You Want Me To Do What?

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Listen Now: You Want Me To Do What?

Aaron LeClair values transparency, openness and relationships with people above all else. So what to do, when he finds himself in an organization asking him to go against those values? In this episode, we talk about his experience in this space, what he learned, and we even dive into an example of this misalignment that included yours truly.

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Cold Open

Aaron: I’m gonna disappoint Laura. I, I know she values this contract. I’m, how am I gonna have this conversation? It’s funny that a business transaction can get so personal so quickly.

Standard Open

In this episode, I speak with Aaron LeClair. I used to coach Aaron, and you hear some of that come out in me here as we talk – hey, what can I say? It’s what I do…

Aaron: The, the value systems when you’re centered on that. Sorry. The value systems when I’m centered on that.

Laura: There you go.

Aaron: I’m getting coached in the podcast–

Aaron: –so you guys are, you guys are hearing it in real time.

Laura: I just pointed at myself by the way. It’s a cue: “I do”?

We talk about language and how much it is linked to mindset, and how it takes concerted effort to break old habits

Laura: What did you come up with? What was driving that for you?

Aaron: Honestly…

Laura: Oh! There it is!

Aaron: See, I still do that – I need to get back in coaching. We need to get– I can’t believe I did that. Edit that out.

Laura: It’s been a while.

Aaron: Edit that out immediately.

But mostly we talk about alignment. Alignment between personal values and organizational values. What happens when you realize that your values don’t align with the organization you’re a part of? And we talk openly about a real example that involved yours truly – breaking down one of the most awkward conversations we’ve ever had.

Aaron: I’m gonna disappoint Laura. I, I know she values this contract. I’m, how am I gonna have this conversation? It’s funny that a business transaction can get so personal so quickly.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And so here we are the next day or whatnot and I, I call, you know, I call you up or we had a scheduled meeting. I cannot remember. And for some– I generally think of myself as (clearly not right this minute) but–

[Laughter 43:41]

Aaron: –I generally think of myself as being fairly articulate. We’ve always had very productive meetings. Uh, minus all my filler. And I, it was a mess.

Without further adieu, I’ll let you now listen to my interview with Mr. Aaron LeClair.


Laura: Alright, Aaron, thank you so much for being here on the show. Could you please introduce yourself to the listeners?

Aaron: So, thanks for having me. My name’s Aaron LeClair. I’ve been in technology and management and leadership for about 15 years now. Uh, excited to be here and talk with you.

Laura: Nice. Alright, cool, so, uh, let’s, let’s capture for the listeners how we met. Um, when was that? How long have I known you now?

Aaron: Oh, man, it’s been–

Laura: Do you remember?

Aaron: No.

Laura: It’s 2018–

Aaron: No, I don’t.

Laura: –now.

[Laughter 00:45]

Aaron: Feels like forever.

Laura: Was it 2015 probably?

Aaron: It would’ve had to have been because it was at the old space.

Laura: Yeah. Okay.

Aaron: So–

Laura: So, uh, so what do you — I’m always really curious to hear this– what do you remember about meeting me or your first introduction to who I am?

Aaron: Good question. That’s back when we had the old bean bag room.

Laura: Yup.

Aaron: ‘Cause I just remember–

[Laughter 01:05]

Aaron: –that you, you were brought in to take people to the bean bag room and none of us knew if that was good or bad. You know?

Laura: Oh man.

Aaron: It was, it was 50/50. It was just a mystery. That’s all we knew for sure.

Laura: Ooh. Sounds very mysterious.

Aaron: It was. You know–

[Laughter 00:19]

Aaron: –an old bean bag room doesn’t really– it adds the mystique for sure.

Laura: Yeah. So you and I worked together in, um, several different capacities–

Aaron: Yeah.

Laura: –right? ‘Cause you were working on really building up the organization and so we were talking about everything from organizational structure and human capital processes to leadership development and, of course, we worked together in executive coaching. Um, oh, and you came through the Leading a Grounded Life workshop.

Aaron: I, I really wanted to make sure I sampled the full offering.

Laura: Yeah.

[Laughter 01:49]

Aaron: Just gotta–

Laura: Gotta get a full variety.

Aaron: –get the full palette.

Laura: Yeah. Awesome. And, so, one of the things I just love to ask my guests about, you know, what were some of the biggest insights for you that have stuck with you even two, three years later?

Aaron: [02:04] Well, what was really interesting for me was the way that we, we met and that we were introduced. You kind of came into the organization I imagine how you come into a lot of organizations which is based on a need or a pain. We have a problem–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: –or we have something we wanna address, not necessarily a problem, but come on in and help us “fix” things (and I’m doing air quotes).

Laura: Yeah. They can’t see that but thank you for saying it.

Aaron: See, you know, it’s my first podcast.

Laura: I do the same thing. I’m like, “I’m doing air quotes that you can’t see.”

[Laughter 02:29]

Aaron: It’s, you know, I’m sure that’s the industry way to say that.

Laura: Uh huh.

Aaron: So, air quotes aside, you know, you come in that way but we, we quickly shifted the engagement to a much more positive one which is really more growth and future oriented which was really cool for me. I, and I had never worked in an organization with somebody in that capacity. Uh, which was a completely new environment for me and it was neat to see how you kind of always take psychology and you go towards, you know, the, all the head shrink, you know, stereotypes and not realizing that this is real stuff that addresses the organization at a, a very actionable level.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And when we started digging into those things that were really important to me from a process standpoint or from a growth capability standpoint, or anything like that, it was really amazing how big that field opened up and all the things that we could do.

Laura: Awesome. I love that. That’s really neat ’cause I, I actually thought you were gonna go a different direction. I thought you were gonna say that we came in with one idea, um, or problem in mind and that it ended up being, like, oh, there’s a different problem to resolve. But for you it actually was really changing the nature of the whole feel of the engagement and being about where do we wanna go, what do we wanna be, and how do we get there?

Aaron: Yeah. It was. And, and it could always be looked at that way as being a series of problems but I think what we did at the time that was really positive with the engagement was that we really switched our view, right? When you’re looking at problems, you’re looking behind yourself.

Laura: [04:01] Mm hmm.

Aaron: When you look towards growth, you’re always looking forward. And with one of those things, it’s, it just changes your, your attitude towards it and, and now you’re excited. It’s not corrective, it’s expansive.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And it’s just, I don’t know, the paradigm shift I think really affected the company ’cause, like I said, everyone was wondering, “Who’s this person and why are we broken?”

