Behind the Curtain
In this episode, I welcome back Gabriela Buich to the show, and we give a peek “behind the curtain” and describe what it is like for the two of us ? experts in self-awareness and communication ? to work together. We share our own insecurities, and how our loving, trusting relationship enables incredible openness and self-accountability, and I finally share the story I alluded to in the episode with CEO Topcoder Mike Morris.
Laura: , and I just had this feeling of like, “Oh, man. Am I gonna say or do anything valuable for the rest of the day? Is this just gonna be it?” And so, an insecurity for me was totally triggered around my significance. Am I showing up in this room at all?
What is it like to be an expert in self-awareness and communication, working with another expert in self-awareness in communication? Are we completely self-aware with no triggers and insecurities? Do we just float on cloud nine all the time with a beautiful, perfect, relationship? Well…no…but we are something really special together. On this episode, I welcome back Gabriela Buich, one of the talented coaches and consultants on the team here at Gallaher Edge. We’ve been friends for 4 years, and have been working together for 2, and as people who teach other people how to work together better – how do we do it? I had Mike Morris, the CEO of Topcoder, on the show a couple months back, and we mentioned how, when we were with their team, I had put myself up for dissection, practicing openness and vulnerability in reference to something real that was happening for me. I promised in that episode that I would explain it in a future episode, and that episode…has arrived.
And my beautiful partner in crime, Gabriela? She has insecurities and gets triggered too:
Gabriela: got hung up over instructions after feeling like one of the things we tried on may or may not have landed perfectly in my eyes. And so I, I felt shut down and I couldn’t even read the directions out of the book
More and more, people are asking for a peek “behind the curtains” to understand what communication in professional and personal relationships can look like in practice when you put two experts together, so, in this episode, once we get past the high of running our workshop together, we get into those details and shatter the myth that perfection in these skills is required for it to work.
Laura: Alright. So, Gabriela, welcome back to the show.
Gabriela: Thank you. It’s so good to be here.
Laura: Can you remind us again who you are?
Gabriela: Absolutely. I’m Gabriela Buich and I’m an executive coach and a licensed Human Element Practitioner
Laura: And my best friend. That’s like the most important part.
Gabriela: I am your best friend as you are mine.
Laura: Wait, is that not a part of your regular intro? Do you not–
Gabriela: Um, when I’m with you–
Gabriela: –yes. Generally.
Laura: If you’re standing right there, then maybe.
Gabriela: No, when we’re in front of a class, for sure.
Gabriela: Otherwise… maybe not always.
Laura: Maybe not always. That’s fine. Well, and we were, we were in front of a class this week.
Gabriela: Yeah. We sure were.
Gabriela: So good.
Laura: So good. It was amazing. We did the three day Radical Collaboration program this week, um, and we had representation from four different companies, uh, including our own and it was amazing. So amazing.
Gabriela: Truly. I think, um, well there’s so much. This could be a ramble session–
Laura: I know!
Gabriela: –for a minute because so many of the experiences were like others but–
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: –each time what’s so magical is that it’s not good*.
Gabriela: That there’s something new and different that we get to learn–
Gabriela: –that I get to experience that really touches my heart in a deep way and I find so much, um, what’s the word I want to use?
Gabriela: Delight. That’s the word, really. And that is the word I used at the end of the day, isn’t it? I forgot.
Laura: I think so. And I love that because, um, one of the companies there with us was Real Thread and they’re all about that, creating a delightful experience.
Gabriela: –living from joy and–
Gabriela: –being in an atmosphere and culture that breeds that, which–
Laura: They do.
Gabriela: –that’s our gig. That’s our gig. I love that, for sure.
Laura: Yeah, so one of the things we were talking about yesterday is that, um, people who learn these concepts from The Human Element and Radical Collaboration, so green line communication, green zone listening, those types of concepts, they’re always so curious to know how, how we manage. Because we work together so we get to do these workshops together, we plan together, we do strategy stuff together, so we work together. We’re a team just as they are teams and because they see us as people who are quite proficient with the knowledge and the skills that we then teach to them, they’re like, “So how– what does this actually look like?” They’re so curious.
Gabriela: That’s really true. But I do want to say that they have also noticed moments when we’re trying to strategize, you know, a quick shift in the “agenda”, quote unquote, or–
Gabriela: –our delivery, whatever that means. But, um, and they’re curious. They’re curious. How are you doing that?
Gabriela: ‘Cause they can see sometimes that maybe we are not aligned necessarily with what we want to do next–
Gabriela: –and they wanna see that live.
Gabriela: In fact, the Topcoder team specifically said, “We wanna see this. We wanna see you two go at it.”
Laura: They did.
Laura: So, yeah. So, we had Mike Morris, the CEO of Topcoder on an earlier episode and, um, so I described briefly that we did two separate sessions with them so far. And at the end of the first one we asked for feedback. What did you love? How can we serve you better? What are you looking for? And that was exactly the feedback. Well, it was one piece and it seemed to get a lot of agreement from other people on the team.
Gabriela: Oh, yeah.
Laura: They were like, “What does this look like?”
Laura: “Like, can you guys have conflict in front of us? We wanna watch that, what happens.”
Gabriela: And then we realized, this time I think, that that’s still true. That people really wanna see it live. I think Jonathan, um, Taylor was the one that said, “You know, show us what you got–
Gabriela: –back there.”
Gabriela: And it’s true, you know. Um, and I, and I think that was a permission slip to be even more open myself in this workshop when I got hung up over instructions after feeling like one of the things we tried on may or may not have landed perfectly in my eyes. And so I, I felt shut down and I couldn’t even read the directions out of the book and there I was, in the moment, able to share, you know, a challenge of my own that I had to work through and all the stories in my head, the things that we are teaching every day, the concepts that we want so much to offer everyone to be able to strategize in their own lives and to be able to recover.
