Opinion and Truth

There is a big difference between your opinion and the truth.

Opinions are imposed, truth is shared.

Opinions can be argued, truth cannot.

Opinions need defending, truth does not.

Opinions are thoughts, truth is self evident.

Opinions come from you, truth comes through you.

Opinions are arrogant, truth is humble.

Opinions are force, truth is love.

Opinions create separation, truth brings us together.

Opinions can be owned, the truth is for everyone.

Truth can be proved, opinions cannot.

Truth is found through inquiry, opinions are invented at whim.

You don’t get credit for the truth, only your capacity to hear it.

Truth told as an opinion loses its power.

We each have a choice which one to hold most dear, but they can never be equal.

~ Kyle Mercer

The Power of the Talking Stick

Following up on the last blog about the power of being real, I wanted to share an exercise that I give as an assignment to couples that I work with. You may have heard of it before. It’s called the talking stick exercise. The talking stick exercise is one of the most basic and fundamental and profound tools that we can use in relationships. And it goes like this: something comes up in our relationships, something we need to talk to about, and we tend to get into an argument or fight about. In other words, the situation usually tends to escalate in some way. Instead of allowing it to escalate, we should turn to the talking stick exercise. And this simply means that someone is going to be the speaker and someone is going to be the listener.

We give the speaker something to hold and this represents the fact that we are putting all of our attention on them and none on ourselves. In this exercise, whatever the subject is, we can fully hear someone out without formulating or generating our own response. And we can really understand what is going on in their insides; what they’re experiencing. So, we say to ourselves, “Alright, I’m ready to listen to this issue, whether it’s with money, with kids, whatever it is, I really want listen.” And then we have the speaker tell us anything they can possibly imagine about the issue and let them totally empty their tank about it. And then we pay close attention to what they are saying, without pushing back, without judging, without anything else, so that they get to fully get out whatever it is that is going on with them.

A great question the listener can ask at the end of the exercise is “Is there anything else you are feeling about this?” The listener can ask this multiple times to make sure the speaker has nothing left to say. Moreover, depending on our skill level, if we do not understand something, we can ask about it without pushing back. For example, this is like, “You mentioned this, and I don’t really understand what your concern is about it; can you help me understand what your concern is about that?” and go a little bit deeper. The idea is if we can allow somebody to be fully heard with no feedback, then solutions and answers and feelings of closeness and compassion will undoubtedly follow.

Once we are all completely done with this, once somebody feels like they have completely been heard and we feel like we completely understand them, we can either take a break and wait for an hour to let the conversation digest, or we might be ready to switch turns and hand the talking stick to the other person and essentially switch roles. Remember, this is not a solve-each-other’s-problems’ situation and it takes discipline to do this.

Finally, once both people have shared, it’s really helpful to give the issue some space. For instance, let the conversation sit until the next day and then continue with another talking stick conversation. You will be amazed at how the energy has shifted or at how differently you view the idea after hearing from your partner.

It’s very hard to listen to someone fully without completely understanding them. This is because we all have good will, we all have the best interest at heart, and want to ask questions. And it’s also very hard to not be moved after you yourself have been heard, because it can often be difficult to have to hear yourself out fully.

While it may be hard, once you have mastered the art of the using the talking stick, it is an incredibly profound, powerful, life-changing exercise.

Fundamentals of Inquiry Method™, and Inquiry Management™

At its root, Inquiry Method™, and Inquiry Management™ by extension, are the capacity to come to any conversation, challenge, or interaction with open curiosity and inquisitiveness rather than with answers, assumptions, and directives. In our culture, we are taught to have all the answers and that our intelligence is based on knowledge. For most of our education, we are given answers and required to memorize and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives. The problem with having the answers is that everyone stops growing and learning.

This is particularly true in relationships both personal and professional. We make assumptions and project ourselves into other people. We judge, gossip, assert, tell, and correct, instead of asking and inquiring. The process of telling others what to do shuts down communication and leads our relationships into stuck and frustrating situations.

If you want to create dynamic, alive, and vital relationships where accountability, productivity, and creativity are authentically embraced, then you have to be wiling to not know, willing to put your ego aside and let curiosity lead the way.

Inquiry Method provides processes, practices and inquiry lenses that break through the obstacles to growth and mastery level living. It provides the bold shift in perspective and the set of tools that are needed to master our own level of participation so that we can become inspirational leaders in every aspect of our lives.