[Laughter 04:22]

Aaron: And that’s not really the case.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: And it’s because of the way that we’re framed to look at it. And so, once we shifted that lens in, everybody was really engaged ’cause now it’s an offering, it’s an opportunity, it’s, it’s, it’s growth.

Laura: I love that and I wanna actually go back to how you put the word fixed in air quotes because everything that you’re saying now is– I’m totally on the soapbox right now. I’m preaching constantly to people. There is no right/wrong. There is no good/bad. There is no one solution. And so even a word like fix is, like, it implies that, oh, it’s now fixed and therefore we are done working on it and that’s never the case. We are always gonna be able to find new, better ways to do things. So, it’s about more or less. We can always become more and more effective, even if it’s, okay, we’ve got the most up-to-date technology that we’re using to, quote unquote, “fix” this problem now. Well, in a year, there’s gonna be something else that’s better and so it’s not, you’re just never done, right? So, the more we can look at it as we’re just moving and we’re progressing rather than thinking “We’re broken. How do we fix it?”

Aaron: Well, that paradigm is an interesting thing. Generally, in technology and as somebody in technology leadership, what you find, especially if you’ve come– so my background is in technology. I’ve done product development, engineering my entire career and we, as engineers, are trained to, to fix things or to–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: [05:53] –create things and so that’s very natural for us. Uh, and, and we have a parlance and a language that, that affords us to be able to discuss those things in that way and that’s okay. But as you start to progress in your career in an organization, what you realize is those same languages aren’t pervasive. And so, a word like “fix” carries a whole other connotation than it did at other parts of the organization and so a lot of technology folks struggle, I think, when, when they encounter these parts of, of either growth or their company or, or an engagement with like your company that they, they don’t rewire–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: –those languages and it becomes destructive. And so what we did, because we were a majority engineering company at the time, is we really were, were, we tried to be very mindful of those languages and that discourse and I think, in doing that and in taking that direction, it, it was, it opened things up. And that’s the problem. If you look at the word “fix” (just to harp on that for a minute), if I’m fixing something it’s implying that there’s a limited solution space.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: Right?

Laura: Absolutely.

Aaron: There’s, there may be many solutions but, generally speaking, I’m looking for the solution.

Laura: Right.

Aaron: Right? But if I’m exploring or if I’m growing or if I’m expanding (I choose your great–

Laura: Yes.

Aaron: –term), that inherently is limitless.

Laura: Yes.

Aaron: And so the language is important.

Laura: Ah! I love everything you’re saying so much. I, I really do. It’s so, so cool. And even the language part, maybe especially the language part, I wanted to transition to that because I, one of the main things that I remember I think had a big impact on you is I started to draw your attention to your own language and some of the phrases that you said a lot to– do you remember?

Aaron: Ah, yes. I remember my homework.

[Laughter 07:47]

Laura: What, so what do you remember noticing about your own language and the change that you worked to make?

Aaron: [07:56] It was an interesting process for me. And I don’t have any great way to describe it. The, the best I’ve ever come up with is that I struggled with getting out of my own head–

Laura: Yes.

Aaron: –so to speak. And it, it’s one of those things where I would know what I was doing or the behavior, like I could identify it, we could discuss it, and then I would just go and do it. Or I would say, “Okay, I won’t do that.” And I wouldn’t do it– I think the favorite thing that I would always do is I would use a different word. Like, we would say–

[Laughter 08:27]

Aaron: –you’re doing this behavior ’cause you’re saying this word. And don’t say that word anymore, it means this. And I’d be, like, “Got it. I can fix this.”

Laura: Fix it.

Aaron: Emphasis on fix it.

[Laughter 08:34]

Aaron: And I’d pick a different word that meant the same thing.

Laura: Uh huh.

Aaron: And then, and got the same result, not surprisingly.

Laura: So, give me an example. Like, what–

Aaron: I’m trying to think what the specific– ’cause I don’t use it anymore. But I’m trying to think of what the words is that I used.

Laura: So–

Aaron: Do you remember the words?

Laura: Well, the first one that I remember was your tendency to say, “To be honest…”

Aaron: Oh, yes. Yes, yes, yes.

Laura: “Well, to be honest…” Or you would say something and then just follow it up with “To be honest.”

Aaron: That’s, that’s, it was that. And, and, and but, broadly, it was the qualifiers.

Laura: Yes. Yes.

Aaron: And it, you hit me with that. Because, obviously, no one thinks of themselves as the dishonest person, hopefully.

Laura: Right.

Aaron: And I certainly don’t but I would, I would use that phraseology. And what I realized I was doing, what I was really doing, was almost not apologizing but, but really caveating my statement. And, when spelled out, that’s kind of ludicrous to do. And so, yeah, you told me to stop saying it and be mindful and I said, “Good” and then I started saying, “Frankly…”

Laura: Yeah. Frankly. Or like, “In actuality…”

[Laughter 09:41]

Aaron: That’s right. Oh, I, I just came up with a better word. Uh, so, and I remember we got to a point in the coaching, which I’ll never forget. You basically trained me to coach myself, I think. We’d have a conversation. I’d go three words and then say it and go, “Oh, nuts!” and then say something else.

[Laughter 09:59]

Aaron: [10:00} And it was just a, it was a sequence of, of really, I got the feedback loop close enough so I could correct myself but not close enough to actually do it. But what, really, I took away from that, interestingly enough, wasn’t so much about the language or even what I was putting across the table, so to speak–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: –in a conversation, it was really when we got to the point when we started discussing introspectively, like, why am I doing this? Why do I feel as if I need to caveat it? Take the other party of the conversation off the table, like, whether they be mad or whether they be sad or happy or whatever, right? Whatever their reaction that I’m claiming that I’m trying to frame. Why am I doing it all? Why am I doing it?

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: And that really, I think, that’s when I stopped using other words and started looking at the behavior introspectively.

Laura: What did you come up with? What was driving that for you?

Aaron: Honestly…

Laura: Oh! There it is!

Aaron: See, I still do that – I need to get back in coaching. We need to get– I can’t believe I did that. Edit that out.

Laura: It’s been a while.

[Laughter 11:00]

Aaron: Edit that out immediately. But, really what it was, was that– and sometimes I do use it just ’cause it’s a great filler. But the reason why I was really doing it was because I was softening. Right?

