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Hannah Elise Jones

MSOD 612
Reading, Writing and Reflection
October 20, 2016

The importance of communication in relationships is discussed in many psychology,


management, and self-development texts, and In Helping Edgar Schein, takes the concept further
through the exploration of helping relationships. He says, what is crucial is not the content of the
clients problem or the helpers expertise, but the communication process that will enable both to figure
out what is actually needed. This description clearly applies to relationships between people, but for me
also provided insight into the helping relationship I have with myself.
Of all of Scheins inquiry types, diagnostic inquiry comes easiest to me and confrontational is the
most challenging. When working with others I am always thinking about what is underlying the
information expressed. For this reason, I tend to ask leading diagnostic questions, looking for the
emotions or motives that exist in the story being told. Sometimes I can jump too quickly from pure
inquiry to diagnostic, asking too much before I have really listened to the whole story, so I have to be
attentive to that. On the other hand, I find confrontation inquiry most challenging because of my own
response to it. I do tend to want to offer suggestions or hypothesis, and while this comes easy to me, I
am conscious of not offering analysis when others don't want it. Finding a balance between helping and
understanding can be difficult when working with others, but I have also found it to be difficult
internally. For a long time I viewed my inability to move quickly to decisions, or away from emotions,
as some inadequacy. Now I know how important it is to first understand, not only situations, but my
response to them, fully before jumping to conclusions or actions.
In the last year I have improved my ability to assess my responses and emotions by increasing
my awareness of them in the moment. In my fledgling meditation practice I have begun to work on
labeling my thoughts as they arise. I began the practice based on a recommendation from a friend, and
recently had it reinforced by reading Mindsight. It has helped me immensely to not only let my thoughts
go during meditation, but also to recognize my thought patterns and habits. I am interested in applying
this same concept more intentionally to my emotional arousal. In Your Brain at Work Dr. Rock explains
that the process of labeling types of arousal helps you to control it. While I am not an overly reactive
person externally, I do tend to hold on to things that upset me emotionally and grapple with them
internally. This can wear on me a great deal and often leads to negative self talk in some way, so while it
might not seem like I have an emotional control issue to someone on the outside, I know the internal
ways it effects me. My mindfulness practice has taught me the power of labeling and identifying my
thoughts, and I feel that the same practice can help me better understand and control my emotions,
supporting me to maintain more positivity and emotional consistency in my life.
I also feel that I have an opportunity to better understand how I am impacted by expectations.
Rock explains that expectations have a physiological effect on how your brain operates. The
expectations you create, change the way you receive information by influencing the release of
dopamine. When you have high expectations, whether they are learned and reinforced through
experience, or made from your own imagination, your brain is expecting a particular result, and if reality
doesn't align with that you can experience a significant drop in dopamine. I am someone who has very
high expectations. I think it is part of what has made me successful and effective in many ways, but
when reality does not meet those expectations I tend to fall pretty hard. Becoming more aware of my
expectations and practicing changing them, opening them up to other possibilities, will help me to better
manage my emotional consistency as well.
Adapting my emotions and expectations through self-awareness and the practice of labeling or
identifying them is something that can help me develop greater levels of self-acceptance. My greatest
personal weakness is a self-depreciating place where I can blame and otherwise minimize myself, at
times to an unhealthy degree. For many achievement-oriented people I believe this place exists, and
perhaps that is okay, but my problem is the enormous effort it takes for me to get out of it. The longer I
spend in this negative space, the more long-term impact it can have on my self-confidence. Managing
my emotions and expectations such that I am not pushed so often into that space to begin with, will help
a great deal. This is something I have made progress on in the last few years of my life, and something
that I have contextualized more deeply though my growing understanding of my own history and
identity, but it is still an area where I am learning and striving to improve.
This is where Dan Siegels concept of the core self feels very relevant to me. He suggests that
under all the multiplicity we experience within ourselves, there is a core that is inherently receptive. It
is from this place that we can suspend other influences and judgements and come closer to a calm and
peaceful mind. I feel I have made significant steps to understanding this core self, but still need to push
myself to develop a way to better access this core that is truly and consistently receptive. On my best
days I am self-loving, open-minded, curious and appreciative, but I am not always operating at this
level. When I can do that more consistently I believe I will be able to see my mental activities, including
my self-depreciating moments, as momentary mental activity, not as behaviors that define who I am.
A good example of the multiplicity Siegel identifies is illustrated in The Three Marriages.
