Have you got a list of values that you hold so dearly, that they actually define who you are?
And I used to really struggle with those that didn’t share those values.
As a child, I would passionately argue my convictions and not listen to those that did not share my opinions. (Because they were simply wrong!)
As a young professional, I thought it was horribly rude for people to roll their eyes in disagreement – but the shaking of my head as others spoke – screamed how wrong they were. (And how unwilling I was to listen.)
Hi! My name is Chery, and I am a recovering opinionista! (…Emphasis on recovering.) Somewhere along the way, I caught a glimpse of myself in a mirror, and I didn’t like what I saw.
So I began to listen more and talk less. (Not because I didn’t have opinions, but because I didn’t know how to share them and really listen.)
Along the way I heard personal stories from people who had opposing views about some of the values that I hold most dear. And I began to really consider what it was like to walk in their shoes and even wonder if I’d experienced what they had, if I would hold those same views.
In most cases, my convictions did not change, but my understanding, compassion and creativity increased:
I grew up in a little town in North Dakota, where we had four very distinct seasons. My favorite as a child was summer – because I absolutely love being in the water!
It was refreshing, peaceful, freeing, great exercise and fun!
Unless we were camping by the lake… We would pedal our bicycles to the pool multiple times every single day. In the morning for an hour of lessons, then for three hours of open swimming in the afternoon and occasionally in the evening for another two – three hours of playing in the water!
If gills or a mermaid tail had been an option I would have them!
A few years ago I met a young woman that loved being in the water even more than I do. As a child she was on swim teams and lived in the pool. But at a very young age she was diagnosed with a disease that has impacted her body a lot like ALS.
Have you ever struggled to figure out how to leverage a strength that is coming across as a weakness?
If you’ve ever watched popcorn pop, you’ll understand one of mine.
One little kernel heats up, flies into the air and explodes into light fluffy happiness. POP!
Then a couple more kernels join the fun! POP! POP!
Then a few more! POP! POP! POP! POP! POP!
Soon the party is in full swing, as the noise, chaos, and joy increase rapidly! POP! Pop! POP! Pop! POP! POP!!! POP!!!!
That’s me and…
For many years I sat in meetings:
- Excited by the challenge of problem solving.
- Fueled by the opportunity to be creative and to collaborate.
And frustrated because I could not clearly articulate what was happening inside my brain.
A few years ago my husband and I moved to a new city in a new state.
Shortly after our move we began visiting churches. (In all of our other moves we visited one church and kept coming back.)
- This time we decided that we wanted to know what all of our options were before we joined one.
- And if we liked some of what we observed we attended more than once.
That decision quickly became a fascinating opportunity to observe towering strengths, glaring weaknesses, powerful vision, synergy or the lack of it – and a whole lot more!
Our observations apply to workplaces too!
…Which one sounds like your organization?
Ever since I read the book Good to Great this quote by former Pitney Bowes Executive Fred Purdue has resonated with me…
“My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things, even if what you see can scare the h_ll out of you.”
My definition of a squiggly thing is this: Anything that is breaking down people, relationships, organizations, processes, systems and/or results.