If, like me, you’ve been a solo professional services provider for a decade or more, you may be ready to do some manual labor, to work with your hands, not to replace, but to inspire your practice.
I’m not talking about a hobby although a hobby you love could be a gateway to your trade. My hobby was flower gardening but I’d done very little of that after selling my house in the mid-90′s. But on an impulse I responded to an ad for garden center help and that led to my own gardening services “trade“.
There was discomfort: a nagging sense that I was giving up on my core work and purpose, that I was over-diversifying and unfocused. I rationalized that it was temporary work and provided great cross-training for my rowing. But those were half-truths. Over time I realized that The Truth was believing that my work was highly specialized and intellectual although I’m equally kinesthetic. And I don’t think I’m unique in holding this contradiction.
Now I’m clear about loving my work: both my trade and my professional services both of which are expressions through work, of body mind integration. Body and mind are one whether we recognize that or not. How could we not expect to hunger for more if we cut ourselves off from one or the other?
So it seems that my blogging sabbatical is officially over. For that, I thank the dirt and the flowers and the sweat.
My business is change facilitation and my sport is rowing. I’ve learned a lot about both from cox’ns who provide the inspiration for this 4th in a series of four posts about change leadership using social business initiatives as an example.
The first 3 posts were about:
- Shifting the vantage point through willingness, not willfulness.
- Releasing the fairy tale and attendant story-lines identified with what’s non-integral and non-sustainable.
- Creating the conditions in which innovation and productive friction can take place by embracing different perspectives and individual lenses on the new direction.
This post is about execution and action which require one of the most important parts of a race or practice that the cox calls: the settle. A lot of business leaders get this wrong. They launch a new project with a racing start and push everyone to hold that pace indefinitely. But its the settle that results in purposeful attention, high quality and finding the optimal rhythm together. Just like in the racing shell.
Like cox’ns, business leaders facilitate the shift from urgent desire to unity and trust, through giving the right feedback at the right time. Doing so requires a multi-dimensional awareness, what you and your team sense, feel, believe and embody..not just what you know or want.
The settle can’t be confused with settling for less because its a moment by moment refusal to be less, especially when it hurts. It must be understood as the collective action that creates shared responsibility for aligning with the desired results. In social business, those desired results are some form of creating natural influence in your communities and networks and with your audience.
If you lead like a cox’n, that natural influence could show up as gold.
They’re trying to grow and develop and at the same time protect and survive. They’ll go to great lengths to “sell” me on the rationalizations and justifications for their interruption-based sales and marketing tactics and their reporting-based internal systems, structures and procedures.
I’ve learned its impossible to convince anyone to shift his or her vantage point if that business owner doesn’t sense, is in denial about, or not not able to live up to, a new direction like social business. They’re just not there and can’t make “sense” of it. That doesn’t necessarily mean they’re lost causes.
We just have meet them where they are, let them fail and flail without judging them or jumping to unwanted conclusions on their behalf. “If you don’t act now it will be too late” is an example of one of those assumptions (and one that I’m prone to if I’m not vigilant).
Every client has a vantage point: their personal, or cultural, system of beliefs, competencies and desires. Professional service providers have two options:
- Tell them what’s wrong with where they are and what it costs them.
- Meet and accept them where they are if they’ll own it, present the corresponding opportunity and facilitate the shift to a new set of beliefs, competencies and desires.
I don’t know the right framework for the second option, but I know its not a plan.
I’ve been defiant and it got me into trouble with whoever had the authority over that particular domain at that particular time. It created a contradiction in me because defiance made me feel alive, powerful and real. But the cost was very high so I feared it at the same time.
Its different now that I’m aware of it, and can define it as: Discernment Discipline + Natural Aggression = Conscious Defiance. I still get in trouble and although I don’t like it, I can be present with the resistance I meet.
My favorite conscious defiance metaphor is “Stick it to the man.” from the great movie School of Rock with crazy-defiant Jack Black.
But how do you stick it to the man in the midst of The Big Shift, Great Recession, The Reset, or whatever they call the massive changes we’re in. Pretty much everyone and everything looks like and acts like “the man”?
I think Eckhart Tolle’s Present Moment Reminder helps answer that:
“Change is absolutely necessary in this world, and the dissolution of many of the ego-based structures is necessary for humanity to survive. What’s happening isn’t ‘dreadfully bad.’ It needs to happen; the intelligence behind phenomena is doing it, so it’s a good thing.”
In other words, align with evolution, defy the temptation to do anything less and leave the rest to the field.