Laura: Yeah. So, demonstrating vulnerability and letting them know that none of us has or (and by us I mean you and me), we are not perfect and we are not seeking perfection. So, one of the things that I think came up this week was a sense of relief from one of the participants that the idea is not that everything is immediately fixed or that everything goes straight to perfect right away. This idea that this is about changing the direction of a relationship or a team’s culture and it’s then about making improvements and sometimes they’re, they’re big, drastic changes and improvements like Mike talked about, how they knocked out triangulation of that first session. He was like, “We just knocked that out of the park.” It was so cool to hear him talk about it, like the huge impact right away. And they’re still also doing these, like, incremental improvements, continuing to shift some of the patterns that have not been serving them as well. So, I think this week I heard feedback from somebody when I said, “Hey, like, this still happens to me. I still get defensive sometimes. I’m still growing my own self-awareness.” There was like a, “Okay. Cool. I don’t have to be perfect right away.” ‘Cause sometimes, when that’s the belief, people shut down. And they go, “Well, that’s crazy. Like, I can’t do that all the time so forget all of the concepts” rather than going, “Ok, yeah. Let me practice this. Let me bring this into my world and see how it has a positive impact.” And then, oh, I love– one of our participants said that even over the course of these three days when we gave them homework, you know, practice green zone listening, he said he normally looks at this stuff like, “I’ve gotta get to an expert level of skill before it has an impact” but he noticed that, even as a novice, just, just trying it on a little bit was already having an impact and I was so excited about that.
Gabriela: And the reciprocity of that impact–
Gabriela: –how the noticing is happening around them. Um, one of the teammates from Real Thread came up to me and said that he was able to see shift in the leadership through the work that you’re doing. And today as I was coaching, another team from Topcoder, one of those guys, he said, “Wow. We just had a team meeting and we just, we recognize in each other how much more easily we’re able to resolve conflict or challenges and get to the other side of things.” And it just, it gives me chills, actually, when I talk about it–
Gabriela: –because this is the thing, right–
Laura: That’s it.
Gabriela: –this is our it factor–
Laura: This is what we’re doing.
Gabriela: –it’s what we want for the world–
Gabriela: –and it seems– so many people think that’s such a crazy statement: I want this for the world. But it’s so true.
Laura: Well, and they said that this week.
Laura: Like, like I want the whole world to have this.
Laura: And we’re like, “We do too!”
Gabriela: Come on down. Join the party, for sure.
Laura: Yeah. Because I think so many of them have a sense of liberation and a greater feeling of freedom and a greater feeling of joy and they think, “Oh, my gosh. We can create this here in such a short time. What if, seriously, what if the whole world?” And that really is the thing that you and I wake up to do every day.
Gabriela: It’s what drives me.
Laura: That’s why we’re here, on this planet.
Gabriela: And, I don’t wanna forget to say that we left where we were from three days at a workshop when they said that and then, on the wings of that, after Human Element Evening here downtown in Florida–
Laura: Yeah, half an hour later.
Gabriela: –someone said the exact same thing.
Laura: I know.
Gabriela: “I want this for the world.”
Gabriela: This is what drives me. I’m so excited about this work. I can’t believe that in these few minutes, these few minutes– so there were no teams at all, people who didn’t know each other at all, who came together and in two hours felt like they knew each other.
Gabriela: It’s, it is magical. Like I said before, it’s this–
Laura: I know.
Gabriela: –crazy thing that happens.
Laura: One person said that she felt closer to the group that she participated with than she did to, did she say most of her friends and family?
Laura: Or something–
Gabriela: Any of her friends and family.
Laura: Amazing. And it’s, it’s the environment. And, and I, I told them last night that people often think that the experience they have is so super unique because “Oh, well, we’re just a certain type of people” or “It must be because of, you know, this, this other outside variable” or, you know, “This is weird, right?”
Gabriela: You mean the groups, they always–
Laura: The groups!
Gabriela: –ask us–
Gabriela: –“Are we, did we, like, do you ever have this experience?”
Gabriela: “Are we just unique to this?”
Laura: And it’s like, actually, this is what we see from this work. This is what happens.
Laura: And it’s–
Gabriela: For sure.
Laura: –beautiful. So,–
Gabriela: So compelling.
Laura: So, we’re totally on a high, if you can’t tell.
Laura: We’re, we’re a little gushy today ’cause we’ve just had such a beautiful week and, and it’s so rewarding. I say this work feeds my soul and it does. I, I wanna focus back, um, on this whole idea of people want insight into some of the, you know, how do you and I process conflict? What does that look like?
Gabriela: Yeah. Let’s do that.
Laura: And we do–
Gabriela: Even today.
Laura: –have conflict.
Gabriela: Even today in the car when I got in after coaching from early and being up really late on the phone with other clients, you know, I had an edge in my voice and you said, “I don’t, I don’t like the edge.” And I am so grateful for you being able– for us to have a relationship where–
Gabriela: –you can just say that to me and I so don’t want that for us or for myself, that the adjustment was simple. There was no hard feeling moment. There wasn’t a story. There wasn’t any of that stuff. Not to say that there haven’t been times when we’ve struggled through that.
Gabriela: For sure.
Laura: Absolutely. In fact, so even that– so, first of all, that’s something that I got from you. That’s one that you’ll say to me, which is a really good– I really appreciate that, too. You’ll say it to me and I’ll be like, “Shit. She’s totally right.”
Laura: You know? And I’m like, “Alright, Laura. Like, breathe. Just calm down. This is fine.” You know? And I think I recover pretty well–
Laura: –when you do that. And, you know, even this morning, that example, I, I could’ve been more self-accountable on that. I could’ve just said, “Hey, I noticed I’m having a defensive reaction” instead of saying, you know “I’m hearing an edge in your voice.” So yes, you and I can do that and that’s wonderful. And I look at that and think, you know, even that– maybe I could have done that in a more effective way.
Gabriela: You know? But I, but I wanna emphasize the fact that, and I think it’s really important because this is, this is the, um, this is part of the incremental shift we’re talking about with respect to how the comfort zone changes when you start to use these tools, because we are sure, there’s a certainty in us. So, that little, that little moment of ownership isn’t as necessary because that’s part of our contract.
Laura: You’re right.
Gabriela: You and I have a silent contract that says, “I’m gonna be here in the end no matter what.”
Laura: That’s a good point.
Gabriela: And so we’ve gotten more proficient and effective in the way that we communicate and receive. And the receiving part is just as much a skill. So, I think it’s really important to emphasize how, with practice, this just becomes in our culture, you and me, and then what we’re teaching. ‘Cause I just had this experience with my team at Adobe. And we were able to circle back after a year of the work and compare some of– we have these instruments–
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: –right, that we use. And we were able to circle back to the first instrument that we used and compare the numbers and they each gained what they were looking for in that year, which was so incredible–
Laura: I love that.
