groups & awareness


I gotta say, I love using my computer for actual writing. When I bought my first laptop, that’s what I thought I’d be doing with it. It is far more satisfying than reading the news or responding to email. Just saying.

The strategic plan meeting went well. It’s always interesting to work with a team – everyone hears whatever is said through their own filter. A statement is made – “we’d like to include a diversity, equity & inclusion initiative”. One person hears things from an expansive standpoint – “Great! They’re looking to become more diverse. I wonder if they’d like to include a diversity of voices in the planning process.” Another hears it from a board development perspective –“That’s great, but make sure you’re not just adding board members to check a cultural box”. Another hears it from a funding perspective – “Ah! They want to be able to apply for the grants that are currently unavailable to them without this initiative. Fine, that will be part of the overall plan.”

I think all these responses are coming as a result of our experiential filters. And it’s interesting, not only for the pure academic novelty of observing and noticing but because it directly affects our ability to work together. We didn’t tell each other this is how we heard things – we just started acting on it. We were all trying to initiate action in the same general direction – but at different angles.

It’s like high school geometry. You draw a line emanating from a certain point. Your second line begins at the exact same origin point as the first but extends at a slightly different angle. Your endpoint ends up in an entirely different place altogether. That tiny angle differential at the beginning turns out to matter quite a bit.

Earlier this week I was kicking off a group coaching gathering. In a kick-off event of a group like this, it’s important to take some time to create the boundaries of the space you’ll be sharing. We came to that point and someone suggested confidentiality as a group agreement. Great I said – what does confidentiality look like? Someone shouted out their understanding and was immediately disagreed with. They agreed on confidentiality – their starting point – but they had different assumptions about what that would mean for the group. Their endpoint was in a different place altogether. Bringing those assumptions and interpretation angles out into open conversation is one of my favorite parts of my job right now.

In other news, the blog got two new subscribers yesterday. Which is awesome.  And also, subtly shifts how I’m approaching this writing discipline. I find myself being concerned with how things are coming across, trying to write for an audience I don’t know. I know that’s funny – two people is hardly an audience in today’s internet world. But they’re my two people (Hi guys!). This is the goal – to write to people instead of to myself. That’s the point of clicking publish instead of leaving it in a word document. And yet, it’s crazy how quickly it can become a mind game for me. A client I worked with yesterday (from S. Africa – my first international client!) is an endurance sport hobbyist and was talking about your physical capabilities being directly tied to your mental state.  Today it’s striking me that it’s not just endurance “events” (whether they be Ironman races or starting a business) for which one needs a carefully nurtured mental state. It’s everything – every sort of performance & interaction is directly tied to your mental state or the filters your mind is using to choose what angle you’re going to move forward in. Whether it’s writing a blog post, interpreting a conversation, or completing an Ironman race. That’s a major point on Mindfulness’s scoreboard. I wonder if that means I should start meditating again…

(That felt like a conclusion – but I can’t leave it. Equating mindfulness with meditating is too thin, too weak. Mindfulness is much bigger than meditating…you guys know that, right? It’s about awareness of your own perspective of one in a throng of perspectives. It’s about knowing what role your mind is playing in your actions. it’s about being aware of what can trigger which emotional responses for you. It’s about awareness and intentionality.)

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