I don't always like to listen, I like to be listened to and I like to be right.
This is a problem for any chance at real personal or professional growth, not to mention team collaboration in either realm. To act against this shortcoming, I organize dinners where "creatives" get together and talk over what we struggle with.
The dinner forces me to listen and reminds me to stay open. It also puts my somewhat chaotic gregariousness to good use. In attendance were Anne Kadet and Tarah Feinberg.
I kicked off the discussion by frankly admitting that I have trouble asking questions, particularly the "right" questions. I work for a startup and I'm very sensitive to completing tasks quickly but also sensitive to giving myself enough information to not only finish tasks, quickly but finish the right tasks. So pausing the production cycle is something I try to do cautiously, sometimes too cautiously.
As usual, this admission led to the conversation blossoming.
We discussed the need for open learning and improvement. Mostly how learning about a thing to change was the first step in the path to actually changing it.
Anne had kicked that topic off: "The more I educate myself about something I'd rather not do, or that I've been procrastinating doing, the easier it is for me to actually do it."
Tarah and I both related to this.
For me, when beginning a regular Yoga routine some years ago, I promised myself that everyday I'd at least study a new move in the stick figure diagram and then get on the mat. If I didn't feel like doing the new move, I could stop — maybe try it tomorrow. I only stopped about 10 times in the last 5 years of practice, mostly due to illness.
This shifted the example bit to willingness and focusing.
"I think of focusing attention a lot like I would literally focus a camera. ..moving the lens past the point of focus and then slowly coming back into focus. Sometimes it takes a few times going back and forth, missing that perfect focus, but you get closer and closer until your image is crystal clear. Likewise, when you want to focus your attention on an idea or a task, sometimes you need to dance around it a bit before you can really immerse yourself in that one thing."
We all enjoyed this metaphor and grunted approval as we began to eat.
Over our meals we talked about life, success in love, money and career and how they all balance each of us out-or in some cases don't.
Our talk about relationships transitioned into being understood…especially at a corporate professional level.
The familiar "My company doesn't understand what I do completely." was heard. "Market your process." was the all too familiar (yet sometimes hard to carry out) solution. The idea of self branding was then focused on.
"To market yourself, don't you also have to know who you are?"
Who are we? Many of us don't know, I know I sometimes don't. Many people can't summarize themselves in 140 characters. Many people don't like being packaged.
But that seems the point of modern social/open communication. To summarize ourselves and our ideas and opinions; to make ourselves digestible by multiple content aggregation channels, feeds and posts. To be searchable, spam-able, tweet-able, likable, stumbled over and recommended.
But is that what's best for us?
For me it gives me the opportunity to express on a daily, sometimes hourly basis, that I'm a constant work in progress. So expressing it openly on profiles, tweets, and posts reminds me to keep progressing, to not rest on laurels —and frankly I need this kick in the ass.