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: Either I was softening because it was shocking, good or bad, or I just, I’m, I was so in tune with trying to worry about what the person I was talking to was going to feel and I was concerned more with them that I was with myself. And that sounds great, right? Oh, man. Fantastic. You’re so empathetic and that’s, that’s a good thing. But you don’t have to do that to exhibit those same behaviors. And, and again, something that I needed to see.

Laura: And I think for a lot of people who experiment with language, myself included, I notice I legitimately feel different when I change my language or I drop a qualifier that I often use. Um, I think even before we spoke on the recording here we were chatting and I said “Yeah, I’m really kind of enjoying bah blah blah.” And then I said, “No. Not kind of. I’m enjoying it.” It’s a filler, again, and it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s this weird I’m inserting ambiguity or uncertainty. But there’s no uncertainty. I’m really enjoying the process that I’m doing right now.

Aaron: [12:26] And you know that–

Laura: I do.

Aaron: –inherently before you even tone it back.

Laura: And there’s an element of confidence in certainty, even in myself when I can make a statement. And it’s not an absolute truth that I’m trying to push onto anybody else. It’s “I’m clear about this is what’s true for me.” And I’m just going to say that. And I do want you to assume that I’m being honest with you all the time so for me to say, “Well, to be honest…” I think I teased you with that.

Aaron: You did.

Laura: You were like, “To be honest” and I go, “Wait, wait, wait. Were you not honest a second ago?”

Aaron: And that was huge for me to even get me to recognize– when we first started talking along that track, it wasn’t on that topic. It was on other topics just relating to style and, and I think at the time it was management styles and whatnot and in that conversation, as we were trying to explore it, I blurted that out in context and, and then you hit me with that and it, it’s like I heard myself speak. It was weird.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: I didn’t, I didn’t even know I was saying that. It was that throw away of a statement. And then when you played the words back to me it was utterly ridiculous. It was like, “Of course I’m being honest to you.”

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: “Why wouldn’t I be?” And so then the question becomes “Well, why did you say that?”

Laura: Yeah. Well and, so I actually wanna push on you a little bit with that one.

Aaron: Please.

Laura: [13:55] ‘Cause to say, “Of course I’m being honest,” I think that there, there maybe was a genuine possibility or implication of, “Ooh. I have information that I want to share with you and I am afraid of how it’s going to make you feel and perhaps I’m withholding somewhat. And I’m now going to make the choice to stop withholding so I’m going to frame it up and say, ‘Well, to be honest, blah, blah, blah, blah.'” And so I think part of our conversation centered around, well, what if you really were open and honest all the time? You would say these things sooner, you probably wouldn’t feel the need to soften.

Aaron: You know, it’s a good point. And that was really something that, that I know we touched on a lot and it, that was, that was big for me. Not, again, not– the honesty part, it, it’s tough because it’s one of those things that feels black and white. And, again, whether it’s frankly, honestly, in truth–

Laura: Yeah.

[Laughter 14:54]

Aaron: –I’ve, I’ve run through the table.

Laura: We can come up with a lot of them.

Aaron: Correct. And what’s interesting about it is it’s easy for me to be dismissive and say, “Of course I’m being honest. I’m not being, I’m not lying.” Right? But like you said, it’s softening, it’s framing. Sometimes it’s not even in a manner to, to tone something down. It’s to try and frame a conversation in a certain direction and all this contextual language that I was using was really, in a way, trying to, trying to have a, a, an outcome associated with the conversation in a way that I thought was best for everybody. And it’s funny, it’s kind of like you’ll encounter people in your life (and we all have one of them or many) and they’ll say, “Hey, that guy or gal is a real jerk–

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: –but they tell it like it is.” Or–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: –“They’re a straight shooter.”

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And I don’t like that ’cause, generally, I mean, somebody’s not nice or not nice. But that notwithstanding, people associate those two things together and I think that’s where it kind of gets that negative connotation.

Laura: [16:07] Absolutely.

Aaron: And that’ s unfortunate because it’s actually not always about– most often than not I would assume it’s not about truthfulness but it’s about directness and it’s about the quality of the information that you’re getting to. And really where that hit home for me, uh, in our executive coaching was that you don’t have time for anything less. Time is such a premium–

Laura: Yes.

Aaron: –in those interactions and in those, uh, dealings throughout your day. And I was the biggest sinner of this. My day was mostly, just by career and role at that time, was interacting with the team. But it wasn’t efficient. It wasn’t even remotely efficient. And, and you’ll, I think you’d find that most people said that I had the qualities of, you know, open door, easy to talk to, nah, nah, nah. But it wasn’t effective. It wasn’t as effective as it could’ve been. And, and a lot of it all roots back to that. And again, it has nothing to do with distrust. It has to do with, with really getting down to the core of an issue. And I think that’s a big challenge.

Laura: I agree. I wanted to go back to, I can’t remember exactly what you said that triggered this thought for me, but so the idea of putting something out there without qualifying it, essentially. I think– yeah, and the whole idea, like, “Oh. Well, that person’s a jerk but they tell it like it is.” So, so I don’t have to be certain or completely right or accurate in some kind of external way as I share something. All I can do is be clear about what I think and what I feel. And if I let go of the idea of that being right or wrong for anybody, it’s just what’s true for me, I don’t think I feel the same desire to qualify it. And, to your point about “That person’s a jerk but they say it like it is,” well, if they’re being a jerk about it, then they’re actually– I mean, that’s a defense mechanism.

Aaron: [18:04] Of course.

Laura: They’re not being as open as they could be. And they are probably making bold statements like “This person just is this way” and they’re trying to be, quote unquote, “right” rather than saying, “This is my experience. This is what I think and here’s maybe what I would like to have from you instead.” And creating an interactive conversation which is where real productivity happens. And, to your point, conversations become more efficient and more effective.

Aaron: They really do. And the– you bring up a good point regarding kind of the other end of the spectrum. And that’s really what it is. Softening is no different than hardening, right?

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And–

Laura: Yeah. They’re both defenses.

Aaron: They’re both ends of the same spectrum. We just think, we think differently of the other way.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And I just find that curious. But you make a good point and one that I don’t think fully hit me until I participated in Grounded Life.

Laura: Okay.

Aaron: No. Yeah, that was the–

Laura: Yeah. Leading a Grounded Life.

