Does getting in the middle work?

Whether it’s in diplomacy or working things out in a family, being in the middle will rarely achieve more than a band-aid’s worth of value. Sometimes, our issues are no more than band-aids, but usually when we allow ourselves to be in the middle or look to others to get in the middle, there are significant expanses to traverse and inefficiencies to address that can be endemic. Creating a quick fix does not address the true impact of the gap. And that can mean that you are dealing with the same kind of issue again just weeks, days or hours later.

Sometimes we get in the middle because it is uncomfortable for us to deal with the friction of the conflict in our space. It’s truly more about us than it is about both parties moving on in the best possible way. If it stops, we are relieved. But like most fixes, it won’t stay that way for long, so even in a selfish way we are not doing much for ourselves, let alone the main parties involved. If we bring others into the middle regularly, then we probably have a great opportunity to expand ourselves and deal with conversations that we normally pull away from.

Encouraging people to do the hard things, to tell the truth, to work on their issues themselves without a go-between, to look deeply at their own responsibility for how things have gone instead of just helping them get over the hump of the problem, will always lead to a greater potential for growth. They may not choose to do that, but then they are left one step closer to addressing things head on, because one method of avoiding the consequences of working things out is now off the table.

If you are going to involve a third party and don’t want to wind up in the same place again, then be sure to be open to feedback, to look as carefully at what you are bringing to the issue that makes it go the way it is as you are looking at the other person and making it about them.

This isn’t easy, but facing the same thing over and over again without it changing fundamentally is a lot more difficult, we just are limited to only hindsight being 20/20. There’s no reliable way to tell the future and see that the issue you’re dealing with now is one you’ll be confronted by over and over again. If we knew, we’d see that the time to address things head on is right now.

Advertisements

Serve The Separation (between us)

Our heads and stomachs hurt from so much talking at.
Not with, barely even to.
We’re doing the talking and we’re on the other end, feeling dunned, bludgeoned.
So are “they”.

In the end, there is always a separation, whether it is your parent, friend, child, peer, boss, “opponent” or with the divine. We can’t be inside each other’s experience. We can’t fully empathize without some self-protection being present. At least most of us, most of the time. Being truly connected really is the promise, the great opportunity of being alive, whether that’s with a mountain range, a blue sky, a song or with each other.

And if someone doesn’t serve that separation, if someone doesn’t own it as their territory and address it with either their words, their listening, their surrender of protection or defense, in a way that really connects us to each other, the separation remains or grows. This may be one definition of love. We really need to receive someone fully, as they are, to cross that divide between us. It breaks the spell. We stop fearing each other, overtly and in that way that’s always there, at least for a moment and that magic is present.

The greater concern than who wins is this gulf growing between us, whether that’s your wife or husband, or your fellow citizens. If we really touch it, we sense that the distance is heartbreaking.

I hope we turn towards healing, listening and serving that separation. It’s there in all our relationships, at least some separation exists. Be the one who owns it as your loving responsibility. We may truly hear each other and care for one another if we can do it. We may come back together, closer than ever.

I remember the extraordinary family members of the people lost at the Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, who forgave Dylann Roof and shook us all. They know how to serve that separation. They listened as deeply as they could to who Dylann Roof might be and how he might have wound up there and wished him all of god’s grace, the most precious thing they value, which flowed through those they lost. They gave him that love for any pain he may face. They gave him their wish for his pain to subside in the light of Christ. And just to say it, no religion or faith is required, but it can certainly be employed.

Our fellow Americans face pain, we sense great separation, don’t we? If that gulf is not crossed, how do you think this will go?

I promise you that serving separation, before making our point, before needing anything to change, is a worthy practice. It plants seeds. It can bring any two (or more) people together. It can open up everything.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/post-nation/wp/2015/06/19/i-forgive-you-relatives-of-charleston-church-victims-address-dylann-roof/

Keeping Our Power Beyond People’s Reactions

I just wrapped up a coaching call with a client considering renewing our coaching relationship. We’ve done a great job so far of getting past a lot of bugaboos and creating a huge leap in self-awareness and confidence. She shared gratitude for her ability to do this, how much it meant to her and how it’s transformed her relationships and career path. She’s been courageous.

The questions she asked herself now, looking at what’s next for her was: Is it worth it to partner with a coach to have and keep my power beyond the reactions of others and my fears of them? What happens if I don’t?

