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For your Trueness
holds your soul well
while you free voice
in the story you must tell.

−verse 6 of Transforming Trueness (Repose)

What I love about storytelling is wholeness. In my experience, stories have been shared with me to bring clarity and wholeness to a particular situation. This is how I use stories in my one-on-one work with leaders. I tell stories directed at the need of the individual’s integrity.

I tell stories to assist the individual in feeling, hearing, and seeing his/her own truth and reality with more clarity−opening the individual further to personal impact and potential.

In and with stories, I love to show an individual how to apply the true self in a specific situation. These are not necessarily stories told by me, but more the stories I encourage out of the individual herself. I love hearing the light in her voice when she realizes she can handle the situation in a more authentic, skilled manner for a better outcome, one leaving everyone whole and her feeling good about herself.

Christie wanted to improve the relationship with her boss. At the beginning of the coaching session where she set that goal, she asked me to help her create a process to confront him and begin the focused process. I told her I would help her create such a process.

I lied. You see, I knew I could not help her create such a process, but I knew I could help her find that process right there inside where the process already existed.

One of my grandfather’s wise sayings was, “Asked-for advice is seldom heeded. Unasked-for advice is never heeded.”

To begin the journey to the process Christie desired, I begin to ask her questions about her boss, to learn more about his story. As Christie unfolded his story to me, I could hear so much compassion, care, and concern.

The focus once completely on her, when she first told me about her frustrations with her boss, began to shift fully on him, with a powerful level of understanding in play; she was forgiving her original assumptions.

She didn’t even know when it happened, when the process she needed unfolded in her story. When she was done answering my questions, and telling the engaging story, I simply recounted the 3-step process she had asked me to help her find, a process vibrantly alive in the story she had told.

The integrity of her process was undergirded by the power of focus that had come from her voice in play as she told the story. Her voice of Positive, Open Intent was flowing in the telling.

Everything can be taken to the flow, for whatever reason. If taken there with a commitment to hold and release, whatever is placed in the flow will be free to do what is good and right down stream, whether this is seen or not by the one who releases in love.

A poem for your work: Narrative Soul

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As I write this, it was 15 years ago and we were preparing to leave the corporate life. We traveled to the region where we now live and purchased a house. I was leaving an organization where I had a good run, with 23 assignments in three states. Many good relationships were built that still nourish my work today.

We moved in December of that year. In January the company brought me back for my final day, and for a surprise going-away party. Being the reason for the party I decided to hang with it until the last person left. I had no idea that would be 1:00 a.m.  After he had too much truth serum, one of the few late attendees seemed upset and decided he needed to tell me something.

His telling was about what an executive had said to him, and how it had obviously disturbed him greatly. I write this as the 2016 presidential campaign season is days from being over. What he had heard was in no way as disgusting as what we have heard in this campaign, but to him it was nonetheless very upsetting. I’ll leave it at that as I’m simply trying to set up my story.

I will call the executive Carl. The division’s Christmas party was being planned, and the name of a recently departed executive came up as someone to put on the invite list. That’s when Carl made his reactive statement. Even though he only said it to the one person, it seems that one person couldn’t help but talk about it to others.

The next morning I traveled back to my new home. I was leaving the company with a signed contract to complete culture work that had been started by my team while employed there, and another contract waiting for approval to begin the leadership coaching part of my practice with nine individuals.

In the following days I could not get that story about Carl off my mind. I respected him enough to confront his reactivity. I called his administrative assistant and set up an appointment. On the day of the call, I found myself pacing in the yard outside my office asking myself how I was going to handle this.

When I got Carl on the phone, I said, I’m going to tell you a story, at any point if I get anything wrong, stop me. I told the story, and he never stopped me. He said that how I told it was how it had unfolded. He then said, “I was just being myself.”

I reminded him of the wonderful things he had led and done in the culture of that organization over the last few years. His presence and work had been part of setting up a needed transformation. I told him I was making this call because I didn’t want to see a simple comment take it all down. I then said to him, “You have a thousand people under your care now, you’ve lost the right to just be yourself.”

Therein lies the mystery of Authenticity. We confuse blatant honesty driven by emotion with real authentic presence. Whatever Carl’s feelings were about the departed executive had nothing to do with the person who had stood before him.

I’ve told this story many times to leader clients whom I felt needed to hear it, but writing it down is causing me to reflect on my own behavior as authentic, or not. It’s rather humbling when that spot is flicked on.

Leadership is about behavior.

It is only about behavior. We influence through behavior. Our behavior can stand in the way of powerful results or our behavior can encourage and empower others toward powerful outcomes.

An organization’s culture does not determine our behavior as a leader, but our behavior as leaders determines our culture. Frankly, I no longer care very much for conversations about culture. I much prefer to keep my energy focus on a body of work that builds confidence.

