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LinkedIn Live Exploring trust, risk and choice in Leadership…
trust, people, experiments, moment, risk, inner critic, feel, bit, thought, inquiry, conversation, intuition, person, developing, writing, books, narrative, friction, write, capacity
And a very good evening, from your own from Dubai. I’m Nadine Powrie, Executive and leadership coach and a workplace mediator. And tonight I am welcoming to the west. Good evening today. Hello, Nadine, how are you? I’m good. Thanks. And thank you so much for accepting to be my guest today. Do would you like to share with the rest of the world who you are truly.
So I’m Trudy West. I’m a professor of practice at Ashridge executive education. And my work, I work with leaders, usually in groups, either in tact or teams or from an organization. And I work with them to help them think about what kind of leader that they need to be given the context, given who they are, their values, their beliefs, so to explore some of those things, and then test their assumptions by n. And how would you change that? What do you do differently, to get more out of
life, I suppose, as well as leadership. Wow. And we’ve actually never met. But we connected on LinkedIn, because I posted one of my millions of posts on difficult conversation, managing difficult conversation, and the fact that I was working on a PhD and I was exploring, I’m exploring the role of hope in managing difficult conversation. And you message me privately,
to say that you said that it was very exciting. And then we started having a conversation. And then here we are today. So it the connection was the hope and magic conversation. So I’m so grateful for you to have written me that message on the 23rd of December, I think it was.
No, we’re now in February. And we are we are connecting. So thanks for that. Now you’re welcome it it really just really just struck me what you were what you’re looking at. And just from such a human perspective, I just don’t know it just. Yeah, it really resonated for me. So yeah, I’m really pleased I did that today, we thought we wouldn’t be talking about trust, we will be talking about risk and choice. And when behind the scene, you and I we agreed on that title, I have to say that I didn’t think too much. So those are three wonderful words
that are going very well together. It’s a little bit like a formula.
You want to explain or perhaps you know, share?
Why those three words? Why did you say yes to those? And? Yeah, so I’ve been looking at, through my research across the years.
What has felt like different bits of research? So I looked at a sailing race around the world yacht race, I’ve looked at how do people think about and deal with risk. I’ve looked at Integrity under pressure, and how that can lead to hypocrisy. Yeah,
amongst other things, and then then now I’m my doctorates, I’m looking at trust. So I’m looking at trust in self, and how to develop trust in self and with other. So what happens between us as we’re sort of moving around in anything, life, organization, whatever. And then as I’ve been exploring trust itself, I realized more and more the how my risk research and or my understanding of risk from my risk research completely fits in with it. Because a lot of the times Trust, the opposite of trust is is your at risk. So if you don’t, if you don’t think you have trust, or that you can trust that person, you leave yourself exposed,
potentially, either actually, or you perceive it. And just the perception of it alone can lead to doubt it can lead to friction. So the sort of moral or physical impediment to action, just not trusting and that sort of tap tap tap of potential risk means it stops us making a decision or acting into something or letting something go because you’ve trusted someone else to do it. When you want to have trust, and you haven’t quite got it, it takes a lot of energy. Yeah, and it takes away choice because you’re then I’m often saying, you know that the gap between the burning platform and the dataset. So we have data, we look for data, we have enough. We don’t have enough data. We don’t have enough data, when actually we probably have enough. But what then we wait for the burning platform to actually choose to do something because either the risk is too far, or the trust is not enough. So those three things are coming out. Now. In my inquiries, it’s a first person inquiry and then leading into second person inquiry.
theory. But how does that actually show up for us in our day to day? And then through my inquiry, I’m now working and always, as I always have with others to help them kind of go, what’s really at risk here? What if I
trusted? And what stops me trusting? And all of that takes time and energy? And that’s?
Yeah, and I’m just thinking about the word risk and the word Trust. It’s not because you’re taking a risk, even if something goes wrong, that you should stop trusting yourself. Yeah. So it’s giving yourself permission to make mistakes. And you know, at the same time, continuing to, to trust yourself is learning.
Because with, with trust in yourself, I have found I’m experiencing as I’m sort of experimenting and developing, it’s not the mistake that I fear, I don’t fear mistakes. That’s not my driver.
i As such, you know, I don’t mind making a decision and being wrong. But without the trust in myself, and other,
I then go all through every single iteration, because I don’t want to miss something, I don’t want to have thought,
I make a mistake, because I just didn’t consider a risk. And it’s a nuanced thing. But it’s, it’s given everything that you have in front of you making a making a decision, a choice. And that is the best decision that you can imagine there’s no right or wrong, and there’s no good or bad, it just, it just is. And it not working out. For whatever reason that I think people can live with, for given everything I had available. To me, this is the choice that I made.
