Although The Six Conversations That Matter is known for creating possibilities that drive transformation and create stronger organizations, it has significantly impacted families and communities as well. Stephanie Hartman can attest to this after attending a Designed Learning workshop led by Bill Brewer at the OD Network Conference in New Orleans last October. Not only did the Gifts Instead of Weaknesses conversation benefit Stephanie’s role as a consultant, but it also resonated with her role in appreciating the gifts of motherhood.
Gifts Instead of Weaknesses
By: Stephanie Hartman
The following is an illustration of my take on one of Peter Block/Designed Learning’s Six Conversations that Matter: Gifts Instead of Weakness
Before I ventured into the world as an independent consultant, I worked as an internal consultant in a team of Organization Effectiveness practitioners, both as an individual contributor and then as a manager. In the course of the annual performance evaluation conversations I heard from two different managers that I was a stellar performer but that I really needed to be more respectful of some of the other members of our department. I thanked them for the praise and sassily responded that we were going to have the same conversation the next year about respecting others. I held firmly to my belief that you can’t make me respect someone if I don’t. Respect has to be earned.
And then there was Taylor.
I chose not to do an amniocentesis when I was pregnant. So it was a surprise to my husband and me when moments after Taylor was born, we heard “your son has features consistent with Down Syndrome”. That can’t be, I thought. We’re both really smart. Our kid is supposed to contribute to society in a big way. I had a preconceived notion of what that meant and feared this would now not be possible.
Sometimes I think about what life will be like for Taylor when he is older and in social situations. I can appreciate that something that Taylor offers to the conversation may not be the most brilliant contribution. I expect others to show my kid some dignity because he is a beautiful human being. Oh, that is what my managers were trying to tell me all those years! (Thank you Ken and Delmarie.)
I have learned more about life and humanity from this 3 year-old boy with developmental delays than decades of traditional learning offered by PhDs. While I am still on a journey of discovery, I have made a breakthrough. Now I take time to look for the contribution others make in an organization without automatically making them wrong for not contributing in the way I originally pictured. I still strongly believe that everyone in an organization needs to earn his or her keep. Their gifts might just be in unexpected wrapping.
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Want to discover how The Six Conversations That Matter can change your life? Contact Bill Brewer, Designed Learning’s director of client relations, by calling 513-524-2227 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.