Wisdom for Teams #39

Everything about me is a contradiction, and so is everything about everybody else. We are made out of oppositions; we live between two poles. There’s a philistine and an aesthete in all of us, and a murderer and a saint. You don’t reconcile the poles. You just recognize them.

ORSON WELLES (1915 – 1985) director, actor, screenwriter, and producer; remembered for his innovative work in radio, theatre and film, and considered to be among the greatest and most influential filmmakers of all time.

Wisdom for Teams #38

Whether we stay or whether we go – to be courageous is to stay close to the way we are made.

DAVID WHYTE (Born 1955), Anglo-Irish poet; His writing explores the timeless relationship of human beings to their world, to creation, to others, and to the end of life itself.

Do You Own It? Or Does It Own You?

Photo by Marcus iStrfry on Unsplash

When I look at my life, I see a cliché: a rollercoaster — a few flat moments, and lots of ups and downs. For the most part, it’s been fun. But sometimes it overwhelms me, especially when things don’t roll as expected. Eventually, I realize I better get a grip.

What is the point of riding a rollercoaster, if you’re not going to own the experience?

As a coach, my job is to help people get unstuck, and that starts by them owning the experience they’re going through. As long as the experience owns us, we’re stuck and we can’t move forward.

Owning the experience means recognizing realistically what is happening — no more, no less — and then accepting it just as it is.

Only then can we figure out what to do next. Here is what I do to help myself and others own the experience.

First, frame the experience in a more constructive, less apocalyptic light. What is fact, and what is interpretation? What else could this mean? What is useful here? How could this help us grow?

Second, share the experience transparently with others. When we overcome the vulnerability of openly sharing our struggle, we dispel the power the experience has over us. As Mr. Rogers* would say, if it’s mentionable, it’s manageable.

Worse than the experience of feeling overwhelmed, is the experience of not owning this experience.

——

*Mr. Rogers was a TV host, author, and producer; best known for the preschool TV series “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood”.

What They Did to Cinderella and, How It Helps

When my daughter, Irene, and I watch a movie on Sunday afternoons, she often says: “I know what’s going to happen, daddy.” What she means is the couch will be more persuasive than the screen, and I’ll fall asleep. This spell was broken when we watched the new Cinderella movie. I couldn’t sleep, and the movie even stole a few of my tears.

So what did they do? Back to this in a moment. First, let me say there’s an important lesson here. Second, no need for a spoiler alert, because I’m not going to tell you what happens. Third, you already know the story, right? And it’s not like they’re going to change the story. Otherwise it would no longer be the story of Cinderella!

So what did they do? Back to this in a moment. Notice that for it to continue being the story of Cinderella, the plot has to be the same, that is, her fight for freedom and a better life. Also, the characters have to be the same: stepmother, stepsisters, prince, fairy godmother, and so forth.

So what did they do? A better question is: What COULD they do? When we’re stuck in a story in life, with the same old plot and with the same darn characters, what CAN we do? What they could do — and did brilliantly — was change the CHARACTERIZATION.

The plot then takes on an entirely different flare, and maybe, just maybe, we get a different ending.

When you can’t change the plot, when you can’t change the characters, change the CHARACTERIZATION.

P.S. If you’re wondering if we can change, recall the words of Viktor Frankl, neurologist and Holocaust survivor: “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.”

How I Went From Priest to Trainer

Over the holidays, I had the opportunity to be interviewed at the Training Business Podcast by Mark Hayes. The aim of the podcast is to interview trainers, facilitators, CEOs, coaches, and authors in the business of training and learning & development.

It was a cool experience. We scheduled a call to discuss what we could talk about. During that call, Mark suggested we just jump into it. “The spontaneous conversations are the best ones”, he said.

So here’s the unfiltered, unrehearsed chat between the two of us. I loved Mark’s questions — some I had not thought of before. Some of the topics we cover are:

  • How networking has produced work opportunities
  • What I get from my collaboration with IESE business school
  • The training programs I have developed and why
  • How I got my first paying clients
  • The kinds of challenges I help solve

Here’s the link to the podcast.

Love to hear your feedback and suggestions.

Xmas Gift List (Including Gifts to Oneself)

When I was about three, so my moms says, at one of the big family parties my parents used to host at home, one of my cousins of about the same age would not stop crying. I asked my mom why. She explained he had lost his pacifier.

I walked away in silence, went upstairs to my room and returned with my pacifier in hand, and then I plucked it into the open mouth of my crying relative, and that was the end of pacifiers for me.

This week I asked myself: If could only pick one value for a good life, what would it be? My usual top three are humility, gratitude and generosity. After some reflection, I picked generosity. I think I picked generosity when I was about three.

It’s funny how giving is both a gift for the receiver as well as the giver. And there are many forms of generosity beyond the material. Here’s a list of what we can give this holiday season, including to ourselves.

  • Giving time
  • Giving patience
  • Giving silence
  • Giving peace
  • Giving joy
  • Giving understanding
  • Giving empathy
  • Giving positivity
  • Giving energy
  • Giving the benefit of the doubt
  • Giving a second chance
  • Giving up being right
  • Giving the center stage
  • Giving sincere appreciation
  • Giving belief in someone
  • Giving forgiveness
  • Giving unconditional love

What could you give more?

What would you add to this list?