Brain Science – Episode #29

Clarity and expectation

navigating clear communication & expectation

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When you lack clarity or have uncertainty for a direction or goal, it’s going to be difficult to succeed in your actions. Today Mireille and Adam discuss the topic of clear communication and expectation, two of the most important ingredients of success. How do we create better clarity? Like so many things — clarity begins with awareness, and awareness of yourself. You have to know what you want and what you value in life. We must assume 100% responsibility for creating our own clarity in our lives. After all, “if you don’t have clarity, you are operating from assumption.”


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The way we got to this topic was during retrospectives we do, Mireille. We talk about the show, what we’ve been doing, and somehow life always mixes in… And we talk about our troubles, our woes and things that happen. And we both had issues that could have been a little bit maybe better or avoided if we had clarity and expectations set on both sides. So it made sense to rewind and actually talk about that, because clarity brings clear expectations, and everyone can operate maybe more efficiently… How would you frame that?

Yeah. Well, I think that just with so much unrest and uncertainty as the mainstay, that more than ever I think it’s helpful if we can have some clarity. I talk with patient metaphorically, that life can feel much more like the lotto balls popping up like, “Oh, gosh, that popped up, and that popped up…” Things were in this constant of change.

Can you give a visual to that though? Because I think– is everybody familiar with lotto balls and how that drawings work? Because that’s analog and old. Is that still happening these days?

Well, I just see it on the commercials, sometimes. There’s winners. So lotto balls are like–they’re all swirling with air in this small container. So there’s pressure, and then all of a sudden, they have to jockey over which one gets to go into the slot, that then sets the order sequence of the numbers for the winning ticket.

And it’s random.

It’s random. But it’s all a fight around which one are we gonna go with, based on the air and the pressure within that small, little space. I think we’re all in smaller spaces than we were some months ago. And really, there’s uncertainty in so many ways about what’s next and possibly where you’re going. Lots of people are facing unexpected challenges, or hiccups or “Whoa, I didn’t plan to go this direction this year.” So to have a conversation around, “You know what? Things can still be uncertain, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t have some clarity amidst all the other unrest and uncertainty.” It’s really how we end up coping more functionally.

I just think how people think in pictures more, and so an analogy would be when I go out to my car, I don’t ask anybody else where they’re going before I decide where I’m going to drive. I already have a clear idea of, “I’m getting in my car to go to place A, B, C or D”, and that’s the thing. It’s an internal thing of where am I headed, as opposed to– maybe we can talk about uncertainty as external, to internal.

I think in team terms too, where there’s a common goal. Maybe there’s a result, an anticipated result. And it’s about, “Well, I know where we’re going and you know where we’re going”, and we have maybe different life perspectives, obviously, and maybe some different standards and discipline we operate as different people, because that’s how things work, and it’s how do we get to this end result, that one party or another has more responsibility over or more investment? Let’s say where you’re buying something, that you’ve got to get to an anticipated result… And it’s like, “How do we both, as a team, collaboratively, share information and support with love and respect along the way, and get to this result?” It requires communication. And then more so on top of that, clear communication.

That’s the challenge.

Yeah, and I think that it’s been interesting switching so much of how we interface with other people during this time, because communication has moved to so much more text-based as opposed to necessarily voice-based. So I lose a lot of relevant data when I’m just interacting with people via email, or text or without the amazing vocal intonations that I can add to any words I use. And then, I’ve seen that with people wearing masks, we also lose visual cues. I think of how many times I want to tell people, “I’m smiling behind my mask. You don’t know it.”

Oh my gosh, yes.

So I lose the visual data in interacting with people, so that I might default to my own presumptions, projections, or what I would imagine someone would respond to me.

Yeah. I learned it from you, more in particular in regards to empathy, and in this case, how we’ve talked before, how we started to use Zoom video for at least the video portion of the recording process of these podcasts. So while you listener get an audio artifact from it, a produced version of it, and you’re generally just listening, you’re not watching something, Mireille and I, in the moment, and other producers, and hosts and whatnot, on our network, they’re usually - I say “usually” in case maybe just they’ve got their eyes closed - they’re always using video to have that data point.

So my point is that this clarity we’re keying on is derived from data, and a data point - you’d mentioned text, and then you’d also mentioned masks… So both of those are obstructing a data point, which we, as humans, in communication forums, rely upon that for lack of assumption, and what we’re really driving towards here, which is clarity.

