Grayson James

Being Attentive To Your Awareness

Being Attentive To Your Awareness

Grayson James

CEO, Grayson James Consultant

Grayson James

Grayson James is the esteemed CEO and Founder of Grayson James Consultants, LLC, a world-renowned leadership collaboration and performance firm. With over three decades of experience in coaching senior executives and their teams, Grayson is a trusted advisor for organizations seeking true organizational transformation.

Grayson’s expertise and thought leadership have been instrumental in designing and delivering highly acclaimed Full Contact® Leadership and Collaboration workshops that help executives and their teams in diverse industries and cultures improve their leadership and business performance. Additionally, Grayson is a Certified Ontological Coach and holds a 6th Dan (degree) Black Belt in Aikido. The cutting-edge approach to language, action and performance he draws upon has been practised at leading universities and Fortune 100 companies around the world.

With deep expertise in mind-body integration, linguistic action, martial arts, conflict resolution, and adult learning, Grayson draws upon a cutting-edge approach to language, action, and performance that has been practised at leading universities and Fortune 100 companies around the world.

Under Grayson’s leadership, Grayson James Consultants, LLC has become a leading force in the field of leadership collaboration and performance. Through individual and team coaching, workshops, and in-depth courses, Grayson James Consultants, LLC has helped executives and their teams achieve their full potential, delivering real-world results that have transformed organizations and their leaders.

Take home these learnings:

1. Understanding your nervouse system
2. What is Full-Contact Performance?
3. How to introduce Mindfulness to leaders?
4. How we change our Awareness without attention?
5. If not vulnerable, then what?

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Episode Transcript:

