When it comes to our emotions and our workplace’s we’re in a bind.
Display too much emotion, and we’re too emotional, unprofessional. Don’t display enough and we’re seen as cold and hard hearted. If we don’t know how to connect emotionally with people, we can’t inspire them or lead them effectively.
And if we let emotions rule we lose respect, can’t make tough decisions, and can’t give effective feedback.
Think for a moment of the worst boss you ever had. And now think of their general emotional tone. Chances are they were at one end of the spectrum or the other: either emotionally cold, distant and unapproachable, or emotionally volatile, prone to explosive rages, or moodiness - with their moods having everyone on eggshells. You feared them or disrespected them - or both - and probably left them as soon as you could.
And now think for a moment of the best boss you ever had and their emotional tone. Chances are they were probably somewhere in that sweet-spot in the middle, emotionally intelligent, warm, and approachable, but also emotionally well-regulated. They may not have talked overtly about emotions, but they clearly made space for feelings to be felt and didn’t expect you to be an unfeeling machine. You worked harder for them, went the extra mile, and did some of your best work for them.
Daniel Goleman’s pioneering work on emotional intelligence has really helped to change the conversation around emotions at work, and frame emotional intelligence as a core leadership skill. But time and time again I see people falling into the trap of thinking that emotional regulation and emotional intelligence are about only allowing oneself to feel “positive” or “good” emotions. Susan David succinctly calls this “toxic positivity.” This is the idea that if one is feeling anger, resentment, irritation, guilt, shame, rage, despair, sadness etc. these are bad, bad, bad and one should immediately be able to shift out of them.
The other thing I see time and again is people “tapping out” of these difficult emotions. Their most common comments are “If I allow myself to feel I’ll be overwhelmed. I’ll drown.”
Let me be clear: There are no good or bad emotions.
I’ll say that again.
Emotions are not positive or negative, good or bad. They just are.
At the most basic level all emotions are simply electrochemical compounds in our body. That’s it. There is no good or bad to them. They might feel more or less pleasant, more or less comfortable, but emotions just are.
I’ll risk a definitive statement: All our problems with emotional intelligence and regulation arise when we judge emotions rather than discern emotions; when we either refuse to feel them on the one hand or allow them to rule us on the other hand.
The problem is not what we feel. The problem is what we DO with what we feel, once we’ve truly discerned what we feel. And that discernment is a process.
So here are the three rules of what to DO with emotions that my years of training, coaching, personal experience, and reading of the research and best practices boil down to. The three rules that, collectively, can shift you to the emotional sweet spot.
Clearly, there is a lot more to each of these rules - but here they are at the high level to get you started.
Rule #1: Validate, validate, validate
The very first thing we are taught to do as coaches is to validate what the other person is feeling. We might think their perspective is dead wrong or that they are way overreacting. But they are feeling what they are feeling. That is their reality and their truth. Validation doesn’t mean we agree with them or even that we think they’re right. It just means that - from their perspective, given their experience, their values, and their stories - what they are feeling makes complete sense. And we would feel how they were feeling if we were in their shoes.
And this applies not only to other people’s emotions, but to our own too. When we judge our own emotions as good or bad, when we say we shouldn’t be angry, sad, depressed, lonely, frustrated or whatever, because “other people have it worse”, or because “I don’t have time for this”, or when we fear to feel what we feel because we fear we might be overwhelmed, we are invalidating our own experience.
Emotional invalidation is gaslighting. And it’s crazy-making. Literally. And it’s generally regarded as a form of abuse.
Validation, or rather the lack thereof, is where I see abrasive leaders get stuck. They either don’t even know what they’re feeling, or if they do, they blame everyone else for what they are feeling, and argue that whatever anyone else is feeling - they’re wrong and shouldn’t be feeling it. They take zero responsibility for their own emotions and offload them onto others. Then heap on the judgment when others react to their emotional offloading. It’s a toxic crap-shoot.
I have to do a lot of work with them to get them to the point of starting to see how they are not dealing with emotions effectively, and how doing so will help them, not hurt them, and increase theirs and others productivity, effectiveness and performance. (It’s a process, it takes time, but it is 100% possible).
Once I’ve got them there, I can teach them how to validate emotions. When they first attempt to validate, their initial unskillful attempts often land really badly. They can come across as manipulative and insincere, or even patronizing. And then we need to lean even harder into the importance of emotions - as of course it takes courage to keep on going at that point. But that’s exactly what they need to do. Because every master was once a disaster.
