Communication is the number one issue across the board in relationships – personal or professional. We talk at each other instead of with each other. We avoid addressing the things that make us uncomfortable. Even worse, we run from conversations that make us feel vulnerable.
Given our lack of coping skills and avoidance techniques that range in the thousands, how to do overcome what keeps us afraid, angry, ignorant and immobile?
It isn’t like the subject hasn’t been address by those far greater prepared and the expertise, imho, spans several areas for drawing solutions. Daniel Goleman speaks of emotional intelligence. Howard Gardner address multiple intelligences and Peter Senge touts the learning organization and systems thinking to get things rolling in the right direction. There are many others that could be included as well. We tend to compartmentalize and segment our approaches when perhaps a holistic approach is what we really need.
Some years ago after giving the corporate ladder and my marriage the best I could possibly offer (or so I thought) and having both worlds crumble, I spent a year in self-examination and analysis with the help of a number of folks qualified beyond measure to assist. I love to go deep and knowing self is tantamount to understanding others, or so the story goes.
As I explored the depths, the same notion kept coming up…. just talk. Okay… How? Of course communication doesn’t happen by just talking; it happens from how we talk but more so how we listen. Communication is a symbiosis of gesticulation, words and understanding.
During that year I went from approaching $60K to less than $6K in income and the attending self-deprecating thoughts and feelings one experiences from lack of opportunity and/or performance. My life was in shambles and I let my family down. That sounds terrible, and it felt that way. I have to say it was also one of the best years of my life. I was able to get really quiet, listen and observe my feelings and thoughts.
I found an oasis in the desert, literally, and began to restore my life. Living in Phoenix seemed only too appropriate since I was living the legend. I also found a lot of unanswered questions about building relationships and, more importantly, finding fulfillment. My first attempts were devastating, mostly through no fault of my own. My own innocence and naivety of human nature brought the house down. So I had to rebuild and remodel with new material.
Then I got a break. I had the opportunity to produce a television show. I had gotten involved with the Christown Lions Club and a public access program they sponsored. When the time came, the opportunity literally fell in my lap without saying a word. I treated it with the honor and respect I felt it deserved and although I was asked to do a kind of ‘new age’ show I opted for staying more mainstream. I’d had a bad experience on the radio with a ‘new age’ event I helped produce and I didn’t think it wise to set myself up for more uninformed public trials and tribulations.
One World became an avenue to explore how we integrate inner and outer realities, work through common fears and learn how to communicate effectively across the gamut of relationships. It was an education of many lifetimes with over 100 shows over about two years, done live to tape and no post production. I was scared of making mistakes initially, but gradually loosened up. It’s actually where ‘Zen’ began to emerge. About a half-dozen shows in the crew started calling me Zen. It came from the ‘subtitle’ of Zendor that I was using as a tongue-in-cheek ‘door to what is’ reference. The latter is a story for another time.
In the process of production, I met a gentleman who had founded a homeless transitional facility called New Day Educational Center. I had interviewed him and a graduate about their divergent yet serendipitous engagement. A few months later he approached me with an opportunity to do a commercial show on community activism and, even though it meant giving up the public access show, I jumped at the chance. I thought I could begin to generate conversations that could help Phoenicians connect and build better communities of practice and service.
Obviously it was still quite the amateur approach, but I still like the intro to the promotional video we produced. It carries a message even today.