I think it would be extraordinary, I think would be extraordinary for the planet, right, if we could be in ourselves instead of being in the production and consumption game. Nobody really wants a new car. People want to be loved and respected.
Hello and welcome. I'm Shane Parrish, and you're listening to the Knowledge Project, this podcast and our website, F-stop blog, help you sharpen your mind by mastering the best what other people have already figured out. If you enjoyed this podcast, we've created a premium version that brings you even more.
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Today, I'm talking with author and coach Jennifer Garvie Berger. Jennifer has written simple habits for complex times, changing on the job and unlocking leadership mind traps.
Jennifer was a previous guest on episode number 43 and we had a natural rapport. Unlike that episode, this episode is more personal and more conversational. We talk about lockdown and its effect on our mental health, including how we're feeling.
The struggle for control and routine are missing sense of normalcy, coping in an uncertain time and so much more. It's time to listen and learn. The Knowledge Project is sponsored by Medlab for a decade, Medlab has helped some of the world's top companies and entrepreneurs build products that millions of people use every day. You probably didn't realize that at the time, but odds are you've used an app that they've helped design or build apps like Slack, Coinbase, Facebook Messenger, Oculus, Lonely Planet and many more Medlab ones to bring their unique design philosophy to your project.
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Check them out at 80-20. Don't think that's eight zero two zero DOT I and C. Hi, Jennifer, how are you? I am well, Shane, it's lovely to hear your voice. How are you adjusting to this new reality we're in? I know it's weird, right, like this is a this is a very strange time for us. I am needing to put in place every single thing I've ever learned about complexity just to just to, like, manage my day.
Oh, tell me more about that.
I find myself falling into, like, every trap I have ever written about or ever seen any other leader fall into. I fall into them like before breakfast. And so trying to figure out how do I stay sane and healthy and how do I help this organization. I lead and support the leaders I work with. It's taking a ton of creativity, but also just a ton of perseverance for me right now. Are you finding the same thing that like you're you're using everything you know and still having to invent stuff like crazy?
Yeah, it's been such a unique experience and I'm super fortunate. Right to my worries are about productivity right now. So just to put everything in context, like, you know, I'm very lucky, but it's been really challenging and a lot of respects. One, like I have this self challenge where, you know, I am my own harshest critic. So my productivity not being where I want it to be or the team not moving in the same direction at the same velocity it was before taking it very personally and trying to be more kind to myself in that respect.
But there's also like I find there's two types of days, right? There's days where, like, they've all blended together. There's no weekends, there's no weekends. It's just, you know, days when I sort of shower and work out and then days I like I just don't do any of that stuff. Yeah, yeah, it's. Do you have a routine? Well, the crazy thing is beginning to have a routine, like I have not been grounded.
I've not been in one place for so long. In a decade, maybe in a decade. I hear you. Yeah, so like I've discovered that my sleep schedule is quite regular. I would not have known that about myself before.
And so I do there's a way to have a routine.
And there's another way that this global Zoome world right. Means that I have sometimes very early calls. I have sometimes very calls. I'm on multiple time zones. So there's this other way that trying to keep boundaries between what's work and what's not work is you were saying like there's no weekends. Like who knows what this is. It just blends together.
I mean, I don't even know what day of the week it is anymore. But what I have found super helpful. You hit on routine, like I found routine. I've started really focusing, I would say, this week on my routine. And that's actually been like very eye opening. And I'm looking forward to it. And I have a little more clarity about what to expect. And that's helped my productivity a lot.
Yeah, it's interesting. Your focus on productivity is also interesting in this in our critic idea. My guess is that there are a ton of people with this. I first of all, the gratitude that they have their health in this moment and also that they have some something to do. Right, something some form of employment, because suddenly those two things, which we mostly have taken for granted most of the time, suddenly they become the most precious baseline, right.
Health, families, health, something to do.
And then if once you've got that and you've gotten like the breath of gratitude there, then I think people are you are I am starting to beat ourselves up about whether we're productive enough. And we're comparing what's possible. Yeah. To what used to be possible. Right. To the old world. Whereas I think this new world that we're in right now skims 30 percent of the energy off just for living in this world that we're living in, like that's just gone.
And then there's all the extra stuff people have to deal with the kids at home, the stress, the extra communication that many of us are doing with elderly relatives, the global unbounded nature of what work looks like right now.
All that stuff just means what is productivity and how could we possibly compare it to something that used to exist?
A really good point. I mean, and then if you layer in the extra layer of, like running a business and being an entrepreneur and then being responsible for a lot of other people for the compounds, I write because now productivity has a real tangible impact on your ability to run the business, on your ability to employ people and pay people and be a rock through these very uncertain times.
Yeah, the leadership questions right now are. Are in some ways like the human questions, these fundamental survival questions, like how are we going to make it through is people's initial question about their health, their well-being? Do we have enough food, toilet paper, you know, like these very basic things about our our bodies. And then we have these very basic questions about if we're leaders, how are we going to keep our people, how do we manage our people's well-being?
How do we show up? You said as a rock, how do we figure out how much of our own humanity to show? Which which involves being not so rocklike, but not so, so much humanity that people think, oh, my goodness, like this leaders losing it like this is all of this very, very delicate dance.
And maybe it was always delicate, but now it's delicate in a supercharged way. I'm struggling with that a lot.
Right. Like on one hand, the external me to people I work with, I want to be steady. No panic.
Nothing is you know, nothing visible is going on and we're all OK. And we're going to get through this. And I firmly believe that. But sometimes in the inside, I also have oh, my God. Like, you know, our accounts receivable just went to zero because people went bankrupt. And how are we going to get through this?
And how do you how do you figure out? I guess I have two questions for you there, like the first one is, how do you figure out what to show? And the second question is, and how do you figure out where to go with the stuff that you can't show? Those people around you, like, where do you take that? Well, the second one, I think it's really interesting because there is a miss single parent. So I have my kids half the time.
And then when I don't have my kids and I'm in this house alone, and so most people would give it to their spouse. Or their partner with these things that maybe don't want to show their colleagues and they would sort of open up about what's going on and they would have this outlet. And I think it's extra challenging in a way that I don't have that outlet. So sometimes I talk to my parents about it, but then they freak out.
Like they are really worried about my ability to sort of exist, sort of tone that down in the sense of maybe I don't want to scare them. Yeah. And then I talk to my friends sometimes, but they've all got their own own concerns, right. They've all got their own businesses or their own reality that they're just engulfed in right now. And there's not a lot of not a lot of extra time.
Right. Well, I pulled in multiple directions. Right. And it's weird because we have more time than ever, but we have less time than ever in some ways. And you're worried about your parents, right? You got to take care of your parents. You're worried about your kids. You got to take care of your kids. You're worried about the people you work with and your spouse and your family. And you got to take care of all these people.
And then at the end of the day, there's not a lot left for, you know, you're sort of friends or yourself, really. And I find that that's challenging. Are you finding the same thing or like, what's your outlet?
Yeah, I think it's similar, although my house looks very different. I have my husband's here are two college age kids are here.