But I think we’re people, and by people I mean me, but also the people I work with, spend a lot of energy thinking have I considered everything? Because and often it’s a fear of judgment, either of yourself or someone else’s judgment, that if it comes to light that a decision gets made, and it’s doesn’t work out
that you were a miss in some way, or that you didn’t really do your job, or you didn’t really and it’s so it’s not about making an error. It’s not being able to justify it. Yeah. Do you think that when we are talking about risk, and when we are examining the possibilities
of the number of risk? Do you think that actually, it is slowing us down to a point that we are we are standing still Yes. And therefore that moment, trust in ourselves doesn’t even exist? Because we are focusing on something else. And we’re not thinking about ourselves? Yes. And it’s going back to that word, friction is and this came from the sailing research, actually, and it came from the military research. And it’s a really sort of old word. And it links to the sort of frictions of materials rubbing together, slows you down, or it warms you up, you know, literally as you rub things together.
But in this in the literature, the word friction is a moral or physical impediment to action. So either because you and I are in conflict, we have friction between us.
Or I have doubt or I’m overthinking or I’m, I just don’t know what to do, you know, and someone’s expecting me to know what to do, for example. And, of course, this is all transposed on to the people that I’m working with. And this is the work that we do together.
So very time, I think I know what I should be doing. But I don’t actually quite know for certain because I don’t quite trust either myself or other or don’t feel trusted in that exchange.
That every bit of friction, that sort of moral imperative, the moral kind of obligation to act or do
impediment, it creates an impediment, so it slows us down. So the whole should I should know.
Each one of those takes away time.
But kind of more importantly, takes away energy. Because if you’re constantly having to think, oh, this or that this or that, and this is a
this is a slightly separate thing to that living in a VUCA world where we just don’t know, you know, this. Of course, we there is a VUCA world an ambiguity or a complexity.
But I’m kind of getting a bit of a hunch that to some degree, yes, but it’s not an on it’s not all VUCA some things are just too much. And there’s too much expectation, too much to consider for any one kind of person to deal with. And it isn’t always VUCA or complexity. Sometimes it’s just a too high.
a volume of things to consider in any one moment. So that I think that is something to eat just through my inquire is working out, is this actually a complex thing? Or is this just too much? Is it where do I kind of simplify things? And where am I
is my anxiety, trying to simplify things because it’s too complicated. So all of that’s in the mix, and none of it’s easy, but just developing that, that greater understanding of who you are, how you tick, what some of the narratives are, and help develop the capacity to even notice some of this stuff. And that’s what I’m really interested in. I love I love that sort of space to,
for people, when they, when they see themselves in action for the not for nursery for the first time. But with reflection, they’re able to go, oh, yeah, that’s what I’m doing. I can I can see it now. I can see it for myself.
I want to ask you a question. Because you said, you mentioned trusting yourself. So trusting ourselves and trusting others? It’s two different things, isn’t it? Yeah.
Which one can you live with? And which one? Can we can you live without?
Our boo, that’s a really good question. I because there comes a point, if you only trust yourself, and you don’t trust anybody else, then that becomes hubris. You know, that becomes I know myself, and I don’t trust you. But I think through.
And it depends on your mindset and your background, and how you’ve been brought up and all sorts of systems. So that is complicated and or actually complex.
But I think without that inherent
developed sense of trust and self, it is easier to always trust someone else.
And I think there comes a point where if you don’t trust yourself, and you only trust others, it leaves you vulnerable, it leaves you gullible to some degree, or potentially gullible.
So of course, it depends. But if it comes to the point where you’re, you’re having to constantly justify your own self, because you’d rather
send me how to explain that. If all you’re doing is trusting someone else, and you don’t trust them,
somewhere deep down, but you’ve decided to, it takes a lot of energy to have to kind of quiet in your own doubt about either them or you. So really having a good understanding of yourself. And that trust itself.
Ultimately, some more trust in other people.
Do you see? Yeah, go on. So as you say, and ultimately that it’s, it’s my trust in you. But as important is, and it’s different, it’s not necessarily one exchange with the other. It’s also your trust in me, I was reading. As part of my
work I’m doing for my doctorate, we were sharing each other’s essays. And I was reading one of my
colleagues cohorts essay. And in it, it said a line, I flourish when I’m trust actually, she’d written spoke to a colleague, and they said, I flourish when I’m trusted.
Cos that really resonates with me that really, I, I really do flourish if I feel like there’s a trust there. I just perform at such a much higher level than if I think there’s doubt in someone else’s mind. And well, whether it’s true or not is, is that’s the next layer.
And when we were chatting about us, oh, there was a line in your essay that really caught me I just really resonated with me as she said, What was that Ambassador? What’s the line about a flourish when I’m trusted? It really resonated me. And she said it was you that said it.
She said it was you that said it? You said it I just quoted you? And I didn’t even I didn’t even realize I’d said it. We were chatting about something and yeah, that was that. But so someone else’s. So developing that capacity to recognize someone else’s trust in you. Yeah. If they don’t, so you can have trust in yourself and not trust someone else. You can not trust yourself. Then obviously the ideal goal would be that you have trust in each other and whatever goes in between you. Yeah, yeah. How do you know?
