Being Radically Responsible

Posted by on May 26, 2013 in Business, Relationships | 0 comments

“I’m not connecting well with this person,” I said to a friend. “I need to get a handle on it because I can tell it is affecting how I show up and interact during meetings and in casual interactions. I am opting for less and less contact and, while I am not being rude, I am also not being particularly friendly.” My friend listened for a while, allowing me the space to sort out what was at the root of the issue, and then spoke. “You have to talk with this person. You know that, right?” Not the answer I wanted to hear. Yes, of course, I knew that. I train other people in situations like this. I am also human and sometimes do find myself wanting to just be ‘right’ rather than ‘responsible.’ I sighed. “Yes, I know that. I’m still resisting it though. If I stop making this about how the other person is showing up, I will have to be responsible for doing the work that is mine to do!” My friend laughed. “Yup. That’s how it works.” I laughed too. After hearing myself speak all this out loud and working through the situation with someone equally trained in effective communication, I began shifting from resistant to responsible. I take time to do pre-work before I reach out. What stories am I telling myself about this person? In what ways am I blaming the other person for what is not working in our relationship? If I were to tell the whole truth about this process, I would say the pre-work is the ‘not-so-pretty’ part. It is not easy to look at all the ways that 1) I have been finding fault in someone else and 2) I have been defending, justifying, explaining my own actions. Taking a look at all of this is uncomfortable, albeit necessary. Being responsible means being brave enough to speak with authenticity and not defend or protect oneself in the process. Being responsible means being ready to listen and receive information without taking it personally or adding new meaning to what is being said. Being responsible calls us to set aside the instinct to say, “I don’t even know what is wrong here; I’m just confused and don’t like what I’m feeling!” Instead, we do our own work until we say, “Ah, I do know what is wrong here and here’s my part in it.” Being responsible means reaching out with a sincere openness and willingness to connect and create, free of expectation or agenda. What we can experience when we are willing to take this leap is tremendous, but it does require courage. Like a skydiver packing a parachute, I do...

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Looking for the Beauty

Posted by on May 19, 2013 in Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

Last week, I participated at the District level of the Toastmasters International Speech Contest. For people affiliated with Toastmasters, the International Speech Contest is the Olympics of public speaking. In March, over 30,000 people deliver seven-minute speeches in their home clubs around the world. The winners of those home club contests advance to the Area level, and if they place first again, to the Division level. Those who make it through the Division round go on to the District level. In my District, seven of us had the opportunity to deliver our speech at the District Conference. One of us was chosen to deliver a speech at the semi-finals held at the Toastmasters International Convention this summer in Cincinnati, OH. As the 2005 World Champions of Speaking pointed out last weekend, a seven-minute speech is a very different experience than giving a keynote address for twenty, thirty, or ninety minutes. Speaking for seven minutes is like shooting an arrow at a target. You either nail it or you miss it. There is no time for warming up, and there is no room for error. That is one of the reasons I participate. I doubt that I will ever be asked in my professional life to give a seven-minute speech. I recognize, though, learning to land a speech effectively in seven minutes with any audience in the world is fantastic training for other speaking opportunities. The title of my speech was “See the Beauty in All Things.” In one section of my speech, I spoke about the value of learning to see the beauty in the unplanned events that show up in our lives. I talked about how sometimes these unplanned events feel like insurmountable mountains that stand between where we are and where we think we should be. I gave examples of how, when we are willing to see the beauty in even these unplanned events, these road blocks can turn into road maps that guide us to greater joy than we thought was possible. I am not sure how the audience received my speech. Some said the problems we had with microphones interfered and that my voice was not picked up by the lavaliere microphone. What I do know is that the person who placed first is a friend of mine. He gave the best–hands down–delivery with a message the world needs to hear. His content was brilliant, witty, and fun, and we are fortunate that he is going to represent our District at the International Convention. Seeing another person advance to the International level this year was not an unplanned event or an insurmountable mountain for me. I could easily see the beauty in this outcome. Yet,...

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Posted by on May 12, 2013 in Relationships, Writing and Speaking | 0 comments

I wrote this poem of gratitude for Hannah, my mother-in-law, in 2002. Many aspects of our life and family structure have changed through the years, yet the love and appreciation that inspired this poem are as strong as ever. In honor of all the love and relationships that are celebrated today, I share this poem with you. Gifts Raised to care passionately Respects life Teases and laughs Responsibly dedicated Uniquely wonderful None other compares From your womb to this home   Acceptance of this girl he brought home As if I were your own Sincere love Never making me feel I should be more than I am Embracing me Bringing me into your family   Space to live our own lives make our own mistakes believe we know what we are doing even when we do not To be part of a whole and yet separate Celebrating our new family unit in our own way and with you   Tolerance of my quirks of our needs requests wishes   Love To be present but never stifling Helpful and eager but never intrusive Caring and supportive and always so gentle   You worry about the kind of mother-in-law you are I worry about the kind of daughter-in-law I am You are just right I strive to be better You are all I need and I am so grateful to have this family you – Sarah M. Kipp...

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Stink Grumpy and Mama Grump II: How to Get Moving When We Just Don’t Wanna

Posted by on May 5, 2013 in Business, Education, Relationships, Writing and Speaking | 1 comment

Most people will agree that if you want to get something done, counting on motivation alone is not enough. Even when we are working on something we love, there are days when we do not feel like showing up. There are times when something else–or everything else–will feel more important than what we committed to do. Anne Lamott’s recent Facebook post on May 1, 2013 traveled around this week reminding us that “There is no good time to write. It will never be easier. If you won’t find an hour a day now, you won’t find it then.” Her writing, as always, is a good read, and she both calls us to action and gives us the first steps to get going. Before I began writing this, I sat down with my two young daughters to map out our day. There were several jobs that each one of us needed to do and did not want to do. There were other things we preferred to be doing. To say we had ‘an absence of motivation’ would be a gross understatement of our actual state. Both children sprawled out in front of me like a big life lesson. What do I believe works best when we are in full-blown resistance or avoidance? Three things rise to the top and survive the rigor of quality assurance tests. 1) Add humor immediately. I used to think that reviewing ‘why’ I had committed to something was the most important step. When a person is in resistance though, even the most noble intention and the most inspiring call to action sound like utter hogwash. My daughter did not need to review the many reasons she needed to take a shower before heading out to socialize tonight. She knows all about the importance of hygiene, and still did not want to shower. Instead, I asked if I could break our family rule of no name calling, and wrote an impromptu rap piece for her on the staircase called “Stink Grumpy and Mama Grump II.” When I added chest thumping and pathetic dance moves, the tone shifted and we began to move forward. 2) Hang out with other people who are skilled at staying in action. I shared with my kids my list too, and told them where I was feeling most resistance. Then I showed them how I was prioritizing the list (in purple marker, of course) and when I would be available to help them and when I would be engaged in moving through my own stuff. Sometimes, the best thing you can do to inspire a person is by minding your own business and taking your own good advice. Some people get inspired...

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