Archive for the ‘validation’ Tag

Drinkin’ from the Firehose Again

Dang it! 17 days since I last posted. Not meeting my weekly post goal is becoming a habit. Gotta re-prioritize and do better. 

Here are some good things:

  • Was called a “kick-ass attorney” on a conference call today. 👍🏻💪🏻😎 Always nice to be appreciated publicly. 
  • Did some deeply satisfying, intellectually challenging, executive lawyering in a strategic planning conference last week. I love my job most when I feel my contributions have meaning beyond just checking a box. It’s also immensely satisfying to be included among the senior leadership as an equal and recognized as a strategic partner to the business. 
  • Found a new Thai restaurant near my house. Had dinner there with a group of friends and was impressed that the picky one, who always finds something to complain about, loved it and had not a single negative comment to make. That’s a keeper!

I hope your day is full of recognition and validation and good things to eat. Be happy my friends. 

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The Importance of Being Seen

Oh lookit, a bonus post already in this limited #NaNoWriMo effort. Wish I could say it’s a joyful one. 
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I’ve had a rough couple of days at work. I received some feedback that I find very upsetting and have felt rather let down and discouraged by it. After a private pity party and a little whinge in a journal, I’ve spent some time trying to dissect exactly what’s hurting me about it. I actively seek out feedback, frequently ask how I can improve. Personal and professional growth is important to me. So why this feeling of being utterly crushed by this particular feedback?

I think the core of it is that I’ve already spent a lot of time and energy and emotion on this very thing and believe I’ve improved a lot, eliminating the biggest part of this perceived flaw. Yet…it’s apparently not good enough. 

Criticism is hard for all of us, I think. But I find it especially difficult to take onboard as constructive feedback in situations where I feel my efforts in the area at issue have been ignored or overlooked. That’s where I’m at right now…feeling invisible, not seen, un-acknowledged. Or at least my work on a particularly challenging aspect of personal growth feels dismissed and ignored by people I respect and admire. 

I’m familiar with the concept of “being seen” in the context of personal identity. Telling someone “I see you” is a sacred act of validation, an invaluable gift to those whose identity has been erased, ignored, vilified, criminalized. Being seen has weight and meaning far surpassing the surface affect of recognition. Especially for those in marginalized identities, being seen can mean the difference between a life of freedom and a life of struggling to exist. 

But the concept applies equally well to situations beyond identity politics. Being seen and heard is a fundamental need in all types of relationships and interactions. When we feel acknowledged, validated, valued, our relationships and interactions thrive. When we feel invisible, ignored, erased, they fail. That is a binary I do acknowledge. 

In an age when employee engagement and talent retention are actual corporate priorities and not just buzz-words, I can’t help but think that acknowledging someone’s response to coaching, validating their efforts and progress, is critical to those goals. I’m not interested in flattery or asking to be praised and petted. I merely think that if criticism is acknowledged and responded to with genuine effort to improve, heaping on further criticism without any acknowledgement of those efforts is dispiriting and demoralizing. It’s the difference between fine-tuning with judicious editing, and bludgeoning with a hammer. 

That all sounds like a load of self pity and whining. An adult professional should be able to receive criticism without crying about it. 

Yes. 

But at some point, even responsible adults get a gut full of being picked-on. And when the criticism comes without any direction or guidance on what to change or what constitutes success, the unacknowledged efforts seem futile and will eventually stop. That is the very definition of disengagement. 

So, yeah, that’s a grim way to end the day. Perhaps the gloom and chill outside my window has seeped into my thoughts and leaked out into this blog. Sorry. 

I hope you’re feeling seen and valid and valued today and every day. 

29 Days: More Good Things

  1. Today was warm again, with cheerful sunshine and birdsong.
  2. I did a lot of hard, important, smart, deeply substantive, executive level lawyering today. 
  3. Some really smart, high-powered attorneys from some of the most sophisticated, white-shoe national law firms treated me with respect and deference while working together on the things in #2 above. A validating, gratifying experience. 
  4. Further progress toward getting back to 100% after the nasty cold I picked up while traveling. Glad to have my voice and my brain back. 
  5. Leaving the office at a reasonable time and before full dark for the fifth working day in a row. Feels so good!

Many One Good Things for today, for which I am grateful. 

29 days, a day early 

So here goes with the positivity reboot.  I’m starting a day early because I have a really easy and totally awesome ‘one good thing’ (OGT). 

