Unleashing Your Voice Blog


How resilient would you feel right now if you had 107 kids?  (Yes, parents, think about managing a virtual learning experience like that!).

It seems that Claire Babineaux-Fontenot, CEO of Feeding America, grew up with that many siblings.  I’m not sure how that worked—there were certainly a lot of adoptions and fostering relationships along the way.  What’s very clear is that Claire grew up witnessing the effects of poverty and hunger on those young lives. And she formed a lasting sense of solidarity with people experiencing the deeply damaging impact of food insecurity.  That affinity shapes her very resilient response to what’s going on in the world around her right now.

This is the third of 12 weekly posts I’m presenting on resilience.  Each one will look at a different story type and the unique way resilience can be tapped and leveraged for people who relate to that character.  I’ll also be writing about the non-resilient state most common to that story type—and how to shift it energetically and motivationally using a related resilience gift and focus.

You’re probably an Everyperson if you care deeply about the groups that you’re part of and relate strongly to the plight of those around you. You may be skilled at community building and helping others feel like they belong, too.  You likely believe in justice, fairness and equality.  When those values are repeatedly challenged and you don’t feel empowered to respond, your non-resilient state can feel a lot like voicelessness. The shift back to resilience involves feeling directly into the empathy you have for others and using that sense of solidarity to shape how you either hear them and/or want to speak up.

Fortunately, you’ll find yourself in very good company these days if you’re able to do that.  There’s a lot of Everyperson energy in the world right now—and it’s being felt almost everywhere you look.  Even if Everyperson isn’t one of your strongest story types, the failure to develop it may well come at your peril (especially if you want to succeed in a leadership role or move forward professionally). 

Understanding the Everyperson’s gift

Every story type has a non-resilient state that gets activated under stress, and both a gift and focus point that can help create a shift back towards greater resilience.  Here’s what that looks for an Everyperson (and the other two types we’ve already covered):

Type Non-resilient state Resilience-building attribute or gift Resilience-building focus Related values
Everyperson Voicelessness Empathy Solidarity Community, justice, fairness
Caregiver Overwhelm Compassion Human potential Service, Kindness, Development
Innocent Disillusionment Optimism Hope Ideals, Faith, Values in Action

Something has blown the lid of voicelessness in the United States and much of the world in recent years and months.  We have the Black Lives Matter movement, the Me Too movement and multiple others designed to shine a light on individuals and groups harmed by injustice.  We have people speaking up in ways they haven’t done before, such as athletes publicly calling out coaches and school administrators.  We also have people sharing their voices, often loudly, about the impact of toxic organizational cultures.

Organizational leaders need to pay attention to every one of these Everyperson-motivated movements and work very hard to both understand and respond to them if they want to build cultures where people are engaged and committed.  Command-and-control styles of leadership are making a hasty retreat in most places. Resilience now mandates an adaptive and human-focused response.  That means really taking in what it’s like to walk in someone else’s shoes; honestly examining your own biases; and learning how to really listen (and not just react to what you’re hearing).

Certainly, all of those things come more easily to people who are natural born Everyperson types. They’re usually perceived as empathetic and fair to begin with.  Sometimes, though, a catalytic event activates an even deeper level of solidarity for them. After a bout with cancer, Claire Babineaux-Fontenot left an executive leadership position at Walmart to join Feeding of America (the nation’s second largest charity).  She made that move when she needed resilience most—and she did it by acting on her solidarity with people whose need she understood and felt at the deepest of levels.

She’ll certainly need that resilience as Feeding of America responds to a dire situation. The organization has seen at least a 60 percent increase in the number of people needing their help—and a daunting gap between need and available supply. That scenario could leave anyone feeling crushed by the weight.  Claire relies on her solidarity with the people she serves to keep her energized and committed.