Author David Whyte discusses how we often want to segment our three marriages, to a partner, to our
vocation and to ourselves, but that in actuality this is impossible if we want to be effective in each. In
considering the elements I want to integrate and become a more defining part of who I am, I am inspired
by Whytes descriptions of the self. I consider my relationship with my inner self to be deep and strong,
but always growing. I am attune to my emotions and energy, and prioritize self-care and reflection, but I
am still exploring ways to further develop my sense of identity and strength of core values. I am in a
position where I am comfortable with seeing myself as an unfinished product, constantly evolving.
Accepting that I will never be done with my inner work, I am now focused on increasing my
awareness and sense of inner calm. As my experiences change my focus will evolve, but I will always
be reflecting on how to connect better to my inner self.
Currently my relationship with my partner, although not a formal marriage, is a rock in my life.
We exist in a highly functional partnership that I believe is successful because within our partnership we
are each actualized as individuals. We support each other to grow more fully into who we are as people,
rather than constrict ourselves to who we should be as a couple. I aspire to practice more self-
development together, so that as I continue to grow and learn in more deeply personal ways, I can share
the experience with him in a manner that also grows and strengthens our connection to each other.
My relationship to my vocation is similarly strong. I have a job I believe in deeply, one that is
mission-driven and personally compelling. I feel that the mission of my organization and the way we are
growing is aligned with my personal vision for the kind of world I want to create and serve. However, I
still have questions about how we do things and what my role will and should be within my
organization. I am facing important questions about how I balance personal development in my vocation
with the needs of my rapidly evolving organization. I also struggle with the personal integrity challenges
of working for an organization that exists to improve the condition of corporate cultures around the
world, while not always doing our own culture justice. These integrity gaps, as Quinn would call them,
emerge for me frequently and can make it hard to feel strongly married to my vocation in the context of
my current position. This dissonance is not however, for lack of trying, which is what keeps me going.
My company is striving to be a more effective learning organization, evolving internally and externally
to better serve our mission. My aspiration for my vocation is that I always remain aligned with work I
believe in, and regardless of where that leads me, I work with or for people who are always looking for
ways to grow and increase their consistency as an organization.
I enjoyed the Quinn reading, Building the Bridge as You Walk On It, because it presented an
approach to developing yourself as a leader that is centered around this concept of alignment. I would
like to increase my ability to be internally directed and close more of my integrity gaps. Quinn says,
In this process of victory over self, we feel more integrity, and we feel more whole. This is similar to
Dan Siegels vision of integration, where all parts of ourselves are able to come together in harmony,
preventing us from psychologically slipping into rigidity or chaos. The concept of integration is very
important to me, as I see it as a form of self-respect. If you are not consistent with who you are, all parts
of yourself, you cannot expect to experience your true core. For this reason, the practice of authentic
engagement that Quinn outlines is particularly resonant for me. One of the recommended hints for better
practicing authentic engagement is understanding that monitoring and reducing hypocrisy is your
greatest source of power. That statement made me think differently about my value of self-respect, and
the importance I have always placed on personal consistency. It turned my view of consistency from
being of internal benefit, to one of external power. I believe that my experience of the MSOD program
will help me understand myself better, such that can harness my own integrity and turn it into power in
my leadership.
As I continued to move around Quinns fundamental leadership model I found something that
challenged my understanding of internally-driven personal consistency. The other-focused mindset
praises putting the common good and the welfare of others first, without acknowledging the times
when being focused in this way can be contrary to being internally directed. In a previous paper I
discussed how important it is to be to be attentive to my spiritual and physical well-being in order to
support my high performance externally. This need for personal balance and awareness is not something
I found fully addressed in Quinns assessment of fundamental leadership. As I work to apply these
concepts in my own life, I will no doubt continue to encounter dissonance, challenge and confusion that
I can only address through personal application and openness.
There are a great deal of questions that have emerged from these readings for me, the question of
balance and personal application being one of them. I am looking forward to continuing to discuss and
experiment with the techniques and recommendations in these texts to uncover what works for me.
Overall I am incredibly interested in the content that was presented, as leadership and personal
development is an area of passion for me. These readings reinforced old learnings and introduced new
ones, all of which I am eager to continue apply in the context of my own experience. It is only through
experiencing these concepts more fully that I will be able to integrate them into my life and improve my
own leadership.