My very wise NLP teacher talks often of the importance of choice. As I listen to the post presidential election post mortem, I can hear him now….
If we have no options we are dead.
If we have one option, we are stuck.
If we have two options, we have a dilemma – and we have all woken up this morning ALL too aware of the consequences of that!
Yet when we have three or can create options, we have choice. With choice comes resourcefulness, flexibility, and the restoration of control, and once we feel back in control we are more resilient. And resilience feels in short supply in times of change that are complex and chaotic.
And I’m not talking about control as in power. I mean the sort of control and resilience that enables us to stop REACT-ing and instead choose how we want to RESPOND in situations. That is always our choice. Even when we can’t control what is going on around us, we still get to choose how we wish to experience our life.
And Talking of Complex and Chaotic Times…
2016 has been a year of challenge for many people – personally and publicly. It seems a very long time ago that we started to publicly mourn the loss of so much talent this year. It started to feel like a year, the like of which we could not remember experiencing in this way. The loss of people who had really touched our lives from their various stages – some who had made us laugh, others who had made us cry. Many who had challenged our thinking, who had – in various ways – had an impact on who we had grown up as and who we had grown into.
Then we experienced what we have come to know as Brexit – even though we haven’t yet. What a morning after that was. I still remember those moments (hours…. days…..) of not wanting to believe. And there were many mornings after…. And mournings, too, I guess. Regardless of our personal beliefs, we witnessed shock, denial, anger, and still many are work their way through the grief cycle as the nation tries to understand and come to terms with what will change.
And with all we have experienced in the aftermath of that day, who would have thought it was just the warm up! I went to bed last night, seeing the same patterns emerging in the election commentary, not wanting to believe what was beginning to feel inevitable. Yet again, this morning, I woke almost knowing what I would see as soon as I connected with social media or the news. Delaying the moment so it wouldn’t be real.
As I watched the public outpouring on social media, I realised this time it’s not so numbing – not for me. I understand how numbing it is right now or many of my American friends, but this time I guess I had something to draw on – that previous experience that somehow made what I didn’t want to believe easier to face. Obviously part of that is due to distance but actually it’s much, much more than that.
Why Feeling Heard Matters
What I know, deep in my heart, is that people need to feel heard. Somehow, that happened and people bought into feeling listened to and understood. How? I don’t know. To feel heard means something different for each of us, it’s a personal thing and how we express it and how we want to be heard is personal too. But I learned it to be true when the one person I loved most in the world – my father – died suddenly when I was only 13 years old and in an instant people started to make decisions about what was best for me and no-one listened because I was a ‘child’. I couldn’t possibly know what was right for me because I didn’t know enough. I didn’t have the experience of the adults around me. That ‘experience’ taught me the correlation between feeling heard and fairness.
When we don’t feel heard, it doesn’t feel fair. We feel less important, less valued, less worthy. Just less full stop. And for many people, the less we feel heard, the less we try to speak. It wasn’t just a childhood learning for me, I have seen it time and time again throughout my professional career. I’ve witnessed it between patients and their doctors, staff and their managers, and in peoples’ relationships with their friends and families. Not surprisingly, I see it regularly in my coaching practice too. I find, in working with leaders, that often they don’t have someone they can share some of their deepest stuff with, and impactful coaching can make you feel heard like you have never been heard before.
When you amass needing to be heard to a bigger level – it plays out in culture and politics – as we are all too painfully witnessing. There are many, many contributing complex factors in the outcome of the Presidential Election. This isn’t a post about my personal political beliefs, it doesn’t need to be. Because a vote for something is always a vote against something else. And choices always have consequences.
It’s Up to Us – What Will You Choose?
Today, we are faced with living with the consequences of a choice that has been made. For many of us, not a choice that we have made or even were entitled to make. And yet the consequences, the impact of that choice, is far reaching. So I am grateful that I believe that we too can have impact that is far reaching. I have already read this morning that one reason Mrs Clinton failed to win was that she failed to make people feel heard and understood. Reminiscent of the Brexit aftermath discussions in June? I think so.
It is up to us how we choose to respond to today’s news. I suggest we have three options, in fact I’ve seen all three on Social Media this morning.
Oh F*ck – the option that paralyses us in fear, in drama, in victimhood. Yes, I acknowledge and advocate that fear plays a hugely important part in keeping us safe, but it can also be an excuse for not taking personal responsibility in our lives.
F*ck It – the ‘I’m alright Jack’ option where we batten down the hatches, build our bunkers and leave everyone else to deal with the aftermath. It’s an option and will be an option that some will take. I’ve never been a fan of living in the dark, or relying on someone else to tell me when it’s safe to come out.
To give a F*ck – the option where we step up, where we own making a difference where we can, where we recognise that even if we can’t change the world singlehandedly, we can change OUR world.
To choose to let it start with us.
To choose love and compassion over hate.
To choose personal leadership – leadership from the inside out – trusting ourselves and our inner resources.
To choose to take personal responsibility for our own experience.
We can be ready to be the difference in our world.
Me? Ready? I’m Not Enough….
And if you’re not sure you’re ready? Or you think you’re not ‘enough’ to make a difference? I have seen many people turning to Marianne Williamson’s famous words this morning…. Let me close with them here.
“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, ‘Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous?’ Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
Today I will Give a F*ck by talking with 280 MBA students about the importance of listening in leadership – personal and organisational.
How about you?
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