“Most of my siblings who joined my family throughout the course of my childhood came into our family having been malnourished,” she recently told the New York Times.  “I witnessed firsthand the devastating implication of a lack of access to a nutritious mix of food on a child.  I also witnessed the restorative powers of food on their bodies and their spirits as well.  So I bring all of that into the moment that I’m in right now.”

Solidarity is one of the most powerful forces in the world.  So is empathy. If you’re an Everyperson, remind yourself about where your deepest affinity lies and consider what might need to be said or done to support that group. This doesn’t necessarily mean you need to speak out yourself.  Listening to the stories of others is a powerful form of empathy itself, allowing them to find their own voices. It provides the gift of affinity and community back to you in return.

Getting involved in a social justice movement is richly rewarding for many, and far from the only thing you can do. Your affinity group could be lonely senior citizens, a spiritual community, your co-workers, hobbyists who share a passion.  You’ll feel more resilient and figuratively if not literally “voiced” when you build and support those ties.

Activating the Everyperson resilience quotient

Here are some reflection questions to consider if you want to build your Everyperson resilience quotient:

  • Where can you join up or join forces with others?
  • Who needs a more empathetic ear—and how can you really listen to what others are saying to you from a curious, interested place?
  • How do your own biases (and privilege) get in the way of empathy and fairness—and what do you need to do about that?
  • Who are you willing to stand up for, and what would that look like?

And here’s a really big inquiry for you: Are you in the right place to find your voice? After her bout with cancer, she told the New York Times that she asked herself if she really wanted her last professional act to be something she did at Walmart.  She decided it wasn’t.  Nothing against Walmart, but it’s a question we might all want to be asking ourselves right now.

Cindy Atlee is a Creator type who loves to help professionals, teams and organizations understand and express who they really are in the world.  She’s the principal of The Storybranding Group and Founder of the Narrative Intelligence Collective.  She’s also co-author of the Professional Strengths, Values & Story Survey (take the free version here). 

 

“Resilience is born by grounding yourself in your own loveliness, hitting notes you thought were way out of your range.”

Gregory Boyle (Tattoos on the Heart)

That’s a poetic way to define resilience, isn’t it, arising at a beautiful crossroads where love and human potential seem to meet. We don’t hear resilience talked about this way very often—and it’s certainly not how most CEOs would describe it.

Gregory Boyle is definitely a CEO, though. He’s spent the last 30 years leading a multi-faceted organization with as many as nine different retail operations running at any one time and a $20 million+ budget.  He’s the founder of Homeboy Industries, which turns out to the be the world’s largest gang intervention and rehabilitation program. He’s also a Jesuit priest.  And he’s definitely a Caregiver who has an especially resilient mindset around his work. Gregory Boyle focuses on the potential he sees in people who need his help much more than on the pain they’re experiencing.

This is my second of 12 weekly posts on resilience. Over the years, I’ve found that building a more resilient mindset isn’t really a one-size-fits-all proposition.  Doing it effectively means understanding what a non-resilient state looks like based on your story type, and then applying the specific gift and attitudinal focus that works best for that type to shift it. This week’s post is about the Caregiver story type; you can read the first series blog focused on the Innocent type here

In a non-resilient state, Caregivers are more likely than any other story type to feel deeply overwhelmed by what’s going on, what’s being asked of them and what they must do to deliver.  When it comes to restoring resilience, they’re often told to focus on self care. That’s never a bad idea, but here’s a surprising fact: research shows that self care may not help very much unless it’s accompanied by a specific kind of attitudinal shift.  Caregivers are most likely to become more resilient when they redefine their relationship with their core gift of compassion.

Understanding the Caregiver’s gift

Every story type has a common non-resilient state where stress can take them, along with a gift that can help them shift to a more empowering mindset for bouncing back.  Here’s what that looks like for a Caregiver:

Type Non-resilient state Resilience-building attribute or gift Resilience-building focus Related values
Caregiver Overwhelm Compassion Human potential Service, Kindness, Development
Innocent Disillusionment Optimism Hope Ideals, Faith, Values in Action

 

It’s probably no surprise that Caregiver types can find themselves feeling very overwhelmed by circumstances.  Situationally, Caregivers often have jobs that involve direct service to people in a lot of need.  They may be first responders, rescue workers, medical professionals or in other roles that can involve chaos and pain. They can be customer service reps or help desk workers dealing with people who are frustrated and impatient for help.