It is an acquired skill to be masterful at validation. I certainly flunk it sometimes. But when I do it right, it's the gift that keeps on giving. Because when we validate our own emotions we feel heard, and now we can listen to others. And when we validate others emotions, they feel heard, and now they can listen to us.
Rule #2: Feels the feels
Strong, difficult emotions feel terrible. They feel overwhelming and scary. We feel we are going to drown in a river of despair, or are terrified at our explosive, murderous rage. There are very good reasons anger is so feared. The atrocities and horrors it can unleash at home, in the workplace and in wars are horrendous.
But we cannot selectively feel. When we numb the dark, we numb the light. If we want to feel joy, we also need to be prepared to feel anger, fear, despair and sadness.
Feeling our feels does not mean acting on our emotions (that’s rule #3). Feeling our emotions simply means actually allowing ourselves to feel them in our bodies.
At the biological level, emotions are combinations of electrochemicals in our brain and blood. If we were simply to simply let our emotions be, to come and go as they do, and not amplify them either through resisting feeling them, or looping into a cascading thought-emotion spiral, the process would last six seconds.
“That’s how long it takes for each burst of electrochemicals, from the time it's produced in the hypothalamus, to be completely broken down and reabsorbed back into our body. If we’re feeling something for longer than six seconds, we are – at some level – choosing to recreate and refuel those feelings.” (Six Seconds, 7 Amazing Facts About Emotions).
And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s called being human.
But with any biological process there’s a beginning, a middle and an end. Just like a tunnel. There’s the first rush of feeling. That gut punch to the stomach of shock or fear. That involuntary gasp of surprise. That sudden flush of rage. We enter the emotions tunnel.
But to get to the other side of the tunnel, we have to go through the middle of it. We actually have to feel what we are feeling.
And this is where I see emotionally aware and sensitive people get the most stuck. Because the middle of the tunnel for strong, difficult emotions is dark, and scary. The light behind you is rapidly receding, and you can’t see the light at the other end yet. So you tap out. You numb, you suppress, you binge watch, you eat, you drink, you work and work and work.
When I guide my clients through the tunnel, they are consistently amazed at the relief they feel on the other side. “I thought I was going to have a complete breakdown, get stuck in there and never get out,” they say. “But I see now they only way out is through. And I feel so much better now. I can actually think straight”
You get to choose when, where and how to go through the tunnel. My preferred place is either by myself in my office, away from my family, or when I need extra support, with a peer coach.
And we feel our way to the other end of the tunnel. We don’t talk our way there. Venting is not feeling - that’s amplifying. Feeling our emotions looks like tracking them in our bodies. We feel the flush on our face, the wild thumping of our heart, our clenched fists, our roiling guts, our hot wet salty tears, our stuffy runny nose.
Feeling the feels literally got me through the pandemic. Saved me from burnout. And is saving me now as I contemplate the horror of Ukraine. I very intentionally allow my train to go chugging into the tunnel. All the way into the dark, where there is no light to be had. And I keep on feeling into my body. And the light comes. It always comes. And I reach calm and peace, and am ready now to decide what to actually DO with what I’ve felt.
Rule #3: Data, not directives
Emotions come from our “Thinking Fast” brain (Thinking, Fast and Slow, by Daniel Kahneman). Wise action comes from our “Thinking Slow” brain. Emotions give us critical data about the situation, our values, and how we feel ourselves to be in relationship to others. But the data is crude, raw and riddled with biases, assumptions and judgements. Emotions are not the full picture - but they are vital pieces of the puzzle. Our emotions always point us towards something we value, something that is important to us and we care about deeply. This is why we need to feel our emotions - so that we can gather ALL the data.
But to take wise action on this data, we need to bring our “thinking slow” systems online. In particular, we need to engage our prefrontal cortex, which is home to our executive functions. Master meditators access this state almost at will. For the rest of us, going through the tunnel provides another way there.
It’s never our emotions that are wrong. It’s only what we choose to do with them that is helpful or harmful. Outraged at what is happening in Ukraine or how your boss or an employee is behaving? Feel your outrage, mine it for all of its data. Get to the other side of the tunnel, where the flush of electrochemicals has subsided and you are now calm, purposeful, values-centered and grounded. Then and only then decide what action to take. Maybe you don’t share the outrage-inducing post, but rather connect with a local volunteer organization instead. Maybe you decide to stop feeling like the victim, and start to take responsibility for what you can do. Maybe you realize there is more you need to know before assuming your employee is just being willful.