Intro: Welcome ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the XMonks Drive. The show that explores the human experience and uncovers the stories behind success, growth and personal development. I am your host Gaurav Arora and in today’s episode, we are joined by a very special guest, Grayson James. Today, we are thrilled to have Grayson James with us, an author, a seasoned coach and an expert in Aikido. Grayson is a coach and a mentor who draws inspiration from the ancient martial arts of Aikido, blending it with contemporary coaching methods to help his clients achieve transformational results. In today’s conversation, he draws fascinating parallels between Aikido and vulnerability and sheds light on how we can cultivate our awareness to be more present and intentional in our lives. So, if you are curious about how Aikido can help you develop your inner strength and vulnerability this is an episode you won’t want to miss. Let’s take a dive. Outro: I think I learned a new mantra. There is no opponent. That’s my reflection for today. I hope you enjoyed listening to his insights on Aikido and vulnerability. As he explained, vulnerability is like a chameleon. It can take on many different forms, shapes depending on your situation and context and as we become more aware of our attention and intention, where we write stories that drive us to be more, do more and give more. So, here’s a question for you to ponder on. How can you cultivate your awareness to be more present and intentional in your own life? And as always if you enjoyed today’s episode, we would love it, if you could leave us a review on your favorite podcast platform and share this episode with your friends and family. Thank you so much for tuning in. We’ll see you next time with yet another interesting episode. Take care. 1:00 Gaurav: Grayson such a pleasure having you here. So finally, you are here. How have you been today? 1:20 Grayson: It's great to be with you, Gaurav, and thank you for the invitation. I'm doing very well here we…we have our maybe a false spring here in Sonoma County, California. So, the cherry blossoms have been lured into blossoming or cherry trees, although I think they're gonna get slammed by another frost here pretty soon, but it's a nice time of year. 1:40 Gaurav: Yeah. Here we are just at the cusp of getting into summers, so let's see how it progresses. So, Grayson, you are a world authority when it comes to leadership development. You know, all of us have got defining moments in our life that changed the trajectory of our life. Just curious about you. When and how did you get introduced to the world of leadership? And how has it impacted, shifted, transformed you as an individual? 2:30 Grayson: Yeah. I think there were several, several episodes. I traced the beginnings back to my time leading a private school system in the San Francisco Bay area, we had five campuses around the Bay Area and, I was quite young and inexperienced, relatively inexperienced. And I had the experience when I would bring my campus directors together for our monthly staff meetings, which were all-day meetings because we're all spread out at that time there was… there was nothing virtual other than the telephone in those days. And I found myself surprised by the fact that some days, on some of these meeting days, this group of, there were six or seven of us all together, smart, creative, committed people. And some days, the meetings went fantastically well and we all left energized and clear about what we were going to do. And it felt like we got a lot of good work done. And we left the day feeling unenergized and depleted. And I just became curious. And after I left the school, I began studying I thought I want to understand why it is that a group of …of intelligent people who care about what they're doing together, don't always get work done together well. So, I got trained as a mediator, kind of a roundabout way perhaps. In mediation what you do is, the mediator sits down with folks who are in dispute together and, so I often refer to this time of my life as sort of my circus, the ringleader period. But I started to feel that, you know, I'm, I'm often finding myself in the same room doing some of the same things and I thought this is not really making a big change, it's helping people avoid a lot of expense and time and avoid the trial. But it wasn't terribly satisfying. And around that time, I was introduced to coaching. 04:50 Grayson: And for me, this, this really began to gel, a lot of ideas began to gel for me where I realized oh, we are pretty complex human beings. And when we get together, there's never just one conversation that we're having. For instance, you and I are having this one conversation, but we're also having three conversations at the same time, you're having your internal conversation, some of which you will share with me, I'm having my internal conversation, some of which I share with you. And then we're having the external conversation, which is being recorded and, on this podcast, so the people watching this only have access to the external conversation, and I only have access to our external conversation. And, and I also realized that we are not just people speaking and listening to words, we're human beings with bodies. And we're human beings that have attention. We have different ways that we can use our attention and all of that our words, our bodies, our attention, our emotions, are all part of the conversation. It's all part of what we do when we're leading. 06:15 Grayson: When we're collaborating with people, whatever it is we're doing. The challenge is how do we become more aware of what we're doing? We're aware of what's going on in their bodies. For instance, we all have nervous systems. And these nervous systems are very, very sensitive to each other and to the world around us and very often, what gets in the way of me being able to be really honest with you, for instance, could be that my nervous system is too aroused, it's too active, and it perceives a threat. So when I perceive threat, worse, my attention narrows, which brings in our attention how we're using our attention, and I lose my capacity to pick up on a lot of the cues around me. 07:05 Grayson: And it doesn't work because you don't want to be changed. You don't want to be, none of us want to be fixed or changed by other people. What we want is, we want to be heard and understood and recognized by other people. But if all of our nervous systems are active in our feelings, we're all feeling pressure and fear and defensive. That's not going to happen, even though we all know that that's exactly what needs to happen. We can't do all those good things. 