Caregiver types may not be in those kinds of roles at all, though. A job doesn’t make you a Caregiver story type at your core. Your attitude, your motivation, your strengths and your values do. Whether you’re an accountant, a landscaper a project manager or a waiter, anyone can be hard-wired to see a need for help–and an impulse to respond.

All Caregivers can share the common traits that lead to a non-resilient state, though–things like taking on too much responsibility for others, enabling dependency and internalizing the trouble and pain around them. Here’s where compassion comes back into the picture, and the lessons of Gregory Boyle.

Compassion is the feeling that arises when you are confronted with someone else’s suffering and feel motivated to help alleviate it.  Taking compassionate action (like kindness, generosity or advocacy) actually activates pleasure circuits in the brain and increases the giver’s sense of well being.

Here’s the cautionary note, though: truly resilient Caregivers can recognize and respond to the suffering they see without taking it on and making it a part of them.  They can shift their focus from the pain to the potential and capacity for wholeness that all humans possess.

That’s what Gregory Boyle has done in his work with thousands of former gang members from the roughest streets in America.  Where others see criminals, Father Greg sees people who are yes, in need of help—but more importantly who are full of life-giving and life-supporting potential. He takes that idea a step further, too. He believes that his work is less about helping and more about finding actual kinship with them.  With that level of regard, he doesn’t disempower them with pity or by continuously doing what they can learn to do for themselves.

This is an essential lesson for all Caregiver types. When you focus on the problem more than the potential, your impulse to help can become impulsive.  This is especially true during times like we’re in right now.  Stress and uncertainty creates fear and can trigger Caregivers to take on even more. You may begin to reinforce your own sense of self in an unhealthy way by “helping” in almost every situation you encounter (even the mundane ones, which can lead to a surprising level of overwhelm and anxiety).  Your co-worker isn’t finishing her work so you take on some of her assignments. Your child isn’t doing his chores so you let him off the hook. Your direct report can’t seem to finish an article so you rewrite it yourself.

When you shift your focus to the potential, you move to a higher, more resilient level of the Caregiver: you develop others and foster their growth instead of enabling them. You can see people as whole instead of broken. You can build your resilience by developing a mutuality of regard and responsibility for what needs to be done at work or at home instead of taking the burden on yourself.  You can shift from shaping dependency to advocating for potential.

Activating the Caregiver resilience quotient

Becoming a more resilient Caregiver involves an energetic shift.  Start by checking in with your sense of being overwhelmed, and then consider what could be on the other side of it. Use some of these questions to prompt ideas and actions:

  • What are you taking on for others that they could learn to do for themselves?
  • What are you taking on that has little meaning for you (and how can you give it back to its rightful owner)?
  • How can you enable more growth and development in the people around you (and avoid co-opting their potential with too much help?)
  • What loveliness do you see in yourself that deserves to be nurtured?

Remember that as a Caregiver, you have the capacity to help others unearth their own loveliness—and find some of your own.  As Father Boyle says: “Through your kindness and tenderness and focused attention of love, (you) return people to themselves. And in the process, you’re returned to yourself.” There’s so much potential there!

Cindy Atlee is a Creator type who loves to help professionals, teams and organizations understand and express who they really are in the world.  She’s the principal of The Storybranding Group and Founder of the Narrative Intelligence Collective.  She’s also co-author of the Professional Strengths, Values & Story Survey (take the free version here). 

