It’s a common question on first meeting someone: What do you do? More often than not the answer you get is someone’s job title. Yet that doesn’t really tell me what you do, create, experience or bring to the world. The same job title in different companies can mean different things. Or the assumption I make about your job title might be based on my perception of how that ‘job’ role was done years ago and not reflective of how it works in today’s environment. In other words it can end up a quite meaningless conversation. I was inspired by this article where the CEO of the British restaurant chain Weatherspoons says he never says he’s the CEO – and prefers to say ‘he runs pubs’. That’s what he actually does every day. He’s known for being a very visible leader, regularly visiting and interacting with all his businesses. Coincidentally (or perhaps not) one of my clients this week had a breakthrough along similar lines. She suddenly got an insight that what lies behind her rather uninspiring job title (Senior Manager – doh!) is a more exciting purpose. She realised that what excites her is to ‘lead this business to international success’. That’s what gets her up in the morning, unleashes her creativity and drives her energy every day. And it sounds much more intriguing to me as well. Saying ‘I’m a Senior Manager’ doesn’t stir my interest much. Saying she is leading a business to international success is much more interesting and I’m completed to ask her ‘tell me more about how you’re doing that.”
Your Turn : What lies behind your job title? Can you describe in one sentence, the essence of what you do/create/contribute in a more exciting and inspiring sentence? How does it feel different to you? What do you notice when you use this sentence when meeting new people? I’m curious to hear how it shifts your conversation. #Lead Boldly.
“You’re right, Aileen”. I like to joke a little whenever anyone says that to me in conversation. After all, it’s usually just a throw away comment. A verbal tic. It’s not meant as a deeply considered judgement of what I’ve said or what I think or even who I am. So my light-hearted response is “I’m always right.” Of course, I know I’m not.
Yet it’s easier to say I’m right, than it is to say “I’m wrong”. Much easier.
As the early years of my sixtieth decade fly past (and they do), I often find myself contemplating all the times in my life when it might have benefited me to just say “I’m wrong”. Not that it’s a case of proving who’s right and who is wrong, since that’s never wholly the case either way. It’s simply that we are coming from different perspectives, judgements or experiences. Oh that there might be no judgement or fear when exclaiming “I’m wrong”. I wonder how our conversations might shift when, as opposed to investing energy in trying to prove things one way or the other, you might just say aloud, ‘I’m wrong’. Try it now – I have a sense that as soon as I don’t need to prove my perspective, and I say I’m wrong – even silently inside myself – I feel a release of energy. My whole body relaxes. It subtly stops fighting and struggling. It says I’m OK.
In my heart and mind I can now go back over time and admit ‘I was wrong’ on all of those occasions which ended up in tension, debate, argument or even breakdown. It’s a healing feeling – and I don’t often use that word. I’m reminded of the famous Rumi quote:
“Out beyond the ideas of right-doing and wrongdoing, there is a field I will meet you there. It’s the world full of things to talk about.”
Your turn: where might it bring relief to you to simply admit, to yourself or to others, that you are wrong? what do you notice when you do so? what pulls you into trying to prove you are right? what opens up beyond that idea for you? #Live Fully