By Lisa Chandler, 19 January, 2016

As leaders, we have two choices about the way we show up: responsive or resistant

There are only two ways of being. And it is a choice although we are rarely conscious of making it. In the responsive way, I see others as they are—as people. I am responsive to their reality: their concerns, their hopes, their needs, their fears. 

Seeing others as objects, I am resistant to their reality. If I see them at all, they are less than I am: less relevant, less important, less real. I can compliment or correct them because it will help them. Or, I can compliment or correct them because it will help me. 

Let’s say one of my managers, Henry, is struggling to make progress with a strategic project. Responding to his needs is my deepest sense of what is right to do. Maybe I am tired, busy, distracted or frustrated with something else, so I resist his needs instead. My initial feeling was to help Henry but I don’t. I betray my deepest sense of what is right, and in so doing, I betray myself. Now I need to justify my behavior.  So I blame Henry.  He is senior. He should know better/ do better.  Why should I be expected to get involved in a lower level project like this? Henry, who was once a trusted colleague, is now an obstacle to me (or a vehicle to be used for my own purposes, or an irrelevancy that offers me no advantage).

Responsive is who I was. 

Resistant is the way I became. 

I betray my own feelings to help, and I fall into a cascade of:

  • Magnifying Henry’s shortcomings
  • Blaming my own resentful emotions on him
  • Feeling victimized
  • Distorting my own values to build my case against him
  • Clinging to my need to be right

I betray myself and all of a sudden my thoughts and feelings lie.  I betray myself and I become totally preoccupied with myself.  I come up with self-justifying images to prop myself up: “I am the kind of person who is fair, won’t be taken advantage of, is smarter than others, deserves more because I work harder…” I thought I was the kind of person who thinks of others but who am I thinking about when I am portraying myself above? Myself! 

I will think that I resist others because they have mistreated me. In truth, I am resisting others because I have mistreated them. It can happen that others will actually mistreat me.  Sadly though, in most cases, it will simply be my self deception at work. Betraying myself, I invite in Henry, the very behaviours I say I hate. And I cause Henry to betray himself and invite the very behaviours he may say he hates in me. And the cycle continues. And at some level, I might find this drama strangely delicious. In my resistant, alienated way of being, I am unhappy, insecure and alone. But at least I know I am justified?? And I am bonded with Henry in anguish. So that’s something right?? 

In resisting others, I may explode often. Or I may control my temper and be self-righteous. Or I may drown others in sweetness to get what I want. Or I may ignore them. Or I may just spend all my time berating myself.   Once I realize all the drama I am living, I may decide to change in the hopes of freeing myself from it. But any change I make when I am resistant will only be a surface change of style.   

Is change even possible then? 

Not as long as I am in the resistant way of being.  The only thoughts I can have are resistant thoughts.  I cannot will a change to become responsive.   So is change even possible? YES. It’s just different than we suppose. Other people’s reality is constantly beckoning.  It is that reality I have been resisting. I can cease resisting.  I can change by forgetting myself in response to others. It’s as simple (and as complicated) as that. To help me practice responsiveness, I can ponder:

  1. Do I show any of these signs of self-betrayal toward others?
  2. What is the full truth about myself toward others?
  3. What is the full truth about those I am blaming?
  4. What is the right thing to do toward others that I am resisting right now?

When I can see the truth, I feel care and compassion.  I see things I can do, things I should do, things I must do.  The responsive way of being always involves taking action in service of others.   

My daughter needs attention.  

My partner needs a helping hand.  

My friend needs an encouraging word.  

My team needs guidance.  

Henry needs a few minutes to talk through his struggles. 

Every moment offers the choice of two ways: Will I be responsive to others and see them as people. Or will I be resistant to others and see them as objects? 

The quality of our lives depends on our choice in each moment.  I’m going to be choosing responsiveness (as often as it takes) to see the quality of my life and leadership soar.  You?   

The concepts in this post come directly from The Arbinger Institute.  Even some phrasing in this post is borrowed from their book called The Choice because there is no better way to say it.  The Anatomy of Peace and Leadership and Self Deception are two excellent reads to further your understanding of this simple and powerful concept. They’re available as audio books for busy leaders who don’t find time to read.  

By Lisa Chandler, 14 December, 2010

I have been cleaning out my filing cabinet for what seems like days.  It's 95% done now and boy oh boy  does it feel good. It's like cleaning out one's files, cleans out one's head! Anyway, I came across a single sheet that someone sent to me last year (I wish I could remember who the sender was). It's called She Let Go and it was written by Ernest Holmes, in Science of the Mind which was first published in 1926.  I am filing in under "Inspiration" as of now. 

