our world as the reality it is? Hm. Let’s define reality, shall we. Here we go.
Reality is a true, or factual account of a situation inherent with problems that exist in contrast to what you’d like your reality to be. Hm. Not sure about these definitions. How about you? Let’s look at a different way to think about reality.
Here you go.
“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,
Alright, so what do you read here? Okay. Well, let me tell you what I read.
That reality, all reality, is a projection of what it is that we think it is. That’s about it.
Reality is about a created truth, our factual account, of a situation inherent with problems, and possibilities, that is seen to exist.
And, who prey, creates it and sees it? Well, you do, I do.
Our realities, however, are different. Your reality is not the same as mine, which is why having general statements, as in the aforementioned definitions from Oxford, are problematic. They’re not inclusive enough, and leave people wanting, and, in some cases, confused.
Right, well, what then?
Let’s take a look at 5 reasons why understanding the social construction of reality as a fluid representation of a world, nay many worlds (over 7 billion in fact), is important to your life. Ready? Here we go.
A Fluid Representation of Many Worlds
If we begin to consider reality as fluid, always shifting and moving, we release ourselves from the false notion that reality is in some way a static, or solid, representation of that which we see. Make sense?
Reality is influenced by several key factors. Here are a few.
Our current state of mind
Our emotional state
Our present situation
Complex, yet simple. Another fun paradox.
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
1. Our current state of mind
What we believe, we see. Yep. True. If we believe the world is full of bad people with hidden agendas, guess what we’ll see? Yep. A world full of bad people with hidden agendas.
Conversely, if we believe the world is full of good people with noble intentions, yes, that is what we will see.
Now, the world is not binary.
The world is full of both, that which we will find good and that which we will find bad. The point is that, what we expect to see, is what we will see; and, that then becomes our reality.
2. Our emotional state
Our emotions, like our mind, are powerful. How we feel, especially if we are sensitive to our emotions, like I am, influences how we see the world.
If we feel hopeful, we will see hope. If we feel despair, yep, we will see despair. It works that way. Again, complex, and yet quite simple.
Of course, we know that we have many emotions within us, and they come and go like waves in the ocean. Here, then gone, here again, then gone again.
The point is when we are unaware of our emotional state, we are not aware of how our emotions are influencing our perception of reality.
3. Our past
When we focus on our past, especially when that past is full of things we label as a problem, we can literally bring those problems into our present reality. Really.
If we are focusing more on what happened yesterday, than the present context, we are creating a disruption in the reality right in front of us, and, in effect, replacing that reality with an alternative version from a past time.
However, when we are aware that our minds work this way, we can catch ourselves living in the past, and shift our attention back to the present moment, and let go of the past.
4. Our present situation
If we are not at peace with our present reality, we will continue to see issues and problems. In effect, creating even more issues and problems as possible.
When we fight against the reality we see, we make our current reality into a larger problem, and, at the same time, increase our own pain and suffering.
However, if we recognize this pattern, or habit, we can disrupt the habit and replace it with understanding and grace. We can change our reality into something that is more congruent with what we want to see. Finding more peace and harmony in the process.
5. Our future
When we are scared of the future, or feel like the future will only ever be a reproduction of the past, limited and painful, that is what our future will be. Simple. That which we put our attention on expands, and becomes our reality.
Yet, when we let go of our past, and remain open to our future being all that we want it to be, we can begin to shift our attention and create a reality that is quite different.
We can begin to create the future reality that we want to manifest. One that is full of possibility.
Reality is fluid and dynamic, not stable and static. And, we have the power within us to create the reality we want to live into. We do.
There are over 7 billion worlds (realities) on this planet. One reality for each of us. Yep. The paradox?
Sure, here you go.
Though there are over 7 billion worlds on this one planet, there are certain things we agree on. Yep. Example? Sure, we all mostly agree that a tree is a tree, right? The sun is the sun, the stars are stars.
Yet, know that a tree, the sun, and the stars were not always called such. They weren’t. There was a time when they were called something else, and a time when they were called nothing at all. They just existed. That’s it.
Know that the reality you want to live into is available to you. Has been, is, and will always be available.
Reality is socially constructed by each of us every minute of every day. Next time you find yourself frustrated about your current reality, ask yourself why that’s so.