When she looked at this, the fear was palpable and so was the possibility.

Some big questions for our lives. Where do we stop because of the reactions of others? What do we give up on? What version of ourselves doesn’t come out, assert itself and simply be because of this? What’s the cost and for how much longer are we going to keep things going this way?

If you want to, please share below both wins, where you stopped letting other people’s reactions define you or what commitments you want to make to get beyond this. I promise what you write will make a difference for someone else reading the post.

Are You Really Welcome Here?

armsfoldedREALLY wanting someone to understand something, especially when you think it’s for their own benefit, has nothing to do with them getting it. In the end, how much you want them to get it is what may impact them the most and usually puts our (work, family, friend, romantic) partners in defense, reaction and protection.

The willingness of your conversation partner is the most valuable currency there is in relating to each other. Cultivate it wisely and know when it hasn’t been offered to you.

Sometimes there is no in door. Knowing how to love and take care of ourselves when the door we want to be open is closed can be the most valuable currency for our own well-being and finally takes the pressure off the other person to take care of you by letting you in.

See Your Thoughts, Don’t Just Be Your Thoughts

engineerIf you want to reduce stress in your life, if you want to make your choices from a more powerful place, if you want to become more intentional, then developing this skill can be incredibly helpful.

We can live knee-jerk lives, where our response is completely based on the stimuli around us. Thoughts are borne from our reactions to stimuli and off we go, following those thoughts. Having a fear-based existence and stretches of our lives comes directly from this pattern. Many people we tend to judge are living inside this pattern, too.

When we can get to the point of just seeing our thoughts, knowing that we are not our thoughts, knowing that they are often creations of our discomfort, our histories and traumas, our conditions, we begin to develop a powerful ability to choose how we want to be. We start to see our thoughts roll by like trains and we get to decide which ones to board.

Better yet, we get to make our own trains and ride in the engineer’s seat.

Choo-choo!

Last Night at The Relationship Circle​

relcirclePeople were funny, committed, vulnerable, supportive, honest, open, kind and brilliant while we created a temporary community of 12 people and took our own lives on.  We were willing to see the inner workings of how we operate and the possible futures we may not be prioritizing for the sake of somewhat satisfying and seductive habits that lead to predictable results in our lives.

We created uncommon experiences, powerful conversations and commitments for people to choose a path that leads us out of our comfort zones, a commitment to courage for the sake of the lives we want to live, the growth we want to see in ourselves.  That’s a great context in which to get to know people.  I really LOVED how so many people played the game last night.

Leading a transformational group for three years has been so helpful to me, too.  Working towards being who I want to be for the people that show up has been a great incentive for my own growth.  It really struck me that last night my emotions really stayed out of the conversation, at least the ones that would normally keep me from having the kind of perspective that actually can serve people.

Last month at my Advanced Circle, I called myself out there for holding a judgment about someone’s participation (I got stuck relating to her as uncooperative).  An embarrassing experience for a facilitator, but making the decision to own my reaction helped me show up way more open and loving and able last night.  So grateful to have this space.

Stuck In Our Own Creations

billboard-stuck_1116867iThis is an amazing part of life. We create something, a relationship, an organization, a partnership, a commitment and eventually it can start looking like a trap, a situation we don’t know how to get out of or something we see is taking over our lives.

This usually comes down to one thing, or two related things, bad planning and the gift of learning.

Bad planning usually comes down to naivete. It’s not on purpose. Learning is usually a good thing, but not so much when we’re unwilling to make the changes our learning asks of us or to see the learning available in the first place.

When the picture changes, when our marriage or our business requires more than we thought it would, more time, more resources, more attention, a more evolved version of ourselves, this is GOOD NEWS. The key is making sure we don’t respond by increasing our own suffering. There is always a win, we just may need more help than we think, there may be more foundation-building to do, we may need to grow or let go of our grip, our image of what it’s supposed to be.

If we can do this humbly and let go of our ego and get to work of learning and incorporating that learning, then we can really start to make life and our commitments work, and everyone has a chance to win.

This is something coaches and other people we empower to put a mirror up to us can help us make a huge difference around. They support us creating the humility to see what our traps are teaching us and the courage, conversations and accountability to grow into who we need to be to take necessary action and succeed.