AND Choose Fertile Soil

February 11th, 2018

When I first joined the working world, I naively believed that if I discovered something that would make things better, leaders would want to hear my ideas. I understood nothing of the power dynamic at play in our society and so worked hard to get those ideas across.

A colleague noticed how much energy I was spending trying to get leaders to understand my point of view. She invited me to imagine that the team or individuals whose attention I was trying to get were seated on the other side of a one-way mirror that was soundproof. I then was invited to imagine that I was on the other side of that mirror waving my hands wildly and shouting…to no avail, as they could neither see nor hear me. My ideas were falling on deaf ears.

That image taught me a great deal over the years. I have come to understand that just because I believe my view can help others, or is somehow more accurate, it is of no consequence, if others are not interested in what I have to say.

Instead of that realization leading to a feeling of helplessness, I find it to be wildly empowering. I use it as a reminder that it is still important for me to know what I stand for and to take a stand when I believe it is necessary. What is different is that I can remain unattached to whether others care to listen or value what I have to say.

What this awareness gives me is the reminder that it is my responsibility to value what I believe AND to carefully pay attention to how others respond. If they are uninterested or have all sorts of excuses for why my idea won’t work at this time, I walk away. They are not fertile soil.

If we want to change our world, each of us gets to realize that who we are and what we bring will be welcomed by some and rejected by others. Not everyone is ready to be open and change course. If we learn to listen intently to others’ response, we can discern whether any particular person or context is fertile for our ideas to grow at this time.

AND when we stop growing bitter and angry that others do not respond as we had hoped, we can consider each time we express our point of view to be no more than a trial balloon sent up to let us know whether we have found fertile soil for our ideas or not. AND that knowledge saves a lot of energy, lightens the load, and inspires us to go after what we dream more strategically.

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