What I Learned the Week of March 19th, 2022

From a Podcast – The Office as a Tool

From Eat Sleep Work Repeat podcast in an interview with entrepreneur, Caleb Parker, who is the founder of the flexible workplace offering, Bold. Caleb’s recommendation is for organizations to start with the culture and then look at what space is needed to support the culture. Caleb’s research and conversations with many employees have reinforced some of what we have already heard, “they do not want to go back into the office”, however, the reason has a slight twist to it – “because that is where the toxic culture thrived and WFH has provided some protection to that toxicity”

This further underlines employee purpose-driven spaces design. What I notice we had more of in the past was this big space with a big logo on it and one area or floor that was super fancy for impressing clients with the other areas having a bunch of cubicles to show off how many people work here. Versus – what do our people, who are doing all this brilliant, creative, productive stuff – what space do they need to help them do great work and increase their wellbeing. How can the company best meet the employees’ needs with this space?

Purpose-driven spaces as well as purpose-driven coming together is key to our future. Caleb noted in the interview that many organizations are using the answer of “collaboration” as the reason companies are bringing people back into the office. And rightly he challenged them that with the notion of haven’t we proven that we can do collaboration virtually over these past few years. I think we have. Some organizations, like SalesForce, are focusing on bringing people back into the office for “events” and as such, they are looking at their real estate to support events more than anything else. This is similar to how the company GitLab has been doing it since it first originated in 2011 and now operates in 66 countries with over 1500 employees. You can read all about their remote purpose strategy in the link provided.

From a Book – Enneagrams – A Merging of Psychological and Spiritual Systems

For those who are not familiar with Enneagrams, the simple description is a personality type tool that has evolved through multiple thought leaders and since at least the late 1800s. The authors of this book, Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson, further developed the work from past creators (i.e., Gurdjieff, Ichazo, Naranjo) with the development of the psychological basis of the nine personality types previously created and showing how each relates to other psychological and spiritual systems. They added the levels of development to show how individuals grow and deteriorate as they move through their lives and described which traits and motivations went with each type and why. They also developed the Enneagram type questionnaire (RHETI) in 1991 and have been teaching to others on all the continents and from every major religious background since that time.

I have taken my fair share of personality assessments and for the most part, I have found all of them interesting in how they mostly get it right in terms of telling me “who I am”. However, what I appreciated the most from this book was from a few key quotes which I’m sharing below:

  • ”…the Enneagram does not put us in a box, it shows us the box we are already in and the way out”
  • “The enneagram is the bridge between psychology and spirituality”
  • “We are not our personality”
  • “When we stop identifying with our personality and stop defending it, a miracle happens: Our essential nature spontaneously arises and transforms us”

While my type assessment, a seven, 100% resonated with me in both my strengths and challenges, it was refreshing to have these perspectives offered as a reminder that we are all nine types at the end of the day. Our basic type is how we present ourselves particularly when we forget our true nature – or when we abandon ourselves. I really appreciated the expansiveness of this as compared to other personality assessment tools which can sometimes overly brush you as one thing, which if you don’t like it leaves you feeling a bit deflated.

A few things about the seven, that ringed 100% true for me, for those interested:

  • Sevens, also known as The Enthusiast, are considered upbeat, accomplished and impulsive. We find the silver lining in almost everything.
  • I lose my center or “miss the mark” with my insatiable desire for new experiences. I can avoid feelings of inner emptiness by pursuing a variety of positive, stimulating ideas and activities, in the attempt to fill myself up.
  • I learned in childhood it’s not OK to depend on anyone for anything. As such I can be extremely independent and have to remind myself to collaborate with others continually. Ironically I absolutely LOVE doing but it’s not my go-to thought pattern. Good learning to know you that you could be averse to something and love it both at the same time.
  • My basic fear is being deprived (i.e., not having enough) or trapped in pain.
  • My basic desire is to be happy – as compared to be secure or to be loved or to be competent. The challenge with this desire is we can’t be happy all the time – life has suffering and pain. So if I fear being trapped in pain then this desire to be happy could lead to frenetic escapism, and never sitting with my pain. I learned this, particularly with how I handled the death of my last two dogs.
  • The lost childhood message that I wanted to hear, but did not – which doesn’t mean it wasn’t given, was you will be taken care of. Hence the independent nature.
  • Finally – TheInspirationalMind created songs for each of the personality types – this is the seven-song and so captures my spirit.

There is a lot more to sevens than just the above and again we are not our personality. But it is fascinating to understand a bit more about yourself for the sake of noticing patterns and considering what habits and thought patterns are no longer serving you. When you google you will find a few free enneagram assessments which I did not try myself. I used the guidance from the book referenced and felt pretty confident no further assessment was needed. I have heard not all tests are reliable as the others so recommend if you do go down that path you try a few and keep

A final quote that really moved me is “What our hearts yearn for is to know who we are and why we are here”. I do believe this is very true for most of us, if not all. And for some, this feels so foreign to them the idea of giving these questions any time feels like a moot point. I know that part of why I am here is to be the bridge to help those very people that are struggling to answer these questions, particularly those people who have focused on work, careers, status, ambition as key motivators for their life, have possibly even been very successful by societies standards in that arena, but are reflecting now that something still feels missing and are wondering why.

