Tag Archives: Brené Brown

Monday Morning Moment – Empathy – Key to Creativity and Innovation – What?!

Photo Credit: Andy Orin, Lifehacker

Empathy is no soft skill. In fact, it can be a rare commodity in today’s workplace where we are competing for jobs, customers, time with the boss…pushing for that edge which makes us stand out over the guy down the hall.

We have seen empathy in corporate culture. Amazon immediately comes to mind, as does Apple. These companies have studied the wants and needs of their customers and they have put that research into play in their service and products. Customer loyalty is a huge outcome of feeling understood and valued.

Empathy and sympathy are two very different human experiences and expressions. To sum up the differences between the most commonly used meanings of these two terms: sympathy is feeling compassion, sorrow, or pity for the hardships that another person encounters, while empathy is putting yourself in the shoes of another. [read more at Dictionary.com]

Our neighborhood is in the middle of a huge engineering project being done by our local electric company. The wires are being put underground thereby keeping our service from being interrupted by windstorms. Various technicians and contractors have come to each of our front doors to let us know, courteously and apologetically, what disruptions must happen to eventually provide this service. The sub-contractors, moving throughout the neighborhood, have worked quickly and quietly, keeping disturbance at a minimum. Their work will all be completed soon with 1) only what disruption was absolutely necessary and 2) with a high expression of empathy for their presence on our streets and in our yards.

Disruption devoid of empathy is no business process anyone wants in their workplace…no matter what the outcome or benefit. Unfortunately, when it happens (and it does), we put up with it for what comes out of it, and because we have no other choice… If we are not careful our own empathy for one another suffers. Mark that.

Photo Credit: Lifehacker

For years, the word and process of empathy had become so common, it became almost without meaning. Something just ordinary. Nothing special. Now, it’s rising in favor again…probably, seriously, because of how competitive businesses have become. Too often, we err in business with putting innovation and technology as goals and standards without considering the customer or colleague. Decision-making proceeding ahead of information-gathering and analyzing impact on those most affected is not the way up.

Marla Gottschalk says it well in her piece Disrupting Organizations With Empathy, Forward thinking organizations hold great empathy for their potential customers. They design products that not only appeal to our emotions and senses, but address the problems we wrestle with in our daily lives. In each product, process or service — there is a little of us represented.

As long as we have empathy, I believe we’ll have innovation.

The same truth applies to the developing frameworks that support our employees. With empathy, we can achieve significant advances not only the way we work, but how we ultimately feel about our work lives. Whether we are considering leadership (See how empathy affects perceived leadership here), feedback, career development or work spaces — empathy matters.

Viewing work life from another’s perspective, can reap powerful results. We need to follow behind our employees and support their journey...Measuring our workplace problems is simply not enough to encourage healthy workplaces.” – Marla Gottschalk

Photo Credit: Brian Solis

I watched an episode of Chase Jarvis Live where Jarvis interviews Brian Solis – author of What’s the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences and X: The Experience When Business Meets Design. Brian Solis is one incredibly smart individual, and what captivated me the most in that 45-minute interview? What he said about empathy: “What do you want somebody to feel after they’re done with you in every moment of truth?…Who am I really trying to reach? What’s a day in the life of their world? What could I do to have an impact in their world?…What does a relationship really mean? When you see the world outside [from their side], then you see the role you’re going to play…Empathy unlocks a whole new level of perspective…It’s not good enough to be good enough…or the best. You have to now understand the impact you want to have and the role you want to play in someone’s life and then who that person is and design for that. It’s so inspiring.” – Brian Solis

Marcel Schwantes lists empathy is one of the 10 leadership habits found in the world’s best leaders. Empathy is a discipline. It is hard skill that every leader and every person equipping themselves to lead must see and seek as valuable to leading well. Otherwise, the lack of empathy will eventually have a pervasive effect on the workplace and the service and product. Don’t let this happen to you or your team.

Finally, I want to close on a much-loved classic TV show episode. It is Star Trek, The Original Series. This episode is titled The Empath.Blog - EmpathyPhoto Credit: tos.trekcore.com

In the YouTube video of one of the episode’s scenes, Captain Kirk, Dr. McCoy and Spock are in captivity. The humanoid woman Gem is with them. She is unable to speak but has extraordinary empathic powers. She can feel the pain of another and take it into herself, thereby healing the other person, at a cost to herself. She is also learning from these three what genuine care and self-sacrifice are.