Here are a couple questions you can ask yourself.
In my current state of mind, am I expecting to see frustration?
Is my emotional state having an impact on how I am seeing my reality?
Am I thinking about my past experiences, and bringing them into my present reality?
Am I not at peace with my present situation?
Am I thinking that the future will only ever be a reproduction of my past?
When you ask yourself these questions, see what you get back. And, shift your attention away from these thoughts and emotions, and to the present reality. And?
Begin to create the future you’ve been waiting for. Make that future your reality now, today. You are the only one that can do so.
Have you ever heard of the Highly Sensitive Person (HSP)? Hm. Either way, know that although I’ve been a highly sensitive person my whole life, I had never heard this phrase until about 2 years ago. Here’s what happened.
About 2 years ago I was at a team building event, and we had one of our instructors come and talk about the highly sensitive person.
It only took about 10 minutes for me to get it. Yep. Then?
As I reflected upon the information I received at the teambuilding, and the new information from the book, so many things occured to me about my childhood, youthood, and adulthood.
I could clearly see my high sensitivity, what was then labeled as shyness or actually derogatorily called being sensitive.
I internalized my shyness and sensitivity as a problem for many, many years.
What I could have never known as a child, youth, or even as an adult previous to a couple of years ago, is that being a highly sensitive person is also a paradox, and a gift. Yep. How, you ask?
Sure. One, question first.
What do you think of when you imagine someone that is highly sensitive; or what association do you make? It’s okay. It’s not a judgement.
Did you see someone in a position of weakness, or in need of help? It’s okay if you did, today it’s normal.
What I am showing you is that in language being sensitive is associated with weakness; and, that that same language is what is used to experientially socialize children to think of high sensitivity as a weakness.
Now, though I am pleasantly surprised that the definition leads with receptivity and capability, it soon enough gets to easily hurt or damaged. Unfortunate, and just plainly not ture.
What is true is that being a person with high sensitivity, like most things in life, is a paradox. How, you ask? Right, well, let’s take a look shall we.
First, let’s explore high sensitivity. Now, know that my experience with the topic of high sensitivity is in being a person with high sensitivity. Meaning, that I’ve not read much about the topic.
Alright, ready? let’s go.
What is High Sensitivity?
Having high senstiivty pretty much means as it sounds. That, in some aspects, people with high sensitivity are more sensitive to external and internal stimulation.
Here are a couple of examples.
People might be highly sensitive to light, sound, touch, taste, smell, and emotions, both their own, and other peoples. There are many ways these sensitivities manifest, which you can check out on the Highly Sensitive Person website.
More often than not, people that have high sensitivity do not know it. Some don’t ever end up knowing it, and some, like myself, do. Approximately 15 to 20% of the population has high sensitivity.
The issue with not knowing, is that people with high sensitivity may end up internalizing their sensitivity as a problem, which is unhealthy and can be destructive.
Many people with high sensitivity end up using unhealthy coping mechanisms, like substance abuse, to bury their sensitivity and inability to understand and cope in more healthy ways.
And, the paradox? Yep, here we go.
High Sensitivity as A Paradox
I label high sensitivity as a paradox to push the limits of language and experience, of what is known. Important. Example? Of course.
I know several people with high sensitivity; and, all of them are clear and strong.
Yep, they are sensitive, and sensitive in different ways, yet that sensitivity makes them clearer and stronger.
In language, as we discussed, sensitivity is associated with a weakness, or deficit, which is simply not the case.
When people that are highly sensitive know about their sensitivity, they can learn to cope with their higher sensitivity, and, in many cases, higher emotional input and output in more healthy ways.
Further, because emotions are felt more, both internal and external, it provides the highly sensitive person with a gift.
The gift of feeling more, knowing more, and loving more.
Another gift is being able to sense where people are at emotionally. Super helpful always, and even more so in leadership roles.
It gives you the opportunity to meet people exactly where they are, free of any judgement. You understand your emotions more, and so you understand other people’s emotions more too. It works like that.
Being a person with high sensitivity has been a journey from thinking for many, many years that I was broken to the realization that I am clear about my emotions and stronger for my sensitivities. Much Stronger.