You know somebody you think somebody trust you? And then you have this moment when you realize
that actually they don’t know
or vice versa? You know, that’s that moment when you understand that actually, you the judgment isn’t right, either. Okay.
How do we know that? At what moment? Do we know that? Well, this is kind of the next leg down this is when it can, I think
I’ve described it before as being like, in a hall of mirrors, you know, sometimes it’s actually a mirror. Sometimes it’s Perspex, and the mirror is beyond. And sometimes it’s nothing. And you’re sort of have to find your way and basically run, because anyway, you can kind of run up against things. Because actually, there’s just as likely a chance as your perception of their judgment
can be something old of yours, the look that you get from somebody that you used to get from somebody else. And so developing that capacity to so there’s the meta awareness that you’re having the thought, yeah, that, Oh, I’m feeling judged.
And then the reflexivity to go. Hang on a second, am I you know, is that true? Or am I perceiving something that there may be, there may be something going on for them, but does it necessarily relate to what I’m doing.
And I think over time, when you spend enough time with someone, you can kind of that’s the data isn’t it, you kind of go this this happened before, like a comment or a look, or, you know, a small subtle change in behavior. That is, you know, this, this is moving into territory of that psychological safety of just oh, I don’t, I don’t for quite
a look or something passes, or one off the, the chances are, it’s not the chances are, it’s related to something else. But of course, if it keeps happening, or something similar, or there’s a, there’s a thread of something that you feel over time, this has happened before, like, I’ve experienced this with this person. Yeah.
And then ultimately, you’ve got a decision. If that data is there, that you have enough of a thing of an IRA, you know, after talking about the sort of
supply role that you can have anything I’ve got, I’ve overstepped the mark, or I’ve gone on too long, or, you know, or whatever, and depending on who’s there and the power at play, and.
But I think ultimately, we’re still responsible for ourselves, we have to have that conversation. And it may or may not be true. But if we do feel we have enough kind of data in our gut,
we can’t hold on to it and kind of complain about it in our heads and go, they’d always do this to me, but we, and that’s where the next layer is the capacity to then say,
you know, I’ve noticed sometimes that it was my experiences this a little bit, whatever they were, whatever the word is, but the difficult conversations that you’re looking at, yes, our responsibility to have that conversation, or
choose not to.
But I find so for myself, and lots of people that I’m working with, it’s just like gore, but having the conversation. I know it, I’ve got the data, and then we explain it away as something else, rather than have the conversation. Yeah, but you seem to
Yeah, you seem to imply that
the trust is, is something that grow over time, right? Yes. But actually, actually, and something so we observe all the time we as leaders, we observe people all the time, but you and I, we know that we have very long days. And our capacity to observe can be very different depending on what the context the people wear ways, you know, the environment, the noise, everything, colors, everything, okay?
What if we don’t see something and then we are taken by surprise.
I suppose that you have to take it for what it is in that moment, because obviously, you haven’t got the data set and suddenly the platform’s burning, and you’ve got something in front of you that you have to find a way
I’ve had it. I’ve had it in moments before where I’ve worked with someone you know, that I trust, and we have, you know, a good relationship. But in the moment, something’s been said, as a joke, or as a, you know, British word banter, bit of banter in that moment. But it’s not appropriate for this room or this whoever we’re with client wise or whatever. And I have had that moment of feeling totally sort of.
I don’t know how to act
Because if it was just you and I in a room, I would tell you how I feel like because we have that kind of relationship. But it’s happening almost with an audience, we’re so you know, in sort of, I’ve had that moment of, I would never have expected that. And now with a group of people with us, and I’ve been totally flummoxed, I’ve really not known what to do. And then that risk is it builds in your mind, so that when you do have a chance, when you’re together, and you say, you know, and you’d like to give the feedback in a nice format that you learned in a business school somewhere about this is how you give feedback, and you base it on your own. And you know, your experience of behavior, you know, and all that. So all that lovely stuff, but in that moment when you’re feeling embarrassed, and I think that’s a lot of
what can happen when trust is unsettled. Yeah, this is erisman. A, because I trusted you and you’ve let me down or you’ve underestimated or, or whatever. And in that embarrassment, it can, the little kernel can grow into something much bigger. And so by the time you actually say, your planned, lovely, you know, two by two matrix of giving feedback that you learn, as I say, before, goes out the window. If you’re not able to kind of go hang on a second, I’m feeling embarrassed. And the inferencing ladder can go all the way up. And then just to bring it back what actually happened, what was said? And then you can what was your assumed intention? And then off we go into world?
You’re talking about embarrassment. But I think that for some people, it’s more bereavement, because you trust somebody? Yes, you feel massively let down. It’s like, quite critical, and you’re very emotional. So it’s much stronger than an embarrassment, because you were holding that person, you know, very highly. And suddenly, it’s brutal. Yes.
