Kim Bettie
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Let’s work together to change the world.

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I believe the number one thing preventing us from working together in work and life is the myth that we have to be One-Big-Happy-Family. The truth, families have to work hard to have harmony and happiness. Happy families do not sweep their disagreements under the rug, they call out the elephant in the room and face it head on. Healthy relationships are the outcome of healthy people who co-create a safe space to discuss differences and walk in another person's shoes. Genuinely listening and learning from others is not meant to change your mind, it's meant to transform your heart. A transformed heart is emotionally intelligent; it's empathetic and respectful of different points of view.  A transformed heart has faith and an unwavering focus on finding common ground for greater good. 


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Finding ways to invest more energy— is the single most powerful resource we have to solve problems and experience high performance. There are three key factors in having more energy and engagement in work and life: psychological meaning, psychological safety and psychological availability. I recently learned that having meaning and purpose is not enough. Feeling unsafe and burned out does not only rob you of joy and energy, it kills, steals and destroys results. 

We are constantly fighting fires that are too hot to handle. It makes me think of a story my mom shared with me when I was a little girl. There was a house on fire next door to where she used to live when she was a young woman. By the time she saw what was going on, flames and smoke were blazing. Sadly, she heard kids screaming from inside of the house. Without thinking, my  mother ran to the garage. She grabbed a ladder that was, under normal conditions, too heavy and big for her to pick up. She found a superhuman strength to carry the ladder, by herself, to her neighbor's home and was able to get the kids to climb out of a window to safety. 

As I reflect on this, I realize if the fire fighters would have arrived and the children didn't make it out, no one would have blamed my mother. No one even expected someone her size to achieve such a heroic act. She was a woman on a mission, saving the lives of the children had significant meaning. Had she let fear creep in or if someone would have told her she could not do it, the children would have never made it out alive. Had she been thinking about how tired and worn out she really was, from caring for her own four small children day in and day out, she would have been too exhausted and unavailable to attempt such an impossible feat. This story just goes to show, when the right kind of stress is not overshadowed by the wrong kind of stress...anything is possible.

We all have fires to fight everyday. At work, you can be excited about a challenging project that will help make the world a better place and then bump up against the unsafe space of a micromanager or a leader who does not value your input or work. When this happens repeatedly, for example, self efficacy can chip away and you are only able to focus on the weight of big the ladder, rather than the screams of kids in the burning buildings.  

In life, you may desire to finally get in shape and look great for your class reunion. Yet, every time you speak with your mother she is judging you on how you look and dress. Maybe you dwell on the rejection you experienced from your spouse the other night. Or, maybe you have support, but you feel so worn out from taking care of everyone but yourself,  you ignore the symptoms and warning signs of a serious health issue. 

Finding superhuman energy is not only the prerequisite to fighting the fires we face in work and life, but also in our communities. There are raging fires happening today: the shooting of teachers and kids in schools; the lead in the water in Flint, Michigan; the abuse of power and prejudice in our law enforcement. We will never be able to fight the good fight if we are consumed with fear or exhaustion. Sadly, I can hear the kids screaming and trying to find their way out. We must muster up the superhuman energy needed to solve our country's  problems and experience collective high performance. 

The truth is, sometimes we can't immediately change external factors - like our leaders or life's competing demands. In spite of this reality, don't give up!  There is always one thing we can change, and that is ourselves. We can establish boundaries and find ways to the manage stress from toxic people, places and things. Putting the proverbial oxygen mask on ourselves first, can give us the same kind of superhuman energy my mom had that will empower us to leap tall building, fight fires and save lives - ours and others. 

Kim Bettie