Real Conversations at the Heart of the Matter
Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth. – Benjamin Disraeli
“When is the last time that you had a great conversation? A conversation which wasn’t just two intersecting monologues, which is what passes for conversations in this culture. When have you had a great conversation in which you overheard yourself saying things that you never knew you knew, that you heard yourself receiving from somebody words that absolutely found places within you that you had thought you had lost and a sense of an event of a conversation that brought the two of you onto a different plane and fourthly a conversation that continued to sing in your mind for weeks afterwards” These words are from a conversation with poet John ODonough during a segment of the weekly broadcast of Speaking of Faith.
As I was listening to this conversation with the late Irish poet, I reflected on the type of conversations that I typically have with leaders in business. Our focus is often on the problems at hand. We are looking for solutions that will produce the best outcome in the shortest time possible. We might be talking about the stress the leader is feeling from having too little time and too many responsibilities. Perhaps, we are talking about a financial challenge that seems insurmountable.
What we are not talking about is the soul of the organization – the inner core that is who the organization is. This essence can readily be seen through the external circumstances and relationships the company finds. We are not talking about slowing down to understand the phenomena of the challenges we see. We are not talking about what we can be grateful for and what they can do to be in service to those whose lives we touch.
What is missing to have this type of conversation? I suppose it is about opening up my heart. Focusing my attention on the real person I am being present with. Talking with them about things that matter more than the next quarter’s financial results or shipping a product on time. For when I focus only on these factors, the qualities that make the organization great are missed.
I remembered the last time I had one of these conversations. I was with a friend who is also a client. We were having dinner together and as the evening unfolded we began to talk about what really mattered to us both. We talked about our aspirations for our lives. We talked about our frustrations and how they helped us see ourselves more clearly. We let the spirit of the hawk take us to new heights. I remember that this conversation stayed with me for many days.
As I write this, I wonder why I don’t walk to this place more often. Why do I stay in the familiar territory of facts and actions and not the let the drum beat of my soul arise to meet all the other souls that want to join it in conversation.
Something to reflect upon.