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Straight Talk

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There's a popular TED talk and book out currently about radical candor. While I'm a HUGE proponent of speaking your truth and setting clear boundaries, I sometimes feel like "radical candor" is just an excuse to be an asshole and get praised for being "straight up". I mean, if you watched a TED talk about it then HOLY SHIT IT MUST MEAN IT'S A GOOD THING! This important person told me so!

Hmmm...

I used to work for a company that was all about "feedback". "Oh yea" you may be thinking, "My company is all about that too". No. No, my friend. YOUR company is dipping it's toes into feedback. THIS company I worked for is like mixing the feedback culture Kool-Aid and serving it to the masses. They made it look and feel righteous to give people honest feedback (aka: put them in their place) 24/7. You felt like you were doing the Lord's work.

Looking back at it, I feel like I valued the feedback culture more than the actual people. I was so holy up on my high horse with my magic feedback wand.

"You were 5 minutes late yesterday! Don't do it again! Have integrity with your time!"

"You aren't being a leader. Lead by example! Have a stronger voice!"

"I feel like your energy is low. You aren't "sparkly" enough! SPARKLE MORE!" 

You guys think I'm joking. I am so not joking. So not.

A few things happened in my life in the years that followed my time with that company. Things that leveled me. Things that brought me to my knees. I had a baby (unplanned). I went on medication for depression and anxiety. I went through a divorce. My father went through a stem cell transplant the month my son was born (he was fighting stage 3 Non Hodgkins Lymphoma). I gained 20+ pounds.

Basically... life happened.

As life was happening, something magical occurred very, very slowly inside of me. It took years to root and years more to bud but it was there and it was pure light. It was me recognizing that I'm a hot mess and so is everyone else. I felt a lot better (and so did everyone else) when I didn't pretend like I WASN'T a hot mess and when I stopped telling everyone else that they WERE.

I started exercising grace. Grace on grace on grace. I started looking the other way. I started turning the other cheek. I started forgetting faster and forgiving more. It wasn't all the time and it wasn't immediately, but lo an behold, it was happening. I noticed that people were magnetically drawn to me (and I to them) when I connected rather than competed... when I listened rather than talked... when I encouraged rather than discouraged.

Don't get me wrong; feedback is essential at times and I am a firm believer in saying what needs to be said. What I'm talking about is over using that "candor" muscle and UNDER using the compassion one. Turns out it's an epic de-motivator to have someone tell you that all of your hard work and passion and creativity and heart are NOT GOOD ENOUGH! On the flip side, people astounded me when I affirmed their strengths and trusted them to do their best and spent lots of time noticing their "best" and calling it out. They did better stuff than I knew I was capable of doing. They did it much differently and they often did it much better! Here's a little secret: managers (and parents and teachers and leaders of any kind) tend to think they have the secret sauce to success and forget that they don't always.

During this season in my life I collaborated with my three best friends and hosted a yoga retreat at Mohican State Park called "Yoga Camp". I taught a session there on the art of encouragement and the effect it had on our students (and on us) was extraordinary. We were all elated to be with each other. We wrote each other letters of support and we acknowledged that it's tough to tell people they're great at first (that damn ego always gets in the way) but that it's something you can practice and it's POWERFUL. It also comes back around to you times 100 when you get good at it. You encourage people and guess what? You get encouraged! You support people and guess what? People support you! 

I've been working with a wonderful human recently by the name of Em Keen. She's a fitness enthusiast and yoga teacher who is hosting a summer yoga series on the beach you should totally sign up for. It's called "The Edgewater Beach Club". ANYHOW... she filled out a support survey for me today since we've been working on her website and marketing and here are some of the insanely supportive things she had to say:

"Meg is the cheerleader you always wish you had in your corner. She takes the impossible list of to-dos and reasons why it all won't work and turns it into an organized strategic game plan that feels attainable manageable and exciting. She holds your hand through the entire process of working with her."

When I read this I thought to myself:

1. HOLY SHIT I'M SO ENCOURAGED!

and

2. HOW CAN I SUPPORT EM MORE?

That's how encouragement works, you see. It multiplies. You give it and you get it back and then you want to give more of it! So Em Keen... here's my support of YOU:

Dear Em,

You get that women need each other. Yogis need each other. Business owners need each other We are not in competition. We are in connection. I love that about you. I also love that you're always on time and that you laugh at the same things that I do and that you are so incredibly passionate about sharing yoga with everyone you know. I love that you're adventurous and not afraid to ask for help. I love that you're open to things that scare you. I love that you aren't stingy with your love.

Love,

Meg

...

Now you try! Write someone you know an e-mail or text RIGHT NOW that says, "I just want you to know (fill in the blank). You are really great at (fill in the blank). I don't tell you enough that (fill in the blank). Thank you for (fill in the blank)." Do it. Even if it feels weird. Even it it's random. Even if it terrifies you to speak openly in this way. Do it because this person needs it. Do it because YOU need it. Get radically candid about your love.

+ photo above is of Em Keen and was taken by moi (you can have your photo taken by me too!)

+ sign up for Em's beach yoga series here

+ click the button below to buy your ticket to "Speak Easy" - my upcoming workshop on candid communication where I'm partnering with my best friend, Kristen Shick who is teaching the yoga class to follow

Meg Witt