Be the change you wish to see in the world. — Gandhi
Our language influences how we interpret and experience things. I purposely first ask people their aspirations rather than their goals or expectations. A different part of the brain is activated when we are envisioning. We are more open and see more possibilities. Then, there is a place for clarifying goals and the next actions to move toward the aspiration.
Emotions are contagious and it is easy to feel anxious and want to rush to solutions. Often in conversations, we jump to solutions before fully listening. We push ourselves and others to commit to action for results. In fact, many of us seem wired for action and we certainly have been rewarded in the workplace for committing to action. As a coach and team facilitator, I work to stay open and inspire people to dream of what is possible. By my questions and presence with clients, the space is set for such dreaming.
I realize that I do not always hold this same space with myself or my teenage daughter. My own worry about her succeeding can make me jump to proposed actions. “How is your studying going? What are you doing for your college applications?” She does not feel my positive affirmation in these moments. In fact, I do have positive aspirations for her but my own worry and push for action can get in the way. I regret that I have missed opportunities with her the way leaders I coach have missed opportunities for connecting and envisioning with their teams.
When I worked with a leadership team that was experiencing challenges in the marketplace, I was able to share my excitement about what is possible for the organization and encourage them to dream of what they could co-create. They joined together to create a compelling vision and they also left with concrete priorities and actions. Each leader agreed to carry the excitement and questions about what could be possible back to their teams. After a few days, the whole energy of the organization was lifted and new possibilities emerged. It is amazing to see the transformation when we are reflecting on our aspirations of what is possible rather than what is not going well and what we don’t want.
Be sure to give yourself space to reflect on what you most aspire and to connect with what brings you meaning. Then identify goals and next steps. Also, be an inspiration for others and engage them in dialogue about what is possible. This kind of conversation is needed more than ever these days when it is so easy for people to feel disheartened and out of control.