I woman told me the story of her anorexia. Her family couldn’t deal with it and she was eventually hospitalized. She didn’t understand the doctor’s alarm because the scale told her 100 lbs. He saw 80 lbs. and told her she would die. Although she had the evidence, what “she” saw on the scale, the doctor’s words were, thankfully, enough of a shock to get her to accept treatment and eat. She was unwilling to make the trade-off, her life, in spite of her proof that nothing was wrong. The doctor refused to collude.
Clients can get hostile when you refuse to collude. They’ll drag out the facts, proof and evidence of what’s happening to them and how it justifies their suffering in one or more personal or business domains. I’ve used that doctor’s approach, direct and hard-hitting. I lost clients. I’ve also colluded, by spending too much time listening, being empathetic and giving feedback, ideas and advice that weren’t followed. I didn’t want to be an enabler and I didn’t want failed projects. So I lost clients.
I learned. Resistance to change loves collusion and uses the proof and the evidence to get it. The only way you can help someone stop resisting is to help them see it for what is. It doesn’t work to whack them over the head with the dire consequences. These aren’t, after all, life and death situations although our clients in the grip of resistance clearly suffer.
What does work is going deep, getting to the bottom of it so to speak. What’s beneath everything that’s visible, understood and apparent is the hidden payoff. Its impossible to tell another person what that payoff is. You can only help another person realize it. That takes willingness, commitment, rigor, logic, dialog and trust. Timing is critical because resistance is a vampire. It will do anything to escape the light of reason in order to remain safe and secure in the dark.
The woman who had the strength to make it through anorexia struggled for decades with disappointment and frustration that showed up in her career, professional and business domain. It literally made her sick and frequently injured. She had the will and desire to go another way but her resistance had collected three decades of evidence that convinced her otherwise. I refused to collude.
And then there was a moment when she was able to be still long enough to ask herself: “If I’m not the one who starves and disappears, then who am I?” She answered: “I’m visible and powerful.” And there was a time in her life when she believed that visible and powerful was a dangerous way to be so she shut it down. There was no regret or grief in this realization, just relief because it all made perfect sense. She was never the effect, she was always the cause. It was the right choice at the time and she could choose differently now.
If you’re struggling with resistance to change or creativity you can do this on your own. Its a simple but powerful self-awareness tool. You have a conversation with yourself guided by these fill-in-the-blank questions:
- I’m the one who_____________
- If I’m not the one who_______________, then who am I? I’m the one who__________________
It used to be called “getting over” but you don’t hear that expression anymore. You expect it in the public so that’s not getting over. You join the private to get away from it and resent it when it shows up, which it does, more than ever. Some now call it hustle.
- The moderator continually requests that participants keep their comments within the topic, framework and agenda but the hand keeps going up and the interruption is “just this once”.
- The group’s charter includes never using the group for business solicitation or self-promotion and a new member tries to sneak one in that’s barely camouflaged and the interruption is “just this once”.
- The professional service provider provides free, search-able access to ideas, solutions and content but the uncommitted client interrupts to ask for and discuss what’s already easily available “just this once”.
This self-management technique is the best way to discern if you’re the perp or the victim of getting over. Ask yourself “what would this look like if everyone chose to do this just this once?” The key word is choose. Don’t choose or settle for the wrong hustle, unless you’re Superfly.
We had an interesting and provocative discussion this week at Samadhi about the intersection of the evolution of media and the evolution of consciousness. It also turned out to be one of those times, when out of the blue and unexpectedly I got what I describe as “jacked up by the Field”.
I’ve found that philosophical discussions and meetups requiring rigor, have huge benefits for professionals and content creators in the change business, including:
- Linking and integrating ideas, solutions and content that seemed mutually exclusive.
- Bringing unconscious beliefs contradicting ideas, solutions and content, into awareness.
As I developed the post, the “enlightened idea wiki” came up and I think it has a lot of potential as a both a practice and content structure and model.
This is how it evolved. I’d recently spent a lot of time developing a presentation about models for professional service providers and content creators. The focus of the presentation is: The Credit. So when I read this NYT article, Author, 17, Says It’s ‘Mixing,’ Not Plagiarism, it brought up a good deal of righteous indignation that I was happy to share with others in my social communities who felt the same way, especially about her specific quote:
“There’s no such thing as originality anyway, just authenticity,” – Helene Hegemann
It felt so good and so right to rip into this with so many people who agreed with me.
Flash forward to the meetup. The discussion was preceded with a meditation and then a reading of an EnlightenNext Magazine column, Awakening to the blob, inspired by Mediated, Thomas de Zengotita. A quote from the book via the reading:
In a mediated world, the opposite of real isn’t phony or illusional or fictional—it’s optional. Idiomatically, we recognize this when we say, “the reality is…” meaning something that has to be dealt with, something that isn’t an option. We are most free of mediation, we are most real, when we are at the disposal of accident and necessity. That’s when we are not being addressed.