Realize that it is not how you feel that determines how you act; rather it is how you act that determines how you feel.

−William James (1842-1910)

At the end of the conversation Carl directly asked my advice about what he should do. I told him that he knew the one person that was present that he needed to talk to, and that he must go to him and ask for his forgiveness. Then, ask him who else he should talk to, and then go to each of them and do the same.

In the brightness of the authentic self (what I call Trueness) we clearly see our actions and can observe them factually, before any judgment. There is a narrow space in which such seeing occurs, and we must respond quickly leveling in on what drives us from the deepest place in our being.

Yes, as a leader in the 21st Century, Carl has grown beyond the emotional right to say whatever. However, he is completely free by his Trueness to speak from and with his authentic voice.

Bright Unknowing

Superfluous opinion, you’re not.
Yet trigger pulled, sending brightly
such divisive thinking into the air.

An opinion, only narcissism serves.
Egocentricity, and shallowness lightly,
simply wasting the burst of a flare.

Devastating challenge it was,
when such I realized,
of opinions, I must let go.

Wonderfully freeing it was,
truthful wound cauterized,
of presence, I can now know.

Inauthentic only, an opinion can be,
outwardly lashing,
misrepresentation externally told.

Authenticity, non-dualistic and free,
inwardly flashing,
oneness internally we can hold.

–J. Brunson

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Rhythm

See the Impact

I have always required a fair amount of alone time. As a child I spent hours with modeling clay as a playmate. I molded short stories and full movie scripts with the consequent figures. In my teen years, in the midst of much activity with a base of life-long friends to be, I often turned down the offer of an outing to continue working on some scale model, or other project–alone.

My first memory of feeling lonely was some time during my last two years at the university. In those days, because the university had a sprawling campus outside a small town, activity was often sparse on the weekend.

It was one of the few weekends I stayed on campus. My home was 140 miles away and I was not long with money, cooking in my room quite often in an electric skillet with ingredients brought from home, and living the remainder on about five dollars a week. I walked the campus for what I remember being hours. I was alone and walking into loneliness.

In the Middle of Alone and Lonely

I found myself outside a small chapel. Suddenly present inside, I quietly stood in the middle experience of alone and lonely. Such experience was a space asking me to be with what is, all that has been, all that will be–it’s all now.

Nearing 21 years of age, graduating with a degree in accounting, an impending job search, and our wedding, it was a beautiful, settling moment, a present grounding. Forty years later, I find myself in that small chapel, metaphorically, quite often as I coach individuals and write for you.

Surveying the years since that moment in the small campus chapel, I see how providence moved me, through experience, toward my own voice. Early on, my voice of Love, and its strength of Encouragement, struggled to find focus. Eventually, my voice became my focus as I translated voice into a personal/professional purpose and brand.

“The voice emerges literally from the body as a representation of our inner world. It carries our experience from the past, our hopes and fears for the future, and the emotional resonance of the moment.”

–David Whyte, The Heart Aroused

I truly believe that the more narrow your focus, the broader your impact. Narrowing focus is a disciplined practice supportive of the developing ability to let go.

The Middle Stand of Trueness

Trueness is the impact of your presence; a presence grounded in voice applied. The impact of your methodology of focus is faithfulness to a cycle of energy that has been diligently built on your Trueness throughout your journey. If I did not know voice, I could not know rhythm.

In a chapel of awareness, Kelly has embraced her voice of Respect and Dignity and is applying her rhythm of impact. Upon seeing in writing, her voice, and its strength of A Clear Voice at the Table, her boss said, “The better you listen the better you are at executing your personal brand.”

As Kelly has learned, and is now practicing, to focus at her best she must listen. She came to me, and our work together, at a beautiful, providentially timed moment. She was aware of key perceptions about who she was in her work, and she didn’t like what she saw. As with any perception, it is the one being perceived who makes the choice to do something about changing any specific perception.

Kelly came to me in light of her courageous commitment to change the perception, “Give it to Kelly, she’ll get it done.” While that may have the mask of a compliment in our work society, it is a very narrow view, limiting Kelly’s ability to apply her Trueness as well as the ability of anyone to observe such authentic rhythm in action.

Kelly felt alone, and thus lonely. She didn’t know what to do beyond what constantly bubbling emotions were saying loud and clear. Now, when her voice of Respect and Dignity is in the lead, she will consciously listen in each situation. As she will continue to discover, the more she listens, the more her voice will have its place with influence, inclusion, and impact.

Being true to self is not possible standing to one side or the other. Trueness is found only in the middle stand.