And when and I think the so on the flip side of it, if you’ve ever been the one to make a comment that without malice, but it has been received badly, I think, just to remember not to say, Oh, I didn’t mean it, or I was only joking, or I’m sorry, if that’s upset us like it upset them, you know, like, there’s no if they’re just because you’re my call that that show diggers intention. So you show doing as Cat where you put a cat in a box is is not necessarily recommended. It’s just a philosophical exercise, cat in a box, have to treat it both as if it’s alive and dead. For such time until you lift the lid off, and then you know, you have the facts of whether it is alive or dead. But until that point, you treat it as both. And trading as intention is whatever you think and feel and say and do and whatever I think and feel and say and do are both true according to our reality,
until such time as you lift the lid and have the conversation. But if you’re never prepared to lift the lid and have the conversation, particularly if you’re never going to see them again, you just go your separate ways. And that’s that, yeah, with an ongoing relationship, be it family or work or colleague or client or participant that you know, whatever the relationship.
me deciding what the other person was thinking. And me deciding what their intention was. All I can do is focus on what I have in my, my version of the cat. Unless I’m prepared to lift the lid and have a conversation.
All I’m doing is creating a whole narrative around this and that really just reinforces things that aren’t always helpful. Typically. Yeah, and it’s exhausting. Absolutely, it’s exhausting. It’s draining. And when when you’re a leader, you don’t you can’t afford actually to go into that mode and into that mindset, because it’s quite destructive. And it goes against you being a great leader, because you’re in a, you’re digging a hole, and you can’t get out of it.
So what can we do to have trust in ourselves? And I mean, is it easy is it is it you know, you’ve got some people who are very confident, they totally trust, you know, themselves, they would take risk, they would go for it. And then you’ve got the opposite of people who doubt everything. Don’t take risk.
Not sure and then don’t make the most and missed opportunities. So what can we what can we say to those people who know
Oh, that they don’t trust themselves. But actually they’d like to change, they’d like to trust themselves a little bit more, what can we give them?
I mean, there’s lots of different answers, I could give one of the things that I think I am coming to know about. So you said about some people trust themselves, they will take the risk, they’ll do that. And other people don’t. And actually, just from my inquiry, and a myself but also with other people is it’s so much more complex than that. Because I say for myself, on one hand, I’m very confident, I can do things that other people can’t write, and how you do that, I don’t know how you do that. I don’t really doesn’t like it comes naturally, or it’s easy. I don’t think of it as confident or brave, I just think it’s part of how I am. But then there are other things that people when I’ve spoken about that they can’t, cannot believe that I feel difficult or awkward or, or I find, you know, challenging that I but you can do all those things. Why can’t you do that? And then and that’s what happens with the leaders I’m working with on one hand very successful risk taking or you know, able to evaluate risk and the work through and leading highly complex teams, that you ask them to do something quite simple. And and often I do in the work that I do with them. So I’ve got a sort of, you know, working I call the breaching experiments, small things you can do that, on the face of it are harmless, nothing, you know, under the perception of risk, there is no death and destruction or financial ruin. So, what’s the worst that could happen? But as you to ask them, like, would you experiment doing this, there’s this genuine kind of, no, never gonna happen.
Like captains of industry that won’t swap sides of the bed, for example, just as an experiment, or,
as I’ve said this before, but go go to dinner by yourself.
But without a book or a phone, and just be a nice restaurant, you know, not not McDonald’s or not that nice, it’s lovely. But you know, somewhere where you there are some etiquette and social, social kind of expectations. And when we come back together again, after and there’s, there’s, you know, there’s a whole series of things, you can do small things, I describe them as he armpit moments that make you kind of go, oh, no, I really.
Because in those moments, what is actually at risk? And what is my perception of the risk? And often it’s embarrassment, or that’s not what people do, or that’s not what people like me do or I will look silly, or I will look. And then you realize, well, actually, that we don’t know what other people think about us, all we know is how we see ourselves. But it gives you an insight into how you might be projecting what other people
so often I’ll we’ll work through that. And that’s how I sort of came through
a lot of developing trust and self working out the bottom line of you know, so often we talk about values and beliefs and but really doing the work to test some of the assumptions around that. Of what is it actually? And how much of it is linked to what does it look like?
Because with that
core understanding of yourself
under pressure, and when you think no one is looking. So that’s how I define integrity.
You’re much more able to say this is what I think. Now I could be wrong.
But actually, this is, this is what I think
before I was doing the inquiry work, and they’re breaching experiments, I think to myself, This is what I think.
But then when I came to say out loud, I would undermine my message with things like I mean, it could just be me, but I could be wrong or, you know, and would would discount
or not even say, because
who am I to have an opinion about this thing? There’s other people that know so much more?
And of course they do. But they might.
But learning to trust the
what is it sort of in a narrative, that little voice in your head that says, you know, should you be doing this? And just getting a colleague of ours, colleague and friend of mine, Steve Chapman talks about getting to know your inner critic learning to dance with your inner critic? Yeah, and treating your inner critic as if they’re a flatmate that you’ve ended up living with, you know, some difficult flatmate.
