By Steffan Surdek, Pyxis Cultures
I talk a lot with those around me about co-creative leadership and collaboration. My team and I collaborate a lot with our clients, but not as often as we do with each other.
More often than not, you have the choice whether or not to collaborate. When you keep collaboration optional, you're allowing a way out for yourself, and you're likely to find a reason not to do it. But even though collaboration can be uncomfortable at first, the more you practice, the better you get at it.
My team and I still struggle to agree on certain things when we work together on something, but it's part of the fun of collaboration. It goes to show that even the so-called "experts" sometimes run into difficulty too!
Here are five ways you can allow yourself to be a voice among many in the conversation.
1. Have a clear goal.
To begin collaborating on something, you need a shared understanding of what you are trying to do. Without a clear and common goal, it's difficult to do anything as a team. The goal can be as simple as a statement everyone agrees on. You may find it more useful to have a list of three or four bulleted objectives as well.
For the next few weeks, as practice, observe the meetings you take part in. What's the purpose of the meeting? What happens when the purpose is clear, and what happens when it's missing? How do people take part in it?
By Susan Begeman Steiner
Energy drives progress, but what type of energy is the best? In the global conversation about the environment, we might argue the virtues of various forms of energy including solar, wind, geothermal, hydrogen, tidal, wave, hydroelectric or biomass.
But what about with people in the workplace? What is the most powerful energy there? Various sources of energy drive people’s behavior. In the past, the energy sources we’ve paid the most attention to have boiled down to either reinforcement (money, awards, recognition) or punishment (demotion, dismissal, public humiliation). These forms of energy work in the short-term, but their effectiveness diminishes in the long-term. ...Click 'Read More' below
By Susan Begeman Steiner
Have you ever had someone ask you what you are waiting for? if so, you know the meaning is clear: Get into action - stop wasting time!
Waiting has become synonymous with wasting time. We all dread the Limbo feeling of the doctor’s office waiting room. The magazines are boring, time slows down, have to get out your iPhone. Waiting seems a waste, an inconvenience, or worse, a slight – after all, important people don’t have to wait.
This waiting room phenomenon has colored our ability to wait in other parts of our lives.
Impatience keeps us distracted, in perpetual motion and on the surface level of life, like skipping stones.
This intolerance for waiting is a lack of appreciation for what waiting can actually bring.
Mechanically speaking, most people operate optimally if they wait for a “nudge” from the outside that they can say YES or NO to. When they say YES, they find themselves drawn to something -- think romance, inspiration, kismet. Something inside them rises up and is called forth. A sleeping desire is awakened, followed by an influx of energy to start something.
This is the Wow Factor of Life.
But if you are too busy being busy, it is not possible to wait. When the kismet thing happens, you are already gone, having run off to the next thing that you thought of, fueled by a fear of staying still for a moment. Kismet arrives like the movie hero who finally comes to his senses and knocks on his Love’s door, only to find that she took a job in Chicago.
Waiting requires patience, no way around it. But it is the patience of the acrobat on the flying trapeze who lets go in mid-air and waits to be caught by her partner. For her it is an exciting waiting, that endless moment until she is caught (or falls into the net).
We need to get better at waiting. We need to turn waiting from something that is boring into an exciting, endless moment of allowing. Allowing the next amazing thing to happen. This way you are home when your Love rings the bell. Something deeper can guide you and you are no longer dictated to by the Hurry Gods.
Three practices in the art of waiting:
For some of us it is best to tune into the invitations that come to us. But, whether you hear that inner voice or listen for invitations, the waiting is the same. Patience is the starting point.
Contact me if you would like to learn how you operate mechanically and learn for yourself how you can wait for the very best that life has to offer.
Get in touch if you would like to learn how you operate mechanically and learn for yourself how you can wait for the best life has to offer.
By Susan Begeman Steiner
Awareness is the parent of change. For example, when you are driving and aware that there is not a car coming up in the lane next to you (in your "blind spot"), you can choose to change lanes safely. In your personal life, if you are aware that a behavior of yours is keeping you from getting what you want, you can choose to change that behavior.
But without awareness, you simply have no choice, because you cannot see. You might pull into the next lane blindly and hit a car or continue acting in ways that are not in your best interest.
How can we learn to see what we cannot see in order to increase our personal awareness?
"Blind Spot" Remedy
Simple – Pay attention to the feedback you naturally get from others. Ask them for more information and consider what they say, instead of dismissing it or justifying your behavior.
More Difficult - Ask people you trust for specific feedback. This can be a scary thing to do. It takes courage to actually ask and sincerely desire an honest answer.
Zen Master – Be open to the feedback you get from people, but also the feedback you get from your life experiences. When something goes wrong, be bold enough to consider why this is happening to you and what there is for you to learn. Point the finger back at yourself. The attitude is that whatever is happening is for your growth and development. Learn from everything you can and keep growing.
