Offering Luminaries A Place to Cultivate
Enjoy A Little Peace & Ease
While on Your Journey to Become
Who You are Meant to Be....
Looking around the conference years ago, I might have been intimidated by the grand titles in the room, feeling as if everyone was extremely accomplished and I had much to learn. Recently, at a professional development event I observed the room, differently.
Sitting next to a well titled individual, when asked to reflect and synthesize what we had just learned, writing our thoughts down in the workshop issued notebook, my table mate froze. I was writing wildly and he kept flipping back and forth through the pages trying to discover what he had learned. He was unable to put down even just one thought, even though we had been listening to the facilitator for two hours. Soon the five minutes of journal time was over and we continued to work through the workshop lessons. The remainder of the morning I noticed the disconnect between the appearance of his engagement and his actual engagement. In short they did not align even though it appeared that he was honestly trying.
I quickly flashed back through all the meetings by where he was very vocal about solutions or identifying issues, and I began to wonder if he really understood the implications of what he was talking about. Especially if he struggles to reflect on new information provided for consideration. I began to question his ability to fully own his title and the responsibility of his position.
Shortly after this unfolding, a very heavily titled person shared out-loud profound tidbits of what appeared to be amazing strategies for being a leader. Connecting the practice of using these tools into positive forward progress for any business. The insights appeared to be wise and deep. The self-reflection disconnect appeared when I paused and wondered why these values shared had never translated into one single meeting she held over these past three years. Was she just throwing powerful concepts around or did she really believe these tenets to be apart of her personal management practice?
The final moment of self-reflection disconnect came when the facilitator talked about collaboration and the different levels of disengagement. Many people in the room offered ideas around what was being discussed. I had been quiet up to this point. With the room silent, and the facilitator questioning a third time, asking for additional ways that collaborative sharing can be thwarted, I slowly raised my hand and expressed the following.
“A person in the meeting might remain silent and not offer solutions or ideas if what they have to offer is outside the norm or understanding of the level of thinking in the room. As an example, if everyones ideas or discussion can be plotted around lets say a level 5, and the new idea offered is so far from the other ideas plotted on a chart, the room is typically unable to take the information in and respond. Let alone have the ability to consider the new possibility as an option. This lack of group acceptance, reflection or openness stops new ideas from being offered when the collaborative idea is far outside the teams normal thinking box.”
I myself experience this all the time… of course I did not share this last part out loud.
What transpired in that moment- was exactly what I was talking about. The room went silent, and the facilitator- who is doing this workshop as part of her dissertation research- scrambled to make some statement that showed her lack of understanding. It took just about everything I had not to laugh out loud, and express that what I was talking about just happened again in this very moment.
The entire room was unable to process that most people are only open to new ideas if they sit on a plot chart within a few degrees beyond their thinking. I am certain this is not a new or novel idea- but to this room it was. The moment for everyone to practice a little self-reflection was lost on the entire room. And this left me feeling separate and different from everyone and frankly a little sad. Here in this room— with all these impressive titles- it appeared that they are not anymore informed or able to see the complexity of collaboration bias in the workplace. Even the hungry PhD researcher was unable to process the idea.
I left the workshop with what felt like a hangover, the triviality of the training moved the room just a few degrees forward, while they all expressed how it profoundly transformed them. What I wondered was how much self reflection had they actually done to make this statement with authenticity?
I am starting to see that a new metric of success is required for me to better gauge my work environment. It is not that I am judging them- as good or bad ( although it is tempting) rather taking the temperature on their ability to work with me on the projects.
The most engaged people I have found are the ones that easily self reflect, put their personal transformational thinking into practice and are always willing to change their view on a dime. Titles have little or nothing to do with this skill.
What might our professional evaluations, and career ladder climb look like if it included our ability to use personal reflection, and the practice of transformational thinking — as a success metric?
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