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Archive for Relationship – Page 2

Personal Impact

Seth Godin, photo by Brian Bloom

Seth Godin, photo by Brian Bloom

 

This blog post from Seth Godin says something profound to me about impact.

It’s just the sort of inspiration I want to share with anyone thinking of hosting a Local Impact Cafe to help celebrate the World Café’s 20th Anniversary because it shows that impact begins at home, with how we see each other, and how we see ourselves:

The mirror we hold up to the person next to us is one of the most important pictures she will ever see.

Seth goes on to say:

“If we can help just one person refuse to accept false limits, we’ve made a contribution. If we can give people the education, the tools and the access they need to reach their goals, we’ve made a difference. And if we can help erase the systemic stories, traditions and policies that push entire groups of people to insist on less, we’ve changed the world.”

Thanks so much to Greg Guiliano for posting this link on our World Café group on LinkedIn.

What’s in a Name, or Label

A "Wiser Together" contribution from guest blogger Tom Beech:

A little while ago, I received an email that caught me up short.  It was from a young, 20’s-something, friend of mine.  He and I are working on a project together and he sent me a copy of a note he had written to another friend of his, a young guy he wanted me to meet.  In this email he said, “I’d like you to meet an elderly man I know…..”

OK. Well, first let’s get some facts on the table.  I’m 74 years old, in pretty good mental and physical health, retired from a long career but still active in my community. I can string several strands of thought together and keep track of most of them without losing my way or boring others. “Elderly,” is not a word I’d use to describe myself.

I don’t think I’ve earned the status of “elder” and when you add a “-ly” on, I get a little defensive.  To be fully honest, I get defensive in the face of judgement and criticism more easily than I should, but that’s another story… I think. I don’t label others or lump them into arbitrary groups.  For example, I don’t refer to someone who’s young and then automatically add on the word, “whippersnapper!” Adding this on wouldn’t be very useful anyway since most young people wouldn’t have a clue about what it means.

So, after taking a few deep breaths, I started to think about what I’ve learned as a result of receiving this email.

First, this brought home the fact that other people don’t see us the way we see ourselves.  I see myself as active, healthy, interested in learning. My wife, Carol and I have been married for more than 45 years and we still find joy, excitement, love and fulfillment in being together. Every once in a while, I get the sense that our kids and others see frailty, lack of competence, lack of energy and lapses of attention that we don’t either feel or experience.

I’ve learned that age doesn’t necessarily bring wisdom.  Some of the wisest people I know are in their 20’s and some of the dumbest are in their 70’s. Truth be told, these folks were dense when they were in their 20’s too.  But age and experience, if we pay attention to what’s happening to us, and if we listen to the people around us, open the possibility of accumulating some wisdom. This of course requires us to be open both to those who think we’re terrific and heap praise on us and those who question our every move and thought, without getting either self-congratulatory or defensive.  And what good is this wisdom?  At the very least, it helps us avoid making the same mistakes repeatedly, and if we’re lucky, someone may actually listen to us once in a while.

I’ve learned that living at a slower pace is not a weakness. It allows me to pay attention, even in moments when it appears that I’m lost in my own thoughts. The fact that others don’t expect me to “keep up” is a blessing because I can savor what I’m experiencing, living with it more fully without feeling guilty. I used to feel that I was expected to keep all of the plates spinning, all of the balls in the air…all of the time.  That was exhausting and sometimes everything crashed at once.  Now doing one thing at a time or listening to one person at a time seems right, even if I have to ask, “What did you say?” often enough to exasperate Carol, who has the patience of Job.

I’ve learned that curiosity and failure are two sides of the same coin, and together, they keep life interesting. Curiosity may have “killed the cat” as the saying goes, but it keeps me alive. I’m learning new skills and exploring new arenas of information every day and one of the prices I pay for this is frequent failure.  I used to worry about failure a lot, mostly because I feared what other people would think.  Sometimes, my failures did affect others and in these cases, trying to avoid them was not just the safest thing to do, it was respectful and thoughtful.  But most of the time, the only person impacted was me. I still care about what people think, but now I realize that most of the time most people are unaware of what I’m doing. They’re busy just trying to get through their own days. If a tree falls in the forest and no one is around to see it….only the tree knows.

The meeting with my friend’s friend went well.  I learned from him and I think he enjoyed meeting me, even if he thought I was “elderly.”

 

Tom Beech is recently retired from a long career in philanthropy and is now active in his home community of Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Conversational-Centered Leadership

This from our good friends at the Daily Good, a wonderful daily pep-talk post sent out by what was Charity Focus, and is now ServiceSpace:

Conversation
Talking It Out: The New Conversation-centered Leadership
by Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz

Every year, hundreds of thousands of new graduates enter the business world, eager to climb the corporate ladder. Their progress on the early rungs of that journey will often be determined by qualities like hard work, determination, knowledge and technical proficiency. But business consultants Alan S. Berson and Richard G. Stieglitz argue that those same qualities prove less helpful at higher rungs on the ladder, and may even be one's downfall if they are not balanced by a very different set of leadership qualities. They sum up the thesis of their new book, Leadership Conversations: Challenging High-Potential Managers to Become Great Leaders, like this: "As you move into upper leadership levels, your technical skills — what you know — become less important. What counts is whom you know and, perhaps more important, who knows and trusts you."

The importance of building strong working relationships within an
organization may seem self-evident. But Berson and Stieglitz go well
beyond a call to establish and maintain open lines of communication. The
kind of conversations they are advocating for are not simply talk for
talk's sake. Rather, they are the heart and soul of any thriving
organization's culture: a strategic tool incorporating very specific
techniques toward very specific ends.

Read more!