Actually, once I got closer to understanding that little
voice which has been super helpful. You know, sometimes my little inner voice is just one of my biggest cheerleaders. Now, and again, they just think, oh, keep things a bit safe.
And actually, sometimes if I if I, and it’s metaphorically, and it’s a thought experiment, but sometimes I can just say to my inner critic, it’s okay, I’ve got this. And they kind of go, Okay, then. But if I listen to the inner critic, and I’m like, Well, if I got it, I don’t know, then almost inevitably, I won’t. In the past, I won’t do it. I’m still learning. And I bring this into the work with people that I’m working with. And, and it sounds very sort of esoteric, but really, it’s just quite pragmatic. What makes you feel uncomfortable tuning into that inner critic, or just the inner narrative? When is that instinct? And when is that? And when is that? That is fine. It’s a fine line to to kind of.
Yeah, I mean, as you’re talking, I am thinking, oh, you know, I’m actually away on the on business at the moment. When is, I could decide to go to a restaurant on my own without a phone without a newspaper. And suddenly, I’m thinking, what would I be looking at? You know, and then the inner critic could be, what will people think of me being on my own? You know, and then the judgment? Yes. And I on my own, because I’m not happy. And when the inner critic tends, it tends to be quite negative, doesn’t it? It’s like the glass
half empty? And I guess just transcend?
The I don’t know if it’s rigor, but it’s, how do you shift that, you know, every time you’re that little voice, say something negative to you have puts you, you know, off track?
At what point do you do you still have control over that, too, to bring you back and just said, No, it’s okay. I can go out and eat on my own and no phone, you know, and survive? It’s actually quite a discipline, isn’t it to say,
Stop behaving like that? Just no, it is. Yeah, most of the work is tuning into it. And that’s why I do the breaching experiments is, is to kind of create
a container, if you like, or almost bring it out. So I do things on purpose, that I know are relatively straightforward, simple, but made me kind of go,
Oh, don’t have to do this. And then doing it just so they can almost bring it out, bring out the inner critic. And then what’s really important with the sort of emotional learning where you’re experiencing things, and then it’s bringing up emotions is to make time for the reflection afterwards. Because without it, it’s just something that happens. So then what I do is I then spend some time reflecting on it. I do a lot of freefall writing, and build that into my programs. And often people like, wow, the first thing I wrote about is the thing I always think about, and it was a second and the third thought that I’ve never thought about before.
So through that reflection, I then kind of go back into what was the narrative of the inner critic at that time. And when the cold light of day you kind of go, well, that’s ridiculous, like what are not ridiculous necessarily have a look and see where that might have come from. But of course, it isn’t necessarily true.
And then when I then have that experience, again, I’ve already done it once, and I can kind of go, oh, that’s that version of the inner critic. There are different versions.
And I’ve already done the thinking that that isn’t necessarily true. So in that moment, I’m able to go,
I know where you’re, I know where you’re going with this. But on this occasion, I think I’m okay. And the more I’ve done that across time with these different little experiments, and so they don’t have to be big.
But importantly, at the moment, you’re doing them, it’s not a public thing. It’s something that’s private, because it can very easily click into being something you do for other people to go, Oh, she’s doing one of those experiments again, you know, oh, I’m going to do this thing, everybody. And that’s a different thing. That’s a performative on, which is fine. This recognizing what role does performance play in being able to get through discomforting or disk uncomfortable things?
at them, and this is getting quite nuanced, but that is important because if you can do it because people are watching you, or you’ve got a bit of an audience, yeah, attention to that because what else Don’t you do?
When you don’t have an audience,
that’s just hard work. Yeah, and no one’s here to see me. So I’m not going to do it,
it kind of works better if you’re doing their little experiments that make you feel. And they can be almost anything and often happen unbidden. So we’re working with a group that’s working with a group and have been quite a challenging program I’ve been, it’s been designed to be stretching and putting them under pressure. And, and I’d said, you know, expect some itchy armpit moments, you know, those kinds of, and, and they were super trusting. And we did all sorts of things. And at the end of it, I gave them an art box and art box, because half the group I, across the week had discovered a really quite creative and really enjoyed every time they talk, they talked in images. And so
as we’re doing this sort of closing part, so that for some of you, I think this might be helpful for how you think about to scaffold kind of next steps. And I bought these big, these big boxes, and one of the guys and half the group laying on the floor drawing things. And then, but one guy came up to me and said, I mean, really cut.
Why are we doing this? I don’t understand why would why. Why? And as well, because
honestly, I said, you can go for a walk, you can write five books, and I’ve been clear about I don’t really care how you do it. Sure, whatever works. I artists, for children, artists, for children, and I said, Look, go from Hong Kong, you know, never
really caught my funnybone at the time when I was trying to be because he said no, no, I’m going to step in. Because we have different points. We were like their step into the discomfort.
And then he came up to me after so sorry, like it just really brought up the narrative for me as a child of you’re no good at art. Yes, don’t do that. He said, and what else is that message meant? I’ve not done
that. Someone in the past saying, You are not good at this. What else have I avoided doing until this point?
