It’s been amply chronicled how I nearly chickened out of launching this blog and was brought back from the Pit of Despair by my friend Mack Collier and his words of wisdom on the eve of my launch. (No, I never encountered any Rodents of Unusual Size while in the Pit, but I digress for fellow Princess Bride fans…)
There was one other, wise friend that I talked with that evening, once I had decided to launch the darn thing, who spoke three impactful words to me in regard to my impending “launch day.”
She said, “Observe don’t absorb.” Observe…
I got it immediately, and yet I really didn’t, and the extent of its power is still sinking in.
It was clear that she wanted me to be open to anything that would happen on that day of launch – positive reactions, negative reactions, lack of reactions – whatever it would be, and to simply observe them and not allow myself to absorb the energy of them.
Why? Sometimes it is too easy to allow someone’s negative reaction to our ideas and to something we create to affect us emotionally and physically. The same goes for the flip side: it can be enticing to allow truly positive reactions by others to take the place of our own sense of self worth.
Instead, my friend wanted me to focus on understanding people’s reactions and learn from them rather than to feel them or allow myself to react emotionally. As I read your comments in my blog I get a better understanding for your roles as leaders, which of my own experiences resonate with you and where our opinions may differ. These observations and lessons are priceless to me as a writer – and in a short amount of time are actually enabling us to create relationships with each other. I love it!
So how does, “Observe don’t absorb” apply in business?
I realized this week while working for a client that this concept of “observe, don’t absorb” actually applies every time we share an idea, creation or opinion in the business world. You see, I put an idea “out there” to a team of colleagues; it was an idea that stirred up some strong feelings about the organization, and what some of our real challenges are.
In the past, receiving comments back from others disagreeing with me or even belittling my comments would have been hurtful and I would have felt them. However, this week I allowed myself to simply observe what the reactions were and it made an immeasurable difference.
Rather than taking the comments back to me personally, I used the responses as an opportunity to learn about each of my colleagues. Who immediately responded with tactics? Who responded with a strategic idea and who considered the big picture and our vision? Who simply referred to data and had no emotion in their response? Who got defensive?
I realized that none of these reactions were a reflection on me! Nor were any of them “bad.” Rather, they were simply chock full of information about the respondents themselves!
Really think about that.
Guess what I did? I further engaged in the conversation with information – not emotion – because I had not absorbed any of the discomfort of the conversation, which is vitally important when online conversations get unintentionally heated and you can’t read someone’s body language or hear the tone in their voice.
Now, the challenge will be to think strategically about how I use this information about my colleagues, and my better understanding of each of them, to collaborate more effectively in the future. But it certainly made what could have been a heated and damaging conversation into one that provided great insight into my colleagues and a whole new way of looking at things!
Do you observe rather than absorb? How might these three impactful words be of use to you in your business?
Please share your thoughts in the comments…I’d be truly honored to hear from you!
(I’d also be honored if you’d consider subscribing above/right in the panel)… This beautiful photo is by Ryan Wick.