Gabriela: –to witness. And they, they were so astounded in sort of this, this innocence of “Wow, we’re doing this.”
Gabriela: “We’re, we’re not even trying. It’s just happening.”
Laura: It’s happening. Oh, I love that.
Laura: That’s when–
Gabriela: So good.
Laura: –I know, like, I’m on the right path. This is happening. Things really do start to feel easier. And it doesn’t mean that I’m not working hard and putting the time and the energy in, there’s just an element of “Oh, wow. It doesn’t have to feel like I’m fighting and clawing and forcing. It just–
Gabriela: –and when it’s hard–
Gabriela: –it’s still hard.
Gabriela: You know. It’s harder with my kids ’cause I am the most defensive there, I think. Although I’m getting better. We’ll have to call in for a tally.
Laura: Let’s have your kids on the show! Oh, my gosh.
Gabriela: I’m sure–
Laura: That would be so–
Gabriela: –they would all be thrilled to do that with you. Um, but yeah. I mean, just recently when I did find myself defensive and made a request to have a phone call, the following day my son called me before I called him. And I just find beauty in that openness and knowing that this work, just– he hasn’t done this work–
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: –but through experiencing me and trusting that I’m going to be there in a state that’s approachable and open, gave him the trust and the willingness to act in that way too. So that’s something we talk about often,–
Gabriela: –that whole mirror.
Gabriela: What I project into the world is what I receive.
Laura: And it’s–
Gabriela: That’s so big.
Laura: –it’s so common for people to learn about this work, learn these tools, and then say, “Okay. So, but this only works with other people who know this stuff, right?”
Gabriela: Wrong. We had a big, we had a big push back here in this class, right? “Yeah, but how am I gonna manage this guy that’s always in the red zone?”
Gabriela: “How am I always gonna manage this guy? He’s always there. That’s who he is.”
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: Mm hmm. Or, “He’s so stubborn” or, you know, “That guy…” And I loved at the end, in closing, as we went around a number of the participants said, “I realize it’s me. And I’m the one that can make that difference–”
Gabriela: “That everything that I do and how I show up is reflective of how the outcome is in the end.”
Laura: I love that so much. And, and you know, Mike Morris had a similar insight at the end of his interview. Um, there’s questions I generally ask at the end and one of them is like, you know, “What tips do you have? Like, what is your advice for other leaders who want to grow in the same way?” And that was his essence of it. He’s like, “I knew I had some work but really kind of thought it was my team.” And then I was like, “Oh wow. I’m actually creating a lot of this.” And I don’t remember if I told him right then in the moment, I think I did, I’ll have to listen to the show and find out, but I said, “You know, that’s something that Gabriela and I saw in you. Because we do not—
Laura: –we choose to work with leaders who are self-accountable. We look for self-accountability in your behavior, in your words. Um, if we don’t see that or hear that from you then we may elect to say now is not the time for us to begin our journey together.” So, I thought that was really beautiful.
Gabriela: Yeah. That’s good stuff. What else? I mean, I feel like we’re oozing with all kinds of stuff.
Laura: Well, so I wanna stick with the Mike Morris episode for a second because we, we touched a little bit on how, um, you and I had a conflict that we worked through–
Gabriela: Mm hmm.
Laura: –very beautifully, in my opinion, the night before our last day with them in Buffalo. So, in the morning, we offered that up to them. We said, “Hey, we wanna share something that happened. This was a request that you made.” And, um, we both put ourselves out there but, in particular, at the end of that episode I said that I would talk about what that was, what happened. Um, and so I would like to do that now.
Laura: Yeah. So, um, Gabriela, you mentioned the instruments so Radical Collaboration and Human Element are based in FIRO Theory, so Fundamental Interpersonal Relations Orientation. We do FIRO Element Behavior, Element Feelings, and Element Self in The Human Element. So, they got so much value out of the numbers. You know this, ’cause I tell you this all the time, you are amazingly gifted at your ability to read the numbers and guide people to ridiculously amazing insights about themselves with these numbers. And so, part of the feedback from the first session we did with them, um, at Harvard Business School, they said, “We want more of that. Can we have more people do their numbers?” And so we said, “Yes. We can. And that means we want more time with you to get through the rest of the content and/or other things will fall by the wayside, et cetera.” So, our first day there in Buffalo, we were going through the Element S, which is for self, so that’s potentially the deepest, um, at least in my experience–
Gabriela: Absolutely the deepest.
Laura: –for me it has been. And almost everybody in this group, um, did go through the process of having their numbers read which is I guess how we describe that. And normally we time-box it. Normally we set aside a few hours for that and we’ll say, “Okay, we have time for one more” and then that’s the last one and then we move on. And you and I do a great job of, of balancing content, balancing delivery. Part of that’s because this work can require a lot of energy. We love it and it requires a lot of energy.
Gabriela: Yes it does.
Laura: And I’m so grateful to have you in partnership. So, we generally balance pretty well back and forth and, um, because you have such a beautiful gift with the numbers, you were running that show. So, we’re sitting there in this room and we keep asking, “Okay, so who wants to go next?” And of course, more and more people want to go. Everybody wants to go. And I think somewhere around hour five– I feel like normally around three or four hours is where the time-box would normally end– so, somewhere around hour five, I’m sitting there and you’re doing such an amazing job and I, I notice, though, that I’m getting distracted. I’m not fully present anymore and I’m starting to become aware of the time and I just feel a general sense of uneasiness. For me, it’s usually kind of in my gut. Um, and I just had this feeling of like, “Oh, man. Am I gonna say or do anything valuable for the rest of the day? Is this just gonna be it?” And so, an insecurity for me was totally triggered around my significance. Am I showing up in this room at all? Am I adding any value, you know, competence? Are they wondering why she’s doing all the numbers? And I did speak up. It’s not like I was there completely silent—
Gabriela: No. Your contributions are nuggets of gold. They are incredible.
Laura: Thank you.