Yeah, I guess it’s about knowing, knowing yourself, isn’t it of what makes you comfortable? To be able to, you know, when you are reflecting? Yes, in what way? Are you reflecting? That’s, that’s work for you. It’s interesting, because when you were talking about the writing,
I’m thinking, Oh, I used to write many, you know, a journaling. And actually, now with technology, I’m more into recording, because I find it’s easier to actually speak, you know, on my iPhone, and just record the moment as opposed to, if you’re writing, okay, I need a notebook, I need a pen, you could argue that you can do that on your phone, but it’s not the same.
Knowing yourself, knowing what’s for you. And it’s very different, isn’t it? Depending on like guy who said,
trauma of childhood and not drawing Thank you very much. Now there’s links to risk is in those moments when you’ve got the narrative of consciously or not of, you’re not good at this, you can’t do this the inner critic either from the past or wherever. And what what can happen and I have seen happen is the organization is used as the excuse to limit the risk and mitigate and collapse things down to a simple solution. Or let’s say no, or let’s, you know, whatever manage the risk in a tight way, rather than leaving it kind of a bit more looser for things to emerge. And, of course, this is if there is actual death and destruction of financial ruin, mitigate, you know, there’s no two ways about it. This is this is a different thing.
But with that inner voice guiding us, if we’re not conscious of it, we can very easily use organizational structures to mitigate the risk when actually the risk is our anxiety. Yes. And, and I I’ve argued before that I think anxiety is already a governance mechanism in organizations. I think that is it is already embedded in because we don’t want to be judged. We have to demonstrate why we’ve made our decision we have to be able to justify we will make our decisions.
That comes with a burden of
proof evidence, particularly if you’re you know, evidence based decisions is like no inspiration based evidence. There’s a difference. And
so if you’re not tuning your if I’m not tuning in to my inner critic and my kind of natural, not natural my
I perhaps not trusting myself, of course, I can argue for keeping things safe in the organization, particularly if I have power. Particularly if I have a mindset that may be data driven. From my technical days, you know, if I was an engineer, I fight, you know, and I have a very strict data set mindset, as a leader that will feed into how I look at what I measure what I count, what matters, coupled with some anxiety around performance and not trusting and, and then we end up with these very kind of
tight, yes, processes that don’t always make sense. Because they’re based on someone’s anxiety, not on what we’re actually trying to manage in terms of risk.
We have somebody actually making a comment, Trudy, somebody’s saying, and it says LinkedIn user, so I don’t know, that person says, we may have beliefs that hold us back, that we are not consciously aware of.
I was writing so when I was journaling once, letting beliefs get get letting beliefs get in the way of believing.
And that was a really powerful moment of realizing just when you have such strong beliefs as if, as if it is true. So I talk about beliefs as opinions I treat as fact. So this is an opinion that I treat as if it’s a fact. And if I have such a strong belief about you, or about a certain type of person, or a certain race, or gender or anything,
those beliefs will get in the way of believing their lived experience. Yes, yes. Oh, it’s David Jackson. Okay. Hi, David. Thanks very much.
Yes, yes, I am.
I mean, I think it is about knowing, knowing yourself, and being quite rigorous about when that little voice is starting to take you off track and where you shouldn’t be going. It’s having the strength really, and the courage, say, actually, no, let’s not go there.
But it’s also about
getting into the habits of developing that trust in yourself. Because I guess the first time you are
writing, and trying to understand the trust in yourself, it’s not really easy to do as an exercise, is it when you’re on the road? And you’re? I mean, you know, where do you start right? For you, and I, I mean, we are quite academic, so we know where to start. But
if you are on your own, you’ve never done that exercise, and you think, okay, I’d quite like to trust myself more. Where do I start? It’s not easy. You, you do need to have some guidelines, some somebody to help you start and then get into the habit of doing it, isn’t it? Because the first time you do it,
it’s never going to be the same? Is it? No,
no, it is difficult. And and I think that’s where my practice has been shifting over the last two years since I’ve been. So the actual work I do hasn’t really changed. But the emphasis has been changing. As I’ve been doing my doctorate around, I can share with you all sorts of models about resilience, or emotional intelligence, or how to give feedback or you know, the, the content T side of things. The bottom line of it is, unless you have some of the capacity to experiment, to do something different to reflect on that, to be able to build into your practice, the rigor, that you need to be able to really do the work to really understand what makes you tick, what sends you off, what excites you, where you ended up doing a job, or parts of a job that you just, you know, there’s there was parts of my job that was doing a couple of years ago that, frankly, I didn’t enjoy, I wasn’t very good at and I was a bit of a risk actually, you know, the stuff that is not I don’t I’m not particularly good at it doesn’t excite me, usually around sort of planning and organizing. And through the inquiries, just like being able to say is that career limiting if I didn’t do that?