It’s not our emotions that light our way out of the dark tunnel, it’s our values. But to find them and connect with them, we need to go through the tunnel. Then we can take calm, purposeful, value-centered action that is not about hurting someone else, or numbing ourselves, in an attempt to make ourselves better.
Feel the feels.
With practice we start to live more and more in the sweet spot: emotionally intelligent, warm, and approachable, but also emotionally well-regulated. Caring, but clear. Empathetic, but straightforward.
I love good science fiction and have read every one of Isaac Asimov’s Foundation Series, all of the Dune series, and many others. I picked up Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy at our Friends of the Library book sale last year, and devoured it.
In the third book of the series, Blue Mars, there is this passage in the chapter titled “A New Constitution”. At the time I read it, it blew me away.
Suddenly, Vlad Taneev stood up. Startled, Antar stopped speaking and looked over.
There is so much more to this powerful story, beautifully told, but it’s Robinson’s “If self rule is a fundamental value, if simple justice is a value, then they are values everywhere, including the workplace where we spend so much of our lives” that has stuck with me these many months since I read it.
No one ever gets up in the morning, eager to be harassed, humiliated, ignored, demeaned or diminished. No target, however “provocative”, keeps thinking of all the ways they can provoke people into bullying them. Targets are not at fault. There is not something wrong with them. They did not cause their bullying.
And yet, they are also part of the system that drives bullying.
Because most targets, like most professionals everywhere, have conflated their identity - who they are, their worth as human beings - with what they do, with their jobs.
How do we come to find ourselves in this situation? Here's my story. My guess is that there are a lot of parallels with your story.
Somewhere along the line, long before I even left school - and certainly without any conscious awareness on my part - I adopted the prevailing cultural belief: you are what you do. If you get good grades, good girl! If you get a good degree, good girl! If you get a good job, you’re becoming a real woman! If you get promoted and rise through the ranks, you're are a worthwhile human being.
I dutifully pursued that path for 40 odd years. And then it all came to a crashing halt. Next week it will be 5 years since I went out on disability leave. When the “old me” died. That dying was awful. And painful. And traumatic. And terrifying.
And it was the best thing that ever happened to me.
I'd deluded myself for a long time in thinking that I could, or should, conform myself to meet the expectations of others. Because that was what I thought was expected of me. Basically, in trying so hard to succeed by other people’s standards, I failed at being me. And when my job mattered to me in that way, who had the power? Certainly not me.
The first wake up moment took place in 2010 when I was the only one in the small company I then worked for who was selected for “lay-off". As explained to me later by a high ranking woman with whom I had worked: “You pissed some of the old men off. They didn’t like that you pointed out that their decisions flew in the face of the data and what the market research was saying. So they complained. And your company decided to get rid of the problem - you - rather than face up to the problem: an old-guard self-protective system. You didn’t do something wrong. You just didn’t do something right - as defined by them.”
Things have changed a lot since then. But I would argue that, even after a pandemic, the business world doesn’t really want us in all our glorious messiness and imperfection and jumble of contradictions. They want one thing and one thing only from us: our ability to show up and do the work they set for us. That is what they pay us for.
And that’s totally reasonable and fair.
But still today, most organizations and bosses seem to be operating under the belief that they are not only buying our time - but also our personalities. And they buy it when we acquiescence to the unspoken norms about how we are supposed to be at work: what we wear, what we talk about, how we are supposed to “show up” in terms of attitude, how early we arrive, how late we stay, our deference to authority, and hundreds of other daily choices. And then we wonder at how bullied, ignored, pushed around, overlooked, mistreated we feel or unfair the whole thing seems?
I had the most delightful coffee with a former colleague a few weeks back. We have traveled very similar journeys in terms of fall-out from our jobs having catastrophic impacts on our health and well-being. But where my path has taken me to coaching her path has taken her back to a different job. One where she is utterly clear eyed about what she is doing and why: she is selling her time for money. It’s that simple. Not for her identity, not for purpose, not for meaning and fulfillment - she is meeting those needs in other ways.
As I sat listening to her describe how - because of this - she can see what is actually going on in the company (rather a lot of disorganization), clearly point it out to the owner and her boss, and offer potential suggestions for improvements, all while being completely detached from how her boss responds or reacts, I had the biggest smile on my face. This is freedom - the real, meaningful kind. Because that organization, that boss - they have no power over her. Absolutely zero. And all because she has learned to detach her worth from her job; to separate what she does to earn a living from who she is as a human being. She knows she has worth just as she is, regardless of what kind of job she has. And because of this she’s no threat to the organization or to her boss’s ego either. She gets to be who she is AND she gets to work a job she chooses to do. It’s a joy behold.
