Archive | November, 2013

For Peace: “Practice Friendship with your Enemies” the Adaptive Leadership Way

14 Nov

It’s those lessons people want to teach- but you can’t hear – because the lessons you’ll learn are based on the solutions you’ve earned – working it through your way, based on your problem and situation.

No matter how well-intentioned:  you just can’t tell people what to do…

As a self-anointed financial yenta and communication coach, my seemingly brilliant solutions can’t be dictated or adopted, but rather (personally) adapted.  The key to solving problems is engaging people and “developing their capacity to solve their own problems”.  That’s adaptive leadership.

Imagine: thirst for blood, leading to a blood drive, leading to best baklava bake-offs.

Ron Heifetz, Harvard’s Adaptive Leadership maven shared (NPR’s Nov.  11, 2013  “lessons in Leadership:  It’s not about you (it’s about them) how reframing leadership as problem-solving did just that in the long-standing conflict between Greeks and Turks.  Heifetz and George Papandreou, Greece’s then Foreign Minister  realized  you can’t just tell people to stop hating each other – it has to come from within.

m6840119_763x260-give-blood

Papandreou extended the olive branch by helping Turkey apply for EU membership.  But that’s not personal enough.  In 1999, Turks helped save Greeks after an earthquake, a month later, it was Greeks donating blood for Turk victims.  It was like “friends helping friends”.  It was emotional catharsis.

In recent decades it became evident that emotional needs are often at the core of the conflict and have to be addressed in order to resolve the conflict, how adaptive leadership connects with Truth and Reconciliation Commission in South Africa post-Apartheid, and in Rwanda’s (controversial) Gacaca courts where the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s victims and perpetrators came face to face to discuss atrocities.

Emotions and connection:  “Practice friendship with your enemies”, NYC artist De La Vega’s saying .

Or so it seems to me – leadership, problem-solving, and managing conflict is personal – it’s all about people tuning their individual radio stations to WIIFM:  What’s in it for me, and realizing to get my needs met, I need you (to care or at least look out for me).  It’s easy to see how adaptive leadership can be a powerful approach when improving a performance problem in the workplace or financial challenges in a family.

I heard this NPR story two days after the anniversary of the (official) start of the Holocaust:  November 9, 1938, Kristallnacht or the “Night of broken glass” when Nazi’s took to Berlin streets breaking Jewish storefront windows and burning synagogues.  I started wondering how this approach could be used before neighbor started killing neighbor (Rwanda), or any genocide erupts.

josephine www.rwandanstories.org

“Whoever confessed would see their penalty reduced, because you cannot confess and remain the same. Confessing is something that changes people.”
Josephine, www.rwandanstories.org

After all, the Holocaust began years before Kristallnacht’s broken glass with Nazi youth breaking legs, souls, and lives in the early 1930’s.   After time, research and stories shared, it’s easy (of course) to have an “ah-ha” moment that a modified adaptive leadership approach ala Papandreou and the Turks/Greeks could have stopped Hitler.  Imagine small group facilitations between Jews and Germans talking about needs and emotions…

Naive?  Sure.  But after the “Never Again” Holocaust, genocides continue to happen – again.   Even now, there is rising anti-Semitism across Europe, in places where there are more ghosts than living souls (and yes, Jewish communities are growing across Eastern Europe).   All the more reason I say to have those who “hate” share a coffee with those who are “hated” and actually talk.  Talk about emotions, concerns, fears – those personal things that make us human – and vulnerable.  It’s a chance for people to share their identity and be heard which is astonishingly powerful.  It’s a chance to build empathy and walk a mile in someone else’s shoes.

Connection can cure conflict.  Don’t you think laughter can save a life as powerfully as blood?

Anyway, I’m free to facilitate and help people share stories.  Call me.  Better yet, tweet me (@katz_communicat) – let’s start a revolution.  One conversation at a time!

Advertisements

Lose those last five: Weighty writing words from Mari

7 Nov

Writing about losing those last five pounds is my greatest work of fiction – and you know I’m much more into the ‘serious’ non-fiction stuff.

To begin with, that five has doubled this last year – I only wish my portfolio was as ambitious.  I’d like to pull the ‘that’s middle-aged’ thing as a reason.  Maybe it is.  Of course it could also be tied to the usual suspects:  eating too much chocolate while sitting at this very same computer.

My reality is projected in a pair of pants.  Beautiful black wool work pants, circa 1992.  I’ve dubbed them my ‘conscience’ pants.  On bright days, they accentuate my waist.  On not good days, these same pants ask:  Is that a giant muffin around your waist, or have you just been too happy to see chocolate?  It’s why when I’ve seen ‘backfat’ grafittied around my Brooklyn neighborhood, I look guilty.

The good news: I have no need to wear these pants these days.  The bad news: I have no need to wear these pants.  I have way too much time to whittle away at that ‘good for me’ organic chocolate.  And my “conscience pants”?  Out of sight, out of fit.

Idling through my closet is a bit like antiquing – so many beautiful things carrying their own bit of history and memories.  A few months ago, my “conscience pants” whispered:  ‘choose me’.    Filled with anger and dejection (obviously), they tried to choke my waist.

It was a battle, but I wrestled them off and back into the closet.  Write on, right?

Just when I needed it, along came Mari’McCarthy’s  28 day  weight loss journaling challenge.

With all that diet advice out there,  why do some of us continue to carry that inner tube around our middles?  Is it for safety in case we get lost at sea?  Metaphors aside…

Pen, paper, and  Mari’s guidance, I set out to discover why that weight has merged with a part of me, and, how to let it go.  While Mari’s journal is filled with lots of things we’ve all heard before, what’s great is how she pulls it together, with time for reflection.  Here’s what I’ve learned so far:

  • Focus on internal “weights”, how I want to feel, and more importantly WHY.  As I make steps to change my life I need to be my best me.  I want to be fit and strong, bounding up stairs and lightening my conscience  by sitting comfortably in those lonely, yet lovely black wool pants.
  • Then there’s the chance to think about negative body – image self-talk, and identify the voice behind those critical words.   Thanks Mom!    I realize it’s really time to turn off the volume.
  • Mari has me journaling about what I eat, and more importantly, how I am feeling at the time.  I eat healthy most of the time.  So when does most become not so much?  Recording my eating patterns has given me some food for thought:  My irregular life leads to irregular eating habits (ok, knew this).  Glaringly apparent was how light I ate when the sun was up, but by the time I get home late(r) and famished, I ate accordingly.  I now eat heavily before I leave home, carry apples and nuts to keep me sated.  My healthy diet was filled with veggies, but lacking protein.  Adding beans, tofu or ground turkey which I rarely ate is filling me up: the good way.
  • Every emotion whets my appetite (no surprise there!).  While I reach for chocolate when I’m feeling (fill in the blank), I now recognize it’s a habit.  It’s not what my body wants because I keep eating (and writing), but without feeling satisfied.  I’ve started filling my sugar tooth with spoonfuls of vegetable bean and tofu stew (much yummier than it sounds), or toast and peanut butter.  Journaling reminds me to go to sleep not eat when I come home tired, angry or lonely.

How am I doing on Day 14 of 28?  My “conscience pants” tell me they’re almost ready to leave the house muffin-free and my feet aren’t dragging up the subway stairs.  I’m reframing more than my body self-talk – I’m reframing what I eat and when, going for a sandwich rather than a “snack”, feeding my hunger for real stuff.

Because it’s real stuff that will get me where I want to go, wherever my next journey takes me.