Sunday, April 25, 2010

Disagreement Is a Gift

I’ve been observing and analyzing the anatomy of a problem. Listening to people talk about their problems, it seems that they can be placed into two general buckets: 1) being left out, and 2) being treated with disrespect. No matter how I look at it, it never seems to be disagreement. People don’t complain about someone because they disagree with them. It’s what happens as a result of the disagreement and sometimes it doesn’t even have anything to do with disagreement. If you can talk about your disagreement openly and respectfully, you might even start seeing things differently.

The best place to practice this is in a group with a common mission or goal. This could be some organization you belong to, your church, or your work. Whenever a group gets together, there are going to be differences of opinion because there are going to be differences of experience. And that’s a good thing.

But, how are those disagreements handled? Do you openly talk and discuss your differences with respect? Are you willing to put yourself in the other person’s shoes and see from their perspective? Can you compromise or negotiate? In some situations, when there is a hierarchy and members of the group have seen or perceived that if they disagree with the person in charge, they are put aside or worse, fired, they learn to not voice their disagreements. So, what happens to those disagreements? They don’t go away. They fester and grow into resentments, a counter culture of passive or sometimes not-so-passive resistance which will definitely affect morale and work. Everyone loses when disagreements are not handled with a positive and cooperative attitude.

I’d like to go a bit further and say that disagreements should not only be handled positively, but sought after systematically. Disagreements can be the source of new ideas, innovations, creativity, and expansion. Only after we have seen something from all possible angles can we then add to or truly improve it and in that way, a disagreement is a good thing.

1) What was the last issue that caused you hurt feelings or got you mad? What was the source of the problem?
2) How did you handle it?
3) How would you have liked to have handled it?
4) What might you try next time something like it happens again?

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Condemnation Is Small Thinking

This past weekend I had the good fortune of attending a conference where the key note speaker was the best-selling author, Michael Port. Michael’s latest book is “The Think Big Manifesto” and it is an amazing read. Reading the book made me think about when and how I think small. In fact, as Michael states, it is something that he himself struggles with. We have been thinking small forever and breaking that cycle requires some work. The world and what’s happening in it is a great place to start thinking big.

Take for example something recent that I have been struggling with and that is the situation in China and how the Chinese authorities have handled the recent earthquake (based on what we here in the West have heard about it). I feel terrible about the victims and cannot fathom why your own government would stand by idly and watch your people die or refuse to help. If this story is true, it is indeed a terrible situation. Me as the observer has different choices in how I engage in this story. I could easily react and condemn the government and victimize the Tibetan Chinese people. Or I could accept the fact that first of all I don’t know all the facts here. I am not familiar with the history of the region, I don’t live there and there might be other factors playing in this. Yes, I still feel terrible about the victims of this catastrophe, but I am not adding fuel to the negative emotions. If I care enough, I can do something constructive about it. When you become part of the solution or you spend time thinking about a solution, you are thinking big. In addition, thinking big and always coming up with solutions feels good. No one wants to be angry, feel defeated or useless, yet we still feel these emotions when we fall into the trap of condemnation. In fact, we define and judge it to the point of joining it at its root cause of becoming part of the problem. It becomes a dead end or worse yet, a perpetuating negative place we find ourselves whenever we feed into that feeling of victimization by talking about it, etc.

So whether it is something that is happening at work or someone you feel anger towards, stop in your tracks. Ask yourself how you could be part of the solution to this problem. If it is something that is evoking strong emotions in you, then it is worth spending the time to find a big answer. If you can’t think of a solution, then walk away with your blessings. And I mean, truly walk away. Following in the footsteps of Michael Port, I invite all of us to start thinking big about everything. Let’s let go of our small thinking and we can begin by noticing when we condemn and what we condemn. Awareness is the key to change and I know I am going to be on the look-out for any self-righteous condemnation that pollutes the big thinking potentials the world is hungry for.

Monday, April 12, 2010

What Are The Voices Telling You?

When my daughter was younger, she’d tell me “you’re not the boss of me” when I’d tell her to do her chores, or anything she didn’t want to do. I wish I had asked her then who her boss was. Who indeed is the boss of anyone? Who do we listen to, who runs our life?

For some it is their jobs, because they get up at a certain time, dress accordingly, arrange for babysitters, to accommodate their schedule, etc. They go to work, behave a certain way and do their work and come back at a certain time to be home with their families. Depending on the job, the mood they’re in, the time they go to bed, their conversations at the dinner table, etc. might still be around the job. So, in this scenario, the job is in charge at all times or most of the time. For those looking for another job, it might be the same story, “getting a job” is in charge at all times. For a stay at home mom, it is probably her kids and their needs. Every conversation, every appointment, every interaction is indeed under the umbrella of her kids. You might say, well of course it is that way when you have a family and kids. Ok, so what about our younger years, when we were 20 years old. Who is the boss of a 20 year old? For the most part, getting an education or going to college seems to be the answer. But what is the education for? Again, it is to have opportunities, to get a good job. So, in the end it is about getting a job and making money and providing for yourself and your family, if you have one.

In fact, for the most part, all of our belief systems were created to support this goal. The system is so tight, that even when you get there (get the job and the family and the financial security) you either don’t realize it, and keep on trying to work harder for the eventuality of losing it all or for having even more, or you become hypnotized by what you have and find other ways to entertain yourself to get rid of the boredom. The system is so strong that getting out of it might seem impossible. I see it as the horse pulling a carriage. It might seem that the horse has a goal and a destination, but it is indeed being driven by its driver that the horse cannot even see because of his blinders. Perhaps the horse can hear the driver’s voice and feel the pulling of the reigns, but it is not in charge.

Are you tired of being pulled and pushed and told to do things or go places that you might not want to? Are you searching for your own true voice and wonder what if anything it might tell you or ask of you? Are you afraid of what it might be like if it was really silent? If you said yes to any of these questions, congratulations! You are waking up and you are not alone. You are having a spiritual crisis and a spiritual life coach can help if you’d like to be supported on your amazing journey of self-mastery.