The Book I Want to Write...
.... is called RESOLVE. It is about responding to AMBIVALENCE. You know ambivalence. It is the drag of that forgotten emergency brake. Much of my personal journey has been learning to face and resolve ambivalence. My wife once asked me why I had a soft handshake. It was one thing about me that bugged her. I somewhat flippantly dismissed her suggestion that I practice firmer shaking, until some years later a colleague revealed to me that she had hired me despite my soft handshake! Fortunately, she added, now I seemed much more resolved.
I am a leadership development professional, so as you can imagine I spend some of my days entreating managers to "go slow to go fast," to be curious and open, to extend invitations rather than tell people what to do, and the like. My clients say they benefit from becoming more curious, respectful and open… (rather than the controlling know-it-alls that we all dread in the workplace). YET, I now spend more and more of my days on the next issue for my clients… for many of us… which is RESOLVE. How do we stand our ground, uphold standards, say "no!" and "goodbye"? How do we choose an unwavering path amid turbulent and ambiguous conditions, when the stakes are high and the visibility low? How do we keep our sense of humor, and learn to be resilient? Above all, how do we do all of this WHILE being humble, open, curious? How, in the "conscious business" jargon, does a LEARNER become a PLAYER?
That's what this book is about.
There is a growing body of research and practice that sheds light on this question. Lisa Lahey and Robert Kegan's work on "immunity to change" has helped many thousands of leaders worldwide to disarm their "competing commitments" (for example "I'm committed to never wasting my time, which is why I procrastinate when it comes to making cold calls") by learning to question the underlying "big assumptions" that nourish their ambivalence (e.g. "I don't add enough value when I'm 'just' making cold calls"). Erica Ariel Fox's recent book Winning From Within shows how we can be more effective in our negotiations at work and at home when we resolve the differences between our "internal negotiators," thus getting out of our own way. And there is ample literature in the field of neuroscience to show the debilitating effects of ambivalence on our cognitive capacities and the virtues of an "action-orientation" for resolving "cognitive dissonance."
For those of us who are interested in being at once humble and resolute, this book will provide three things:
A theoretical framework for understanding the challenge of ambivalence
Practical guidance on how to cultivate the mindset of the decisive learner
Stories that show what this path looked like to those who traveled it successfully.
Of course, ultimately, the intention of this book is to empower and invite. I want you to bring your gifts to the world without delay! Will read this book?