The Client Letters – Four (Garrett)

Garrett,

Your 2010 focus was, “Be consistently aware of what I desire to do.” I believe it was this focus that got it all started; the energetic interaction in which you engaged with key nodes in your network.

You and I talked about shopping your value in the market. However, if I accurately remember, I encouraged you to first understand value in the language of those who had been served by that value.  Servant leadership is only achieved by a serving spirit. You are a serving spirit. Your personal brand is in how you provide caring, coaching, and confidence in each interaction. At the base of this brand is your Voice: Caring.

You took the challenge and networked for value with those key nodes. You entered these conversations in a manner that would support your living desire for yourself and others:

  1. Increase confidence in what you bring to the table as a leader
  2. Consistently act on  your mission of helping others get to a place they could not get to on their own
  3. Prepare for career events and opportunities as they are presented to you

After these conversations, you said to me, “This direct stuff has validity.” The stories you shared from these networking for value appointments illustrate the following: The power of purpose (brand); The power of commitment; The power of presence. You increased your confidence in what you do as a leader. You reinforced your commitment as a servant. You now flow through each moment more aware of the opportunities offered to you.

On behalf of all who are benefactors of your brand of leadership, I say, “Thank you for confidently being you.”

Jeff

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Skill 6 – Part B: Lead Dialogue (Understanding)

Collective facilitation is about leading others in unadulterated conversation – true dialogue. Collective facilitation is acting on the principle of practice which states: For maximum effectiveness of intent, put your what before your how. As the facilitator leads others through the honor of this principle, he creates a productive flow in how we talk to each other. With the skills of a practiced facilitator, he helps make easy the process of interaction that does not ignore the difficult chapters necessary in the discovery of complete meaning in the collective story.

The skilled facilitator is a present, open-minded listener. A listener at this level of skill is in control in the flow of the collective voice – not at all a self-centered control, but an exhibition of commitment layered on a displayed control over his own behavior. This facilitator has recognized judgment as a distraction to authentic individual and collective purpose.

The level of facilitation described here is neutral; not invested with a personal stake that controls one’s behavior. As with Kajule in the previous section, the facilitator who has achieved the power of neutrality is acting confidently from a base of self-respect as she demonstrates a cohesive respect for all. She has respect for the larger experience that is unfolding.

Understanding is a choice to be present. To facilitate confidence, one must facilitate with confidence. This is done by the facilitator who is free of opinion. Opinions may be part of one’s experience, but they do not represent one’s authentic self. Opinions are mere droplets from the weak cloud of judgment. If allowed to continue, these droplets water our landscape just enough for the green; leaving us with shallow, unhealthy roots of understanding.

The collective facilitator is committed to strength. Committed to collective strength, the facilitator brings individual strength into conscious observation. Voice gives strength. The skilled facilitator creates the space for individual voice to flow and merge into collective voice.

Intentional neutrality opens the mind to understanding and allows us to take all things together. Open to understanding, we have made the choice to be present with what is unfolding. Committed to not judge, we give wings to individual voice and participate in the organic union of the one into many.

This is the facilitator. This is leadership.

For more like this and the developing series around the 7 skills, see: 21st Century Leadership Skills

Confidence Opens Us More Fully

A survival instinct is deeply rooted in our individual psyche. This instinct is part of the wiring intended for individual protection and continuation of the species. Judgment is a learned behavior. It is my personal belief that these two somehow link to one another in a manner destructive to one’s authenticity.

The base defensiveness built into the survival instinct combines with learned judgment to from the opinions that too easily spew forth in criticism and harsh response. In the process, we begin to believe our library of opinions represents us in this world. The fact is we stand behind these opinions as a frontiersman stood behind the perishable walls of his fort; safe only for a time.

And safe from what?

Injected with judgment and unnatural fear our instinct forms into a terrible foe. Behind the walls of our fort, we are closed in with a beast more dangerous than anything outside the walls. We are the prisoner of a closed mind.

I must leave this fort behind. Opinions may be part of my experience but they do not represent who I am. Confidence opens the doors of my fort and moves me back into the natural flow.

Fully opening to understand and accept who I am at the core (the intended me) gives me the best sense of safety as I explore beyond the walls. The bounty of present moment experience is mine only as I allow understanding to direct my behavior – my choices and my decisions. This means I am learning to wade into each experience conscious of my purpose while respecting the potential and power of self and others.

Confidence is a constant process. Sometimes I have to sneak up on myself in that fort. Forcing my attention outside the walls, it is back to realizing it is not how I feel that determines how I act authentically; it is how I authentically act that determines how I feel. This is real confidence.

And it is real confidence – the new confidence – that opens us more fully. Without a doubt, I am my biggest adversary; I can step into self-pity with the best of them. Confidence allows me to step out of self-pity and leverage understanding to open myself to others. To be open, one must be relaxed; cool with self. Outside the walls I discover encouragement in hope and courage in adventure.