This time last year, I was in a very different place. I had just had a miscarriage and this short reading really hit the spot.  This year, I am in a very different place...29 weeks weeks pregnant tomorrow! Maybe it's because I let go?  

She Let Go

She let go. Without a thought or a word, she let go. 

She let go of the fear. She let go of the judgments. She let go of the confluence of opinions swarming around her head. She let go of the committee of indecision within her. She let go of all the ‘right’ reasons. Wholly and completely, without hesitation or worry, she just let go. 

She didn’t ask anyone for advice. She didn’t read a book on how to let go. She didn’t search the scriptures. She just let go. She let go of all of the memories that held her back. She let go of all of the anxiety that kept her from moving forward. She let go of the planning and all of the calculations about how to do it just right. 

She didn’t promise to let go. She didn’t journal about it. She didn’t write the projected date in her Day-Timer. She made no public announcement and put no ad in the paper. She didn’t check the weather report or read her daily horoscope. She just let go. 

She didn’t analyze whether she should let go. She didn’t call her friends to discuss the matter. She didn’t do a five-step Spiritual Mind Treatment. She didn’t call the prayer line. She didn’t utter one word. She just let go. 

No one was around when it happened. There was no applause or congratulations. No one thanked her or praised her. No one noticed a thing. Like a leaf falling from a tree, she just let go. 

There was no effort. There was no struggle. It wasn’t good and it wasn’t bad. It was what it was, and it is just that. 

In the space of letting go, she let it all be. A small smile came over her face. A light breeze blew through her. And the sun and the moon shone forevermore.

What do you quietly need to let go of without effort or struggle to bring a small smile to your face?

By Lisa Chandler, 7 October, 2010

This image is a human embryo five days after a single egg was fertilized with a single sperm cell:

Human Embryo at 5 days (a.k.a. blastocyte)
Human Embryo at 5 days (a.k.a. blastocyte)

This is an ultrasound image of the same embyro at 10 weeks gestation. It already has a beating heart (and had one since 6 weeks gestation):

Ultrasound Scan of Fetus at 10 weeks Gestation.

This image, much less clinical, shows the same fetus from the outside. In this image the fetus is 19 weeks old and is the size of a large mango! 

A view from the outside!
A view from the outside!

And finally... 

And if you hadn't guessed already...
And if you hadn't guessed already...

Yep, if you hadn't already guessed...this baby is growing in me. As of today, I am 19 weeks pregnant! 

I gave a speech called "Creating a Meaningful Life" last night at my Toastmasters' Club. I got quite emotional at one point while delivering it.  You see, it's a pretty big milestone for me to be almost halfway through my pregnancy.  The road has been long and winding.  One surgery, six cycles of increasingly invasive treatments, and 3 previous pregnancies all ending in very early stage miscarriages....this has been the road. If you had asked me when I was 30 years old what I envisioned for my future family, my answer would have been far more traditional.  Now I am embarking on single motherhood (for now). 

I feel confident the right guy will come along at some point and I made the decision to proceed anyway because my biological clock was tick tocking really loudly (and yes, it really does become a lot more difficult for many women to conceive after their mid thirties). Fear, anger, sadness, confusion, uncertainty and even jealousy--these were some of the emotions I cycled in and out of over the past few years.  

And the doubt. 

Oh my goodness the doubt! When things weren't going well I would ask myself,

Is this a sign that I am not meant to be a mother? Is it time to pursue adoption?

And the most difficult question of all (and one I came to hate because I really struggled with it)

Do I even want to be a mother anyway???

Fortunately for me, I had many cheerleaders along my winding road, most of them mothers themselves. They, in my darkest moments of doubt, affirmed that having a child would be my greatest joy and that I needed to continue on the road to create this in my life.  I am so grateful to these women. They know who they are. 

We recently read A Million Miles in a Thousand Years for our bookclub.  The premise is essentially this: that we create meaning in our lives by the stories we live. 

Our lives, just like great movies, are more meaningful when the main character wants something and overcomes conflict to get it. Well this story, my current story, still in progress, is creating great meaning in my life.  And I needed to share it simply because I am looking at my life, my business, and my future though a different lens these days.  I am still the same me.  I still want to be a masterful coach helping high-aspiration business owners and professionals create their great story.  I still want to be a loving daughter and sister and a true blue friend.  And I still want to tango. So don't count me out.  In fact, count me in more than ever.  

The plot is about to thicken. And so is my waistline!