I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool: Part 2

I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool: Part 2

Practices to strengthen your capacity to navigate conflict In my last post, I wrote about the challenges of navigating conflict, especially where people have long-standing reasons for distrust and disagreement. I outlined three ideas for strengthening your capacity to navigate complex challenges by: (1) reframing collaboration, (2) deepening your self-awareness, and (3) refining how you listen and communicate [ii]. Continuing the conversation, this is focused on practices that can help […]

I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool [i]

I am firm, you are obstinate, he is a pig-headed fool [i]

Thoughts on strengthening your capacity to navigate conflict (while also seeing each other as human) In Collaborating with the Enemy, author and facilitator Adam Kahane shares a meaningful anecdote about the challenges of navigating conflict, especially where people have long-standing reasons for distrust and disagreement. In the early 1990’s, as South Africa started negotiating a transition from apartheid toward democracy, one of Kahane’s South African colleagues shared an idea that […]

Questioning and defining leadership

Questioning and defining leadership

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what leadership means, and why it matters. In the context of current events, an idea that I picked up from the Jesuits strikes a chord: loosely, ‘we are all leaders, leading all the time, either poorly or well’. If that’s true, what does that mean for how we show up: in the public sphere and in our private lives? What’s the impact we’re having within […]

Leadership and lust (for books)

Leadership and lust (for books)

One of my favorite winter traditions involves two or three days in a hotel room on the blustery Washington coast. Off-season rates, a fireplace. A stack of books along with a well-stocked e-reader. A slow-paced rhythm: Read. Nap. Ponder. Snack. Read. Take notes. Nap. Rinse and repeat. As an avid reader and a voracious skimmer, I’m always sharing book recommendations, and there are a handful that I pass out like […]

Struggling with paradox: Holiday musings

Struggling with paradox: Holiday musings

In this season of gratitude and celebration, I’m finding myself grateful and confused. Horrified and hopeful. I am heartbroken and numb from the recurring violence that is happening domestically and globally. At the same time, I’m inspired by the activists, artists, and regular folks—locally and around the world—who are committed to equity, healing, and a vision of a more just and humane future. I am inspired by programs like Youth Speaks […]

A three-part tool for dealing with conflict on your team

A three-part tool for dealing with conflict on your team

Last week I told a story about the power of embracing criticism. Building on that idea, let’s explore how to embrace different kinds of criticism and conflict on your team. You know the scenario: You’re having a team meeting, and someone is proposing a new idea. Before they get three sentences in, somebody else attacks or dismisses the idea. Suddenly, people are more focused on staking positions and forming allegiances, […]

Conflict in action: A story about embracing criticism

Conflict in action: A story about embracing criticism

We’ve been thinking about courageous ways to deal with conflict. What does this look like in practice? What can you do when you’re confronted with someone who opposes your vision, your ideas, or your plan? Let’s take a look at the pretty common scenario of facing opposition in a group setting. Karen Kimsey-House is one of my great teachers and co-founder of the Coaches Training Institute (CTI). Karen tells the […]

Breaking the Cycle of Defensiveness and Blame

Breaking the Cycle of Defensiveness and Blame

Last week I wrote about what happens when we face conflict and we stop seeing each other as people. We stop seeing that our opponents have strengths, flaws, needs, and aspirations — just as we do. Instead, we reduce each other to less than human. These strategies may make us feel better. But any relief we feel is just temporary. And we’re not working toward resolving the conflict. The authors […]

Courage, conflict, and how we lose track of what we care about

Courage, conflict, and how we lose track of what we care about

I offered this idea recently to a group of state legislators gathered in Seattle during the 2015 Summit of the National Conference of State Legislators. More than 4000 elected officials and legislative staffers got together to discuss hot topics ranging from energy policy to education funding, mental illness in the criminal justice system, marijuana legalization, and beyond. During this non-partisan gathering, 85 of us spent a morning together focused on […]