This post was inspired by one little phrase that jumped out at me in a newsletter I read a couple of years ago:
"...it is amazing how well I feel being equal to them."
This phrase was written by a woman sharing her experiences upon returning home from the Byron Katie 28-day Turnaround House. I didn't write it down, nor did I read that newsletter again until today and yet I've returned to reflect on that sentence again and again. She tells of how much easier her life is as she no longer needs to be anything other than who she is; how she can simply listen and enjoy - and be equal to friends, family and strangers.
I think I've been percolating on that concept for so long because I found it difficult to imagine what it would look like in my own life. A world where I simply say what is true for me regardless of the "status" of the person to whom I'm speaking. Where I am comfortable and happy - in groups, alone, with strangers, friends or family. Where I don't perform, I simply listen, enjoy and really show up around people rather than plotting, defending and calculating constantly.
Talk about energy savings. What on earth would I do with myself without all that to worry about?
This seems particularly relevant with next week's Interaction Design conference in Boulder fast approaching. Seems like I'll get to practice like crazy.
I === them
This post has launched a couple of intriguing conversations in the past few months as I return to see if it's cooked yet. When a couple of my friends (@billder and @sisoma) came to stay in the fall of last year I was playing with the programming meaning of the "=" symbol.
= sets a value. == increases the strictness of that value or as I like to say, it's REALLY equal. And of course ===.
As I was playing with these on paper and thinking about the opposite ≠ it was clear the distinction in the block of connection.
Bill and Samantha and I were spending the afternoon coworking at my place and had gathered to take a break. Samantha had an interview the next day and as we looked at these images I commented that it would be fun to keep in mind = as she interviewed.
In improv we have concepts of high and low status - ways that you act that communicate you're "above" or "below" someone. This is communicated via simple things like holding your head still, speaking and laughing loudly and taking a dominant physical position with lower status people. Or if you're low status, not making solid eye contact, moving your head a lot, covering your mouth, and placing yourself in a lower physical position, etc.
In an interview, typically we take a low status position. We answer questions. We sit in the non-authority position. We tend to be nervous. Which position do you think would offer the most possibility of connection? One of insecurity and/or arrogance (just a flip of the same coin) or one of equality and curiousity?
There it is again..."how well I feel being = to them." Much easier to connect with another person from across the way rather than above / or below \.
I am worthy
Another link in my internal conversation around = arrived a several weeks ago via my Twitter feed as I watched Brene Brown's warm and fuzzy TedX presentation on wholeheartedness. Then I went and found her gorgeous book, The Gifts of Imperfection: Let Go of Who You Think You're Supposed to Be and Embrace Who You Are on the same subject.
I've had to read little bits at a time as each paragraph and page create internal conversations and reflection. Often it's just nodding my head and laughing as I recognize strategy after strategy that I've employed to stay away from living my life with a whole heart.
While thinking about this post it suddenly occurred to me that so much of the ≠ in my world is about the imbalance of worrying about what others think of me.
So, as I prepare for Boulder next week, and my very intense meetings with all of the deeply smart people I get to work with in the coming months, I plan on being able to relate a similar tale. I can see my peaceful, happy, content life reflected in being able to say - "It is amazing how well I feel being = to them."