Blind spots, once remedied, are opportunities to grow. At the very least you will have more information about yourself and how others perceive you. You alone can decide what changes to make based on the feedback you get.
The first step toward change is awareness. The second step is acceptance. -- Nathaniel Branden
by Suzie Doscher and Susan Begeman Steiner of The Coaching Group of Switzerland
Confidence is a hot topic in business. Usually people worry about having too little confidence because that makes it difficult to take action in many situations. These are some areas where confidence (or lack thereof) show up:
It takes confidence to say 'no'
You need a certain amount of confidence to deal with the possible consequences of saying ‘no’. Without enough confidence, you probably won’t risk this, even if it could lead to good consequences.
So confidence is great, right? But what about when you are over-confident?
Results of having too much confidence:
As with confidence, every ‘good’ trait has a dark side. That leaves us in a balancing act between too little and too much. Finding that balance in each moment is where awareness comes in. Knowing and being honest with yourself with help raise your awareness.
By Susan Begeman Steiner
Connection is the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship.
-- Brené Brown from The Gifts of Imperfection
What is more important to you – What you say to someone or how connected you are to the person to whom you’re talking? How often do you slow down and just be “present” with someone?
Quote from Kushandwizdom
When I travel from Zurich to Basel for work, I see about 1000 people in a day. I see them at the train stations and on the train, tram and bus and at the office. I am usually rushing through the train station, busy staying on schedule so I can get to my client’s office in time. Then on the train, I’m preparing for the meeting with my client and making sure I don’t end up on the wrong train or tram and end up in Germany somewhere (that has happened to me before). It is rare that I slow down on the trip and connect with anyone.
One notable exception has happened on the tram in Basel. There is a woman who stands in the tram and sings a lovely song for donations in a cup. She gets on at one stop, sings and then gets off at the next stop. I've seen her three times now. I watch her while she sings and often she sings just to me, I being the only person on the tram who is actually looking at her. I fish out coins and put them in her coffee cup when she walks by at the end of the song. Sometimes, except for my client, she is the only person I connect with on my whole trip. Well worth the money in the cup.
I make it a point to connect with my clients because I am a coach and that’s what we do. But I would guess that of all the people I pass on a day like that, I actually connect with fewer than 1% of them.
As Brené Brown says, connection is energy -- energy that passes between two people who see, hear and value each other. It takes a moment to sink into seeing, hearing and valuing another person. You must actually look at the other person. It happens for me when I take the time to look into someone’s eyes and ask myself, “Who’s in there?” In that moment it’s like when I was a kid knocking on a friend’s door asking if she can come out and play. I always feel a jolt of energy when I connect this way.
It’s such a simple thing really. Why don’t we do it more often?
When that connection energy is present, we can possibly move on to “giving and receiving without judgment” and “deriving sustenance and strength from the relationship.” But it starts with a slowing down to connect.
In the thousands of moments of life, those rare connections are quite precious. They remind us that we are not alone. By connecting, we can experience the deeper connection that binds us all together.
“We are like islands in the sea, separate on the surface but connected in the deep.”
― William James
By Susan Begeman Steiner
Recently I had some tough times. Weeks went by and potential clients were not returning my calls and then a big job came up and someone else got it instead of me. I started to question my abilities, doubting myself and wondering who I was to think I could actually help anyone with my coaching. I was in a slump and not at all happy about it.
Enter Bill McRaven, former Commander of Special Forces for the United States Navy. Here’s a guy who can really talk about getting through tough times, having survived Navy SEAL training. In his 2014 Commencement speech at the University of Texas which has been viewed over 2 million times on YouTube, he tells lessons from SEAL basic training. Spending the 20 minutes to view this video altered my perspective.
One thing he said was, “Know that life is not fair and you will fail often.” This is more profound that it might seem; it is an inoculation for the tough times.
When you have tough times, remember these things:
A. It’s not personal: Life isn’t fair and so the tough times might actually not mean anything about you personally.
B. Strengthen your goal: Failure isn’t even a problem unless you are up to something you care about. Remember what that is.
C. Learn from the experience: You can learn more from failing than from succeeding.
D. Don’t give up: The antidote to failure is to keep going.
Of course, you will feel bad sometimes. I know I do. You may feel sorry for yourself, get discouraged or even think about quitting. However, the important thing is: How long will you be let those feelings keep you from doing the next thing?
I appreciated the “toughen up” message from McRaven, who I consider to be an American hero. If you want to not only get through tough times, but also make a difference in the world, you need to find a way to keep going. The sooner you get over yourself, learn what you need to learn and get back into action, the better.
The greatest glory in living lies not in never failing, but in rising every time we fall.
