When things seem to be moving slowly in your work

Start with this self-evaluation checklist…

How long does it take you to get back to someone? If you need time to think of a response, do you let them know within 24 hours that you received their message and you need a day or two to respond?

My bet is, you are incredibly thoughtful and intentional, and you try not to make decisions haphazardly. This message is for you: Based on your modus operandi, you aren’t haphazard, so take a leap and make a decision. You can always change course. In fact, making a decision and leaning into it is often necessary for the extra clarity you need. Confusion comes from being in your head drowning in all the possible choices and trajectories. Pair this with the previous paragraph: committing to getting back to someone within a couple of days is the perfect external nudge gifted to us to keep us unstuck.
If you dance slow, others will dance slow with you. They will put you on the slow queue, prioritizing their dance with partners who get back to them more immediately. Think about this for yourself: when you send a text or email, how wonderful is it when someone gets back to you immediately? Pretty wonderful.

Maybe you got back to someone within the 24 to 48 hours, and they don’t get back to you for a loooong time (and sometimes, never on particular emails). Check to make sure that your correspondence is boiled down. If you reply back with a therapy session or too much minutiae in your thought process, you’ve essentially dumped your internal work and your authority on their lap, and that’s not on them. This may be an indication that a phone call may be a better, more efficient way to communicate.

Are you continually apologizing or asking them what they want from you? The ones you want to collaborate with aren’t looking for agreeable people. They want to know what you want (too), to see where both your visions come together, and where the talents complement each other. That said, demands are off-putting. The approach is to find a mutual, equitable, inter-dependent relationship.

If you feel like you are doing all the work so you feel bogged down wondering if you are on the right path, first take a moment to see if you really truly understand what the others are doing, what risks they are taking, what they’ve brought and invested in this relationship, and how you fit into it and have done the same. The more experienced collaborators will arguably seem to be doing less work externally and enjoying themselves more. They make it look easier, and they seem to have time for more “luxuries.” When we take everything on ourselves, or when we micro-manage, life gets tedious and overwhelmingly busy, and we start to feel resentful, somewhat paranoid, and driven by scarcity.
It could be that you are being taken advantage of, and that they aren’t so collaborative and great. But make sure that that’s really the case before you jump to that conclusion. I offer this vantage point because it’s rather easy to think that others aren’t doing or risking as much as we are. It’s easy to criticize others for their perceived lack of true work ethic and mistaken judgments on equal work. We never really get to see the hard work and choices others labored over when no one is looking, the emotional work that they’ve done to get through them, and the financial and emotional risks they’ve taken. At least, that’s how we see things when we are struggling.

You are brilliant. We know it. You know it deep down. Take the leap. Collaborate and get a move on.

On success

“There is nothing noble in being superior to your fellow man; true nobility is being superior to your former self.”

Ernest Hemingway

I check my heart on this as often as I can; I need to. There is this thing that spiritual practitioners get caught up in, and that’s spiritual superiority. Like we are more evolved than those who “haven’t done the work”.
We act like we are neutral, kind, and compassionate.
This doesn’t mean I don’t work on loving myself more, nor does it mean I don’t trust myself. This is not to say I dismiss myself either. It just means I need to check myself. I’m in this to feel good, and to find success, through connection, not through upward lateral movement.

Parenting, making mistakes, and leadership

I got married when I was 21, and I had my first child at 29. Up until I decided to have them, I absolutely didn’t want children, case closed. Partially, I think, I didn’t want them because I didn’t know how to relate to them; I was that awkward-with-kids “adult”.
Partially it was because I witnessed so many children acting like “monsters” (my experience at the time, anyway), and their parents looked like they were often at their wits end, completely exhausted.
Partially, I thought this world was an unjust one that I didn’t want to bring more kids into.
But I think mostly it was because I didn’t believe I could be a good parent.

So as I became a mother, there was a question that continually ran through my head (and still does).

What does it mean to be a good parent, and how can I be one?

I’m human, and I make mistakes, many of them. So pretending I don’t make them probably wouldn’t work. Children see through everything, even when we are confident we did a great up job covering things up or diverting.

I can’t project my desires, or force a perfect public image on them… like for them to become doctors, or to get straight As, or to be perfect children who sit still and quietly during dinners out. My parents tried all of that and their efforts didn’t help the relationship.

So maybe I can show them that I can cry when I am sad or hurt, and I can also be upset. Instead of lashing out and name calling, I can exemplify trying to put things into words and actions, and when I don’t get my desired result, I am still better for it.

I can show them that when I make mistakes, I own them. I can show them that justification doesn’t have to be the reaction.

I don’t have to speak to them in baby language. Instead, I can relate to them like respected adults, rated G/ PG.

When they achieve or fail at something, instead of throwing automatic compliments or distractions, I can first see how they feel about it, because they may feel something different. I don’t have to send a message that pleasing me supersedes authentically pleasing themselves.

I don’t have to pressure them to hug and kiss their extended family members, or even their immediate ones, because that should be on their own terms.

I can exercise boundaries around my personal time and space. They don’t need to see me dropping everything for them all the time.