If I’m reading your text and I’m assuming what you said in black and white, and it’s just– or if you’ve got different colored text, because you’ve got a theme or whatever; you get the point… In this text form, “I’m reading between the lines” is a common phrase heard. And then juxtaposition that against face to face communication now with masks, you can’t see my smile, you can’t see my expressions, you can barely see my eyes, maybe… But all you get is limited data, and that’s lack of clarity.

Yeah. So it’s prone to wreak more havoc when you don’t have the clarity. So it’s just like, “What direction am I going? Are you on my team? Or are you on the other team?” I can’t place you. One of the things I think about even relationally… When you’re in a relationship with someone, you build more of a 3D model of who they are and what they like, how they say things, mannerisms, a more robust version… And without that, you end up with more of Flat Stanley; this one-dimensional text version, that doesn’t allow you to give grace, be compassionate, be flexible interpersonally. So clarity is going, “How can I look at and interface with other people and go, ‘Are we on the same page? Where are you going? Are we are we trying to get to the same place or were you going somewhere else?” while we have respect around all of the changes and adaptations we’re all trying to make.

Yeah. You just made me think about the potential anxieties that can come from lack of clarity.

Because if you don’t have clarity, you’re just sitting there - maybe they call it stewing, or maybe mulling, for example, over what could really be happening. So then what happens? You begin to assume. You start to fabricate this reality that may not really be based on reality, because you had limited data. You constructed this thing, and now you’re anxious, and now you’re anxious about being anxious because you’re like, “I don’t have any clarity. I’m assuming these things,” and next thing you know, you feel a little crazy. You feel like– I mean, I don’t know how best to use that word in maybe clinical terms, but to me, you feel like, “I’m not really sure what I’m thinking. Is this real? Is it fake? What’s real here?” and you start to question a lot more when clarity is missing.

Exactly, exactly. Yeah, it’s really that you can’t close that file tab, so to speak. I can’t put that in a file and close that, like “I know where that information came from”, so that I can move on. So that’s really why I think this conversation is valuable. It’s like, “Look, we’ve still gotta work, we’ve gotta figure out life” and do things while there is so much other uncertainty and perpetual recalibration.

I’m glad you said “while there”, because that’s one of your– one of the things you can’t analyze. While something may not be right, we have to do these things while these things still exist. So it’s a way to get through things. I like your use of “while there”.

Yeah, and really learning how to manage yourself as best you can. There’s things that you learn along the way, and ideally, that’s the point of going, “Look, we all get to places.” Like you said, that going, “Oh, shoot, if only I would have had a little more clarity earlier on, I maybe could have made a different step, and then it would have cultivated a different outcome.” That’s why this is so valuable, because we’d prefer to have the insight in advance of the outcome, as opposed to like “Ah, shoot. I got those ill consequences I didn’t want, and now, I’m hanging out in a space I don’t want to hang out in, which feels really upsetting or uncomfortable, and just adds additional emotional weight to what I’ve already got.”

Yeah. Well, it’s somewhat interesting, and maybe you can speak to this, where it’s personality types where– and maybe it’s a learned thing. So it’s a skill. Obviously, communication is a skill, but there’s some people who are more or less prone to communicate well. I don’t know how best to frame that, except for maybe just overly communicate or underly communicate, where people just don’t have the– for me, for example, I’d prefer you to be overly communicative about what’s going to happen, so that you’re helping me frame the clarity and expectation of whatever’s happening in a team framework, so to speak. But someone may not always be equipped to lead with that. You almost have to pull it out of them constantly.

Yeah. In saying that, that highlights where we’re headed in terms of how do we get better clarity, and it really starts with awareness. Awareness of myself, so that I can interface. If I move backwards, my ability to name things and articulate what’s going on, and then use that data to advocate for myself is how I can get closer in approximation to where I want to go. Because if I don’t have self-awareness - who am I, what do I care about, where am I trying to go, when am I trying to get there, and what route might I choose, I’m apt to just… You know, what is it? I think of just float away, drift. There we go. I will just drift, and like, “Oh, the wind blew me to the right.” And then how did you get to this island? “I don’t know. I just was standing by the water, and then I was on an island.”