Learn more through our Inquiry Management eCourse by Kyle Mercer from Inquiry Method™.  Kyle Mercer’s interactive eCourse includes video lectures featuring Kyle Mercer, 9 interactive comprehensive units, and an individual, private workbook designed to guide you towards creating an environment of growth and accountability in your organization.

Please click HERE to learn more.

Levels of Participation

Levels of Participation is one of the principals that I discovered in my work developing Inquiry Method. In the years I have been teaching it, it has become a mainstay of what I call Inquiry Management. The Levels of Participation are a framework for understanding how people work together; they explain how people behave in relationships, the context that they participate in, and the leadership they receive. By understanding this framework we can have an impact on our own success and growth, we can influence the success and growth of our organization and we can learn to lead and be led to greater success, and ultimately satisfaction, engagement and happiness in our work.

Inquiry Method™ is the foundation on which I have built all that I have learned and discovered. I have found that it is also something that can be learned by others to have a profound impact on their ability to lead and mentor others. At the root Inquiry Method™ is simply the capacity to come to any conversation or inner challenge with openness, curiosity, and questions rather than answers. Though this may seem simple and easy, I have found that it is much more difficult that one might think. Particularly in business, but also elsewhere, we are taught to have the answers. In fact for most of our education we were given answers and required to memorize them and repeat them for tests and exams. Most of us have continued in this pattern in our professional and personal lives.

The problem is that in having the answers we stop learning and growing.

Click here for my eCourse where you will be taught the fundamentals of Levels of Participation, Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership.

Ego’s Trap

Attachment to the ego is the primary obstacle to our ability to lead effectively. When we assert our truth, opinions and assumptions – we are directive in a way that limits growth. Inquiry Method™ is a philosophy and a practice that cultivates the ability to set ego aside and to inquire into, ask questions, and employ natural curiosity in order to connect with deeper truths and insight. Using and growing natural curiosity about life and people will enable you to become an inspirational leader and will elevate how you live your life, how you do business, how you relate to others, and how you perceive yourself.

Great leaders are not so much attached to themselves and their success as to great ideas and inspiration. Great leaders inspire others toward a cause, not through devotion to the individual.

It is my intention that Inquiry Method revolutionize how we live our lives, how we do business, how we relate to each other, and how we see ourselves. In fact it has already begun.

Our Inquiry Management eCourse will lead you through the levels of participation, these levels parallel levels of personal development that are available to you and will be necessary for you to be able to fulfill the promise of this course. Traditionally we think of growing as accumulating things, in fact these levels actually become more available to you as you let go of things. The capacity to let go is fundamental to progression in Inquiry Method, each time we let go of something we open to new capacity and depth, we let more in.

Click here to learn more

 

Stagnant Energy, Case Study

Last week I introduced the concept of stagnant energy and how Inquiry Method can identify and release these blockages and get the energy moving again.  

The same is true not only for individuals, but also when I work with a business.  When we recognize that there is a blockage based on the markers (stress, worry, frustration, etc.), we can work to remove the obstacle. 

Recently, Jim, CEO of a manufacturing firm, wanted to understand why projects were getting delayed. No one on his management team was able to pinpoint the exact reason why.  

Through Inquiry Method, Jim realized that he had an accountability problem, and we thus scheduled a two-day renewal to work with his leadership team. By applying Inquiry Method Management tools and processeswe discovered that no one on the team viewed accountability in a healthy light. We set about redefining the term so that everyone could be aligned in a new view that was free from past associations with blame. This new view of “accountability” involved ownership (noticing things that are and are not working), creativity (applying expertise to find solutions to problems), and transparency (creating bonds of trust). 

In just this small step at the beginning of our session,there was already a noticeable surge of productivity, energy, and engagement from the team. As Inquiry Management tools and processes become familiar and utilized in the DNA of your company, you will notice the upsurge of energy and productivity followed by a smooth, efficient, and new impassioned synergy within your teams.

As a leader or manager using Inquiry Management and Inquiry Leadership, your primary job is to identify the stagnant energy in your organization and through inquiry and mentorship help to get the energy moving again.  Once mastered, this skill will prove extremely powerful to your company.

When you recognize the markers in yourself (stress, anxiety, frustration, etc.), it is a clear signal that you have some work to do. The stagnant energy will inevitably take its toll on you… both on your physical and mental health. In your company, stagnant energy will negatively effect profitability, morale, employee retention, customer satisfaction, and your ability to thrive.  The longer stagnant energy stays in your system or your company, the more damage it does.  Don’t run away from the pain; face it. Do your work, get some help, use Inquiry Method, and get the energy moving again. The breakthrough is exciting and liberating.  Being in balance and flow is joyful and nurturing.