My daughter was supposed to graduate while she will graduate from college in May. But choose you know, this is like her her big time as a as a senior in university.
So she's come back her college has converted to online like they all have and brought her boyfriend with her. And then to to add the thing the thing I became most fixated on was my need for a puppy during this time. So now we are five adults and a puppy living together in our London flat.
And still, I have to say it's very hard when I'm trying to help each of the people who lives in this house trying to support them and be there for them in their various forms of difficulty. As you say, it is very hard to figure out how do we. Be there, how do I be there for myself and when does and I talk to leaders all the time about prioritizing this, I talk to them all the time about creating a routine that schedules in time for you.
And it is one of those one of those take my advice. I'm not using it kind of moments. We always give the advice we need the most. That's exactly right, exactly right. Talk to me a little bit about the dynamic of being with your spouse and family. Like there's a huge prediction that there's going to be a lot of divorces after this.
Yeah, I think the word out of Luján is that the divorce rate climbed 30 percent, but so did the marriage rate, which is very interesting.
Yeah, like, I wonder if people who were feeling really alone, they were like, OK, let's do this thing.
And people who had spouses at home were like, wait, this thing wasn't working before and now I just can't get away from you. And this is terrible.
So actually, in our family, touchwood, right. It's working surprisingly well.
It's very interesting to live with my adult children. Mm hmm.
Our son lives with us anyway, but our daughter hasn't lived with us in years except for, you know, relatively short holidays.
That's very interesting to have her home to be with her boyfriend, who we otherwise would not really know well at all. But now he's been living with us for more than a month.
And to see actually. To see what? Fine.
Young people, these are there's a way I feel like parents don't usually get to reap the the total harvest of their hard work, because as soon as the kids are self-sufficient, they go and having a daughter, I can see her.
She's up in the kitchen making dinner now. And then her boyfriend will clean up after dinner and our son will walk the puppy. And, you know, like, it's it's actually quite a functional household. And I feel so grateful. Oh, my goodness. How many Zoome calls have I been on with babies crying and little kids coming in asking for questions. And my brother hit me and. Oh, my goodness, that's just this is what the work world looks like right now.
And it's lovely to have kids in their 20s. Yeah, definitely.
I mean, there's there's sort of like two types of people, if you will. There's people with kids at home and people with their kids at home. They're vastly different.
Oh, my goodness. It's just extraordinarily different. Right.
It makes me wonder if part of how they're going to open up the economy slowly is actually just open up elementary schools again first.
It does seem to be the thing that people are leaning into in the in the countries that are starting to open up.
That's the first thing they do, because then you can increase the productivity of parents without sending them back to work. And kids are sort of like the lowest risk, at least of complications and sort of death. But there are also carriers rights. If they get it and spread it in the school, they can take it all of these houses. So there's all these trade offs that are sort of at play. But, um, yeah, it's so interesting.
But it sounds like your daughter and her boyfriend are also like very much into a routine. Right. Like she cooks every night. He cleans up every night. Your son walks the dog. Like we take comfort in that familiarity in this unfamiliar time.
I feel like these routines, this idea of trying to control that which you can control right now, it's just so important. It's always been true that we haven't been able to predict what three months from now looks like. That's always been true, but it's never felt so true as it is now. Right now, we're now we were actually sort of awakened to how complex the world actually is.
And so these techniques for helping us hold on to those things that we can control and really release from those things we can't control, I think are super helpful because our tendency when we're under threat or stress is to try and control everything and. And I'm wondering now, with so much that's so patently out of our control, whether people are learning how to put down that kind of sugar rush of control and say, I know I really want that, but it's actually like a doughnut.
It's not good for me. And and I need to ignore that craving.
What are the things you see people reaching for that that might be that sugar, anything that is going to help them understand what's going to happen next? I just see so much, so much conversation about what's next. You know, when are they going to open, what's going to open first? When are we going to go back to work? When are we going to travel again, like all these questions about next?
And modeling, predicting what are the factors, who's going to do it for, like all these things, all this expert boinging?
All of that is in our desperation to have some sense of what we used to call normalcy. Where is that energy better redirected, like if we if we can't predict the future and we're focused on these variables that we we can't control and often we can't know them, they're unknowable. No matter how much research we do, no matter how much thinking about it, we do. It's just an unknown world. Do we do we prepare for multiple outcomes or do we we sort of like just release all outcomes and focus on self care and our immediate relationships.
And going back to the basics, I can I can tell you sort of what the theory would direct us at and then I can tell you what my own practices.
And I'd love to hear what your practices I think the theory would direct us at understanding that it's always been true that the seeds for tomorrow are right now.
Right. Like the thing that's going to emerge in the future is is planted, is nurtured right in this moment. So we don't know exactly what it's going to be, but it's all around us. The future is happening, starting all around us right now.
And so making making sure to tend to those things that we care most about those relationships, as you say, but also those pockets of creativity, the the weak signals of what we would like the world to look and feel like to begin to nurture and grow a tomato that we want instead of grasping for the yesterday that's gone is I think it's a much healthier way of interacting with the world.
And so from a theory perspective, that's what I would say from a practice perspective, that's harder because my mind is constantly ping ponging around and asking these questions like, you know, there's I have this program in July. Is that going to happen? It's not canceled yet. But, you know, at what point is that going to cancel? And then I'm planning for this thing that's in November and that's supposed to be in person. Is that going to be.
So I've got this planner's mind and it's me and it comes up. If I'm not careful when I turn over in bed in the middle of the night, if I just allow my consciousness to come for a minute, that planner's mind is like the are here and it's like, wow, is that unhelpful?
And so the thing I'm trying to do is to catch it and to say I really get it. This is where the compassion, the self compassion comes in. I really get that it would be so soothing for my nervous system to have some answers and they are not available and no amount of tail chasing is going to make them available. We are going to live into them. So what can I do today, tomorrow, next week to try and plant some of the seeds for a better future in some way?
How can I how can I be learning more about now and coaxing tomorrow into being a really good way to look at it?
I know. And I wake up in the middle of the night now like my brain is on fire and like getting back to sleep is super tough because it's just like all these things you want to do and even sleep. I'm finding a little harder, right. Because I have to be such a steady and not everything is normal, but everything is going to be OK and fluids for the kids and at work and I'm always on. And then when the kids go to bed, I can turn off a little bit.
But then it's like, holy cow, look, there's all these things I've been denying or not denying, but like avoiding all day and then they rush into your mind. And and it's a really interesting place to be. And I love the idea of self compassion and being like, that's OK. It's like it's understandable. And you're trying to grab on to. All the things that you want to control and all the things that you want to be true, and I'm trying to make sure that at least from my perspective, I'm not seeing things that I want to happen and more sort of like just being open to what is happening.
And that's really tough.
Sometimes it's really tough because our mind doesn't even do that right. Like, we have to actually go out and make that happen. If we if we ease into it, our mind is just going to reinforce what we expect to be happening. And so this is this whole mind trap idea that our mind is always just looking for evidence to prove its point.