If you think you might be a person living with high sensitivity, I recommend you take the sensitivity quiz on the Highly Sensitive Person website.
Regardless of whether you are a person living with high sensitivity or not, it is important to remember that our senses and emotions are part of being human. We all have them.
Yes, some people are more sensitive than others to their senses and emotions. However, we all need to take the time to understand our sensations and emotions; time to be with them, and greet them with compassion and grace.
Along the way, please also don’t forget to continue to extend yourself that same compassion and grace. You deserve it.
“Don’t let anyone rob you of your imagination, your creativity, or your curiosity. It’s your place in the world; it’s your life. Go on and do all you can with it, and make it the life you want to live.” Mae Jemison
There. When we remain curious, we are actively acknowledging there is much more in the world to know about than is known. Yes, by us, and by everyone else for that matter.
I’ve written many times about the known and unknown, and, essentially, that it is the space between the two where people choose to grow or not.
We can choose to go back towards what is comfortable, known, and remain as we are today; or, we can choose to go towards what may be uncomfortable, unknown, and grow.
Those that are naturally curious, are intrigued by the smallest things in life. Things that other people might pass right by without even noticing.
In fact, I think people that are curious have a keen awareness of themselves, which means they also have a keen awareness of the world around them.
Alright, then, here are
7 Reasons Why Remaining Curious Can Move You From a Fixed Mindset to a Growth Mindset
1. Recognition of the unknown
When we know that there is much more to learn about the world, and everyone in it, than we actually know, we are instantly curious.
Being curious is about being real with ourselves about all that we know, and all that we don’t.
Just writing that last paragraph makes me smile. Smile because I know everytime I leave my house, there is an opportunity to learn something from someone. Always curious. Fun.
2. Replacing what is known with new knowns
And, as we learn more about the world from other people, we get to replace some of our knowns with new knowns. How?
Well, humans often get stuck inside of limited thinking. Thinking that because they are an expert in a certain field, that their learning is complete. No so.
Every topic and subject is incomplete from a perspective of all there is to learn. Really. Every topic and subject.
When you are in a conversation with someone that proposes that their perspective is the final perspective on a topic, you can smile internally knowing that is not so, and remain curious about the topic.
I guarantee you there is more to learn and to know.
3. Remaining hopeful about the future
When we are curious, we are naturally hopeful about the future. We have to be. Why? Because being curious means believing in a future where growth and new possibilities flourish.
More, it means actively creating that future every day. One idea, goal, or dream and corresponding action at a time. Beautiful.
4. Recreating ourselves each day
Curiosity, like all things, starts within. When we do our internal work, inquiring into why we think and feel the way we do, we are actively interested in recreating ourselves often. Every day, in fact. Really.
In each moment lives the possibility of something new, a new possibility for that moment, and then, yes, the corresponding context, and the greater world. It starts with us, and goes out from there.
5. Regenerating our sense of self in each moment
And, as we recreate ourselves, we also create a new sense of self. We let go of the person we were, and welcome the developmental iterations that will come as a byproduct of our own curiosity and interest in ourselves.
And, guess what?
When we treat ourselves with this kind of respect, that respect, along with the curiosity and interest, go out to others. It will infect them with a renewed sense of who they are as a human being.
Wonderful to watch and be a part of.
6. Reinventing the contexts we engage with
As we recreate ourselves each day, we also reinvent the contexts that we’re engaged with. Why?
Because, as we recreate ourselves, we are leading a transformational process that will affect everyone around us. It has to.
And, as we reinvent our contexts, we get to invite other people to participate in our curiosity. Our curiosity, yes, about ourselves, first, and then our curiosity with other people, the work they do, the possibilities we see as a product of the work we are doing in ourselves. Much fun.
7. Remembering our truth
When we remember our truth about the human being we are, and the future human being we are actively creating each day, we stay curious. Curiosity is a transformational practice.
When we remain curious, we get stuck less often. We feel more connected to ourselves and to everyone else around us.
We are, in effect, living our lives as a child would, full of wonder and hope. Knowing that dreams do come true, because we actively see them come true all the time.
When we live our truth, we see the world through a whole new lens; and, part of that lens is a lens of the curious being that we are all meant to be.
When we are actively curious, question all things, we are living in a growth mindset, which really just means that we are open to learning about all things from all people.
