Episode 46: Meet in the Middle – Leadership Arts Associates

Episode 46: Meet in the Middle

The Transcript:

Well, hello there. You’re listening to The HRart of It, the official Leadership Arts Associates podcast where we talk people, potential and purpose. I am so excited and thrilled and honored to be your host. My name is Samm Smeltzer. Let’s just get a couple things out of the way. (1) This is the first podcast I am recording since coming back from vacation. Even though I only took two weeks of vacation in June, it felt like much longer because I think I checked out, probably, June 1st, which is probably why I have so much work coming back. That’s also why there was no podcast episodes for June. I had every intention in the world to do that, and then at the last minute, decided “No, I’m going to disconnect myself completely”. I wholeheartedly hope that you’re doing the same thing.

I know summer is not technically summer break for all of us who are in the working world, but it is still, at least, where I live on the East Coast where we start to see the glimpses of sunshine, and the warmth that allow us to get outside in some ways that we can’t during the winter. I hope that you are taking some time to enjoy that and take care of yourself and disconnect. You should do it on a regular basis because I know that I want to because it was incredible. I went for two weeks. I did not bring a laptop. That prevented me from doing any marketing graphic design, any major website overhaul or anything like that that I could get sucked into because I can’t do my design work on my iPad Pro. I probably could, but I don’t want to. I don’t know. I’m weird like that. I took my iPad Pro.

Really unlimited to me is, basically, writing and checking email. That was about it for me. I could go on to Facebook but really, really truly limited. It was wonderful. It was fantastic. I had enough activity that I didn’t feel like I was abandoning the business, but I was still away. It felt so great I didn’t want to come back. Yeah, let’s put that out there. That’s really what inspired this whole month’s series of episodes. If you saw in the newsletter that went out this morning or yesterday, I don’t … Yes, because today is Tuesday. Yesterday. That said, “Are you ready for a podcation?” (Laugh). No. The podcast isn’t going on hiatus again, but we’re going to be talking about things that inspired, when typically people take vacations or daycations or staycations because there’s a source of inspiration in us there.

Today is no different. It actually was inspired a couple months ago when I took a trip out to Cape May in the off season. You can go there in the off season. It really has this beautiful solitude to it. If you ever get the opportunity, please go. If you want to know where I stayed, I love to utilize Airbnb. It’s like a dream come true for me because I can imagine that I have homes in all these fantastic places. If you’re looking for a great place to stay, and you want to go in the off season, message me, email me, I will be happy to share that with you. We went to stay in this Airbnb. We happen to be a mile, if that, from the Cape May Zoo. Zoos have a very special place in my heart because I absolutely love animals. I love them. I find them fascinating. I think I’m somebody who could probably just watch videos of them all the time. I have artwork of animals all over my home so much so that people have referred to my house as a zoo.

On the flip side, I’m not really an outdoorsy individual. I’m not one that is going to want to go out and get up close and personal. The whole idea of a safari while it is very enticing, also scares me a little bit. I like the idea of the zoo because it’s a controlled environment where I can still appreciate their beauty. Now, as I have gotten older, definitely when I was little, zoos were just exciting because I was close to the animals. As I’ve gotten older, I really started to pay attention to (1) I guess this is like zoo culture 101. This is not what we’re talking about today, but how are the animals looking.

Last week, I guess, two weeks ago, I went to a different zoo. I went to the Santa Barbara Zoo when I was on vacation in California and I was with my aunt. She routinely would make comments about asking if the animals looked happy in their habitats and in their exhibits and was commenting on this like that. I couldn’t help but agree with her that something that has become more aware to me when I am traveling to places of what the animals are like in their habitats and their environments. Also, the mission that’s behind the facility. Whether I go to a facility, because I see one there and then I leave and I check it out, maybe this is because I’m an organizational development professional now where my interest comes. I go see the back story behind it like is it just a for profit zoo that they put in place to make some money, or is there a thought process to it, or are they rehabilitating to release the animals back out into the wild, or are they a safe haven for animals because they can’t be released back out into the wild, or are they protecting those that are on the endangered list to make sure that they don’t go extinct entirely. Paying attention to those things.

That was a completely super tangent but the whole zoo dynamic for me has been morphing and changing as my personal professional growth and I get older and having an awareness of things that have been happening. Probably one of the main ways that happens for me is social media, primarily, Facebook of people sharing all things. You have to filter what is out there. You have to make judgment calls as to quality versus quantity versus entertainment, but there is a wealth of things that people share that really start to make you think about things differently even if they’re not wholeheartedly true, but that could be a completely different episode for another day.

