Seeing

When we realize empathy,
we come to see
what we previously
did not.

When we see
the unseen,
we come to know
what we previously
did not.

When we know
the unknown,
we come to comprehend
what we previously
did not.

When we comprehend
the incomprehensible,
we come to appreciate
what we previously
did not.

When we appreciate
the unappreciated,
we come to experience
life
in ways we previously
did not.

Privilege

One way
to discuss privilege
is to focus on the burden of gifts
others
have given us.

Wealth,
Opportunity,
Access…

Another way
to discuss privilege
is to focus on the gifts
we have
to give.

We cannot always force others
to give their gifts
to people
other
than ourselves.

But we can give
our own gifts
to anyone
we choose.

Realizing Empathy

We realize empathy
when we empathize
with someone
or something
through an unexpected
realization.

One that might makes us go
“Ah ha!”
“Ah…” or
“Ha ha ha!”
concerning something
we either did not
or had incorrectly assumed
to have understood
or appreciated
enough.

Am I Doing Enough?

When it feels
as if we’re not doing enough,
a useful question to ask
can be
“From whom do I need recognition
or validation?”

Often times,
what makes something “enough”
is not what we do,
but knowing how certain people feel
about what we do.

It can sometimes be difficult
to admit
that we need recognition
or validation.

But we all need it
from time to time.

Power Dynamics

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.

Unshared vs Shared Risk

The risk
lies not merely in the risk,
But also in not sharing
the risk.

To achieve something great,
we often think
we have to take on all the burden
ourselves.

That this
is how we show our care.

That this
is something others
will appreciate.

Yet,
what may be more desired
by those cared for by us
is to belong,
to participate,
to contribute.

So as to take the risk
together.

No matter how great the risk.
No matter how difficult.
Something significant about it changes,
when it is shared together.

Recovering from Betrayal

“I did my best.
I meditated.
I actively listened.
I created psychological safety.
Yet, they still let me down…”
a founder lamented.

Once upon a time,
I was cheated on.

Externally,
I was angry.

I thought I had done
my best,
and yet
this had still happened.

Some said,
that to recover
I needed to hear
her regret.

Perhaps.

But I was already overwhelmed
with my own.

“I should’ve done X.”
“I could’ve done Y better .”
“Why didn’t I know
that Z was not enough?”

Because internally,
I was ashamed.

In hindsight,
what I needed
was appreciation.

The kind
that would’ve helped me let go
of the unconscious belief
that I hadn’t actually
“done my best,”
and thus deserved
to be abandoned.

There are times,
when we think “doing our best”
means following best practices
as espoused by podcasts
or academic research.

It can.

So long as it also means
accepting we’ve done our best
even if the practices fail.

So long as it also means
learning to grieve
when they fail.

So long as it also means
leveraging the meaning
of them having failed.

All
for the purpose
of recovery.

All by Ourselves

There is little we can do “all by ourselves”

Even if we have eyes,
we cannot see
without receiving support from light.

Even if we have legs,
we cannot stand
without receiving support from the ground.

Even if we have lungs
we cannot breathe
without receiving support from air

When we claim to have done it “all by ourselves,”
we’re probably either
insufficiently appreciating the support we’ve received from others
or
insufficiently feeling appreciated by others.

Our ability to appreciate others
is often intricately intertwined
with feeling appreciated by others.

When do we feel unappreciated?

Sometimes,
I coach professionals who aren’t
Founders or CEOs.

Guess who they complain about the most?
Their Founder or CEO.

What I often hear
is that they don’t feel appreciated
by their Founder or CEO.

This is a well-known phenomenon.

What still fascinates me, though,
is what they say the Founder or CEO could do
to give them this sense of appreciation.

Rarely do I hear things like
“Praise me for a job well done.”

More often than not I hear things like
“I wish they’d stop frowning when I’m sharing my ideas.”
“I wish they’d stop telling me to figure it out on my own, even if that’s what I end up doing.”

They were distressed about the sense of isolation they felt
when their Founder or CEO
dawned a particular facial expression
or told them to figure something out on their own
as they were in a vulnerable emotional state.

What’s perhaps ironic
is that many Founders or CEOs I coach
say the same thing
as they see the same behaviors
and feel the same emotions
in relation to their employees.

The Appreciation Deadlock

A common phenomena I see among co-founders I coach is this:

  1. Founder A does something she believes Founder B should appreciate.
  2. Those are not things B actually appreciates, but B says “thanks” out of politeness.
  3. A thinks she’s done something of significant worth to B and expects a reciprocal behavior from B born out of B’s appreciation for A.
  4. B has no awareness of the expectation.
  5. A never receives the reciprocal expression.

Imagine both people doing this — thinking it’s “for” each other
While neither are feeling their needs genuinely fulfilled.

This relationship may be a ticking time bomb.
It is unlikely for people to stay in relationship
When they don’t feel appreciated.