There’s no understanding of “Well, no, that time I was hanging out with my friends, and I got on this raft, and we weren’t tethered, and I floated.” So that you want to start by reflecting on what’s important to you, where are you trying to go? I think we’ve said in earlier episodes, people talk about the time right now is like you can go through it or you can grow through it. With much in life, we can choose to just walk through our circumstances, or we can look at really how we can grow. I think there’s been a lot of negative emotion for a lot of people lately, and I’ve really worked to reframe things around pressure and how pressure really creates amazing things. But when we push back against ill pressure, we also then forfeit the by-product that comes from that pressure.

Yeah. Well, having awareness of yourself and then knowing what you want is a twofer. You have to begin with awareness. So one, be aware that you– it begins with awareness. And then the other part, which is knowing what you want, is the work involved. One is knowledge, be aware. Two is work, know what you want… Which takes, I suppose, your own inner clarity, so to speak. Know what you want, understand your own desires. I often think that these things require a vision to the future.

I have a user experience design background, where in a past life further back in my career I used to design interfaces. I still do, but just less so as a primary thing I do. But I’m always thinking about user experience, which generally is like a flow. They begin here, they go here, they go there, they need this information, they see clarity, they push a button; boom, result happens, whatever. Whatever that user flow might be. It’s about understanding this expectation of the future; future thinking. To some degree, trying to predict the future based upon data, like we’ve been talking about. Know what you want is an interesting component of this awareness.

For sure, for sure. Because you’re going, “If this, then that. If this is who I am, then this is going to be fit; fit or not fit.” I can think about big decisions, career decisions I made when I was like, “That does not fit at all where I’m going.” And then really shallow examples, even in terms of the attire I choose to wear. For example, there’s so many opportunities now for other people to pick my clothes for me, and despite trying a few times, especially when I don’t have access to stores in the same way, I’m like, “Nope,” because I know what I like to wear and I like to pick. So those platforms aren’t a good fit for me, because they don’t represent how I see myself or how I want to put myself out to the world.

Yes. That’s an interesting one where someone else is choosing your clothes for you; that’s a whole different subject to some degree. But that takes us a science, maybe an AI or an art that can predict based upon some attributes, what you like. That’s what we’re trying to do when we assume. Those are prediction models based on assumption; we’re assuming certain things. And then what happens when you assume is not always a good thing.

I think that, if you don’t have clarity in any situation, you’re operating from this position of assumption, which generally has negative results. Assumption is not clarity. Clarity is clarity, and you can operate on firm footing, take that next front step. As we said before, with anxiety, you pull back those anxious points, because you have clarity. You’re not operating from the position of assumption.

Yeah, for sure. I loved this quote by Jeremy Bryan in an article. He said, “The aim of knowing yourself is to connect with the future and understand your contribution to it.” So know yourself is like, “I have this understanding of who I am, both past, present and future, and recognizing how I fit into the larger hole.”

That is interesting, because we were talking about that with this predicting the future, which is a variation of trying to know it. Predicting, knowing… You’re trying to look to the future for this awareness of where you want to go. so it does require some future thinking. I love that idea of how can you and how are you going to contribute to that future, because it goes back to action. You’re gonna have to take some action to get there. If you’re unable to and you haven’t practiced that skill or cultivated that skill of future thinking, that doesn’t mean sit there and mull all day long about what the future might hold, but think about it deliberately and intentionally, so that you can know what your contribution might be or your actions might be in order to get you there.

Yeah. It’s interesting, just with this when– I remember, as an adolescent, whenever I would ask my parents if I could do something, I had to answer all those questions of, “Who are you going to be with? What are you doing? Where are you going to be? How long are you gonna to be there?” I had to be able to provide all of those answers in order for them to give me an answer like, “Yes, you can go. No, you cannot.” Then they could also provide feedback to be like, “That isn’t wise”, or “Let’s have a conversation around X, Y, or Z relative to the data you provided.” I think that’s super helpful in going to “Where are you headed? What are you trying to build and who are you building it beside?”

One counterpart of this and a show prior to this on conflict… When you don’t have clarity, conflict tends to ensue. Often, conflict - its little counterpart is assumptions and lack of clarity.

Sure. Yeah, exactly. Because you can have assumptions and go, “This is just the way that I expect people to relate, or what I expect them to do,” and then I have to be like, “Oh, wait. Now you’re not doing it. Now we have a problem, because I thought, and you didn’t,” which is interesting because I loved this point by Steve Pavlina - Assume 100% responsibility for your own level of clarity. A 100%.

Not 99%.

Nope. Not 50-50.