And so being in the present is an act of effort and courage. Will. I have a I have a friend who's doing what you're doing to keep up this brave face, right. And then he has like virtually the same nightmare every night, which is where. His anxiety is is actually happening, happening in his subconscious, because he doesn't have and doesn't really want to make a lot of room for it in his conscious world, but this stuff is going to come out.
It can't not come out.
Talk to me a little bit about the anxiety, like how do we deal with our own anxiety and then how do we be a good partner to people with maybe a higher level of anxiety than we do? We have I think this is an extraordinary practice time for us to sit with our own emotions and other people's emotions without trying to fix them. Oh, my goodness, I was on and like, this is my practice anyway, right? Like I talk about the difference between listening to fix and listening to win and listening to learn.
And so I try to practice this and I have been on calls lately just with friends, work colleagues who are also friends who are so sad or so afraid or in so much pain.
And I could actually feel in my body like this desperate urge to help them in some way to suggest something my mind was like racing through from from the ridiculous to the sublime, like, you know, have you tried this meditation practice? Have you tried the supplement?
Have you tried eating more greens, you know, like these ridiculous ideas I was having and and just trying to notice. Oh, yeah, that's me. Like, that's that's me wanting to make something go away that's not going to go away.
And can I just say, wow, that sounds so hard. Wow. That is really scary for you right now. I really I really hear and understand that.
And like, can I sit with that and when I can do it, my friends write to me later and they say that was super helpful. Thank you so much. And I think that this is actually the practice we need for ourselves to like when when I feel very anxious, it's like, yeah, yeah.
I understand you have a reason to be very anxious. This makes sense. This is not an unreasonable thing. And. There are other there are also other possibilities in the world, can you look at anxiety and be with it and also look at gratitude and also take a bigger view in some way? This is what I'm trying to do. Well, let's keep exploring this you mentioned I just want to orient listeners in terms of you mentioned listening to Fix When or learn.
Can you walk us through this?
I just have have this idea that a lot of the time we're listening for a purpose and mostly that purpose is hidden from us.
But if we were to really think about it, our purpose is to win, to convince the person of something, to convince them that in this case, it's that they don't need to be so sad or they don't need to be so anxious or it's not really that bad or it's all going to be temporary or whatever it is. Right. Like to try and make the problem go away. That that I call that listening to win, and then there's like the Problem-Solving nature of us and where where I was doing this thing where I'm looking for.
Have you tried this supplement and have you tried this journaling practice? Have you tried this meditation practice? That's like listening to fix like how can I see your problem and use some of my expertise to make it go away? And then I think we have to actually really try to listen to learn to go in and say, I don't have the solution here and I can't make this go away. So how can I know you better? How can I understand the world that you live in or the problem that you're seeing in some deeper, richer way?
And I think this is like a very life giving practice right now. And I think it's a very difficult practice right now. There's a way it's more difficult and there's also a way it's more necessary.
Let's go really deep on this listening to learn thing. I love the framing of that and I want to make it more tangible for people like you. Can you give me with it sharing friends, names or anything? Can you give me some examples of how you're practicing that with them and the results that you're seeing? And then importantly, like how you're practicing that with yourself?
Yeah, yeah. I love that that question. So I have friends who are because I run a global leadership development firm. There are about 50 of us in this firm, but we are all independent entrepreneurs that live under the same umbrella. I don't know what your business looks like, but that's what my business looks like. And for, you know, 90 percent of my colleagues, their income just disappeared.
Like all that just disappeared. So tough.
And so I've got a lot of colleagues who are. In panic, right, like in they're not going to be able to pay their mortgages like they're in panic, and it also looks like if we're not going to be able to gather for some time, it's not clear how our business recovers or what it looks like. That's true of many businesses. Right. But minus minus one of them. And so when people come to me, my first impulse is to like try to refocus them like, oh, what's great in your life?
What are the silver linings, you know? So that's what this would be like in the listen to win kind of space, like, oh, are we lucky that we still have our health? Aren't we lucky that we still that, you know, we still have our parents? I even had myself and I happily I've learned to filter before saying, but I even had the thought arise for me with one such person who is having this question, oh, aren't you lucky that your parents are dead so you don't have to worry about them?
I mean, this is how crazy this voice is, grasping for these kind of like almost ridiculous ways to combat the reality of these people's worlds.
So once you pass this, like listening to win thing, which is what I was just describing, I'm more likely to lodge until listening to fix, which is. You know, if you tried this, what have you tried there? Tell me about that.
Have you tried the solution where I'm trying to deal with the problem itself as though that's the main thing, like how do you get a mortgage payment for this month, which in which in sometimes it's like super helpful.
Sometimes it's an awesome thing to do. But when somebody comes to you in pain, it's it's almost never.
I'm worried about this one thing, it's really like my world is falling apart and I'm terrified. And so this is a conversation we've been having is wow, what is the hardest part for you about right now? Nic, what is what feels most at risk to you and out of that conversation, we get into a place of what do you cherish the most, which is a very beautiful conversation. And you get to like, what is the core purpose of your life that you are trying to you're trying to live out in this particular profession, which is a very beautiful conversation.
And from there, people find their own wisdom, their own solace, and it's not eating more greens or putting on a happy face. It's like, oh, I can connect to something that's bigger than me and that brings me some kind of peace. You make it sound so simple, I'm just trying to imagine in my head somebody sort of like calling you and saying, Jennifer, you know, I'm super stressed, I can't pay the mortgage or I'm going through this incredibly tough time with my my spouse.
And. I don't know how I would react to that, right, like a. It would sort of be spontaneous for me, right, and I would probably flip into problem solving mode.
That's for me. That's the biggest that's like the the sexiest road that I'm most likely to fall into. And I have to it to allow for more silence and just let people be how do we catch ourselves. Silence is one way and then how to reorient mentally like how do we actually change that behavior. Right. So I want to be a better listener. I want to listen, to learn from people, and I want to be more understanding and empathetic instead of just jumping to problem solving.
And so I can pause. And then what? For me, it's about getting curious. For me, it's about how can I there's a way when I'm trying to solve something, I lose the person I'm talking to. Right. I make a kind of an object of the problem and then. Just look at that and this question about how can we be with the human that we're with and ask questions like. You know what, what was for you?
How does this challenge your sense of yourself? How does this shape who you think you are becoming and as some of those deeper questions that help illuminate the human that you're with? I find that I get really, really curious.
I know what it would be like for me because I'm in, you know, much the same situation. I know what that feels like in me, but I don't know what that feels like in them. And that's the thing that I have to awaken my curiosity. What does that feel like in you? Is that the right question? Like, I don't know if, like, we have such the way that I'm thinking about this and totally like push back if this isn't right, as we're often taught, I think a large part of the problems that we experience in life are because we suppress our emotions.
Right. We don't allow ourselves to feel them. We push them down. We sort of hide them, and then they bubble over every now and then when they're in a relationship or whatever context, and we push them down again. And we never actually just allow ourselves the experience of feeling that. And I think now is an awesome time being at home with not only your kids, but your partner, your family, even your close friends. Right. And trying to work on your ability to feel your own emotions, but then your ability to give other people's space, comfort and security to feel their emotions without without having that jeopardize.