07: 32 Gaurav: Yeah, yeah, yeah. So, Grayson, thank you for sharing that. What I heard you saying is, a couple of times you spoke about attention would definitely would love to dwell deeper into that. I heard you saying that there is a gap. Now, before we get there, you know, while going through the book that you have written, Full Contact Performance, I was intrigued by the title itself, Full Contact Performance. You mentioned that “leadership is a full contact performance.” Help me understand what does that mean? 08:05 Grayson: Yeah, I'll let me answer that question. Another important source of inspiration for me has been the martial art of Aikido, which I was first introduced to in the mid-80s. And it, George Leonard, the author, and human potential pioneer, George Leonard introduced it to me, he was one of my first Aikido instructors. And the interesting thing about Aikido is that it's unique amongst martial arts, in that its intention, the philosophy that it's built around, is to not only protect myself as the practitioner but also to protect the opponent. So that's a very interesting concept when you think about it. Most martial arts are really about self-defense. If somebody is coming to threaten me or intimidate or attack me, how can I both take care of myself while also taking care of them? That's another thing that sets it apart, but almost every other martial arts does have tournaments or competition. There's a winner and a loser. 09: 20 Gaurav: I heard saying that in Aikido, there is no competition. There is no opponent and the idea isn’t just to protect yourself. 09:30 Grayson: We take turns attacking each other and defending, but the defender’s aim is to deal with the attacker in such a way that the attacker does not get hurt. 09:42 Gaurav: Wow. 09:45 Grayson: Yeah, it's very, it's very different. 09:47 Gaurav: Why do we get into this kind of martial art? 09:49 Grayson: Why do we, well, people tend to be drawn to it because it reflects a very different philosophy, a way of, different way of being in the world. And I think many, many people are looking for alternatives to the conventional way of thinking, which is I need to win. In order for me to win other people need to lose. And it can be very subtle, and it happens it everywhere in life, it happens at the boardroom, it happens at the leadership team, conference table. If I'm right, then you have to be wrong. If my idea is a great idea than other people, the people next to me, their ideas have to be a little bit less good than mine. And when people are under threat, when people are feeling challenged, or under pressure, they default, generally, to the self preservation instinct, and that leaves other people out. So Full Contact, the term “full contact” is borrowed from martial arts. 10:55 Grayson: It reflects a way of practicing where the two training partners go at it full out, they don't hold back their punches, or kicks or, or grabs. And they're strong, they're true strikes. And usually, you're wearing padded gear, so you have some protection. But even so, if you get hurt with somebody who's trained and has bring their full strength to the sparring situation, you could get hurt. But the great thing about working with full contact, is you learn a lot, you get to learn all sorts of about yourself all sorts of things about yourself, and you get to see oh, I'm not, I'm weak in this area, or I'm left myself vulnerable, just there. We can also learn something about our opponent, when we're going at it full force. So full contact, I borrowed it, and I adapt it to the world of leadership and organizational performance. 11:50 Grayson: Why? Because the work world very often feels like it's full, a full contact environment, things are moving fast, they're coming at you, it feels like all sorts of threats can be coming at you, and change is very rapid. And so, what do you do? How do you actually perform well, under this kind of pressure? And how do you stay fully present? How do you help not only yourself, but your colleagues learn under this kind of pressure? Because very often, we don't really learn from our mistakes, we just become more defensive around them. And we, and we might try adjusting things here and there. But we fail to recognize that the source of our action is ourselves, is those inner conversations I was talking about a few minutes ago. So to be in full contact in the work world as a leader means that I am bringing a new level of awareness to myself. 13:05 Grayson: What's happening to my body? Why am I feeling this tightness in my chest during this conversation, perhaps? And how is that starting to cause my focus to narrow and tighten and my, the words will start to reflect this tension? 13:25 Gaurav: Yeah, yeah. 13:27 Grayson: We're always holding 13:30 Gaurav: You know, as I'm listening to you. Now, it connects for me, because during the last conversation, you mentioned that it's important to be fully human and to be fully myself in my leadership role. You know, in that conversation, that one statement that you made, it stayed with me. And I was wondering what does Grayson mean when he said that it's important to be fully human and to be fully myself in my leadership role. And now when you're just sharing that how can I actually get into a situation when I'm being fully present when I'm being fully aware of what's happening to me right now when I'm being challenged when the other person is questioning me, what's happening to me? Can I be fully present here? So, you spoke about attention as well, where would you fit in this trait of attention here, when we are talking about awareness, where is the connection? 