Gabriela: Incredible, insightful, supportive. Yes and more of what I don’t see or hold on a second. You are very frequently hold me back ’cause I tend to move through things kind of quickly and it’s incredible. I want that skill, too, of being able to articulate, um, combining the experience with a teaching moment. You know? Really, really hooking together and linking and navigating a way to bring in what we’re teaching–
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: –to the experience that someone’s having in the moment. And that is a gift that I treasure in union with you.
Laura: Thank you.
Gabriela: There’s no one like you that way, for sure.
Laura: Thank you. And one of the things that I notice that’s different is that you have such a beautiful and strong intuition and so you can just tap into things that are so true and so present for people and I don’t have that level of skill yet.
Laura: Yet. And I’m saying yet, absolutely. Whereas for me, it tends to be more about when something resonates with me or, um, in reality I recognize that I, I’m very often projecting. However, because my intuition is developing, I’m usually on track with something. So, if something resonates with me and I contribute something, most of the time they’re like, “Yes. Absolutely. That is how I–
Gabriela: I want to–
Laura: –experience that.
Gabriela: I want to say something about that–
Gabriela: –because I think this is a really important thing for everyone. Everyone has intuition.
Gabriela: And to the extent that they’re willing to accept and listen and trust–
Laura: Trust it, yep.
Gabriela: –then using it becomes more and more present and effective. So, I know for myself, as I started to trust these crazy ideas or things that came to me or images that were just random and from nowhere, at least in my idea or concept, when I started to share, they meant something to someone else.
Gabriela: And that’s so a part of this whole intuition thing is I don’t know what this means but I just wanna offer this piece of information that seems to be randomly floating around in my head for you and you’re right. The courage to say it lands. I mean, there are times, of course, when it’s way off. But then oftentimes I have to say a phone call or email will shoot later, even up to a year later–
Gabriela: –and it’s like, “Wow. That thing you said–
Gabriela: –here it is–
Gabriela: I can’t believe I experienced this. Right?
Laura: I know.
Gabriela: So, I just wanted to, you know, make sure that didn’t get lost. ‘Cause everyone has this–
Gabriela: –and those feelings in your body and the thoughts in your mind are something to stop and pay attention to.
Laura: I totally agree with that.
Gabriela: It doesn’t have to make sense to you. Who are these thoughts about?
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: Who do they belong to? Offer them. They’re gifts.
Laura: Yeah. And, and having the courage to, as I often see you do and as I have done more, just put it out there and go, “I don’t really know what this is about but–” Like–
Laura: There it is. Anything? And, yeah, for me, sometimes in the moment for them it really clicks and sometimes it’s, you know, more of that in the moment, not so much and then later they’re like, “Oh.” And it’s just so cool. Alright, so let’s go back to the scene. So, we’re at Buffalo Niagara Medical Center in this room, yeah, like five hours in—
Laura: And my contributions, I just, I start to feel really insecure about my own contributions. Especially ’cause I don’t have a sense of when this will end. And it was so awesome. But I really did think, like, “Wow. Is this whole day gonna go by, this whole afternoon–” ‘Cause I delivered some content in the morning or something. I was like, “Is this whole evening–” ’cause we went into the evening, “–gonna just continue, continue on? I’m just sitting here.” And so I started to fear, I started to self-judge a little bit, and I started to fear “Are they judging or are they wondering, like, is Laura gonna do anything? You know. So that, that started to happen for me and I noticed that it was distracting me a little bit, which I don’t like ’cause I really enjoy being fully present, and so when the numbers wrapped, um, you and I, so we had a bio break, so we went to the bathroom. So, we’re in the ladies room and I, I don’t remember what exercise was next but I said, “Hey, how do you feel about me doing this exercise?” Um–
Gabriela: Which is usually the way we toss the ball back and forth.
Laura: Yeah. Well, I think maybe though, maybe it was something that you were going to do, notionally, from the night before. And so I think, I think I was proposing a change. And so I posed it as a question and then I said, “Actually, I’d like to restate that. I want to do this exercise.”
Laura: And, oh it was In Your Presence.
Gabriela: In Your Presence.
Laura: So, I said, “I want to do this.” And I felt some rigidity come up in me because I, I had just been having that feeling, that self-talk of like, “You’re not contributing, Laura. Do something. Like, they’re gonna question your competence. They’re gonna question why you’re here.” And we chatted about it briefly and it wasn’t a problem, I think, that you in the moment maybe wanted to help me see that there was no reason to self-judge about my contribution for the day and all of that and you were fine with me leading that exercise. I think, in that case, neither one of us felt like, “Oh, well Gabriela has a stronger skill there. Laura has a stronger skill there.” I think we’re, you know, both–
Laura: –great at delivering that–
Laura: so there was no negative impact to the client. It wasn’t like, oh, Laura’s ego is taking over to the fact– or to the point that we’re now possibly lowering the value to the clients. So it was just fine. But, like, I was just aware of how that could happen, just in general, that this is driven by my ego. I am feeling not as competent, not as significant as I want to feel. I am noticing some rigidity. Like, if you had pushed back on me and said, “Well, we talked about me doing the In Your Presence activity, I’d like to do it, I think that I would have continued to feel defensive and rigid and that could have become a problem for us. And so I was open about that the next morning with the Topcoder team ’cause I wanted them to understand we’ve got some, we’ve got some perfectionists on that team– actually, I think every team we work with has some perfectionists–
Gabriela: High achievers or perfectionists.
Laura: And, um, so I wanted them to know I, you know, you and I both have been doing this work for 12 years. We talk about it literally every single day and we still have times, I still have times, where I get defensive, where I feel insecure. And it’s always for me about recovery and how quickly can I grow my self-awareness and also grow my self-esteem such that my ego is not driving how I show up, the decisions that I make, et cetera. The more okay I feel about me, the more I am just focused on what is the best for everybody around me. So, I wanted to share that with them and, um, so that was the example that we used.
Gabriela: Well, I just wanna say first–
Gabriela: –that this exemplifies the courage it takes to act in this way all the time.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: To be on your own podcast which is broadcast worldwide and talk about those kind of things, feelings, and what we all go through. I mean that’s almost identically the emotional transit that took me yesterday in class when I felt like, “Oh my gosh. I feel like I didn’t deliver that well or effectively and Laura probably could’ve done it better” and all those kind of things. But something just comes up for me as we’re talking right now. And I realize that we may actually be, although we each have the strengths that we have now and we really honor them and are grateful for them and each other, I think that we may be missing an opportunity to grow each other in the ways that we each want to because we are each strong in all of it–
Gabriela: –it’s just that we happen to really like the way the other guy does it a lot–
Gabriela: –and so I think I really rest on your teaching style and what I love so much and find so captivating about the way you are in front of a room. I, myself, am, you know, become an instant class member–
Gabriela: –as soon as I’m watching you deliver, so–
Gabriela: –and I think that’s true. And so I wanna–
Laura: I wanna–
Gabriela: –include us.
