Sunday, October 25, 2020

Winning and Losing: Whose Side Are You On?

Growing up with five siblings, games and sports could become very competitive.  And throughout elementary and secondary school, we learned what it meant to:

  • Be picked on a better team
  • Earn (or receive) good grades or honors
  • Compete for a trophy or title

Our Socially Constructed Realities (SCRs) about winning and losing were formed by these competitions, being selected or not selected, and who won or lost.  Strength, wisdom, strategy and cunning were rewarded.  Dominance had a place in all of our upbringings.

Who are the Winners and Losers in your life?

What are your definitions of
Winning and Losing?
(Photo credit:  Getty Images)

As I grew older, I found that sitting around the kitchen table playing a game was about catching up with each others lives.  Yes, someone did win the game, but the focus was on being together, enjoying one another's presence, and sharing thoughts or strategies about a certain play.  The competition had lessened: it no longer felt like dominance but togetherness; helping to teach or learn.

Have you experienced a shift in Winning and Losing?

What happens after you win or lose?
(Photo credit:  Winning Together, Atlantic Business)

Entering the last week and days of this Election Cycle, I wonder how our SCRs play out?  Political ads and campaign speeches don't always focus on how to improve our society.  Rather, it seems, the wording and energy plays off of our childhood experiences of dominance:

  • I will beat you.
  • We will win over you.
  • You are losers. 

Rather than using the Winners-Losers polarity,  I wonder what would happen if the Winners (majority) developed a sense of responsibility towards the Losers (minority)?  If we are really united (together) in this American Experiment, wouldn't we want to transition away from beating each other?

Can we achieve our goals together?
(Photo credit:  Fight to the Top - Is Collaboration
the Next Competition?
, The One Brief

The goal of dialogue is to understand another experience, a different understanding, or a common objective.  When we become aware that our Winning-Losing SCRs are in play, the invitation is to notice these learned behaviors... set them aside... and listen with the intent of learning a new way of coming together.  Healing of this dualistic nature could open us to new options and possibilities.

Questions to consider as we accept the outcome of the election:
  • Am I willing to support the people who want to lead us?
  • Can I set aside the dominance-framework (one side has won all the marbles on the playground)?
  • Do I seek healing and understanding as our society moves forward?
May the upcoming weeks provide opportunities to sit at the table -- together -- and catch up on life.  May we listen to the triumphs and failures, the wins and losses, and the lessons learned.  May we seek to understand our common place at this Table of Life.


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 18, 2020

Bridges to Understanding

Do I really understand another person... what is being said; the actions taken; the conclusions made?  It's a question I revisit many times during the week.

I try to understand.  I think I understand.  I try to explain so that I am understood.  But, in the end, do I really understand another person's experiences and worldview?  Am I understood?

What don't you understand?
(Serpent Tree, San Diego, CA)

These questions surfaced as I talked with Ann, a dialogue colleague, who recently went through cochlear implant surgery.  (You may recall an earlier blog, What are We Willing to Unlearn?, where Ann is trying to unlearn her lipreading skills.)

Ann mentioned that her speech is improving because she can hear clearly the words she and others are saying.  Friends are working with her: saying a word while Ann repeats what she heard.

At one point in our conversation, Ann shared with me a profound quote and insight:

"I finally understand why people didn't understand why I didn't understand."

Because hearing comes naturally to the majority of people, they don't understand when someone doesn't hear clearly.

Can you build bridges of understanding?
(Golden Gate Bridge at sunrise)

Think of the times when we see or hear someone:  we were so sure that we understood only to find out later that there was a misunderstanding.  Did we even consider we may not be seeing clearly or hearing precisely?  For me, I automatically assume that I understood and was understood!

It almost takes an implant of humility to bridge what we think we understand and the reality of finally understanding:  the dawning or acceptance that we may not be seeing clearly or hearing precisely.

It is at this point of departure where our questions can bridge the differences between thinking and being:  I now understand what I didn't understand!  I am really curious about what you said!

Where do you want to go?
(Astoria-Megler Bridge, seen from Astoria, OR)

Through dialogue we seek to understand, but the bridge to reality must open us to humility and vulnerability:

  • What don't I know?
  • What am I not understanding?
  • How can you help me?

Bridges of understanding require that we risk crossing gaps in what we know.  The fear of releasing long-held beliefs may keep us from seeking another perspective.  Assuming that we have the answer may keep us from asking questions.

