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Tagged ‘Courageous Conversations‘

The Pearls We Value

Like everyone else, I got up this morning, got ready for the day, and landed with my first task that seemingly got my day started. Is not that what we all do? Each day brings with it the many tasks that seem to be “what we have to do” to start our day.

I began thinking about this a little more and realized that each day we begin exchanging life for someone or freshwater loose pearls for the things that we deem as “important” to us. Think about it. In my earlier post Stepping Into Life, I discussed the necessity of taking steps, one-by-one and eventually the summit appears. Prior to ever taking the first step to reach the summit begs the question, What am I exchanging my life for, each moment, as I take steps onward and upward to achieve the peak of any given summit?

I am reminded of a story that Jesus spoke of. He states that the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant looking for fine pearls. When he found one of See full size imagegreat value, he went away and sold everything he had and bought it.

I realize that I am combining two thoughts simultaneously at this point. However, what I believe the significance of what I am trying to say is that each day we are giving our life over to someone or something. We are exchanging our time, energy, thought, and heart for someone or something that we deem as important enough to give our life to. Our time is our life quantified. Our money is simply remuneration for our time. Our energy is the soul of our initiative concerning what we are about in purpose and plan. Are you conscious of your pearls today?

Photos courtesy of  Google Images/Shenzhen Fortune-yon, Overlander


Confusion: The Ultimate Saboteur of Conversation & Relationship

The title says it all! I am finding myself perplexed by the degree of complexity that surrounds conversations and relationships. I ask myself, “How on earth did we get here and where do we go from this point on?”

If you have ever been in the position of helping a conversation move forward, you know exactly what I am talking about. Conversation gets bogged down, consequently the relationship gets stuck in this murky, unclear emotional soup that limits freedom of speech, freedom of sensing (other than anger and frustration), and ultimately, freedom ”to be” in relationship. I wish to propose that the greatest saboteur is confusion. So, what causes confusion and how does one name it, move out of it, and use it to gain momentum for improving conversation and relationship? Certainly, this could be a book, however, I wish to suggest a few thoughts.

Margaret Wheatley suggests that “Growth is in the roots of all things.” I really appreciate that phrase. Growth truly is the genesis of all organic matter. When life endeavors to grow, it sends its tender roots down to absorb the life and nutrients that are available in the soil.

Conversation is similar. We send our tendrils out into the void not knowing how the other person will respond, yet we hope that there will be something to gently “connect” to in relationship with the sense of “other” in the conversation. In an earlier post, I suggested that the quality of change in a person’s life must come  out of their view of reality. I am certain that if we do not boost the importance of conversation we will continue to experience the consistent limitations of what we are currently experiencing. I believe that conversation is sabotaged by four primary qualities:

  1. Poor listening
  2. Closed attitudes and heart condition
  3. Fear of being wrong with a greater emphasis on being right
  4. Prior conversations that have already tainted reality and perceptions

300-365 by sicliff3. When we begin to notice the emotional stickiness of a conversation, be aware that something is happening. The flow is absorbed by added mental processing to overcome and guarantee refuge in the event that there is not receptivity or connection. Flight, fight, or freeze, typically is our dominant response.

Improving the conversation will need the opposite of the already mentioned saboteurs. Improvement begins with a few pointers:

  1. Willingness to listen.
  2. Being open  and curious not so much about what another has to say, rather what meaning is conveyed while conversation is taking place.
  3. Posturing oneself in a position of not knowing until learning from another has taken place.
  4. Possessing boldness to be honest.

Certainly this is my most lengthy blog. How do I say what needs to be said.? What do you have to say?

Photos Courtesy of Flickr, Tsmyther, Tina Manthorp, Siclif3


Conversations about Meaning

A while ago, I wrote a post that described the necessity to Keep the Conversation Going. Similarly, the post that you are reading  points towards the need for keeping the inner conversation with yourself  fresh and alive.

