Eggshells, Hot Coals and The Space Between

connection, conflict

I like eggs…for breakfast. I like hot coals…they make beach BBQs a success nearly every time. But I walked on both of them for too many years, figuratively.

I won’t go into all the reasons why I either avoided or went head-on into conflict, but I do know that tip-toeing around (“eggshell-walking”) certain people or subjects certainly hasn’t strengthened my connection with them; and bold confrontation with volatile situations (“hot coal-walking”) hasn’t been my most direct route to leadership brilliance.

Once I decided that neither stepping gingerly nor going head on into battle was fruitful, I began having more courageous conversations. Sometimes, a courageous conversation feels like sharing a soft blanket by the crackly, warm flame of a beautiful fire. Other times, these healthy debates are not as comfortable. But they are always rewarding because time and again I have witnessed the new possibilities they can generate.

So, I’ve donned the role of “Curious Explorer” – visiting lands near and far, strange and familiar – and some of my best journeys have started with me, when I courageously challenge my own fears and deep convictions.

There’s one particular subject I’ve skirted around for years because I believed my perspective on it seemed ‘radical’ in these United States: Workplace Diversity & Inclusion. In recent years, I’ve shared my genuine views with others. What’s delighted me most is not when people agree with me (as some have) but rather when they stay with me…we walk together, neither on eggshells nor hot coals. We challenge, are open to hear, and dance with each other on the golden embers of healthy debate.

This Week: Pick one area where you want to ‘walk’ more courageously for the sake of greater connection with others. Ask yourself: What is possible when the ‘eggshell’ cracks? Or perhaps you’ve entered into a hot coal-mine because of your beliefs…be curious and remind yourself why this is so important to you. Take a risk by throwing some ‘cold water’ on it for a while: You never know what the smoke might reveal.

In Next Week’s Post: We explore how to embrace conflict in a healthy way.

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