I can have my questions direct them inward to see if their desires are coming from within, or from somewhere else. Rebellion comes from somewhere else; it’s the same thing as a tantrum.
And I can remind myself that tantrums aren’t there to make me miserable or to inconvenience me. They are there to let me know that someone needs something, is in discomfort, or doesn’t feel represented, seen, or heard.

I was thinking about this for leaders at every level.

We expect them to be perfect, yet they are human. Just on higher pedestals and with greater expectations perhaps… and with larger (mis)stakes. I hope that my children – for whom I am the first leader in their lives -don’t ever write me off for the errors of my ways.

Leaders can benefit greatly from owning their mistakes. Turn them into opportunities to demonstrate good leadership by creating better understanding and compassion. We are continuously learning, and so are they. They can show us how to change course, be transparent, and work with others when that happens. They can talk to us like respected adults. They don’t need to lie, spin, blame, and justify; it creates a breeding ground for wild tantrums, and when grownups have them, well, let your imagination fly on that one. The fact that tantrums are happening globally.. even the earth is having them.. tells us that groups aren’t being fairly respected, heard, represented.

Leaders don’t have to get caught up in the big race to the bottom. Instead they can exemplify good discourse and courage. To stand up for things they believe in. And we can listen without agreeing, and also without polarizing. We don’t have to be shocked at their mistakes. We don’t have to write them off. Nor do we have to condone their behaviors. And we don’t have to say, them first. Because we are all parents and leaders, and each of our actions ripple loudly. Arguably more than public leaders because we have the luxury of the private life that affords more flexibility in changing course.

Are we talking about the same thing?

When my daughter was early childhood age, I was at the beach with her. She made a new friend, as kids do, and spent a couple of hours playing with her, giving me time to enjoy some luxurious reading on the beach.

At some point, she ran over to me looking very serious and urgent, and she said, Mom, that girl (pointing in her direction with her head) just told me that in order to make babies, the mom and dad have to have sex. Is that true????

While she might have asked the question, the her face gave away another message: I don’t want to know.

As I paused to read her face and ponder what to do, I asked her something like, what do you think sex is?

It’s when a mommy and daddy lie in bed, on top of each other, naked. More oh my God, I can’t believe this is happening look.

I thought to myself with some relief, what a delightful answer.

Sweetie, would you like to play with your friend now and we can discuss this later if you’d like?

Yes.
She got up instantly and ran over to her friend, clearly relieved. She didn’t bring it back up for several more years.

I learned a lot that day. I learned I need to read the other person beyond the words. I learned I need to make sure we understand how others – not just kids; adults – are defining a words we all assume to be on the same page with before delving into the mist. I learned from my daughter’s wise early childhood teacher – so wise – that we want to always tell the truth in a way that is appropriate to the listener’s age; so that they feel safe. And I find that when I argue with adults, often, when I dig in long enough, I learn that we essentially want the same thing, and our vocabulary and understanding is different.

I love you

I love you because you exist. In physical form, in thought, as an idea, you exist.

I get to relate to myself through my experience of you.

You give me the chance to evolve. Whether you give me strength, challenge my tolerance, make me question myself, cause me to experience a great sense of loss, or remind me that I am indeed lovable and loved, it is through you.

It is through you that I get to check my own beliefs, attitudes, generosity, reactions, boundaries, compassion, gratitude, forgiveness, patience, depth of service, and I am sure there’s more.

The word Valentine was derived from valens, which means worthy, strong, powerful. In that we exist to remind each other of our light, our humanity, our worth, our strength, our power, you are my Valentine. Thank you. No matter what is happening, I will always try to remember our service to each other. And even when I have trouble remembering, I am certain that, at some level, I know I love you.

When I am wrong

it’s really difficult to be open about it, or to change, when

you roll your eyes at me.
you make me feel stupid about it.
you yell at me.
you categorize me negatively, even though you say it’s not negative.
you try to school or fix me.
you tell me I don’t get it.
you decide I’m not worth the time.
you avoid me.
you make me out to be the villain in your (or someone else’s) life.

An apology can’t happen because you are asking me to apologize for being out of integrity when I really truly felt that I acted in integrity, and that I did my best.

Wait.

Is this how I make you feel?

I think I need to turn this around for a moment. Please bear with me.
I’ve been open to change, and I know that I have made big changes a number of times in my life, and even small changes along the way.
What external forces helped me to change to assist my inner courage to emerge and rise above the need to defend my ego?

I didn’t feel stripped of my humanity, feeling the need to defend the value of my very existence. Thank you.
I was given the benefit of the doubt that I had my reasons that seemed reasonable to me based on contexts that may never be revealed to you, and possibly even to me, because we humans sometimes act from our unconsciousness. Thank you.
Our disagreement did not put our relationship on the line. You showed me that things don’t always iron out in one or two conversations or even in this lifetime, and that that was okay, you still saw me as worthwhile even though you didn’t agree with me or condone my behavior. Thank you!

Okay.

I need to work on treating you better when I feel polarized.