To be Human

The Chinese character
for a human being (人)
are two strokes
supporting
one another.

What if
it is difficult
to be human
without support?

What if
our blaming of others
for behaving less than human
only isolates them
further,
making it even harder
for them
to be human?

What if…?

Clever Remarks

When people say
“I feel uncertain.”

The temptation
is to say something clever,
like
“There was never a time
that was certain.”

As true
as that may be,
that can shut down
a valuable opportunity
for innovation,
where we can support their reflection
on what negative outcome
feels certain.

What vs How

“I don’t know how
to persuade him” said the founder.

“What
do you want to have happen?”
I asked.

“I want to persuade him.”
she responded.

“No.
What do you want to have happen
by persuading him?”
I asked again.

“…”

“I want you
to move your focus away from the how
to what it is you really want.” I remarked,
breaking the silence.

“What do you want?”
I asked again.

“I want…

I want to feel supported.” she answered,
after much thought.

“When’s the last time
you felt supported by him?”
I asked.

“I’ve never felt supported by him.”
she answered.

“Then what makes you so sure
that persuading him
is the way to feel supported?”
I asked.

To Stop Thinking

One
of the hardest things
I had to learn in art school
was how to stop
thinking.

At first,
I just told myself
to stop thinking,
which made me think
more.

I only stopped thinking
after I learned
to empathize with my materials—
be it wood,
or metal.

And I only learned
to empathize with my materials
after interacting with it
over
and over
and over again,
learning
to support
and to be supported
in that relationship.

Until there was
trust.

Trust
that came from
having co-developed
a contract
of support.

A creative process
we casually call
“making”

Perspective, Where Art Thou?

We often assume
we can take
someone’s perspective.

Until we realize
that the perspective we took
wasn’t theirs
or that it wasn’t the one
we needed.

To make up for this
we sometimes think we can get
their perspective
by asking.

Until we realize
that people aren’t always aware
of the whereabouts
of their own perspectives.

At which point
we realize
that the only way forward
is to discover
their perspective
together
until
we realize empathy.

Slow Progress vs Stuckness

Telling someone
who feels stuck
to have more patience and grit
is akin to telling
a drowning person
to keep holding their breath.

There are times
when progress is merely slow.

Then there are times
when we are stuck.

When progress is slow,
our direction need not change.
Thus,
with patience and grit
we can prevail.

But when we are stuck,
we must significantly change direction
—even if momentarily.

The question is
in which direction?

To support someone feeling stuck
may we be there
by their side
to help them learn
the requisite new choice
of direction.

To be a Person

The Chinese character
for person (人)
are two strokes
leaning against one another.

As if to signify
that to be a person
is to be there for each other
as each other’s support
at. all. times.

At first,
this seemed
impossible.

After all,
we cannot
actually be there for others
at all times.

That is,
until I realized
that others can sense our support
even
in our absence.

Thus,
being there for them
at all times.

But then it seemed
unnecessary.

We don’t
actually need
others to be there for us
at all times.

That is,
until I realized
that the moment we sense
we have no support whatsoever
is often
when we take
our own lives.

Thus,
needing someone
to be there
at all times.