I discovered that terms and concepts actually exist to describe the experience of growing up in the postmodern era. I discovered that we are living in a mediated world, and I am a mediated girl.
Suddenly my righteous indignation about the 17 year old “mixing not plagiarizing” author seemed out of whack from the vantage point of my greater self who “meets” people where they are and without judgment. I realized that How Dare You! was my ego’s voice, justifying my resistance to a vantage point that threatened mine. That was an important shift.
A wiki post is a lot of work but I recommend creating one, maybe once a quarter. Here’s why. Like a great visual it takes a lot of seemingly disconnected, linear, small things and gives them form and expression in a way that adds dimension and artistic expression to your ideas, solutions and content.
Isn’t that a better use of your time than a quarterly plan?
Someone asked me the other night what kind of coaching I do and without thinking I responded: paradoxical.
Most clients I work with want my help marketing their ideas, solutions and content. They’re very receptive to my approach:
- create your “one of a kind” point of power at the edges or intersections – markets, industries, areas of interest or expertise etc.
- discover your voice and develop your stories around that point of power
- give and don’t hold back
And then they get scared and overwhelmed and go back to their old ways which stopped working long ago: email blasts, snail-mail announcements, hiring the magical business development manager, handing out cards at networking meetings etc. They give themselves over to the habitual impulse to interrupt instead of giving themselves over to their story.
When the old methods fail I suggest examining and clearing, with my facilitation, the assumptions and expectations blocking change. And that’s when the paradox kicks in. Because this is what they believe the process should be: telling me their stories! How they got where they are. Why they do what they do. The history, the details and most of all – the reasons.
They claim to be very receptive to my simple approach: unconditional permission to allow me to interrupt if I start to get more information and story than I need to know in order to facilitate an identity shift. Then I interrupt 5 times in 10 minutes and its “Call in the Marines”.
If it weren’t for paradox it would be easy, right?
Think about it this way:
Story is your ideas, solutions, and brand in form – the content.
Identity is your beliefs, assumptions and expectations “minus” the content (story, knowledge, thinking, form).
There’s an infinite amount of things about which to be righteously indignant. The ego loves it when you respond this way and rewards you with a jolt of satisfaction in the form of superiority and anxiety relief. Both are very temporary and you want the next hit which is only a mouse-click, channel-change, phone call, mail delivery, argument or interaction away.
Righteous indignation is a massive time-suck and a creativity killing monster. There’s a lot of advice about how to break the habit. But like diet advice and most resolutions, they’re failure methods because they don’t address the underlying intention: resistance.
I prefer this. When you feel yourself getting hooked have a talk with yourself and write it down, by hand on paper.
Ask yourself, how dare I:
- not give form to my ideas, solutions and content that create a positive experience and energy that spreads
- not reach out to somebody who needs my support and understanding
- not still my mind to allow the creative insight and inspiration that is my birthright to come through me
- not trust that there’s evolution happening and its my choice to be aligned with (leadership) or against it
These are suggestions; you get the idea.
When you hold up a mirror and employ a proprioceptive technique you’re much more likely to dislodge the resistance that shows up as the habit of righteous indignation.
I dare you!
How Dare You
Sankam via deviantArt
I confess. I rarely comment. But since I want to participate more I thought Google Buzz might be a good sharing and discussion platform.
So this is what I’ve observed after a few days experimenting with Buzz: very few tech/business people, often referred to as celebrities, dominate the public discussions. The vast majority of those who follow them race to make comments, agree or disagree, troll, rail against, offend, self-promote, cross-promote, ask for something, spam, praise and sometimes add value. This of course, is nothing new in public discussion groups.
What’s different and dramatic now is the scale…something like 10 million Google Buzz posts the first few days. So I followed a few of the celebrities, and observed how they engaged an almost instantaneous swarm of tens of thousands of followers. My sense: a collective need arises that I can only describe as: “Do You Care About Me?”. And I thought…do they care? How? And what does care even mean?
I can’t think of a better starting point for any brand (including global microbrands) to grow and develop in the Web 2.0 and beyond world, than to ask those questions. This is my first pass at a framework to facilitate that process. I followed a model that I created years ago for knowledge awareness, and its been valuable.
Why do it? Because to care is the natural state and point of power. Its also a state tremendously negatively affected by contradicting and limiting complex belief systems that inhibit growth and development.
“I Care” – is there a better way to change the status quo?