Laura: I wanna add– ’cause I think I know where you’re going– but I wanna add in, I had the same experience (we were talking about this yesterday) when, either when it’s numbers or, you know, those coaching moments that come up in the workshop, I always had thoughts about what, you know, if you weren’t there, what I would say, what I would do or if you were quiet longer than me, whatever. And I sit there and I go, “Oh. I really wanna hear what she’s gonna say.”
Gabriela: Exactly. It’s so funny, that’s the–
Laura: I wanna know what her intuition says.
Gabriela: –that’s the exact experience for me.
Laura: Yes. Totally.
Gabriela: So, yeah, more power to us having admiration–
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: –for each other’s work, but I think we can grow each other too.
Laura: Yeah. I agree. And, and Stephanie, um – who’s been on an episode of the podcast – and I have talked about this too, where, um, we were doing a Human Element evening together and, um, she was leading, um, a portion of that that I had done in the past. So, she’d seen me do it and then, and managed the questions that come in, um, and help people through some of the resistance that they notice and all of that and she would very often answer in a totally different way than I know I would have–
Gabriela: Mm hmm.
Laura: –and I would see it be really effective.
Laura: I was just like, “Oh, wow. Look at her do this and I would have gone a totally different direction but this is totally landing.” You know, I’m watching this guy’s face as she’s asking him these questions and the insights that he’s having and I’m like, “Wow.” I was just like, okay, we can learn so much from each other all the time.
Gabriela: That’s right. That’s what I was gonna say. We’re so lucky.
Gabriela: We’re so lucky ’cause, in witnessing different ways, suddenly we can enrich the way we ourselves are doing it. And that I know for myself will be a huge bonus moving forward. So I really wanna ask that from you, to push me in ways that I find myself resting, saying, “Oh yeah. No, this is your part.”
Gabriela: Push me.
Laura: Yeah. And I do want the same, too. And I think about toddler mentality, which is something I talk about a lot and I preach ’cause it’s so important. So, for me, you know comparison is the thief of happiness. We’ve heard this expression. I notice that I can feel insecure in moments where I’m doing a piece that I believe that you’re better at and you have more skill or I think that what you do could be more effective when you’re there, you know? You’re there, you’re watching me–
Laura: –it’s like, “Ah. Is she sitting there thinking like, ‘Oh, Laura, you’re missing things.'” And, you know, maybe you are. Maybe. Maybe not.
Gabriela: But, if I am, excuse me– and when I am, aren’t you sure I’ll say something.
Laura: And part of me is afraid of that sometimes–
Laura: –because I like to be awesome at stuff and I know it’s how I grow. So, absolutely, I think you and I both can benefit a lot from pushing each other into the spaces where historically we know we each have the greater strength at this point in time. And, yeah, you and I, we work together and it’s amazing and beautiful and people have told us that, yes, the content is great and, oh my gosh, the two of you together is wow.
Gabriela: Right. That’s the magic sauce–
Gabriela: –we get told. I wanna say yesterday, I think, or the day before maybe, I delivered something I don’t usually deliver, I think about–
Gabriela: –signifi– competence and–
Laura: No. It was the Parental Traits.
Gabriela: Oh Parental Traits. That’s right.
Laura: It was so good.
Gabriela: And so, you know, there’s an example, right, of wait, I loved how you did that–
Laura: Oh, my gosh.
Gabriela: –and you just haven’t seen–
Laura: I really did.
Gabriela: Mm hmm. Thank you. And I loved having the opportunity to do that.
Laura: It was so smooth–
Gabriela: So it was great.
Laura: –and it, you know, incorporated things that– I actually feel a little emotion right now–
Laura: It incorporated things that I’ve heard you say you want to get better at and part of that was you being more open and you being more vulnerable about some of your life experiences. Um, I think that’s a strength that I’ve cultivated. Putting myself out there, sharing like, “Hey, here’s what I’ve learned. Like, this is how I used to think. This is a story that happened to me.” And you did that and it was so smooth and so on point and I was just watching you, like, in– I’m just beaming right now. Y’all can’t see that. But I am. I’m totally beaming and it was just so, so cool.
Gabriela: Yeah. And as I watched you–
Laura: And I told you as soon as you sat down. I was like–
Gabriela: And you did.
Laura: –that was so cool.
Gabriela: You were so enamored with it. I love that. And I just, and even though yesterday, when you delivered for the second time in the same day the openness, the flavor and the enthusiasm that you had the second round–
Gabriela: –Ah. It was like a movie.
Gabriela: I kept– actually, what I was thinking as I was witnessing it was, “Oh my god. This should be on film. This is the moment that should be being filmed.” And actually, was it?
Laura: Not audio.
Gabriela: Oh, darn it. Because it was so phenomenal.
Gabriela: There were just pieces of it that you just stretched.
Gabriela: You know? You just really stretched.
Laura: I think–
Gabriela: You brought your whole self.
Laura: Well, okay, so I love that you said that and I want to share some of my experience in-in doing that in that moment and why I think I stretched and had the energy that I did. So, at the end of –excuse me– at the end of Radical Collaboration we asked for close-out and, you know, you know it was longer than I thought? And it often is, and I want to remember that because every moment of that is so precious. I was really on such a natural high. The love in that room and the gratitude and the joy and—
Laura: –I felt so full. My heart was so full, my soul was so full, and I felt so good about, I felt good about me in that moment. I did. I felt clear about my contributions, I felt so aligned with my purpose, So, coming into Human Element Evening, I just, I felt so great so–
Gabriela: Yeah. Full.
Laura: –I think I was even goofier than normal.
Gabriela: It was great.
Laura: And, like, I did this little acronym and I screwed it up and I was just like, “Whatever. You guys get it.”
Gabriela: Yeah. It was all so natural and so–
Laura: I was so alive.