Or maybe it's psychological security. Right. Without feeling like that's going to jeopardize their relationship with you. And part of that comes down to, I think. The freedom to explore the emotion without being held to almost what you're saying or feeling, because we're so like we're so quick to jump on other people. Oh, you said that. So you said that or. And we're so. Since we don't explore our own feelings, it's really hard to explore them with other people, but how do we provide that outlet?
I mean, I think we I think you're absolutely right. We have to provide it for ourselves and for other people. People are constantly talking about the roller coaster they're on right now. We can give space to that. Wow. What's that roller coaster like? What does what does the top of the hill feel like? What is the bottom of the hill feel like? What's the what's the space in between? Often I find metaphors are really helpful in holding meaning in this world, which is true in complexity in general.
The metaphors hold their great big containers for meaning that have somebody play with a metaphor like like I'm like a tree in winter or, you know, whatever whatever metaphors you hear them say are useful things to listen for and to hook on to and to explore together.
Emotions are the same way. These are really big containers for meeting. What does it mean when you say I'm afraid? What does that what does that feel like, taste like what does it what is that for you? What does it make you think about? What is the voice in your head say? And so I think it's these. I think in general, we try to smooth over strong emotions in ourselves and in others, and I think you're absolutely right that one of the things that could happen right now, the seeds that could be planted for the future, are the seeds of us actually being able to live with the fullness of our humanity like we've been trying to paper over death.
And right now, we're living with the fullness of possibility of death. Right.
We've been trying to paper over illness and aged ness and put those things away to one side. And now we've all said, wait, I'm going to stay in my house for two months to protect people.
Right. Like this is this is what I'm going to do. And so I think that there's a chance now for us to reclaim pieces of our humanity and expand into them. I think that this is a possible that we're planting right now. I like that a lot, and I'm still trying to I love the questions that you're asking when you ask them, I'm like, oh, that's so obvious. Like, walk me through.
What does it mean? How do you feel anger? How do you feel confusion? How do you feel this anxiety? But in the moment, I never think to ask. I think it's about getting curious in a whole different way. I think the curiosity that we tend to carry around with us is like, what's going to happen next? How can I fix it? How can I make this go away? Like, that's the level of curiosity. And that's not a complexity friendly level of curiosity, because actually the complex world doesn't let you do that kind of solving and fixing in the same way.
Like, what's the meaning of this? What are all the possibilities here? What's most unexpected about this?
What are you just beginning to see? These are very complexity friendly questions.
And if we could start getting curious in that way, then I think we would be not only better listeners, but also better livres thinkers, users in this world of ours.
That's an excellent point. How do your friends feel or your colleagues or your clients, I guess in some cases, like after you have a very listening to learn conversation where nothing is resolved? Because for me, the resolution is the sort of like win, if you will, or fixing the problem. But if you have a very listening to learn conversation, there's no resolution at the end. So what happens?
I know that's crazy. And sometimes I can really sit with that and think, oh, that was a very beautiful. But sometimes I'm like, wow, I just did nothing for this person. I just did nothing. And then get a text that says.
I found the conversation incredibly helpful, and I'm in a much better place now, thank you so much. Or I had an insight in that conversation that just makes the next way so clear to me or that problem that I was really carrying.
I don't even know why I was so upset about it in that moment or whatever it is.
Right. But actually. By not trying to solve or fix. Seems like paradoxical sometimes it feels even miraculous, a deeper order.
Solving or fixing happens, so that's other people, how do we do that with ourselves? I think it's I think for me, I can only talk about for me here.
For me. First, it's about letting myself experience these emotions without without again, I guess it's without trying to fix them or tell myself I shouldn't feel this way. There's a ton right now about you shouldn't be upset. Look like you're in a so much better place than so many people. You shouldn't be complaining. You shouldn't be anxious. You shouldn't be afraid. You shouldn't be sad. Like you shouldn't be any of these things.
Because there are people who have it's so much worse. And we could just rattle off whole categories of society that have it worse.
Right. But actually, it's completely unhelpful that comparative you shouldn't feel this way because other people like this is a completely unhelpful self talk.
And now I can recognize it as well.
Yeah, I understand comparatively. I have it really good and right. I'm only living this life.
This is the only life I have. And so I can't compare myself to those other people in this moment. Right now I'm feeling sad because I've lost many things in this in this moment and I need to grieve those things. And then I can be asking myself actually the same questions. What's the hardest thing for me about what I'm losing? What's the thing that makes me the most anxious? What is my anxiety or my fear or my sadness feel like in my body?
And then I can begin to ask, and what else is there with it? Like, what other emotions can I also feel when I really settle into grief? What else do I feel there? I actually feel. Grief, I feel fear about losing my parents and other people that are precious to me, I feel afraid of losing my livelihood and a profession that's mattered so much to me. And suddenly, if I really go into that tunnel, I feel awash with gratitude, like I feel a wash with love for my parents.
I feel awash with gratitude for the fact that I've been able to have for this much of my life a profession I find so satisfying.
And Life-Giving, like actually when we go through grief, we find love. We find commitment. We find gratitude. We find beauty. That was beautiful in itself. How do we foster love in this this time, like with our partners and our kids and to some extent with our colleagues and co-workers? How do we how do we show that in a way that doesn't put too much of a burden on us in a way that's detrimental?
Yeah, and there are two questions you're asking there, or at least two. And one is how do we feel it? And the others, how do we show it?
Mm hmm. And I think they're different.
How do we feel? I think we need to let ourselves feel. I think I think a big piece, a big piece of me I know moves towards numbing, right?
Like I move towards. One of my numbing habits is to read the paper to, you know, to scan the news, to check out what's going on on Twitter. I have this, like, consumptive, numbing habit.
What are you avoiding when you're doing that? I think I'm avoiding feeling the anxiety of now, and I'm looking for somebody who's going to say something that's going to make it clear. Right. And I'm looking for something.
Words to your feelings almost. Yeah. Yeah. Or a framework to think about that or solve it.
Right. I'm looking for the article that says, oh, this thing. Oh, just kidding. Like we were wrong about this whole virus thing. These people aren't really dying. Sorry. You can just go right back to your life like this is.
I'm looking for something magical that doesn't exist, but I think I'm I'm in like a cell phone always looking for the signal in a place without any signal.
And so I'm just searching, searching, searching, searching, and I'm just running down my batteries. And I think the thing for me, the practice I need to do is say, wow, what are you what are you running from right now?
What are you running from right now? What do you what do you what are you actually feeling that you're trying not to feel? And very often it's greif. Or fear, these are the things that I'm trying not to feel and then to forgive myself for trying to numb myself away from them and then go look at them. I think that helps us connect to the people around us much more deeply. If we feel our own emotions, we can be more present for them.
I can just hold my daughter, you know, who has who gets very anxious because how is she going to get a job? You know, when is her when is she going to be able to realize the fruits of her college education?
When is she going to see her friends again? When is she going to even be able to get her stuff from her dorm room like she that she's no stuff. You know, she's like. She gets very anxious and upset and then she blows up about something. There's nothing to do with anything. And now I can say, wow, yeah. Look, I wonder what her grief is. I wonder what her fear is.
