Saturday, October 07, 2006

What We All Want - Part II

My personal feeling is that there's something else besides making a difference that we all want. I thought about it while driving to John Moe's book signing the other night and was pleased to hear and read that he'd basically come to the same conclusion - for those of us who have kids in our lives, there are three essential things we all want for them. We want our children to be safe, healthy, and happy.

We might disagree on the exact order but these Big Three are pretty standard across the board. If we spend any time at all looking for it, we're bound to run into differing views on what it takes to ensure our children's health, safety, and happiness. But if we start with that common ground and keep coming back to it every time we get wrapped around the axle because of the differing viewpoints, then maybe - just maybe, we can, with some civility, still work out the how of it together in a way that brings people together rather than drive them apart.

It seems clear to me that this basic logic applies to religion as well as to politics. For some, feeling closer to God (pick your version) is part of the equation, for others, not so much. In both cases the health, safety and happiness is still a point of common ground. In the case of politics, it's a matter of what the government's role is in this equation - and the basic goals are still the same.

In the workplace, we might expand our viewpoints to include other goals - and even so, the same basic principles can apply. Somewhere, somehow, there is something around which we can establish common ground. Establishing that as a base point, we can begin to work from that known quantity of agreement to navigate the territory of the unknown. When we get to know each other as people, it makes all the rest of it easier.

Throughout, I find it helps to have an understanding our own minds and a willingness to listen to others'. Lean back, and open yourself up to take it all in, then carefully pick through what you hear to find more common ground and use it to expand your base. Expanding and shifting perspective need not be a threatening thing.

Here's what I like best about John's book - that he was willing to stretch his thinking that way and share with all of us the process. I found it fun and enlightening reading. I don't know yet if people on both sides of the convervative/liberal fence will feel the same way and am hopeful they will. My sincere hope is that more people will feel compelled to try expanding their thinking themselves than they will feel compelled to say, See, we're Right! or See, they are a bunch of losers!

I'm of course proud to have been able to share some skills with John that he has told me he found useful but there's an important distinction to be made here - I just helped a teeny bit with the how... the interest and ability to put it to use was all him and I'm way more proud of him and what he's accomplished. I'm hoping there will be many more to follow. It sure seems to me like we'd all be that much more likely to get what we want if we're finding ways to do that together rather than continually detouring to fight with each other about the best way to do it.

If you've managed to work through differences to pursue common goals, I hope you'll send your thoughts to me so that the rest of us can get a better idea of how that works and where the incentives are to do it.

What would it take to expand your opinion of what's right or what works?

Kimm Viebrock is an ICF-credentialed Associate Certified Coach who helps technology professionals and service-oriented technology groups develop and use their skills more effectively and increase their value within the larger organization, allowing them to do more, do it better and have more fun doing it. Kimm is devoted to finding the connectedness in life.