Not 98%. Exactly. Yeah, I mean… I learned from a friend, similar to this, a while back… It was essentially like, I was upset with somebody, let’s just say. I don’t know how to how to frame the word upset, but I just wasn’t happy with the outcome. And I was sharing my concerns and frustrations with a co-worker, and they’re like, “Well, did you set expectations and clarity? Were you clear about these things? If the answer is no, then you can’t be upset. It’s your fault.” So back to the 100% - it was 100% my fault, because I didn’t take the role and responsibility to say, “Here’s clear expectations.” So you’ve got to own it 100%; you’ve gotta own it.

Yeah. While I can imagine that might initially be a little jolting or frustrated–

It was… It was. It was a brand new concept for me to learn in leadership. It was a brand new concept. So when I heard that for the first time, I was like– exactly, it was hard to take. It didn’t sit well at first. I was like, “But you’re right. But you’re right.”

Yeah. I think about this differentiating people can be dishonest or lie in terms of omission or commission. If I literally tell you I’m somewhere I’m not, then that’s a lie of commission. But if I just leave it out, it’s like, I just omitted it. That happens so much, so much in relationships with other people, and I deal with this a lot in trying to help individuals do things differently, and go– because people will say or think, “Well, then I lose power or credibility, or some way I lose if I tell the person what I actually want from them.” And I’m like, “Look, as adults, it’s our job to use our words.” If an adult says, “Mireille, leave me alone. Leave me alone.” I’m not gonna code-switch that and be like, “They’re just playing hard to get.” No. It means leave me alone. So our words have significant power. And if you can imagine, our words are really our steering wheel to navigate ourselves in our lives.

Yeah. According to Steve, something he says too is that clarity isn’t something that arrives from outside of you. So back to the ownership and responsibility, Steve says “Clarity isn’t a matter of luck, either. Clarity is what you create for yourself. Clarity is a decision.”

Yes. I love this, because he talked about it even further in a post he did, which we’ll share, and he says “The word decide comes from the Latin dēcīdere, which means to cut off from.” So I think we end up in ambivalence like, “Oh, I want to hedge my bets, so I keep all avenues open.” But he’s like, “To make a decision, you’ve got to cut away other potential directions.” If you are remaining open to these different directions simultaneously, welcome to the land of confusion and fuzz; fuzziness. But I think it’s hard, because we might perceive that to be like, “Well, then I might miss out. If I say this is the lane I’m going, then I’m looking at other people in other lanes, like ‘Well, shoot. Maybe I’d like to be in that lane, too.’”

FOMO… Yeah. I think it’s funny how– I think it’s wild how all these mix together. We’re talking about clarity in communication, but then it leads to decision-making, which actually comes from quality thinking, which leads you essentially to focus. So in this dēcīdere - you got the Latin enunciation down - this word decide and the decision to cut off from means that you’re choosing a position of focus.

Yeah, I think it’s super helpful. I like to think about this like pruning, in terms of rosebushes. I’m like, “Oh, well, I don’t want to cut them back. I don’t want to cut them down, because I like them,” and it’s like, “Yes. But you want to optimize and cut back, so that the best ones are the ones that grow.” This is why we need that space and opportunity for self-reflection, to go, “Is this my best foot forward? Is this the most authentic/congruent? It fits for me.” I think so much – I guess I’m like a clothing, dress connoisseur today, of like “Are things tailor-made, or are they one size fits all, or they’re your size?” I am so prone to pick things that not just fit or they’re okay… And I love this, because my husband has actually helped me over the years even hone this skill, so that he’s like, “You don’t love it?” “No, it’s not the best.” Whereas I might have settled in the past. It’s like, “I don’t have to. I know what I like and what I want to wear,” and if I’m thinking of things, like what in my life feels more tailored to my strengths, my interests, where do I want to spend my time and that resonates with me, as opposed to, “Well, everybody’s doing it, and it’s one size fits all, and I went this degree route, or I’m doing this thing, and I should love what I’m working on or doing, and yet I don’t, and it’s a drudgery…”

Somewhat of an aside… Derek Severs is well known for quoting this, or coining this phrase… And I’m going to paraphrase it, because we may have parents with children listening or we want this to be a younger demographic friendly, so I’m going to paraphrase it by saying “heck”. He says, “When making a decision, it’s either heck yes, or no.” So back to your dresses, and this enthusiasm for choice, it’s got to be like you’re really in it, or you’re not. That doesn’t apply everywhere, so there’s some caveats to that, which are deeper and go into that. So I would encourage you to google that. We’ll try to link this up in the show notes, but google that and dig a little deeper, which we haven’t done for this show… But the point is you can’t apply that everywhere, but it does have a general application to a lot of things where it’s a very enthusiastic yes, or it’s just straight up no.