And I can just hold her and love her.
And then it's like seeing through seeing through that blow up and being like, what's really going on here? Yes, that's exactly right. And it's being curious about that. What is the human in front of me actually experiencing?
How do you have that conversation? Like how do you get is so she blows up at you and then how do you get that conversation to be less about that immediate problem? And I'm thinking of my kids here. Right, because this happens sometimes with them to write, get super angry with something that's very, very minor that normally wouldn't upset them. And I always feel like, oh, that's not really what's going on. Right. There's more to this.
But I'm like, what questions can we ask in that moment to tease that out, to actually get to the root issue to.
So the thing I've learned with my kids is first I have to like go and like understand how awful this one thing is.
Like, Oh, that is really and really listen for like, wow, that email was an outrage or the fact that we ran out of this ingredient for when you were going to cook a thing like that is so frustrating and like really hear that.
And then and then I sometimes dip my toe into and it probably feels like a lot of things you're reaching for, you can't have right now or a lot of communication you put out into the world, doesn't get responded to or answered in some way.
And sometimes I'm right and my kids will say, yeah, it's just like that everywhere I look. And then you get then like you're in. And sometimes I'm wrong. And that's actually just as good. They're like, no, that's not it at all. It's just cooking is the thing that makes me happiest. And now I can't do it. And I'm so frustrated about, oh, OK.
It's a totally different thing than I thought it was.
But now we're accessing it together because now we've gotten underneath the first layer.
Oh, that's super insightful. But I can't rush I can't rush into that, like, without understanding that this thing right now is a really big deal. They can't they can't go to the next place.
Like if I try to say, oh, you're not really upset about this, you're really upset about that other thing. It's like, screw you, mom. No, I'm really upset about this right now.
Well, that's problem solving, too, right? Like not telling them how they feel and what they should feel. And yeah.
And it's this whole how do we be human with other humans, which is an eternal sort of struggle that's now maybe magnified or amplified by. Proximity, you know, I worry about sort of the mental health crisis that might come out of this, not only for the kids, but for the adults and then the disconnected sense we feel of being part of something larger, like we're all in this together. So on some level, we're feeling very much a global citizen.
And for the first time in history, perhaps we're all focused on the same problem. So race borders, economic status, everything just goes away. And we're literally all focused on one thing. And that can be a very powerful and beautiful thing for humanity. I think on the other side of this, the flip side is like, I'm worried about my kids. Right. Are they going to, you know, see somebody on the sidewalk and, you know, run away from them?
Are they going to be are they losing connections with their friends in a way that is developed, you know, a lot through proximity when you're in grade four and five.
And yeah, it's yeah, I yeah, it's as you say, it's this grand human experiment on a global scale.
And and I think you're right, there are these seeds right now of connection, of interdependence, of humanity.
They're seeds that are being planted right now. That are very beautiful and there are seeds of isolation, depression, anxiety, terror, like all these seeds are also planted right now.
And how do we tend collectively tend and nurture so that the anxiety leads to a deeper possibility for connection, you know, so that we learn to metabolize some of those things on behalf of the greater things we're hoping for. And I have no idea how this goes. But here we are in the middle of this discontinuity and we are all like every day shaping what's possible next.
What do you think some of the hidden opportunities in this moment are that people are missing?
I think the biggest opportunity we miss is to be kind to ourselves.
Hmm. This is people are trying to trying to keep. I'm doing it. You're doing it. We're trying to keep productive. We're trying to keep, like, achieving. We're trying to put meaningful ideas out into the world that make a difference. You know, we're trying to have clients trying to build products that are going to make people's lives better. These are all very beautiful hopes and effort and. I think there's also something fundamentally clinging to, you know, can can things just come back soon?
Can I just keep the embers burning until we're back at normal?
Do you think go back to that or go back to normal? Never go back.
How do you walk me through this? How do you see that nothing is going to go back like there.
But but history never goes back. Like when huge things happen. We don't go back. We go forward and something new, something dies and something new is born. And we don't know what this is yet. And it's very unsettling. But we are in the process of making it, making this new thing happen and grieving. Grieving the losses and I have had cancer a couple of times, and I so I know something about grieving for a lost possibility and the grief can be just endless, right?
If you're grieving things that could have happened, that now won't happen.
That's a limitless set.
And so how do we put down? What we thought was going to happen, what we were attached to about the future and live in this moment and what's possible now and I think that's the opportunity we miss, is to. Is to recognize this is like fundamentally new possibilities ahead of us that require pain and difficulty and. That mean the world will be different? I like to explore the pain and difficulty there. Like what? What does that mean? It doesn't mean getting through this moment, or does it mean that, like in this this on the other side of this, there's.
More pain and more difficulty, or does that just mean that we're more in tune with our emotions? Yeah, I think isn't it always, though, like isn't the fundamental. The fundamental challenge of being human is that we love and we lose. This is the fundamental quest is to love and to be loved. And because we're mortal, we lose that.
We lose love. We die.
Things change. Things end. And that's the great beauty of being human and also the deep pain of it. And this is a moment where that's all visible to us. And it's always been true. It's always going to be true.
I'm just giving you space to, like, elaborate on that if you want to or ask any questions or thing you have or talk about how you're feeling. I think the process of change, personal transformation, society transforming, societal transformation is.
Filled with grief and joy, it's filled with love and loss. And.
Generally, it happens to us in little fits and starts and it happens to each of us in kind of isolated ways, we have our own personal heartbreak, our own personal joy, the birth of a baby or a new idea, or when our book sells or whatever it is.
And in this moment, we are united by by actually having some of the same features of heartbreak, isolation, separation, fear.
On all of us, all at the same time, like it's just all happening at once and. I just think that's an extraordinary possibility for us. So in that sense, we feel a part of something larger than ourselves, right? We're connected to this global struggle. We can feel that way.
But I think also we feel alone, like I think both of these feelings are possible and almost in the same moment.
And it's how do we recognize that both of them are reasonable ways to feel and and try to coax try to coax the the hopeful story out without without denying the power of the less hopeful story.
What do you think we should be doing with our kids? Should we be sheltering them from this reality? Should we be exposing them to it in a controlled manner? Should we just be status quo? Like how do you think of that?
Like, I mean, it's definitely not status quo because because everything's changed for them. I think it's a great time to help them understand themselves and what they need from the world. How are you how are you noticing your kids need you in a different way right now?
They're much more to do things with me than they used to be. Right. So it's a they they are enjoying the fact that school's out.
And I felt like this was going to go on longer.
So at the end of February, I sort of I started a school to plan for this. Right. And I call it the the kids are in charge. And we hired a teacher and we have like regular programming from eight thirty to sort of one thirty. And we used to do coding from one thirty to for thirty. So they actually had longer school days, but they enjoyed it more and it was very self directed.
And the idea is that just continues until school goes back to normal. But now we're sort of like putting into all of these challenges. So the kids are feeling really good about this. Right. Like they have structure to the day. They have a reason to wake up. They have eight thirty. They they're in class with, you know, five of their friends. So there's a group of them together that are going through this. And now as the schools sort of like come back online, if you will, it's been really interesting to see not only the curriculum that they're putting out, but just how my kids respond to that.
