A Trouble Shared Is A Trouble Halved - Not Necessarily.
Wednesday, April 4, 2012 at 09:58AM
Paul Hunting

Sharing confusion brings forth clarity, sharing fear brings forth courage.

Our planet has more than enough energy, resources and money to end poverty, hunger, war and recession – now.  This seemingly endless recession is primarily the result of a critical mass of us buying in to the negative-focussing mass media predictions. Although we are the ultimate cause of our own demise, the mass media are the primary leaders/influencers in the vicious cycle of boom and bust. Rather than take personal responsibility for our opinions, we let the pundits dictate what we believe and lo and behold – shit happens.

To beat the recession we must create an authentic, positive-focusing force that’s strong enough to defy the tide of opinion that just wants to be right, sensationalise and sell stories at our expense.

How? How do we galvanise organisations to shift their focus?

We share authentically - one individual at a time.

Most of us in an organisational context are too scared to share our fears, doubts and confusions. Often rightfully so. We have, after all, a job to do, a responsibility to fulfil, people to lead - an image to protect. What might happen to my credibility if I’m perceived as weak or fluffy?

I’m not talking about self-deprecating jokes round the coffee machine.  I’m not talking about the ‘ain’t it awful?’ club. I’m talking about, yes, that syrupy American word ‘sharrrre’.

I learned, I mean really learned, the value of ‘sharing’ the other day. I ‘knew’ intellectually – after what seems like a lifetime of authentic sharing sessions -  the deeper value of it just the other day – apparently it’s never too late to teach an old dog an old trick.

My Insight was:  ‘sharing confusion brings forth clarity, sharing fear brings forth courage.’

I was participating in a monthly support group. It’s an international thing held on Skype for a group of us committed to personal growth and self-awareness. Because of the technology, when we share, all those listening mute their mikes. I don’t generally like this very much – there is no feedback from the group at all - it feels like no one’s there and no one cares. It feels like talking into a void – but at the same time you know there are people listening and who do care. A bit like talking to God in a way. Remember the old joke: When we talk to God it’s called - prayer. When he talks to us it’s called –schizophrenia.

What I noticed this time was that because there was no feedback, no laughter at my witticisms and pithy observations I was getting no payoff for being clever and maintaining my self image. The theme of the day was ‘living in the present’. I found myself rambling on about being ok about the present moment but being really worried about the future and complaining about how can being present take care of the future and all that in a very confused way. Eventually I ran out of steam and felt a bit of a chump – I’d been incoherent, not very funny. Had I let down my audience? Would they still love me?

The next day it hit me. I don’t know if I can express it adequately. It was something like if I spend time in the present complaining about my difficulties and focusing on negative things happening in the future, then – guess what – negative things start showing up round the corner. It’s the bleedin’ obvious really – but instead of feeling like a victim of ‘shit happening’ , because I could now see how I was promoting my own problems, I felt I now had the power to shift things.

In some unobvious way, I had obviously been sharing authentically. The risk I took paid off with big unexpected rewards. Paradoxically, had I been hoping for a reward and tried to manipulate the audience I would have had to settle for my meagre payoff.

Back to our lovely recession. If we want out, we’ll have to risk. In an organisation, the risk is creating a  culture where it’s safe to take these risks.

Corporate coaching, counselling, team building may or may not be enough. The facilitator must be skilled and self-aware enough to set up the conditions for authentic sharing to take place on a regular basis without being judged or taken advantage of. Some kind of oasis where people can get refreshed and renewed, even say every month or so. It’s simple, powerful and cost-effective. Increased productivity and profitability will be a given.

Article originally appeared on authentic leadership skills development (http://horsejoy.com/).
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