Yeah. So with this, using visualization as a tool can really help us create and get better clarity in our lives. I remember when I was making a significant professional decision around where I was going to do an internship or residency, and I was deliberate around picturing it. So I looked at the quantitative aspect of the positions, sort of like “What is it going to look like? What will my responsibilities be? What level of commitment?” and those things, but then I literally tried it on in my mind. Whenever I pulled up to a training site, I was like, “What’s it gonna feel like getting out of my car and walking into this position? What is the building like? Does it resonate with me? Is it where I want to go? How does it facilitate other future endeavors that I really want for my professional future?” I thought that was a really valuable tool, because there were ones that were very much in line with what you just said of heck yes, or no. Like, no.

I like how that keys off of a future show we might do, which we’re brainstorming at least, around dreams and goals. That’s just what that’s like. And I like your aspect of trying it on in your mind.

So often do we have to make a decision or go around, or dēcīdere, and we’ve gotta do that at some point, cut something off and go a direction. So often do we just roll with it, without really examining the data. Some of that comes from this idea of seeking wisdom from others, so finding clarity through wisdom. But some of that is just simply, “I’ve gotta go a route, and I sort of just go.”

Yeah. I think a lot of people actually, instead of trying to do things or make choices that resonate or fit for them, they actually are more prone to contort or conform themselves, amputate aspects of themselves to make themselves fit whatever professional context or goal… We’ve talked about like “I should on myself…” Because again, that’s an outside in. I don’t want to live a life that’s based on external constructs, that says “Because you did A, you have to fit into B, and even though B feels very suffocating, you should be grateful that you have B.” No, no. Because we can bank on change. That’s a fundamental. So how can I adapt within the world, to go “Where do I want to go?” Again, I’ve looked at professional decisions that have changed and taken me a different way. Becoming a mom really changed me, in going “You know what? I thought I wanted that, but that thing doesn’t fit in the way that I had envisioned it some years ago.” So I recalculated.

Well, I think there’s a lot of wisdom to try it on. Try it on for a day, or whatever the aspect might be… Because in a sales situation, or when you’re buying something, the person who’s the consultant might say, “Is this a fit?” So you mentioned from a position of physical fitting dresses - we’re rewinding a little bit, but I think metaphorically, this is an amazing thing to consider. Try it on your mind, because as you’d mentioned, you might mentally amputate parts of you to make a decision fit… And I think that’s such a cool metaphor to hone in on, because it really is about fit. You get asked, “Is this a decision that fits you?” Well, it’s because you have a frame of reference. Again, back to beginning - for clarity, it’s self-awareness. Some aspect of where you’re trying to go, what you’re trying to do, who you’re trying to be, and it all comes down to “Does it fit me?” Well, try it on your mind first.

Yeah. Because you know yourself and what you like and what you’re willing to even barter. In the case of two competing things like, “Well, I like A and I like B, and I’m not sure I’m ready to fully cut one off,” and so going, “Okay, (you can picture) if I stay with both of these, what is that going to look like?” I do prediction models to some degree. Trying it on. If I leave the status quo, how long would I want to stay in both camps, or might I consider vesting more on one side for a period of time, so that I can collect more information to make a better decision then in the future?

Something else Steve had said too was explore and experiment, which definitely keys off of our idea of– I think it’s more your idea and I adopted it completely, because I love the idea, which is be your own scientist. I’ve done that in my own life, and I’ve seen great results by it. It requires this idea of exploration, this idea of experimentation… And prediction models are like that - try it on and see if it fits; it’s like explore and experiment. Does it work? Mentally picture the future. Frame it out for you.

I think now even, too – I’m a dad, and there’s choices I want to make, or choices that I’ve desired to make that were just simply dreams, not so much real goals, because I got a family and the things I want to do in my life are optimizing for all about family, and these two boys and my daughter and what life is like to enjoy that life with them for the next however many years. We’ve talked about this idea of 18 summers. So everything for me, my clarity comes from that as root. Does my family unit suffer as a result of, or thrive as a result of this choice, decision, clarity, whatever it might be? So everything keys around that.