 

Everything has changed since March 16, 2020, hasn’t it?  That was the day public school systems started shutting down around the country; the day when the size of public gatherings was significantly restricted in many U.S. states; the day when restaurants, bars, movie theaters and gyms began to be shuttered in others. For a lot of us, it was the day the coronavirus got real.

It also would have been my Dad’s 92nd birthday.  I wrote a blog post that day about him and how much he exemplified everything that was best and most enduring about the Innocent story type.  Ironically, I posted it on the very day that our collective innocence about the pandemic began its earnest and devastating real-time fade.

When any of us takes that hard a knock (much less when entire societies do), there’s nothing we need more than resilience to help us recover and eventually bounce back. But how do we find resilience for ourselves, and leverage it once we do?  Well, as with most things, I recommend you start with considering how story type affects and bolsters resilience. It turns out there are 12 evidence-based personal attributes or capacities that are strongly correlated with resilience, one for every story type.

So, I’m going to write 12 weekly posts (one for each story type) that focus on how to build your resilience quotient. I’m starting with the Innocent type because Dad would have loved that—and because he deeply admired John Lewis, the person I’m going to profile this week as another great example of it. It’s also a good type to start with because the Innocent’s gift of optimism correlates with resilience more strongly than any other single personality trait.

Understanding resilience gifts

Don’t worry if you’re not much of an Innocent, though! Every type (including Innocent) has a non-resilient state (the place where people like that are most likely to go under stress), along with a personality “gift” and focal point they can use to build a much greater resilience quotient.

Here’s what that looks like for an Innocent (note that I’ll build the chart out every week in this series with an additional type):

Type Non-resilient state Resilience gift Resilience focus Related values
Innocent Disillusionment Optimism Hope Ideals, Faith, Values in Action

If you’re an Innocent type, disillusionment can take a stealthy and pervasive psychic position in your life—sapping your optimistic spirit and hopeful nature as it goes.  What’s the way out?  It’s addressing your disillusionment, and re-orienting yourself in what you’re still hopeful about, where the silver linings are and how you can put your own values into action.

Looking to role models also really helps, and in the midst of a deeply polarized and frightening time we have been blessed to see a light shone on the life of an American who exemplifies the Innocent type as well as anyone ever could.  Yes, I’m talking about John Lewis.

Most of us know the basic outline of Rep. Lewis’ life:  Raised a sharecropper’s son in rural Alabama.  Freedom rider at age 21, March on Washington speaker at 23.  Lifetime civil rights advocate who was beaten, belittled and threatened on many occasions.  Enduring public servant who served 17 terms in Congress and never stopped living up to his own ideals.

If you look up the word indomitable in the dictionary, you ought to find a picture of John Lewis right there.  Despite the violence and contempt he so often experienced, John met it with a core value he never abandoned: love.  Here are his own words on the topic:

  • “When we went on the freedom ride, it was love in action. The march from Selma to Montgomery was love in action. We do it not simply because it’s the right thing to do, but it’s love in action.”
  • “Do not get lost in a sea of despair. Be hopeful, be optimistic. Our struggle is not the struggle of a day, a week, a month, or a year, it is the struggle of a lifetime. Never, ever be afraid to make some noise and get in good trouble, necessary trouble. . . but whatever you do, whatever your response is, (it) is with love, kindness, and that sense of faith.”

John Lewis remained resilient throughout his lifetime because he overcame the trap of disillusionment, and embodied the most empowering aspects of the Innocent story type.  His commitment was so embedded in his being that it helped him take a long and self-sustaining view of his life’s work.  It also shaped an authentic leadership style during his long Congressional tenure.  One of the more moving tributes at his funeral was from a staff member who described how his presence and his actions towards people who worked for him always reflected his optimism and love.

Whether you agree with John Lewis’ political positions or not, everyone can learn a lesson from how he lived.  In an increasingly polarized world, where most of us decamp to the corner that represents what we’re against—John Lewis spent a lifetime showing the world what he was for. He was for love in action and exemplified a lifetime of values supported by deeds. That’s probably why he was so beloved, and why his passing was treated so much like the death of a presidential figure.

