More conversations, please

Instead of a conference room I have a conversation space at my office in the 1774 Shakespeare Head Building in Providence, RI.

Instead of a conference room I have a conversation space at my office in the 1774 Shakespeare Head Building in Providence, RI.

Have you ever read a book about a destructive habit and thought, "Oh, NO, that's me!"

Last Friday I heard Sherry Turkle, MIT professor and author of the new book Reclaiming Conversations, talk about how we're destroying our relationships by hiding behind our screens.  It's an epidemic. And I plead guilty.

The vast majority of us prefer to use texts, Tweets, emails, and other person-behind-the-screen communications than having a conversation.   Without conversations, our relationships turn into transactions and we lose our capacity for learning, friendship, love, and empathy.

(In fact, college students are 40% less empathetic than those of 30 years ago, according to research by Sara Konrath, a professor at Indiana University.)

"People would rather text than talk because there's safety hiding behind the screen," explained Sherry. "Conversations take place in real time and we reveal ourselves in talking together. There's no control.  If you'd rather text than talk to someone you might want to ask yourself what you're trying to avoid."

In today's Quest2017 prompt, Best Self Magazine Editor Kristen Noel asks:

Where can you be brave enough to bring forth even more of yourself — to infuse your work, creativity and business with that which is uniquely YOU, thus inspiring others to do more of the same?

In 2017 I am going spend a lot of time with people, having good conversations.  Maybe some of them won't be "good" but uncomfortable. And that's OK, too, because relationships are messy.  But far better to show up as ourselves and listen with a naked heart than hiding away behind a screen.

Transactional relationships don't inspire me or serve as a creative muse. But conversations full of provocative ideas, wonder and human warmth? That's what I need to infuse my work in 2017.

So if I don't see your Facebook post, Tweet or email, call me. Better yet, come to my sun-filled office in the 1774 Shakespeare's Head building, home of the first bookstore and newspaper in Rhode Island. It's a great place for people to come together.

One caveat: I think the building may be haunted. Perhaps it's time to have a conversation with those revolutionary spirits from Colonial America.

There's so much to talk about when we stop hiding.

Amplify Courage

Courage helps us challenge what no longer works, fight for better ways, achieve more than we thought possible and overcome all the stress and unexpected land mines that are thrown in our paths.

How do you become more courageous? These four strengths amplify our courage. The more you use and develop them, the stronger they become.

How have you used each one to overcome challenges?
How could you use them more in 2017?
(These same questions are useful to use in team planning, as well.)

1. Perseverance: finishing what you start; persevering in a course of actions despite obstacles.

2. Bravery: Not shrinking from threat, challenge, difficulty; speaking up for what's right even if there is opposition; acting on convictions even if unpopular.

3. Vitality: approaching life with excitement and energy; not doing things halfway or halfheartedly; living life as an adventure; feeling alive and activated.

4. Integrity: speaking the truth but more broadly acting in a genuine and sincere way; being without pretense; taking responsibility for your feelings and actions.

Elections and Good Bosses

My first boss was the editor of "The Arlington (MA) Advocate," who pushed me to do work that I didn't think I was capable of doing.

And then I did it. And then she raised the bar higher. 

The wonderful thing was that I always knew that she would catch me if I stumbled and help me back up. I felt safe taking chances.

On an Election Day 45 years ago she assigned me to interview people leaving the polls and report on what I heard.

Today I am celebrating all those positive bosses who raised the bar and believed we could achieve more.  And hope that the next chief executive of the United States will do the same.

Making my life movie-worthy

The question posed to our creative Quest group: If you knew your life story would be based on choices next year, how would you live?

Well, first of all, can it be a movie vs. just a story? A movie sounds so much more interesting.

Lois, Sweetheart, it can be whatever you want. This is a creative exercise."

OK, then, this is what I'm going to do so that my life is "movie-worthy."

Growth tips

Growth tips

It's June 1 and the city garden behind my Providence, RI, office is bursting with new growth. What's fascinating about plants -- and organizations -- is that so much unexpected and counter-intuitive growth happens at the tips and edges of organisms.

New cellular structures -- and ways of working -- often happen by chance, emerging unexpectedly in the least likely places.