You’d think that after 21 years, I might have heard every possible response to the questions posed by the Aikido activities I use to engage participants in my workshops. Never. There’s always a new way to view the activity, because the viewer has his or her own unique experience. That’s just one of the many things that make my work so enjoyable.
The Power of Purpose
The Women’s Resource Group of a medical device company arrived full of questions and goals for our workshop on managing difficult situations and conversations. The 18 leaders wanted to hone their skills, and we were looking at the Power of Purpose in deciding how to hold the conversation. This company’s mission begins with a priority to contribute to human welfare, and so these leaders are very interested in how they communicate that mission both inside and outside organizational walls.
We did an exercise that demonstrates physically just how powerful it can be when you have a well-defined and useful purpose. As we began to talk about how the physical activity would play out in individual situations, one leader asked: “Is it possible that once you figure out your purpose for the conversation, you might not hold it?”
When I asked her to elaborate, she said that as she thought through her difficult conversation, she realized that the purpose would not be helpful to the relationship nor move toward solving the problem and that she would consider revising the purpose or perhaps not holding the conversation at all.
What if, like this leader, we all took the time to consider our purpose before engaging, especially if we’re conflicted?
Perfection or Discovery?
Working with the a Community and Family Resource Center that same week, a lesson emerged around how to handle a difference in viewpoints. The Resource Center does important work within the Massachusetts Public School System, connecting families and students with community resources, building relationships between schools and families, and supporting engagement at all levels of the community.
In the afternoon, we talked about Tom Crum’s Perfection-Discovery Model, and how helpful it is to understand that conflict usually puts us into our Perfection-seeking selves where we lose our wonder and curiosity. If we can only remember to shift into a Discovery/Learning mode during conflict, we’d have a much easier time of it, we’d gain valuable information to find solutions, and we’d be the better listeners we all want to be.
As we talked about this model, one participant said in a way I hadn’t heard before how creativity is impacted by the need to be perfect. When we’re blaming others, or ourselves, we have little room for anything else. We spend time and energy finding fault that might be more effectively directed to wondering what we missed, how we might look at the problem from a different angle, or what possibilities now exist that didn’t before.
I’m the grateful recipient of wisdom like this every day.
What are you grateful for today? Please leave a comment!