Archives: 2019

Moving from Certainty to Ambiguity

August 1st, 2019

Let’s face it.  Most of us really like certainty.  It’s just so much easier to see the black or white in any situation than to muddle around in shades of grey.  As the Democratic Presidential contenders do their debate thing, aren’t we hoping for a clear, clean message that shows a way forward, one way or another?  Case closed. 

Yet, life isn’t like that.

More and more, I’m realizing that moving from Certainty to Ambiguity, to a place of curiosity and wonder, is harder to come by but well worth the effort.  It takes a commitment on my part to dig deeper, push past my judgments and reactions.  And do it with compassion and grace.  To stay still, within myself, and offer what I know about myself, rather than self-righteously telling someone else what I see is ‘wrong’ with them.  Or worse, feeling it but not saying anything (which will bleed out in some passive aggressive way later, to be sure).

I’ve shared Kim Scott’s model of Radical Candor before, and while it still applies to many situations, what I’m talking about here has more to do with Transactional Analysis.  In large part because when I’m ‘stuck’ in a place of Certainty, because I see myself as right and/or others as wrong, so that I can take comfort in my black and white analysis, I’m almost always operating out of my old child self – protecting, defending, rationalizing my position. 

When I can return to my present self, willing to live within the ambiguity that the present almost always requires, I find my way back to a connection with others that is far more satisfying and productive.  Yes, uncomfortable at first (not black or white, and that makes me squirm), but healthy in that curious, wondering, willing to look at my own shit kind of way.

I do hope the Democrats take a look at their shit and figure this out, sooner than later.

Thanks for listening.  Let me know your thoughts when you have a chance.


Are leaders grown, or born?

May 28th, 2019

Digging around in the garden today I had the epiphany that leadership development is really quite similar to gardening. 

First, before you even start trying to develop (nurture) the leader (daisy), you want to prepare the culture (soil) so that it’s filled with support/nutrients, so that growth is possible. 

Then, you take a look at the group of responsible leaders (healthy sprouts) and select (plant) those that look to have the highest potential.

Water, feed, weed, repeat…

My point is that just as with gardening, leadership development is as much about nurturing the environment/culture (soil) as it is about training, incentives and/or bonuses.  Maybe even more so.

Brené Brown has lately been translating her wonderful work in the field of vulnerability and resilience into the world of work.  She describes a leader as “someone who takes responsibility for finding the potential in people and processes and has the courage to develop that potential.”

Her three tips for being better leaders:

  3. COURAGE IS CONTAGIOUS.  (click here and then scroll down to the “Cultivating Connection” section for her detailed explanation).

All this requires the creation of a safe space.  A culture where mistakes are not punished but rather celebrated as another ‘learning milestone’, to be acknowledged and shared with others.

Frederick Laloux, author of  Reinventing Organizations: A Guide to Creating Organizations Inspired by the Next Stage of Human Consciousness, makes the case that humans, as a species, are headed towards work cultures that are grounded in the creation of “…soulful workplaces—schools, hospitals, businesses, and nonprofits—where our talents can blossom and our callings can be honored.”   Soulful workplaces.  Doesn’t that sound lovely?

He also said “an organization cannot evolve beyond its leadership’s stage of development.” 

So, please, tend to your gardens, both at home and at work.  And then enjoy the fruits of your labor. 

Here if you want to talk,