Meaningful Conversations

“One of the most eye-opening realizations I had in our weekend away was the profound LACK of meaningful conversations at work and in our personal lives.” – Michele M. Martin

For some people, the workplace is full of conversations, but most of them are transactional. We spend 40, 50, even 60 hours at work, and the lack of meaningful conversation can dull our minds.

I found two posts that help me find ways to develop a habit of meaningful conversation:

“Don’t get too excited about your next thought. People can tell when you aren’t truly listening because you just can’t wait to spit your next thought out.” – John Hall (read his 12 other tips)

“I came prepared with three questions that I felt would cultivate a meaningful dialogue.” – Amber Rae (read her full post)
How do you invite meaningful conversation into the workplace?

Purpose

“Successful companies keep this idea front and center: People seek purpose.” – Rich Karlgaard, Forbes.com, “Purpose-Driven Leadership

In the same Forbes article, Karlgaard lists two examples of why purpose is so important:

“Abraham Maslow had it right. Once our physical needs are met, we long for love, belonging, esteem and finally what Maslow called ‘self-actualization’–that our lives count.”

I seek for purpose in my work. I don’t want just to “get tasks done.” I want to make a difference, meaning a great positive impact, in the world.

Reworking the vision

I’ve been traveling down a path with a certain vision. However, it’s time for a few tweaks. I realized something very important: much of my vision depended on others. If I have a vision for who I want to be, it can’t all depend on others. For example, part of the vision is to “be respected.” Do I fail if no one chooses to respect me?

However, at the same time, I also know that we should be interdependent beings, not islands attempting to achieve something all on our own.

Therefore, I want to be clear with myself on what is in my power and what involves the free will of others.

Old vision

As a thought leader I am:

  • respectful and respected
  • balanced and effective
  • enabling and vulnerable
  • boundless with knowledge, yet succinct
  • relaxed with harnessed passion

New vision

I am:

  • happy and fulfilled
  • passionate and peaceful
  • balanced and effective

As an influencer, I am:

  • respectful and respected
  • enabling and vulnerable
  • boundless with knowledge, yet succinct

Doing vs. Being

I think I have moments when I am afraid I don’t know what I want to do with my life. I’m not afraid of the unknown – of adventures and risks and trying something new – I’m afraid of not knowing – what I want, what I should work toward.

However, the point of being mentored is not to do what I want to do – or know what I want to do – but to be and know who I want to be. Being is the real goal. When I am being who I want to be, the doing will naturally come out of it.

Mission and Vision

I am starting to figure out my mission – what I am here in this job to do and what I am here on earth to do. However, I am learning that vision is essential as well. Who do I want to be? How does my futuristic vision for myself determine what my purpose and mission are? Since my vision for myself involves being a thought leader, my mission must involve teaching or leading, for example. Who I want to be must match what I want to do.

“I Want To Be Someone Who __”

After my meeting about the topic of ‘respect’ I focused on my homework, which was to fill in the blank “I want to be someone who ___.” This naturally started with “I want to be someone who is respectful.” After this, I wrote: 

  • “I want to be someone who enables people to achieve success.”
  • “I want to be someone who enables strategic thinking in teams and in individuals.”
  • “I want to be someone who achieves success with balance.” 

This is when I thought about the idea of blogging my experiences with being mentored. I was already writing down my thoughts and working out this vision for myself, but if I were to share it, others might gain from it. In my next meeting with my mentor, I brought up the idea. In these past few entries I am now writing out what I have learned over the past month or so, plan to write moving forward. 

A Vision for Myself

My homework for the two weeks after I met with my mentor was to write, draw, envision who I want to be. I don’t think I knew exactly what I was doing, but I started to write. I came up with words such as ‘eloquent,’ ‘better-dressed,’ ‘better presentations,’ and ‘time management.’ I also read some articles on professional development and the articles mentioned a lot of what not to do: complain/whine, gossip/talk about others, etc. This was a good start. 

In my meeting with my mentor, I was asked lots of questions. Why do I want to be more eloquent? How am I now that doesn’t match that? What can I do to be more eloquent? He asked many questions to help guide me to find answers for myself, but did not tell me his opinions. As a coach, he did not tell me what to do, how to be, or even ideas of how I can develop professionally. He asked me and helped me find out on my own what it means to me. 

My list of characteristics still focused on the details and on what to ‘do’. However, I still need to get to the ‘be’. I told a story of what happened to me that week. I gave a presentation for a group of professionals in another department. They reacted with skepticism to the presentation. I felt I hadn’t done as well with the presentation as I had hoped, especially when the reaction was a negative one. I knew that the topic (in the field of technology) was what the group didn’t entirely accept, but I couldn’t help feeling that they didn’t completely accept me or trust my expertise. 

My mentor said something like, “It sounds like you want to be someone who commands respect.” He didn’t mean someone people fear. He just meant that I want to be someone whom people can trust and whose expertise people feel they can trust. He then taught me about respect. To be respected, you have to be respectful. He taught me some principles of how to be more respectful than I already am. Small example: If I am late to a meeting as a result of circumstances beyond my control, how do I apologize for it without dwelling on it? Little case studies like this helped me see how I can treat people I really do respect with the type of respect they will be able to easily identify and feel and trust. 

Introduction

I have been working on my professional and personal growth for some time. It is important to me that I constantly strive to do better and be better. I found someone who is very talented at coaching who has agreed to be my coach/mentor. We meet every two weeks. I realized that I’ve read a lot about coaching and mentoring – many people blog about coaching as a subject, and how to coach, but I don’t think there are many out there documenting what it is like to be coached. So this blog is an experiment in documenting my experiences in being coached. I hope it serves to help others who are looking to be guided in their professional and personal development, and I also hope it serves coaches to see the impact and influence coaching has on the coached. 

I have had to think hard about whether I should call this coaching or mentoring because they are different. Coaching is focused on performance in many ways, and is specific in guiding someone toward success in their field. Mentoring is focused on life path, which may go beyond the specific career field. So I call this blog ‘Being Mentored’ and will call it mentoring, especially since I feel that my mentor is guiding me in more than my professional development, even though much of the focus is coaching within the professional context. I hope he’s ok with the name… yikes! In this blog, however, I will still use both words. In the first few entries I probably won’t use them correctly, but it will be refined as I move along. 

In our first meeting my mentor asked that I promise to mentor in the same way I have been mentored; to be mindful of my experience so I can do the same for someone else. We also discussed why it is that I want to be mentored. He guided me to the conclusion that I need to have a vision for myself: not what I want to do better, but WHO I want to be. What does that vision look like? What does this person look like, act like?