Irony is when we judge others as lacking empathy

Tolerating isn’t sustainable.
Respecting is.

There are workshops that teach listening
as a collection of techniques,
like:
Smiling.
Nodding.
Saying “mhm.”
etc.

Even if you do all of that,
if internally you’re merely tolerating the experience,
you can feel drained
You may even feel like you’re engaged in “emotional labor.”

That’s a recipe for burn-out and resentment.

Respecting
is a practice of making new value from what we perceive.

It’s not a technique,
but rather a skill that naturally emerges
from a shift in our perception.

For example,
art students,
especially those trained in the traditional crafts
learn to respect by actively perceiving value in the mundane
through drawing,
sculpting,
woodworking, etc…

Once we learn to respect,
What we perceive in the world
can energize us,
so much so that we may be so immersed in the art of respecting,
that we forget to eat.

There are times when we,
usually in the name of improvement,
forget that we are special.

It is not wrong to think we are special.

Special does not mean superior or exceptional in all contexts.
It simply means we are superior or exceptional in some contexts.

Cockroaches are special.
So are rocket scientists.
Just in different contexts.

 

I’ve coached founders
who aspire to make millions of dollars.
I’ve also coached founders
who aspire to help the less fortunate.

Some may easily judge one to be better than the other.

Perhaps.

What I find interesting is that both struggled
with the same things.
That is until they learned to let go
of the fixed image
of who they thought they should be.
Whether that was
someone who has millions of dollars or
someone who helps the less fortunate,
it made little difference.

When we are involved in a process of innovation,
the kind mired in
volatility,
uncertainty,
complexity, and
ambiguity
What we often need
is someone who can
be there by our side
to help us navigate through
the difficult,
uncomfortable,
sometimes drawn out,
process
of coming to make a decision.

Not someone
who is quick to
tell us
what decision to make.
Nor someone
who leaves us
alone
to make a decision.

Yet more often than not
we are surrounded
by the latter two types of people,
While it is rare to be in the company
of the first kind of person.

To all my readers,
if you wish,
May this new year
bring more
of the first kind of person
into your lives.

To all my clients,
I’m eternally grateful
for your willingness
to let me be this kind of person.

Innovation does not solve problems.
It only has the potential to do so.

Say I produced an innovative vacuum cleaner,
If the problem is a dirty house,
unless someone uses the innovation repeatedly,
problem persists.

Innovation creates unexpected choices we didn’t perceive to have,
Problem solving uses existing choices to achieve an expected result.

Problem solving gets stuck
when we lack the requisite variety of choices
to achieve our expected result.

Thus,
when we’re stuck,
we need to temporarily put aside problem solving
in favor of innovation
to first increase the variety of our choices.

Sometimes innovation even helps us realize
that what we considered a problem is not,
and the problem vanishes

If an “event” that happens is the tip of the iceberg,
“context” is the rest of the iceberg.

If my saying something is an event,
its context includes
my intentions,
emotions,
needs,
values,
beliefs,
history, etc.

When we hear what others say,
we often use the first context that comes to mind
to make meaning from their words.

This can lead to misunderstandings.

We only understand the words of others
when we interpret their words
in conjunction with a context sufficiently similar
to the context that gave rise to their words.

So to better understand the word of others,
we often need to momentarily let go
of the first context that comes to mind.

When we, as founders,
work to fertilize a new culture in our organization,
3 emotions often rise up in ourselves and in our team:

  • Overwhelm
  • Worry/Concern
  • Anxiety

When we don’t spend the time
to realize empathy in relation to these emotions,
they easily develop into:

  • Sense of Isolation
  • Fear
  • Frustration

Which, over time, calcify as:

  • Sense of Betrayal
  • Shame
  • Resentment

We play “designer,”
when we act to fulfill an emotional need.
Wish to fulfill your need for communication with those far away?
Play “designer” to design a mail system.

We play “judge,”
when we blame someone.
Wish to label someone at fault?
Play “judge” to peruse the evidence & make a decision.

We may play them well or poorly,
but once we become aware of these roles,
they are available for our choosing
from moment to moment,
even if they’re not on our business cards.

The question is “What role do we want to play?”

Whatever our answer,
it’ll profoundly affect our sense of identity.
The sense of who we are,
from where our thoughts & behaviors
will naturally flow,
at least temporarily.

To empathize with the familiar,
all we need is to have empathy.

But artists empathize with the unfamiliar,
the unknown,
the uncomfortable.
So do anthropologists.

For them, having empathy is insufficient.
They need to be able to realize empathy.

But, just as martial artists cannot will her victory,
we cannot will a realization.
Just as martial artists can only practice
to increase her probability of victory,
We can only practice to increase our probability
of realization.

Except our end isn’t mere victory,
it’s innovation.

This is a Janusian Art,
as Martial is from the Roman God of war, Mars,
and Janusian is from the Roman God of transition, Janus.

Before founding a company,
it rarely occurs to us
that the thing that will drain so much our energy
will not be the lack of ideas,
or the lack of funding,
but rather the lack of support we feel
from those whom we most expect or desire support.

The paradox is this.

Often times,
these people are doing their best to support.

What’s worse?

They don’t feel appreciated for their support.

In such cases,
the misunderstanding lies
in the misalignment between their intent to support
and the impact of said support.

Until we can empathize with their intention,
and they with their impact on us,
we’ll be left feeling unsupported,
and they feeling unappreciated.