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Everything Old is New Again

October 3, 2013


Most bloggers track the statistics on their reader’s preferences.  While the motivation for writing a particular article can vary. most writers will admit to an “attachment” to certain pieces and a tinge of disappointment when those articles just don’t generate the buzz you’d hoped for. This week I’ve gone back into the archives and revisited some of the articles I like that didn’t ignite with my readers.  I hope they will find a new audience. 

I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT YOU ~ I was inspired by a story written by Ameena Payne about her reaction to a fellow passenger on a Chicago subway. Years of New York City commuter experience brought me right back to the feelings of self-protection and general irritation that often characterize a ride on a crowded train or bus. But mostly the story reminded me of how we can isolate ourselves and shut down our feelings when we are rushed and distracted. The typical workplace is filled with strangers – just as many communities are.  The story was also powerful because it demonstrated the corrosiveness of judgment – assumptions and expectations that close us off to the truth of others and the possibilities of welcome new experiences.

WHAT”S CONSCIOUS CAPITALISM?I wrote this earlier this year in response to the release of Whole Foods’ CEO John Mackey’s book, Conscious Capitalism. The book got a lot of positive attention but I didn’t think it addressed any of the hard questions that need to be asked about the future of the modern corporation.  I’m with Good to Great author, Jim Collins when he writes, “It matters how the money is made”  Ethics matter. Fairness matters. Hiring policies matter. An equitable tax base matters. People and how they are treated and compensated – matters. Some people pass over articles like these because they seem too “political.” Honestly, I don’t know how we will change the nature of workplace dynamics unless we address the structural nature of the systems we live with.

LETTING GO OF THE ILLUSION OF CONTROL ~ Our need to control the uncontrollable is often the major driving force of many of our anxieties and tensions. So many people want to be more in the flow of life but avoid and resist change.  We persist in the thinking that we can change other people’s behavior (which most management strategies have been built on). Although we may say that we understand that nothing is permanent – we act as if the opposite were true. As the inspirational Buddhist teacher Pema Chodron states, “Everything is in process.” Imagine the freedom we could experience if we could actually live a little more with this belief.

THE EMOTIONS SERIES – GUILT & REGRET ~ For the past year I’ve written about different emotions in the Emotion Series. As you can imagine, joy, patience and humility get a lot more clicks than guilt and regret. Who wants to read about guilt and regret?  Because of my deep appreciation for the power of emotions to potentially act as a resource in our experience, I approach every emotion with respect and curiosity (which is another emotion). To be sure, emotions like guilt can have a terrible downside. People, laden down with the conditioned guilt of generations of institutional blame and shame, can’t see any positives in an emotional like guilt. We’ve got to do some internal excavation to rid ourselves of everyone else’s “guilt trips,” and learn to find the value of using emotions like guilt to remind us to stay on the path of what is truly important to us. 

A DEEPER LOOK INTO OUR MENTAL NARRATIVES ~  Recently I was having a conversation with a teenager who in comparing herself to her peers, lamented how many advantages they had over her.  I suggested she change the way she talked to herself, instead telling herself how many things were working well in her life. She asked, “How do I do that”?  A good question that speaks to the reality that most of us don’t realize we have a running dialogue with and about ourselves in our heads. Unless we learn to understand the mental narratives we create, we’re prone to habitually react to the emotional triggers “self-talk” provokes. So get to know the voices inside your head.

Hope you find a few unread surprises on this list!

Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment, subscribe, share, like and tweet this article. It’s appreciated.

Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication Consultants

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