Peace, love, and kindness,

Kyle

Planning: Executing your Vision, Strategy and Tactics

In all aspects of our lives, planning is an integral part. Planning exercises are important in group settings, such as a couple, family, or for a business, and are equally crucial, individually. The objective of this blog is to help you recognize the power and meaning that can be created through the intention of planning.

The first element of planning is creating your vision. To create your vision, project a period into the future; for example, imagine yourself in one, five, or ten years. What do you want your future to look like? One beautiful application of this step is as a couple. Let’s say you are fifty, jointly creating a vision of what life will be in twenty years, when you are seventy. It is such a powerful process because as you create this beautiful vision together, you both become bonded and equally participating towards fulfilling this joint vision, which in turn creates beauty in the relationship. This visioning process can also be conducted in the context of a business. Or, you can create your own personal vision to motivate and inspire yourself to shape your dreams.

In support of vision, the next level of consideration is strategy. Strategy is the creation of the larger picture- specifically, what are some of the broad topics we would need to accomplish our vision? In the example of planning for when we turn seventy, we may intend to retire to Costa Rica and live in a beach house. In order to achieve this goal, we must make sure that our finances are in a certain shape, define how we would like to be with respect to our health, and describe what we need to do in our relationship to develop wonderful communication and intimacy. Just as we often do in a business or individually, we would define strategic objectives and goals to help us achieve our future vision.

The third level is tactics. Tactics are the day-to-day things that I need to start developing and acting on to fulfill my strategy. For example, planning a meeting to develop a financial plan with my financial advisor, creating a benchmark for required salary, scheduling couples counseling to develop our communication, or learning Spanish. Whatever we need to do to manifest our desired outcome.

In summary, there are three levels:

Vision: where we are, or I am, going.

Strategy: what major things have to get accomplished to get the results.

Tactics: what day-to-day activities are needed to fulfill our strategy.

Create a document with your vision, strategy and tactics and lay out a plan for yourself.

The next blog will talk about how to go deeper with creating that vision, and in view of creating your legacy.

Talk to you next week.

Love,

Kyle

How Deep Is Life?

When did we begin to believe we had to do it all on our own?

We have this idea in our culture that we are supposed to be independent, handle everything ourselves. So we shut down and close the world out of our inner life.

As we repress our selves inside, we grow thicker walls.

Inside the walls, the loops of thought repeat over and over again.

Until we allow someone in to support us in questioning our thoughts and beliefs, most of us are stuck playing out life with the same playbook. Maybe we’ll encounter new situations and questions but our approach is always with the same set of tools, or perhaps occasionally we come up with a new one.

What happens when we can open enough to download a whole new set of plays, a whole new set of rules, to enter into a new field of play? The game all of a sudden gets bigger. It may be disorienting at first but as we start to get grounded in this deeper game with deeper rewards: Tic-tac-toe to checkers to chess to…, each new mastery becomes a deeper discovery into what is possible.

The depth of life is infinite why stop here?

 

The Next Wave

One of the most powerful agents of change on the planet is our economic system.  On some level we have all surrendered to the culture of how we do business and why we do business.  It is time to see it differently, to fundamentally change the role of work in our lives and our roles in work.  This change will profoundly alter what we get out of work and what we give to it.  It will change what we create and how we create it.  Businesses that do this will not only survive and prosper but they will become magnets for talent and ultimately contributions to the world around them.

Profit should be the outcome not the goal.  Profit that ignores the process and the people is less valuable than profit that accompanies doing something well, something that benefits people, in a way that serves those who are doing it and those who are consuming it.  For those of us who embrace the change, not only will we be growing our happiness and well being but the product and process of what we do will be exceptional.  The success of this new paradigm not only leads to more productivity and profit but to a revolution in peoples lives that will create the satisfaction and contentment we are all searching for.

Women in the Workplace

The exclusion of women from leadership positions in our companies and organizations has deeply affected the way we do business. We urgently need to have masculine/feminine balance inform the business (and governing) process.

Where the masculine is good at getting things done, it also tends to overlook the impact and ancillary effects of how something is accomplished. The feminine tends to look at whole systems, the wellbeing of people, and long-term success. As I have said many times before, the masculine in all of us is concerned with “what I want (or need)” where the feminine in all of us tends to look to “what we want (or need)”.

What if we were surrounded by people, businesses, agencies, and systems that were just as concerned for our long term well being as immediate short term gains? How would it affect our culture of business?