Confidence – From the Old to the New (Part 2 of 3)

We must shake a bad habit of the 20th Century that has followed some into the 21st; handing out the title of leader too freely. 21st Century followers are also collaborators as leaders move from judgment to understanding. 21st Century followers are disappointed when we make leadership too easy and base it on title, position, political authority, etc. This superficial assignment perpetuates the old confidence.

The old confidence is tricky. The old confidence is an avatar of the ego. A leader victimized by the superficial assignment is someone who is not conscious of her own values. There is the need for approval from others. Respect is conditional on meeting selfish standards. Life happens to this person. There is a fear of failure.

The ego is being fed; there is a desperate need to control. It is all about “me” – a focus on others is contingent on what I want. Fear keeps the mind focused on the future. Confidence is seen only as a power within too easily tying action to misguided, misunderstood feelings. And maybe most tragically, she judges others as harshly as she judges herself.

An old confidence cannot feel the pull of desire or hear the voice of a larger purpose. The voice of a larger purpose speaks to us through our core where our deepest of values live. If, due to the grip of an ego-driven old confidence, we are not conscious of these purpose giving values, we are deaf to the call of a new confidence.

Confidence – From the Old to the New (Part 1 of 3)

A consistent shallow wade among surface behaviors can prove dangerous when one is suddenly in the depths. A behavior shift at the surface level only is not permanent. When met with enough resistance we will easily shift to the old, comfortable behavior, regardless of what is best for us or those we lead. The need to control will keep one in the shallows if they even enter the stream at all.

Control in leadership is an illusion. It is selfish and present in the immature manager. We steal away our own joy when we make the interactions of leading all about ourselves. Control is false confidence. The stream is in control. This struggle for control is part of the old confidence. This old confidence is ineffective in the 21st Century. Followers will force honesty and authenticity. A commitment to consistently wade the stream will teach us to bless the flow. At the forefront of keeping this commitment is an understanding of the old confidence.

Confidence at the Core

Confidence of experience allows me to wade the stream when clear.

Does this mean I’m giving in to fear when it is not clear? Yes. And this is healthy. More accurately, I’m using my knowledge of the character of the stream to assume accountability for a wade that is as positive as possible.

Confidence is the result of allowing your core to flow without judgment. While there is a version of fear that can help keep us safe, there is a level of fear that can hold us back. The tragedy in the story is when we never move beyond this level of fear. In his book The Heart Aroused – Poetry and Preservation of the Soul in Corporate America, David Whyte poetically performs a heart-gripping alignment of organizational life with the epic struggle of Beowulf. In essence David tells us it is not the thing we fear, it’s the mother of the thing we fear that must be slain.

In a very critical life juncture, I was forced to face the mother of the thing I feared. I was surprised to find her identity; judgment. This is not judgment as in being judged by others; that was the thing I feared. This is the mother of the thing I feared; self-judgment.

In my work, and life-flow observations, I’ve found nothing more destructive than self-judgment. Dr. Shenna Hankin in Complete Confidence says that those with self-esteem judge themselves positively and those with confidence do not judge themselves at all. The condemning pressure of self-judgment crushes our spirit at our core. This inhibiting, concentrated form of judgment blinds us to the invaluable specifics of our uniqueness – our values, our strengths and our voice. Hamstrung in the game of life we are not even left with the minimum joy of a spectator. We are meant to play in the game and we have a position – a purpose.

The core of your purpose is to flow. It is true that you have to work hard on your purpose; understanding what it is and why it is so important to you. The core of your purpose is you – who you really are. The core (who you are) of your purpose (leveraging who you are) is to flow.

Your confidence in the flow is found in who you really are.

Treacherous

Even in the best of weather, the mountain stream is to be respected. I began fly-fishing many years ago in the Deep South in ponds and small lakes. When I did wade I did so very carefully as I could rarely see the bottom. This wasn’t too scary as the water was not flowing. Mostly I had to remain wary of the hole or sudden slope of the bottom. I much prefer to wade the beautiful clear mountain stream. Even in perfect clarity I proceed cautiously.

A gallon of water weighs 8 1/3 lbs. and a cubic foot of water contains 7.4805 gallons and weighs 62 1/2 lbs. Put that in motion and you have something that demands respect. And I have to be careful to not allow clarity to build false confidence. Even though I can see the bottom, I have to consider what I see – rocks. There a lots of rocks of varying sizes all worn smooth by millenniums of movement. In some streams there are long, smooth rocks that can act like a greased slide at a sunken playground.

As you might imagine, and you would be correct, I don’t even consider wading the stream if I can’t see the bottom. The stream is often left cloudy, and even torrential, by a rain storm – but patiently give it some time and it soon returns to clarity.

Confidence of experience allows me to wade the stream when clear. Respect, and just plain common sense, keeps me out of it when the bottom disappears! And love of the stream sustains me while I wait for it to clear.