Listen Deeply – Impact

Before you tell your life what you intend to do with it, listen for what it intends to do with you. Before you tell your life what truths and values you have decided to live up to, let your life tell you what truths you embody, what values you represent. −Parker J. Palmer, Let Your Life Speak

It seems her life was being held in measure to a book of values written by the life of her mother−at least the perception of her mother’s life to which she held tight. So tight in fact that it created an irreconcilable tension between perceived standard and authentic reality.

You know those times when a voice speaks something that makes you say, “Ouch!” And then you slide into deeper shock upon realizing it was your voice! Such was the case with the question I posed during one particular session with Susan.

Susan had been telling me in great detail about her mother. As I listened I remember thinking how unbalanced such admiration felt. That’s when I heard it: “Do you think there might be a need to separate your admiration for your mother from your need to be like her?” When I realized that the voice was my own, my eyes quickly scanned for sharp instruments on the table where we had just dined. Fortunately Susan did not try to hurt me. But if looks could kill …

After our mutual shock subsided we talked freely about the intent of the question. Susan began to see the unnecessary standard she had placed on herself; holding back the flow of the authentic Susan. It was particularly powerful when she was able to embrace another question: Wouldn’t it break your mother’s heart if she thought she was part of anything holding her daughter back?

It thrills me to know Susan opened that day to listen deeply and stepped through a portal to authentic reality and unique impact.

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Letting Go into Focus

If you have ever had to focus intently on something (and you have), you achieved focus only because you simultaneously let go of other things. Think about driving. Many accidents are caused by a lack of focus on the practice of driving. Things like texting, eating, putting on makeup, and reading are examples of what must be let go in order to focus on driving respectfully, responsibly, and safely.

In light of a larger story, focus is defined as choosing direction−with its corresponding activities and strategies−supportive of your purpose and commitment to life with meaning. −Wading the Stream of Awareness (Focus Chapter)

I had been working with Vicki for a few months. In one of our sessions I began by telling her how much fun it was to work with her. She doesn’t just call and wait for the coach to tell her what’s next. She seems to always have a story to tell about something she is applying.

Vicki is mastering the art and power of focus. As she has become more presently conscious of the values and strengths already flowing in who she is as a leader, she is creating opportunity to practice. And from this practice she lives out the coolest stories.

As a 21st Century leader … you have learned to leverage the power of commitment, to lead selflessly as you strengthen self for external impact, and to harness the power of focus as you direct voice and purpose. (Focus Chapter)

Vicki has always had purpose. As she said in that session, she has simply become more conscious of such power. Yes, our purpose is power. No matter the work you put your hand to doing, it can be done with purpose−and the impact of your work is amplified through the clear focus of purpose.

See sister post, Release Focus into Skill 6

Personal Clarity

Prior to Eric and I entering a one-on-one coaching relationship, he had participated in group Desire & Intent sessions I facilitated with his peers and their CEO. Eric is the newest of the officer team and has thoughtfully and intentionally considered his role of leadership in the organization. In our first coaching session, his strength for thoughtful preparation was astounding. I told his CEO how, as I did my usual start-up monologue, Eric sat patiently and listened. The moment I finished Eric shared that he had been thinking in preparation for our coaching work. He began to share and I could barely keep up.

Trusting and acting on his own values, Eric allows purpose to flow with clarity for those he is charged with leading, influencing, and serving. A personal clarity at the level of one’s own values is the origination of authentic communication and connection.

Communication is judged – or perceived – as good when: It flows; it comes forth in a clear context; it is sincere; it is trustworthy.

As with Eric, when a leader’s communication acts are focused in the need of the present, the hearers are more equipped to do their part in filling the gaps necessary for a connection of mutual impact.

Growth Demands Focus

The busyness of our collective 21st Century is a conceived barrier to individual focus. This leads one to believe that we can give attention to superfluous activity and demonstrate competency in the process. This is misguided.

To focus is to choose direction; it is present clarity in the light of individual purpose and commitment. Focus is a treasure in the 21st Century.

Too often I observe supposed development efforts being composed from a litany of perceived weakness. This misguided focus is ‘not’ a path to personal/professional growth and development. True growth and development can only occur when built on the foundation of one’s core values, innate strengths, and developing skills.

Your intended impact in this world is demanding your present attention and focused intention.

2 good reads in relation to your focused expertise in the 21st Century:
Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell
Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us by Daniel H. Pink

Voice is Core

This post, and the next 6, are rooted in the topic of voice. The longer I study, observe, and practice in the freedom of voice, the more I am in awe of the power.

Those who know you best – who love you authentically – appreciate you for something they know consistently about you; something that is core in their experience of you. I contend what these persons experience are results and manifestations of your voice.

I learned something about voice as a value the very day of this post. Marvin and I were working on strategies in support of his goals. As he walked me through his thinking on these strategies, it was vividly evident that his voice of engagement/encouragement was at the core of his process. As Marvin talked, I recorded each strategy and his unique, behavioral steps for action. I flipped up to his Values Cycle and there at the center of his values was his voice. Seeing his voice in a literal, visual presentation was powerful for both coach and coachee.

Marvin is authentic; what you get is who he is. This presentation of authenticity flows to others through his voice. It is Marvin’s consciousness of his voice and his commitment to it, that allow him to persistently flow out the results and manifestations of who he is to the world.

Am I Doing What’s Right?

The truest validation of confidence is when you take action simply because you know it is the right thing to do.

The CEO and his five VPs are a great team. The VPs have solid, trusting leadership in their CEO. The CEO has diligently created a great team of VPs. The reality is they would have been fine without me.

The CEO liked what I had to offer in my work. He seemed confidently clear that it was the right thing to do to work with me. It was my privilege to begin this relationship. It seems the CEO knew precisely what each individual VP needed and would receive.

His confidence furthered resolve in my approach while giving me complete confidence in the flow of our mutual work. As each participant learned more about their own uniqueness – through values, purpose, and voice – the sessions together became a swirl of meaningful dialogue where each individual found true validation and confidence in uniqueness and authenticity.

It didn’t hurt one bit to get a bit of validation for myself; and to be reminded I am doing what’s right.

A Manuscript of Values

It is indeed a challenge to embrace an experience for its lasting treasure and let the rest go. If one is not consciously locked on one’s values, it may be near impossible. It is human nature to seek in each experience an answer to the question, “What does this mean to me?” When the answer is not clear, we tend to script a message for the particular experience; an injunction that tends to fuel a false fear that could otherwise be quelled by an authentic answer.

That answer is faithfully positioned in the manuscript of your core values. These values are the chapters in the book of your authenticity. When we understand our own values at a level that is personal versus general, we are better equipped to navigate meaning and find our own answer.

Your individualized values are interconnected in a way that provides a continual source of forward energy. Just as the chapters of a good book move the reader through the story, your values move you purposefully and confidently along your path.