If you are someone who is feeling bullied, yes, it’s possible to get to this place. No, it’s not easy. Yes, it takes work. And yes, it is worth it. You get your life back. You get to be you. One part of your path to this sort of freedom and joy is really ditching the 200 pound weight on your back that is tying your worth and identity to your job. Because work won’t love you back.
And if you are someone who leads and manages other people, I ask you to examine what assumptions you are making about how much you get to dictate to them about who they are supposed to be. “If self rule is a fundamental value, if simple justice is a value, then they are values everywhere, including the workplace where we spend so much of our lives.”
How much autonomy are you giving to your staff? How much are you expecting them to follow certain norms that really have nothing at all to do with their capacity to get their work done? There is an inverse relationship between control and trust: the more you control, the less people feel trusted, and the less they feel trusted, the less well they perform. “When a trustworthy work climate exists, information is communicated more openly, people are more willing to help one another and willing to test ideas even if these may ultimately fail. Such behavior, over time, leads to outcomes that make companies more creative, innovative, cooperative, and fast moving, which are all factors that drive performance in direct ways.” (What COVID-19 Teaches Us About the Importance of Trust at Work, Knowledge@Wharton).
Our jobs can give us great meaning and purpose. They can be places of tremendous personal and professional fulfillment and growth. We can look forward to going to work every day. And feel valued and trusted.
And they can also be places of misery and suffering. A lot of this is due to organizational structures and systems, yes.
But not all of it.
In Nonviolent Communication we teach that “There is no system in the world that reliably has enough physical force that can oppress large numbers of people without their partial cooperation or consent.” Malcolm Gladwell explores these themes in David and Goliath. When we conflate who we are with what we do, we give some of our power, some of our innate rights to self-determination, away. We partially consent to the very system that causes us so much misery.
We are not to blame for that. Society and our education systems actively socialize us into that belief.
And, if we are to bring humanity, dignity and compassion back to the workplace, so that all can thrive, it starts with not
carving workplaces out as the expectation to “If self rule is a fundamental value, if simple justice is a value, then they are values everywhere.”
Over the last few posts, and in the most recent resilience toolkit I've shared a practice to identify your core values. And then take the next step: work out how you actually operationalize them. Talking a good value game is easy and B.S. The more meaningful, and much harder, part is working through how you are actually going to walk your talk. That takes some good ol'fashioned look-at-oneself-in-the-mirror work. But the results, as I share below - are so worth it. I am definitely feeling much more grounded in, and committed to, my values now that I have gone through this exercise.
So, what about you? Have you tried the exercises to identify your core values and how you operationalize them yet? What came up for you? What did you notice about what you struggled with vs. what came more easily?
Behaviours and practices that support my compassion value are
I had a hard time separating out slippery slope behaviours and early warning signs, so I allowed myself to go with consolidating them into one question. From that, the following slippery slope behaviours or early warning signs emerged:
Looking back for recent examples of when I was truly living this value brought me some surprises.
One of them was during my month long stay at Malibu Vista in November 2017. Compassion meant that I stayed in my own lane, not joining in some of the gossiping and back-channeling that some of the other women were engaging in. “I have enough of my own stuff to deal with," I said when my silence was noted, “I don’t need to get into anyone else’s business”. And so it caught me by surprise when as residents left, they would hug me warmly and thank me for always being available to talk – but only about ourselves, not about others as a way of avoiding our own work. After everything I had been through, this brought tears to my eyes every time: I was not the mean bitch work had tried to make me out to be. I was capable of being the kind, generous and open-hearted person I felt myself to be.
Another is through my volunteering work the Women’s Opportunity Center - a local non-profit serving low-income, marginalized and displaced women. Those women amaze me with their courage, their strength, their determination. Society is incredibly quick to judge them as “less than” and “living off the system”. They are anything but. They are fiercely determined to make something of their lives – when the deck is heavily stacked against them. And whatever I give to them in terms of coaching, they give me so much more. They keep me grounded, and real, and hopeful. They remind me of the innate competence and capability of every person – no matter how much society may judge or shame or belittle them.
The feelings that come from living into this value - even when it’s hard – are powerful. I feel grounded, aligned and purposeful. I am less impulsive and more considered. I am less quick-off-the-mark with retorts to perceived slights or put downs, and can take my time to listen, and chose not to even respond – as most of the time a response isn’t necessary. I feel more open and connected to myself and to others.