Aaron: Grounded Life. And so where it really looped back for me is that the discontinuity that I felt a lot of times in those moments, especially in the type of role that I was in, was being centered and, and really owning a lot of the information that I was charged with, with communicating. And something that’s interesting about your, your career as you grow, especially as you grow into leadership, especially in fast-paced environments is effectiveness becomes something that you, you know, you start chasing and you, you start making sure that, obviously, you know, you got a lot to do and you’re trying to get stuff done and you want to move the organization forward. Right? And you just get in this mode of accomplishing things and finding ways to accomplish those goals. That’s all fine. That’s all natural. But what you find is when you get out of alignment with that, it becomes harder and harder to, to be that direct because you’re really just trying to, you know, you’re trying to– you’re softening because you think it’s gonna be easier for those folks to understand or you’re framing because (it’s really more framing than softening or hardening, ’cause it can go in any direction) but you’re framing those things and using those languages because you’re trying to, like I said, get that outcome. Again, not through dishonesty, but really just through language and placement. And what I found was that when you’re not centered on that, just personally, that creeps in so quickly.

Laura: [20:41] Mm hmm.

Aaron: And I never, I never really traced that back. Because when you meet somebody and, again, using another example, you meet somebody and you say, “The opposite of, you know, ‘that’s a jerk, they tell it like it is’ is well that person has a lot of conviction. They just, they just emanate their, their, you know, their beliefs. They just, you know exactly what you’re gonna get.” So it almost flips the model where now people have an expectation of you that if they’re bringing something to you that’s not in line with your, your core beliefs, your, you know, your mission and just how you operate, they’re the ones feeling that discontinuity. It almost flips it around.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And I think that was a powerful realization to me that we kind of touched on when we really dug down and said, “Well, what are your personal values? What are your personal beliefs?” And once you get centered and rooted in those, a lot of the other stuff really melts away.

Laura: So, give me an example of something specific that came up for you related to values where you realized, ooh, maybe I’m, I’ve been living my life out of alignment with this value. No wonder I’m, I’m struggling or working so hard to try to frame these conversations or I’m trying to drive this outcome.

Aaron: I’ve got a great example. So, for me, I, I really value transparency. I, me personally, I really do. I love being completely transparent with people. I love it when they’re transparent with me, regardless of good, bad, or indifferent. It, it just, there’s nothing more satisfying than a transaction with another person on that level. And I think we all know that, right, just kind of from experience. And, for me, that’s especially hard, especially when you’re an organization and stuff happens, stuff’s challenges. Not everything’s gonna be rosy. And when you’re in organizations where you still have to get things done and filter information and, and not in a bad way but just in a flow of information type way, that’s where I started the struggle, right? And knowing that I had to have conversations with folks that, that, that weren’t the way I actually wanted them to go or that was how I would’ve wanted to have that conversation. Again, don’t get me wrong, it’s idealistic for me to say here that they can all go that way, but you wanna try and limit it, right? And you wanna try and be centered in, in that approach if that’s your approach. And then if the organization doesn’t operate that way, okay. You know, that, that’s okay.

Laura: [23:09] Now it’s choice. Now it’s do I want to stay in this organization that I do not feel aligned with–

Aaron: Correct.

Laura: –or I find myself trying to be some kind of way that I’m not really.

Aaron: Exactly.

Laura: How exhausting is that? Do I wanna make this choice or do I wanna choose to find someplace that fits more with my values and aligns with me?

Aaron: Exactly. And, and, and, and really that’s a two-sided fairness* street, too–

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: –because when you start embodying those, the organization gets a better impression of you and whether or not that’s a fit. You know? It’s not, you’re now– now that you’re centered in your values and hopefully the organization is centered in their values, you can do that gap analysis of sorts and say, “Is this working for everybody?” You know? And, and again, or be that change agent. Be that change agent in your organization. ‘Cause a lot of organizations, I, I like to think all organizations, wanna be the best versions of themselves that they can be and, and, and, you know, I think most get there, uh, even if they don’t start there. Uh, but you don’t do them any favors, nor yourself, if you’re not centered in that. And I think that, again, really where, where that all begins is kind of being centered yourself and being rooted in that yourself and actually knowing them. ‘Cause everybody assumes– or, I don’t know. That’s a generalization. I don’t know. Does everybody assume? I should take a survey.

Laura: [24:31] What’s true for you?

Aaron: See, I remembered that. I was wondering what you were gonna–

Laura: I let a lot of you statements go by. I’m just saying.

Aaron: Well, you know…

[Laughter 24:39]

Laura: I was like, “I do or you do?”

Aaron: That was, you know, we covered that at one time–

Laura: We did.

Aaron: –and that was really good because I stopped doing it. See, I’m just, like, falling off the wagon here.

Laura: Oh, man. You’re all nervous talking to me again.

Aaron: I’m a train wreck. So–

Laura: So, what’s true for you?

Aaron: What’s true for me is that… I forgot my original point.

[Laughter 24:59]

Aaron: So I will do some filler language to try and remember. Now what, what’s true for me is that the– take me a step back. The, the value systems when you’re centered on that. Sorry. The value systems when I’m centered on that.

Laura: There you go.

Aaron: I’m getting coached in the podcast–

[Laughter 25:21]

Aaron: –so you guys are, you guys are hearing it in real time.

Laura: I just pointed at myself by the way. It’s a cue: “I do”?

Aaron: If I don’t get better by the end of it then–

Laura: You’re gonna forget your point again. ‘Cause I just–

Aaron: It’s gone.

Laura: It’s gone. It’s lost.

Aaron: This is what we do.

Laura: “When I’m clear on my values…” you were saying.

Aaron: Yes. When I’m clear on my values it, it, it really becomes being authentic–

Laura: Yes.

Aaron: [25:46] –in the organization. And what I’ve found in my experience is that that is from a interaction standpoint and even just a, a what you put into the, your organization yourself and, and what you bring, it just, it’s very freeing. And, and it was something that, when I came up in my career, I remember, really, I’m an engineer. I wanna build, I wanna create, I wanna advance. And so you start to just focus on seeing the problems, solving the problems, moving to the next problem or challenge or whatever it is. And that progression, you can get distance from that progression very quickly. And then as you move up in an organization and the problems become more ambiguous and a little softer and much more gray space as far as what’s the right or wrong solution, per se, and you need that gut, you need that guidance, that center or defined line of, of, of what’s, you know, right and wrong for you. When that’s not there you find you’re solving them in this context that you’ve created off to the side. ‘Cause it’s not yours. Hopefully it’s your organization’s. But if theirs isn’t strong, who knows what context you’ve built? And that “disalignment,” it’s really, it’s wearing as an individual, for one, but it’s also, it’s not productive. And then, like we were saying earlier, you, you start to fall back into the nature of, of softening or framing or hardening–

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: –or you’re doing it in this false or – I shouldn’t say false – this created context.

