Of the two blue circles above, which one is larger?
While listening to colleagues at a recent business conference, I was actually holding a robust internal conversation of fault-finding and grumbling. I certainly wasn’t getting the results I wanted.
After this experience, I wanted to understand why complaining thoughts possess us, what they cost us, why they are useful and how to shift cycles of complaints into powerful and exciting commitments.
Many years ago, I had the honor of helping a partnership through a tough time. Conversations were difficult, almost impossible.
They were ready to split and lose over a decade of hard work building a successful company. Why? They spent 99.99% of their time noticing when they and their partner were not wise, not OK, under par, inadequate. Language is powerful. Like these two partners, we can choose the conversation we are in to change our results.
This morning I reflected on how differently our days go when we start centered in our commitments. Living a full life and making contributions that we feel really good about, usually means we make dozens of agreements and promises at work and home that we strive to complete. Too often, competing priorities pull in different directions.
I’ve discovered the power of centering all those priorities around a few overarching core commitments that orient our days, months, and years.
My Wise Self seemed to be out to lunch. I walked my dog, hunting for a new point of view. With no idea of my angst, he was ecstatic. As he frolicked. I stewed. Irritated with the way I handled a difficult client communication, I wanted to clean up the relationship mess I’d made, but I couldn’t stop thinking how I was right and she was wrong.
Growing a business seems relentless, asking constant dedication. Too many business owners give up just when they are ready to take off. Why? Because they lack a framework for where they are and what’s next.
This business coaching exercise is often part of the work I do with small business owners and it gets results every time.
A flowering tree opens, expands and grows with simple encouragement – water, light, mulch. Keep it in the dark, or expect it to grow without attention and we get a weak spindly tree, bearing little fruit.
Like the tree, without mindful awareness, our wisdom languishes until it is nothing we can count on in tough times.
I want to know how you access your wisdom even when overwhelm threatens - as you walk into the contentious meeting at 3:00, when your colleague disses you in front of your boss, when your friend didn’t include you in her New Years invitations.
What works for you? How do you return to the broader view of your wise self?
Why do children climb on chairs? And why do adults sit on them? Guest blogger Jennifer Kenny challenges our preconceived notions about the value of developing feminine wisdom in leadership and business.
“The prevailing thinking would tell us that children climb on chairs because they have not been trained to sit on them. However if you look carefully at how children interact with chairs you will notice that they climb on them, write on them, sit on them, play on them, ignore them and sit on the floor. It is only when they begin to distinguish chairs from other items that they begin to sit on them. A child sees a chair and they have no preconceived notion as to what a chair should be used for, so they climb on it, experiment with it, sit on it, they knock it over, they write on it, they ignore it, basically, they do whatever takes their fancy when it comes to engaging with the chair.
The interesting opportunity for us, is to look at how people engage with feminine wisdom. If they don’t know what it is, if the distinction of feminine wisdom, and the sub distinctions of feminine wisdom, don’t exist for them, then they simply, climb on it, sit on it, knock it over, write on it and ignore it, they use it for whatever purpose they think is appropriate – if they even see it in the first place. Remember children also sit on the floor quite happily and comfortably.
We are in a unique position, at this moment in history, to be able to distinguish and identify the facets of feminine wisdom and to bring forth those facets into the world in a way that they will be distinguished and in distinguishing them people will understand them, they will understand the value of them, they will understand how to engage with them, they will understand how to be able to pay for applied feminine wisdom and how to leverage feminine wisdom.
Karen Buckley has done truly foundational work in distinguishing the facets of feminine wisdom and working to bring those distinctions to a broader audience. She has distinguished nine facets of feminine wisdom and in so doing she has created the opportunity for all of us to enable humanity (masculine and feminine) understand what problems feminine wisdom can solve, what value feminine wisdom brings, why it is unique to the feminine (not just to women but to the feminine) and why that value can in turn add value for those around us and for those in our community.
Over the next few months you will see Karen articulate those distinctions in her blog and she will be publishing a book about those distinctions. She will also be looking to engage a broader audience in identifying understanding, valuing and appreciating, applied feminine wisdom and we will be working to create frameworks for bringing feminine wisdom to the world, in the same way masculine wisdom has been brought to the world.
The task ahead of us at the moment is to understand these distinctions ourselves, understand how each of us embodies one or more of the facets of feminine wisdom and help the rest of the world understand how to engage with feminine wisdom, what value it brings and how feminine wisdom can be instrumental in solving some of the enormous problems facing humanity today.
Editor’s note! Jennifer, I have the biggest smile ever with your fine acknowledgment above. I too am very excited to share the distinctions we are all building every day as we become the wise feminine leaders that we are meant to be.
Jennifer Kenny is Interim CIO of SRI International. Jennifer has an extensive background in management consulting, change initiation and the design of business processes and systems strategies for Fortune 500 companies, including starting her own consulting firm BizThink in 2007.
Because I love working with women to discover these distinctions for themselves I put together the Next Octave Leadership Webinar that starts this summer where we’ll talk about the source of personal power and increased effectiveness.
Warmest regards, Karen