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A Year of Authenticity: What Happened When I Lost It and Tried Something New (Part 2 of 2)

Wednesday, December 20, 2017 12:22 PM | Kevin Smith

December’s ATD-MAC theme is Authenticity. Today, Erin Lavery finishes her two-part series on her year-long journey to build Authenticity in her work and life. In Part One, Erin shared the commitments she made to better understand herself.  In this second part, Erin shares the 4 commitments she made to better understand others.

A Year of Authenticity:

What Happened When I Lost It and Tried Something New (Part 2 of 2)

By Erin Lavery

Last week, I told you about the crisis meeting that left me with the choice to either shut down or change up. I shared the 6 commitments I made to myself to try to something new. These were:

1.     I will be curious first.

2.     I will show up for today only.

3.     I will believe I am worthy now.

4.     I will right-size situations.

5.     I will wait to act.

6.     I will act from what I value and not what I fear.

The commitments I had made started to change the way I interacted with and understood myself in my work. But, if I was going to avoid another crisis, I needed to change the way I interacted with and understood others in my work.

As I started to navigate and change my view of myself, it started to have a profound impact on how I viewed others. Through the work of exploring and getting curious about what I was learning, I found a growing list of commitments on how I would interact in the world.

Erin’s Commitments (Part 2):

7.     I will speak up when I don’t know or understand something. Not only does this often clarify misunderstandings that lead to conflict, but it always puts me in the best position to always learn and master new skills. By admitting I don’t know, I have come to know more and gain more skills than I ever would have otherwise. That being said, it’s terrifying and every time I have to repeat Commitment #3 over and over again.
8.     I will trust in the wisdom of crowds. In his awesome book The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economics, Societies and Nations, James Surowiecki not only wins the award for longest book title, but he also shares the Parable of the Ox. The parable tells the story of a county fair that had a challenge to guess the weight of an ox. None of the individual guessers got the right weight; however, when all the guesses were averaged together, the crowd as a whole came up with the right weight. The truth here is: when we work together, we get closer to the ideal. That is, collaboration always leads to better design and outcomes. Whenever I find myself holding something too tight or too close, I force myself to send it to someone else for review/input. Doing this keeps me honest about not allowing a project to become about MeMeMe (see Commitment #4), but it also leads to better ideas and innovations while opening me up to opportunities to learn from others.
9.  I will assume the best intent. My first reaction to a comment or situation may be distrust or anxiety, but I make a conscious effort to amend my story of the person and assume they have the best intent. When this is extremely difficult, I default to the question a brilliant colleague of mine uses. “What if they are doing their best today?” What if the other person is doing their absolute best in the situation to communicate clearly, be authentic, and get good results? If I assumed that to be the case, how would I feel differently about their actions? Sometimes this mindset change takes me while, but that’s okay because of Commitment #5.
10.  I will be authentic in my connection and communication. When I am hurt, angry, fearful, excited, grateful, or thankful, I will say so with respect and with the goal of connection. I will make the choice to choose connection, authenticity, and honesty over trying to protect an image of perfection. My challenge to myself is this: If I see an opportunity to make a connection or be vulnerable, I will take it even if it’s scary (see Commitment #6).

So, it’s been almost a year.  Here’s what happened.

I’m happier. I’m more creative. I’m more daring. I actually am more what I was trying to be before all of this started.

Have I disappointed people? Probably. Do people know that I am messy and less than perfect? Yup. But, they also know that I’m going to keep trying and showing up every day no matter how many times I fall. They know that when they don’t know something, I won’t judge them. They know they can approach me. They know we can muddle our way through together, make mistakes, laugh at ourselves, and do more amazing things than we could if we weren’t being human together.

I won’t tell you it gets easier. It doesn’t. It’s still horrible and uncomfortable and tiring and scary and courageous and brave and wholehearted. But, hey, according to Commitment #2, I only have to do it for today, right?

Click here to download a free poster of Erin’s “10 Commitments to Something New”.

Erin is a Learning & Development Specialist focused on Leadership Development at UW Health. She holds a Master of Science in Adult and Continuing Education Leadership through the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee as well as a Bachelor of Arts degree in German Literature and Pedagogy from Calvin College. In addition, Erin is a certified trainer for Development Dimensions International and Crucial Conversations as well as a certified Life Coach for students with disabilities. Erin currently serves as the VP of Marketing for the ATD-MAC. 

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