14:40 Grayson: Yes. Let me give you a really simple example that just happened this week with a friend of mine who is a business leader. He was telling me how he's getting his team together, his leadership team together for an off-site. And but he's, had been having trouble with one of his leaders, who keeps not committing to a meeting date, they're trying to land on a particular meeting date. This is a very simple example. But it'll, it'll make the point I think, and he was getting very frustrated with this person. And each time he said, well look, we have these two dates, and I know which of these you can make or can't make so that we can go forward and I can't commit our team, because it's very important that you're there. But we can't commit our team unless we know you can be there. And he, this other person kept hedging, and not being able to commit and he was complaining to me, my friend, he said, I don't know, I think I just need to maybe lay down the law and say, look, if you can't do this, we're going to have the meeting without you, but it's not going to go well. And I suggested, well, you could certainly do that. That's always an option. 15:55 Grayson: Do you know why? Have you had a conversation with this person about why he is not committing to a particular date? It's a really simple question, right? It seems obvious, perhaps in this moment. But it was not obvious to my friend in the moment. He was feeling a lot of pressure to get these dates nailed down. And it didn't occur to him to shift his own attention, all of his attention was out there trying to get this other person to take a particular action. So all of his attention was out on this other person, which was also making this other person more and more uptight and feeling threatened. So I said, well, have you asked him what's going on? He said, no, I haven't. I think that's an interesting idea. I'll call him and I'll ask him. So he did and it turns out this man's mother was having, was very ill. And he was afraid that regardless of which date he gave, he might not be available for her as she was in the intensive care unit. And very gravely ill and he did not want to be away during her final days. And when he, when my friend asked him this simple question, well, what's really going on with you? He shared this. And they both started crying. And when my friend came back, he called me later. And he said, yeah, you know, this is what happened. And what I said was, you know, I would, I would be exactly where you are if that was going on. For me, I really understand I'm going to find us a different date, I'm going to push our meeting back, we'll handle what we can online. And my friend was very moved by the fact that he actually made contact in that moment with this person. Up until that time, it was two separate people trying to get what they want, trying to protect their own interests. But they hadn't actually had a very simple, direct human conversation about what's going on. What's really going on? So that's an example of one way we use our attention when we're not getting what we want. We tend to focus on the problem out there. 18:20 Grayson: All of our, of our intelligence, goes out there to try and solve the problem. Other people sitting around the table who aren't agreeing with me. Because Oh, God, I can't, I'm not going to be very effective, because I'm going to be trying to change everybody else. 18:40 Gaurav: What I'm picking up right now is that it's extremely important to put the attention on the other person rather than putting your attention always on yourself and what you need from that conversation and what you need in this moment and what you need from that relationship. So, the question is to take a pause and ask myself, where is my attention? And if I'm not getting what I'm expecting from this relationship, where else can I put my attention on? So that's one. Another thing that I am contemplating right now is, it's not easy Grayson for today's leaders, especially in the corporate world, to be vulnerable. As much as we are aware that vulnerability allows you to have better connections with people, it allows you to get that acceptability from others. You know, as we were just talking about that, there are certain things people are aware of that and they find it extremely difficult to put it into action. What's your take? One, what comes in people's way of being vulnerable? Second, how can we implement what we're talking about right now, the full contact performance that will allow people to be vulnerable, and human, fully human? 20:10 Grayson: Yeah, it's an interesting question. If we were to not be able to use the term vulnerable, what would we be saying? How would we be describing what we're looking for here? I think what we're talking about when we use the word vulnerable is, a way to be in contact with other people in a very direct, authentic way. That's true to what we're feeling, what we're thinking, what we care about. 20:37 Gaurav: And also in a raw way, in a very raw manner and just connecting and telling you what I'm going through. 20: 41 Grayson: Yeah, yeah, very raw, very direct. Yeah, raw is a good word. One question we could ask is, well, why would I ever want to make myself vulnerable? If I'm, you know, in a cage with a lion, would I want to make myself vulnerable? No, I wouldn't. Why would I, I would want to protect myself as much as I can. So, the frame in which we're using the word itself, as I think can be limiting. So instead of going here, you need to make yourself vulnerable so that you can have better conversations, be a better leader. I'd say, well, no, let's instead reframe the whole situation. None of us want to be vulnerable. But we do want to connect with other people. We want to be more effective; we want to perform better; we want to have more direct and raw conversations with each other. How can we do that? So, I'm sure I just am shifting our focus again, from how do we become more vulnerable to, how do we have what we want that we think we would get by being more vulnerable. And, and one of the ways we can do that is by working with our own nervous system. 