In my role as a leader, a partner, a mom, and a person on this earth, I am constantly in danger of believing that:
- I know more about a problem presented to me and how to solve it than anyone else in it.
- I know more about what is needed for a project or initiative and how to create it.
- I know more about the person I’m talking to – what they think and need and what’s best for them – than they do.
This is not out of hubris, I am quite certain that I am not an expert of anything. These erroneous tendencies come from my personal need to fix things for other people (I’m working on that). They’re also tied up in the fairly basic human trait of making assumptions and jumping to conclusions. While sometimes doing that is helpful and harmless, usually acting solely out of a reality we’ve dreamed up for ourselves leads to folly and frustration.
“To assume makes and ass out of you and me.” – Felix Unger
Getting on the same page is a great practice for me to counteract my inner “expert.” To really, truly be on the same page with someone else requires me to challenge and shed my limiting assumptions. It asks me to admit that I don’t know it all, not in a shameful way but in a way that opens me up to taking in other perspectives. When I do this, I stop telling and start asking. I stop preaching and start understanding. My connections to others deepen and I feel more creative and satisfied. That always feels SO GOOD, and yet, I have a long way to go to make getting on the same page my default (just thinking back on my day I’ve identified 4 times I skipped the same page to get my point across – sorry Amie, Rachael, Jeff, and Pete!).
So, I’m going to slow down and think before I speak. I’m going to embrace humility.* I’m going to make “be curious” my current guiding slogan. I’m going to keep that page we’re supposed to be on in view and make sure I’m doing all I can to get there with you.
*A lot of where I’m coming from right now about all of this has been influenced by Edgar H. Schein’s book Helping: How to Offer, Give, and Receive Help and his practice of “Humble Inquiry.” If you want a slightly-deep dive into what that is, check out this summary.
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