Saturday, June 26, 2010

You're not Listening!

Or, better yet, "You're not hearing me!" I've wanted to shout that at so many "thems" in my past who just weren't getting it.

I've been forced more than once to take my own idea or opinion from someone else who I thought I had communicated with in asking for feedback about said idea or opinion.

"That was my idea," I found myself muttering to anyone who would listen, and usually finding that no one was listening.

That's the point.

All the time I've been accusing "them" of not listening and really not hearing (there is a difference), it turns out I've not been communicating.

I'm realizing now that as a trained communicator (at least that's what the graduation program said under "major") I know a whole lot of "how" but apparently didn't really get the whole "why" thing as it related to communication.

Instead of deciding my intention for talking about anything, somewhere along the line it became much easier to be a victim of what "they" just didn't get. Never mind that without a clear objective on my part as the "communicator," it would have been darn near impossible for them to interpret my "communication" goal.

Of course, this all made perfect sense in my head, where most of the conversations with "them" took place. The problem was "they" were very seldom - if ever - present for those conversations.

Instead of blaming "them" for not getting it or not seeing my brilliant ideas as catalysts for shared action planning, how could the results have been any different than they were?

Really, by taking on the "you're not listening" stance, I had every opportunity to be right about that because I really wasn't communicating in a way that could ever be heard or gotten by said "them" (which mysteriously changes in every circumstance).

So my recent aha within the context of communication is clarity in intention, meaning, before I say anything, I will formulate my own desired outcome and do more asking and inviting than just random idea generation. What is my WHY related to brainstorming? That will be up to me before I throw out the ideas.

Am I really committed to action or do I just want to kick around ideas and hope someone does something?

The formula put together by the universe is perfect. My life is perfectly drawn up to give me the results I've been getting. It's a law. So the only way to change the results is to change the input.

So don't be surprised if I ask you your intended results or outcome when we get together for coffee. Or if I tell you my WHY when I schedule a meeting.

It may take some practice to get different results, but I'm committed to taking that on.

You're not listening ... or I'm not communicating? I know which half of that equation I'm responsible for, and I can do better.

Thanks for listening.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Answers ... or Solutions?

Yesterday I had the distinct pleasure of working with a fantastic group of supervisors at a not-for-profit organization and one of the topics of our conversation was problem solving.

My theory, thanks to ideas from Peter Block in his book Community: The Structure of Belonging, is that as we as leaders focus mostly on problem-solving, we end up with our heads down, looking at that one specific problem until we solve it. Nothing wrong with that. Until we solve that problem. Then what? We've become conditioned to be problem-solvers, and without problems, who are we? When we are looking only for problems to solve, we will become great reactors, waiting for problems to happen so we can solve them.

The other side of that coin is to become possibility seekers, so that we don't have to be reacting to things that have already happened. As possibility seekers we create opportunities to live into instead of standards to live up to, which, when we fail, require our problem-solving abilities.

So we were talking yesterday about the distinction between answers and solutions. Perhaps our training and traditional education has prepared us very well to be problem-solvers because it is assumed, in most cases, that there is that one right answer. Our report cards, and later our performance reviews, will reflect our ability to find that right answer and recite it in the proper context.

A more creative approach to altering circumstances where we see room for improvement, whether within ourselves or with our teams, might be developing solutions or seeking possibilities. Where the previous approach would imply that there is one right answer, a solution or possibility approach implies that there may be several options, each of which may provide varying degrees of workability.

A solutions or possibility approach does require that one knows the desired outcome, so we will know whether or not we've improved the situation. And that may be the most difficult part. We have been so conditioned to look outside ourselves for "the answer" that we can't even fathom that we could possess a solution by really thinking through the possibilities for ourselves.

If you're looking for solutions to situations rather than answers to problems, you will probably find that an objective outside view can be very helpful. I find that's the case when I work with individuals and teams. Almost all the time a fresh outside perspective can provide solutions much, much more quickly than trying to slog through the situation with all of our conditioning intact.

It's true for each of us, really. I find that most people really are doing the best they can with what they have. Me included. But Einstein really was right: we can't solve the current problems with the same thinking that got us here. In fact, I might suggest that we really can't solve the problems at all unless we shift into possibility-seeking mode and change the way we've been thinking about them.

Ready to shift into new possibilities? Ready to create new solutions instead of seek for practical answers? When would NOW be the right time to do that? Giddy-up!

For more information about shifting your thinking into higher awareness and creating solution-focused outcomes, contact Jodee ( at Bock's Office for a complimentary brainstorming session.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

A 180-Degree Shift

Most people's true aspirations are to BE something. When we're kids that means BE a fireman, or BE a rock star or BE an astronaut. We don't realize as kids, many times, that we already are BEING what we end up pursuing later: happy.

As we get older, instead of asking what we BE, we start identifying with what we DO, and begin to be judged, categorized, and standardized by the labeling process called "what we DO."

We start understanding that the way to judge success - ours and others - is to decide first that we must HAVE enough of something (usually this is time or money) so that we can DO what we want so then we can finally BE happy.

If only I had learned the reverse sooner: I can choose right now to BE happy, which will transfer into anything I DO which will reveal to me that I HAVE everything I could need or want.