Laura: I was so alive. And, and to me that’s the essence, you know, when we talk about self-esteem in Human Element. That’s totally the essence of it is – how I can show up when I feel great about me.
Gabriela: I’m good with me.
Laura: I’m good with me. Yeah.
Gabriela: Yeah. Totally. That’s the thing.
Gabriela: You know, going back to the closing circle in the, in the room, I just, I wanna appreciate, and I do each time, but this, for some reason yesterday seemed even more. How not a soul in the room had any interest in leaving.
Gabriela: We were way over time.
Laura: Yeah. On day three.
Gabriela: On day three.
Laura: Some of them–
Laura: –were driving back to Tampa that night.
Gabriela: And had people at their– two people had like–
Laura: Guests coming over.
Gabriela: –guests at their home already before they even left.
Gabriela: And there was absolutely zero, “I gotta jam.” No one wanted to close anything down. Every word was, um, people were sitting on the edge of their seats–
Laura: Yeah. Just hanging–
Gabriela: –waiting to hear.
Laura: –on everybody’s word. I loved that.
Gabriela: It’s so special to share moments like that it’s like pixie dust or something.
Gabriela: ‘Cause it feels like it. It leaves everyone so warm in the room. It’s medicinal.
Gabriela: It’s medicinal. It’s a property that’s just invisible. It just ignites this healthy atmosphere that we work so hard to create everywhere. That’s what gets us up each day, wanting this so much, right?
Gabriela: Let’s just, let’s create this everywhere we can. Let’s be the contagion of this work that we believe in so much.
Laura: And that’s why people say, “I want the whole world to experience this.” And, you know, the “what if” game, at that point, becomes really powerful. What if politicians on opposite sides, you know, of the party line could have an experience like this? What if the United Nations or, you know, country leaders who are in opposition could have this type of experience? Like, legit.
Gabriela: It gives me chills, honestly.
Laura: Think about, think about the energy in the world that right now goes towards defending ourselves, defending our countries and what if that energy was all fueled into, I’ll start with, solving problems? You know? Making this world, making this planet a better place for everybody. And then, yeah, you know what? It’s cheesy. I don’t care. I’m gonna say it. What if that energy was directed towards love instead of hate?
Gabriela: Yeah. But it’s, it’s the ultimate outcome that we’re all looking for is connection. And when we’re talking about human beings, and that’s what we all are, we’re looking for connection. We know that orphan babies die—
Gabriela: –when they’re not touched and there’s no connection. We know that people die younger when they haven’t had enough connection, just from loneliness, at the end.
Gabriela: So here, this kind of, um, utilization of this work, putting it into any context, I, I tried for a second to sort of narrow it down but it’s just–
Gabriela: –any context. It’s just any context. It’s anyone, every level. And the more we talk with– how many times now have we had groups that are leaving saying, “Can we teach this to our kids? Can you do this for our families?”
Laura: Oh, gosh. Yeah.
Gabriela: You know, and it just keeps coming up.
Laura: “I want my wife to come.” “I want my husband to come.”
Gabriela: “I’m gonna talk to my children about this.”
Gabriela: And we do know families who live in choice and work this program pretty diligently at home and, um, it’s a beautiful thing.
Laura: I think that this work is what will be the thing that evolves human’s brains to be less dependent and reliant on that lizard brain and the amygdala for survival. You know, I, I joke sometimes that it’s too bad that our brains aren’t evolving as quickly as our society around us. Right? So, the adrenaline and cortisol rush that used to help us when we were looking at a growling bear and it’s like, “Oh, yay. I’ve got cortisol and adrenaline so I can run away or fight this thing.” That same thing happens now in interpersonal conflict because that’s the problem that most of us have these days, not necessarily fighting bears. And our brain doesn’t know that yet and I think that this work will be what does it. Especially when people do bring this to their families. When they talk about this with their kids and, most importantly, when they show up–
Laura: –in this way with their children. When they live in a way that is open and vulnerable and non-defensive more of the time, that’s what creates that environment and rewires the brain.
Gabriela: Well, I was gonna say this is what’s so interesting. And no one could see your hands
Gabriela: –sort of leveling back and forth–
Gabriela: –like you were weighing two things but in the brain, the science of it that’s so fascinating is, in fact, this little housing up here, in the back there’s that amygdala that’s reptilian and reacts to things in that fight or flight mode and doesn’t have real reason. In the front is this brain that grows and does take in new information, right, and that does have the capacity to grow and change. And then, in truth, this piece in between the limbic part does when all the neurotransmitters are in sync and working in tandem, then all that cortisol and stuff is actually working for a more effective and productive methodology for human operation system is working and, you know, all things are go.
Laura: One of the things I remember learning about the brain that inspired me to really practice leaning more on my intuition, like we were talking about before, is the whole idea that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain you were describing that is very powerful and does reason, it can hold maybe five to seven pieces of information at a time. Or maybe it’s like seven plus or minus two I think is where 90% of humans fall. Something like that. Like if you rattle off a phone number, most people will struggle to actually get the whole thing exactly right just from pure memory, which is why we have chunking in learning. You know, we learn things in chunks and now that chunk is one piece of information that has a lot of depth for us. Anyway, the limbic part of our brain and that, that lizard part of the brain, that– it’s so old. It’s been around for so long. That incorporates so much more information simultaneously and so when people have that gut feeling, that gut reaction, it’s responding to so much right away. Now, unfortunately, that’s not the language part of the brain.
Laura: That’s different. So, I can have a feeling or a sense and not be able to put words to it right away, not be able to articulate why, and, in my younger days, I used to be like, “Well, I’m gonna dismiss that, then. ‘Cause, you know what? I’m logical. And if I can’t give a logical, analytical reason for why I’m gonna say what I’m gonna say, then I’m not gonna say it. I’m not gonna trust it. I’m gonna dismiss it.” That was actually pounded into me in my PhD program. Data, data, data. So, I was like, okay, I am going to retrain myself to listen to the intuition, to give it space, to trust it, and to have the courage to throw something out there without even fully understanding why. And I think I’ve become way more effective as a result.
Gabriela: There’s no doubt. I watch it. I witness it. I mean, and I witness it with myself. I mean, you say, “I don’t know. I have a hunch. Let me, let me see how this works” and that’s part of the system, our working system, too, that I think is part of that relationship people are looking to find out and are curious to understand why it works so well. ‘Cause there, there are no boundaries with the trying things on.
