Sunday, January 28, 2018

Messages We Give: Which Are True?

Feedback, evaluations, surveys... our society solicits input from employees, coworkers, customers... and even family and friends.  We seek this information for many reasons:  recognition; improvement; direction; understanding; and acceptance.

I wonder:
  • How well do we balance the brands and images we create (about our organization, work, and self) with the comments returned?
  • What are the messages sent and the ones received?
  • How do we characterize displeasing or unwanted feedback?

Messages We Give:  are they the ones we intended?
Note:  Click on image to expand
(Baby Blues, Rick Kirkman and Jerry Scott:  January 11, 2018)

As a supervisor, I believed that my intentions were good, and that I treated those I supervised honestly and fairly.  When it came to the annual evaluation, why was I nervous?  And, why were the employees cautious?  It seemed that no matter how good the evaluation was, the employee expected a But at the end of each sentence.  And, when improvement was mentioned in some area, it seemed that this area became the sole focus of our time together.  The recognition of excellent performance was forgotten.

Am I the same way:  not hearing the Good News because I am waiting for the 'But... here is the Bad News?"

Recently, I saw a road sign near a lookout point.  It read "Danger.  Do Not Go Beyond Guardrail."  The yellow warning sign was covered with stickers making the intended message indiscernible.  As tourists, we were focused on the view, taking Selfies, awed by the spectacular scene.  Who was paying attention to the warning sign... let alone the guardrail!

I wonder:
  • What guardrails and messages do I install around me?
  • Do I check with others what they see, hear or experience?
  • Are the messages I send distracted by other circumstances in my life?

Messages We Give:  do we give mixed messages?
(Kauai, Hawaii)
Our daily dialogue practice will open us to checking out the messages sent and received by:
  • Creating an inquiring mind: how we balance explaining what is important to us with an invitation for others to share their thoughts and feelings.
  • Developing a willingness to explain: how we describe our thought processes, meanings, and conclusions.
  • Understanding and accepting missteps: how we learn from our mistakes.

In other words, we are encouraged to develop a Spirit of Redo: the skill of stepping back, reflecting, and asking for an opportunity to repeat the situation with the new information we received.

Messages We Give:
successfully negotiating the chessboard of life
(Lanai, Hawaii)
As we navigate moments of misunderstanding, we may need to solicit feedback... and then listen with an openness to change our self-created image.  The dark moments of conflict can give way to illuminated moments of reconciliation.  Conflicting or mixed messages can be corrected.  The beautiful view can be shared.

What message do you want to give this week?  How will you know it has been received the way you intended?

Blessings as you develop your Spirit of Redo!

Larry Gardepie

Dialogue San Diego Consulting
(click on link for website)

Sunday, January 21, 2018

I Want to Believe...

What do you believe in?  This question has resonated for me these past several weeks.  With political posturing consuming our nation, the ideological divisions in society, the recent natural disasters of hurricanes, wildfires and mudslides, there is a lot to consider when reviewing the belief systems and meanings we attach to events in our daily lives.

As I reflected on what I believed in, a companion question surfaced:  What do I want to believe? 

In fact, this latter question provided insights about filters or SCRs (socially constructed realities) which were formed by family, culture, religion, and the worldview I have accepted.

What do you believe in?  What do you want to believe?

I want to believe... in people's goodness
(Hurricane Harvey:  image from World Vision)
Even with the conflicts I experience or the views filtered through the media, I want to believe in people's goodness.  We have witnessed extraordinary feats of bravery and valor through each of the natural disasters.  People helping one another to survive.

I want to believe that people are good -- that I will be there for others in need; that someone will be there for me.  I wonder:  if I truly believed this, wouldn't I see it every day in the interactions that I have with the people around me?  Am I expecting someone to fail or disappoint me -- or -- am I willing to see goodness in each smile, handshake, and interaction?

I want to believe... leaders are serving their constituents
(U. S. House of Representatives)
Throughout this past year respect for the American flag has been highlighted.  Yet, I wonder: how often have I respected the diverse peoples the flag represents?  Our belief systems seem to have divided us into Red States and Blue States, but do we remember what the colors of the flag symbolize:
  • White:  purity and innocence
  • Red:  hardiness and valour
  • Blue:  vigilance, perseverance and justice
I want to believe that our elected officials will transcend party lines and serve all constituents, struggling to honor all belief systems that are interwoven in the distinct flags of all states, cities, and towns.  Can I transcend these differences and respect the people in my life?

I want to believe... in a life without barriers
(El Malecon, Ensenada, Mexico)
Reflecting on the various stages of my life, I realize that I have changed.  My beliefs have changed as I have encountered peoples and cultures from around the world.  My perspective has expanded as I meet others who think and live differently.

I want to believe in a world without human-constructed limitations and barriers.

I want to believe... in progress that includes all peoples
(Diamond Head State Monument)
Hiking to the top of Diamond Head, I watched hundreds of people walking toward the summit or coming back down the trail:  young and old; physically fit and out-of-shape; family groups or individuals; people from many cultures and speaking languages I cannot.  All were focused on a goal:  to reach the summit... or go as far as individually possible.