-- Nelson Mandela
By Susan Begeman Steiner
Diane was new to the job and was having a problem with a co-worker named Matt. The team that Diane was leading needed Matt’s expertise for their health-care project, but he didn't show up for team meetings. He would miss one team meeting after another, always for seemingly good reasons. Diane heard from others on the team that Matt was arrogant, anti-social and notoriously difficult to work with. Diane and her boss met with Matt and talked to him directly about the advantages of his participating on the team, but nothing changed.
During a coaching session, I asked Diane to answer these questions about Matt:
• What is he committed to? What motivates him?
• What do you have in common with him?
• In what ways do you respect him?
From her answers to these questions, she realized that Matt was very committed to making things right for the patients, above all else. She remembered meeting him when she worked at another facility and admiring how dedicated he was. She felt that the two of them shared that dedication and simply had different ways of showing it. Lastly, she realized that maybe not everyone has to be a team player. She decided to meet with Matt and find out more about him and what was important to him. She also thought of ways to include Matt independently without having to insist that he attend team meetings.
As a result of changing her "story" about Matt, her experience of him changed drastically. She has been able to establish a strong partnership with him. He calls her with his input and they are now able to work productively together.
Stories Shape Our Lives
Stories like the one Diane had are the fabric of life. We weave stories together together to explain things that happen in our lives and in the lives of others. Then we believe our own stories. In fact, our belief in the stories we make up are so ingrained, that we generally think of the stories as facts and might even say, “That’s not a story, that’s my life!” or, as Diane had done, “That’s no story, that’s what he’s like!”
Our stories shape reality. They can empower or discourage us, set our feet forward or stop us cold in our tracks.
What stories do you tell?
Start to listen to your own stories about yourself, your co-workers, spouse, friends and family. Listen to what you say and start to observe the effect your stories have on you and others.
Are your stories serving you? If not, then get some help from a coach or from a good friend who won’t simply agree with you. Ask the questions that will help you find a different story so you can see things differently. When you can see things differently, you will be able to find new, more empowering possibilities for action. Just by changing your story, you can change everything.
If you are going to tell a story, make it an empowering one.
By Susan Begeman Steiner
You will want to read The Gifts of Imperfection if you are:
• Tired of living your life from "should" and are ready to live from your heart
• Interested in research-based information that includes the word "wholehearted"
• Done with trying to live up to the expectations of others
• Ready to follow that age-old advice: "Just be yourself"
The Gifts of Imperfection by Dr. Brené Brown is a guide to wholehearted living. The book is surprisingly un-sentimental, action-oriented and just plain true. The kind of true that will have you shaking your head yes while you are reading. From her research and her personal journey into wholeheartedness, Brown lifts up the very real possibility of actually living as yourself with no apologies.
“Worthiness doesn't have prerequisites.”
― Brené Brown
by Susan Begeman Steiner
You have decided that it is finally time to deal with that particular person about that particular “thing” that you’ve been putting off. You’ve been dreading it and have decided you will finally address it face to face. This is your Moment of Truth.
First, let me say congratulations! Most people never come to the point of actually addressing directly a difficult situation. It seems easier to sweep it under the carpet and tell yourself it will work itself out without you having to do anything. In the meantime you suffer and your relationship with the person suffers. Getting back into relationship with the person requires action, but the pay off is worth it.
So you feel that you are ready now. Question is, how do you proceed? This Moment of Truth conversation deserves focused preparation. It will help to take time to answer these questions:
1. What happened?
Answer like a scientist who is observing and not ‘getting inside anyone’s head.’
On New Year’s Eve, you and three younger people used chalk to write words and draw on my car. You said it was meant as a joke. You did not offer to clean my car afterwards. I went to the car wash, but the writing/pictures damaged the paint job. The specialist said my car would have to be buffed which costs $150.
2. Remember how you felt when this happened.
Were you angry? Embarrassed? Disappointed? Write down your feelings. You will want to tell the person how you felt -- not as an emotional weapon, but as information. The person needs to know the emotional cost of his actions.
I was angry that you would mess with my car and also disappointed that you didn't offer to pay for the cleaning when it became obvious that the chalk had damaged the paint.
3. What specifically do you want?
I’d like for you to pay to have my car buffed. And I’d like you to apologize.
4. Write down notes for the conversation.
Make notes for the conversation. Keep the ending in mind and get yourself ready to listen to his side of the story. Your notes will help you stay on track and stick to your guns when it comes to asking for what you want.
5. Consider when to have the conversation and then schedule it.
When is the best time to talk to him? You may need to set an appointment so there is adequate time to talk (yes, even if he is a family member). If possible, meet with him face to face in a private place. If you can't meet face to face, then talk with him on the phone. In a situation like this, email and texting are not good options.
Remember that the goal is to get back into relationship with the person. It will probably be a relief not to have to step over this anymore and be on the way to regaining the trust that was lost.