COLLABORATIVE INNOVATION AND THE OVERVIEW EFFECT
III. Intense Identity Expansion
Dr. Mark Goulston – According to Warren Bennis, former Chairman of The Leadership Institute at USC, Mark is an articulate intuitive. He knows that what people at every level of relationship, company, organization don’t say often determines their behavior more than what they do say. He shares this, amongst numerous interpersonal experiences: “In my own experience, the Glass Talking Stick enables someone to fully come from their true present awareness. By sharing without interruption or unsolicited advice and in a psychologically non-judgmental space, it’s as if one gets to give an ‘oral report’ on their ‘true’ self without mental or past-based constraints. If you’re like most people, you will remember that whenever you have been called upon to speak – all the way back to an oral report on something in grade school – such an experience really helps you to be aware when you are being real, candid, honest and authentic (versus when you are being inauthentic and faking the audience and yourself). The Glass Talking stick is a vehicle for helping amplify that experience of true self-expression and self-experience.
My first usage of it happened when I met with a man named John in his mid-forties, who I’d been mentoring for five years – along with his girlfriend, Jessica. Both had been through many personal and professional ups and downs and both had finally arrived at the beginning of a sound, solid and successful future promising to be bright for them both. On this occasion, I told John about the talking stick and how to use it and that I would go first.
I pulled the stick out of its sheath, grabbed the cool and smooth glass with both hands and rested it on top of my seated thighs. I then took a couple breaths and began to tear up. I become emotional, looked John squarely in the eye and said, “What I’m aware of is how much I love both you and Jessica and how many ups and downs and very difficult times you have both been through, and how that you’ve now landed in the beginning of a very good place, and how filled with joy that makes me. I’m also aware of my commitment to helping you both in any way I can for the rest of my life.”
I then handed the stick to John and said, “Your turn.” John is not as in touch with his feelings as I am, in that his analytic and problem-solving skills far eclipse his emotions. That’s not to say that he didn’t feel things deeply, which is why I love mentoring him, but that like most left-brain men, he was not very skilled or comfortable in expressing them.
He took the Glass Talking Stick, and like me before him, took a couple deep breaths, became emotional and said: “What I’m aware of is how you, Mark, have been consistently unflinching and steadfast in your support of both Jessica and me for five years without asking for anything and our never paying you. I don’t think I or Jessica have ever known anyone like that in our lives, anyone who has ever done that. And what I’m aware of is that for years I’ve wanted to thank you and tell you how much that has meant to her and me, but I never did, and I never thought I would get the chance to do it, because I’m emotionally kind of shy. But I’m getting to do it now and it feels so good.” Then John began to cry with a wide appreciative grin on his face.
That was the beginning of my talking stick journey. And then along the way, something happened. The Glass Talking stick has become fully a ‘listening stick’ as well, such that when I am holding it and someone is talking to me, I listen to and hear what they are saying. Between and under their words, that cries out to me to be heard.