 Activating the Innocent resilience quotient

We can’t all be iconic public figures in our lived resilience, but we can become better and more adaptable versions of ourselves who contribute to the world in significant ways. The first step is to be conscious of what our non-resilient state actually looks like and feels like—and then shift our focus and our energy toward the gifts of an empowering story type.

To do that with the Innocent type, check in with your own disillusionment and then reflect on what can be found on the other side.  Consider these questions:

  • What are you hopeful about?
  • What silver linings have emerged in recent months?
  • What are you for in the world right now—and how can you stand up for it?
  • What essential personal value can shape your sense of being and your acts of doing right now?

The night John Lewis lay in state here in D.C., a double rainbow appeared above the Capitol Building—arcing as if to end right where he was. It was a powerful symbol of his belief system.  And, it instantly reminded me of Dad and our annual tradition of watching the Wizard of Oz together and listening to Judy Garland sing “Over the Rainbow.”

Somehow, I think he and John Lewis have already had a chat and agreed that absolutely, it “would all work out in due season” as Dad always said.

Cindy Atlee is a Creator type who loves to help professionals, teams and organizations understand and express who they really are in the world.  She’s Principal of The Storybranding Group and Founder of the Narrative Intelligence Collective, and co-author of the Professional Strengths, Values & Story Survey (take the free version here).

“It will all work out in due season.” 

 I can hear my father saying it now, full of calm and grace, the message he stuck to no matter what was going on.  Dad would be 92 years old today, and his signature statement matters more than it ever has.  He must have talked about that “due season” a thousand times as I was growing up, always with equal measures of belief and equanimity, usually when the rest or us were stressing out, spiraling up or losing our cool over disasters imagined or real.

This one is very real—and Dad meant something you might not expect. He wasn’t promising that things would go exactly as we wanted them to, or that there wouldn’t be trouble along the way, or that everything would be normal again before we knew it.  For him, the trajectory of life just continued to unfold, carrying us toward the “due season” where things would simply be as they would be. He accepted that there would be good times and bad times, and he was willing to move with the inevitable cycles of life in positive and perseverant ways.  He was the highest-level embodiment of the Innocent story type who has ever graced my life.

My Dad came by his outlook honestly. Raised in India by missionary parents, his long view of life was shaped by very different experiences than his U.S.-raised contemporaries. While they lived through the Great Depression, he played soccer with Indian children on fields where human skulls lay scattered—sometimes serving as the balls. He witnessed famine, leprosy and endemic social injustice. As a teenager, he was thrown from a train wreck that killed everyone else in the car where he had been standing.

Despite it all, Dad returned to the U.S. with the attitude of an Eastern philosopher and an indomitable, values-driven spirit. He described India and his experiences there in wondrous ways. His tales of encounters with water buffalo and elephants and even tigers were awe-inspiring (to him and to us). And it was clear he had learned the most about life from the un-schooled Hindu caretakers of his earliest years—not the more traditionally educated academics who taught at the British-run boarding schools he attended as a boy.

Throughout his life, Dad adapted to what was going on around him with an unwavering attitude of optimism, acceptance and hope. He would have done the same when facing our current and collective global crisis. I know he would have counseled me to have faith in others; to notice what’s right, good and possible; and to take what values-inspired action I could to support my beliefs.  Right now, all professionals and leaders need to think about how we can use the power of our best and most motivated selves to adapt.

Getting Conscious About Your Adaptive Tendencies

 This is my fourth of a four-post blog series on the ways our core story types can empower or disempower us.  I’ve written a separate post on each of the organizing quadrants in Dr. Carol S. Pearson’s 12-archetype motivation model (which groups the 12 story-based types into quadrants that represent the most important tasks we must accomplish in professional settings, and the underlying human needs that fuel them).  This post is about the adapting quadrant—the work we must do when something in our environment calls on us to learn, grow and respond.  If ever there was a time for that, it’s now.

