When Conversations Matter
I am currently in the middle of preparing for a huge transition in my life. It's exciting. It's overwhelming. It's beautiful. And it's a bit scary. That's a smorgasbord of feelings, right?! But the truth is all of these feelings can exist at the same time, in the same space. Nonetheless, as I prepare to embrace this transition, I've been meeting with different people. Lots of people.
Just about every other day, I have been engaging in personal conversations over evening dinner or business conversations over morning tea. I have talked to people who have been in my life for two years, five years, ten years or longer. These are folk who are very dear to my heart. We have shared life together. We've walked each other through the joys and pains of our journeys. Then I've talked to people who I've only known for less than a year; in some instances just a couple of months. These are pretty much colleagues. These are folk I don't share intimate space with, but see at work related functions or meetings.
Inasmuch as this was not my intention AT ALL, something really interesting happened as I engaged in these conversations. Something totally unexpected.... I learned some things about myself. I learned some things about how people perceive me and what people think of me. There were common themes. There were repeated assumptions. There were high expectations. But what I appreciated the most is that there was a lot of love and mutual admiration. And while I did not expect to have this experience, stretched over about fifteen to twenty conversations, I am thankful that I did.
As you can imagine, some things surprised me. Some things I wasn't ready for. Some things I already knew. Some things filled me with so much joy that they had me crying in the car on my drive home. And some things challenged me so much that they kept me up at night. Here's the thing, though, and I'm writing this blog on the heels of just having returned from one of these amazing conversations; everything I have heard I absolutely needed to hear. And not only did I need to hear it, I needed to hear it now.
One of the things I am most proud of in terms of my personal development is how meditating and being still has made me a better listener. I have found a contentment in being quiet that I did not previously know, and quite frankly didn't know that I needed to know. Yet, being all ears and less talk has proven invaluable. Making time to be with people. Making time to hear people's heart. Creating space for people to offload because they trust you with their stuff. Being kind enough to gift someone your undivided attention is huge. And it's not just huge for them, it can also be huge for you. Trust me....
Reading through the more than five hundred quotes I have in the Notes app on my phone yesterday, I came across a quote that personifies my message to you today. The quote is by Virginia Tech Football Coach, and it reads "The enemy of excellence is isolation." Translation: Some of us are not everything we could be because we talk to our self more than we talk to people who matter. Some of us are not everything we could be because we think we already know all there is to know about our self. Some of us are not everything we could be because we are afraid of the responsibility of feedback. We are threatened by correction. We dislike accountability. Or, we shy away from hearing how awesome we are. Consequently, we isolate our self. Subsequently, we end up watching excellence on others that we wish was on us.
In the spirit of growing your courage, my challenge to you today is to come out of isolation and go have some intentional, purposeful conversation. I'm not talking about conversations with the same people you're around all the time. I'm talking about conversations with people you don't get to share time and space with that often. People who are substantive enough that their thoughts have value. Finally, as you prepare to engage in these conversation, I challenge you to start opening your mind and your heart to hear, because the instruction for your next step might very well be in the mouth of someone you least expect. Go be courageous!