Airborne toxic event

What’s the difference between:
attentively drawing out a shared perspective
compassionately encouraging someone else’s point of view
passionately expressing a personal point of view?

I did all three today.

In a workshop setting, I found myself professionally engaged in mode #1. I listened, I heard, I rephrased. With a 16 eyeballs staring at me as 8 mouths expressed any combination of ideas, I took those clouds of words and stitched them together into sensible, coherent strings of meaning. (What a strange word picture.) I was wielding attentiveness, neutrality and care — dancing between statements and assertions and opinions and reactions to help point out what is similar, and suggest ways forward. I heard from the many, to help people see what we all had in common in our pursuit of the possible.

In that same setting, I found myself needing to zero in one just one key perspective. A person whose reality hadn’t been properly incorporated or addressed. It needed closeness. Direct affirmation. It needed authority to be given to it. It needed to be amplified. It was a voice being lost in the mix, and I needed to help make it matter.

And in that same setting, I found myself feeling like an obnoxious blowhard, a gesticulating pontificator. Thankfully, it was after-hours and on a lunch break, but nonetheless, it was me in swagger-mode, making unverifiable claims, fishing for attention, aiming for provocation, making grand sweeping statements to ensure I was heard, seen and understood.

That third mode? I didn’t like it as much. But…

Quick side story?

Our gas line had been disconnected earlier today to allow some work next door to get done safely, and then reconnected. But the reconnection hadn’t worked — the gas wasn’t coming back on, our house was getting cold, and the technician was called back. I just finished chatting with him at the front door, as he explained what had happened.

An air bubble had gotten trapped in the gas line during the previous disconnect/reconnect. It was blocking the gas from flowing, which meant the furnace couldn’t light. The furnace tried once. Tried twice. Tried a third time, then the house went cold: the electronic nature of the furnace only allows 3 attempts to re-light the furnace, before disabling itself for safety.

But that meant the air bubble was staying trapped. To get the air bubble out, the exterior vent at the meter needed to be opened long enough to purge the air bubble by venting the “polluted” (air-bubbled) gas.

I didn’t like the moments today where I over-pontificated. I annoyed myself. And yet, it helped me hear myself sound like an idiot, so I could let go of those toxic perspectives. Sometimes I don’t realize how dumb my ideas are until I see the look on another person’s face reacting to my toxicity.

Letting go of those perspectives helps me get back to the main work at hand: amplifying the unheard perspectives of others, and helping others pay more attention to what they have in common, rather than what divides them. Or, if you will, lettin’ that old air bubble out, so we can light that furnace, and heat that house.

That’s one hella cheesy perspective, folks. But it’s whatcha get tonight — I’m back home after 2 days of travel, and this here Create Daily post is the only thing standing between me reconnecting with Kendra with some wine, cheese, and The Crown.

The moral of this airborne toxic event: If you’re finding yourself in a place where you’re ranting, let it be so you can get back to the work of listening to others, and pushing for what else is possible.

I’m out. Crown time.