Be Brave Enough To Start A Conversation That Matters ///

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We have some very awesome and comfy shirts with this extremely dope phrase on them: Be Brave Enough To Start A Conversation That Matters.  What the hell does it actually mean?  I’ll explain what it means to me.  I think this phrase will mean something different to everyone that reads it and wears it.  Which, as it so happens is part of the point <wink>.

I’m sure many people think of this phrase in relation to More In Common and think race, politics, or some other difficult conversation with strangers.  Which would be partially correct.  Those conversations do matter, absolutely.  It does, however, go further and deeper than that for me.

As I think about “Be Brave Enough” I immediately think of courage.

Courage + Brave ///

We could have even used courage instead of brave on the shirt.  One definition of brave <link> actually uses courage. They are so closely related, I don’t see much daylight between them.  I could say be brave or have courage and in many cases, it would mean the exact same thing.

courage

: mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty

 brave

1: having or showing mental or moral strength to face danger, fear, or difficulty: having or showing courage a brave soldier a brave smile

They both refer to internal strength, mental and moral.  Looking these up just now reminded me of that. So commonly, I think of strength as the outward expression.  It really is the stuff going on inside that determines overall strength – the doubts, confidence, self-talk, fears, questions, etc…  These things all lead to physiological responses and ultimately determine how we show up when things are hard.

Fear ///

a: an unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger

b (1): an instance of this emotion (2): a state marked by this emotion

Fear and/or difficulty is a necessary component to braveness or courage.  Basically, I can’t be brave if there’s nothing to overcome.  This conjures images of big kids picking on little kids in the schoolyard for me.  Also, referring to an internal state, an emotion we often feel as a response to danger.

Now we have an equation:

Fear/danger + perseverance = brave/courage

“…To Start a Conversation…” ///

Exactly what it sounds like.  As a recent podcast guest told us, jump in.  The thoughts in our head regarding starting the thing (conversation, paper, blog, project, podcast, budget, etc…) are absolutely far worse than it is to actually just start the damn thing.

Begin.

Just start.

Don’t over think it.

If I don’t know where to begin because the other person is being difficult or perhaps *ahem* I’m being the difficult one [never happens] – I say exactly that “I don’t know where to start, but I’d like to…”.

Usually, magic happens.

“…That Matters” ///

Yes racism, policing, politics, crime, mental health, and many more topics matter – quite a bit.  Also, checking in on a friend, sharing how someone made you feel [positive or negative], sports, talking to a roommate/parent/friend/co-worker/etc.… about an issue that you may have.  These and more also matters that matter.

We shy away from so much of the stuff that matters.  We’re often not brave enough to have the hard conversations with ourselves or people in our lives.  How then can we come together as a society and legitimately solve the bigger issues?

Danger perceived ///

Lately, I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting, meditating, and working through why things bother, irritate, or get me mad.

I’ve found typically it’s because I perceive some kind of danger, typically the emotional kind.  Ok sure, let’s be super specific it’s typically EGO related for me. So here’s what happens:

Wife/friend/person: says “word, word, word, word”

Me: takes it as a jab to the ego and responds defensively

*Effective communication historically stops here for me*

 

I’m realizing this from doing some pretty intense work on self.  I’m able to break this down afterward and realize when I’m being a ridiculous prick.  I’ve even, on rare occasion been able to notice it real-time and solve my perception issue with a question and a statement…

“What do you mean by [statement in question]?  I’m understanding this to mean [insert what I thought they were saying]  for instance – you think I’m overly contrarian and annoying?  (who me?)

9 times out of 10 they say “nope, I wasn’t saying that at all”.  Which makes me wonder as I type this why would I even hold that type of an assumption?  Answer: negative self-talk is real Y’all!

An Attempt:  To Bring It All together ///

Most simply this means having the conversations that I don’t want to.  Specifically when I don’t want to and I know they need to happen.  You know: the call to cancel the thing; telling someone I messed up; letting someone know that something can’t happen as hoped; and so on… These happen daily, and the hardest are often the talks I need to have with myself.  I find them the easiest to walk away from, which is detrimental for all kinds of reasons.

This year my mantra is “Do the F@cking Work!!”.  Meaning, among other things, have conversations that matter, all the time.  Don’t let them slide whether they be big or seemingly small.  I look at it like this, either I win or find a way to improve, there is no way to lose in most of these scenarios.

Do the F@cking Work

In a more meta sense, I think the collective “we” too often avoid the conversations that need to happen daily.  As a result, we end up in half-hearted discussions about the “bigger” matters while we know we’re avoiding other things in our lives.  We’re all busy and there isn’t enough time, right?  Wrong, I think “busy” is a lazy word.  Everyone has more on the to-do list than can actually be accomplished.  I’m not busier than you, nor you I.

It’s time to strike busy from the lexicon and be more intentional about what we’re doing and saying.  As in:  “do I really HAVE to say yes to this thing that is going to take my time?”.

How I’ve Gotten Here…More Growth Ahead ///

Time to reflect:

 I set time to reflect on the past week every Saturday or Sunday.  Do hit each?  No.  Sometimes I do it on Monday or Tuesday.  It’s a quick look back to rate my progress on my goals.  A simple up or down arrow next to each.  No shaming or back patting here as I go through the list.  Just the facts.

Mantra:

Repeating “Do the F@cking Work!!” I’ve found it highly effective at getting me to move my butt.

Meditation:

I grew up thinking it was woo-woo.  I now firmly believe that if you can’t sit in silence (or with a guided meditation) with yourself for 20 minutes…maybe you’re woo-woo.  This is coming from a guy that with ADD (admittedly undiagnosed).  Just ask anyone that’s attempted to study or work with me, the struggle is real.  The benefits of meditation for me have been myriad.

Starting the conversation:

So much of the crap is really just in my head.  Once started I normally find the other party to be thinking the same thing or something equally as ridiculous.  Give people and even yourself a chance, it’s really not that bad.  I don’t bite, often.

 

Ok, got it?  Feeling good?  Get out there, go have some conversations.  Start small, with people you trust.  Or go big, you do what feels right for you.

Be Brave Enough To Start A Conversation That Matters

Have any tips that work well for you?  Let me know.

Expose.Evaluate.Evolve

RodneyKeith Richardson