My big challenge – will you join me? – le Bulletin ‘Conversation’*
Today I’m putting myself out there.
I’ve decided to start a challenge. I’ve decided to challenge me!
So as to make sure that I perform at my best, I’ve decided to make sure that I’m operating in an environment where I’m constantly challenged.
And I’d like you to play an active role in this challenge…
Yes, you! Are you up for this?
An important part of my challenge is the role you will play in it!
This is ‘My big challenge’ – but will you join me?
Are you in?
If you’re here then I guess the answer is yes,
but read on to be sure!
And let me know if you’re in, in the comments below!
Let’s start with a few questions which I’d like you to ask yourself to help set the scene for ‘My big challenge’.
How are your relationships?
- Are they strong? I mean really strong? I mean, not just loyal, but ROBUST!
- Are they honest? Yes, I mean really honest!
- Are they open? I mean transparent!
- Do they recover well from disagreement, criticism, conflict?
- Of course, we all have many different types of relationships, don’t we?
- Our partner
- Our family
- Our work colleagues
- And many, many more…
Please take a moment to really think about your answers to these questions.
Do you dare to disagree? Is conflict thinking?
The seed of the idea of challenging myself in this manner, came when I was chatting with a good friend Gael, who lives in Marseille and is soon to move to beautiful Cassis. Amongst the ‘1000’ topics we covered in our chat last week was a TEDTalk Gael uses for her English language students. It’s a talk born in the world of medical research but the topic is one which is valid for us all.
It’s about conflict and being afraid of conflict. When Gael said: “It’s a TEDTalk and it’s about how corporations think.” My reaction was. “Well, they don’t ‘think’ well – from my experience.”
Most people instinctively avoid conflict, but as Margaret Heffernan in this TEDTalk shows us, good disagreement is healthy, in fact, it’s central to progress. She illustrates (sometimes counterintuitively) how the best partners are not echo chambers — and how great research teams, relationships and businesses allow people to deeply disagree. Margaret says: “Conflict is thinking.”[You’ll find the link to this TEDTalk at the base fo this Conversation]
She says that to be sure we are getting the very best outcome [out of ourselves, others, teams, corporations] we need to step outside our comfort zone; we need to seek to surround ourselves with people who are different from ourselves: different backgrounds, disciplines, ways of thinking and then we need to work out how to engage with them. She adds that that requires a lot of patience and energy.
I want to take this idea one step further.
I found myself wondering how this approach to thinking can help me be better at what I do and who I am?
Where am I going with this?
All of this had me thinking about how I’m going with my life goals.
“Have I built an appropriate support team around myself to really really challenge me to perform at the best of my ability? Do I have mentors and sponsors? Do I hold myself accountable on my path to reach my life and career goals? Do I hold myself accountable as to progress on my path toward leading my dream life – to be the person I want to be? Well, do I?” I asked myself!
I then thought more about my relationships and how I handle disagreement, criticism and conflict: one-to-one and one-to-many.
Coincidentally, I’d recently been thinking about how as a modern western society we do NOT sufficiently challenge ourselves or those around us. And when we disagree or challenge ourselves or others, often we don’t do it well.
I then asked myself the following questions – perhaps you’d like to do the same right now: –
(and let me know your thoughts in the comments section below)
- Am I comfortable that my performance is the best it can be?
- How is my progress toward my life/career goals?
- Am I who I want to be and living my dream life – or am I stuck?
- Do I have enough appropriate and supportive people around me – those who challenge me to get to where I want to go, to live my dream life?
- Do I invite these people and others to challenge me? Do I listen? Really listen?
- Are my relationships sufficiently robust to handle the probable resulting disagreement and conflict?
- Have I surrounded myself with people who support me by ‘calling-me-out’ if I’m wrong or if I’m off-track?
- Do these people ‘call-me-out’ in a constructive, supportive way?
- Do I do this sufficiently with everyone possible: my loved ones, my colleagues, in my professional capacity?
I don’t think that our ‘anglo’ culture sufficiently encourages this behaviour!
Interestingly, I believe that French culture is better at it than the Anglo culture.
We are not, in my view, actively encouraged to disagree, to criticise or to argue for that matter. Disagreement and criticism are thought of as being negative and hence to be avoided.
“Not only does the avoidance of conflict stifle individual passion and subsequent motivation, but the current “zero-tolerance” era where conflict in the workplace is deemed inappropriate, has fueled a passive aggressive culture, which is highly detrimental to workers and organisation alike. Organisations should embrace open debate and healthy conflict in a controlled managed environment.” says Sheelagh Kennedy in the comments on the Ted.com website.
Few of us seem to have well-honed skills to constructively debate, or criticise without becoming either offended or worse, aggressive or defensive!
And more particularly…
We’re often too concerned about being either ‘politically correct’ or even so polite or well-mannered, that we don’t even dare to go there!
- Well, aren’t we?
- What do you think?
- I find that often I don’t dare to disagree!
- I’m not good at handling disagreement or conflict and often I tend to avoid it, so in the past, I have not actively encouraged those around me to challenge me!
- But I should be better at handling disagreement and taking criticism and handling conflict.
- I want to be better!
My answers to these questions have caused me to think deeply and then to create…
‘My big challenge’. A challenge – by me to me!
I know what I’m going to do – starting right now!
I’m going to audit my support group and review how I get these people to challenge me – get them to dare to disagree with me. I’m going to ask others around my to challenge me!
And I am also going to dare to disagree more often in my life!
This is what I want you to do – starting now!
I challenge you to challenge me.
I encourage you to challenge me!
I want you to challenge me!
Constructively, actively challenge me!
Do you agree?
Challenge me about what, you ask? Well about everything, anything?
Open slather! for example…
- What can I do better? Yep, your opinion counts! Tell me!
- Call me out if you think I’m off track – right now & in the future.
- Call me out if you think I should be doing more for you.
- Call me out if you think I should be doing more for me!
Starting right now! Are you in? Let’s get busy daring to disagree. Let’s get better at thinking!
And my big challenge involves you!
How many of you will challenge me, I wonder?
Will you dare to share your thoughts on this topic?
Will you dare to disagree?
Will you dare to continue to challenge me?
Will you dare to take on this challenge yourself?
See you in the comments section below – here is your chance!
And remember that you need to log-in to get involved – it only takes a second.
This is our first trial of le Bulletin ‘Conversation’ in a format where you can not only openly interact with me, but you can also interact and dare to challenge each other – respectful constructive challenging – here we go – Enjoy!
And in closing here is the Margaret Heffernan’s TEDtalk:
‘Dare to disagree’. Here you can watch/listen to it.
I’ve set it with French sub-titles in my attempt to create a tenuous link from today’s Conversation back to France in some way 😉
C’est tout pour aujourd’hui – That’s all for today – See you in le Bulletin and the ‘Conversation’ next Saturday!
PS: * What is the le Bulletin ‘Conversation’?
– Le Bulletin is the private weekly newsletter for MyFrenchLife.org community members.[Join and you shall receive.]
– Le Bulletin provides your weekend French immersion: our newest magazine articles to help you ‘Frenchify’ your life!
– The ‘Conversation’ is a weekly essay; a conversation of sorts, between Judy & members.
As we are a community comprising many curious Francophiles, myself included, there is no limit to the themes we cover in the ‘Conversation’! Each ‘Conversation contains at least one theme which can range from the meaning of life to French fashion to travel and experiences in and/or from France.
It is intended to be thought-provoking and often takes a philosophical approach to the challenges of life, relationships, careers, self-awareness and self-improvement.
We’re open to theme and topic suggestions and we dare you to disagree!