About Conversation Kindling

The purpose of this blog is to share stories, metaphors, quotes, songs, humor, etc. in hopes they'll be used to spark authentic and rewarding conversations about working and living fruitfully. There are at least three things you can gain by getting involved in these conversations. First, you'll discover new and important things about yourself through the process of thinking out loud. Second, you'll deepen your relationships with others who participate by swapping thoughts, feelings, and stories with them. Finally, you'll learn that robust dialogue centered on stories and experiences is the best way to build new knowledge and generate innovative answers to the questions that both life and work ask.

I write another blog called My Spare Brain. This is where I am "storing" ideas for use in future books, articles, blog posts, speeches, and workshops. There is little rhyme or reason for what I post there. I do this to encourage visitors to come as treasure hunters looking for new ways of seeing and thinking vs. researchers looking for new or better answers to questions they already know how to ask.

13 May 2009

Simple Wisdom for Complex Times

I found the following statement on Tom Peters' website. These are Tom's words; he's talking about the task of supervising others:
"The great secret to people excellence is treat people with manifest respect and appreciation and trust, and give them a chance to express the best in themselves and dramatically broaden their horizons."
I've always admired Tom and deeply shared his views on various and sundry things. He prefers the simple as opposed to the complex, action over theory, and plain-talk over typical business vernacular. He is direct. He says what he has to say - like it or not; he doesn't tap-dance. What I resonant with most, though, and have tried my best to emulate, is his willingness to wander far and wide to find ideas from other disciplines and show how they can be applied in a business context.

In this spirit, I want to share a poem I found recently on a blog I visit on a regular basis. The blog is written by Angela Meiers, a former teacher who spends her time these days working as an independent consultant dedicated and committed to helping the Department of Education's schools, districts and teachers reach their goals in literacy and literacy education. The poem was written by Angela and is titled Promises. And, if you simply substitute the word boss for teacher, I think you'll find it to be a meaningful way to understand the kind of relationship most of us would like to have with the person to whom we report:
Dear Teacher,

Love me,
Make me feel special,
Make me feel included,
Make me feel valued,

Smile for me,
Tell me that you’re happy to see me,
Tell me that you’re happy to teach me,
Tell me that you’re happy I am here.

Involve me,
Tell me about our work together
Tell me how I can be of help and mean it genuinely

Notice me,
See all of me,
See my emotions, my laughter, my curiosity, my anticipation
See my right, and I will work on the “wrongs”

Teach me,
PLEEZE don’t just tell me what you know
Show me what I need to know,
Show me how to do it well

Help Me,
Help me when it gets hard,
Help me persevere,
Help me know it matters

Excite Me,
I came to you in love with learning
Keep me excited!
Show me the fun
Show me your fire and passion

Promise Me,
Promise me that you can.
Promise me that you will.
Promise me that you are ready to…

Love me, help me, engage me, excite me, and teach me
I'm Ready
I want to learn.
I want to know.
I want to be your student.

I will return the favor
I will reward you with my attention, my focus, my heart
I will show you what I can do
I will show you who I can be

  • Can you tell a story of a teacher, coach or someone else outside your immediate family who treated you in the way expressed in the poem? What is the lasting impact your relationship with that person has had on your life?
  • Can you see the poem as a summary of what you might be looking for in a supervisor? Have you ever worked for someone that treated you in this way? What stories can you tell about the effect that supervisor had on your life's journey?
  • What other words besides boss can you substitute for teacher? Explain.
  • Can you move way out to the edge and see the poem as a request a customer might make of a supplier? In other words, can you see a business-to-business application?
"The invariable mark of wisdom is to see the miraculous in the common." - Ralph Waldo Emerson
"The more we live by our intellect, the less we understand the meaning of life." - Leo Tolstoy
"One brief way of describing the change which has taken place, in me, is to say that in my early professional years I was asking the question: 'How can I treat, or cure, or change this person?' Now I would phrase the question in this way: 'How can I provide a relationship, which this person may use for his own personal growth?'" - Carl Rogers, psychologist
"If I have all the eloquence of men or of angels, but speak without love, I am simply a gong booming or a cymbal clashing. If I have the gift of prophecy, understanding all the mysteries there are, and knowing everything, and if I have faith in all its fullness, to move mountains, but without love, then I am nothing at all. If I give away all that I possess, piece by piece, and if I even let them take my body to burn it, but am without love, it will do me no good whatever." - Saint Paul, Letter to the Corinthians

1 comment:

Angela Maiers said...

You have done Tom Peters proud. I love the way you have stretched and "SCAMPERed" the idea to create conversations across disciplines and domains.

You have given me such powerful ideas to take this conversation even farther by substituting teacher with boss, coach, mentor, friend...

I could not agree more. Sometimes it is the "simplest" advice that makes us the wisest. Thank you so much for sharing the conversation with your readers.