YouTube Video – “Empath” Episode – Star Trek – The Original Series

The Empath Episode – Plot summary, quotes, & other Trekkie details via Memory Alpha

Not the sort of topic we often toss around in our conference rooms or strategy meetings. Still…if we want to offer the best and be the best in our organizations, the lessons are clear…as are the warnings.

Empathy is Actually a Choice – Daryl Cameron, Michael Inzlicht, and William A. Cunningham

Why Genuine Empathy is Good For Business – Jeff Booth

The Importance of Empathy in Everyday Life – Video – Andy Orin

The Key to Creativity and Innovation is Empathy – Brian Solis [Video from CreativeLive – Chase Jarvis Live]

YouTube Video – Brené Brown on Empathy

These 10 Leadership Habits Have Been Found in the World’s Best Leaders – Marcel Schwantes

The Invention of Empathy: Rilke, Rodin, and the Art of “Inseeing” – Maria Popova

Worship Wednesday – Finding God in the Dark – the Dark that Cannot Extinguish His Light

Blog - Sitting in the Dark - Time Magazine

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.John 1:1-5

How extraordinary that revelation can come waiting in an exam room of a doctor’s office! I was waiting…of course, and noticed the pile of magazines on the counter (to help us waiting lose count of the time). In the pile was an old issue of a Time magazine. The cover story was intriguing. Who of us hasn’t considered, if not encountered, God during a dark night of the soul?

Flipping the pages over to the article, I found a familiar face. A face I hadn’t seen in decades: Barbara Brown…well, Barbara Brown Taylor now. She was my residence advisor my first year in the dorms of Emory University. Blog - Sitting in the dark - Time Magazine - Barbara Brown Taylor

 I loved our occasional talks together. She was funny, beautiful, loving, very real, and captivating – to be so close to our ages yet wise beyond her years. Flawed like the rest of us, but yielded somehow to an otherness of life that gives grace to our flaws, and her own.

Blog - Finding God in the Dark - Barbara BrownPhoto Credit: qotd.org

Barbara Brown Taylor. That day I was glad for the long wait and devoured the Time article (by Elizabeth Dias). It’s lovely to rediscover a friend from our past and to find one who had become so celebrated.

[Sidebar: It was just that same week when I found another old friend via Facebook. He and I lived across from each other, in an old brick apartment building, while in our 20’s. Rick Holm was a medical resident and I was the cancer nurse specialist at Grady Hospital in those days. We became friends and shared friends, and Saturday morning coffee, and late night stories. Now that same Rick Holm is The Prairie Doc, of Brookings, South Dakota. I wasn’t surprised.]

Barbara Brown Taylor, author of Learning to Walk in the Dark, shared some of her story in that magazine article and her thinking on experiencing the dark. Many of us try to avoid the darkness but, for Barbara, it is a place (or experience) to embrace – to discover, and to discover God there. The video produced by The Work of the People gives a winsome glimpse into what she talks about in her book – through clips of her and other writers talking about pain.Blog - Sitting in the Dark - Barbara Brown TaylorPhoto Credit: The Work of the People

I personally prefer light to darkness, although much of what she and her cohorts in the video say about darkness is. We have nightlights in the house, not because anyone is afraid of the dark but, to avoid not falling, tripping over something or running painfully into something.

We definitely need to learn from the darkness in our lives, as Barbara Brown Taylor writes. We are meant to incorporate that learning into the grace we have for ourselves and those around us in their own darknesses. It’s the light, though, that I am most grateful for. The pitch-black dark of suffering will come to all of us, sometimes in ways we can’t even fathom in daytime.

This one thing I know: We are never alone in that dark place.

Blog - Sitting in the Dark - Light - poetrybydeborahann

Photo Credit: Poetry by Deborah Ann Belka

In this moment…the darknesses closest to my heart (hard family situations, the suffering in the world, my own fears) are brightened in the light of God’s Word.  I recognize that, in the darkness around us, there is a call to action. We are meant to do whatever we can to bring light into the darkness of others. I am reminded of Chris Rice’s song Go Light the World.

We can trust the Giver of Light to emblazon our darkness.

