Thursday, March 18, 2010

Changes in the Weather

The leadership of an organization with which I was once involved recently decided that a keystone to creating their vision was clearer, open communication. I was thrilled for them, and I was a bit surprised. During my time with them, I had spoken often of the need for communication practices that were more in line with their stated purpose and mission, and my words had not been very well received by some key decision makers. Although it would have been rewarding to be acknowledged at the time and to be a part of their growth, I am encouraged that they are addressing some of the issues that have kept them from creating all that they envision. And I am not disappointed with where my own life has led.

I made a recommendation to another group just a short time ago, and I was told, "A few years ago, this wouldn't have been possible, but now the time may be right to start heading in this direction." I don't believe that the idea has any more value now, but the ability or willingness of some decision makers to embrace it has changed. And I may have become a little more skillful at presenting my insights. In fact, these two elements form a powerful dynamic that can determine whether a great idea soars or flops.

One thing I took away from both experiences is that I have great ideas. Not all of them, of course. I have plenty of ideas that miss the mark completely. But I have plenty of insights that are right on the money, too. Either way, my ideas are worth sharing. Feedback from others can help discern the unrealistic from the realistic, the absurd from the inspired. The only way to get that feedback is to share what I'm noticing and what I'm thinking. So, if nothing else, I am encouraged to keep sharing my own discoveries and ideas.

But how I share those ideas is important, too. I am learning to paint as vivid a picture as I can when I communicate my vision to others. I want to be specific enough that other people can see the possibilities I see. And I want to clearly express how they will benefit. Change is threatening to many people, primarily because our minds go crazy with worst case scenarios. And yet, actually creating the lives, relationships, or businesses we want often requires changing something. Otherwise, everybody would be perfectly happy with everything just the way it is. I realize that I can communicate possibilities in a way that helps people see how a proposed change is actually an improvement, and a step toward what they truly want. In the past, I have often taken for granted that people will see that potential for themselves.

And then there are some people who just don't want to see possibilities. No matter how clearly and effectively I communicate, I know that there are some instances in which my ideas won't be well received. In one instance, it was a single individual on a decision-making team who had a personal agenda. I don't know exactly what this person believed, but it was clear that no idea coming from me was going to gain ground. But there were more ears listening than that one closed pair. That individual is no longer on the team directing the organization's practices, and some of the ideas I conveyed are now being considered, even though I am no longer present to communicate them. Sometimes, the timing of an idea is at least as important as creating a vivid expression of its value.

So, what I value from all of these experiences is clarity about what I control and what I don't. How I communicate insights can make the difference in how those insights are received. That part is entirely in my court. And sometimes, for whatever reason, a person may be unwilling to hear what I have to say. I may be able to influence that, but often that piece is out of my hands. Being aware of that can help me to be patient, because one way or another, the weather will eventually change. And if what I want to express is important to me, especially if I see the incredible benefit that it could have for others, I can wait for the tempest to subside and try again.

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