21: 56 Grayson: So many times the problem that people encounter when they're engaging in collaborative interactions, is that we start to feel that what we're thinking or feeling is not going to be acceptable to other people, we start to shut down, or when other people have ideas, or say things that trigger us and make us feel uptight or scared or threatened in some way. Our nervous systems take over and we become amped up and we become defensive, it becomes literally intolerable, to remain calm and present. And curious, because our bodies simply won't allow us to, when we feel threat, our bodies do whatever it can they can do to protect us. Now, how do you change I think a bit as changing of, the level of the threshold of tolerance. We can do that with quite a few different practices, one of which I've learned in Aikido and which we teach all the time on the Aikido mat, which is to ground and center myself. That's shifting my attention from wherever it is taking it in from outside of myself to my that space right below my belly button. 23:25 Grayson: In my belly button in my pubic bone and I can bring my attention to my breathing and breathe my take my breath into that place. I can quiet my breath, slow it, I can feel my feet on the ground, I can shift channels, literally channels from thinking to feeling in the body. And the more you practice this, and similar practices of grounding and centering yourself, you start to realize that your tolerance for being in challenging situations can grow. Yeah and soon you can start to be in a meeting with other people, even if they're challenging you directly and saying, no, I don't like that idea, Grayson. 24:05 Gaurav: I don’t personally take it, I don’t take it personally right? 24:10 Grayson: That’s right. I have, I’m able to tolerate those kinds of discomforts much more easily which lets me stay present and then I can be curious and I can say well, instead of defending my position which you’ve just challenged, I can Gaurav, tell me more about how you see things. What do you see about my thinking that I may be missing? Because I'm, we're all blind to our own thinking. And that's one of our biggest challenges. But together, together, we can help each other think better, but only if we have found this way to be with each other and not be constantly threatened by what's going on around us. And you know, there are some cultures, I'm sure you've been in some of them and seen them where if you don't have the right answer, you're in trouble. You're, the whole culture is geared towards being right and never be wrong. And in those cultures, people are scared. There's a lot of fear. And everybody's nervous system is geared towards self-protection, there's very little learning that goes on. 25:20 Grayson: People can be very direct with each other and tell each other what they think. But if they're not questioning what they're thinking, I can be brutally honest with you. And many, many leaders would say, yes, that's a great thing. But I don't think so. I could be very brutally honest with my thinking but have no capacity to reflect on my own thinking. So that's not worth so much, and that's what happens in a lot of, a lot of teams, if we can help them start to get more comfortable examining their own thinking and realizing that you can be curious with each other, then learning can happen and when learning starts to happen, better decisions fall. And when better decisions are made, better promises are made. And that's where execution lives. So, you have these three main conversations in Full Contact Performance, as I see it. You have the learning conversation, where we invite dissent, we want as many different views as possible, as different as they can be. But we want to really engage with them with openness and curiosity and benevolence, that's the challenge. Otherwise, you just have people throwing their different ideas at each other, but everyone's blocked off because we're all scared of each other's differences. But if we can relax, settle into our bodies, bring our attention back to ourselves, and what's going on with us, then I'm going to be, we're going to be more able to be with each other in an open and reflective way And then good things happen. 27:20 Gaurav: How profound is that? You spoke about three kinds of conversations. And also, you spoke about that how at times, we tend to take ourselves too seriously. Because in a while I was listening to you. And I was just really looking at all the times when I got into a conflict situation, with my colleagues, with my team members, with my customers, with my vendors. Because at times, I tend to take my thoughts too seriously, because I believe that whatever I'm saying is really important and that's the only truth reminds me of what Kabat Zinn spoke about once, he said, “It is remarkable how liberating it feels to be able to see that your thoughts are just thoughts and that they are not you or reality. The simple act of recognizing your thoughts as thoughts can feel from the distorted reality they often create and allow for more clear- sightedness and a greater sense of manageability in your life.” This is exactly what you're talking about. 28:10 Grayson: That’s exactly what I'm talking about. You're right and, and what you just also raised is the, the, what I call a meta move. Meta is where we go, step outside of the frame we're currently thinking in, so that we can look back in on itself. Now, Jon Kabat Zinn is, is a pioneer in mindfulness practices, bringing mindfulness practices to the precise world. And the beautiful thing about meditation and mindfulness practices and the people I work with, when I coach leaders, I strongly encourage them, sometimes I require them to take on a meditation practice. Because the power of being able to observe yourself, your thinking, what's going on in your body, how you're using your attention, is, as you said, it's liberating, it gives us a capacity that goes way beyond what we're capable of when we are just in the thoughts acting them out. 29: 25 Gaurav: You know just curious… 29:26 Grayson: So that's what attention lets us do, is we can use our attention to pay attention to ourselves that gives us the key to be able to pay attention to other people, different ones. 29:38 Gaurav: I'm just wondering, would leaders in the corporate sector, do they buy this mindfulness? Because I find it extremely difficult. When I introduce these concepts of mindfulness or embodiment, in different cultures, at least I find it extremely difficult. People tell me, hey, don't bring in the soft stuff. Talk about strategy, talk about business. How do you deal with those kinds of leaders? 