Episode 19 - Self-awareness
Peter: Hey Jen.
Jen: Hey Peter.
Peter: You've got a look in your eye that suggests something's on your mind.
Jen: Actually there is something on my mind, and it is the journey from self-awareness to self-acceptance.
Peter: Self-awareness to self-acceptance. Okay.
Peter: Let's do it. Let's go on a journey. This is The Long and The Short Of It.
Jen: Okay, here's the dealio, because before we release these episodes to the world, we listen back to them one last time. I know that I have picked up on this, and I think you have too, that we both have habits of things that we just say all the time, and I was getting so annoyed with myself, because in the moment I'm unaware that I'm doing it. But then when I listened back I'm like, "Oh my gosh, Jen, there are two things you say all the damn time. Cut it out." Okay so, this is a self-awareness moment: one is, I start a lot of sentences with, "So," and two is, I end a lot of sentences with, "or whatever that might be."
Jen: Here's the journey part. I'm going to take you on the journey, and I really want to hear your thoughts on this. I, my first thought when I became aware of this pattern was, "You are annoying, Jen. You need to change, you need to change the way you think and the way you speak. How annoying is it to start a sentence with 'So,' and end so many sentences with 'or whatever that might be." See, I'm trying so hard right now not to start with the word, "So." I started to try to censor myself while I was talking, and then I don't know why, but this moment of wisdom fell over me, and I was like, "Jen, the things that annoy you about yourself, the things that you are repeating over and over, if you take yourself out of the equation, they represent what you actually value and what you actually believe in." For example, when you start a sentence with, "So," the connotation is that you're building on the thing that came before - that it's an extension of the thing that came before, which is something I believe in and I value is that when someone asserts something - and if that someone is yourself, that's fine, or if it's someone else - that the generous thing to do is build on it, and "so" is a bridge of building ideas. I have to give myself a pass for that, because it's representative of who I say I actually am.
Peter: Yeah, it's a "yes, and..."
Jen: It's a "yes, and..." And on the end of sentences, something I value greatly is exploring all the options. It makes perfect sense that someone who believes in exploring all the options would steer clear of saying what the answer is, and instead say, "or whatever that might be." I'm going to throw a couple options out, and then also leave room for something I haven't yet thought of. This is, in essence, something that I value. So rather than being annoyed with myself, I've decided to live with the annoyance of hearing myself repeat something, and recognize that after having done the work to discover what I believe in, this is the consequence, is that I talk the way I think.
Peter: Wow, I really like that. So, okay, I know what mine are.
Jen: Okay, let's pick them apart.
Peter: I have, I have a lot, but I - these two in particular, given you did two I'll do two, came to mind, and five minutes ago I wouldn't have said there's any value in them and I would have beaten myself up for using them, but having heard you articulate how they're representations of who you are, I think these are too, so let's unpack them. In fact, I just said one of them: unpack.
Jen: Yep, you do say that a lot!
Peter: I say "unpacking" almost every episode, and every time I hear it, I'm like, "Ah, unpack again. Why don't you say, 'explore,' or you know, 'dig into,' why is it always 'unpack?'" So that's my first one that I always beat myself up for saying. The second is a common one perhaps for my generation, but perhaps more in general, and it is "like."
Jen: Hmm, okay. Yeah, we're going to have to dig for the value in that.
Peter: What is good, I will say, is neither of us have "um" or "uh" on the list, which I think we've gotten good at eliminating from our vocabulary, which is kind of cool.
Jen: And I think we should pat ourselves on the back and share with our listeners that the "um"s and the "uh"s are so infrequent that they, they are not part of the editing process.
Peter: No, no, we just have now gotten so conscious of hearing ourselves say them that we don't see them anymore. And in fact, there's a really great blog post by Seth Godin, of course -
Jen: What a shocker.
Peter: - where he talks about, I think it's called, "You can fix your 'um,'" or at least that's the first line, "you can fix your 'um.'" And the premise is, every time you feel yourself wanting to say "um" or "uh," just say nothing.
Jen: That's right. That's how you do it.
Peter: Just use silence, because "um"s and "uh"s are fillers; however, these words that we're talking about, I don't think they're fillers, so - unpack.
Jen: Well, I would love to hear you say, what is your definition of "unpack?"
Peter: Well, this is the thing. For me, unpacking, okay, unpacking is about looking at an idea that we are presenting in as many different ways as possible. Like, unpacking if it was a bag full of stuff - this idea of, you know, Rule #6 or imposter syndrome or any of the things that we've spoken about - if that was a bag, I want to unpack the bag and all the different bits within it to then see if there's anything else we're missing and to see if there's something else that can be seen that perhaps we can't see on the outside of the bag.
Jen: Oh, you mean your "why."
Peter: Exactly, exactly. I'm just having this moment now. So, "unpacking" things is about being curious, it's about exploring possibilities, so for me saying all this out loud is helping me realize I - it's what I do all day every day when I'm at my best is look at things and unpack them for other people, as a coach, as a speaker, as a facilitator, as a curious human who reads books and records podcasts with you. Huh.
Jen: I know, isn’t it a big "aha!" moment?
Peter: Wow, yes, this is!
Jen: Now let's talk about "like," cause, this I'll be interested to hear you unpack.
Peter: So I do think this might fall a little bit into the category of an "um" or an "uh," in that I'm not convinced it's adding a whole lot of value. If I was being super generous to myself, I could say that "like" is about comparing one thing to another and how they're similar, which is a byproduct of unpacking, perhaps.
Peter: I think that's true if used in the right context. So often when I hear it back, it's not adding value to the sentence structure; it's just, you know, "like" and "this like," and what about "that like," and it's not necessarily that I'm comparing two things, it's just that they're filler. So I think there's some value in it, but probably being overused.