Right. Like I remember my son was on a call with his teacher the other day, and it was the first sort of like call that they've had. And she's like, oh, what are you doing with this time off school? And he's like, what time off school? Like, I've been in school every day from eight thirty to forty. And she's like, stop lying.
And he's like, no, we're actually doing this thing.
And then he just he was so frustrated. You get off that phone call and I didn't save him. Right. And so that was also part of it. I was there when he got off, but I was like letting him struggle through this with this teacher. And I emailed her after, but I was sort of like letting him be frustrated in that moment and then being there for him because I don't know, like I'm struggling with how to deal with this.
And then they're also super and do this with me.
Right. Like anything that they want to do is very proximity based now where they used to, like, go to the basement, they would play Lego or and they would even play the occasional videogame video game or something. And now they're very much like, Dad, you play with us, dad, you do this with us. Oh, let's play a board game like they're there. They're suggesting activities that are more focused on and which also is amazing.
It's beautiful and it's frustrating. It can be both of those things. Right. It's frustrating because I have to make dinner. It's frustrating because, you know, I have to keep the house clean. And it's frustrating because I have this list of tasks that I need to do in my head. And I want to be there for them in these ways because I'm also super aware that, you know, they're nine and ten about to be ten and eleven.
I might have two to three or more years of this left if I'm super lucky. And so I'm trying to embrace all of these moments. And I'm like, you know what? In three years, I'm just going to wish that my kids wanted to play a board game with me or, you know, wish that, you know, they wanted to spend all this time with me.
But that's also adding extra um, I wouldn't say stress, but definitely pressure. Right. Because it means I have to fit work in when they go to bed. It means I have to do all these things that I shift around, a lot of things that are hard.
I don't know if any of that made sense. Oh, it makes so much sense, it makes so much sense, I think. The the the thing I'm hearing in what you're saying is. On the one hand. They're wanting to be close to you, seems quite time limited in a way, in the longer scheme and in the shorts, in the short moment, in the day to day space, actually, it takes quite a lot of time.
So you're wrestling on these two time schemes that the the part of you that can see a 10 year arc is saying, oh, my goodness, playing Legos with your kids right now is so precious because 10 years from now that's not available to you anymore.
And a part of you that's 10 minutes that's in a ten minute arc is like if I play Legos with my kids, I can't I can't get the dinner cooked. I can't get the dishes done. I can get the laundry done and like, I can't get my work done.
And I have all these all these things I need to do at once. Yeah, definitely, and I think I'm also struggling with the realization that the education system, at least in elementary school, is largely just organized daycare, because I feel the kids feel and I feel like they're learning a lot more now than they did in school.
They're getting exposed to a lot more. They're allowed to follow their curiosity and they're not broken up into this very regimented. You have 15 minutes to do this. You have, you know, 17 minutes to do this. And they can go as deep or sort of like on the skim the surface as much as they want.
And I'm realizing a large function of the school system is just to keep the kids busy while the parents work.
Yeah, yeah. And that there are totally different ways to do it.
And that's troubling for me.
But the kids are realizing this, too, which is also I think that's the bigger worry. They don't have that vocabulary around it, but they're feeling it now, especially as the curriculum comes online. Right, for the regular schools where they log in. And I mean, like they're they're telling my my kids to go on, you know, math, frogger and play for 45 minute, watch this two hour movie and answer these three questions like and they're just like looking at this going, what, like this isn't A, it's interactive.
And B, it's sort of like, why are we doing this? Like, it doesn't you know, they're struggling with understanding that in comparison. So they're often coming to me at night. And we have this interesting routine to two parts to our routine that I think really keeps the kids and I connected. No matter what's going on. We sort of like wind down and we start reading. We all get in my bed at eight and we read till about nine.
And that's like connecting and cuddling. And we'll talk about things that might have been frustrating during the day. And then first thing in the morning, I taught them and they were really little to get out of bed and come crawling my bed first thing. And so when they wake up in the morning, they come and cuddle. And those give us the opportunity to be like, oh, like here's the day I lay it out for them and, you know, they know what to expect and also like to talk about anything that might be bothering them about the day before, any fights or arguments they've had that are sort of like unresolved.
And I find that that now more than ever, that it's actually helping them and they're looking forward to it. Whereas before it got to be something that they did right. Like they did it because it was habit and it was routine and they were getting older. So that was totally expected on my part. Right. Like now they're looking forward to it. They're like, can we go read? Can we got a longer can we like? And it's been a really that part has been so beautiful and so brought me a lot closer to them.
But I mean, there's a lot of. I think I'm lucky. I mean, they sort of like they're aware of what's going on, but they don't seem to have any anxiety around it. They don't seem to have any stress around that at this point. Right. And I don't know if that changes at some point, but I'm super attuned to their feelings about this and how they might change. And but I don't know how to respond to them if they do.
Right. Like if they start crying about not being able to see their friends.
I mean, that's really sad. And then the problem solver in me immediately goes to there's nothing I can do about this. Right. Like, yeah, I get it. A Zune play date or a Google Hangout, it's just not the same.
And that's frustrating because I want to be in a lot of what I think a lot of parents want to be problem solvers. But then I also wrestle with my kids need to figure this stuff out like and I don't want my kids dependent on me and I don't want to be a helicopter parent. And how do I how do I wrestle with these competing sort of emotions?
I mean, it sounds like it's all there right before you. And and I think as parents, one of the. One of the things we need to provide is a platform of safety, where kids can learn to metabolize their own emotions, like where they can feel a thing and process it and have it run through them instead of deny it or push it away. And I wonder about the these these rituals you've set up as kind of like a metabolic support system in a way.
You know, the the the physical time together cuddling in bed is like incredibly important, is incredibly important to us, where primates we are soothed.
There are a whole series of hormones that are very good for our immune system that aren't released unless we were touched. And so this creates that context for them. It's quiet space.
It's a magical space where you're reading together where somebody could stop reading and talk about being afraid and then go back to reading. It's not like like I need to find a space for this to happen. There's a space that already exists. And so there's a place, an outlet for the processing of this. I mean, it sounds like these this particular ritual of yours is a way for you to be available to one another.
And it makes me wonder about, like, the. You clearly. Don't wrestle or I see you clearly, I haven't heard in your description of wrestling with, like, I'm not being productive between eight and nine. And I'm not being productive in the morning when they come in, which you could wrestle with, but I haven't heard you talk about, it just sounds yummy, but there are like there are times when you are wrestling.
And so I'm wondering what the difference is for you between those times.
Well, I can't I can't be with them 24/7 and function as an adult. And then I feel guilty about that, too. Right. Because I know there's and people who have very different lives and they can be there for their kids at all these points. And then I struggle between maybe I should be and maybe I shouldn't be. And I'm never worried about productivity on a daily basis. I'm worried about the aggregation of days like any given day. I'm super fortunate.
