Irony is when we judge others as lacking empathy

One dictionary says,
business
is “the practice
of making one’s living
by engaging in commerce.”

The same dictionary says
trade
is “the action
of buying and selling
goods and services.”

When we first found our companies,
we tend to do business,
because we want
to make our living.

But after a while,
there often comes a point
where we forget to inquire
into the meaning and value
of living,
as we stop doing business
and start trading,
in pursuit of an image
of life.

Suffering,
signals feeling stuck
without a choice.

To be relieved of suffering,
we need to learn
a new choice.

Often times,
this requires the support
of others.

As new choices often arise
out of a surprising shift
in perspective,
it’s easier
to let others surprise us,
than to surprise us
ourselves.

May we
be such a support.

May we
reach out
for such a support.

Gratitude
is an emotion.

Indebtedness
is a judgment one makes
on top of gratitude
to inject our being
with a noble burden.

One that whispers
“You must pay this back.
If you don’t,
you’re not good enough.”

A burden
that sometimes leads us
to hyper-empathize
with the person
to whom
we feel indebted.

We sometimes resent
not being heard by someone,
unaware
that the reason why they won’t hear us
is because
they are in dire need
to be heard by us.

We sometimes resent
not being supported by someone,
unaware
that the reason why they won’t support us
is because
they are in dire need
of our support.

We sometimes resent
not being respected by someone
unaware
that the reason why they won’t respect us
is because
they are in dire need
of our respect.

By whom
will this Gordian Knot
be severed?

Each moment
we try to act,
as we struggle
to find ourselves in different roles:
a son,
an adult,
a parent,
a professional,
an employee,

And just
as a novice actor struggles
as she mistakes acting
for pretending
to be someone they are not,
we struggle
as we mistake playing roles
for being who we are.

As our minds
try their best
to keep us calm,
to seek and to retain certainty,
they construct false notions
of what it means to be good,
kind,
or even authentic
from clichés and stereotypes
we mistake for the real meaning
behind those words.

Our very desires
to “be somebody,”
even if it’s as benign
as a good son
or a good friend,
often result in nothing more
than bad acting.

pg 168 Realizing Empathy: An Inquiry into the Meaning of Making.

“I have to repress it.”
said the CEO.

“Why?” I asked.

“I’m afraid
I’m going to crumble,
if I let myself experience it.”
she responded.

The ‘it’
being unpleasant emotions.

Most people
have difficulty processing
unpleasant emotions.

It’s no wonder
positive thinking life hacks
such as gratitude journaling
has taken off.

Except,
they merely mask the symptoms,
and blinds us
to the valuable information
encoded in the unpleasant emotions.

When I was researching art,
it was remarkable to witness
how actors-in-rehearsal
were supported
by their director and scene partners
in decoding the information
encoded in unpleasant emotions.

I also witnessed
over and over again,
how the information,
when decoded,
inspired the actors
to unleash their potential
for a brilliant performance
that lay dormant until then.

This
is the kind of teamwork we need
in business.

It’s tempting
to think of some relationships
as having a unilateral
power dynamic.

As if our parents
have unilateral power
over us.

As if our bosses
have unilateral power
over us.

As if our investors
have unilateral power
over us.

What we inevitably learn
is that we also have power
over our parents,
over our bosses,
over our investors.

Why?
Because they have a vested interest
in our success.

Given this,
we can choose to see these relationships
through the lens of
“They only care about us
because they have a vested interest
in our success!”

or

through the lens of
“I appreciate
that there are people who care about us
enough to have a vested interest
in our success.”

At least two choices
we can learn.

Only one of which
helps us use
power with.

Focusing on a desire
of what we want
can create the tension
required to motivate us
to keep moving
toward the future.

And yet,
such desire alone
can often lead us
to inadvertently focus
on where we are not.

It is in being aware
of not only our desire,
but also the progress
we’ve made thus far
that we may recognize
where we are.

It is in this awareness,
where notions of
past, present, and future
can make way
for a sense
of belonging.

A sense
that we deserve
to be where we are,
thanks not only
to our own merits,
but also the merit
of our supporters,
and our circumstances.

Those of us
who started our companies
with nothing more
than “I want this!”
often lost our way
when we started wanting
things others say we should want
or things we assumed others wanted.

It was often
not until we got near the death
of our companies
and had to face
either those to whom we are indebted
or those whom we had to let go,
that we were forced
to return to the simple question
“What do I want?”

A question often misunderstood
as an expression of greed
or selfishness,
when in fact,
it can be the fuel
for the most empathic expression.

An expression that can provide value
to our customers,
partners,
employees,
shareholders
family
and ourselves.

An expression
born out
of a beginner’s mindset.

In commemoration
of suicide prevention week,
I’m providing coaching sessions
to founders in distress,
free-of-charge.

Sign-up here.

Suffering
is not merely about
discomfort
or pain.

We suffer,
when we feel stuck,
unable to make sense of
or progress from
discomfort
or pain.

I live to create a world,
where anyone on the journey
of personal & systemic innovation
can receive help
getting unstuck
and making sense
and progress
within 72 hours.

The kind of help
that draws out
from within us
the natural empathy,
resilience,
and creativity
we all possess.