30:00 Grayson: Well, I'll start by saying, not everyone is ready for that. So there will be some leaders that simply do not want to go there. And there are other ways we can work with them. Ah, what I won't ever start out by saying, hey, you need to become a meditator. Gaurav: Yeah. Grayson: You need to come at it by showing them why becoming more aware of what they're doing will help them be more effective. Can I give you another example of a leadership? 30:35 Grayson: This was a very seasoned leadership team of a professional services organization, in an international software company, very successful company growing quickly. And these people had been working together for years. But they were not satisfied with their performance and their bosses, the senior leadership team and the board were concerned about the professional services department. So, they asked me to come and work with them. We sat down together, and I said, so tell me what is going on here. And they made a list, I wrote exactly what they wrote, verbatim, These are things going on with you. Well, we're not hitting our numbers. There's inconsistent execution, different regions aren’t consistent. You know, our margins are not strong enough. Our utilization rates are weak, blah, blah, blah. I said, well, so why is this happening? So that was part one, I put that on a flip chart. On another flip chart, I said, tell me why you think these things are happening. You are experienced leaders. You've been doing this a long time, you know, how to be leaders. And they made a list and the list included things like well, our bosses keep giving us unrealistic quotas. Our, the leadership team above them doesn't understand what life is really like out in the field. When we try and I was well, why is that? I said, well, and they said, well when we try and tell them, they don't listen to us well. And I kept asking them for more information about well, why is it that, that there are these disconnects between you and your leadership team? And they said, Well, they're basically immature. They don't really, they're not a mature group of people. They don't really understand how what's like life is like in the professional services world. And I said, Okay, let's hit pause for a second, let's look back at your list. 32:54 Grayson: Our leaders give us unrealistic quotas. They don't listen well. They're immature. What do you think about that list? I was asking them to reflect on their own reflections to use their attention in a new way. Before that, they were just voicing their thoughts. But now when I challenged them to examine their thoughts, they started gigging laying, they started looking around the room uncomfortable. They got a little nervous. And they said, Wow, I don't like this list at all. This makes us look like victims. This is really weak. I don't know how I, I'm uncomfortable with this. At which point I think well, if you were to try and solve these problems that you just listed about your leadership team, how would you go about doing that? How would you get them to listen better? How would you get them to be more mature? We know where those kinds of problem-solving sessions are going to go. They are not going to go well. So, they realized, wow. We have focused entirely wrong, we've been focused, all of our attention has been out there on what we believe to be the shortcomings and problems of our bosses. And we have neglected to realize that it's our own thinking that has kept us stuck in these immature and weak conversations. 34: 20 Gaurav: Yeah. And also, the vice versa is also true if you look at Grayson because if you ask leaders to describe their team members, they might tell you that my team is not effective. They don't perform really well. They tend to procrastinate, they don't collaborate together. But the question and the challenge is, a team is a reflection of who you are as a leader, and the way your team occurs to you in the same way you are going to respond to them. Now here's an opportunity to take a pause and reflect. Who are you being in this moment, because of which your team is showing up the way they are? 34:55 Grayson: Exactly Gaurav. That's, that's how I see it too and people don't, they don't take the time. They don't know how to bring themselves to this point very often by themselves. That's where a good coach and such as yourself, can help them to become a different observer of themselves and how they are actually creating, not only impacting but creating the world around them. 35:30 Gaurav: Yeah, you know one of the things that I'm picking up right now Grayson from this conversation is, first, be aware of your attention and then notice where your attention is. You know, you just mentioned that the way I look at my team members is one thing that I'm being aware of that and then being aware of where my attention is going rather than is it externalizing. Am I externalizing? Am I projecting onto others? Or am I taking a pause and going deep within and looking at, how am I showing up? Where am I experiencing contraction in my body? Why am I feeling this stressed? Or why am I feeling this shift in the temperature in my body? 36:08 Grayson: The simple fact of noticing what we're feeling often already has an effect. Just by becoming an observer of the fact that my chest is tight, or I'm breathing shallow and fast, starts to change that. Awareness has this extraordinary power and we use our, we change our awareness with our attention. 