I don't have to be productive. But if I'm not productive for a series of days, that's a much different problem. But it compounds to ride to like the sort of thinking about that as different. But going back to the kids, it's like I need I don't need space to make dinner. But maybe one thing I could do is involve them more in that stuff, see if they're interested in making dinner with me. But then making dinner like you for your daughter, it sounded like it was cathartic and it's the same way for me, right?
Like it is a very I love cooking. I love sort of being in the kitchen and I love. I find that I'm a lot less stressed if I pour a glass of wine and make dinner like a long dinner, even if it's like four hours or something, like it's just fun. And and there's a part of me that's like that's a very giving thing. Like I like sharing things with people. I like the experience, the social ness of dinner.
I like giving people nourishing Whole Foods and and being being there with.
I wonder if there's part of me that worries that if they're helping me, it's less a gift from me to them, like it changes that dynamic. I don't know.
I mean, it could be many things, right? It could be less of a gift.
It could be that is your time to lose yourself in an activity that you love and not have to worry about.
You know, this is everybody getting enough chance to stir the pot or, you know, whatever that is.
I mean, I wonder about whether there are spaces and I wonder about this for all of us, whether there are spaces where we are able to claim for ourselves.
It's really good for me to do this. And therefore, I'm going to take time and I'm going to do that. And I'm going to just as our space for us between eight and nine is sacred space for me, my space between six and seven to be cooking dinner, that sacred space for me.
And I'm not going to regret what doesn't happen for other people in that space, because that's that's what I need. And I'm not going to be torn in multiple places. I know how to not be torn in multiple places. I have to give myself over into it. And this is one of those things I'm going to do.
What's your sacred space? I love to write. So I blog, I write books and stuff.
But the for some reason the blogging is like, I need to do that so much that when my kids were little, I would sometimes get a particular tone of voice with them. And one of them would say. I think maybe you need to go right down the pike. Of course, my first reaction in that moment was, screw you, that is not what's going on. And then actually.
Well, yes, that really was what I needed.
I love to write and I love to bake. These are my two my two things. I love to I love to cook also, but I particularly love to roll pastry and cut butter into flour and whip.
And what is it about baking?
I have loved baking, so I think some of it is your nourishment idea. Like I've loved baking as a way to give to other people and to be it's a piece of my identity is to be sharing and to be giving of myself.
So there's there's a there's an identity piece for me in that.
And I there's also just the sensual pleasure of creating something. And I particularly enjoy baking. It's like naughty. It's you know, it's not wholesome. It's not I'm a vegetarian. I've been a vegetarian forever. And so I have like very wholesome eating practices. Except then I'll make you know, I made earlier this week I made this beautiful orange cake with a glaze and no redeeming nutrients at all.
But it was delightful to fold and to be to and to cook and to see what it tasted like.
So, yeah, I think part of that is like going back to why do you do so much? And it's my hypothesis. So, you know, correct me here, like you do so much with your brain. This sounds like also a very hands. Like you're doing your craft, you're doing something that's visible, that's tangible in a way that a lot of your work isn't necessarily.
Yeah, I think that's absolutely a piece of it. And it's about and it's I love the idea of sort of making something particular out of all these other particular things. You know, you start with the same seven ingredients and you can make a thousand different flavors of a thousand different sorts of things.
And so it just feels a little bit magical to me. So, yeah, those are those are my things. And for years I thought, oh, I need to bake with my kids.
And I did a baked with my kids and and they did most of the fun bits and I did most of the cleaning up and the measuring out and that sort of thing. And it was like not until a couple of years ago.
And my kids are much older than your kids, right?
My kids are nineteen and eighteen and twenty two. And it was a couple of years ago that I realized, no, sometimes I just want to be by myself.
I just want to do this alone and I want to do all the bits of it.
And now I, I recognize that now. Now this is the thing like can I craft space where I'm just doing something delightful for me. Your kids are older.
What are the things that you did with them when they were sort of like ten, eleven, twelve that you really appreciate now in a way that maybe you didn't at the time or things that you consciously did, that you're like, oh, that really works for them.
I think I have always been fascinated by the way their minds worked and by the way their. They thought about the world, the way their emotions worked, and so I have tried to practice listening with them. For it, you know, as as often as possible, and I feel like that has actually created between us a really, really solid a solid relationship and also fascinatingly, it has created kids who listen really well, I mean, not always, but actually have the capacity to be fully curious.
My daughter is a psych major and my son's into philosophy. They're like very curious about the human condition and and the way the human works. And I think a big piece of that comes from listening deeply to them.
I think that's beautiful. I like how you went from their minds to sort of their emotions to those. And it was an interesting sort of like way to go about that.
What do you think is the difference right now between the spouses who are going to come out of the stronger the couples, the relationships that come out of this on the other side, going like this was a great test? Maybe that's the wrong word, but like we came through the fire together and like, I feel more confident, more comfortable and more secure. And the couples that come out of this going, like, OK, we're done. I mean, I think a lot of the couples who come out thinking we're done went in thinking we're done.
And this just amplified it. Yeah, yeah, I think I think there will be a lot of things this this doesn't change the direction. It just changes the volume.
And that might be exactly the right thing to happen. Like it might be exactly right for people who were in a relationship that wasn't particularly nourishing to come to the end of this and say, I really I deserve to be nourished by a relationship. But what if you were thinking that going in, like, just walk me through that and now you have this dread because you're like what? What if I don't feel like I can't leave now? Do I have to wait 18 months to wait like two months?
Is it like how do you how do you walk through that? I have no idea. I have no idea. I think that this this question about how do we want to live our lives is going to become more and more apparent to us as we are, as we were having so much of the control of our lives out of our hands, the things that we can control, we're going to control harder, I think.
And so I've been thinking, this doesn't answer your question, but I've been thinking, where do I want to live if travel is going to be significantly curtailed?
I have a house in New Zealand. I raise my kids and right now I live in London where we rent a house. And these are two different lives. And up until now, I haven't had to choose. And maybe in this world I have to choose or choose something else.
Right. And and who knows what our business will do? So, like all these questions come in, but I think it's the same for us in relationships, although.
I think it's also a time where we can see what's great about this relationship and could more of it be nurtured, right.
So they're they're the they're the relationships that are already on a path to to ending. Right. And I think that path might get sped up. And I'm not sure that's a bad thing.
There are the relationships that are already super close and they might be closer and more grateful for each other at the end of this. And that might be a great thing.
And then there's like most people are in the middle in either of those two clear categories. Most people are like having human relationships with other people that are sometimes really life giving and sometimes really annoying and lacking.
And now they might even experience both of those things bigger than they experienced them before and.
It's about how do we notice our own emotions? I mean, it's like the same thing leaders need to do like this. How do we notice the emotions I'm having in this moment and have those emotions are shaping the way in contracting with you? How much of this is about me? It's nothing to do with you. Anybody could act in any way around me, and I'd still be pissed off because I'm actually afraid and I can't stand being afraid. Or, you know, and how much can we talk about that and how much can I be there for you and whatever emotions you're having?
I think that this is.
The one of the fundamental skills of this time is being with emotions, whether you're a leader or a partner or a parent or all of those things, how can I transform my relationship to my emotions and other people's emotions?
