Conversations are healing

My best friend in our company is seeking a new position. During his transition, he kept to himself embarrassed, angry, and humiliated. He finally came to Central Oregon to talk and we talked for eight hours. It was wonderful for both of us. Only through conversation with others that care can we start the healing process. Pulling inward, even though a natural reaction, is no solution. It only creates pain and suffering. We absolutely must connect with others.

I too in the past have pulled inwards feeling hurt, embarrassed, and angry during a transition. I have even sacrificed my families well being by not applying for unemployment because I was too embarrassed to have my prior employer know that I had “failed” in my new position. I wonder if others have done the same thing, pulling back and not talking with those that care. We are a conversational species and are supposed to be in conversation with others. That is what makes us human. That is how we learn. That is how we connect and heal. And that is how we love. So what drives us to abandon what is our most foundational characteristic? I know for myself that when I have reacted this way, I did not trust those that I loved and who loved me to embrace me and my circumstance without judgement.

Considering all that is going on in our world it is easy to reach out without judgement when someone looses a position. Yet do we always open up our hearts and our souls and let others come into conversation with us without judgement? Do we ask ourselves if the person could have done more, something differently, or better? Do these thoughts prevent us from fully embracing those who we love? A simple “What can I do to help?” is sufficient. “I am here to talk with you, listen to you, and bring you into a healing conversation” is what we can do to show love and caring for others.

I just found out that the son of a very dear friend died by suicide. My heart was broken. I can not even imagine the pain that she is going through. It would be easy to ask why others didn’t see the warning signs. But this is not a loving question. We humans are complex and messy. We have messy emotions, messy relationships, and messy lives. There is no way that we can or should judge, we can only reach out and love others and embrace them in conversation. We hold the cards to helping others heal through our willingness to talk.

Go forth my friends and help heal this world of ours. Embrace others and draw them into conversation. Do not let others withdraw in fear, anger, or humiliation. The power is ours. We now need each other more than ever. Thank you for being willing to carry on the work of conversation. You are healing the world.

Your friend John

“You can not give away what you don’t own…

…anymore than you can come from where you haven’t been.” This quote by Larry Wilson founder of Wilson Learning and Pecos River Learning is one of the foundation pieces to my work in conversational leadership. If we do not engage those who work for and with us in healthy respectful conversations, how can we ever expect them to do the same with others. It is really quite simple. With the hundreds of books written on leadership you might think that this field is extrememly complex. I just do not see it this way. If we expect our team members to show caring and compassion for our customers and other team members and we do not provide that same caring and compassion for them, we are deluded if we believe they can give away what they do not receive.

Sure some people will simply deliver because that is who they are but we can not expect everyone to have that level of inner peace. And playing the “they should…” game is of no use. Sure everyone “should” have a healthy and robust personal tool kit but just because we wish it were so, does not mean it will be. If we want to be leaders, we must first own our responsibility to those around us to help them grow and develop into the “greatness” they have inside of them. With that level of commitment, our conversations will shift from the “You should have…” to the “I see in you..”. But back to the quote, if we as a leaders have no compassion, no love, no caring, no empathy, no spirit of service, how on earth do we expect to deliver the same to those who depend on us. And for us then to expect these same people to deliver what we can not or will not deliver to them is most certainly demanding of a reality check.

So again this is all quite simple. We need to reach out and engage others in conversations based on compassion, caring, love, empathy, and a spirit of service and once we do so, we just might be given permission to provide insights on performance improvement helping others be successful and helping them help the enterprise fulfill its goals and objectives. This is what conversational leadership is all about. A balance that can only be achieved with a open heart and an open mind. I wish you the best and continue the wonderful conversations.

John.

Possibilities: I see greatness in you

Can you imagine the healing in our world if only everyone in leadership saw possibilities in their team members rather than deficiencies? Can you imagine if we all said to our team members, “I see possibilities in you. I see greatness in you. I want to reach out and help you develop the greatness I see in you.” Instead all to often we say to our team members, “You are not good enough. All I see in you are your inadequacies.” I can hear a collective human cry, “Please someone see what possibilities I have and reach out to help me develop my greatness. I do have greatness in me, I am just not sure what it is or how to access it. Please reach out and help me.” And quite honestly, this is the role of a conversational leader. How can you lead if you can not see greatness in others? I just do not see how that can be.

At the end of a three day leadership development course I teach within my organization, we play a video, “Leadership: an Art of Possibility” produced by Groh Productions. This is one of the most powerful videos that I have ever seen. We speak to possibilities throughout the workshop and this video drives home the message that if we were only to see possibilities in our team members, we could help transform their lives. If we can do that, we can help create healthy team member who will create healthy families and healthy homes for our children to grow up in. The possibilities are extraordinary.

I don’t know about you, but I long for someone, anyone to tell me that they see greatness in me and possibilities that I do not yet see. Sometimes I feel that just because people see that I have my “act together” that I don’t need a helping hand. Each of us can use a helping hand. A mentor to help us navigate the complex waters of the communities within which we work, play, and contribute. I can only imagine what it would feel like to have someone come to me and say, “I see possibilities in you. I see greatness in you. I would like to help you achieve that greatness.”

So my plea to you is to reach out and start this conversation with those who count on you for support. Your friends, your family, you significant other, your children, your employees, your students, and your peers. I believe that you can change the world through the act of engaging in these simple conversations.

I wish you the best and keep up the conversations.

John