Jesus is familiar with darkness. – He brought light into the darkness at the creation of our world (Genesis 1:1-4John 1:1-5); his birth was heralded by angels to shepherds in the dark of that Bethlehem night (Luke 2:8-16); he lived a life that exposed the darkness through the light of His truth and love (John 8:12); seeking the Father’s face in the dark (Mark 1:35); surrendering His life for ours on a cross  against a black midday sky (Mark 15:33); resurrected from the darkness of a tomb (Luke 24); – with us now in every situation we can’t see our way out of (Deuteronomy 31:6, Matthew 28:20) … His light will never be extinguished by the dark (John 1:5).

Whatever our darkness, He brings light. Worship with me:

Light of the World
You stepped down into darkness
Opened my eyes
Let me see
Beauty that made
This heart adore You
Hope of a life
Spent with You

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

King of all days
Oh, so highly exalted
Glorious in Heaven above
Humbly You came
To the earth You created
All for love’s sake became poor

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross
I’ll never know how much it cost
To see my sin upon that cross

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me

Here I am to worship
Here I am to bow down
Here I am to say that You’re my God
You’re altogether lovely
Altogether worthy
Altogether wonderful to me*

*Here I Am to Worship written by Michael W. Smith, Debbie Smith, Paul Baloche

Waiting

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I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD.         –Psalm 27:13-14    

Waiting. Most of the time we take it as part and parcel of life. Waiting for the first tomatoes of summer. For the call to board the plane. For just the right moment when you pull the brownies out of the oven. For…and this is the best waiting of all… the phone call that the baby is on her way.

Waiting 2Waiting

Other times waiting is hard. Like waiting for the diagnosis. For the announcement of whether or not you still have a job. Waiting for the “I love you” or “I forgive you” or “Everything’s going to be alright.” Or the non-communication screaming that maybe everything is not all right. Waiting is hard.

We fill our calendars with work and play, appointments and dates. We don’t want to lose a moment of life to the unplanned. On this summer Saturday, the fatigue of a full week caught up with me, and I lost a gorgeous afternoon to sleep and sleepy reflection.

That’s when the waiting surfaced in my thoughts.

I don’t know about you, but for me, when life gets quiet, the waiting gets the loudest. With it are the answers my brain creates in the face of non-answers. I was at a conference this week where Brené Brown talked about this very thing.

Brown said in the face of non-communication, or being disconnected, our brains are wired to come up with the conversation that we haven’t had…our version of what that conversation would be. How those conversations (in our heads) go depend on how waiting has taken its toll on us.

We wait on that phone call, text, or email…and the longer it takes to come, the more we think ill of what’s happening with that person or our relationship or our work situation. In the waiting, we may panic, or we decide proactively that it doesn’t matter, we don’t care, he/she/it is not worth it.

The sooner I can move the waiting on a person or life situation to a different object, that being God, the faster peace is restored in my thoughts. That’s what happened for me this afternoon….

In the midst of my struggle, with waiting on so many things…God broke through. He helped me rein in my stampeding thoughts, through the quiet of our back yard…and the writing of Andrew Murray. 

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“The only difference between nature and grace is this, that what the trees and the flowers do unconsciously, as they drink in the blessing of the light, is to be with us a voluntary and a loving acceptance. Faith, simple faith in God’s word and love, is to be the opening of the eyes, the opening of the heart, to receive and enjoy the unspeakable glory of His grace. And just as the trees, day by day, and month by month, stand and grow into beauty and fruitfulness, just welcoming whatever sunshine the sun may give, so it is the very highest exercise of our Christian life just to abide in the light of God, and let it, and let Him, fill us with the life and the brightness it brings.” – Andrew Murray, Waiting for God

“Let waiting be our work, as it is His. And, if His waiting is nothing but goodness and graciousness, let ours be nothing but a rejoicing in that goodness, and a confident expectancy of that grace. And, let every thought of waiting become to us the simple expression of unmingled and unutterable blessedness, because it brings us to a God who waits that He may make Himself known to us perfectly as the gracious One.   My soul, wait thou only upon God!”   Andrew Murray, Waiting for God

“Father, teach us all how to wait.”   – Andrew Murray, Waiting for God

Teach me to wait on You, O God…and everything else will order itself in Your kind and loving hands. I determine to rest in You.

Goodreads Quotes from Andrew Murray’s Waiting for God

Waiting on God by Andrew Murray

The Waiting is the Hardest Part by David Mathis

5 reasons God Makes us Wait by Eric Speir

Waiting on God – How Do We Wait? – by Sylvia Gunter

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