I feel like something has shifted, after nearly two years of venturing out on sorties and hurriedly returning to the WFH world, the last few months have been closer to the world I knew before lockdown. This Sunday for example, I was happy to be home and shut out the world, not because I was forced to, but because I needed to chance to recharge. After being hidden behind a screen for the last two years and not seeing people, or being seen by them, I sense that there is a lot of pent-up demand. Demand to be seen, to be heard, and most importantly to be valued and appreciated.
I had the pleasure of being part of quite a few gatherings in the last few weeks. A get-together of the leadership team of our firm, a family gathering to celebrate my Dad’s 75th birthday, the annual meet-up of the PRCAI fraternity, and an evening with friends old and new are four such instances. All of them seemed to be connected by this common thread. They were a wonderful opportunity to be seen, be heard, to be valued, to be appreciated, and do the same for others. This is what I believe we all yearn for.
I think the great resignation is anchored in this set of feelings. People who did not get some or all of these things from their organisation or enterprises are out and about looking for a change. The question is will we find it in the next place? Or do we need to find it within first? Maybe it’s a bit of both.
I remember a video from the movie that I saw in a training program about focusing on the ‘Be Interested Not Interesting’ or the BINI principle. A simple idea “interested is interesting” is the mantra that I learnt. As an employee am I interested in my colleagues. In my clients. In doing something new and different? Am I interested in adding value? As a Coach am I truly invested and interested in each of my clients? If I am, I will be valuable and then I will be valued.
A classic chicken and egg situation indeed. Which comes first? Will I be interested if I am seen and valued? Or will I be seen and valued if I am interested? I could well say that if I don’t get my due. If I don’t feel welcome and valued how can I contribute and do all those things. But the other side of this argument is as true. If I don’t bring good energy and positive intent I am only adding to the problem. Not being part of the solution. To me the answer is simple, focus on what is within my control. I can bring my best to any environment and then see how that environment responds.
Occasions I felt seen – a chance to speak and share my point of view when a room filled with people had a different point of view. I was the lone voice of a contrarian point of view. I felt psychologically safe enough to air that view and truly felt seen when that view was accepted and acted on. Just being able to share it was powerful in itself. I felt seen. A thank you that came from the heart of one of my clients. Unprompted but unforgettable. Money cannot buy the kind of commitment I have to that client for acknowledging my contribution. I felt seen.
It all starts with being seen and seeing others. I remember a piece I wrote a while ago “Sanibonani and the power of fresh eyes”. The context has changed. We now live in a world that is working its way through the ravages of Covid, a world which has changed in ways we are only starting to accept and understand. But the basic human need to be seen remains a reassuring constant. “I see you.” What can be a more powerful gift to give another. I cannot think of any and yet it is so hard to do.
Through the fog of confusion that Covid has created in our world, I remind myself, that I must seek to see what is right in front of me. To see what I have and who I have. To value all that is in my life, and be grateful for it. I urge you to take a minute or two each day to pause and look around. To thank the people in your life. To value them, celebrate them and celebrate with them. Someone wants to be seen by you… give them the gift of your attention.
I hope that I will see you soon.
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