And then Vic told, Well, no, just lots of people quite like doing that. But now if you don’t like us, not only do I not like it, I think I’m a bit of a risk actually. And and having the compassion for myself to recognize that but the trust in myself to know if I took that off away this part part of the of the work or the expectation.
Ah, the relief of being able to okay now if they if I’d been told no, it’s absolutely fundamental to the to be able to do what you do.
But then I have a choice to make, you know, do I develop that. But unless you’re doing the work to really be able to, to either test the assumptions about what you know, and what you don’t know, and, and this is not about having lots of knowledge, it’s just having a sense of yourself. And the capacity to have the conversations that you need to have, you’ll end up in a in a, in a spiral of just doing the same old, same old without really having the chance to flourish, like, and trusting yourself. So a flourish when I trusted. And that includes myself, was the name of my last paper. I mean, that’s, as you say, that sounds very academic. But my, the PhD is a means to an end of getting this real kind of depth of practice and experimenting with people to make life better for ourselves. So for me, and for the people I’m working with, that’s my goal is so that at the end of it, two years, six months, two weeks down the line, they’re able to make a choice about something, I kind of have a real sense of themselves around what they know about themselves and what, what risk actually looks like, rather than I see, and I have been, but I see people I work with kind of tied in knots where they kind of know what they don’t. And they do trust themselves. But they’re caught up in an organization. They can’t,
they don’t know how to begin demonstrating that.
You know, as I’m thinking about my diary, I’m singing, I feel like making an appointment with myself.
You know, where you define specific moment. And actually, you establish a routine, where you you reflect on your self awareness.
On your trust, and you mentioned, you know, you don’t need knowledge. I actually may disagree with that, because I think that if we are not asking ourselves the right questions, yeah, then we may waste our time. So we do need a bit of knowledge, we do need to ask ourselves the right questions don’t tweet? Yes. Those questions, I think asking the right question I think by so I have the extreme privilege of working with some fabulously clever people. So I work with who are world experts in their field. And the dark side is I also work with some fabulous people that are real experts in their field, you know, so my understanding of their topics are never going to be as deep as their understanding of their topic. And if I were to make, you know, what do I know about it? Well, I’m never going to know as much as they know. And, and actually, the framing or the knowledge, to me, it’s like, a menu or a recipe, or it’s what do I need, that’s going to be helpful? Asking the right questions, having the right, the right makes it sound like there’s a one way or another, for me, or for whoever I’m working with, rather than you can read every single book and not know anything, you can have one thing that kind of catches you sideways, and you kind of go
that and creating the space for that to happen, even if we don’t ever know what that’s going to be but creating the space for that for whatever to happen.
So the knowledge and the content side of things, it scaffolds it. But it’s what’s what’s the expression
is necessary, but not sufficient.
Because sometimes, we actually hold the answer, don’t we, in ourselves, we don’t need books, do we? Yes. It’s really interesting what you’ve just said about books, because if you look on, you know, Amazon, or wherever, there’s millions of books on trust, and, and risk and choice, yet the answer the simple answer, just maybe in yourself. Yes. And I think that
because I had an experience a few years ago, which is probably kind of prompted that the inquiry of a finding myself in a situation where I knew I knew Mike here.
But I didn’t let myself trust myself. Because the other version of it that I could tell myself was much more compelling. But the amount of effort each and every day that I had to put in to tell myself the story to try and ignore what I knew deep down so that once it all came to light, it was like I knew that. Yeah, I knew it. So it wasn’t like I was naive. It wasn’t like I knew deep down. I told myself a very compelling story. I call it accommodation where you, you tell yourself a story to live with what otherwise would be annex
And what really pinched was when a really good friend of mine said, and you have all people
perspective, you know, understand people work, so I call it whatever. And it was. And that’s and when in my subsequent conversations with people, and obviously people I work with, most people already know, they just don’t know how to justify themselves.
And then the downside is, and sometimes you feel like you already know, because your inner critic is telling you, and it’s then differentiating between what is keeping you safe from the inner critic, which is no mean feat. I think the inner critic is our friend, they just get a little bit nervous. Sometimes, if you’re out of your comfort zone, they’re not, they’re not ready for what you’re about to do.
Or you’re tired, or you’re emotional. And that’s when they kind of go, Okay, we better double down. But actually the inner critic, I think we need to find another word, because actually, I think that little inner voice is a fabulous resource. And that’s what I I’m playing with.
And that’s, and that’s what I’m really kind of working with people just to tune into, because it’s there. And there’s sort of the people that might call this soft and fluffy, which I often get or not, I don’t but people say there’s the soft stuff, like the stuff of humans and stuff.
That stuff. Yeah, that stuff. Yes, it doesn’t feel concrete, but actually,
it’s probably more than any spreadsheet or dataset on, you know, book frame book model, you know, open up a lovely two by two, which I love. But they have to be embodied, they have to be
lived. You can’t just go I now No, because we’re not taking exams and tests anymore. This is life.
You know, we talked about that. Inner Critic, there’s one thing we’ve not talked about, I’ve just thought about it, which is intuition. Yes.