The three story types most associated with this quadrant (Innocent, Explorer and Sage) all do this in specific, distinctive and potentially beneficial ways.  When faced with a need to adapt, Innocents check in first with their belief systems and shape a values-based response.  Explorers wonder what they can find out that brings new guidance or approaches to bear.  Sages apply their critical thinking skills to assess what they know or apply what they can figure out.

All of these approaches and mindsets are valuable and good—as long as they’re expressed from an empowering level of the story type.  That’s most likely to happen as our focus widens outside of ourselves to take in the affinity groups and communities we relate to AND an expanded sense of connection with all other human beings. And that’s what the world sorely needs right now.

What the world could use a lot less of now is the disempowering versions of these story types.  Those can emerge in ways that harm us, the people we care about, and ultimately the entire world. Take a look at the chart below for what the empowering and disempowering levels of each story type look like:

 

ADAPTING/GROWING

EMPOWERING LEVELS Innocent Explorer Sage
Level 3:  We (expanded other; enterprise, humanity, global community) Idealist  

Trailblazer

 

Mastermind
Level 2:  Us (immediate other/affinity group; family, team/department, local  community)

 

Believer Navigator Expert
Level 1: Me (self, personality/persona, ego)

 

Optimist Seeker Thinker
DISEMPOWERING LEVELS Innocent Explorer Sage
 

Level 1: Me (self, personality/persona, ego)

 

Pollyanna Wanderer Overthinker
Level 2:  Us (immediate other/affinity group; family, team/department, local  community)

 

 

Denier

 

Lone Wolf Dogmatic
Level 3:  We (expanded other; enterprise, humanity, global community)

 

Absolutist Deserter Deceiver

Getting back to your empowering ground

Let’s take a look at what the empowering and disempowering versions of these stories actually look like:

  • An empowered Innocent can help us keep hope alive and unite around the common ground beliefs that all of us cherish. A disempowered Innocent can naively deny what’s actually going on or disavow any other belief or perspective.
  • An empowered Explorer can guide us through the messy terrain of alternative options, and land on unique and exciting solutions. A disempowered Explorer might resent restrictions on their individual freedoms and ignore what’s best for the collective good.
  • An empowered Sage can help explain what’s really going on and answer essential questions that lead to wiser decisions for moving forward. A disempowered Sage can get too attached to their own conclusions, and defend them to the point of deception.

To get back on empowering ground, as yourself some of these questions (or find a coach to help you or your team work through it; there are many virtual options for doing that right now):

  • Innocent story types: What’s going right, and how can we build on that?  What are we refusing to believe or accept that we need to reconsider?
  • Explorer story types: What alternatives are available to us right now that we could try? Are we ignoring what’s good for others in our response?
  • Sage story types: What do we know for sure about what’s going on, and what do we need to find out? Where are we drinking our own Kool-aid or defending our point of view too strongly?

It will all work in out, in due season.  Thank you, Dad—and wherever you are, please send some hope our way.

Cindy Atlee is a Creator type who loves to help clients understand and express who they really are in the world.  She’s the principal of The Storybranding Group and co-author of the Professional Strengths, Values & Story Survey (SVSS).  Cindy also trains coaches and consultants to work with the story typing framework; find out about her next training (virtual option available from April 15-17 here:  https://www.eventbrite.com/e/story-type-narrative-intelligence-training-april-2020-tickets-90946707049.

 

 

 

SPOILER ALERT:  I’m about to reveal that the Harry Potter books and movies probably really tricked you—even if you never read or saw them.  (Also, I’ll be giving away the ending to the entire series at the end of paragraph four!). 

Everyone knows that Harry Potter was a magician, right?  He had a wand, after all, and learned how to use all kinds of spells, and could summon fantastic creatures to help him, and demonstrated the magical powers he had time and time again.  He transformed the world he lived in through enchantment and sorcery and conjuring, didn’t he?

