Consider These Two Different Stories about Lampposts:
Story 1: There was a man walking down the street in the dim light of dusk. He saw a man on his hands and knees crawling around. He asked “Are you okay?” The other man’s response was “I am looking for my wallet.. I’ve lost it.” The man determined to help him, he got down on his hands and knees and joined the other man in the search. As the story was told to me, many others joined the man in searching within the light of the lamppost. They found many things – garbage, paperclips, a note with a phone number on it, and other such detritus. They talked about what they found. Eventually, one of the people helping turned to the man who had lost his wallet and asked “Are you sure this is where you lost it? We’ve looked everywhere!”. This this the man responded: “No, I lost it over there in the park, but it is dark and hard to see. It’s easier to look here in the light.”
Story 2: Being a lamppost for others. Being a place of shelter and light, away from the crawling, scraping in the dark. Being a place to lean against, being a place to see one’s self. Being a lamp post and shedding warmth and light. Not saying anything in return – just being a harbour.
This week, I took part in Seth Godin’s sequel to the AltMBA. It is called the Sonder Method. Here are three resources that have really helped me look a bit deeper into the dark:
1) Watch This: Seek Sonder:
Seth Godin writes that he likes to look at a stranger as he walks down the street and wonder “For who is that person that I am looking at a favorite person”. This is an exercise that allows us to understand that people bring their own weight, story and hopes to every interaction. This underscores for me the importance to seek moments of Sonder with others.
How might we discover, appreciate and ponder the untold stories unique to that person I am working with, that I am sitting with, that I am coaching, that I might connect with. How might I seek Sonder?
2) Watch This: What if the Imposter Syndrome is a Good Thing? Peter Shepherd TEDxUniMelb
What if we use that ugly voice in the back of our minds as a lever. “You don’t have enough credentials to get that job.” “You don’t know enough to make that decision.” “Who do you think you are being here with these people?”
This talk tells us to embrace this voice and use it to get push yourself to get those credentials, to do the research, and to build confidence. Use that voice to imagine what the voices of others – those that you work with (faculty and students) are telling them. For example, if I hear my inner imposter voice telling me that I don’t know enough to make an important decision, I can imagine that the same voice telling the same lie to the people I am involved in the decision making process with. Naturally, I have a response for them “it’s okay that we don’t have enough information – we’ve done the work, and we can support one another through it.”
Why is it natural to be kinder to others than to our own selves?
3) Watch This: Don’t Put People in Boxes:
And just don’t put people in boxes. Find what connects us. Do the hard work.