We are open, flexible, and eager to learn.
A growth mindset is about learning as much as we can, and then using that knowledge to create the life we want to live. Each and every day.
Curiously pondering everything around us, wondering, dreaming, and then taking all that we learn and applying it to our lives.
What is your purpose? Do you know, or have you ever considered it; I mean, really considered it? Like, written it down, reflected upon it, and used it to interact with people you know, or meet?
Well, I’ve been thinking a lot the past few weeks about purpose. And, just today it dawned on me that authenticity is a very important concept to the development of your purpose. Really. How, you ask. Well, let’s define our terms, and then we’ll discuss it.
Alright, there we go. Now, we can see from these definitions that purpose is about setting an intention to achieve something; and, that authenticity is about being true to who we are.
Because in order to set an intention to create your purpose, you must be true to who you really are; not the person you were, or the person people tell you you are. A very important distinction.
If you create a purpose that is imbued with ideas about your past-self or with ideas about the person you believe people want you to be, your purpose will not inspire you, nor will it inspire anyone else.
Okay. Let’s take a look at
10 Reasons Why Developing Your Purpose is Dependent on Being Authentic
In order to be inspired, and to inspire others, you must believe in your purpose with both your head and heart. A must. When we develop a purpose that is connected to our authentic-self, the human being we know ourselves to be, we are instantly inspired.
Living a purpose-driven life is hard work. Really, it is. It takes dedication. And, when we create our purpose directly from our authentic-self, we have a deep well of dedication. A well, that, at times, seems like it will never empty. A beautiful feeling.
When we are true to who we are, we are inspired, yes, and we also have deep passion for all that we do. Why? Because when we are authentic, the purpose we create will naturally connect to all aspects of our lives. Work, family, friends, everyone, and everything.
When you are living your purpose, you will meet many challenges. It’s part of it. However, when our purpose is connected to our authentic-self, you will get up every time you fall down. Every time. You will persist under any and all circumstances. You must have created your purpose from your authentic-self to be present to this level of persistence.
A natural byproduct of living a purpose-driven life is developing more resilience. You have to when you are constantly challenged in pursuit of your purpose. When your purpose is created from your authentic self, you will develop more resilience than you ever thought possible. Amazing.
When we are connected to our authentic-self and purpose, we are also interested in developing and growing. We are open with people about who we really are. And, when we are open and true to who we are, opportunities for growth sprout everywhere.
When we are authentic and living a purpose-driven life, opportunities to be vulnerable arsie often. These opportunities are driven by you, and those you surround yourself with. When we are vulnerable, people we are close to feel safe and also venture into vulnerable spaces. Beautiful.
When you are true to who you are, love arises more often. Love for yourself and the human being you are, and love for those around you. When you are authentic and living your purpose, you feel more love, are more love, and give out more love. It just happens.
When you are authentic, and are creating and moving your purpose into the world, you feel more complete. You are more complete. Notions of hiding parts of yourself begin to disappear, and you give yourself and everyone around you that completeness. They can feel it, and know it, as you practice being the human being you are.
Authenticity and purpose align to create more drive. More drive to continue to create your purpose from the space of your authentic-self. And, when you are driven, the people you choose to surround yourself with are also driven. Driven to change the world one action at a time. A wonder.
It is amazing how being the authentic human being we know ourselves to be can transform so many aspects of our lives. It can, and does.
When we remove the barriers that have been handed to us and created by ourselves, we can begin to live the life we’ve been thinking of, hoping for, and dreaming about. How?
Dedicate time to yourself, for yourself. Reflect upon the work you are doing right now. Is it the work you’ve been thinking of, hoping for, and dreaming about? Yes, wonderful. And, if not?
Begin to let go of the person that you were socialized to believe you are. Really. Begin to let go of those concepts, restrictions, and limitations, and get in touch with your authentic-self.
Once you are in touch with your authentic-self, begin to create the life you’ve been thinking of, hoping for, and dreaming about. Create your new life by taking one step at a time toward getting in touch with your authentic-self.
As you take these steps toward your authentic-self, your purpose will show up. Why? Because, your purpose already lives inside of you. Inside of the authentic-self you know yourself to be.
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.