Well, yes.  But Harry Potter wasn’t a magician at his core.  To truly be something, you have to be motivated by the role, by the quest and by the outcome of its inevitable story arc.  Magicians want to enable transformative change or heal others or see a big vision realized.

Harry Potter didn’t particularly want those things.  What he wanted was a family, a community, a place where he belonged and others did, too. He was exceptionally skilled at bringing people together in tough times and overcoming oppressive forces. He empathized with the people around him and desperately wanted things to work out for them, too.  The last three words of the Harry Potter book series summed up exactly what Harry longed for and ultimately enabled through courage and magic that was motivated by his Everyperson self:  All was well.

Leaders, coaches, consultants and professionals who want to make a real difference need to understand the critical difference between what someone can do and what actually motivates them to participate in a meaningful way.  Harry had magical powers, but they weren’t at the heart of his best self.  They were tools he used to be who he really was.  If he’d been in a career development program, the best path for him would have been moving towards the most empowering levels of the Everyperson story (and to become aware of the disempowering side of that very same storyline, where he’d be most likely to falter).

Getting conscious about your impact on others

This is my third blog post on the empowering and disempowering faces of the most universally recognized story types in contemporary culture.  I’ve been writing a separate post on each of the organizing quadrants included in Dr. Carol S. Pearson’s archetype system (which groups the 12 story-based types into quadrants that represent the most important tasks we have to accomplish in our professional settings).

We’ve reached a tricky spot in the series, because we’re moving out of the well-worn organizational terrain of making things work and producing results (the first two quadrants) into the definitively more fragile human ground of relating to others and developing a sense of belonging.  I’ve seen this quadrant get very short shrift in a lot of organizational settings, and its importance likely gets under-estimated a good bit in American culture as a whole.  After all, we tend to prize rugged individualism and often de-value anything that looks too much like dependence.

So, here’s the thing:  organizational leaders ignore the relating quadrant at their peril.  It may not shape American culture as much as the other quadrants–but it’s the most foundational of all human needs and has a huge impact on organizational culture.  Relating is where commitment is most frequently born (and needs to be cultivated).  It’s such a strong motivator for many people that it actually enables their capacity to produce results (think Harry Potter here, big time).  And people who are operating at a disempowering level of a story in the relating quadrant can wreak absolute havoc in their interactions with others.  So let’s take a look at what can happen at the empowering and disempowering levels of relating-oriented story types.

Lovers can make the most enthusiastic and passionate commitments, build the strongest connections across people and groups, and help everyone see what’s truly special about them. They can also play favorites, use their charm to wheedle favors and actively exclude people who aren’t part of their cliques.

Jesters can lighten up situations with their wit, help other people hear otherwise uncomfortable truths and model ways to reduce stress and increase presence.  They can also goof off, use their wits to manipulate and actually trick or con others to get their own way.

Everypersons like Harry Potter can form deep and abiding loyalty to others, shape and build strong groups or communities, and ultimately stand very tall for human rights.  They can also fall into complaining and blaming imagined “oppressors” and see the world in bleak enough terms that everything starts looking like a catastrophe.  Harry Potter did that every now and then.

 Getting back to your empowering ground

 So the first step in claiming the most empowering ground in the relating quadrant (or to help someone else do that) is acknowledging the power and value of its story types.  If this is where your core motivation lies, understand and own it. Consider the following questions:

  • What important professional contributions do I make because I’m like the relating-oriented type that resonates most for me?
  • What kind of environment do I need to flourish, and how can I help shape that for myself?
  • What kind of situations trigger me and set off a disempowering downturn?
  • How can I shift my energy back into a more empowering place when that happens?
  • Who have I been under-estimating because they’re very much like one of these types, and what should I do differently about that?

And remember to use your magic wand in service of something that really matters to you.