Yesterday, I was discussing with an individual particular circumstances that were engulfing her ability to maintain buoyancy and personal perspective in her life. She described her situation as a dark shadow that was overcoming her ability to see any light in her situation. Our conversation together continued to hover around the particulars of her situation but more so her “ability to see” herself in her situation and to see more than what she now was experiencing. What resulted was a Conversation about Meaning.

We are forced, sometimes , as we face difficulties, to ask questions that we do not have immediate answers. Events happen, our lives rearranged, and peril begins to enter our emotions and thoughts. Dread begins to set in similar to water that solidifies concrete when it sets up. A clear direction is not in sight and stagnation or resignation seems like the only alternative. Where do we search for and answer?

A dear friend of mine recently wrote a blog that addresses decision-making in the context of the confusing swirl of the journey of  life at a crossroad. In addition to asking, “What is the right thing to do?”, is there a place to understand and address the question, “Where does my meaning come from in this given situation?” 

Each circumstance in life that we experience compels us to check whether we will end with despair and emptiness or meaning, purpose, and value. As I began to process with this women her “sense of purpose” in the midst of her circumstance, what resulted was a lengthy conversation about her needs, longings, desires, hopes, and dreams.

Despite the tragedy at hand, her soul possessed the deep well of life as represented in needs, longings. desires, hopes, and dreams. One author put it this way, When we pay attention to our longing and allow questions about our longing to strip away the outer layers of self-definition, we are tapping into the deepest dynamic of the spiritual life. The stirring of spiritual desire indicates that God is already at work within us, drawing us to himself.”  It is difficult at times to see God in the midst of our difficulties and ‘yet it is in our difficulties that we often most clearly see God and therefore ourselves.’ I am grateful for the well within that contains the  life and residency of God. This grants permission for new perspectives and new beginnings despite hardship. What do you think?

Photos courtesy of Microsoft Clip Organizer & BrandonRhodes Photo Stream


Conversations of Courage

In amazement, I find myself moved by the conversations that I am privileged to share with people who are attempting to “connect the dots” of past and present experiences in their lives. Not only are these conversations earnestly seeking for truth, they are conversations that draw upon courage. I classify these interactions as “Conversations of Courage.”

These are not average conversations where common rhetoric or talk are merely exchanged to convey information back and forth. I am talking about the type of conversations that require vulnerability in the “guts” of a person and on a profound level make a decision to no longer hide from the truth of an experience.

I suppose a story or example would help illustrate what I am trying to convey. Perhaps in future blogs I will submit one for your perusal. For now, I wish to explain what I am trying to say first.

A choice must be made for “life” to continue. Courage is revealed when the vulnerability of a person’s situation evokes transparency and decision-making. Another way of saying this comes from author Gerald May, “A person must learn to become willing rather than wilful.”  Willingness actually leads to a more open space available for transformation. Wilfulness has within its make-up the attitude of being closed to secure a more immediate and self-focused aspect of interest. Willingness creates an attitude open to learning and growing. Wilfulness postures control and possible dominance where inwardly there is insecurity and fear.

For a time, the late Joe Batten from Des Moines, Iowa was my mentor and friend. He gave me an illustration that spoke to this point of willingness versus wilfulness. He would say, “Matthew what material is stronger,  leather or granite?” Naturally, like many who answered this question, I would say, “granite.” He would go on to state, “If you were to take a hammer and hit a piece of granite it would shatter. If you do the same with leather it dimples and still holds its shape.” The point: leather is actually a stronger material because it is flexible and open to change. In the scheme of life, leather is better.

Courageous conversations, I have found are: open and flexible. They require something of us, include vulnerability, and promote the refreshment of an other’s impact to develop and change who we are capable of becoming.”

I challenge you; be willing to have a conversation of courage. Take note whether you grow and develop as a result of your conversation.

Photos courtesy WordPress, Flickr, stephenK1977 & maxcady808