Inspiring Change Through Authentic Connection

In preparation for my talk this afternoon at ATD International Conference in Denver, Colorado, I ducked out for a quick run along the banks of the beautiful Cherry Creek. What struck me as I huffed and puffed my nerves out to hum of the happy creek, was the sweet synchronicity of similarity; wherever we go the world over, people and business share some commonalities.

We all want to optimise opportunities, improve outcomes, pursue pathways for action and experience expansion, whatever the expression and measure of that success might look like to us. Regardless of where that journey might take us, personally or professionally. Click the website link to seek out much more information concerning it.

This bright morning on the other side of the world from home (and my babies), I am starting my day like I would start any other day and this city shows up just like any other…the creek is companionably cluttered with walkers, runners and cyclists all doing their own dance of active and healthy living, parents strolling with prams and business people on their way to work. The city hums to the tune of another work week starting as brains all over the country hit sync on the amygdala, activating that part of the brain that integrates emotion and motivation. Putting who they are away for another week so they can step into what they do.

But who we are and what we do are intrinsically linked.

It can be incredibly empowering to lean into who we are and bring more of it into what we do. It’s probably one of the key drivers for many entrepreneurs. Why don’t we do that more often in business?

The presence of vulnerability in organisations creates amazing results. When people are authentic and connected to each other, results appear without effort; direct communication, trust, leadership, active listening and enhanced listening, collaboration. These are all traits of a culture of excellence (don’t worry, it doesn’t stop there). We see a shift in outcomes like conflict, stress, poor culture, absenteeism, even revenue and brand equity.

The work of changing organisational culture is a marathon to be sure (not like my quick 5klm sprint this morning) but the shift for each individual is instantaneous, like a light bulb going on. When we really get that we are each part of the culture and that the culture is nothing more than the sum of individuals who inhabit the organisation each day, the gap between who we are and what we do starts to dissipate and we come to see that what we have to offer the workplace is so much more than the application of our skills and knowledge.

Because we see ourselves in others, when they share with us openly, using their stories to connect, that intention for collaboration is immediately evident. We listen differently, we become invested in shared solutions, we see them as people rather than organisational representatives. We understand that just like us they have reasons and ways of doing things that may differ from ours but that the differences are to be valued. Because let’s face it, the more diverse the inputs, the more considered the outcomes and the more likely that solutions will reach into the hearts and minds of many, rather than just the chosen few who think like us, are ready for what we have to offer us, are positioned to hear what we are saying and have the time to listen.

Whole cultures in fact are founded on the concept of storytelling to keep them connected, to share visions and fundamental commitment. Who we are professionally is not limited to what we do 9-5, Monday to Friday, it’s an intricate, intangible collection of all we have learned, seen, experienced and shared up until now. Application of skills should represent this collection and we all need to take a breath from time to time and value the uniqueness and diversity of experience that surrounds us.

Once we can observe, independent of judgement, we can begin to really leverage diversity and do the critical thinking to optimise what is available to us in its presence. I look around me at the diversity of the 10,000 strong attendees here at the ATD conference and while I am excited to share my learnings and application with participants, I am even more excited to hear from us others what they do and how they do it, why they love it and what results they experience.

Whatever city, state or country you are in right now, remember to think about the ripple effect you are having as you move through your day, interact with your colleagues, your Manager, your organisation. We all leave a mark wherever we go, what kind of mark you leave is up to you. Life will challenge and change us, shaping us as we move through it, personally and professionally.  Sometimes we have the impact we intended, other times we are surprised by the breadth of our ripple effect (pleasantly or otherwise).

Sometimes we know where we are heading, sometimes are destination is unknown. If you are anything like me, maybe you are prone to over packing yet somehow always woefully under prepared (anyone got a toothbrush I can borrow??).
We can learn from others but we should never compare ourselves to them. We are all on our own journey and each of us has something unique to offer our communities, our organisations.

But the best any of us can hope for is to find something that resonates, action our insights for expanded outcomes, hold on tight, trust and enjoy the ride. Life will shape us but if we are clear about who we are and bring that to what we do, then, to quote one of my late fathers’ favourite sayings “Aint nothing gonna break my stride”.

So I embrace the overwhelm, welcome the discomfort of feeling like a fish out of water and wander into whatever the week holds for me, here in Colorado, cradled by the Rocky Mountains. I am privileged to share the stage with esteemed speakers, authors and international thought leaders as Brene Brown and blessed to be amongst a community of learning professionals who strive to expand themselves and bring the key learnings of the world best and brightest back to their own respective communities.

To my fellow ATD delegates – I will be at the global village bright and early tomorrow morning if anyone has a toothbrush to spare!

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