Something has come over me during the last year where I feel the need to bare my soul to a handful of people, that is, anyone on the worldwide web with this URL. In a way, I’m facing my demons by doing what scares me the most: showing my soft underbelly.
This week’s version of shameless self-disclosure comes during my Arbinger Institute facilitator training. I wrote in my last blog about one of the Arbinger concepts, Must Be Seen As. Admitting I have this Box to first, a roomful of strangers, then to the WWW again tests my willingness to be brutally (and I mean brutally) honest with myself and others. Of course, after a week of disclosing our worst selves, these former strangers are now my partners-in-crime.
Another Arbinger concept that I love and is, in a very different way, equally terrifying: way of being (I’ll call it WOB for short). WOB refers to how we see others during the course of what we do. For instance, I may ask someone, “please get me some Post-Its.” But how I view him will determine how I make the request. If I view him as a person whose wants, needs and desires are equally important to my own, then the way I ask will differ compared to if I view him merely as a means to an end. For the exact same sentence, the manner in which I say those words (grateful versus haughty, for example) can make a world of difference in terms of how he perceives my attitude (WOB), and thus his reaction. If I’m in my Must Be Seen As (or other) Box, then I’m more likely to be haughty, demanding, rude, entitled or possibly even meek, timid, or afraid when asking.
Since being trained on this topic (though I’ve been taught this before), I have become acutely aware of my WOB as I move through the world. I have mentioned before that I’m actually a shy person and must work on intentionally making eye contact with strangers (my secret exercise with unwitting strangers). Now, I look at strangers with a fresh perspective comprised of acute curiosity and awareness of our common humanity instead of as a vehicle for improving my shyness.
This simple shift has me once again feeling strangely vulnerable and open to whatever the stranger chooses to offer to me in return. Sometimes, it is averted eyes. Sometimes it is a smile or conversation. Sometimes it is a return gaze containing an equal level of curiosity. Regardless of the reaction, this new WOB has resulted in a heightened sense of connection to others that feels almost overwhelming.
I feel so privileged to have the opportunity to have participated in both the StrengthsFinders and Arbinger trainings. Not only have they been personally transformative for me, I can’t wait to use these tools to help others to be more authentically engaged with their lives. This phase of my life is yet another powerful new beginning for me, an exciting leg of my life’s journey. The beauty and wonder of this journey is literally breathtaking to me; I can’t imagine why anyone would be closed to such exploration. Perhaps it is best stated by Marianne Williamson, in her poem The Greatest Fear:
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.
It is our light not our darkness that most frightens us.
As I look with new eyes at each of my fellow humans, I now see that your light is, indeed, powerful and beautiful. Whether you know it or not.
Be not afeard; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds, and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears; and sometime voices,
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open, and show riches
Ready to drop upon me; that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again
– William Shakespeare, The Tempest