"George, you're talking about yourself again."
How perfect during this contentious political season to hear that when George H. Bush was running for president in 1988 his mother would reprimand him for talking about himself during stump speeches.
Imagine if, like he did in response to her calls, our candidates today removed the word "I" from their remarks.
Imagine if all of us did the same.
What would conversations be like?
Would it feel weird to not talk about our feelings, not celebrate our successes, not wonder if other people liked us when we walked into a room (or posted something on Facebook)? More than that, what if we believed that it didn't even matter?
What a different world that would be. The one David Brooks introduced in the first chapter of his book, The Road to Character. A bunch of us are reading it for a virtual book club that starts today. Join the conversation here.
It's hard to imagine writing this post without telling you how I felt about this chapter. How I seriously considered if I am doing my clients a disservice by encouraging them to believe in themselves and trust their instincts.
I still haven't made my mind up about it to be honest. I guess that is what reading the rest of the book, and hearing your thoughts, will help me to do. I'm glad that we're doing this together.
Brooks believes that true happiness only comes from confronting yourself.
Being better than you were the day before. Listening more. Being more present for loved ones.
How do you do that?
An exercise coming out of this week is to recall a crucible moment from your past.
When you saw the real you, all self-illusions and self-deceptions lifted, and it wasn't a pretty sight. Shame, greed, anger, fear...limitations you didn't want to believe about yourself and then suddenly you couldn't un-see them.
The moment of humility that allowed you to rise up again.
Allowed you to be cared for and lifted up by people you didn't expect would help you.
To understand others and accept what they had to offer.
To be loved in ways you didn't deserve.
With this clarity, everything opened up. You committed more fully to others or to work you're meant to be doing. And then at some point you looked back in amazement at how far you had come on this, your real journey...
As Brooks put it about the individuals he profiled: "They realize, with a shock, that they've traveled a long way since the first days of their crucible. They turn around and see how much ground they have left behind. Such people don't come out healed; they come out different. They find vocation or calling."
You've had crucible moments, we all have. Maybe you're in the midst of one now.
Reconnecting with your own fall and rise is the assignment this week. Please share your crucible moments in our FB group.
Already I feel like our conversation has deepened, and it's only just begun.
I look forward to where we go with this, and to reading your stories.
[By the way, if you want to hear the Command Performance radio show Brooks references in this chapter, listen here to #167.]