Conversations with a Catalyst

I think this is a noteworthy post by Brian. Receipts.

The title is based on a phrase he sometimes uses: “I have the receipts to prove it”. It means he has been there, done that and gotten some useful takeaways. In that post, he mentions a harsh sounding exchange that was really a psychologically safe interaction between us. Clarity is a critical component of optimism. Clarity helps remove drama and needless inner critic noise from conversations in our head.

Brian and I have a tremendously fulfilling working relationship – at least from my perspective. We get to dig into all of the nuances behind our cornerstone principle all the time:

Agile Best Self Principle #1: Our highest priority is to be our best self and enable others to be their best selves.

And because we both live and breathe the Agile Best Self principles on a daily basis, we already know that anything we do is an effort to “make the room better”(as Brian says) or “turn up the good” (a mantra I have borrowed from Kent Beck).

It was within that context that Brian send me a rare text. I can’t remember the exact words, but it was something like: “What should I write about?” The text was rare because it was asking me to solve a problem for him (as opposed to collaborating). It was asking me to pick a topic for his story. He frequently sends me texts saying “round one draft is ready, make it better”; or “let’s collaborate on this”; or “check out what I did with our podcast”. Those texts are all done in the psychologically safe spirit of bouncing ideas off of each other or finishing each other’s sentences. We thrive on candor because we know that we do great things together. But this was the first and last time he asked me to do some heavy lifting for him.

This text was also out of the ordinary because we frequently discuss that much Agile Best Self work is extremely personal and introspective. There is no “one size fits all.” I can’t write someone else’s North Star for them. They can’t write mine. Another paradox: what works today may not work tomorrow. You can never stand in the same river twice. Some days I need my like-hearted community; some days I need a conversation with a trusted advisor. Two different interactions, two different intentions.

My response may seem contradictory to our work, but it wasn’t. I knew he was asking for motivation, because he was a little stuck. That’s ok. I crafted a nuanced, introspective, caring response based on our third philosophy:

Getting and sharing energy from like-hearted people over relying solely on self-motivation

That nuanced, introspective, caring response was: “you gotta figure it out your own damn self.” I knew he needed a kick in the keister. And I knew he could handle this text. Brian’s North Star is “to be a light.” He has a wonderful energy and a glow that increases as you step toward him.

My North Star is to be a connector and catalyst. A catalyst by nature shakes things up. We make sparks that can cause explosions. Catalyst can be defined as: in chemistry, any substance that increases the rate of a reaction without itself being consumed. Brian didn’t want me to solve the problem for him, he just wanted a nudge. Which is what catalysts do so well.

Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson

Published by MichaeleBestSelf

Connector, Catalyst.

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