Just Being. Together. That’s a Thing.

Or should I say that’s a #HumansFirst hangout thing. I think in one of the upcoming meetings we’ll just go into the Zoom, and no one will say anything … we’ll just be there smiling at each other, and feeling the wonderful vibe of connection.

Our host Kevin was telling us a story about someone giving a coaching session of pure silence over the telephone — — that lasted for 30 minutes!! Sounds pretty cool to get paid to do nothing, right?

Well actually, connecting in a pure and genuine way with other humans in this day and age actually requires superhuman capabilities. Not everyone is wired for it and not everyone can handle it — but this bunch of leadership masters sure can. As I mentioned in my post about my first experience in the #HumansFirst workshop, they are already on the next level.

We are actually born with these natural qualities to seek connection and collaborate. Yet since being #1 is so valued in our society, we neglect these natural tendencies more and more as we grow up. We focus on creating this perfect individual, without realizing that life can be so much better if we all advance and succeed together.

So back to this Friday’s meeting. Our facilitator Jordan got us all focused by citing an intention to “create a vibe”— she gave the analogy of people getting together once a week for a meal, where everyone contributes by bringing something to the table and contributing to the whole.

Workshop Question #1

Jordan’s first thought-provoking question was — How are these sessions influencing your life? How is it shaping ideas? How is it furthering how you work?

Here are some replies:

“Having that sense of community on a Friday — just reminded me how important human connection is in its purest form. It stayed with me throughout the week, even to the extent that I shared it with my students. How simply and beautifully we come together and connect …. In the ‘busyness’ of the day, we need to really connect. It caused me to look at our interactions throughout the day more thoughtfully. We were all talking about being more mindful about our interactions with each other, to communicate that sense of community and care for one another. You could say, we were spreading the love. Holding a sacred space for kindness and caring in communication as we’re transacting throughout the day.” (Stephanie)

“I’m beginning to notice with more clarity, that without proper connection, people feel really tied to being seen as the expert, the smartest one in the room. So I took the time to pause and create a connection. This wall starts to crumble down, that I don’t have to self-identify but I still have something very valuable to add — the titles can create distance from the people you’re actually trying to impact.” (Michele)

“What I love and just summing it up: when people put the energy and focus into being better, rather than being right, it’s just a wonderful thing. And I see so much of it here. That’s what lit me up.” Mike V.

“People seem more willing to have these really human level conversations. When you start to have them you see a shield melt away and people get refreshed. People see it’s ok to go in a little bit and have this human connection. Let’s talk. I’m sensing more of a ‘comfortability’ — people talking about human things in a really human way. Not superficial conversation. It’s about being more authentic — sharing your deep thoughts and reflecting on things together. People are more comfortable with sharing their whole self. When I try to have conversations that are not just small talk — I think people are more accepting of that. It may scare some people off, but I’m starting to connect with people more who want to have those conversations. The people on this call can lead the way.” (Jason )

Jordan: people are having that natural desire inside to connect.

Kevin: Simon Sinek’s book, Leaders Eat Last, which is a great premise, but when we’re talking about #HumansFirst it’s about leaders going first by interjecting humanity into the conversation. Leaders need to make it safe for others to bring their humanness to the conversation.

“I think in work people have always wanted to be connected, and I think people always have connected. But it’s been outside the board room, outside the meeting room. At the water cooler, at lunch time. It hasn’t necessarily been invited into the official “work room” or the meeting spaces. I see an opportunity to ask how the human being is doing, and I think that’s where the shift is happening. … Going back to that concept of ‘expert’ and the barrier it creates — in the U.S. it starts before grade school that kids have to have the answer to everything. Kids are rewarded for having the right answer to the right question. Having the best grade, being the most competitive. And that goes all the way through our formal education, and then it’s rewarded in our work system as well. We recognize that kind of behavior which leads to that super behavior level. We like and share their posts on Linkedin. But just a simple human conversation — we don’t reward that.” (Rae)

“I found a book from the 1950’s — The Magic of Thinking Big. Here is a quote: ‘Success depends on the support of other people.’ If we think we’re experts, that totally negates that whole piece, in how much we need to engage with other people and respect their unique treasures.” (Brian Buck)

“My cousin works at 911 —there’s a lot of in-fighting. It’s an amazingly stressful job, and they take that home with them and live that life with those calls. I just remember sitting there trying to talk to her and in the back of my head I’m going, ‘If there’s ever a group that need more connection with each other and support with each other, you’d think it would be this group. But like everyone has been saying, it’s the breed of competition, the stench of in-fighting I guess is what I’m trying to say. If only they could just take a beat and try to treat each other the way they treat the people on the 911 call.” (Renata)

“The thing I’ve been really fascinated by is how HR have to show up, and it’s a trap that HR find themselves in of needing to be authentic and role-model that, not really understanding how to be at the executive level, not really understanding how to be at the employee level, and therefore just don’t really show up at all. So I hope that this movement will really help inspire HR professionals to really turn up as humans, and role-model those behaviors. As soon as the rest of the business see HR is ok with it — then it really does make it ok.” Christina

Kevin: We want to see everyone take ownership for HumansFirst. No part of the company owns it.

Mike V.: It needs to belong to everybody because it’s how they show up and how they behave. Turning it over to some authority or role within the company actually diminishes it. HR has focused very much on taking most of their instruction from vendors and college professors, and I don’t believe that’s where the solution is. As I talked to Hacking HR group, if we can get all that fed out to the margins, and truly embrace all people, it will come out of that myopic center, where it exists now. I think that’s the great opportunity. I think this is the greatest time of need and opportunity for HR, but it’s going to take new thinking.

