Words often mislead us.
This is normal.
I spent much of my first book
talking about how words like
had misled me.
Words do often lead our attention.
Yet, where the attention is led
can surprise us,
because words only have meaning in context,
And that context resides
not only with the person uttering the word,
but also the person interpreting it.
So much of our verbal disagreements happen
because we are unwilling
to let others lead our attention
to their meaning.
We’re more interested in arguing
that their use of the word is “wrong” or “bad,”
while our use is “right” or “good.”
Except we’re back to the problem solver’s mindset.
Let us be honest.
Is this mindset helping us solve the problem?
It may be time
to the paradox dissolver’s mindset.
If an “event” that happens is the tip of the iceberg,
“context” is the rest of the iceberg.
If my saying something is an event,
its context includes
When we hear what others say,
we often use the first context that comes to mind
to make meaning from their words.
This can lead to misunderstandings.
We only understand the words of others
when we interpret their words
in conjunction with a context sufficiently similar
to the context that gave rise to their words.
So to better understand the word of others,
we often need to momentarily let go
of the first context that comes to mind.
Child psychologist Lewis Lipsitt once said
“We mature, when what we once assumed to know
takes on more subtlety and nuance,
thus changes in meaning.”
The word “making art” used to mean
Being stubborn or egocentric
enough to get away with bullshit.
So I used to despise art.
But after 4 years of realizing empathy with artists,
the word changed in meaning to
Letting go of our ego
to learn from others
on how to uncover & express our sincere honesty.
Words necessarily change in meaning as we mature.
parenting & leadership
will change in meaning
as we mature
as parents & leaders.
So will words like
or marketing and sales.
This is no coincidence.
We tend to think that people our parents’ age are already mature.
I once coached a CEO in her late 60s.
She’d bring up what her deceased mother did to her decades ago.
She so wanted, but struggled, to empathize with her.
During our sessions, what helped her empathize was to surface new subtleties and nuances in her mother’s situation.
Things that gave her mother’s behaviors new meaning.
As psychologist Lewis Lipsitt says “we mature when what we once assumed to know takes on more subtlety and nuance, thus changing in meaning.”
She was maturing.
Maturation is not about aging.
It’s about making new meaning from our past so as to move forward with fresh eyes.
Sometimes this softens our pain.
Sometimes it lets us weep.
As we mature.