In terms of support for this value: I’ve made a commitment to share this reflection with a few people in my life who can help me to practice my values – even when the going gets tough. On my list are my husband, a close friend, a fellow NVC practitioner, and two coaching friends. Yes, it feels vulnerable to do this: and yes I know this is exactly what I need to do. My ask to them will be that they encourage me and check-in with me on time to time – just holding space for me to reflect and process.
One more reflection before I wrap this. Writing this down, as an actual shareable reflection, has truly helped me to deepen my own insights and get more specific on the behaviours that support versus challenge my values. So, I encourage you to take the time to work this through properly. You’re welcome to use me as your “accountability buddy” if you like. Schedule a session with me to go through your own process. Or pick someone else who is important in your life and part of your support system, like I am doing. Stretch yourself into your challenge zone – but not so far that you’re in you’re in your freak out zone. It’s all about baby steps as you learn these skills and put them into practice.
Have you ever taken the time to discern what your real values are? Or sat down and determined if your values are setting you up for happiness and fulfillment, or for pain and suffering?
And why do values even matter? Especially when all around us we see people and organizations espousing high-sounding values and then, ostensibly in the name of those same values, behaving abominably.
Many of us talk a good game about our values. But consciously living by and holding ourselves accountable to our values, rather than just professing them - that's a whole different thing. It takes heap of commitment and courage to actually practice our values.
Simply put, if it's easy to list our values, they're probably not our real values.
If I had been asked what my values where a few years back I could have rattled off a nice list of good sounding ones: financial security, responsibility, honesty, generosity, community, work-ethic blah blah. But if I looked at my actual behavior there would have been quite the gap between what I professed vs. what my behavior revealed. At my best my behavior pointed towards values of kindness, consideration, and integrity, among others. At my worst: arrogance, intolerance, the need to believe I was right, power, rigidity.
Like an iceberg, it is our behaviors that lie above the water line, visible to ourselves and to others.
Our true values lie below the water line – typically hidden both to others and, more critically, to ourselves.
Whether we are conscious of them or not, values drive our behavior.
And getting clear on our values is not the simple exercise you may think. It takes some serious deep diving into the cold, uncomfortable, and murky waters of looking at what our behaviors, prejudices and judgments, thoughts and feelings, fears and dreams really reveal about our values – rather than what we profess them to be. And then doing the hard work of re-prioritizing them (if that is needed). And the even harder work of actually putting them into practice.
Why even bother to do this hard work?
Because it makes for much greater resilience, confidence, happiness and fulfillment. Even more, values are a protective factor when it comes to a concept known as "social contagion." Social contagion is the phenomenon by which behaviours become normalized and adopted. For example, as Susan David illustrates, take this scenario: You’re on an airplane, cramped and tired, eager to reach your destination. The flight crew is passing by with the snack cart. You’re not feeling particularly hungry—perhaps you availed yourself of an overpriced sandwich back in the terminal—but you notice that the gentleman sitting beside you is treating himself to a bag of M&M’s. You’ve never met this person before and exchanged only a cursory nod as you took your seats. Still, research shows that you are now 30 percent more likely to spring for some candy of your own.
This is social contagion. Where the choices of someone you don’t even know have may have sway over your own decisions. Large scale epidemiological studies show that if someone in your social network puts on weight or gets divorced, your likelihood of doing the same increases substantially. This is the case even if you don’t know the person. They might be the friend of a friend of a friend, but their actions have far-reaching ripple effects.
However, the research also shows that not everyone is equally susceptible to social contagions. People with a clear sense of their values have proven to be more resilient to the pressures of their community. Susan David gives another example. Women in professions with a high degree of gender bias are more likely than their male colleagues to quit when faced with setbacks. Without even realizing it, they can internalize the messages snaking through their work environment, the ones telling them that they don’t belong. But when these women are asked to perform a simple exercise in which they clarify why they are in their career—why it is of value to them—they become insulated from the toxic social contagion. They are more likely to hang in there when the going gets tough.
This is why it’s so important to know our values. They are more than nice-to-haves that make life more pleasant. Our values help to inoculate us against making decisions that are not our own.
Coming back to Brené Brown. One of the very first things we did as part of the Living Brave was to identify our values. She used the image of a lantern to describe what values do for us.
Values are what we take into the arena with us, she said. Values light our way.
The exercise was to discern our two core values. Yes, just two (I will come back to that). Her test was “without these I am not me”. Values, in her terms are "the organizing principles of our lives." Her suggestion was to think back to a time when we were most alive, most daring greatly in our lives, being our most authentic selves. And then think about what values we were living into at that time.
