The Maps we Create for Others

I wonder how many more years until the people who are being born will have no knowledge whatsoever of what a map is. Or maybe we have already arrived there.

When I moved to LA in 2006, I purchased a Thomas Guide. I wonder if anyone even uses them anymore.

Yet, one lens to look at the world is through the maps that we form in our mind.

For example, when I meet someone new, I have a first impression. A map begins to form in my mind of what I think about that person.

Then, if I continue to talk to them, the map changes shape as our conversations explore new territory.

And so we have a map of that person. This map includes assessments, judgements, interpretations, etc. of that person as seen from our perspective.

This can be resourceful – providing a foundation for exploring further…

It can also be incredibly crippling.

I confess that at times I have created a map in my mind of people and then held them in that map, choosing not to explore new territories of who that person could be.

Instead of seeing them with fresh eyes each day and being excited about possibility, I have at times put people in boxes, with thoughts such as, “that person is weird, makes stupid choices, will never change, etc.”…

And then completely closed down the possibility of connecting with that person in a new way. Affecting both myself and the other person involved (and potentially the lives of everyone we ever interact with in the future. ever.)

And I am tired of doing this.

I am committing to exploring.

This does not mean scrapping the map. As mentioned, it is a foundation for exploring.

I am committing to look at the map with new eyes, and to expand the map and add detail through journeying into new conversations, interrupting my judgements, being curious, and connecting at new levels with people.

One approach keeps me in bondage.

The other, freedom.

Don’t let others let you down

In our quest as humans to connect with others, at times we run into obstacles.

And I am sure that people run into roadblocks when they attempt to connect with me.

Life is so much about what we do with these obstacles.

Do we simply give up on others when barriers surface?

Or do we forge ahead, committed to connecting to them at all costs?

A good friend, Sarah Grieb, said to me one time, “Don’t let others let you down, fight for them.”

Fight for them, no matter what it takes. Let them know you are committed to connecting with them, and you are willing to breakthrough any barriers that might show up.

Imagine the feeling of someone refusing to let you let them down.

Understanding Others

B. Joseph Pine II, in “The Experience Economy” wrote, “The experience of being understood, versus interpreted, is so compelling, you can charge admission.”

This quote caused me to wonder how attune I am to truly understanding others and where they are coming from. Is my ability to do that trumping my interpretation of someone?

Or am I assuming my interpretation is right?

My hope is that I let people be who they are, and not impose my “camera angle” of reality on them.

As I am writing this, I am discovering that there are people, even in the past week, that I have been interpreting rather than understanding.

And with that knowledge, I have the ability to now choose another path.

Oftentimes Forgiveness

When you are in a conversation that is frustrating or not going the way you would like it to go, I have found asking for forgiveness to be incredibly resourceful in the pursuit to connect with others.

When all else seems to fail, take a risk and ask for forgiveness,

for getting defensive,
for not being curious,
for being caught up in your judgments of the other person,
for neglecting your commitment to connect,
for messing up,
for missing it,
for whatever your conscience and heart are revealing you.

And commit to connecting in the midst of it all.

You will know if you hit the mark. There will be no doubt.

A Gift Overlooked

Oh how I love feedback.

Honesty, constructive criticism, you name it. It is feedback.

The world has the wonderful ability to gift us with feedback at nearly every moment of everyday.

Sometimes people tell us, other times we simply observe.

I am of the belief that what you do with that feedback greatly influences your future.

You can explain it away as if other people and the world don’t know what they are talking about and that of course the whole world should revolve around.

Or you can be curious about the gift of feedback that others and the world are offering you. Realize it is just that, feedback. Discover where your life is in line with your vision and areas that you can commit to shift in – to bring about different results.

The world. Other people. Your internal thoughts.

All gifts.

How would your future become instantly full of possibility if you were simply curious about them?

Focusing

Focus. Something with which I have been intrigued for quite some time.

My apple dictionary tells me that focus is defined as “the center of interest or activity” or “the state or quality of having or producing clear visual definition.”