A Leadership Poem: Quiet and Clear

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Creative Tension – Part 6B of 7

Illuminating Purpose

In his previous post, Jeff asked the question, “What opens your portal to focus?” And again, the irony sets in. There seems to be a never-ending road of “things to do” that are constantly calling for my attention. About the time I get one thing completed, there are five more to fill the space. While many of these “things” are simply the stuff of life, others are bigger, more impactful, sometimes emergency-level. About the time I’m able to identify what I need to focus on, it changes. Without going into detail, let’s just say my family has demanded a LOT of unplanned attention lately. So finding the focus to write this has been rather difficult to say the least. So I thought it was a good time to take a step back and think.

Something I always look for to inspire what I write is a compelling story. The story may be something I’ve read, from a friend, or most often, involving my family. And while there have been some pretty compelling stories in the recent weeks, the inspiration didn’t come. I considered focusing on several different stories that would certainly be appropriate for leaders and the Work of Trueness, such as when I made my teenage daughter read How Full Is Your Bucket after she said something particularly nasty to her younger sister. (She actually enjoyed the book and sisters are back to loving each other again…most of the time!)

Even as I considered this, I kept getting pulled back to a familiar topic, and one I’ve been exploring a lot lately – Purpose. Then I thought that maybe it was a good time to share some of my story.

Change is something that has almost always been “forced” on me. While I had many choices, the need to make a choice was often out of necessity, not a personal desire. My first major transition was joining the U.S. Navy out of college. Then after 10 ½ years, I left the Navy and found myself working in “corporate America”. In 2013, after nearly 13 years, I was one of many impacted from a “reduction in force” (RIF). I was blessed to find my way to my most recent position where I met some great new friends, built strong network connections, and added value in many ways. Then last Fall I was again one of many impacted by a RIF.

“Only through our Trueness do we find congruency with our purpose and the outcomes of our focus.” ~ Jeff Brunson

Purpose. Focus. Trueness. Three very strong components of my current state eloquently brought together in one sentence. In the recent months, as a result of my current situation, I have taken a deeper, more intentional look at identifying and understanding my purpose. Along the way I was reminded that of the 3 Ps of the Work of Trueness – Passion, Presence, Purpose – the one that resonates with me most is Purpose. Through purpose I find passion and can be present with those I engage. However, without a clearly defined purpose, my focus has been a bit … out of focus.

As Jeff said, “Growth is a journey.” Along that journey we GATHER resources to help us navigate. Occasionally we GIVE these resources to others to help them on their journey. And in the giving we help others, and ourselves, GROW.

The resource I share today is one that was shared by Ric Gonzalez. Imperative is an organization “empowering purpose-oriented workers and the organizations that embrace them.” Being the “assessment junkie” that I am, I jumped right in and discovered that my Purpose Type is The Luminary. I provide the tools and resources that help people thrive with the goal of creating a more humane, just and inclusive society. This purpose is the embodiment of my strenghts. This is my imperative. My imperative IS the Work of Trueness!

So with this in mind, I leave you with this….Jennifer 6B

As leaders, we may not always know what, or who, is around the next bend along our journey. And we may not know why certain things happen that may rock our boat. But when we know our strengths and get curious about what the Universe is saying, then take the time to truly listen, the answer will be revealed. Like an optical illusion, this is where we encounter creative tension. Sometimes we need to NOT FOCUS in order to SEE the picture.

In the spirit of providing a bit of illumination on our journey, I share this…

  • GATHER – Take a few minutes to explore what your purpose type is by taking the Imperative assessment.
  • GIVE – Pay it forward. Share with others what you’ve learned and encourage them to do the same.
  • GROW – Embrace your purpose – TRUST yourself!

As a good friend recently reminded me, I am where I am right now for a reason. In that I will discover my purpose. It may be that I need to be present right now as both of my daughters are in the midst of significant transition. And in helping them grow, so will I. After all, I am The Luminary.

“My most meaningful moments take place when my in-depth expertise or latest discovery has a direct impact on an individual’s life.”

ESPECIALLY those I care about and love!

 

Jennifer Rainey  "Strengths Expert"

Jennifer Rainey
“Strengths Expert”

All that Jennifer does is driven by a commitment to help you look inside and identify your passions and strengths. Jennifer is a practitioner and consultant for organizational effectiveness.

Sign up for her curation:
Through the Door of Possibility

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Growth is a Journey

In some earlier writing, I ask a question: What opens your portal to focus? I asked this after stating the answer; authenticity. And, your authenticity–your own good process for focus in the moment–is your cycle of strengths applied to lead others, to influence others, to serve others.

To more steadily walk in the art of focus, you must allow yourself to be held by your Trueness.

The word, and act, of focus is thrown about quite a bit in the work world. Unfortunately, we have placed too much energy in a direction that has our actual action, a multitasking craziness we call focus, more aligned with the antonym of focus versus the true meaning of centering and aiming attention. To focus means to aim attention on a purpose greater than any single success.

