I love to stack up books and when an opportunity presents itself; read. Recently, I found myself reading two different books. One, The Myth of Normal the other, Scaling Up
For a taste of the former, here’s paragraph in the opening chapter:
Much of what passes for normal is neither healthy or natural… to meet the criteria of society is to conform to requirements that are profoundly abnormal for our natural needs – which means unhealthy and harmful on a physiological mental and even spiritually level.
This is a physician speaking, Gabor Mate, who has spent years in a medical model that paradoxically advances our ability to eliminate illness while doing it in a way that is compartmentalized and potentially causes more harm than good.
Then there’s Scaling Up which is a book about how companies must manage the four major decision areas every company must get right: People, Strategy, Execution, and Cash.
I sort of feel as a jump back and forth in these books I am swimming in the paradox that Gabor Mate is referring to in the The Myth of Normal.
It’s true as a therapist and business consultant I often feel like I am torn between worlds and caught in a paradox within both.
As a therapist, I have gathered a deep understanding of the impact of stress, trauma, neglect, pressure, perfectionism, absent parenting, bullying, abuse and systemic ‘isms’ on us humans trying to survive.
As a business consultant and executive coach, I also have a deep appreciation for people who focus their lives on rising their family, acquiring wealth, keeping thousands of employees paid during challenging times and coming up with new gadgets, widgets, and toys of all sorts. Some that thrill, some that save, some that connect and bring people moments of joy.
I have seen the best and worse in both systems: healthcare and business. I may have been the best and worse at times over the years in both worlds.
Sometimes I feel crazy and I admit I rarely feel ‘normal’ these days. I’m okay with that.
Yet it is hard.
In business, I often find the drive and need for cash, execution, and market share exhausting. If I am honest that rarely motivates me. However, I know these people are impacting the lives of so many and often are motivated by success, market share as well as the people that are doing the work that makes that possible.
I want their conversation to be relational and real. I want them to see themselves and others as humans that are messy, vulnerable and make mistakes. That part of my work is rewarding.
Of course, there times when I lose it with a client and we may choose to go our separate ways.
When I am working with individuals, couples, or teams I am deeply motivated to stop the blame and shame and move people towards experiencing their agency, compassion, and kindness for others, which generally has to start with oneself.
That is not always easy.
Truth be told my own journey from victim to human (being) took years (decades) and frankly I am still on that journey.
I sometimes act like I think people should get it at one team off site or on personal/professional development program.
It’s not really that I expect that of them or me. It’s that I feel helpless when that doesn’t happen and blame and shame runs the room.
It’s a capacity issue.
I don’t like feeling helpless.
However, sometimes it’s just the way it is.
Reading and gaining new tools and perspective does help. However, the bigger challenge for me is how to take the lesson and live them day-to-day.
How to build my capacity for feeling helpless AND still carrying and loving on.
That’s where breathing, moving, and dropping the words for sounds and music comes in handy.
I do enjoy and am grateful for my mind AND I know it’s my body, breath and energy that truly connects me to the wonder of the world around me.
I prefer to live in wonder than just in knowledge or answers. What about you?