See Through It [on Flawed or Not-So-Flawed Wednesday]

Light passes through. Transparent. Trans; across or beyond. A prefix of movement.

Last night we had snacks with some pals. Our conversation turned to politics and how resistant we are as a nation to tell our full story. Opaque. The opposite of transparent. Impenetrability of light. “It’s just history,” someone said. “History is history.”

Narrative. With a point of view. The winners of wars tell one story. The opposite side has another tale to tell. History is never just history. A country as deeply divided as ours is warring over its history. What happens if we actually tell our full story? Who are we if we acknowledge our shadow? Shine the light or snuff it?

Boiling our times down to the essence, we’d arrive at these two words. Transparent. Opaque. Isn’t it always the way that people who have something to hide proclaim transparency? Isn’t it always the case that people who lie claim to be holders of the truth? Opacity is a tricky business.

I recently watched again Simon Sinek’s first TED talk. He said, “There are leaders and there are those who actually lead.” We could call it a simple truth: we know those who actually lead because they boldly shine-the-light. They are not afraid of being seen or seen through. They are, however, a threat to those who call themselves “leaders,” those that fear the revelations of light. Reveal-ations. Those leaders will fight to-the-death to maintain their opacity. They will sacrifice the greater for the lesser if necessary to remain opaque.

We are watching – and participating in – history being written. Our question – as has been true from the beginning: will we shine the light without fear of transparency or hide behind the wall of opacity? It’s just history.

read Kerri’s blog post about TRANSPARENCY

Say “I Can.”

My latest addition to the Yoga series.

My latest addition to the Yoga series.

This is a bit of a confluence of thought-rivers. Two comments came across my virtual desk on the same day and collided.

1) Master Marsh sent me some wise words about a recent post concerning “can” and “can’t.” He wrote:

“There have always been plenty who will say: ‘It can’t be done.’ Ignore those. Surround yourself only with those who say: ‘It can.’ I’ve come to believe this is less about can and can’t than about the challenge of doing. And not doing is always easier.”

2) Another of my favorite readers sent this comment about a post on boundaries and choices:

I’m thinking making own-able choices is so freakin’ difficult for so many us because we were never taught/allowed to make them as children, nor are we often encouraged/allowed to do so as adults. Most of us learned at a very young age that to do as instructed – without complaint or question – meant that you were “good.” Being “good” was all tied up in stuff like being seen and not heard; accepting “Because I said so” as an explanation; being expected to abide by dictated boundaries and beliefs because of tradition or what “Other people will think.”  Operate by the rules and you are “good.” Buck that system by challenging the status quo and you are “bad.”

At first glance these might seem like two entirely different subjects. Though, as luck would have it I read them one-after-the other and I started pondering why, “not doing is always easier” and if that might not have something to do with identifying “good” with compliance and “bad” with non-compliance.

It’s a fascination of mine that in a nation that prides itself on a spirit of independence we place so much emphasis on obedience, control, and compliance. Nike sells us shoes by plucking the chord, “Just Do It!” Yet, we all know that the cowboy spirit is not welcome in grades K – 12. It’s a mixed message at best.

In the world of work, in environments heavy on control and compliance, workers can be counted on to do the minimum. Why would they show up ready to give their best when their best requires a mind-of-their-own. They, in essence, become resistant to take initiative and necessarily refuse any ownership of actions. To take ownership requires being seen and compliance is a game of invisibility. I remember a very frustrated artistic director asking me why her creative people never initiated action. She was dumbfounded when I helped her see that she was the problem. She made it a habit of negating every idea that she didn’t originate. Her staff did what all people do when punished for making offers; they stop making offers. Her “creative” team became adherents of “It can’t be done.”

No child comes to the planet with an internal line dividing “can do” and “can’t do.” Imagination makes all things possible. “Can do” and “can’t do” is learned; it marks the boundary between safe and not safe (or unseen and shamed). There is a price for domestication. “It can’t be done” is often a statement of fear and refusal to cross the line into disobedience (independence by another name). I would add a thought to Master Marsh’s comment, “not doing is always easier;” it is also true that not being seen is always easier, too. Showing up is hard. Doing is always a challenge because doing is often unpopular.

Tom used to say: “You know the value of your work by the size of the tide that rises against you.” In other words, it takes a special kind of courage to say, “this is mine to do and it matters not a whit what others think or feel about it.” It takes a special courage to say to yourself, “I’ll never know if it is possible or not until I try.”

Go here to get my latest book, The Seer: The Mind of the Entrepreneur, Artist, Visionary, title_pageSeeker, Learner, Leader, Creator…You.

Or, go here for hard copies.