What do you see?
The past three and a half years have been a huge revelation for me. In March of 2006 we moved from Seattle to Dallas, and with our move came growing pains. Seattle and Dallas are very different cities with very different cultures. I had lived in Seattle for 15 years. Made dear friends. Did some great work. Loved the mountains. The water. The air. It was home.
When I arrived in Dallas, to say that I experienced “culture-shock” would be an understatement. My heart and soul were in revolt. I was not in my happy place. I pouted a lot. I didn’t participate. I shut myself up in my life and waited for Dallas to pass. But it didn’t.
For the first year and a half all I could focus on was what I didn’t like. I spent an enormous amount of energy proving myself right. See! See how different Dallas is! See how I don’t fit in!
Isn’t it funny, how we see what we look for?
One year, two months, and seven days (but who was counting?) later, something shifted. I can’t tell you what ignited the change. I really don’t know. But somehow, an internal change took place. I stopped looking for what was wrong and all of the sudden discovered so much that was right. Neighbors who make me feel like family. Warmth and friendliness from strangers in the line at Starbucks. Giant oak trees that fill the sky. Sunshine in February!
Here’s the thing: Dallas didn’t change. I did.
We get what we look for and we prove ourselves right every time. What are you looking for? What do you see?
OnStage Leadership is an intensely personal experience. We work on transforming the way leaders show up, so they bring their best selves to the game. It requires a lot of courage. The courage to look inside and understand yourself. The courage to question how you’re being perceived. And the courage to try on something new. And while I make no bones about the fact that it might be scary to some, I’ve never met a participant who hasn’t been up to the challenge.
Almost every time I lead the program someone says to me, “Kimberly, this is so great, but my boss would never do this.” That always precedes the conversation around how their boss “doesn’t care” or “can’t change” and ends with, “Well you don’t know my boss!”
I hear it from every level. The VPs are saying it about CEOs. The Directors about the VPs. The Managers about the Directors. If everybody is saying it about everybody else, where’s the truth?
Consider… that the truth is…we all care. We just don’t always want people to know it. Caring is messy. Caring leads to disappointment. Caring makes it harder to do the tough stuff.
Logically, it makes sense, the don’t-let-them-see-you-care thing. Except it doesn’t take in account one pretty important factor: Nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t care.
So between us, I know you care. You know you care. Do the people you lead know you care? What do they see?
Nobody wants to follow someone who doesn’t care. Do the people you lead know you care?
Like it or not, we’re all human beings. It doesn’t’ matter what fancy title we have on our business cards, we don’t get to leave our humanness at the door when we head out to work. We carry it with us. Maybe it’s time to give each other a break.
What if we could push back the blinds of suspicion and cynicism and assume positive intent? How might that change what we see?
What if we suspended our defenses and let people see who we really are? How might that change the way we’re seen?
I was talking on the phone with my talented coach-friend Shann, who reminded me of a great Eckhart Tolle quote: “Ultimately, it’s not what happens ‘out there’ that upsets you; it’s what happens in your mind.”
What’s going on in your mind? What are you looking for? What do you see?
Just this past weekend, I was laughing in disbelief at how far I’ve come. I’ll always have a special place in my heart for Seattle, but Dallas is home now.
©OnStage Leadership, 2010
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