(September 27, 2023 Newsletter)
I hardly visit my own Facebook profile anymore. But when I opened it on my birthday, this past Friday, I was reminded of my favorite quote, which has been my cover photo for years.
You might be wondering about the design…
Maybe 6 or 7 years ago I found this scratch-off map of the world in a store in Jerusalem and was delighted to take it home and begin the project of marking all the places I had been. It hung, as such, on my wall, but something felt incomplete (and I don’t mean all the places I hadn’t yet visited).
I can’t remember the moment when I decided to write my favorite quote on it with a black sharpie and gold marker, but I do remember the sense of immense satisfaction of finishing this mini art project. It felt like it embodied so much of who I am and while the poster didn’t make the cut when moving apartments, I’ve kept this photo of it close, ever since.
Why am I telling you all of this?
Normally this newsletter is full of insights and practical tips, not personal reflections. If you're a new subscriber, you can peruse old editions on our blog.
But, as I said, Friday was my birthday, so I hope you forgive my reflective tone and indulge getting a window into who I am, beyond the work I do.
Why do I love this quote so much?
“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.” – Roald Dahl (we’ll put aside his history of anti-Semitism for a moment, yes?)
What does it mean to watch the whole world with glittering eyes? Glitter, in and of itself, doesn’t shine – it reflects back the light from its surroundings. We should all strive to catch the light around us and shine it back on others.
It’s also a playful image, and for all the seriousness of the work you all do, I think we can all agree that the more joy, the better.
Dahl answers the question WHY himself, beyond my explanation of the word glittering: “the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places.” It’s in our nature to uncover life’s mysteries, to shed light on them. They’re out there, but not where we’d expect them to be.
A little courage is needed to seek out the greatest secrets in the most unlikely places. High risk, high reward.
Finally, the kicker. “Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
I love how declarative this statement is. All you need to do is believe in magic and amazing things emerge. I live my life by this mantra, but perhaps more importantly, I believe that one of my callings in the world is to spread this mantra, to embody it.
We are fortunate to be humans, to have the ability to believe. Believe in magic, believe in second chances, believe in a higher power. Believe in each other.
My wish for you: In college, a dear friend introduced me to the tradition that on your birthday you bless others. So here’s my blessing for all of you, dear Comm&Lead friends, for the year ahead:
“Watch with glittering eyes the whole world around you because the greatest secrets are always hidden in the most unlikely places. Those who don’t believe in magic will never find it.”
The Coaching Corner
Helping someone on your team when they feel overloaded.
A few coaching techniques can come in handy -
Stay out of their storm - remind yourself that what they need is *cognitive* not *affective* empathy, or in other words to see their perspective without feeling their feelings.
Represent common sense - if they’re in a heightened state of emotion, it’s more likely that they’ll speak in superlative or strong language. Don’t be afraid to lovingly challenge those phrases to bring them back to earth.
Help them keep their eye on the ball: “What’s really important here?”
Help them prioritize: “What can you put aside for the moment?” “What can I do to help you focus?”
Remind them of their progress: a little encouragement can go a long way.
Funny (Not Funny) - Giving Feedback About Nervous Laughter. Great episode from the “Radical Candor” podcast. They talk about bringing up things that are hard to point out to people such as someone’s habit of nervous laughter, but also the unpleasant smell of BO. Worth a listen.
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