When was the last time someone caught you off guard with a piece of feedback or a message that felt like an attack? How did you respond?
If it took you by surprise, chances are for a moment you may have lost your balance, moving either away from the bearer of the message, or toward him or her (literally or figuratively). If you leaned away, in an effort to avoid conflict or to crawl inside your comfort zone, you may have withheld your point of view or any response for that matter. If you leaned forward, you may have thrust your point of view upon the other in a way that was more like a counter attack than a response. Or perhaps you accommodated and sacrificed your own needs in order to maintain harmony. Either way, you fell away from your center – your true place of power.
What does this mean? If I am too attached to my own point of view, I am likely to force it on others and become rigid to anything that doesn’t seem to fit with it. When I am stiff and lean too far forward, I am easily knocked over. On the other hand, if I forget what I know and allow others to dictate what I believe, I will lose my footing and become easily manipulated.
But if I can get to a place of curiosity, where I can really listen to what someone else is saying and be willing to test my own assumptions without automatically believing they are absolute, I will be relaxed, agile, and strong. When I am pushed, I will absorb the shock by allowing myself to be temporarily moved, and then come back to center – my place of strength. I can integrate what others are saying, broaden my perspective, and allow myself to grow stronger as a result. From this place of strength I will engage in communication that is far more productive.
Most of us will be knocked off balance periodically. We may find ourselves swaying from one direction to the other. But each time it happens, we can practice coming back to center – being willing to let go, relax, listen, and adjust accordingly. In doing so, we will learn and grow. We will transform ourselves and set powerful examples for others. And in so doing, we will truly lead.
“Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape.”
~ Michael McGriffy, MD
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