I like to think that that would be a hugely positive thing for the world if we come out of this more in touch with who we are and our emotions and we drop sort of by looking inside of ourselves, we drop this reliance on society or this external scorecard to tell us like how we're doing or what's important or what we should feel guilty about. And we start internalizing it and being like, oh, I don't need to listen to that that message from society.
I don't need to buy these things to be happy. I can be happy with these with a better understanding of myself, a better connection to my spouse, a better connection to my kids, a better understanding of what makes me happy. And maybe it's not buying a new car and maybe it's not all these things that were sort of.
Distracting us from ourselves? Yeah, I I think I think that's possible.
I think that's what we're seeing is that the conditions are created where we are able to notice that we're able to notice is what was I doing before to numb? What was I numbing against? What if I actually felt bad? What would I need to change in myself or the conditions of my life to be able to stand feeling that or to be able to change that feeling? I think it would be extraordinary. I think would be extraordinary for the planet.
If we could be in ourselves instead of being in the production and consumption game and be nobody really wants a new car.
People want to be loved and respected like this is that they they metabolize that emotion when they can't feel it fully and they think that they want a new car. But the thing that they actually want is to be loved, loved and respected. Like this is what we really want as humans. And if we could be more connected to that. Yeah, I think it could change how. How we interact with the planet, which which could fundamentally change our our.
Possibilities as a species, we've been talking I've been talking for years about what? What would it take to transform us, to connect us, to help us be more aware of the complexity and the interdependencies that are always there, whether we see them or not?
And now in this moment, here they are, we're aware of them. And now what do we do? How to see that very human desire to signal that we should be respected or crave respect? Like, how does that manifest itself now? Like, how does that for the people that transcend it, it's beautiful. But for the people that still have it, what does that look like? You mean while we're still inside? Yeah, like, well, we're still inside, like, how do you how do you signal that importance?
How do you I think you're on a lot of doom calls.
A lot of hangouts. Right. I think you're you're issuing orders as much as you can. You're trying to control you're getting people to write you reports about things you're you know, I think that.
All these ways are ways of knowing that we are important, that we're making a difference here when we're, you know, when we're locked inside.
Switching gears a little bit here, just what are the things that people who run companies can do to make it easier for their employees to make it and to increase? Maybe they're not the number of communication, but the actual transmission of communication in this time and just to be there in multiple ways that they've never had to be there before.
I think a piece of it is for leaders to manage their own anxiety, not try to get.
The company to produce things for them that makes them feel less anxious, like more reports and more predictions and more scenarios, and so so I think that there's that piece of how do I not let my need to control things, actually make it so that I'm working everybody around me to death.
And then once there once some of that quiets down. How do I sit with someone in grief? Or in fear? And not try to fix it, so leaders need to do whatever they can to make things as safe as possible.
It's exactly like parents need to do do whatever they can to make things as safe as possible and not not rely or craft impossible things to make it safer. And and this is a very hard thing for people who are trying to create contexts that really matter to lots and lots of others. So creating that context. Finding a way to make whatever moves we can make to make things safe and to communicate that safety and then for the rest of it to be able to listen.
What are the ways that creating psychological safety is different now? Because you don't have physical proximity, which is so important to us? I think as humans on some level, we have almost a biological instinct to get a sense of presence from somebody and we get a lot of trust from that. They're sort of like response, not only their face, which is harder to see on some call, but we pick up on a lot of different cues and now we can't do that.
So how do we create that psychological safety or at least provide the environment where it can flourish? I've been talking to leaders a lot about arriving like how do you arrive at a video call? Leaders are so harried they've got their minds on six hundred things. How do they actually breathe and arrive? I think you're right. We can't sense each other as well. And so our presence needs to be kind of our presence needs to be almost more three dimensional since we're dealing with one another in two dimensional ways.
And so how can we each in our own living room or bedroom or home office or whatever it is, feel ourselves on the chair, feel our feet on the floor, breathe in to settle our nervous system, breathe out, whatever the last meeting was, so that we can be fully available for the thing that's happening right in this moment.
I think that's super important right now. I think that creates a safety that's almost. I think it's just a shocking amount of the safety we feel is by getting the actual full presence of other humans who are not not distracted by another screen or half present, but who are actually there. And then I think really making an effort to hear everyone's voice and to and to welcome to welcome outliers to see and welcome outliers in this place, because we're there's a way that we're our our fear of being thrown out of the tribe is amplified right now in some ways and like very legitimate ways because companies are laying off.
But but also this isolation, as you say, is not so good for the body. And so our fear of being thrown out of the tribe is really strong.
And the possibility that we might conform more, do whatever we say, actually go in the wrong direction from the kind of self actualizing that you were describing into the opposite of that, which is like, I'll say whatever you want, I'll do whatever you want.
What do you want? What do you want? What do you want? I'm just going to produce whatever you want that we need to help people understand that's not what we want.
And leaders need to actually really seek for people to put that down, which is really hard because the leaders nervous system is also saying, I want you to do what I want.
I want to control you, and not because I want to control you, but just because my life feels out of control.
And it makes me really happy when you agree with me. I can be really happy when things are smooth. That makes me really happy. So how do we how do we continue to be able to scan widely and allow diversity, welcome, cherish diversity, and this makes things safer, right? Because then I feel like more of who I actually am is allowed. And that's the ultimate in psychological safety, is if you can allow more of me my full thoughts and experiences.
It is beautiful and a lot of that we can do if things sort of like go back to a more normal state.
Things like, you know, for devices, we can give people a lot of the same sort of things that maybe we we took for granted or maybe that our physical 3D proximity like overcame.
I mean, people are talking about they've they've known these people that they worked with for ten years and they've never been in their home or seen their kids or or knew that this person had a cat that she cherished.
And now the cat's walking in front of the camera all the time and she scoops it up with such love.
And suddenly there's a new dimension to this person that you knew from finance, you know?
Well, the work life boundaries have disappeared, right. In the sense like when you invite somebody into your house, that's a very intimate thing. And now you're forced to write like that's written all the time.
Yeah. Even though it's not a 3-D presence, it's sort of like you're showing people this part of you that you've kept from them or divided, like psychologically divided.
I remember one day I had a colleague that I worked with and he was extremely introverted and very compartmentalized. And we spent, you know, eight to 10 hours a day together for seven years. Like I thought I knew this guy really well. And then I ran into him one day out with his wife and kids, and he panicked because it was like these two worlds collide. Right. I can see this look on his face.
Oh, my God, look at him like, you know, it was sort of like interesting. And it maybe this whole experience, maybe you think of that people are seeing this other side of people that it's very personal, like, what's that picture in the background he's in that they tell me that story? Why do you have that piece of art? Like, I didn't even know you had a cat.
Yeah. And and as you said, these are some of the possible beautiful side effects that we could nurture and create.
And whatever's next might include more of our wholeness. Then what has been has welcomed because we might never be willing to compartmentalize. Yeah.
In the same way, I think that's a beautiful place to leave this off. Jennifer, I want to thank you so much for your time. Thank you. It was wonderful, wonderful hanging out with you.
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