Yeah. So I’m glad you mentioned that because I think that as we’re having the conversation, for people to put on different lenses as they’re going, “How does this apply to me and where I’m trying to go? Is it just in a professional sense, developing clarity? Or is it in a relational sense? What is my role? What is most important to me as a parent, or with a significant other, or even with my family, or personally?” Maybe it’s my health. I want to get better clarity around where I’m going, and really map out how I might begin to cultivate those things. I think it’s in The Compound Effect, this book, and it talks about little changes repeated over time and how they snowball into so much more through repetition. So going, “I want to be considerate of where I’m trying to get to. What are the little things I keep doing, that can take me closer to or further from where I want to be?”

Yeah. Brian Tracy is somebody I listen to too, as well. He’s famous for writing the book, Eat That Frog!

…that some people like - or love in your case - and some people totally hate. They’re like, “No, that’s not right. I tried to eat that frog for many years or for a sustained amount of time, and it didn’t work for me,” and that’s just the case. It’s not going to work for everybody. But very much like how do you get to your goals? You establish a goal, and every day you take one small step towards that goal.

Right. So with this, it’s important that – clarity might really just be on the desired goal or outcome. But the how - the how can change, because movement is key. Just going, “I just want to practice moving. Any progress is better than no progress. So I might go on a little side route, but maybe that’s valuable.”

So this really depends upon this action of seeking. So we got curious people that listen to this show, tune in for Brain Science, all these details of neuroscience and how we can be better humans, or as we say, human better… But this particularly requires a desire, and the desire is the desire to seek clarity, and that takes a couple different things. You’ve got the option to use wisdom, so to speak; people you know, your inner tribe, different people like that. You mentioned people who experienced long term success begin by seeking. So you’ve got to want it. What is it you said recently? It was around the cheerleader thing you said, I believe.

You’ve gotta will it to want it.

You’ve gotta will it to want it. That’s the truth, though. I mean, it’s cliché, but it’s totally the truth. You’ve got to seek this out. This is not something that’s gonna come to you. You’ve got to be deliberate and intentional about getting to clarity.

Yeah. So with that be your own scientist, of going notice when there’s obstacle or opposition internally, where you might be like, “Gosh, I just keep procrastinating,” and you want to just accept it at face value? I’m like, “No, no, no, no, no. Look deeper, because there’s likely something else that your brain or your body is signaling to you that’s prompting the procrastination,” and maybe it is like, “I don’t think I want to go there. That goal fit before, but things have changed, and I don’t want to do that.”

Yeah. All too often though, especially in scenarios where someone else is involved, and we’ve got to be a good teammate, we feel like we have to be polite to get to clarity. So all too often, when you’re assertive in like, “Here’s my position, here’s my standard, here’s my desires, my expectations,” sometimes delivering that can feel “assertive”. Or two other words that might fit, depending upon.

Sometimes we feel like we got to be polite. We can’t get there, because it’s like, “Oh, I might upset them, I might anger them, or we might get into an argument or a fight, or a conflict might ensue as a result of that.” I think that you can be assertive and you can be clear about who you are and what you want to do in these realms we’re talking about, but you can deliver that with kindness, love, respect, empathy. It doesn’t have to be just harsh, but I think being clear about what you want can sometimes be – the opposite can often be this idea of being polite.

Sure. I can really– I mean, not to get into any significant gender conversation, but just as a woman trained up like, “Be respectful and mind your Ps and Qs and don’t rock the boat,” sort of thing, of going, “I don’t want to come across as a jerk”, or really misunderstood for just going, “Hey, this is where I’m trying to go and I don’t understand why you’re doing X, Y, or Z, or what’s coming in between and creating an obstacle for you or us as a team getting to that place we said we wanted to go.”

Yeah. I think time-boxing some of those things, like if you’re being assertive and sharing those things, being able to describe “This is what I want, this is when I want it”, or– those are just points of clarity. They’re not so much like demands, or it can be misunderstood, as you’re alluding to… You just have to put those questions out there, and those determinations… Because if not, there’s assumption.

Yeah, totally. In my experience, it’s really helpful even after the fact. If I’m like, “Oh, wait. I realized I was filling it in with my own expectations as based on past experiences, and that doesn’t fit the context of this new relationship. So hey, I need to step up and say something, because here’s where I thought you were and you aren’t there, for whatever reason. So help me understand where you are, so that we can collaborate better and work more effectively.”