Stephanie: (Saw a clip about an indigenous tribe working as a unit and taking responsibility for the whole). “HR definitely take the lead but as humans, we all have to come together 100% to take responsibility for the whole, if we’re going to change it and make a difference in the way that we would like to.”

Jordan: Once we have these wonderful gatherings where we’re connected and inspired, the next step is — how does it live outside of this meeting? How does is show up? How does it influence what’s happening outside of this connection? All of a sudden all of us are showing up with this HumansFirst vision, heart-inclusion way of speaking, that invites or influences the environment.

Mike V.: HumansFirst is to be shared — not to be owned. What we’re talking about here that I love so much is that the accountability and responsibility is owned by all of us, and how we show up and treat each other. And that is primarily the big shift — where the accountability and ownership lies. That opens it up for everybody — ‘not owned, to be shared’ is certainly the spirit we’re operating in here.

Kevin: That opens the concept of stewardship. We’re taking care of something that’s not ours to own, but we are caretakers for it.

“I used the word ‘stewardship’ back in 2009 when we were starting to look at the shift in organizational/cultural mindset. I did this big diagnostic map which is called From Traditional to Stewardship. Then I changed it recently because I found there was kickback on the word stewardship. It’s an intriguing thing what words do. You put out a word which in my brain means care, etc. and it means other things to other people. So I had to shift it to something that was more of a unifying term. Something that took the mysteriousness out of what we mean by that term. Sometimes these words are tricky, especially words that we’ve nuanced in English when it comes to working in foreign countries. It’s so much a matter of interpretation, and association. It depends on what people have experienced. If it doesn’t resonate and we can’t have a conversation, we find a tag word that we can unify around. Because much of this is about sharing a vision, and sharing a purpose, and that’s where the words start getting important.” (Dawna)

Leading with the Ego

The conversation then turned to discuss my post from last week, with Kevin mentioning again the part he loved most — how I wrote about coming into the room with my ego. That’s how we are conditioned to behave — to lead with our ego and compare ourselves to others.

Garry spoke about us having a genuine feeling of connection in the hangout, “We can use the word connection — but there’s a feeling of connection in this group, and I think it’s really quite special.”

Everything started to get really mushy and beautiful from that point on — Joshua started talking about how so many people in the world are waiting to have these kinds of conversations. And it’s all about us leaning forward with trust and saying, ‘let’s start the conversation’. “The fact that we’re having these conversations and then people are taking them back to their places of work, their families and organizations. I think we will find that there are millions of people in the same boat, and they’re just waiting for the conversation to be opened.”

Here are screens from the few Menti exercises we did:

Passover is an Ego-Crushing Holiday

I probably won’t be in next week’s call because I will be participating in a Passover Seder with over 1000 people here in Israel that we do every year. But I wanted to mention it because it’s a Jewish holiday that symbolizes everything we need to do.

As with all Jewish holidays, the spiritual meaning of Passover is of much greater importance than its history, since it marks a process that takes place in our attitudes and relations. Its relevant to any person who wants to work on developing their innermost desire, regardless of background, race or nationality. Passover ultimately signifies a transition in our attitudes and relationships: from egoistic, divisive relations to altruistic and connected.

So what do we need to do? We need to defeat the ‘Egyptians’ inside us who we are completely enslaved to. We need to do that if we want to be free of the ego. But Pharaoh, the ultimate symbol of the human ego, will not let us go without a fight. So what Passover is really about is this clashing of two forces — being enslaved to the ego where we are totally focused inwards on ourselves, or operating above the ego where we are totally focused outwards on others.

It’s very simple in theory, but quite challenging when it comes to execution. Because Pharaoh is a great leader with many soldiers at his disposal, he will use everything he has to defeat those good forces. The only way to overcome this mighty power is by rising above the ego, and uniting. That’s exactly what the Jews had to do to escape Egypt and enter the land of Israel.

What I love about Passover is that we have to scrub everything clean with bleach and cover all the surfaces we normally use. What does this accomplish? It allows us to let go of the past, and begin the next stage of our evolution with completely new vessels. It’s an opportunity to start the next stage with a blank page.

So a final word for our wonderful host Kevin: I’m heading into this long holiday of Passover with my ego fully intact. Hopefully, all this scrubbing and spring cleaning in the week before will clean some of the impurity out of my heart, and I will come out the other side slightly more evolved, and closer to my ideal state.

I’m undergoing this procedure (or should I say heavy duty cycle for the ego) with thousands of other people who understand the deep significance of this holiday. We’ve all chosen to go through this ego-crushing process together.

If I were to try to do it on my own, my ego would find a million reasons why not to even bother trying. So here is another really important clue: the only way to get past this slippery slope of the ego is to surround yourself with like-minded people.

That was another thing we discussed in the hangout. How powerful it is to be in the workshop, talking about all these important concepts with like-minded people. The importance is demonstrated by showing up, embracing everyone, being responsible, and actively contributing to the whole.

Just a nice side note: there were about five people from Seattle on the call and they have decided to meet in person. So we really are increasing human connections outside our circle. Yay!

📝 Read this story later in Journal.

🗞 Wake up every Sunday morning to the week’s most noteworthy Tech stories, opinions, and news waiting in your inbox: Get the noteworthy newsletter >

--

--

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store