I want to believe in progress that includes all people, moving ahead toward common and individual goals.  I want to believe in beginnings.  I want to believe in dialogue and understanding.  I want to believe in a world improved when we care and assist one another to attain those goals we individually and collectively aspire.

Are you willing to share...   What do you believe in?  What do you want to believe?  

May this week inspire us to reflect on the beliefs that sustain us... and possibly separate us.  May we seek to understand ways to support beliefs different than our own.
May we want to believe in the goodness of each other!

Larry Gardepie

Dialogue San Diego Consulting
(Click on link for website)

Sunday, January 14, 2018

A Pencil and Ideas: When to Lay Them Down... and Listen

Many years ago I noticed that I had acquired a ball and chain.  My movements were limited.  I blamed it on The Pencil... but, maybe it was something more?

As an assistant director, I was called upon to make things happen when it came to projects, improving processes, and motivating the employees I supervised.  I took notes at meetings to keep me organized, engaged in the discussion, and remember who would follow through on various decisions.

At one meeting with the director and managers, I was in my habitual role of taking notes, asking questions, and trying to figure out how to accomplish these new directives.  At one point, the director asked me to stop taking notes and to put down my pencil.  She explained that what was being discussed were not decisions.  She wanted us to talk through options:  to listen, hear possibilities, and not focus on an outcome.

Through my lenses of responsibility and making it happen, I was hearing the conversation as directives rather than possibilities.  I was seeking reality, not a dream!

Chained to My Perspective
(Breaking the Chains, sculpture by Melvin Edwards;
Martin Luther King, Jr. Promenade, San Diego)

In these "Ball and Chain moments," it is important that someone:
  • Notices what is happening;
  • Slows down or stops the action or interaction; and
  • Becomes vulnerable enough to risk naming what is being observed.

Courage to Stand Up and Say "Stop!"
(San Diego International Comic-Con, 2017)

I believe that is what Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and others in the Civil Rights Movement were attempting to do:  they were noticing what was happening; they were attempting to slow us down; and, with profound courage, they became vulnerable to the mistrust and hatred surrounding them.  They risked naming what they were observing:  Reality.

A Dream was planted as people interrupted their habitual responses and allowed new possibilities to be considered.  The actions of noticing, slowing down, and naming what was observed allowed other options to surface.

A Sign of Welcome
(St. John the Baptist Parish Church, Windsor, England)

Recently, I came across a sign outside a parish church in Windsor, England.  A Sign of Welcome:  all are welcome - whether you believe or not; no matter who you are or where you are from!  A sense of peace came over me.  I realized I no longer had to make anything happen:  I am welcomed.

Questions to consider this week which begins with the birthday remembrance of Martin Luther King, Jr.:
  • Is there a "Ball and Chain" that limits you from hearing others?
  • In what ways can you name the reality around you?
  • How might you welcome others into a dialogue of new ideas and possibilities?

May we be inspired this week by the dream of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., by the Civil Rights Movement, and by other movements that name injustice, intolerance and misunderstanding. 

May we become Signs of Welcome to those around us!

Larry Gardepie

Dialogue San Diego Consulting 
(click on link to website) 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Horizons... How Far Can You See?

When you look down your street, what do you see?  Houses?  Trees?  Cars?  Well-kept yards or those in transition?  Sometimes, it is easy to see what is in front of us:  the objects themselves or the meanings we attach.  Other times, these familiar scenes may become obstacles:  we cannot see beyond them; we cannot see the next street over or the other parts of town we call "Home."  We may be caught up in the familiarity of what we know... and don't realize it may have changed.

I wonder:  what would it be like if we could truly see what is in front of us, going beyond what we expect or the meanings we have created?

Looking Behind at the Wake and Turbulence

For example, when a loved one or a friend makes a comment or tells a story:
  • Do you hear only what is filtered through your definition of that person?
  • Are there obstacles that limit what you want to see or hear?
  • Do you allow yourself the opportunity to hear and understand through that person's current experiences and intention? 

Beautiful scenes begin to emerge when we see and accept another person's perspective.  A shared understanding of life begins to take shape when we dispel the fog that clouds our vision.

Looking Ahead at Beautiful Scenes

Traveling on the ocean, I am reminded from day to day and moment to moment how transitional the seascape is: ominous, dark clouds one moment transform into billowy clouds a few minutes later.  Further on, open horizons and breathtaking sunsets dance across the placid waters.

Our Lifescape is no different.  It is not a matter of holding onto one moment and making it The Only Way.  Instead, a Willingness to Journey through an ever-changing landscape of life is key to understanding:  knowing that dark moments and obstacles can become enriching scenes for calm waters ahead; accepting that placid waters may give way to turbulent times later.  We encounter changing situations, and we change.

We are invited to stay open to possibilities that reflect the nature of our willingness.

Looking Within at Peaceful Waters

What questions are present for you at the end of this first week of 2018?
  • Are dark moments and obstacles limiting what you see when encountering loved ones, work colleagues, and friends? 
  • How might you become open to an awareness and willingness that you and they are changing? 
  • Will you let go of the past and reach out to the future?  Will you listen with an intent to understand?  Are you hopeful for a new beginning? 

May we seek new Horizons of Understanding which recognizes obstacles... but moves beyond any limitations!

Larry Gardepie

Dialogue San Diego Consulting 
(click on link to website)