36:34 Gaurav: We change our awareness without attention. Oh, this is pure gold. We change our awareness with our attention. So that means, if I bring my attention to my thought process, I'm aware of what I'm thinking. If I bring my attention to my body, I'm aware of the different sensations in my body. If I bring my awareness to my thinking patterns, I'm aware of my thinking patterns. If I'm aware of the choice of the words that I'm using or not using, I'm aware of those choices of words. Wow, this is gold, Grayson. This is gold. 37:23 Gaurav: Helps me understand, at times, I personally believe a person is driven by the stories that she is or he is telling self. Yes. How can I work with a leader to shift the stories? Now as I'm asking you this question, I'm just revisiting. Putting the attention on the stories will raise the awareness, then what? 37: 55 Grayson: Yeah. By the way, I love the way you, you just, you make beautiful new connections in throughout this conversation. I appreciate that a lot. So, I think with respect to stories, yes, first step is to recognize a story is a story. And that in itself is often a profound move to make. Because we're in our stories, the stories are running us. So often we're not aware that their stories is just how the world is. We don't recognize that our perceptions are based on, very often, much of our perception, not all of it, some of it is just raw bodily perception from our senses. But many of those perceptions are shaped by our stories and beliefs, and expectations about what we expect to perceive in this situation. So, using our attention to reflect back on myself, oh, yeah, I'm telling a story about my boss. And whenever she looks at me this way, it means this. So, I need to do X and Y because of this, well, that's a story. We have no idea what's going on in your boss's mind, that's not available to us. But doesn't matter, we're going to make a story about it anyway, based on our own history, on, you know, other stories that we've been telling ourselves, based on what other people have told us. So, first step is recognizing stories as stories, the next step can be to understand the nature of a story. 39:50 Grayson: Stories are a linguistic phenomenon. They consist of assertions that we're making about how the world is, facts is another word for that and they consist of another speech act called declarations. Which includes assessments, basically, our interpretations of what's going on in the world, that's what our stories are made up, if we can deconstruct a story. So, first step, oh, I see it's a story. Next step, oh, I see that the story doesn't really have much basis. In fact, it's really, I'm being driven by my conditioned beliefs about this person, or about a boss or about myself. And that's where we start to dissolve with our awareness and reflection, some of these habitual thought patterns. And that's where the stories start to change. 41:00 Gaurav: Beautiful and it may not be as easy as you have explained it, I'm sure. 41:03 Grayson: No, it's not, it's never I'm, we're doing a shortcut here together of course. This is, it's a conversation and sometimes it can take several sessions, sometimes if you just help somebody realize, oh, I'm telling this is a story and it goes like this. Stories are very important and we all, we live with stories all the time, we're storytelling creatures. Gaurav: Absolutely. Grayson: But not all of our stories are current, or effective. Some of them close us down, they inhibit full contact, making meaningful, authentic contact with other people. Those are the stories we want to really closely examine. And when I start to see oh, I see how this story is driving my behavior constantly with this person. Then maybe we can add, we can ask the question, well, what might be a different story? Or how might you try a different move and see what happens? And that might disconfirm the story. So, we might try thought experiments or actual conversational experiments. There are a lot of different strategies we can use for examining and deconstructing our stories. 42:08 Gaurav: Yeah, I think Grayson, this is a good moment for us to take a pause and ask this question from our audience. What's that story that you're living into, which is not supporting you? Which is creating a gap between you and your loved ones? Which is keeping you away from your dreams from your aspiration, from your professional objectives that you have crafted for yourself? You know as, as much as I'm asking this question from my audience, I'm also asking this question for my own self and what's the story that I've been living into and one such story that I'm living into is, that I'm not good enough. And I've been living in this story for the longest period of time. 43:06 Grayson: You're certainly not alone. 43:10 Gaurav: So true. What’s the story that you have lived in for the longest period of time? And how does that continue to haunt you today as well? And how do you deal with that? 43:27 Grayson: Interesting question. There are so many stories that I've, I've, you know, have lived in, and I’m living in. Let me see if I can, can come up with one. Well, I think it’s a variation on the theme that you just brought up, it's a variation of I'm not good enough. And it goes something like, let's use Aikido. My life in Aikido. I always thought that when you become an advanced martial artist then you would have full confidence, nothing would scare you, you would walk around feeling invincible. That was my youthful fantasy story that I lived in. I started feeling, realizing that I was more and more and more aware of my vulnerabilities and weaknesses. I'm very vulnerable to anybody coming up and taking advantage of me. Or if I'm not feeling great on that day, and I encounter somebody else who's also trained as a martial artist, I have no idea. So, it really began punctuating my beliefs about competence And, that there it's always dependent on so many factors. As a professional, now back to the more personal realm, the world of work, I've often struggled with, I'm not good enough narratives in my life. I don't have what it takes. I don't have the right degrees. You name it, they can take so many forms. It's almost like a chameleon. The big core narrative of not enough, will draw on whatever you're experiencing in that world, or on that day or in this meeting and it will exploit it and turn it into oh my god. I can't do this. 45:17 Gaurav: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Thank you, Grayson. I think what a heart-to-heart conversation. Thoroughly enjoyed, we started how you got into this space. How did you get introduced to the world of leadership and as we are coming to the end, we are talking about your stories and how those narratives continue to drive you and your life. Thank you so much for sharing your wisdom, your insights, your reflections. It was an absolute pleasure having you here. 45:51 Grayson: Gaurav likewise, I thank you too. Wonderful conversation, I appreciate your insightful comments and questions. Thank you.

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