Laura: Inauthentic.

Aaron: And it’s inauthentic. And, and honestly, it’s way more work than it needs to be.

Laura: Yeah. It is.

Aaron: It really is.

Laura: It’s so much more energy and so much more time–

Aaron: Yeah.

Laura: –than I want to put in. I love the idea that I can just practice the green line, you know, from the openness diagram that, um, that we teach and talk about with Human Element and everything. All that energy, then, that I maybe used to put into framing or how do I say this or let me be really strategic or getting so, to go back to one of your earlier points, so in my head with my own stories and trying to drive a particular outcome, oh my god, I, I can redirect all that energy into solving more of the real problems and all the while I’m actually building so much more trust with you because everything that I just know to be true for me, I’m sharing with you. And so you trust what I’m saying, the energy between us just goes up and up because there is that authenticity and as I am more open with you, you’re more open with me, all the information starts to flow more. There’s more communication. With more communication, more information flowing, it’s so much easier to solve problems. It just, like, it goes in this upward spiral when we choose to say, “You know what? Screw this. I’m not doing all that energy around the framing and trying to be strategic in my human interactions. I’m gonna be me and I wanna take the time to get clear about my values, see if I align here, maybe be that change agent to help the organization be the best version of itself and I wanna put most of my energy into solving problems and adding value to other people’s lives. ‘Cause I’m okay. I don’t have to worry about me. I don’t have to defend myself with qualifiers. I can just focus on solving people’s problems.” I feel like that’s what we’re all here to do. So…

Aaron: [29:01] Well, and it’s so true. And when you, when you free yourself to that, it’s, I mean, it’s a thousand pounds off your shoulders.

Laura: And–

Aaron: It was for me.

Laura: And we’re healthier, too, actually.

Aaron: Yeah.

Laura: People, when they start to practice just more openness and authenticity and they let go of a lot of their stories and the self-talk and being all up in their head, they notice they’re having headaches less often. They notice that they’re carrying less tension in their shoulders. Remember that–

Aaron: I grew, like, two inches.

[Laughter 29:28]

Laura: Got a little taller, yeah.

Aaron: I’m like this close to dunking now.

Laura: Yeah. You had like – compression.

Aaron: You know, like a couple feet.

Laura: You know, people have, uh, digestive issues that become chronic or, you know, stomachaches, they have chest pains. There’s just all kind of ways that pain starts to manifest in our bodies because of that incongruence that you described before. There’s that internal conflict. This is what I’m thinking or what I’m feeling. You know, to use your example, I really wanna be transparent. The organization, the leaders in the organization are asking me to hold back information that I really wanna share. Now I’m trying to have this conversation and it doesn’t’ feel good. I don’t feel like I’m being me and that person is probably also starting to lose trust in me and that’s– now it’s this negative downward spiral, right? So, and it creates this sickness and this pain in me. If I let go of that, everything in my world gets better. It really does.

Aaron: [30:23] Alignment is a– there aren’t silver bullets but if there’s something close to it, alignment, for me, has been really huge along that way because not only does it do all the things that you just said, but it, it really makes things simpler.

Laura: Yes. Yes. It is.

Aaron: I don’t wanna say easy ’cause easy’s the wrong type of word but–

Laura: It is simpler though.

Aaron: –simplicity is, is a, is a freeing concept and, for me, just as, as an anecdote to what we’re talking about, I, I really enjoy in the workplace the human interaction element*. I love technology and I’ve done all that stuff but ultimately I really enjoy coming together with people to advance and create. I, I just do. It just, it wakes me up in the morning. And the ways I’ve done that a lot in the last part of my career– a lot of organizational things. Uh, a lot of things that, again, more softer parts of the business or more process oriented. Things that aren’t necessarily the fun stuff, certainly in a technology business. So it’s, sometimes it’s bitter pills along the way. And then again, in leadership you’re gonna encounter, you know, good things and you’re gonna encounter bad things. What’s interesting is I look at all those experiences and I kind of weigh them as far as that was a great experience, that was not a great experience. And I kind of rank them and, and bend them based on what I learned and, and what it was like. And it’s amazing because I look back and I’ve given, I’ve given people raises, I’ve given people promotions or hired people and those are always great, fun experiences. I’ve also had the other ones where I’ve had to discipline or, or let folks go. And I can tell you that some of my most rewarding experiences have actually been on the other side of it because I’ve had the opportunity to have a transparent conversation–

Laura: [32:31] Mm hmm.

Aaron: –and an honest conversation with someone. And to see, at a time like that, how much that means to somebody and how much they value that. And, honestly, how simple and straightforward that was on the other side of it. It’s really amazing. It really speaks to the power of what being aligned with your purpose and your values can mean in the workplace. Because, in the end, we’re all just trying to do the right thing.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And nobody’s really out.

Laura: If there is a right thing.

Aaron: Oh, yeah. Right. I forgot my air quotes there.

[Laughter 32:54]

Aaron: But we all– I, I firmly believe in abundance (we’ve talked about that before)–

Laura: Oh, yeah.

Aaron: –and, and I firmly believe in that everybody at their core, as much as I can generalize, I believe that people are out here to do the right, you know–

Laura: They want to do the right things.

Aaron: –the proverbial right thing.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: The good thing. We all just wanna be here.

Laura: We wanna add value. We wanna make a difference.

Aaron: We do.

Laura: We wanna have a positive impact. I do believe hat we are all hard-wired and that’s our natural default state.

Aaron: I agree.

Laura: I really do. Which is why I love the generosity hypothesis, believing that everybody is doing the best they can with the knowledge and their emotional state at that time, whatever it is. They’re all doing their best. We’re–I’m doing my best, you’re doing your best, I think all the time. It doesn’t mean I can’t get better. It means right now, in this moment, I’m doing the best I can. So I’m gonna go easy on myself. I’m gonna approach others with compassion.

Aaron: Well, it’s amazing, ’cause as soon as you start having a positive outward view towards people, you give yourself the same license and people, it’s easy to miss that. It’s easy to miss that. There’s a good chance that they way you’re treating others is the way you’re treating yourself but probably even harder.