So the traditional model is a continuum that requires the first to obtain or attain the second and third:

HAVE ---> DO ---> BE

and the reverse is:

BE ---> DO ---> HAVE

What will you BE today? What do you already HAVE?

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Refuting Your Disrepute

Have you ever had someone say to you (or maybe about you, to someone else) something like, "you're so perfect," or "you think you're such a big shot," or "you're not the boss of me" or something along those lines?

I'm sure we've all heard things like that somewhere in our past. Dick Richards, author of Is Your Genius At Work? notes that often our strengths can be seen as weaknesses by others "for whom those traits become inconvenient or annoying." Dick calls the behavior and attitudes that produce those negative labels your "disrepute."

In his book he says, "When we become annoying and inconvenient to others, their first tendency usually is to assign a negative label to us" (p. 60).

Those negative labels given to us by others can often be powerful clues to our genius, that intrinsic power that fuels our souls.

This idea reminds me of what Marianne Williamson speaks about in her most famous quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Other people may feel insecure around your genius, especially if that genius shines light on them and what they're not living into for themselves. But that's no reason to hide it.

This is just one of the activities - and insights - available at the Fourth Annual Genius Workshop with Dick Richards, Wednesday, June 23 in Fargo.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of interviewing Dick on Life Talk Radio with Renee Rongen. This is a great opportunity to experience a little taste of the Genius Workshop.

Register today at to reserve your spot and Discover Your Genius!

Wednesday, June 02, 2010

In Response to Fear ... Is It Really Fear?

Thank you, readers, for some really thoughtful responses to my post about the dreaded F word. They have caused me to really think about where fear actually resides and have inspired a whole new post.

Fear exists because of our thinking, and our thinking resides in the past. However, that thinking that keeps us in fear is rooted in reacting, not in responding. Responding is being in the moment and using our feelings as a guide instead of what we've been taught is the "right" thing to do in similar circumstances.

One of my favorite quotes is by Emerson (actually, many of my favorite quotes are by Emerson): "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds."

His point is that we should say what we feel today even though it may contradict what we said yesterday. If we don't abort our old actions when we get new information, we will be doomed to live in an endless loop of past thought, which is reacting to everyone and everything else instead of being - really BEING - in the present.

Fear can only reside in the past and based upon past experiences unless it is authentic fear, which has to do with physical survival.

So trust your instincts and your intuition as your guide, even though that may be unfamiliar at first.

When has your gut ever steered you wrong in making decisions?

Yet many of us are conditioned - over time - to memorize the "correct" answers (whatever those are) to pre-existing situations so that we will be accepted, rewarded, encouraged, and, basically liked. The challenge is never in feeling what we really feel, it's in not rocking the collective boat - that boat we've all subconsciously agreed to hold sacred so no responding has to be involved.

And the only way to do that is to suppress those feelings and think our way out of - and thus back in to - submission.

The true way out is to be in the moment and really get in touch with exactly how we are feeling in any given situation. Your body is a powerful guide and is sending you powerful messages all the time. It will take courage, which is often unfamiliar, to really be present and to ask for what you want. And it takes one person with courage to begin to transform the world.

Once one person stands for what s/he really wants and asks for that with confidence and courage instead of backing down, a new precedent will be set.

Be aware - it's that first step that's always the doozie because it challenges the perceived status quo. So even the opinions I hold about myself are not necessarily true, especially if they are formed from the past. I don't even need to take what I hear in my own mind personally if it occurs from the past and in a space of fear.

The uncomfortable feelings that will undoubtedly be stirred up from this new space are not necessarily "bad" - they will produce a response if they are really considered from a new level of awareness. When I played basketball in college, that feeling I got in my stomach and my chest from my pounding heart right before the opening tip was, in some cases, a bit unfamiliar but caused me to be much more present in that moment and aware of my actions so I could be present in the game
instead of sulking or brooding over a past game or even a past mistake.

To recap: where does fear reside? In the past, in reaction mode. If I really stop and think - in the moment, that would be responding, and therefore could not be fear.

So how much of what happens in the world is true action? If I'm not taking action from my own unique perspective, I will be forever destined to wait for someone else to act first, which means I am not thinking and am therefore not in true action. Courage appears to be the missing ingredient. When courage meets confidence - not arrogance, but confidence - the result has to be a new outcome.

Which begs the all-important question: What Do You Really Want?

So with all this in mind, here's the formula in concrete terms (not mathematical equivalents - I was told there'd be no math):

Desire + Action (Courage + Confidence -> Outcome -> Results/Time -> Transformation

Or, in the shortened version: Awareness + Artful Action/Time = Transformation

The higher we climb, the more that we see. The more that we see, the less that we know. The less that we know, the more that we yearn. The more that we yearn, the higher we climb. (Thanks to Dan Fogelberg "High Country Snows.")

The true bottom line now: living is about learning and learning is a continual process. Just when we think we know all there is to know, someone changes the questions. When those questions come from our own minds instead of from something someone else said somewhere, that's when we can know - really know - that we're making progress. The true victory will be when there is no more need for questions; when the knowing is enough and we go from transformation to transcendence.

Until then, I'm polishing up my questions and concentrating on being present - in the moment - outside the fear of the past and other people's opinions.

Who's with me?