Posts Tagged ‘The New Yorker’

A couple months ago, a friend sent me a link to a TED talk about vulnerability.  I was traveling and didn’t get around to watching it until a couple days ago.  I realized right away that I had already seen the talk, and although I couldn’t remember any specifics, I remember liking it so I kept watching.  I liked it again.  And then I watched a follow-up talk the speaker, Brene Brown, did, also at TED.  This time it was about shame.

Main messages:

vulnerability = good

shame = bad

I figured I must have already written about vulnerability, but I couldn’t find anything on my blog specifically about that, so I thought I’d do it.  I definitely haven’t touched shame.

(Aside #1:  I just finished an article in The New Yorker about the phenomenon of TED talks, and had a pang of feeling cliche to be writing about another TED talk on my site!  The article is very interesting and points out what you kind of know after watching a TED talk:  they are skillfully produced.  And produced to pull you in and make you emotional.  I had to ask myself if I’m just another tool who drank the kool-aid.  But I decided, screw it…produced or not, these two talks bring up a lot of important things and if they give people something to think about and examine about their lives, then so be it.)

(Aside #2:  I watched the videos up in Bolinas, where I was providing moral support for my younger son who was going to a camp up there with a friend.  I was only supposed to stay for two days and then leave him for the rest of the week.  But my son was struggling.  He’s very attached to home and family and he has a hard time stepping out of his comfort zone.  He doesn’t like to feel vulnerable.  Every time I talked with him about staying alone, he would tell me to speak more quietly.  He didn’t want his friend to know he was nervous.  He was embarrassed.  And then I realized I was also feeling vulnerable because I know that some people feel I am too soft with my son.  And I know I am sometimes, but I honestly don’t see the point in pushing him too far too fast.  But at the same time I know he needs to become independent and learn to cope in uncomfortable situations.  What was the “right” thing to do?

After I dropped my son and his friend at camp yesterday morning, I drove away.  Headed back to S.F.  I was struggling with my own fear that it would be hard for him, and knowing it was time for me to get back.  I felt like I should rush home and start working, but then I saw the sign for Stinson Beach and thought there was absolutely nothing so pressing that I shouldn’t take a little time to unwind.

I walked and thought, and thought and walked.  I thought about vulnerability and shame and how closed off so many people are.  I felt glad that my son could recognize his vulnerability and I, mine.  And we could still move forward.

He’s coming home this evening and I will hear all about it.  I did get a text at 6:30 a.m. this morning.  Nothing wrong, just reaching out.)

My asides aside, I think both TED talks are worth watching and hearing.  It’s a good reminder that as uncomfortable as being vulnerable is, it’s what gets people closer together and what brings us to new places.  And, we all have shame.  Don’t let it rule your world.

I recently read a New Yorker article (Oct. 3, 2011) about coaching by Atul Gawande,  Personal Best: Top Athletes and singers have coaches.  Should you? The article is about all different types of coaches…more traditional athletic coaches and voice coaches, as well as an innovative coaching program for teachers, and his own quest to be coached on his surgical techniques by a retired surgeon.

I read the article from the perspective of a life coach and asked myself how his observations related to what I do.  The big take-away for me is that no matter what type of coaching he was talking about, it always came down to fresh eyes and a different perspective.  There is great value at having fresh eyes look at a situation and give input and observations.  An athlete can’t observe herself in the way a coach can, a teacher can’t see what he’s doing the same way an outsider can, a surgeon can’t notice the subtle things she does out of memory and habit, and we as individuals have a hard time seeing some of our patterns because they are all we know.

The big question Gawande poses at the end of his article is:  are people ready to accept that everyone has room for improvement?  Are we ready to hear what those fresh eyes see?  Are we ready to consider a different perspective?  Of his own first experience with a coach, he says “That one twenty-minute discussion gave me more to consider and work on than I’d had in the past five years.”

Whether you’re an athlete, executive, parent, teacher, surgeon or just someone trying to figure it all out…what might fresh eyes tell you?

I’m sure you’ve heard the expression “Do what you love and the money will follow.”  I have.  Many times.  And in many ways I believe it, but I also understand when people are skeptical…I’m skeptical too.  I don’t have a great answer when clients ask how they are supposed to pay the bills while they make a movie, write a novel, pursue athletics, work with immigrants, teach, and on and on.  And yet, I still believe it’s my role to push people to do what they love.

Last night I was reading an article in the New Yorker (September 5, 2011) about a Dutch artist, Theo Jansen, who does what he loves.  He makes giant beach animals out of plastic tubing and they’re in a commercial for BMW.  What popped into my mind the minute I read that fact was:  he’s making money by doing what he loves.  And no one could have predicted that.

For me, it goes to show that you really never can tell what will happen.  Theo Jansen and those around him could have (and possibly did) come up with a million reasons why making moving beach animals wasn’t practical or worthwhile, but he went ahead and did it anyway.

As I engage in mental dialogue with myself in the coming weeks and months about what is worthwhile and how I can help more in supporting my family financially, I’m going to remind myself of Theo.  I’m going to keep doing what I love and believe anything can happen.