Influencing each other from one cliff to another

One thing I’ve learned through all the ups and downs is that if you’re doing things right, then you have a core group of people. Not just a core group like your homies or your buddies, but a group of people that has a good influence on you, who you respect and admire, and you know that if they’re on your side, you’re doing something right. ~ Hope Solo

On the bulletin board above my desk, I tacked up a page torn out of a book called Steal Like An Artist. It’s a black and white drawing of the edges of two mountain cliffs, positioned a few inches apart. On the left cliff the words “What we are” are drawn and a stick figure is peering over the edge into the black space separating him from the right side cliff, which has the words “What we want to be.”

It’s one of those things I glance at every now and then. I know it’ll grab my eye when I need to reconsider that it usually takes some work and maybe a leap of faith to accomplish something worthwhile or move forward in some way.

I’m not sure which of those things are harder – work or leaps of faith.

What I am sure of is these things are getting easier to determine thanks to the apparent importance of small squares.

There’s (writer) Anne Lamott’s square that visualizes the secret to moving forward with productivity. She says when she gets frustrated with a big writing project, she looks at the empty 1 inch picture frame on her desk, reminding her all she has to do right now is fill up a 1 inch square with words. Then another one later. And maybe another one after that.

And there’s (writer) Brene Brown’s square called the Square Squad, which is a 1″ piece of paper meant to hold the names of people you can trust and whose opinions matter.

Minimization is more than a buzzword, it’s a life skill. All we need is an inch.

Brown in her wisdom also said “Clear is kind, Unclear is unkind.” This was part of her book about how to lead effectively, but like every other sentence and thought in that book, it can be taken down to the smallest, most minute instance of every day, even if you’re not “leading” a huge company or managing anybody beyond yourself.

I don’t manage anything other than myself at work, but I manage a household and influence my kids, most often, I’m sure, when I don’t realize it. My square squad influences me and if I am doing anything right, I am influencing them too.

I’ve also seen it in action by watching my daughter train our dog. When she started this project, she didn’t know anything about dog training. (But there was an app for that.) In a year, through patience and repetition, understanding and clear, concise words (plus a pallet of treats), she’s been able to get him closer to what she wants him to be, which is responsive and attentive.

Watching her learn to train made me see how some of the tactics are similar no matter the situation. Not everybody is cut out to lead a group of people into battle or even into a meeting, but we’re all influencers in some capacity.

Power to those who were born to lead Fortune 500 companies. I can’t relate. I’d be happy to influence myself and an inch worth of people trying to get from a “what we are” cliff to a “what we want to be” cliff.

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