Today, the inspiration comes from, actually, listening to commentary that people say when they are at the exhibits or habitats looking at the animals. There was one comment that really struck me because I thought, even though it was a sarcastic remark, a joking remark, it opens up a whole can of worms of things to think about when you start putting it in a broader context. This actually happened in front of the lion’s habitat. The family was walking by and there was two lions in this habitat, a male and a female lion. Somebody said, I don’t remember … Well, I shouldn’t say I don’t remember. I didn’t hear the context before it. I heard the last remark because they yelled it because they are walking past, but said, “How would you feel if you were trapped with one man for the rest of your life?” That really struck something within me. Not like a nerve. It wasn’t like a trigger but was just like “Huh, that’s interesting”. We talk about animals in that capacity, but what if that were true for all relationships whether romantic or not romantically based.

Think about, if I trap you with your friend or best friend for the rest of your life or if I trap you with your romantic relationship. Whether it’s your boy friend, your husband for the rest of your life. I think that when we talk about relationships, and I’ve talked about this before, there is a wide spectrum of when compromise is appropriate when there’s something that we could do or our own accountability and their accountability and meeting somewhere in the middle versus unhealthy relationships, toxic relationships. There’s a whole spectrum that’s out there. However, with that being said, I truly believe that the extreme scenarios where people are in truly toxic relationships, unhealthy relationships where it is necessary to remove them from your life or put boundaries in place if you can’t remove them for one reason or another. Those are not as common as people think.

I think that most of us play in the relationship realm of things that we could choose to repair. We could choose to compromise. We could choose to meet in the middle and make a productive relationship. This is employment wise as well, but we don’t want to see it that way. We don’t. That’s our ego getting in the way. That’s fear getting in the way. None of us want to be the first one to be vulnerable because none of us want to be the one that’s left out in the cold when that other person chooses not to meet us in the middle. As I’ve grown personally, professionally, spiritually, I’ve really gotten to a place in my life where I want to make sure that I came to the middle and if you chose not to meet me there that that’s your call.

I’m not going to go over the line because I’m not going to give completely of myself where I could lose myself and really truly damage or hurt myself because that’s almost like a self sabotaging behavior when we give way too much when we’re trying to make something happen. At least, if I know I owned what I needed to own and came to the middle, came to the middle ground, even chose to be the first one to be vulnerable and you chose not to meet me there, I did what I could. I did what I could to try to have a relationship and you non-verbally chose that it’s a relationship that you do not want. That’s a powerful statement for someone to make to you, but they can only make it if those parameters are put into place.

There’s a very powerful exercise in Gabrielle Bernstein’s book. I slowed down saying that because I’m trying to remember the title. I think it’s Miracles Now. It’s either May Cause Miracles or Miracles Now. I totally can find that if you’re interested in it. It’s a powerful exercise that I put a lot of … I don’t put them through, but I encourage them to take it on, which is cleaning up your side of the street. Before we have any relationship and we get to choose, what we’re going to blame them for or what they should be accountable for, we’ve got to clean up what we need to own. There’s always about 50% that we have to own. That 50% could be a very creative 50%. It may not be the most blatant. I’m not saying it’s the most loud, but there is chunks that we could own in every scenario. Whether it’s the stories that we make up or not even make up but the stories that we tell ourselves that feed into our emotion that make them so stronger and reactive. Whether we become so defensive that we don’t even let the other party talk. Even if they’re trying to heal and they’re trying to make things better, they were not letting that happen.

I think that there’s a lot of things that we can own. I think we have to accept that first. I would like to think … I shouldn’t say I would like to think. That is my target client that I use for coaching. If you are a coaching client that comes to me, does not want to own what you can own and take action in the things that you can take action but wants to routinely vent or blame another party and say “Because those things are in place, that’s why that you can’t be happy”. If you don’t want to take control, if you don’t want to own it and do it and live it, we don’t really mesh well together. I have a very strong belief that there’s always something that we can own. We always have decisions. Even going back to that thought process of meeting there in the middle, if you are in the middle and those people don’t show up, you can choose to stay there and wait or you can choose to leave. When it comes to my friendships, when it comes to even professional relationships, I can tell you where I’ve partnered with people and I’ve gone to the middle and they have not met me there and that has damaged our relationships.

The next question, which is a whole another topic is if you want to repair them or not. When we establish relationships, it’s all about creating a connection. It’s establishing trust and feeling safe. If you have a relationship, I would hope that there is some level of trust, there’s some level of safety and some level of connection that justifies and makes it okay to go to that place and meet people in the middle. What I found so interesting about this zoo comment in front of the lions was that in that statement, that is making that middle ground area not optional. It’s a physical parameter. These two animals are placed into a cage and they have to be there their entire life per se. I don’t know. I didn’t look into it that much. I should’ve done that. I’ll probably going to do that after this, after I record this while I finish my coffee is to read about these lines. If you had to stay there, would that encourage you to start looking at things differently? Because if you had no other options and you had to spend the rest of your life with that person, if it turned it into a relationship that you had to have or you would have none, would the need for human connection challenge you to be open-minded and talk to that person?