From Social Media – Learning to Read the Space with Horse Integration

This past week I took a mini-break with a couple of friends and often when I do vacations I dip into Facebook. When I go there I do I tend to look for this one friend that I met through my coaching training and have stayed connected with who I know posts there a lot. I always admired her courage and authenticity as she created an amazing practice integrating her love of horses and coaching. I have had the pleasure of experiencing the magic of her herd, the beauty of the ranch she has here in BC, which you can find in this video, and her unique gifts with horses. If you are ever looking for such an experience hands down this is the place to go.

I found this post that shared one of her many videos on herd integration. This particular video was this past week for a new feral foal, Shadow, being integrated into the herd. Horses are so amazing to watch in how they communicate and show leadership. You’ll notice in this video that Shadow spends a lot of time observing and listening to others. She knows how to read the space. This is such a lovely thing to watch and one which I wish more people leaders knew how to do. I myself could learn better on how to read the space and what I took from this video was the importance of putting yourself into “herds” to have that experience of learning to read the space. You learn from being with people than reading about them. 😉

From People – Attract or Convert

One key decision all businesses must make is identifying who is their ideal customer. In that regard, I have been pondering over the past few weeks how much do I want to invest in enrolling or converting leaders that I want to provide my services to. I know that sometimes bold perspectives can be a bit much and not everyone will be ready for it. As much as I would like to save the world, and be seen as the savior, I know that is a shadow side of myself and not a healthy position to take, saving the world. When I take on that energy it is in service of me and my ego and not really of others.

I left last week with the overarching objective to help leaders in workplaces “blow it up” for the sake of rebuilding but knowing I needed to do that with some kindness so as not to alienate everyone. I was fortunate to have a few conversations to help me understand what does “kindness” means. In those conversations, I found three key answers.

  1. In kindness means having a clear place for them to land post the blow-up. That most likely will also include a temporary resting spot. The benefit to the leaders and organizations of someone creating and holding that space for them is that they get to have a lot more clarity about what the new workplace culture needs to be from a purpose-driven conversation without being as constrained by old ways. There are countless choices to be made with solid examples that already exist where companies have adopted new organizational designs. My service is to hold this space while they are in transition and guide that journey to their new workplace culture. I’m not here to sell them “the answer” but to guide them in finding the answer that is right for them.
  2. In kindness means providing clarity on what the blow-up process will look like including providing resources for all the key steps. Some may initially be excited with the idea of blowing up all the systemic issues that exist in their workplace culture. It will take far more than excitement to get through this process. As reasoning starts to overpower the thrill they can easily fall back to becoming overwhelmed with how much change is needed. They might consider all the “useful” things that will also get destroyed as part of that blow-up. The collateral damage is pretty unavoidable. I need to pain that clear picture of how we will navigate that together. At this moment I compare it to the process of a building intentionally being demolished. The building is evacuated, proper explosives are positioned, it is blown up and in an instant, it comes crashing down, with very little disturbance to the buildings around it. Obviously, there are lot of cleaning up that is still required to fully get rid of what was left and then there is the rebuilding of something new. Something that meets the purpose for the now and the future. Similar materials might be used as existed in the prior building. New, better, materials will be incorporated. Similar designs from the past might be leveraged while new more innovative thinking will also be leveraged. Eventually, the building is ready for occupants. All of this process is thought out carefully before the day of demolition. We just don’t go blow a workplace culture up without a plan to support the end-to-end process.
  3. And during the processes of demolition and rebuilding, there will be a bundle of emotions and loads of uncertainty that needs to be directed in such a way that maintains positive momentum. Having a steady hand to hold onto during that process is the other form of kindness that I will bring to those leaders and organizations that are ready to take this leap. The leaders themselves may need to learn new skills, uncover their own biases that were contributing to the systemic issues that created the past problems, and need that advocate that believes in their ability to transform.

Through these various conversations, I’ve recommitted to my purpose is to be that bridge in the blow-up process. The bridge to stand on while you are creating the blow-up plan, rebuilding post the blow-up, and then eventually the bridge to your new future. That support system enables you to step away from what is and see it from a new perspective.

It’s also helped me answer the question of attracting versus converting. This process will be challenging and scary and is not for the faint of heart. We will be trailblazers. Blade Runners. There may be examples of where this has been done before but very few. There will not be a perfect guidebook with step-by-step instructions. This is not for the faint of heart. This means I want to work with people who are drawn to the idea of blowing it all up and not be on a mission to convince someone that is what they need to do. It will already be scary enough for those who are drawn to it. I want to work with leaders who already feel empowered to create something new. Not ones who need me to empower them.

So the answer is clear. Attract what you want!

From My Reflections – The Efficiency of Being Present

So much of my other learnings have integrated many of my reflections this week, more so than others. And while on a mini-break I was not as disciplined at my morning routine of meditation and journaling. What I noticed is when I make space for being present and I am not running to the next activity or to-do list, I do not need this routine in my day for self-learning. I am much more likely to learn and integrate along the way. Neither approach is necessarily right or wrong, simply one works better for me in certain circumstances. It was good noticing this pattern as there are other times when I have been critical of myself when let these important rituals slip from routine when on vacation and now I can appreciate why they are needed a bit more when my days are more “full”.

One thought on “What I Learned the Week of March 19th, 2022

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: