Archive | Caught Learning

Who’s Got the Car Keys?


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He’s one of those friends that when I ask “How are you?” he really tells me. And when he asks me the same question, I tell him.

So when I saw him the other day and he asked me how I was, I thought back to our last conversation, two months ago, when I told him I was having trouble moving forward with the work I know I am supposed to be doing, the work I am called to do, because I’m afraid people won’t get it, they won’t believe me, they won’t want to talk about this. But when I told him at the time, he got it. I thought about the lack of progress I’ve made… and I really told him how I was.

“I’m OK. But I’m stuck.”

And what started out as “Hey, how you doin’?” turned into lunch.

We talked about what needs to be done to get things going (publish the blog posts that announce my new focus and my message, reach out to people who are in my network). I didn’t give him any bullshit about working three part-time jobs (which I am) and not having time to Do What Needs to Be Done. I just put it out there.

“I’m scared.”

He didn’t wave it off. He didn’t say, “There’s no need to be scared.”

He didn’t even ask me what I’m scared of. (There’s a list. But the What isn’t the point.)

What he did do was point out that this wasn’t Me being scared, it was the Little Girl Me. And it was OK for her to be scared. In fact, it’s her job. (One of her jobs.)

Then he said something that hit me between the eyes:

“Just don’t give her the keys to the car.”

Now that’s a metaphor I can get into.

“Just don’t give her the keys to the car.”

I laughed out loud, and said, “She must be the reason I haven’t been able to put the car on the market!” (That’s another story. One he didn’t even know about.)

She can be scared. I can comfort her. I can let her go hide. The real me, the Ancient and Eternal Me, she’s not scared. She knows – I know – what to do, and can do it. But if I give Little Girl Me the keys to car and let her drive – or she hides the keys under the sofa cushions – then we’ll never get anywhere.

“Just don’t give her the keys to the car.”

So over the last few days, every time that fear has cropped up, that resistance, I’ve thought of that. And laughed. And then done a little piece of the work that needs to be done.

And I made a poster for myself and taped it on the wall where I can’t miss it:

I’m tempted to write Dammit! in fine print at the bottom.

But I’m keepin’ the keys.

Get ready. We’re going for a ride.

Attachment


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I finally get the meaning of Attachment.

It’s a concept that has floated across my awareness at various times in my life, generally with the teaching that “bliss isn’t really possible when you’re (too) attached to things (or people, or outcomes).” I thought that meant “don’t get (too) attached because it will hurt when you lose it.”

Well, as someone who has moved numerous times and given away or sold lots of stuff in the process, as someone who throws Garage Sales for fun, I didn’t think Attachment was an issue for me.

I was wrong.

Even when I worked in a corporate job and wore Italian wool suits, I knew I would go home and put on mismatched socks and overalls. Attachment? The only things I was really attached to were my husband and my cats. (And my guitar. And my camera. And the antique cameo Aunt Norma gave me as a Welcome To The Family gift. But really, that was all.) (Really.)

I was wrong.

The other day I was telling a friend about how I am having trouble getting my car ready to sell, and how I had realized how much I liked the aura of coolness the car gives me. How much I like…

…the way people look at the car, look at me, and say, “That’s your car?” (Why are they so surprised?) And then they look at me differently.

…the way we Corvette drivers nod and wave at each other. Nobody else does that. Except bikers.

…the way people say, “You have the. Coolest. Car. Ever.” So I must be cool by association. Right?

…the way other drivers treat me. They yield the right of way just to watch the Corvette go by. On the rare occasions I’ve had to drive something else, I get no respect. People cut me off and steal the right of way.

This is all on top of the pure and simple Joy I get from driving the thing. From seeing an opening in traffic and putting the car there. From goosing the accelerator and taking off. From flying along the highway. From going around curves and corners at speed.

But that wasn’t what I was talking about.

It wasn’t about the fact this was the last car Bruce and I bought together.

And it wasn’t about the fact that I paid it off.

I was telling my friend how I had finally had to admit that my ego liked the way people look at me because I drive a Corvette…and how that made me feel.

She just nodded and said,

“Yup. That’s an attachment.”

Damn.

Here’s what I’ve realized

Attachment in itself isn’t a bad thing. The problem lies in what it keeps me from doing, or drives me to do (so to speak). And, more importantly, what lies behind it. Whether or not I sell the car, realizing the reason behind why I’ve had trouble moving forward with selling it is huge. That lesson can’t be unlearned, whether I sell the car or not.

Even more importantly, I realize as I write this, Attachment and Connection should not be confused.

We get Attached to ideas and beliefs. We Connect with Others.

This is a reminder to myself to finally believe in my Innate Coolness and Amazingness. Regardless of what I drive.

And to focus on Connection, not Attachment.


Where are your Attachments and your Connections?
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Busted


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We were talking about a subject he’s wrestled with throughout the time we’ve worked together, and it’s been two steps forward, one step back. (Sometimes one step forward, two steps back.)

“What is it that keeps you from asking your customers for testimonials, from telling people about what you can do for them?”

“It makes me feel Slick Salesman-y.”

We’ve had this conversation before.

Hmm, I thought.

“You got great feedback in your customer surveys – He’s a great guy. He came to my house and talked to me. He saved me money. He helped me with a tough situation. True?”

“Yeah.”

“And I know you are all about service. You want to be an advocate for your customers. True?”

“Yeah.”

“So, while you do have the goal of making a decent living for yourself and your family, what would happen if you held the intention when you talk to people of creating a win-win situation? Would it feel different if, when you asked for an appointment, you thought about those success stories, and all the people you’ve helped?”

“Maybe,” he said.

“Give it a try. Practice on me.” So he did. First he was quiet, and then he started practicing, while holding in his mind all the people he has helped – while earning a living. He tried a few phrases, and started to get some momentum. Suddenly he burst out,

“I CAN HELP YOU, DAMMIT!”

“Yeah!” I cried. “Now you’re getting somewhere!” We started riffing on that, and I joked it could be a great tag line for giveaways – T-shirts, travel mugs, all labeled with the name of his company, and I can help you, dammit!

His eyes lit up, and he started to laugh, and shouted, “DAMMIT, YOU NEED ME!”

Suddenly he sobered and looked at me out of the corner of his eye. “That would be a great motto for Susan T. Blake Consulting, too,” he said.

*cuethesoundofbrakessquealing*

I…er…um…well. Yeah.

Busted.

Damn it! Caught learning again.

So we practiced saying it to each other.

“I can help you, dammit!”

“I can help you, dammit!”

“That does feel different, doesn’t it?” I wondered out loud.

“Empowering,” he said.

Yeah.


Hi, I’m Susan T. Blake,
Professional Encourager and Lifelong Learner, and
I can help you, dammit!
Contact me at http://susanTblake.com/contact-me/

Now let me hear you say it – leave a comment, below!

Image courtesy of imagerymajestic / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The Defeat of Our Intuition


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This morning I watched John Bohannon’s TED talk, “Dance vs. powerpoint, a modest proposal.” It’s pretty fabulous. You can watch it here:

Cool, huh?

I don’t know if you caught it, but in the middle of his talk, one statement in particular caught my attention:

“This is the great pleasure of science: the defeat of our intuition through experimentation.”

I don’t know about you, but I hate it when my intuition is proved wrong. For a second, at least. And then…

That moment is a choice point. A choice between clinging to Being Right, and learning something. Exploring.

It can be really hard to let go of the security of Being Right, of that Beautiful Idea, and be willing to accept that there might be an even more beautiful idea. Or a less beautiful idea that is right.

I hate that.

And I love it.

We are Learners, as well as Teachers. Which means not only adding new knowledge, but often replacing knowledge. And it isn’t adding new knowledge that can be hard, but allowing the replacing of knowledge, allowing for the possibility of being wrong. The beauty of that is that once we (I) allow for the possibility of being wrong, we (I) allow the entry of the new idea.

Brene Brown talks about vulnerability and shame and it is those, the fear of them, that can keep us (me) from allowing the possibility of being wrong, allowing the defeat of our intuition. The desire to protect our (my) ego.

Which is where Curiosity comes in. “Hmm, what could work better?” I ask myself. “If this thing I was sure was true isn’t working, then what will work better?”

Sigh. It’s hard to know when to keep trying, and when to shift to a new approach. How long does one keep trying, applying persistence, before remembering “If you always do what you’ve always done you’ll always get what you always got?”

Perhaps we (I) have to trust our (my) intuition.

Ha! ‘Tis a puzzlement.


OK, I was just about to hit Publish when I had another thought.

It requires both. Trusting our (my) intuition and being open to new evidence. And this is where Community is important – having people to listen to, to bounce ideas off of. Which requires vulnerability (again), being willing to let my community see me be wrong, and change.

Maybe that’s an important part of the definition of Community: The people with whom it is safe to learn, to be wrong, to grow. And to be a part of that Community, I have to offer that safe place to them, too.

Anyone feel like dancing?

How Willing Are You to Be Caught Learning?


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This fairly innocuous question came up recently in discussion, and I admit it went in one ear and out the other until later.

How willing are you to be caught learning?

Whether facilitating a discussion or process, managing a project, or leading others in whatever capacity, we I want to look good. We I want to be respected. We I want to keep control of the situation.

At the same time, we are human. We learn new things all the time, which is part of how we got where we are. We even (gasp) make mistakes – which is (hopefully) one of the ways we learn.

The fact that we learn, or even that we make mistakes, isn’t the issue here. (It’s actually a whole other issue.)

The issue is contained in the language of the question:

How willing are you to be caught learning?

Mm hmm. That’s different.

To be caught learning.

Just the language suggests that we’re being caught in the act of something wrong, that someone has seen us doing something we shouldn’t, that the expectation is that we don’t do that.

Caught red-handed. Caught in the act.

You’re supposed to be the expert.

You’re supposed to know what you’re doing.

We’re not paying you to learn at our expense.

And yet…

Leading, in whatever capacity, is a bit like parenting. Ideally we are modeling the behaviors we want people to learn and engage in. Instead of “Do as I say, not as I do,” the ideal is “Do as I do.”

Do we lose our authority when we are “caught” learning? Or do we strengthen and deepen it?

Much depends on the expectations of the group (and how we manage them), our own expectations, and the rules of engagement.

Much also depends on how we handle the situation:

Do we acknowledge the learning, even admitting to having been wrong? Or do we try to cover up the learning in some way?

Covering up the learning can be very dangerous, because it sends nefarious (and untrue) messages that I Am Never Wrong, I Have Nothing Else To Learn, It Isn’t Safe to admit to not being perfect or not knowing everything (so you shouldn’t admit it either), or There Are Different Rules For You And Me, and so on. It also raises the question in the minds of others, If You’re Not Being Honest About This, What Else Are You Not Being Honest About?

We can lose more credibility by being “caught” learning and being dishonest about it than by being honest about being wrong or learning something new.

So, is the solution to avoid being caught learning? Or to be transparent about learning and being willing to change our minds and directions?

I propose that the answer is to be visible and transparent about learning. This can be done without surrendering authority; in fact it can strengthen the respect people have for us and serve as a learning opportunity for all of us (even if it is a humbling one).

What do you think? What are your assumptions and expectations about leadership – your own or others’? What are the pressures that can make it difficult to effectively lead by example?

Please leave a comment below!


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