I did the exercise and felt good about the clarity I got to. My top two were vision and belief in self.
With hindsight it's embarrassingly obvious how those two values could lead me astray. There were certainly true, in that they felt true to who I was/was striving to be and to the moments and events in my life when I had felt most alive, most myself, most in my integrity and passion. They were not the complete picture, however. I hadn't dived deeper, to see what, if anything, might be underneath them. And frankly, it was both too easy and too feel-good, self-congratulatory. My understanding was at the intellectual level. I hadn't challenged myself or worked with a partner to think through what behaviors those values were driving and where those values may set me up for falls, heartbreak and disappointment, rather than resilience, grounded confidence and success.
The next step came from an unlikely source: Mark Manson’s The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck: A counterintuitive approach to living a good life. His basic argument goes as follows:
Since reading this some months back I haven’t been able to get Manson’s approach out of my head. Reading the “Living into our values” chapter of Brené Brown’s latest book, Dare to Lead, had me flipping back to Mark Manson, trying to see how I could tie Manson’s approach with Brown’s.
I’ve landed on not following Brown’s approach to focus one which values “resonate deeply” with me. Rather I’m marrying her suggestion to identify what fills me with a feeling of purpose with Manson’s question of “what am I prepared to struggle for”. What “resonates deeply” with me can feel like an exercise in self-congratulation. “What am I prepared to struggle for” requires some good hard self-awareness.
Manson and Brown do agree on the need for prioritization. Whenever we are presented with a list of values, most of us will want to pick 10 to 15 of them. But that’s not helpful. Brown’s research has shown that those who are most willing to wrestle with vulnerability and practice courage tether their behavior to one or two values, not ten. Channeling Jim Collins (of Good to Great fame): “If you have more than three priorities, you have no priorities”. When we identify a whole lot of values as important to us, we’re not getting real or honest with ourselves – we’re choosing easy, comfortable and a list of feel good words over integrity, courage and self-awareness. When we limit ourselves to two, we start to get really clear on what is truly driving us - and what we want to drive us. And we usually find that is those two where all the other values that we wanted to pick truly get tested.
In this week’s resilience toolkit there is an exercise to get clarity on your values. If you’ve read this far, why don’t you take it? The exercise forces some hard, and illuminating choices.
I’m clear on one of my two values: compassion.
Compassion sets me up with the kind of problems that make my life harder in many respects (darn it, I can’t just judge, blame and shame people; I can’t hold onto grudges or resentments) but better in all the ways that are meaningful and matter to me. It tempers my reactivity and defensiveness. It leads me towards connection, belonging, community, resilience, confidence, hope, perseverance, and joy. It’s also where a whole lot of other values get tested, like integrity, honesty, and knowledge. In particular it shines the light on where those other values of mine can be used as weapons to defend myself or hurt others.
As for my second, it’s taking a lot more wrangling.
Vision still keeps yelling for my attention. But I am not quite certain about it. It still feels too easy of a value to have - at least for me. And as I look back, I can see where it set me up with “bad problems” as well as “better problems”. I'm not ready to chuck it out yet though. I'm letting myself mull on it, trusting that if I just sit with this, and let myself be curious, rather than looking for an easy answer so I can just call this exercise done, my truth will emerge.
Joy is also calling to me. I know the struggle involved in joy. There is nothing passive or easy about joy. It’s a whole set of values, practices, and attitudes that challenge me on multiple levels, as so beautifully and joyfully elucidated by the Dalai Lama and Archbishop Desmond Tutu in The Book of Joy. And each of those values and practices set me up for “good problems”. But precisely because joy is such a complicated value for me I’m having hard time feeling it’s the best choice. I am also of the view that joy is the result of the intentional practice of other values, rather than a value in and of itself. Intentionally seeking or cultivating joy usually results in its opposite. So, joy doesn’t seem to fit either.
And so I'm still doing the work on identifying my second core value. And that's OK with me. I would rather be patient, and spend the time with this, than rush to an answer.
How about you? What are your two core values? What kinds of problems do they create for you? And are those problems "good" ones, or "bad" ones?
Part 2 will be on "operationalizing" our values. Our values are just feel-good sentiments unless and until we move beyond professing them to actually practicing them. That takes courage. And thought. So more to come.
Sue Mann - Coach
Reflections on how we reclaim and sustain our worthiness in the face of falls and challenges.