This article is part of a series called Connected Leadership. It revolves around the observations or lessons a father wrote about in his memoir, You Are Held In Love. The specific lessons addressed in this article are:
- We create through being — Because we are, we create. Our beingness is what allows us to be creators. Since our beingness is what enables creation, what we are creating arises out of how we are being. Are you aware of how you are being in every moment? We create through being.
- Objects appear as you are — This lesson couples well with the one above. Humans tend to project their feelings, emotions, fears, and subconscious biases onto others. Another way of saying this is, I am not what you think I am; you are what you think I am. Are you aware that negative thinking about that other person or team is actually your own reflection? Objects appear as you are.
- The next moment is empty — This lesson couples well with the two above. The gist is, you are a creator through being, and every next moment of your life is empty of your creation, devoid of your contribution. Every next moment is empty, containing nothing, thereby providing the possibility for you to create anything, say anything, do anything within it. The next moment is empty.
- It isn’t what you do; it’s why — This lesson couples well with creation through being. It is about being aware of what is driving why you are doing what you are doing. For instance, raking leaves for a prison because I am forced to, and raking leaves for my elderly neighbor because I am loving, and I choose to are each raking leaves. It isn’t what you do; it’s why.
It was another day of teleconferencing. I was listening to a customer who was frustrated with a risk recently introduced into their environment. From their perspective, the risk arose because:
- the vendor’s product failed to deliver expected results
- the POC (proof-of-concept) suppling these capabilities expired (without notification from the vendor)
- the product was poorly named, confusing those who didn’t understand its underlying capabilities
From my perspective, the customers’ body and verbal language placed the blame for the risk solely on the vendor. Since I didn’t participate with the customer and vendor on this product, I realized the customer’s assessments could all be true. What struck me though, was the customers’ reaction. It was ripe with drama, cynicism, and projection of fault.
The thought, “I see no value in cynicism.” entered my mind involuntarily. As I often do, I wrote the thought down to get a better ‘feel’ of what I was experiencing. I read the newly written sentence aloud.
“I see no value in cynicism.”
I noticed the sentence did not completely describe the ‘felt’ sense of what I’d witnessed. “Cynicism” the word didn’t quite articulate what I’d seen and ‘felt’ on the call, so I decided to look up the definition of cynicism:
- An attitude of scornful or jaded negativity
- An inclination to believe people are motivated purely by self-interest
The first definition was close, but my instinct was right; cynicism, or jaded negativity, still didn’t quite hit the mark with what I saw and felt. Continuing my search through the dictionary, I found disparagement:
- To speak of in a slighting or disrespectful way.
Now we are getting warmer….How about purposeful disparagement? Ahhhh….Ridicule:
- The act of using words, gestures, images, or other products of expression to evoke laughter or contemptuous feelings regarding a person or thing
What I witnessed earlier in the day was ridicule or purposeful disparagement of the vendor. What I felt was cynicism, i.e., scornful or jaded negativity. Piecing together the energetics of the interaction, I realized that the person ridiculing actually needed to “embody” cynicism in order to ridicule; to be highly effective at ridicule, this person had to “become” or actually “be”, as a way of being; cynical.
As an outsider, as an architect, my initial perspective on why this problem occurred for the customer originated from a different viewpoint. The vendor implemented a product with defined capabilities available for anyone to read and understand. In my opinion, the frustrated customer lacked an understanding of the underlying capabilities and architecture. Their accountability to understand what was being implemented was ‘hidden’ behind the vendor's cynicism and disparagement cast. Couple this with a people leader displaying the behavior, and what is left is an opportunity for an entire team to think this behavior is OK.
The Lessons, Applied.
In this example, the customer projecting blame onto the others, with ridicule and disparagement i.e. while being cynical, are indicators of misalignment to being a connected, self-aware leader. Projection of blame means I am overlooking my part of the interaction; phrased another way, projection or judgment is a tell. I had a friend once tell me,
“Judgement is easy. The hard part is realizing, that’s where you hide.”
If judgment, cynism, and negative projection to others or life powers thought, they also provide a pointer to the dark corners of self that need light.
Connected leadership is about choosing humility, shining the light inside. It is also about being bold, reflecting the light outside as a way to create into every next moment. How this customer was being, impacted what they were creating into each next moment of that meeting. Objects reflected this to discover why they were being this way to change, become different, more aligned, humble, and accountable, more leader-like.
After the meeting, I spoke to this customer directly about my observation. I shared this writing with them. I’ve worked with this person enough to know they are also seeking to be better too. I did this because I am a friend. My observation wasn’t meant to be harsh; it was meant to be bold—me witnessing the opportunity and the potential for divine alignment from myself and from everyone I encounter.
Seek to be mindful in each moment. Seek to be omnipresent and aware of the answers to the following questions:
- How am I being?
- What am I creating while being this way?
- Why am I this way?
Welcome to Connected Leadership.