You know, mean, is his intuition, part of that inner critic, or is it something? I think it is, this is what I’m thinking it needs another word, because I think or either there are a couple of people having a party back there. But I, I’m a big fan. So a lot of my inquiry work. And the work I’m doing with my cohort colleagues is around how do we know what we know? And how do we come to know. And we can use some very creative processes to really tap into things like intuition. Now, whether we want to say it’s there or not, whether we want to say actually, does that come with a dataset? Can we measure it? Probably not? Yeah.
But I do think, I think there is it’s there. But our responsibility is to challenge it, we can we can use it, and we can have it. But just to say either based on its own intuition, if there’s death and destruction, that’s not good enough. So our job is to challenge it to take it like a friend of mine always calls it you know that we’ve got to take it out, put it on the balcony and hit it with a baseball bat or a cricket bat. Our job is to test it, push it and just challenge it. So that when it happens in the moment, we are a push comes to shove moment, and we can go I don’t know what I’m basing this on. But my intuition is telling me this, we have a good idea whether intuition is on the money or near enough to the money, or is intuition, wishful thinking or driven by driven by a want to look good? Or, you know, whatever? Is this second or third layer?
Do you know that we’ve been speaking for nearly 55 minutes? It has just gone so fast? i i As you said that I glanced and I cannot believe that 55 minutes is gone. It’s been wonderful. Yeah. I mean, what would be your final
advice or, you know, to to help people think about developing their self awareness their that their trust there? What would you say?
Oh, that’s a really good question. What would I want for people?
That it’s worth the effort. So So what you’re saying about some discipline? Yeah. I’m not generally a disciplined person. Like, it’s not something that that comes naturally to me. I’m much more sort of spontaneous and you know, we’re all that shiny, you know, off I go. But with the discipline, it’s almost like it became rewarding because of what comes out. So for me the freeform writing
is one way the experiments is another way but actively treating yourself as a project to kind of go what do I know and how do I know it through the discipline? Crew
It’s opportunities for experience and reflection. And you will always learn something. And therefore the next time you’re kind of like, Oh, I’m gonna do something else to. So unless you’re, you know, give it a go, actively experiment, and try out and reflect and as a free for writing for me. And then the the rules, not the rules, but the guidelines, put pen to paper, right? Keep writing, if you run out of things to write, right, I’m running out of things to write until you think again, till the next thought comes. If you have a random thought, a seemingly random thought,
write about that. Let the pen do the work 10 minutes. That’s it, grab yourself a coffee, but especially if something happens, it makes you kind of go that made me feel what was that interesting, what was going, I think what was going on there was dot dot dot, and let the pen do the work.
And I’m almost always surprised. Sometimes it just felt, you know, you can move into Bev and then I did this. And then I did that. But nearly always, especially when I write in the morning, because I know I have insight overnight. I’m always and I’ve now started writing a Ha, when I’m having a brand new thoughts where I’m connecting something that I’ve never connected before, but my brain has it back there somewhere. And it might be an anecdote, or
a memory pops up. And I write into that. And it’s and then it’s like, of course, that and that.
It’s so much so that, you know, I would be this is my evidence, if I could just hand my journal over for my PhD. I would love to do that. But I think you have to do a bit of framing around it. I think they like that.
That’s brilliant. I mean, mine would be first of all, make an appointment with yourself. Just take that take that time. Because it’s a choice, isn’t it? Absolutely.
And, and facing yourself with all your doubts and that inner voice and this intuition and everything we’ve spoken about. It’s quite courageous to do that. Because you you’re opening
your opening a space that may be might make you feel uncomfortable to start with very much because it will shape things and it will challenge your mindset and your habits. And yes, you know, who do you think you have to? To be doing that?
Yeah, okay, that’s That’s great. So if people want to contact you today to talk about you know, talk to you about your research or books how can they contact you?
I got somebody somebody else’s recently I said, Well, I think you can Google me and then after I said it was just like, God,
arrogant. But um, yes, I mean, by all means, contact me on LinkedIn. I mean all the sort of normal places that you might find business people that think about this stuff for a living
but yeah, I would love it because I just endlessly fascinated by and and it seems to work whatever I’m doing here is working out in my practice and that that is fascinating because you you can see the people people I’m working with going you know
finding out about themselves in the so walls, yes. What for them for their
everyday, everyday choices that ultimately lead to a better quality of life. I think I not just aspire I feel confident that it does.
Yeah, and peacefulness with yourself. Like you’re not fighting all the time. It’s Zen. The word that I have. find myself coming back to is liberation. Yes. Freedom nation. Yes. David is saying really enjoyed this. Thank you very thought provoking.
Thank you. Good. Okay. Truly, it’s been an absolute pleasure to talk to you. Talk to you for hours.
I feel the same way this because I’m the little loving. It’s very nice. Thank you very much. Thank you. Take care, and we’ll catch up soon. Thank you, everyone. Bye