When Beethoven looked at the piano keys, he saw a symphony. When Michael Jordan saw a basketball, he saw greatness. When I meet people, I see powerful sublime human systems. I see the unseen, the narrative that is more powerful than the surface. The real deal! And instead of holding onto it, I share that understanding with everyone I meet in order to help them move from fear to freedom.
I have been described as a skillful, compassionate bull$#@&-meter. I’m good with this because more than anything, I believe at their core, (and unless they are acting from a serious mental illness), people are and want to be great and when they are not, they are discouraged. And more than ever, that story – the one that is really happening under the surface – is what each person needs to see and move beyond. Not the one we tell ourselves. I want people to reframe self-perceptions that inspire shame, so they can access their wisdom and intuition and have fun creating a bright future.
The old ways of understanding human systems are not working anymore – the way of superior versus inferior or management versus employee or parent versus child. Actually, those warring philosophies never did work. And now we need systems to create authentic relationships, equality and reveal the courageous people we really are.
We need to be more human – as leaders, educators and parents. In order to do this, things must get real. What is your process when you feel frustrated, confused or paralyzed; the days when your staff is not getting along, your business is failing to thrive, or when you see staff coming to work with a dull expression on their faces? Maybe it’s you wearing that expression. Your bold life is within reach but you must reach within, past the protections that keep you from addressing real issues. Trust me, you have good reason for what’s happening and it’s not your fault. Here are some ways to start:
Adopt a counter-Intuitive approach – Question everything. Look at things from all angles and open to see totally new perspectives. Do you believe people must suffer when they do wrong? Why? Do you believe you can’t be a good boss, parent, or teacher AND be friends with those you lead? Are you sure? Do you think being truthful and loving always needs to look or sound nice? Really? Be willing to look through a new lens and confront your illusions of security so you can help others do the same. Open to exchange what you are holding on to (that isn’t working) for a bigger and longer-lasting adventure.
Embrace a collective, barn-raising way of functioning. Make cross-functional teamwork and collective problem-solving a priority so your people turn away from individual accomplishments which are fleeting and self-focused, to enjoy the fulfillment of social interest, deep connectedness and meaningful contribution alongside others. To do this, get real about collaboration, trust, and how to set it up so everyone wins and helps each other to be wildly successful.
Choose to create a new normal – build the capacity to change. Create a strategy and then have the necessary conversations to address any place people are clinging to old ways of doing things because they are afraid of change itself. Get clear about what must be let go of and what must be adopted. You will not be able to transform any of your train wrecks as long as people are unwilling to move out of survival and auto-pilot when clinging to an illusion of safety in “but, this is how we’ve always done it.”
Most of all, aspire to cultivate joy and nothing less. I assure you a joyful workplace, school and family is attainable. It’s positive, appreciative, playful and real! Let me help you get there.
Judy Ryan (judy@LifeworkSystems.com), human systems specialist, is owner of LifeWork Systems. Her mission is to help people create lives and jobs they love. She can be reached at 314-239-4727.As published in St. Louis Small Business Monthly, July 2015