Laura: [34:08] So that’s– okay, I tend to think of it the opposite, where I cannot be kinder to others than I am to myself. So, I may attempt to be kind to others or approach them positively but I, I believe or I have believed up to this point, if I’m not doing that for myself already, I’m gonna really struggle to do that for anybody else. What are your thoughts about that?

Aaron: Well, you’re the doctor, so I guess I’ll just default.

[Laughter 34:36]

Aaron: No in all seriousness, I think, I think that it’s interesting, right? Because that, in its own right is a perspective on accountability, right, from your perspective and, generally, I like yours better now that you say it so I’m glad we went through this on a podcast–

[Laughter 34:58]

Aaron: But if you think about the perspective accountability in that, you’ve made it more of an accountable model than, than the other way around–

Laura: I just think that–

Aaron: –which I like.

Laura: I feel like just about everything when it comes to human behavior, if not everything, I struggle with absolutes. I generally don’t like absolutes but I do feel like almost everything comes back to the self first. How do I feel about myself and how do I treat myself? And that’s going to change everything about the way that I show up in this world. So, if I love and accept myself, if I am kind to myself and compassionate with myself, that is what enables me to be kind and compassionate towards other people in a, in a way that’s genuine and real. The more I’m hard on myself, blame myself, judge myself (and this is all conscious or subconscious)–

Aaron: Mm hmm.

Laura: –that’s gonna be the same driver that has me judging other people, blaming other people. ‘Cause I don’t like to feel that self-judgment and so I deflect and I blame and I judge you. And all that does is serve to divide us. It doesn’t solve the problem. Blaming is the least productive thing I think organizations can do and self-accountability is, in my opinion, the best thing any individual can bring to the table when we’re trying to figure out how do we improve whatever it is we’re trying to improve.

Aaron: [36:13] Yeah, I would agree. And I think accountability, just touching on that, is one of those things that’s just very easy to say, very hard to do. Not so much because the concept is difficult but just because there’s a, there’s a commitment that you have to make to yourself or at whatever level that, that you’re going to do it. Accountability is one of those things that’s easy to say. I’m accountable because I said I’m accountable. But none of my actions necessarily reflect that accountability.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: But to me it’s– I always like terrible analogies so to me it’s as if we’re all trying to, you know, move, you know, haul sand from one location to another and we’re all grabbing bags. Right? And if we all grab equal share of those bags, we’re gonna get there a lot sooner, a lot quicker. And accountability is a lot like that, right?

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: Accountability is like either grabbing too many bags or grabbing not enough bags and, and what you find in an organization is that that shows quickly.

Laura: Yes it does.

Aaron: And again, it could be either way. There’s plenty of people that are overly accountable.

Laura: I, I, okay I really like that you said that because with your, with your analogy or your metaphor (and I really like it, actually. I don’t think it’s terrible.), I pictured, I literally pictured somebody picking up and trying to carry so many that, first of all, they might be dropping them–

Aaron: Mm hmm.

Laura: –and then maybe the bags rip open, you know, and we lose that sand and/or, like, they hurt themselves. Right? Now they’re injured and now they can’t even continue to support the team anymore. And I think, metaphorically, this happens all the time–

Aaron: Oh, yes.

Laura: –where people think that they’re being accountable. They’re probably (and I’ve never really used the word over-accountable but I can see where you’re going with that)– but now I’m putting so much on myself that I’m actually debilitating myself and I’m reducing how much I can even contribute now to the team. So, what if I can also know my own limits, have my own boundaries, and be kind to myself? Not allow myself to get to a place where I’m in so much pain that now I can’t even contribute anymore.

Aaron: [38:17] No, it’s a real point. And it’s, it’s one of those things, too, where it’s, in an organization, it’s the, it’s those bonds and those, those structures that, that formed that are really based on accountability. You can almost steal somebody’s accountability in that regard, right? If you grab their bag, so to speak, (just to really hammer this metaphor as far as we can take it)–

[Laughter 38:41]

Aaron: –if you do that, then, then that in its own right– ’cause we’re assuming now that if somebody takes two bags it’s ’cause somebody else didn’t want that bag. They very well might have.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: and, and so you start to see those friction points. And I’ve seen it in organizations. And, again, that’s where process comes in and tools and, and all of the coaching and, and systems that we’ve had as part of our engagement with you over the years. But it’s also just that, not to really call it honesty, but it’s that transparency in that, being authentic, and having that in your organization. That stuff doesn’t happen.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: Or it’s much harder for it to happen, I should say.

Laura: Mm hmm. Maybe it happens less.

Aaron: It happens less. Or, if it does happen, it’s completely transparent. And so it’s something that can be actionable for–

Laura: We could talk about it.

Aaron: –those involved. And we can talk about it and it, it, that, going back to the transparency piece, that’s so important. I mean, that’s really– you used to hit us with something and, and it always stuck with me and it was really just talking about the outside versus the in. And it’s so true. I think so many organizations spend so much time inward and they miss so much opportunity outward to, to make progress or to get things done or to really expend those energies. It’s, it’s, it’s tremendous. And a lot of that inward energy is important but just not being mindful of that, right? So don’t cause yourself (you’ve got more work than you could possibly do) don’t cause yourself unnecessary work.

Laura: [40:09] Yeah. Yeah. Oh, and we do that all the time.

Aaron: Oh yeah.

Laura: Especially when we use whatever stories we have in our head, we assume that that’s true and then we create more stories and it’s just oh, my god. Just, yes, get out of your head. And literally speaking whatever’s in my head helps me get out of my head. I can be present, I can share with you, we can talk about it, we can reality check all my crazy stories, et cetera, et cetera. I wanna ask you about a specific situation and find out if you’re willing to share–

Aaron: Oh, man.

Laura: –your perspective and your memory on it. And it speaks to this transparency thing. So, you were my primary liaison for quite some time–

Aaron: Mm hmm.

Laura: –when we were working together. And there was a decision made, um, from the leadership in the organization to change the nature of our agreement and so it was your responsibility to communicate that with me. So, can you share what you remember (if you’re willing to), like, that experience, how you felt, how you feel like you showed up with me in the beginning, how it transpired?

Aaron: That’s a good one.

[Laughter 41:14]

Laura: I just happen to know about it ’cause, you know, I was involved.

Aaron: You know, I was gonna say you can fact check me on this one.

Laura: Well, so here’s the– what if it’s no fact? There is no fact.

