Emptying Out

Emptying out is an important life practice, as we go through our day/lives we accumulate thoughts, impressions, feelings, ideas, hurts, judgments, etc. There is a way that these things start to block our system, like a form of mental or emotional constipation.

It is important to clear our system out regularly to a safe listener. Some people know this consciously or unconsciously and practice it regularly with friends. Others don’t practice it and don’t necessarily value it or understand it. Part of this is that we are often conditioned to fix problems and focus on that, rather than listening.

Fixing is not the point, emptying out and being heard is the point.

I often give the talking stick exercise (practice) to my relationship clients to practice this and create a new dynamic in the relationship. It is wonderful to have a partner to whom you can empty out to. Emptying out feels clean, it clears up your thinking and reasoning and opens up your clogged mind to be free to think about creating things, gratitude, love, socializing, playing, and anything else you would like it to be doing rather than being stuck in endless loops of thinking and perseveration.

Read more about the talking stick exercise in this earlier blog

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.

Inquiry Leadership: Esprit de Corps

I was writing an information sheet for speaking to business groups and I wanted to share some of what I wrote:

The first question I ask of a business client is:  If you pull up to the parking lot of your business and sit in your car and wait, do you feel any resistance to walking in the door?  What do you resist?  How would you have to set up your work and your business so that you were looking forward to walking in the door?

In this talk I support you in clarifying and manifesting your values throughout your organization.

“Our work becomes more meaningful and impactful on those we come in contact with as we connect with and create environments that express our deepest values.  Through this process we amplify a sense of esprit de corps, a sense of shared purpose and meaning which creates great companies.  Esprit de corps inspires customers and employees; companies that have it experience brand loyalty, employee retention, heroic efforts and contribution”.

This program is an interactive inquiry into your deepest motivations and inspiration; great for a renewal of excitement and engagement in your business.


You will walk away with clarity and written values, you will have inquiry tools and a better understanding of other group members to enhance future meetings and specific and practical esprit de corps enhancing actions to implement immediately.

How do you inspire and feel inspired?  What is the nature of great leadership?  How can you feel like what you do matters?  Why does success follow authentic leadership?

  • We will look into what motivates and inspires commitment and loyalty to a cause, company, or organization.
  • A unique concept called “Levels of Participation” will be unforgettable as a guide to inspiring your organization and customers.  From this you will understand how each person contributes and meet them at their level and inspire individuals to “level up”.
  • You will be able to specifically identify the nature of the esprit de corps of your organization and walk away with a new awareness and specific intentions toward what will inspire you and those you lead.

Inquiry Leadership inspires brand loyalty, perception of value and a sense of partnership in customers.  Employees not only feel more connected with the organization but because they clearly understand the intent of leadership can act in greater alignment with corporate objectives with less management.  Most important however is how our work as leaders becomes more fulfilling and meaningful.  Success follows effective leadership.

Kyle Mercer works with leaders who have discovered that they want a deeper sense of meaning and purpose in their lives.  Through connecting with deeper values his clients experience greater success and meaning that overflows into personal lives, health and well-being.