This isn’t specifically quality or innovation related, but it came out of my mouth over coffee this morning in answer to the question “What do you think is the best approach to maintaining healthy relationships?” I wanted to record it because it does influence my personal quality of life – and I realized it could also be the key to identifying and cultivating new types of innovative relationships. (What does that mean? Not sure yet. Just feels like it could happen.)
Principle #1:Treat every person and situation with kindness, consideration and compassion.Always. No matter what.
Principle #2:Be true to your own authenticity even (especially?) when it’s unorthodox, socially unacceptable, or doesn’t quite make sense. (You know if it feels right… so just focus on that. And note that feeling good and feeling right are two entirely different feelings, ones that require true discrimination within your emotional self.)
Principle #3:Aim to embody Principle #2 within the terms of Principle #1.Sometimes when you’re living to the limits of your own authenticity, you’re going to hurt people. And others doing the same could, similarly, hurt you. When channels of communication are open and free, and everyone knows that everyone else’s intent is to act with kindness, compassion, and consideration, the result is an environment of deep trust where new modes of relating can root and grow.
I saw these sentences posted on the web while I was aimlessly surfing the other day. I’ve been repeating them over and over ever since; turns out I have completely missed one of the most important aspects of authenticity as a dimension of quality in my thinking over the past several months.
The key to your success is authenticity. No mask, no pretense, no settling. Know what you want, and articulate those desires directly and clearly.
No mask is a directive I’m pretty good at. I don’t try to be or act anything other than who I am (unless I’m in a bad mood; then, I’m definitely the bad mood someone-else-of-me, which in itself is still pretty authentic). No pretense is also one I think I’ve got well in hand. Pretense means you feign certain behaviors or scenarios (e.g. “sorry, I’ve got a meeting now, must run” – when in fact you have no meeting at all). I only employ false pretenses in situations where behaving authentically would be genuinely inappropriate (e.g. “you know, I’m really bored by what you have to say, and there’s no value for me to sit here listening to you – must run”). I think pretenses are always false. (You could feign truth, but I only see that being useful if, for example, a person has self-esteem issues that they’re trying to overcome. Not sure.)
No settling is the directive that inspired me. If you plan to be authentic, don’t settle for anything less than what you believe, and deserve, and can offer. Behaving authentically in relationships means standing up for equitable, kind treatment, and not allowing yourself to be tossed around by the emotional whims of others. (Not settling here also implies that if you can’t have an authentic relationship with someone else, consider not having one at all!) Behaving authentically in business thus requires not settling for any less than your own personal best, creating a climate that will bring out the best in others, and not tolerating anything less than the steady pursuit of excellence.
Give me your Droids, your iPhones, your Twitter feeds and Facebook status updates, your text messages, your Google Chats! Let’s see what happens to life as we know it if we take a time capsule way back into the mid-1990’s, stop clicking on our mobile devices, and start engaging more with the real world and real people around us. It sounds like such a trite experiment, and yet it’s one of those compelling exercises that can really help us understand the concept of mindfulness – the ability to live in the moment, slow down, and appreciate all that is for what it is. At least that’s what it did for me (as soon as I could compel myself to actually follow through to see what would happen – technology detox is NOT easy and I am a self-admitted addictive multitasker).
Like the experiment being run at the Harrisburg, Pennsylvania university that’s garnered so much press this month, my personal exercise was more of a brownout than a blackout. Face it – life totally without technology can be impractical and unproductive in many ways, especially when you have a job that relies on it. But how much is too much? That’s the trick I wrote about in my book… avoiding technology asceticism (blackout) while setting pertinent Rules of Engagement that limit social media technology use (brownout) to promote mindfulness. It results in you using technology rather than it using you.
Harrisburg University of Science and Technology is going one step further with a “social-media blackout.” Starting Monday, the Pennsylvania institution will block Facebook, Twitter, AOL Instant Messenger, and MySpace on the campus network for a week. Faculty and staff members will be affected as well as students.
“Telling students to imagine a time before Facebook is like telling them to imagine living in a world with dinosaurs,” said Eric D. Darr, Harrisburg’s executive vice president and provost. “It’s not real. What we’re doing is trying to make it real.”
Here are some more of the links I’ve found over the past few days on the social media blackout concept. I’m listing them here for personal reference, and plan to grow it as I find more interesting links on the topic, but you might find the list useful too.
By the way. many people have asked whether my 42-day experiment resulted in a long term behavior shift… and the answer is YES, it did. Now, I only check my Droid, Facebook, Twitter, email and the rest about 50 to 75 times a day. This might still be considered a problem, but I’m pretty happy that I reduced my habit by a factor of 10. So are most of the people who have to interact with me on a daily basis.