My purpose for today is a little blip and when we get to the challenge is not so much for those of you because I know so many of you are living in toxic and unhealthy relationships like legitimate unhealthy and toxic relationships. I do not want you to listen to this episode and believe that I am watering it down or get the impression that you should water it down. I don’t want this to anybody back who’s gotten to a place where they know that they’re in a place that is not healthy for them. You’ll know. The purpose of today is for those of us who want to quickly jump to that because of fear of getting hurt. Not physically hurt because once again, I’m not talking about toxic relationships but talking about the fear that we all have that when we’re vulnerable, that someone is going to tell me that “I’m not good enough for them, I’m not worth it for them, that they don’t want me and what that pain and that hurt is going to do to us”. This is, essentially, the beginning stages of heartbreak.

As they’ve happen more and more, maybe you’ve put more walls and more blocks up that has basically made it so that you don’t want to let it come down. You don’t want to take the chance anymore, but why connect? That is my challenge to you this week, is why connect? Why do you even have to do that if you don’t want to meet in the middle, you don’t want to have compromise, you don’t want to take self accountability in certain circumstances. In all circumstances, we should all own what we need to own. If you don’t want to do that, then why do you want to connect with individuals, anyways. If you don’t want to have the truly healthy, deep-rooted, powerful relationships. That’s truly what they become. They become this powerful relationships.

When we choose to own what we want to own, not want to own but need to own and you find somebody, you connect with somebody who’s going to own all their stuff crap too, it becomes a very powerful relationship. I think that’s something that I’ve seen transform in my life in the last three years. The people that I have that surround me when we come together and even if there is a conflict of any sort when we talk about, it always comes down as “Oh, I will totally own that I did X, Y, Z, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. I’m so sorry”. The other person will say “No, no, no. This is what I did. We both own what we could’ve brought to the table, how we could’ve made this work and where it had gone wrong”.

I usually know very quickly when I approach something like that and I own it and the other person brings up “Well, yeah, you should’ve if it turns into a blame”. It’s not going to get to that powerful place, that powerful resonating relationship, the connection that I’m looking for because they’re not willing to own it. They’re not willing to be invested and accountable for the relationship whether it’s romantic or not, professional or personal, family or not family. This happens every single day in all of our relationships. Depending on the relationship and how big it is to us, that sometimes magnifies it quite a bit. I’m not going to discount at all that marriage, if this is something that’s resonating with you thinking about your marriage, that’s a tough one to tackle, especially because you think that you’ve been vulnerable in your marriage, you think that you’ve put yourself out there and then there’s a chance that you’re going to approach this and find out that your lifetime partner, the one that has committed to you doesn’t want to meet you in the middle.

If you want to talk about therapy, marriage therapy, counseling, anything, family therapy, a lot of that is trying to get groups to get to the middle. Typically, they are dealing with, sometimes, some of the really toxic and unhealthy relationships and people still wanting and having a strong desire to mend them. In fact, I think it’s incredible how many are in the situations and they can’t walk away versus those of us who find ourselves on the lower end of the spectrum and we can so easily walk away. My challenge to you is to really think and spend some time and get very clear as to why you have a desire to connect with people. You said, as your source of motivation when you’re really truly evaluating if it’s worth it to go to the middle with someone rather than walk away. This is how relationships work, relationships take work, and really great powerful relationships. It will take a lot of hard work. They will require you to be vulnerable. They will require you to be afraid of how someone is going to react.

In that moment, a lot of people to surprise you will further affirm that you’re on the right path to get to where you want to be as far as human connection goes, which is something that we all crave. It’s just built into our DNA. We all crave it. Depending on where we are in our lives, changes why we crave it and what, specifically, we’re craving at that time. Yeah, that is my zoo inspired episode for today. I thank you as random individuals and their intriguing conversation as they were watching the lions. I hope that this served you and resonated with you in some way. As always, we strongly encourage you to utilize one of our popular journaling techniques as some practice as you finish listening to these episodes. If you’re driving, do not try to write and drive, but you can ponder this mentally. After you’re done listening to this episode, capture a thought, feeling, want, or need. What are you thinking in this moment? What are you feeling in this moment? What are you wanting in this moment or needing?

In relation to talking about connection, what started to think about? I guarantee, there were relationships that came to mind as I start describing some of them. Those that came to mind, that came to mind for a very real reason. You want to process and explore that further. How are you feeling? If what I was saying made you angry, that’s something very important and significant as well. What are you wanting? The answer to the challenge question of why are you seeking connection or why is it so important to you could’ve came very clear by just answering the question of what do you want right now or even more so, what do you need right now, but use those or process as further. Because as always, my hope is that this is helpful and serves you and moving you forward in your journey and your aspirations.

Next week, we are going to talk about cars. Yes, they are vroom-vroom cars but it is going to be Disney inspired because I was on vacation, got to go watch a movie, which is something I rarely get to do at the movie theater. I went with my whole family and we saw Cars 3. There was a very powerful message in there, which should not surprise you because Disney delivers all kinds of very powerful messages but learn next week about this message from Cars 3 that will inspire our episode for next week. Until then, have a great day.

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