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Leaning In, Listening, & Learning

Updated: Jan 17, 2023

Dear Everyone:

Open handed, open-hearted listening is one of the greatest acts of grace and human kindness we can offer. Without these, the temptation to reduce “others” to mere caricatures of their true selves is almost automatic – we do it reflexively, without consideration for the real cost to the person we are dismissing and diminishing, nor the injury to our own humanity.

Frankly, I am too damn old to still be re-learning this lesson. Yet here I am, once again humbled by the realization that we are more alike than we are different and more aligned in purpose than we are divergent.

It is amazing what happens when we drop our fists, unclench our hands, allow ourselves to be curious about how others are making sense of the world, and listen to understand rather than simply waiting our turn (or interrupting!) to speak. Grace happens when we make space to connect rather than assuming intent and demanding to be understood…


Before returning to our resiliency metaphor and discussing the all important role of The Spotter in our lives, I just have to ask:

How are you sleeping?

(Y'all think you know me. You were sure I was going to ask if you were hydrated. See? Don't assume. I am absolutely NOT going to remind you that you’ve not had enough water today, and that staying hydrated is one of the most important things you can do to optimize your health).

Nope. Today I’m going to remind you (ok, me!) about the critical importance of restorative sleep, of creating a steady, reliable sleep routine, of good sleep hygiene, and of the physiological truth that we all need 7-9 hours of sleep every night for optimal health.

I mentioned this last week and apparently a few of y’all decided to give it a try because I got a number of messages saying, “I got the first good night’s sleep I've had in a looong time and man did I feel BETTER in EVERY WAY!” It was a great reminder that we’ve all gotten a little lax in tending to our sleep habits (if we ever had them).

For the record (and accountability) my phone is set to go into sleep mode from 8:30 p.m. to 4:30 a.m.. It dings me at 8 as a reminder to start winding down, and it doesn’t buzz, ring or otherwise light up again until the designated “rise” time. It took me a while to adjust, and it was one of the greatest gifts I’ve given to my sleep health. You may have other hacks; share them in the comments, please – we’d love to hear them, and sometimes a small tip can lead to important changes.


This brings us to part three of our Resiliency Reservoir. We’ve talked about Weaponized Resilience, the danger posed by an overenthusiastic “Downstream Cheering Squad,” the hard truth that nurturing resilience is effortful, and the need to identify and tend to our personal Resiliency Rivers and tributaries. In this final instalment I want to talk about the oh-so-important role of The Spotter in our lives…

See that turret, right at the top of the dam? That is where The Spotter stands. From that vantage, they have eyes both on the water level above and the spillways below. (They ALSO, importantly, have pretty good sideye on that downstream cheering squad, and when they tell you to “watch out for that one!” it’s usually good advice). The Spotter can be anyone in our lives we trust enough to actually listen to as they shout out their warnings.

I know you know who this person is.

Often, it’s a spouse or partner or BFF or sibling – someone who knows us and recognizes, long before we do, that our "water level" is getting low. They might start off with “helpful” suggestions (the ones that irritate the hell out of us) like, “I think you ought to focus on… (self-care, exercise, sleep, hydration, meditation, spiritual health, mental health, emotional health…),” or, “please take a vacation,” or “why don’t you take a day to recharge,” or, “you should turn off your phone and leave the email,” or (most helpfully), “would you for the love of all that’s holy PLEASE SAY NO?!”

{{Yes my dear friend, I'm lookin' at you. You know who you are}}

Sometimes it’s a colleague or supervisor who pulls us aside to "check in," a generous act which should always be taken in the spirit intended (and is a damn good sign that we’ve gotten off-track). And if it’s your mama calling…. well, you’re in trouble.


Know and honor The Spotters in your life, and lean in when they find courage to speak up. It isn’t easy to listen but believe me – it is even harder to be BE a spotter for high-achieving individuals. It requires courage to say, “I love you, and I think you’re in danger." Our Spotters keep us a little safer and a little less prone to burnout, disengagement and exhaustion.


This is a tiny little blog and, believe it or not, this is all I’ve got.

It’s Friday night and one of MY Little Spotters has reminded me that I’ve been working “every night and every weekend and every morning and all the time.” So, we’re ordering takeout and watching a movie and I’m off duty for the rest of the weekend. This won’t post until Sunday, but barring anything truly 2020 happening in the interim, I’m taking the weekend off for play and laughter and restoration.

I hope everyone is safe and healthy and making the wisest plans possible for this oh-so-difficult Thanksgiving. Vaccines are coming – three of them, in fact – and we are on-track to be well into a recovery phase by mid-late spring of 2021. There IS an end in sight – there really, truly is. For now, all we can do is our part to make sure as many of our friends, neighbors and fellow Americans are there with us.

We can fix anything but dead, friends.

Stay hydrated, get some restorative sleep this week, play, laugh, and get some sun on your face.

Most of all, keep being kind and brave and generous.

Happy Thanksgiving.



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