Maybe the challenge for us this week is to "finally understand why people didn't understand why I didn't understand"!

What do you think?

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)

Sunday, October 11, 2020

The Science of Ripples

I have always been curious... the why's of childhood continue to this day:

  • I wonder how that works?
  • I wonder what that person is experiencing?
  • I wonder why people can't get along?
That's why when I saw a drop of water send ripples outward, I wondered what actually happened when that drop disturbed the calm surface.

How does your life effect others?
(Photo credit:  What Ripple Photos, Pexels)

I was pleasantly surprised when I read "Curious Kids: how do ripples form and why do they spread out across the water?" (found at The Conversation).  As we would expect, the ripple moves away from the point where an object disturbs the surface.
But what I didn't realize, is that "the water molecules don't move away from the rock as you might expect.  They actually move up and down.  When they move up, they drag the other molecules next to them up - then they move down, dragging the molecules next to them down."
At a visual level we see the ripples moving outward, but at a much more basic level the molecules are moving up or down.  Both are happening!

Are you aware of your impact,
large or small?
(Photo credit:  Pixabay)

I wonder if our words and actions do the same?  At the surface, we see ideas rippling outward as we express our thoughts and feelings.  But, maybe at a more basic level, the disturbance of status quo is causing relationships and emotions to move upward or downward... to improve or deteriorate.
I wonder what would happen if we reflected more on our words and actions... and their effect on ourselves, others, and our relationships:
  • Am I aware of the impact I have on others?
  • What is my intention when I disturb the surface of relationships?
  • Do I want to build up or tear down?

How do you want to be remembered?
(Photo credit:  AZ Quotes)

Maybe the far reaching effects of our words and actions are both in the ripple outward and the movement upward or downward -- to improve or disengage ourselves from others.

Questions to consider as we move through these final weeks before Election Day:

  • How will my decisions impact others?
  • Can I see and accept the responsibility of my actions? 
  • Am I willing to work together to improve another person's condition?

May we thoughtfully consider the ripples that course outward through our society.  May we seek to disturb the surface of the status quo in order to heal.  May the molecules of our words and actions choose to drag people upward!


Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)


Sunday, October 4, 2020

Finding Balance

My brother shared a video that is mesmerizing, mystical... and seemingly impossible!  Miyoko Shida Rigolo was on Georgia's Got Talent several years ago demonstrating the Sanddorn Balance.  (Click here to watch the video clip.  It is well worth the 13 minutes... or skip the interview and jump ahead to 1:45 where she comes on stage.)

This video reminded me of a concept that was taught in our Dialogue Practicum... and, I sometimes find impossible to do:  Holding It Lightly.

The image:  a feather lying on an open hand; not grasping or holding it; knowing that a breeze could blow the feather away.

The skill:  allowing a thought or idea to be present; without reacting or judging; realizing that we are trying to communicate or share abstract and diverse truths as we currently experience them.

Can you hold lightly what you hear and see?
(Photo credit:  Sanddorn Balance)

In the video, Miyoko begins with a feather.  One by one she adds withered ribs of date and coconut palm branches collected from the most beautiful beaches in the world to create a structure that supports the feather.

If you watch the video to the end, you will see that it is the feather that provides balance and stability to the structure.  Without the feather, the structure could not exist!

What provides balance in your life?
(Photo credit:  Sanddorn Balance)

It seems that when I am in good relations with someone, it is easier to hold lightly what the other person says.  But if there is a misunderstanding or I don't know the other person, it is much harder to not react defensively.

As I listen to the news and political ads these days, I have difficulty lightly holding the conflicting stories.  I am skeptical or mistrustful of the messages shared or the motivations behind the ideas.

When do you notice how you react?
(Photo credit:  Sanddorn Balance)

I wonder... is there more to Miyoko's video?  Yes, the feather is important to the structure, but what about the branches collected from beautiful places throughout the world?  Maybe the interaction of the whole structure is just as important?  For instance:

  • What if we regard all interactions as necessary and coming from beautiful places?
  • What if we hold Relationships Needing Attention in the same light as Relations Nurtured?
  • What if we entered into conversations with curiosity?  (Tell me more!)

Before we place a feather in our open hand, maybe it is time to extend that hand to others as a sign of welcome, acceptance, and a thank you!

Larry Gardepie

(click on link for website)