Jen: I think that there is some similarity between your use of "like," and my use of "whatever that might be."
Peter: Tell me more.
Jen: It's giving up the need for it to be the thing, and instead, it could be this, it's like that, but maybe it's something else.
Jen: I think it's important to note that sometimes you find a repetition, and when you "unpack" the repetition, you find that it is not representative of your values. And what's funny is, with one of my workshops right now, we're talking about morning routines - many of them are re-listening to the morning routines episode of this show - and what I've realized since we released that show is that when you have a routine, it represents what you value. So when you have a morning routine that includes scrolling through Facebook, what you're telling yourself is that you value other people's experiences more than you're valuing your own in that moment. Or - and that's not to say there's no value in other people's experiences, but if that's the first thing you're putting into your head - so what I tried to do yesterday in service to my workshop group was outline my morning routine and separate it by values. So, the morning routine that I've established, I've put this repetition in place on purpose because I value self-awareness, which is why I take that long shower where I clear my mind.
Jen: I value learning, which is why after I clear my mind, I put something new into it. And I value creativity, which is why I seek to connect the dots on my walk from the subway to the studio. My morning routine represents my values in action, just like the words we use represent our values in action. So it might be worthwhile for our listeners to look at the ways in which they're repeating themselves, whether it's through the words they say or the things that they do, and then call it out. Like, "What does this show that I value?" And then decide if that's true. "Do I really value" - so for example, I had people go through and read a bunch of correspondence that they've sent out into the world, and so many of them said, "Well, now that I'm looking for the pattern, what I see is that I use the word 'just' a lot. I devalue my contribution. That's not representative of my values; I'm cutting the word 'just' and stating what it is. Instead of, 'It's just me reaching out,' no, 'I am here.'" So, I dunno, that's what I'm thinking about today.
Peter: I'm obsessed with this. So, this is really cool. So I wonder as a, just as a question to throw back, do you think one needs to be clear or have a sense of what your values are prior to doing the exercise of looking for the patterns and the words and the behaviors that you have and then asking yourself, "Is this something I want to be proud of?" Is it a "one comes before the other," or could you do both?
Jen: Well, I was about to say, "It's a chicken and the egg thing," except last week on Akimbo, Seth Godin debunked the chicken and the egg, so I'll have to say that it's, it could go in either order.
Jen: Because we all have some sort of a moment that makes us want to figure ourselves out. Something happens that leads us to the need for self-discovery. And so if the thing, if the moment that happens is you notice that you're saying "just" a lot, and that makes you want to discover why, fine. Or if you say, "Look, I have values, let me make sure that what I'm doing is representing my values," and you go in that direction, that's fine too. At the end of the day, what matters is that we all have a choice to live our values, or not, and we're choosing to live them with everything that we do and say. We're putting our values into action with everything that we output.
Peter: Yeah, whether we realize it or not. So, some good ways to find one's values, just tactically, I mean, I know I've found very useful and I know you found very useful the "why discovery" and the "golden circle" framework from Simon Sinek who's been mentioned a few times on this podcast, and looking at your "hows" and how they are representative of you as an individual and as a unique person.
Jen: And your "hows" really are the actions that you take in alignment with what you believe; they are your values in action. Another resource that I love is Brene Brown's new book Dare to Lead, which, I've read it so many times now, it's just ridiculous. It's so good.
Peter: So good.
Jen: In one section of the book, she talks about putting your values into action, and she writes a list, like a page-long list, dozens and dozens of words that represent values, and then she says, "You're allowed to pick two."
Peter: Two. Yeah, that was hard.
Jen: What are your two core values? Because if you value everything, you don't actually value anything. So yes, in an ideal world, we all value all of these things, but if you could only pick two, what would they be? I loved that exercise.
Peter: And what's interesting is she picks two, and to go back to your ticks that you weren't happy with, you had two: "so," and, "or whatever that might be." Would you say they're your two? I don't know where I was going with that other than to say, are they the two values of Jen Waldman that are most important, or is it just a coincidence that the number two came up twice in this podcast?
Jen: Huh, that's a great question. I don't think they represent, if I could only have two, would that represent those two. Actually that's not true. That's not true, because one of my values is creativity, and I think both of those represent creativity at its core - idea of picking up on something else and turning it into something new, and exploring all the possible options, I do think you have to be someone who values creativity to live that way. So yes. Yes, it represents one of my two.
Peter: Yeah, me too. I think "unpack," which we sort of bundled "like" into "unpack," is representative of almost all of my values. Like you said, it's actually almost my "why," which sits atop my "hows," so that's interesting.
Jen: Well there you go.
Peter: It's been a fun journey from self-awareness to self-acceptance. The other thing I wrote down, as we tend to scribble, noodle as we talk, was it's quite a fraying thing to do to identify and then reframe slash dig into our "flaws," and I put that in air quotes for those who cannot see, which is literally all of you except for Jen.
Jen: When you say "flaws," it sounds like, in American, "floors," so I'm just translating it for I listeners. He said "flaws," f-l-a-w-s.
Peter: "Flaws," with the w, not with a double "o."
Jen: Yes, American listeners, I will be your translator and guide.
Peter: So yeah, I just think it's a, to start this conversation, I certainly would have viewed those two words as "flaws with a w," and it sounds like you had too previously, and I think we all are so guilty of beating ourselves up because of nervous ticks, or things that we do or say or behave. So this felt like a freeing reframe of it and a way to consider, "Why am I doing these things? Why am I saying these things? And are they in alignment with who I seek to be?" So that was really cool. Thanks for the journey, Jen.
Jen: Happy to be your translator and guide. And that’s The Long and The Short Of It.