Aaron: Very true.

Laura: It’s your experience and my experience. And it’s probably somewhere, combination of those things. Memory is very fallible, so–

Aaron: So basically it’s like Wikipedia. It’s just–

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: –a collaboration of all of our–

Laura: Absolutely.

Aaron: –all of our truths. It’s aggregate truth.

Laura: Aggregate truth.

Aaron: I can take that.

Laura: I like that.

Aaron: So, yeah. I’m willing to share that. That was, that was a tough couple of days for me and I think that was pre– that part was at least probably pretty apparent from our interactions. That-that – I didn’t settle with it. So, yes. Going back into that, it was one of those times and, you know, I’m here and we’re having this meeting and it, it’s no different than any other meeting that you would have in a business, right? You, you look at resources, you were looking at hard decisions that we have to make as a leadership team. Nothing exotic about that. And, again, you know, there’s financial implications, uh, of any kind of meeting like this. And one of the discussions was restructuring our contract to try and get more value out of it, for us, at the time. And I, I’m there, I’m sitting there, we’re having the discussion, and it comes up that we want a– we decided we’re gonna restructure it. Obviously, as the liaison, that’s my responsibility and I’m instantly tense. I’m instantly tense. Physiologically I know, from the jump. And it’s equal part frustration over just having to do something like, you know, like that but also equal parts human.

Laura: [43:09] Yeah.

Aaron: I don’t, I’m, here I am. I’m gonna disappoint Laura. I, I know she values this contract. I’m, how am I gonna have this conversation? It’s funny that a business transaction can get so personal so quickly.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And so here we are the next day or whatnot and I, I call, you know, I call you up or we had a scheduled meeting. I cannot remember. And for some– I generally think of myself as (clearly not right this minute) but–

[Laughter 43:41]

Aaron: –I generally think of myself as being fairly articulate. We’ve always had very productive meetings. Uh, minus all my filler. And I, it was a mess.

[Laughter 43:52]

Aaron: I don’t think, I think you actually had to ask me, you know, “Aaron, what exactly are you trying to say?” And, and that, that really struck me–

Laura: [43:59] Yeah.

Aaron: –how much I struggled with a simple business conversation. And, and, and what– this was really the big part for me that, that I didn’t realize until much later, was that I, I was complicit in the decision. I sat in that room and I said yes. And, and, and, and, and raised no concern. But it didn’t align. It didn’t align for me. And when I had to actually go and do it, that misalignment–

Laura: It was coming out in all kinds of ways.

Aaron: Oh, god. It was a mess.

Laura: Yeah. My experience of it, I agree. I tend to experience you as pretty articulate most of the time and this conversation, I was also questioning my own competence in the conversation ’cause I was like, “Why am I so confused right now? Like, what’s happening?” And, yeah, so I think I really did try to push pause or something to say–

Aaron: You did. Explicitly.

Laura: –“Hang on. Like, what, what’s going on, Aaron? Like, just, just put it out there.”

Aaron: We had to get real for a minute.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: Like non-business for a minute.

Laura: And that, I actually think though, my memory of that is that was a pivot point. And I think at that point you stopped (my story was) you stopped trying to frame it anymore. I think to a degree you stopped worrying about how I might feel and you talked some about how you felt and why this was hard for you but then you got it out and I was like, “Oh.” And then I, then I understood a lot of the struggle you were having up to that point.

Aaron: Yeah.

Laura: And I was just like, “Okay.” And I feel like, I feel like I handled it pretty well. I don’t think that I made it any harder for you in terms of, like, I didn’t, like, lose my shit or–

Aaron: Well, what’s so–

Laura: –get angry or anything like that.

Aaron: What’s so amazing about that was that, you’re entirely right, and actually I wasn’t, that’s the weird thing about, about those interactions, going all the way back to the beginning with the filler words, is that, and first off it was confusing ’cause all I was giving you was filler words–

[Laughter 45:53]

Aaron: –like I don’t think there was any content. I was just iterating every single filler and qualifier that I had.

Laura: Well, to be honest… In actuality…

Aaron: Oh, yeah.

Laura: [46:00] See, the thing is… What I wanna say is…

Aaron: It was all frame and no window.

Laura: That’s funny.

Aaron: But it was, it was that way because I was, I was too concerned. Like, I was on your side of the table 100% and there was nobody on the other side of the table and it just, it just broke down from a communication and effective standpoint. Which is, I’ve had that conversation in other instances 100 times–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: It wasn’t that. It wasn’t a difficult conversation problem, like I just couldn’t have that kind of conversation. It’s that I struggled with it because I didn’t want to say it. I didn’t want to do it. I just, even if we had to do it, I just wasn’t– the way the whole thing went down, I, I just, I was feeling the misalignment. And you didn’t even have to be there.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: Right? I could’ve just done that solo and, and I don’t think it would’ve been any different because it was my misalignment. And, and tracking that all the way back from an accountability standpoint, that’s me. I’m accountable for getting myself to that point where, where I felt that misalignment. And that was powerful as a, as a learning opportunity. You know, pain teaches right? So, it was one of those moments where I realized that started for me much earlier.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: It wasn’t that moment.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: Like I said, it doesn’t have anything to do with the difficulty–

Laura: It wasn’t even our conversation.

Aaron: –of the conversation. It wasn’t even our conversation.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: And it’s because I just, I was misaligned, internally, and it manifested horribly.

Laura: Mm hmm. But it, but there was a really beautiful pivot, from my perspective, when I just called out, like, this– what, what’s going on here? There’s something, something about this (I don’t remember what I said) but there was a pivot and then you just, you became you again. And everything about the energy shifted. And I think you said something like, “Man. This is, you know, yeah, this is hard for me ’cause I don’t even like that this is happening” or something like that.

Aaron: [48:06] Yeah.

Laura: And you just, it was really simple. And it didn’t mean that wasn’t still the decision.

Aaron: Sure.

Laura: And it didn’t mean that I then went back to the, like, leadership team and was like, “You guys…” You know?

Aaron: Yeah.