I’ve been on a business trip since Thursday, working with a big group of leaders from my company on a strategic planning exercise. It’s been a stretch for me, as I’m a fact-based, legal-minded, linear thinker and this has been more of an ideation, thought experiment exercise. Very interesting and challenging and nerve wracking. The presentation of our results to the CEO and entire executive leadership team had me on edge. But it all went well and our work was well received. 

Then last night we had a dinner with the executives as a wrap-up to the planning event (and for some of us, a segue into our annual global sales conference). Fancy restaurant, lots of networking and some nice food. Then, before dessert, the CEO turned it into a ceremony for those being promoted into the senior and executive leadership teams. 

I was one of them. The Senior Vice President promotion I’ve been working so hard for is finally official. I can’t even describe how validating and wonderful it is to be recognized in this way by my boss in front of all the senior executives of my company. It’s a huge ego boost. 

I’m walking quite a bit taller today! And that is definitely OGT for more than just today. 

A defining event

Writing 101 prompts and twists for days 14 & 15 (last Thursday and Friday) were not immediately inspiring for me. The first was to take a random word as inspiration and the twist was to write in the form of a letter. The second was to imagine a beloved event has been cancelled or taken over by evil forces, with the twist to pay close attention to my voice in word choice, tone and rhythm. I haven’t been able to come up with any ground shaking inspiration and I simply cannot write letters to no one. So I’ve combined the two challenges into one post and skipped the one twist. Here’s my day 14/15 post.

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Seeing a random reference to “butch” and “conference” last week got me thinking about an event that I don’t think I’ll ever forget. Two years ago, when I was in the first blush of being out of the closet to people “in real life” (IRL), people with whom I have in-person interaction, I went to a conference that really did change my life. There, for the first time ever, I was among people who looked like me, had similar experiences and knew how it felt to be always on the outside looking in. For the first time in my life, I wasn’t a minority by virtue of my gender presentation and identity.

Attending the Butch Voices conference in August of 2013 was a formative experience. Validating, freeing, uplifting, eye-opening, the BV13 conference was all of these and something more. I met in person folks who had been important to me (unbeknownst to them) in my coming out journey. A favorite blogger, several favorite Tweeters and a business contact, all of whom I’d had interaction with only online, became IRL acquaintances and, for some, real friends.

Discourse on all manner of gender and identity and sexuality related topics filled those few amazing days. I’d never before felt free to talk about some of those things with anyone before, and it was inspiring to hear people from every demographic share their views and experiences with everyone.

So moving was my time there that I have a hard time imagining that it will never happen again, or that some unsavory element could seize control of the event and turn it into a travesty of its former self. Even for the sake of a writing exercise, I hesitate to release the idea into the universe, lest it come true.

The event ceasing to be is more likely to happen from apathy and disorganization, than from takeover by opposition. As with any grassroots effort without broad-based underwriting and formal leadership, the focus and discipline of the individual organizers, as well as the enthusiasm and buy-in of attendees, can make or break the event. Also, broadcast communication early and often is a key element of success. 2013’s conference seemed to hit all those notes well. I am concerned that this year’s conference scheduled has not, as of Friday, been released. To have reached the end of April without a formal conference announcement and schedule for an event in August seems to me to be cutting it a bit fine, from a planning perspective. I’m hopeful that my nerves are unwarranted and the schedule will come out shortly.

But what if some nefarious element should intervene? Say, a homophobic, transphobic, hate group were to infiltrate the the organization, what would the BV15 conference be then?

First, assuming the conference is held at all, would the hate group element disrupt the planning efforts as well as the event itself? That seems likely. Delaying tactics, such as blocking votes on agenda, venue and services providers could easily set back planning to the point of paralysis. Then, if the event does get off the ground, how would the conference be changed?

My biggest fear is that the welcome and acceptance endemic to my experience at BV13 would be diminished. The magic of that event was in the miracle of validation gleaned from the automatic acceptance every attendee received upon arrival and throughout the event. Your self identification to any form of gender identity and expression was all that was required. No one questioned whether you were ‘XXX enough’ to claim that identity. No one argued with your self applied labels or pronouns. You were accepted as you presented yourself. That is an amazing and exceedingly rare circumstance for most people who attend that conference. What a shame, what a travesty it would be if anyone were to diminish that by instituting any rules or policies or practices that made any self identification in any way suspect.

I hope very much that this year’s conference does happen, that all who can benefit from a welcoming, validating, accepting, safe place to commune with and learn from our beautifully diverse community are able to attend and that no unsavory influence mars the uplifting harmony of this important event.

C’mon, BV15! I can hardly wait to find out what’s in store for this year!

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