[dropcap]T[/dropcap]his past week we had an opportunity to be reminded of the value of focusing on the generative, good, important stuff. And we also were given a small nudge in the other direction.
You either get it or you don't
One of our most valuable lessons to date has been that people either get what we are about or they don't. If they don't, it is a waste of our valuable resources to try and convince them of the beauty, benefit and vision of our work (I'm a fan, okay!). Our resources are limited and have to be carefully focused on what is important and urgent.
At the moment there are two of us in this business. We do everything, from sales and marketing, to the finances and books, web development and social media posts. In between this we develop curricula, workshop content and capture research data. Of course we also hold workshops, do one on one coaching and support the post workshop practice. I can see some rolling eyes. I guess all startups do everything too.
This past week we had an opportunity to be reminded of the value of focusing on the generative, good, important stuff. And we also were given a small nudge in the other direction.
When you can't see the A's for the C's
We travelled to Durban to reconnect with the participants of a workshop we held in June. From the minute we stepped off the plane good things started happening. You may not think that being handed a bottle of water with a big A+ on it by promoters of the South African National Blood Services is anything to write about. Matthew didn't think much of it - "It's not my blood type" he joked to no-one in particular. "It's an A+, Matthew", I noted, reframing for somebody who has a tendency to often notice the C's in his life, this simple gesture.
The day before Matthew had arrived at work in a bit of a scratchy state. Feedback from someone had made him despondent. When I looked at the email I laughed. Quietly, to myself. I read it out loud to him line by line, rating it as if from a report card:
"That's an A, another A, oh, I'd say an A!"
When I came to the bit where the person had declined an offer of further work I remarked, "Ah, the C." The message ended off with a beautiful A+. Matthew managed to laugh about it and acknowledged his view of the world - to get it all right and perfect. I, of course, know nothing about how this feels. But back to our Durban trip.
Many wonderful opportunities
A small contingent of the workshop participants arrived and once again we were reminded that if you get the work you get it. These guys got it. As a result there are wonderfully generative opportunities for doing more work with more people, teaching them to use the tool for themselves and teaching others how to use it in groups and one on one. No loss of energy focusing on those that chose to stay away.
We continued to be held in all sorts of beautiful ways as the trip came to a close. Considerate waitrons finding space for us out of the wind, remembering us from the last time we were there, kind interventions and wide smiles making the sun come out on a particularly grey and cold day.
What experience has taught us
We squeezed in some work before setting off for the airport. In a last minute rush, Matthew sent off an email to the author of an article on childhood bullying. Earlier in the year we went through a phase of trying to connect with the authors of articles that raised issues that can easily be attended to with our work and Shape of Emotion. Experience showed that this was a rather futile effort. Few responded, those that did generally did so to blow us off. We had resolved to stop wasting our (limited) resources on this endeavour. For some reason Matthew chose to send one more email. He said it was on "his list".
Surprisingly Matthew received a response while standing in the queue to board the plane. Not surprisingly it was another "blow you off" email. This time, however, it threw both of us. It blew us back by its short, defensive and quite rude response. Matthew shouldn't have, but did respond, putting the author firmly but politely in her place. It was unnecessary of course (our work says we need to accept what is), because even though we received a more moderate reply with some effort at engagement we had no intention to do so. It was our not so gentle reminder that people either get what we do or they do not and we have a responsibility to ourselves and those that get it, to go where it flows.