Only through our Trueness do we find congruency with our purpose and the outcomes of our focus. In reality, you can only focus when you let go of other, not-so-important, things. Purpose will never be honored, or even found, in a long list infected with busyness.

Genuine growth is found on the path of purposeful focus.

Purpose is centered in, and flows from, your Trueness. In the concreteness of Trueness you know focus and play your part in an unfolding story. The growth you desire–consciously or unconsciously–is natural and enduring when your choices and decisions flow from the center of your authentic self. Focus then becomes how you aim your intention with the power of attention.

“Failing has been exceptionally empowering to me because it has highlighted for me those things on which I must focus my energy.”
–Ric Gonzalez, Woo Woo Leadership

Growth is a journey.
It is an unfolding process that never ends.
For this, be grateful.

The Creative Tension of growth is found right in the middle between your desire and intent as a leader. It is at this living and active intersection where others experience both what you really do and who you really are. To have the impact you desire and intend, you learn to hold the tension of attachment and detachment. Holding as such releases purposeful and focused energy.

To see, hear, and feel the impact of energy released through your Trueness:

  • Gather in support of authentic purpose. Hear the questions of your journey without the immediate urge to answer.
  • Give from your purposeful focus. Be determined in catching what you need in order to properly give, then let go.
  • Grow in purpose by trusting yourself. Know your work is valuable and, when the rare opportunity presents itself, truly hear what is said by those you serve–what they see, hear, and feel because of your impact.

A Leadership Poem: Precipice of Being

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The Trust View – Desire & Intent

In The Stream I talk of the flow and of the need to stand still in it. In The Path I speak of the steady walk.

The Trust View holds both movement and stillness.

The Trust View is a place you go internally to make balanced-sense of all external experience. This view is metaphorically real when B.J. and I go into the heights nearby and hike a trail leading to a summit; a high point that balances ascent and descent.

At such summit we pause and consciously open to all that can be seen. Without words we find encouragement for the journey to continue.

To see the unfolding is to trust. Put another way, if we don’t trust we will not see. The  Trust View is a place to see, a place to be in the moment of totality. The Trust View is the third note in the rhythm of journey.

The Paradox of Desire & Intent

I am blessed deeply at a refreshing level by those with whom I have the opportunity to commune through this work I’ve been given. I am rich beyond any measure with which I previously dreamed. Such fills me with a clear and flowing sensation known as gratitude.

I was led to this work of encouraging leaders over a lifetime of experience. Each experience of what I loved to do was accompanied by one I didn’t so much love. This is the paradox of experience.

At each point of desire–that something I cannot help but want through my work–I am driven to act by that which seems to wonderfully control me. At each point of intent–what I want for the other through our experience together–I am drawn to persistently encourage in spite of the reality that I cannot control the outcome. This is the paradox of Desire & Intent; the binding-together of passion and purpose.

Gratitude is not a passive response to something we have been given, gratitude arises from paying attention, from being awake in the presence of everything that lives within and without us. –David Whyte, Consolations

In this 21st Century it is important that we experience leaders who desire to live into passion, and intend action with purpose; and find fulfillment in presence–while leading others to the same participation.

To see the unfolding is to stand in the place where observation and participation meet and swirl together, creating the joy of experience, a beautiful blend of being and doing.

Stand first in the presence of your own Desire & Intent, then presently lead us to focus on the story that binds us together, influenced by presence within and presence without.

A Poem at WadingtheStream.com Presence Within & Without

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Constantly I am encouraged by the leaders with whom I am privileged to work. There is wisdom residing in them ahead of their experience.

I feel the call to fill them as they pour themselves into the world.

On the morning I began this I found myself meditating on the word pour. Upon visiting a thesaurus, I discovered the push and pull in the brief definition: be or make flowing.

I don’t know about you, but for me I am more attentive than ever to where I direct my energy, and in how I replenish. This is, I’m sure, because of my stage and place in life & living.

“What you focus on grows.” —Ted Senf

Consider the truth of this; consider both danger and power. Focus is dangerous when you give power to negativity and limitation. Focus is positively powerful when it flows forth from the connection of Passion to Purpose to Presence.

To live with and for Impact is to live the flow.

To focus is to allow the clarity of your intended impact to guide you in the present. And impact flows through simple focus. Focus as a noun is illusive; as a verb it is thoroughly frustrating—if we feel we have to chase it.

To be in-focus is to know what it is you really do. The how of focus is in making choices and decisions that flow forth from your what.

In my brief meditation I considered how and where I pour myself. Along with that I considered the source that fills me again. To pour oneself is what it’s all about. This is fulfilling, if one pours from the integrity of Trueness. It takes a lot of work to learn presence and the art of being present with Trueness.

It fulfills me to watch a leader put passion into motion toward purpose, and then observe the transforming power of their presence as they learn to pay attention; pouring themselves into the flow.

A Poem for Your Pouring

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