There’s Still Snow in the Summertime

img_7048It’s hard sometimes to believe that other people, in other places, are having a different experience than we are.

That could be across the country, across the county, across the street or across the hall.

It’s so easy to get caught up in our own reality that we forget to hold open the possibility that what is true for us is not true for others.

Just a few thousand feet below Mt. Eddy, on a late July summer day, there is no snow. Take a short hike (or a short walk down the hall) and you find a brand new reality. It’s one that might just require a closer look.


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It’s hard to see under water

It’s hard to see when you’re under water.

It’s hard to see under water because when you open your eyes it’s blurry and incomplete. There are forms and figures that are familiar but not quite themselves. Perception of distance is compromised, as is your confidence to move forward.

Trying to see under water is a lot like trying to navigate any significant change.

It helps to have goggles. Good ones. The kind that don’t fog up no matter what.

Since change – significant change – is inevitable, it’s important to always have your goggles at the ready. So you can see as clearly as possible as you make your way through the dark water.

The question then is this: who and what are your goggles?

Is it your internal compass? Your values? Your relationships? Your capacity for enormously challenging conversations? Your empathy and regard for others? Your humility?

Whatever it is, have it ready. Prepare it and tend it. You will need it sooner that you think.


man swimming on body of water

Photo by Anton Avanzato on Pexels.com

Circular Logic

The more I learn about myself, the more empathy I have for others.

The more empathy I have for others, the stronger my relationships will be.

The stronger my relationships are, the more risks I am willing to take.

The more risks I am willing to take, the more I learn about myself.

The more I learn about myself, the more empathy I have for others.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

 

Pay More Attention

If you pay attention, you’ll notice that people are usually talking about themselves. It’s both comforting and disconcerting that the human condition is to be self-referential.

It’s comforting because it reminds us that we are not alone in experiencing the world from the three-foot radius that surrounds our body. It’s disconcerting because we like to believe that we are objective about our expressed perspectives.

We are not, at least not that often.

So, we should pay more attention to what we say and to what others say. We might become a bit more humble and a bit more empathetic by doing so.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

Why You Should Tell Your Friends About Your Goals

During a “year in review/year ahead” conversation with two of my best and most trusted friends and advisors, I shared that one of my goals for 2019 is to regularly post video content on LinkedIn. That conversation was about three weeks ago and it’s been gnawing at me ever since.

Having put it out there, I had to deliver the goods which is, of course, why I put it out there in the first place.

I posted my first video this afternoon. I’m glad I told my friends about my goal. Doing so made it possible, as if it had already been done.

It’s about being a beginner. I invite you to watch it here.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.

Our Human Stories

Willa Cather wrote, “There are only two or three human stories, and they go on repeating themselves as fiercely as if they had never happened before.”

Have you ever noticed that when you share a personal story in an honest, revealing way someone says, “You just described my life!”?  Me too.

James Joyce wrote, “in the particular lies the universal.”

Have you ever wondered why the very specific, very intimate experience you relate to a friend is met with a knowing and familiar nod of understanding? Me too.

John Updike wrote, “…my autobiography is my attempt to treat this life…as a specimen life, representative in its odd uniqueness of all the oddly unique lives in the world.”

Have you ever shaken your head in disbelief when a conversation with a stranger reveals a common connection? Me too.

We are all sharing the human experience. There is no separation. The sooner we realize that and activate our common ground, the sooner we will enjoy the extraordinary powers of empathy, connection and cooperation.

Your pain, your joy, your anxiety, your flush of confidence, your spiral of fear?

Me too.


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world. Connect with him on Twitter at @berrydavid.

“No, my name is David.”

A knock at the door yesterday. I was upstairs and my wife was on the phone so we ignored it. But with a quick glance my wife noticed that the woman left a note for us.

I retrieved the note, a request on the back of her business card to “Please call me.” On the front of the card: Child Welfare Services, County of San Diego. Confused and curious, I walked out to the street to see if she was still nearby and, sure enough, I saw a woman driving out of our neighborhood.

I flashed the card as she passed by, taking a chance that it was her. She stopped right away, got out of the car and came over to talk with me.

With no introduction and no buildup she simply stated that “There has been a complaint about the welfare of your children. I cannot tell you who filed the complaint but the nature of it is that your home is not well-kept and that your children are often left home without supervision.”

You could have pushed me over with a feather.

I said, “That’s impossible…this must be a joke.”

But you know what I was really thinking?

“Yeah, this summer we’ve let the house get away from us a little bit. Those piles we need to sort through are still there. That garage clean-up is never ending. At least the dishes are done…that much I know.”

And then, this:

“Well, sure…don’t most people leave their teenage kids home alone? At least once in a while? Yes, they are young teenagers but they are more than mature enough to hang out for a few hours on their own.”

And then, this:

“Who in the world said this about us? Who would possibly think that about us? I can think of three families right now whose homes are kept in worse shape than ours.”

All in about three seconds.

And she said, “I know this can be very hard to hear. And I’m not overly concerned at this point but it is something I needed to follow-up on.”

I said, “No, really….this is a mistake. Are you sure you have the right house?”

And she confirmed the address. Our address.

And then she added, “And you are Steve?”

“No, my name is David.”

“Oh. This happens sometimes. I’m sorry about that. Do you know a ‘Steve’ in this neighborhood?”

I said, “I’m not thinking straight right now. Please give me a second.”

My heart was racing. My mind was racing. I was overwhelmed by the suggestion that the assertion was real and that it was made by someone who knew us.

But why would I even for a second doubt what I know to be true? How could I entertain even the slightest impulse that our lifestyle and parenting choices had descended to the level of government intervention?

I guess it’s because we’ve worked hard to create a living/working/learning/playing environment that is loving, positive, productive and inviting. Every day? Of course not! Most days, most of the time. And I don’t want to lose even a tiny piece. I only want to make it stronger and any suggestion to the contrary, that I or we may fail to do so? Well, there’s some defensiveness in there…some perfectionism, too.

An awkward mistake turned into a good reminder. I have a wonderful marriage and a terrific family. We have our struggles, just like everyone else. In the grand scheme of things those struggles, those problems, are small…very small. And there are many around us whose problems are big and scary and that’s painful to realize. Humbling, too.

So, a little more empathy today and a lot more gratitude. Also, a renewed commitment to get that garage cleaned up before my mother calls in another complaint!


DAVID BERRY is the author of “A More Daring Life: Finding Voice at the Crossroads of Change” and the founder of RULE13 Learning. He speaks and writes about the complexity of leading in a changing world.