I love this other point that I think is helpful. So when my husband and I were dating earlier on, I used to always say – just because things felt so long, I was like, “We’re never going to *fill in the blank*. Never.” That underlying pessimist in me was like, “I’m not sure it’s gonna happen, so this is never gonna happen. This other desire that I have, that we have, it’s never gonna happen.”

So our family actually plays the never game, and this is relative to always challenge your never. So we play this game to go, “What are we never going to get?” My husband loves boats and being on the water, and so my son, one day, started off with, “We’re never gonna have a Nautique.” It was like, these are things that we enjoy as a family, and something he wants, but the nevers really do reflect the things we want most. So to be able to have conversations, it really puts it out there and think about it, to go, “What do I think I could never do?”

I even remember back in starting graduate school and looking at the students further ahead. Now, I was already in the program, so I was in. All I had to do was all that step, step, step to get there. But seeing them, it seemed so far from where I was that it “felt” as if I was never going to get there. But all that did was show me more of how bad I wanted it. We can play this game of self-protection against disappointment or failure, but that’s when we should listen most.

Yeah. Well, that’s interesting, because sometimes your nevers can establish a blueprint for getting to a point, too. The Nautique, for example. Well, the never might be true if, for example - if you don’t take these certain steps, that will be true.

But if you want the never to not be true, I suppose, well, then here’s what’s required to get there. Or it might motivate you to be self-aware, establishing clarity of what you want to do, and give you a blueprint, a framework, a map, so to speak, waypoints to get to in order to make you a Nautique owner.

Exactly. So with this, I’ve alluded to it in some of the other points, but… The value of conversation with other people we care about and/or asking for help. Even as a clinician, one of the things we do best is recognizing the value of consultation. When I don’t know who am I going to talk to, who can help me look at this from a different lens and collaborate with me to help facilitate more clarity, so I know what to do or how I can get where I want to go? That is what has been really helpful even within family relationships, and where are we trying to go. What do we care about as a nuclear family and how can we then cultivate it? Because it does mean amputating other things, like going “You know what? No, we’re not going to buy any sodas when we eat out, because there’s our Nautique money over time.” Or, “I’m gonna say no to these other endeavors or things I might like to do, because it doesn’t move me towards cultivating the things that really fit for me that help me do my life to the best way that I can.”

I think I’ve referenced this in past episodes, but it was Daniel Pink who wrote this book Drive, and talking about what drives us or motivates us in our lives. With that, he notes on the importance of doing something meaningful and being a part of something bigger than just ourselves. I think this highlights the point of when we’re looking at developing clarity, considering your contribution to the world, like “Look, we are all an N of one. There is no other like us.” So asking yourself about how you might be serving others… Like, how are you engaging with others in meaningful and fulfilling service to other people? Because that’s really where we ignite. When I’m aligned with my design and how I fit within the world, that’s the best version of myself.

Even asking yourself– Brendon Burchard, in his book on High Performance Habits, asks this question. He says asking yourself, “What do those I serve want now?” as opposed to simply going, “What do I want now?” I mean, part of how this podcast even developed was I love educating people, and I just wished that more people had access to information, and that when people don’t know, they can’t do anything differently. So to help people understand more of their mind and the way in which their brains and their bodies work and interact, so that they’re not as confused… Ironically, to provide more clarity and help people really show up in the world in the way in which only they or only the way in which you specifically were designed to show up.

I think that is the most meaningful thing we can do and why clarity is so important, is because it really helps put you in the best way amidst the world. You show up doing you, creating your own unique influence. We all have a particular shape and preference and part to whole, and so I want people to be reflective around that; take some time. I think that with the changes that have come recently, that there’s more downtime or opportunity for slowing and stilling.

So throughout this week, I’d encourage you to get away, and in terms of maybe outside your house, or maybe in another room that you’re not typically in, and think through things in terms of a more panoramic view, that maybe we’ve had some hardships and you’re not working in the position or career you were. So asking, “Is this where I want to stay? Or is this a time that I might look for other opportunities or practice trying on a different field I had no idea that would resonate with me, but I am feeling this stirring within me?”

So with the space and reflection, like we’ve said before, writing things down is always helpful. Because not just the name it to tame it, but I can look for repetitions in the things that I write… Because this is being your own scientist at heart. You are looking at an examining where you’re at, where you want to go, and how you might get there, and that is more of the fun that we can all enjoy.


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