Laura: Yeah. The other–
Gabriela: I didn’t like that. No thank you. Not today.
Laura: And I’ll say that. I’ll be like, “I don’t like that.”
Laura: The other thing I practice is throwing out an idea that I don’t know if I like it or not yet. And I usually–
Laura: –say it, I still caveat it. I say, “I don’t even know if I like this idea yet, but what if…” Well, because that’s one more reason I sometimes catch myself withholding is I have a thought or idea and I think, “Well, I haven’t thought this all the way through yet so I don’t know if this will actually be in my interest. I don’t know if that’s actually something I would like to do.” And when I feel comfortable and I trust with you or with whoever, um, is in the group at the moment to say, “Hey. I’m not even sure if I like this yet, but what if…” And I put it out there and then you all have a chance to respond to it, shape it, and we can evaluate together if we feel like this is an idea that’s good for everybody involved. And, um, I think that’s a practice that not many people– I don’t experience many people doing that, like throwing out an idea before they even know if they like it.
Gabriela: Well, that takes a lot of courage because
Gabriela: You just said it. Trust. And I’m not sure we really talked a lot about trust yet. But how trust is developed, right? Sometimes we just automatically trust someone for some reason that we don’t understand. And I think that’s a permission slip, for lack of a better way of saying it, to try some of this stuff on. That I wanna encourage everyone when there’s this sense of trust, instead of getting– giving the brain enough time to rationalize, “Well that’s a ridiculous thing. I can’t trust somebody after this amount of time,” to really go with it. Take one baby step and stretch a little bit and just for one moment see if it’s true. See if that trust can be developed. Those are those moments that we have opportunity all over the place where we don’t open doors. Fear that keeps us from taking that chance.
Laura: Yeah. And recognizing that the absence of it just breeds more of the absence of it. Right? So–
Laura: –if I heard, or if somebody told me, “I don’t trust you” I will pretty automatically be less trusting of you then. Okay.
Gabriela: Of course.
Laura: Like, “Whoa. Alright. You don’t trust me? That means that you’re gonna be guarding against something. You’ll be focusing on–
Gabriela: Or you’re untrustworthy.
Laura: –your own interests.” Yes. Or you’re projecting however you walk through the world on me and so the moment that’s the mindset of “Well, I don’t trust this person,” I’m probably going to bring that back on myself immediately.
Gabriela: Mm hmm.
Laura: And so what if I trust first?
Gabriela: Mm hmm.
Laura: What if I assume first that somebody is worthy of trust because I am worthy of trust. And, yeah, absolutely–
Laura: I was talking about being rigidly collaborative or, you know, trusting to my own detriment, um, is my bigger risk. I really haven’t seen that play out–
Laura: –much though. I mean, in my life, maybe a couple instances where I’m like, “Shoot. You know, yeah, I did trust there a lot and I think I got a little bit hurt in the process. But I don’t want to live any other kind of way.”
Gabriela: I love that you say that, ’cause there’s a gift and a lesson in everything, even when it hurts. And I think the larger we live and the broader the spectrum of emotion we adopt, I know for myself that yes, it hurts more but it loves more, too.
Laura: Yes. And I, I learn each time that when I’m trusting and I lead with love and I put myself out there and then I do feel hurt, I also show myself over and over again that I am resilient as f*ck, which is something that I like to say a lot.
Gabriela: Right here on this podcast? Okay.
Laura: Yeah, we just slapped the E on there. Why not? Plus, Gary can always bleep it for me if I ask him to. Hey, Gary! I won’t cut that out that time. We’ll give you a shout out. He’s my, uh, my editor.
Laura: Um, yeah. I’m resilient. So, knowing that if it doesn’t go the way that I hope, I know I will recover. And it makes it easier every time after to just continue to live my life in that way.
Gabriela: Well, what you’re really saying, I think, at least my interpretation is, “The more I trust me, the more I trust what happens–
Gabriela: –with me.”
Laura: It’s about my cope-ability. I can cope. I’m good. I’m good.
Gabriela: And humans are resilient.
Laura: Oh, so resilient. Way more than we realize, often times.
Gabriela: Oh, my gosh. Like, we get to see this every day.
Laura: It’s incredible what people have been through. Their stories. And the strength. And where they are in their lives.
Gabriela: And someone said this yesterday, too, and we certainly hear it plenty but– “Once I learned in my life– and make one assumption that I don’t like to make assumptions, generally speaking, but one assumption that every human has a story that could be, have way more gravity than anything I’ve ever experienced in my life– suddenly compassion is the first thing, empathy–
Gabriela: –understanding, the openness to forgive and believe that that person has something to volunteer and contribute to my life in some way, big or small, every piece is so important to my growth and so important to my evolution. And then, to the evolution of my family or the people that I affect on a daily basis.
Laura: Used to have that canvas on my wall that said “Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” Because humans – I think every human that I’ve ever met, knows what it’s like to feel compassion for somebody at some point, when they know their story or when something resonates and so the application of “So, what if that was just everybody? What if you don’t have to know their story to have compassion for them?”
Gabriela: Yeah. That’s the good stuff.
Laura: I used to say I could love anybody if I know their story and then it got to a point where I said, “You know what? I don’t even need to know your story. I just love everybody.”
Laura: It’s so cheesy but it’s so true.
Gabriela: But if you start from there, so many more people have a chance.
Laura: Yeah. Yeah, absolutely.
Gabriela: I mean, I am so judge-y all the time. I notice it for myself. I am so grateful for this work ‘because I get to catch myself in it all the time.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: All the time. I went for a massage this morning, which was a beautiful gift from you, thank you.
Laura: You’re welcome.
Gabriela: And I walked through the door, I’d been on the phone, what? I’d started at eight o’clock this morning or something and I’m still on California time so it felt like five. And, um, barely hung up to walk in to have my massage and I walk through the little door and my masseuse greeted me. And something about her stature and her physical being and the way she was walking, I had a whole bunch of stories about. And I thought, “Oh, man. Here I am. Great. I’ve carved out an hour of my day–” And before I even finished my whole tape I went, “Oh, no. This is gonna be the best massage you’ve had in the longest time.”