And I have been thinking about focus particularly as it pertains to being in a conversation with someone else. And even more specifically, what causes some conversations to go well and others to go not so well.

I notice that when I am focused on the other person in a conversation, and truly understanding them, when they are “the center of interest or activity” and I have a “clear visual definition” of connecting with them, conversations are infinitely more resourceful than if I am just worried about getting my point across.

When I am focused on listening to the other person, I am able to orient the world around me in such a way that I am honed in on what I am committed to cause with that person. I am committed to doing whatever it takes so they know I am fully engaged.

When they get that I am fully engaged, the conversation is vastly different than if I am distracted in some or multiple ways.

They feel valued, encouraged, challenged, loved, served, cared about, inspired, etc.

Sure beats “not worth your time”, “obviously your iphone is more important”, “glad you are concerned about the game on the tv behind me,” etc.

Focus. Listen. Love.

The Ability to See

This is a bit longer of a post than I normally do, but if you have the time, it will be worth it.

I begin with a somewhat long quote from C.S. Lewis:

“‘Whisht, now!’ said my Teacher suddenly. We were standing close to some bushes and beyond them I saw one of the Solid People and a Ghost who had apparently just that moment met. The outlines of the Ghost looked vaguely familiar, but I soon realized that what I had seen on earth was not the man himself but photographs of him in the papers. He had been a famous artist.

‘God!’ said the Ghost, glancing round the landscape.

‘God what?’ asked the Spirit.

‘What do you mean, “God what”?’asked the Ghost.

‘In our grammar God is a noun.’

‘Oh — I see. I only meant “By Gum” or something of the sort. I meant … well, all this. It’s…it’s…I should like to paint this.’

‘I shouldn’t bother about that just at present if I were you.’

‘Look here; isn’t one going to be allowed to go on painting?’

‘Looking comes first.’

‘But I’ve had my look. I’ve seen just what I want to do. God! — I wish I’d thought of bringing my things with me!’

The Spirit shook his head, scattering light from his hair as he did so. ‘That sort of thing’s no good here.’ he said.

‘What do you mean?’ said the Ghost.

‘When you painted on earth – at least in your earlier days – it was because you caught glimpses of Heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. But here you are having the thing itself. It is from here that the messages came. There is no good telling us about this country, for we see it already. In fact we see it better than you do.’

‘Then there’s never going to be any point in painting here?’

‘I don’t say that. When you’ve grown into a Person (it’s all right, we all had to do it) there’ll be some things which you’ll see better than anyone else. One of the things you’ll want to do will be to tell us about them. But not yet. At present your business is to see. Come and see. He is endless. Come and feed.’

There was a little pause. ‘That will be delightful,’ said the Ghost presently in a rather dull voice.

‘Come, then,’ said the Spirit, offering it his arm.

‘How soon do you think I could begin painting?’ it asked.

The Spirit broke into laughter. ‘Don’t you see you’ll never paint at all if that’s what you’re thinking about now?’ he said.

‘What do you mean?’ asked the Ghost.

‘Why, if you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.’

As I was reading this in The Great Divorce, I re-read it and re-read it and re-read it…

It began to blow me away with insight.

The Ghost was interested in the country only for what it could offer him (that he could paint it).

If I’m authentic here, I must admit that at times I am the Ghost. I can tend to see things, at times people, for what it/they can offer me. And in the midst of this, I sacrifice the ability to truly “see.”

I have missed having great friendships perhaps, I have missed enjoying nature at times, I have sacrificed authentically knowing myself even…because I didn’t choose to simply “be” with people.

I overlooked being curious, being present, being all there, in each moment.

This passage from the book has compelled me to make the following commitments:

1. Be curious from the inside out (go deep in reflecting with myself and my inner conversation).

2. Be curious about others.

3. Show up and simply be present in the moment.

4. See things for what they are.

5. See people for who they are (rather, perhaps, than my agenda or for what they might offer me).

6. Be aware of my interpretations and judgements and choose how I will respond to them.

7. Authentically bring to light the things that I might see better than others (live out my strengths, talents, and passions.

Will you join me?

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