Laura: Like, it just didn’t go that way. I was like, “Okay. Alright. It’s cool. It’s fine. Let’s just talk about it. Let’s work it through.” And after that point, we worked it through really well. I mean, we just reallocated what we were doing and, you know, the next year the next contract was an even bigger engagement and it was just–

Aaron: It–

Laura: –you know, it worked out okay. It was just this awesome, I think, awesome opportunity for you to notice exactly what you’re talking about with the alignment and the transparency and that chance for you to ask yourself, “Huh. What was happening for me in that meeting that either I wasn’t fully aware that I didn’t agree with the decision or that I didn’t feel willing to speak up in that moment?” And it speaks to you again, perhaps, being aligned with that leadership team wasn’t present and you were trying to be a certain kind of way and–

Aaron: Well, and that’s just it is that the pivot, for me, when we were talking that I think you saw was me coming back into alignment.

Laura: Mm hmm. Yeah.

Aaron: Like, we had a conversation that was then in alignment with–

Laura: You were being real.

Aaron: Yeah. It got to that point and, and, and again that’s probably the benefit of having that conversation with, with you from your career–

[Laughter 49:23]

Aaron: You know, we can, we can kind of fix the thing while we’re in the thing.

Laura: Yeah. Very meta.

Aaron: It’s right. We got introspective there for a minute. But, but that’s really, for me, that’s what I felt is we, we, we, we, we snapped it back in and, yeah, looking back to the experience as a whole, decision, the decision path not even a factor, the way that it happened was not aligned for me–

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: –and that was– I’m accountable for that. And so, yeah, it was a big, it was a big moment. Because, again, it could’ve, the decision, whether it went another way or didn’t go another way, that doesn’t change how I could’ve been.

Laura: [54:04] Mm hmm.

Aaron: And, and like I said, that was one of those things that– I use that as a, as a, as a personal example too, for me, because it’s distancing, distancing yourself from feeling like the outcome has to be central to the values.

Laura: Yes. I love that. It’s not, it’s actually not the outcome.

Aaron: No.

Laura: I am most effective, I feel most fulfilled, when I set an intention about how I want to show up, not when I set a goal about the outcome that I wanna have. And I’m not saying don’t set goals. I’m saying that if, day by day, realizing that I do not control other people’s behavior, they are responsible for themselves, if I just focus on my contribution, how I’m showing up in the world, first of all, that enables me to keep all of my productive energy moving me forward rather than blaming other people, um, but it also just allows me to be completely in control of what’s important to me. It’s not about the outcome. It’s how am I showing up as I walk through the world? Am I happy with that? How can I show up tomorrow even more the way that I want to?

Aaron: Yeah. It’s really freeing when you get to that and, and that’s kind of my, my solver mentality trying to unwind that is that they’re not the same thing. They’re not one– it’s kind of the journey versus the destination. The journey is about that alignment. You’re not always gonna get there.

Laura: And there is no destination. In my experience.

Aaron: So true.

Laura: Every time I think there’s a destination I’m like, “Oh no. this isn’t a destination. ‘Cause there’s the next ladder or there’s the next road.” It’s all the journey. That’s all it is and that’s all we have all the time.

Aaron: Yeah. And the outcomes are more artifacts of the travel. I mean, and that’s really the thing when you get to that point, internally. You see why being outcome oriented versus value oriented, you see the power in one over the other because, again, outcome oriented is how many can you stack in either pile?

Laura: [52:11] Yeah.

Aaron: And it just, it’s not, it isn’t– the feedback loop on that as a person is not, and certainly as a leader, it’s not there.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: ‘Cause there’s just so many other variables. But if you show up authentically and, and approach each problem grounded like that, then regardless (I mean, I think the results will be in your favor)–

Laura: I, I agree.

Aaron: I mean that’s just kind of what happens.

Laura: I think I agree. Totally.

Aaron: Even if they’re not–

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: –you, you know you did what you needed to do.

Laura: Yeah. I can still feel good about what I did.

Aaron: Or at least centered.

Laura: Yeah. Absolutely.

Aaron: And, and based in it. And so that was, that was one of those moments where it wasn’t that but it’s been a great learning.

Laura: Awesome. Thank you for sharing that example. I feel like, I feel like it’s a powerful one and I think it’ll resonate with people. And I think it’s a great– it highlights several of the things we talked about today, you know, with the transparency and the alignment and accountability. So, just kind of all wrapped together really well in that story.

Aaron: You totally planned it.

Laura: Oh, man. I’m so planned out.

[Laughter 53:17]

Laura: Awesome. So, okay, I have one last question.

Aaron: Yeah.

Laura: I ask everybody at the end. What is one (and feel free to go ahead and just summarize things you’ve already said) but what is one tip or piece of advice that you can give to people listening that they can implement or they can do right now, completely independent of working with me or anybody on my team, just what can they do?

Aaron: Hm. My tip would be is to really be introspective. So much of what we did during our coaching as well as Grounded Life as well as even the organizational things, so much of it starts with being introspective. You gotta look in. Right? And, and you have to– and I don’t mean that in the, you know, the, the armchair psychology type standpoint. I just mean take, take an honest evaluation and, and be mindful of what you find. And so much of it starts with that. So much of it starts with just understanding where, where you’re coming from, what your values are. We did an exercise in Grounded Life where (I can’t remember the name of it) but we were listing, we had that values worksheet–

Laura: [54:42] Mm hmm.

Aaron: –and I don’t remember what it was called. It was great, great exercise. It, it, because it’s such a simple thing. Like you ask most people and you say, “give me your top three” and they’ll just say thing that they like. And this wasn’t that. We had to work through it and rank and score all these things. And some of the list that I came up with surprised me.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: Some didn’t but some did. And when I took that honest introspective look, they didn’t. They really didn’t. And, and so much of that growth then builds on top of that foundation. And so that inward look is that first step. And, and I would just really encourage people to, to afford themselves the opportunity to do that. Because it’s permission.

Laura: Yeah.

Aaron: Nobody tells you to do that. Nobody, nobody can actually get you to a point where you see yourself in that way. You have to give yourself permission.

Laura: Mm hmm.

Aaron: And that’s just really important.

Laura: I love it. Thank you.

Aaron: Well, thank you. It’s been great.

Laura: Yeah. Thank you for your time here. I’ve really had fun in this conversation. So, thanks for being on the show.

Aaron: My pleasure. Any time.

Outro: Being clear about your own personal values is incredibly useful to you, whether your organization is clear about its values or not. If you want to dedicate some time to learning more about yourself and your own priorities, visit to download our free worksheet on personal values. Also, we have that and more content for you on our new membership site, Insider Edge, launching soon – if you’re curious about it, please head to to be added to our list and be the first to hear about what’s coming! That’s all for now, we’ll talk again soon!

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