Gabriela: And it was. It just was. And there are a number of reasons why that’s true. It wasn’t just that her touch was great and she was listening to my needs but there were pieces of our dialogue that touched home for each of us. And moments that I get to take with me for the rest of the day.
Laura: ‘Cause you changed the energy.
Gabriela: Totally changed the energy.
Laura: And that was a conscious choice.
Gabriela: Yes, it was.
Gabriela: And it is, every day.
Laura: It is, yeah. It’s a practice. And for me it’s about – I notice faster and I recover faster, more and more, and my awareness is deeper. And, um, God, I would never trade it.
Gabriela: Yeah. You’ve used the word “recovery” in a number of different contexts today so I wanna talk about that a little bit–
Gabriela: –because it’s good. ‘Cause it’s not just recovering from a slip. It’s recovering from an old conversation that I’ve just never resolved or it’s recovering from one that I haven’t had in years or don’t want to or think I haven’t wanted to or that kind of stuff. I think, um, one of the things I like the most about what we teach is there’s a redo for everything, and that’s recovery. We get to start over 100 percent of the time. Every conversation, anything left unsaid, any relationship that has been left in a way that today would feel better closed in another way. No one has to answer. All I have to do is say, “Hey, it would feel good today for you to know that I just want the best for you.”
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: That’s it. There’s no answer needed. It’s just about I now have sent from a place that’s genuine what I want.
Laura: I had, um, this was about a year ago now, um, I had an ex-boyfriend reach out to me on Facebook, um, who I really had not had communication with in over 10 years and, um, and he apologized for how he treated me towards the end of the relationship–
Gabriela: Wow. That’s profound.
Laura: –and I cried. And I was surprised in that moment. Thought, “Holy crap. This was so long ago” and I had no conscious awareness of harboring resentment to him anymore. I did for a few years and then, at a certain point, I just, it just wasn’t a thing. It was never on my mind. When he reached out, I didn’t have like a kneejerk negative reaction. You know. And then he apologized and I was just, I was so surprised at how strong my reaction was.
Gabriela: Mm hmm.
Laura: And it was a really cool insight for me to realize how something can hang on in my subconscious and to have somebody be courageous enough and say– I don’t know what his self-talk was but he clearly did not let the amount of time stop him from making the apology– he could have been like, “Eh, it was so long ago. It doesn’t matter now.”
Gabriela: And it so does.
Laura: It did.
Gabriela: It so does.
Laura: I didn’t even realize it. Like, I wasn’t consciously wanting it, waiting for it, anything like that but, yeah. I actually cried and then I think I shared the story with my family because they were aware of him and—
Laura: –were maybe not his biggest fan at the time. Um, and I like cried again when I told them because they had such a strong reaction to it. So, I love this idea that it’s not too late.
Gabriela: It’s never too late. And I guess I have the repeated opportunity to see that as I watch my own children raise their children.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: And, at times, I see the beautiful things and at times I see the things that make me cringe when I notice my own behavior that my children have adopted that they’re exercising with their children.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: And, you know, it’s that touching moment where “don’t give advice to the kids” kind of thing happens but I, I’m compelled to just in that moment own my own role.
Gabriela: Own my own role in how I’m aware that it may or may not have affected them and highlighting that I see it. And that’s not about “you change what you’re doing.” I just wanna offer that I know that I may have had an impact on you in your life, that I wanna own–
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: –and I wanna do differently now. In fact, I’ve had kind of interviews with my kids in the last couple of years to redesign the relationship with them as adults and as adults and parents.
Laura: I love that. I wish everybody– I want everybody to think about the relationships in their lives as being, um, relationships that they co-create and they design together.
Laura: You and I design what this is, what this looks like and I used to hear people talk about, you know, “Don’t judge a relationship from the outside. You’re not in it. You don’t know.” And when I was really young I was like, “Screw that. I’m judging everything.” Um, and it so fits with this idea of, you know, they, they create what works for them. And they’re on their own journey. And whenever they’re ready to have the awareness that they wanna have or–
Laura: –set boundaries that they wanna have or whatever, like, they’re doing their thing. And being at peace with that.
Gabriela: Gives me chills, really. ‘Cause I just got that call from Carolyn that said, “Okay. Callie and I are ready to come to your next class. We’re ready. Let’s do this.” Which is such a huge statement, ’cause not only to become vulnerable and open in a classroom setting but, with your mom as one of the teachers, and you have the gift of having your mom in our class this time. We did. We had the gift.
Laura: Mm hmm.
Gabriela: What an incredible thing to witness. But, um–
Laura: And I’m excited for the opportunity and the honor to, to work with your adult kids.
Laura: To help them have breakthroughs because I know that that will be my, that will be my role.
Gabriela: Yes it will.
Laura: And I’m, I’m honored for that.
Gabriela: Your numbers opportunity – you go girl!
Gabriela: I love it.
Laura: This has been so awesome. Um, I know we could just talk forever and we will talk again. Gabriela will be a regular on the show as my best friend and my, my partner in life in many ways. So, you know I’m incredibly grateful for you. You and I keep getting all teary and emotional and bawling in front of our classes as we express our gratitude–
Laura: –and I kinda think they love it, though.
Gabriela: Well, someone actually made a comment about it this time. I remember the meat of the message which was “Seeing the relationship that you have is, oh, it’s such a gift because we can see how possible it is to have this kind of relationship in our lives.”
Laura: Yeah. It’s absolutely a gift for me.
Gabriela: Yes ma’am. As it is for me. Thank you for having me today.
Laura: I love you.
Gabriela: I love you, too.
Laura: Alright, y’all. We’re gonna let you go now.
Outro: Gabriela and I both talked about our defensiveness and how that shows up for us – and I want to let you know about a free tool on our site – you can go to gallaheredge.com/defensiveness to download your own “signs of defensiveness” worksheet. This will help you become more self-aware, so you can notice in the moment and make a different choice. Also, we have an exciting new product called Insider Edge that we are launching next month – it is a membership site where we put out new content each week – from videos, audio files, articles, white papers, exercises and weekly challenges to help you continue to grow, because personal development is a journey and not an event! Head now to gallaheredge.com/join to join our waitlist, and you will be the first to know when enrollment opens. That’s it for now – take care and we’ll talk again soon!