From the dance floor, into the weeds

I love listening to podcasts. People who whisper into my ears early in the morning, as I walk my four legged angels and the world is still asleep, become intimate friends, mentors and sometimes, as I have begun to reach out with questions, confidants.

This past week my mind stopped upon a discussion between my guru Brene Brown and one of her sisters, her Chief of Staff, Barrett Guillen. They were chatting about the hardest feedback they had ever gotten. Had to love their willingness to be vulnerable and honest about it.

Two points stayed with me:

Brene’s admission of the fact that she is an intense person (I cannot count the times I heard this about me as (not) a compliment) and that this is a double edged sword – because in the same way that this intensity fuels her work and her creativity, it is the same intensity that can (and does) become scary. I think it takes art to reign something like intensity in, especially when you are exhausted and all your buttons are pushed. It is also fair that people who see you as an intense person and appreciate the great amount and quality of work you do as a result, be more understanding when the same trait transforms you into someone … a bit scary. Just a thought … đŸ™‚

The other part that I found genius, a wonderful technique to use in both personal and professional circumstances, was the movement between, as they call it “the dance floor” into “the weeds”.

Barrett started explaining how hard it is for her to move between a specific situation she is deeply involved in at some point (“the dance floor”), further back into the bigger picture to get another view (“the weeds”). It made so much sense to me when she was admitting how hard it is to make this transition from really involved to detached and Brene’s response presented a tool that I for sure am going to use going forward.

What Brene coached Barrett into doing is using “the 5 stairs of the 5 Cs” to get out of “the dance floor” and “into the weeds”: color, context, connective tissue, cost and consequence. In other words, say you are sitting at the table with either your working team or a member of your family and you enter a conflict about something or you simply go in circles in a conversation. And neither one of you is able to move through it. That is a moment when moving into “the weeds” is important. That would be a time when you ask the other person to “paint some color into the situation”, give you more details, put the situation in a context (which always, always brings so much useful information), investigate about how what you are in talking about ties in to other aspects of your or your interlocutor’s life or job. And of course, there cannot ever be a resolution without weighing the cost and consequences of certain actions.

Once you enriched the conversation with what you observed from “the weeds”, you can come back to “the dance floor” and, many times, dance quite a different, maybe a slower, more mindful dance towards a solution.

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