Matt K. Parker
Do you find it difficult to say NO?
Matt K. Parker
Author of “A Radical Enterprise: Pioneering the Future of High-Performing Organizations”
About Matt K. Parker
Matt K. Parker is a writer, speaker, researcher, and third-generation programmer. Over the last two decades, he’s played a variety of roles in the software industry, including developer, manager, director, and global head of engineering.
He has specialized in hyper-iterative software practices for the last decade and is currently researching the experience of radically collaborative software makers.
He lives in a small village in Connecticut with his wife and three children.
Take home these learnings
1) Moving out of living at the edge.
2) Understanding the radical collaboration.
3) The consequence of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
4) How can people recognize their emotions.
2) Understanding the radical collaboration.
3) The consequence of saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’.
4) How can people recognize their emotions.
Matt Parker Intro:// - Have you ever wondered how did you end up doing what you are doing right now? - How much does it cost you when you end up saying yes to everyone every time..when you want to say NO actually… - and Why is it important for you to learn to be assertive? Welcome ladies and gentleman, welcome to the podcast the xmonks Drive. I am your host, Gaurav Arora, and our today’s guest is Matt Parker. Matt is an author of a book "A Radical Enterprise: Pioneering the future of High Performing Organisations”. Matt is a dear friend, a soulful individual and which is so visible in the way he speaks and the perspectives he offers. In today’s conversation, we are going to explore several aspects of what it means to collaborate, and also why do we end up saying YES when we want to be assertive, and how to make those necessary corrections…. Let’s take a dive…and hear from Matt. Outro:// My key takeaways from this episode are: First one is- “We inherit a lot from our parents. We don't just inherit the good, we also inherit the suffering." Second one is- “Take responsibility, first and foremost, for how you feel and not blaming it on everyone around you.” This episode also reminds me of Steve Jobs's quote” If you want to make everyone happy, don't be a leader, sell ice cream! “ BTW What are your key takeaways., insights and reflections Do share that.. Would love to hear from you. Also, please do leave a comment and a rating. And I look forward to meeting you again next week with yet another interesting conversation. Till then stay blessed and take care. Gaurav: 00:03 Hey, Matt, such a pleasure having you here. Thank you so much for joining the podcast The xMonks Drive. Matt: 00:10 Yeah, thank you for having me. It's been great getting to know you and I look forward to recording this. Gaurav: 00:15 Always a pleasure speaking to you, always. All these interactions that you've had in the last few months time, I think they have been extremely fruitful. Extremely interesting, extremely thought-provoking, intriguing. All these conversations have left me with something to ponder on. And I'm sure this conversation is going to be very similar. And I'm so looking forward to this conversation. So thank you so much. Matt: 00:46 Yeah, no, thank you. And thanks for the opportunity. Gaurav: 00:52 So Matt, let's take a deeper dive in the life of Matt, one of those episodes of your life from your childhood that brings a smile on your face today as well. Matt: 01:03 Yeah, yeah. So I am a programmer, but I'm not just a programmer. I'm a third-generation programmer, which means my dad was a programmer, and his dad was a programmer. So my grandfather was sort of among some of the first. When I grew up, you know, like, in the 80s, when I first started messing around with computers, it was already personal computers. But I have this connection to my grandfather, who could tell me stories of what it was like, when he started working on computers, when they took up entire rooms, when programming a computer was a monumental sort of undertaking that it's hard for me to have even perspective on he, you know, when he started doing programming, they would put together programs on things called punch cards, and each punch card would be the next sort of low-level machine instruction punched in a certain way. And so you can have hundreds or even 1000s of punch cards that together made up a program. And he kept a lot of those, even though that's not how, by the 80s, he was programming anymore, he kept a lot of those programs just because they meant a lot to them, and he was able to take them with them. And he would show them to me, and he would show all kinds of funny things about them and tell me stories about dropping them on the way to the operator, you know, like, they would have to carry all their punch cards with them to an operator to be run overnight, and come back the next day and try to find out what happened. And sometimes they wouldn't even make it there, they would accidentally drop them on the way and spill all their punch cards and spend hours getting them back in the right order. Sometimes they would take their programs to the operator and, you know, leave them with the operator and then come back the next day, the program ran overnight, and the program didn't work. And that was literally the result, all the operator could tell them your program doesn't work. And they have hundreds of punch cards to go through. I got a lot of stories like that growing up, which still mean a lot to me to this day to be part of this sort of, connected to this sort of tradition, I guess you could say in this sort of transformation that's gone on in the world, to have a connection to it. It's meaningful to me. Gaurav: 03:22 So you were born in that context. You were born in an environment where people were talking about computers, computers, and computers. Matt: 03:31 Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Yeah, since I've, since I was little, I've been into it. Gaurav: 03:37 Playing with computers, Matt: 03:40 Playing with them, eventually programming them. You know, I think one thing I want to add here too, is that talking to my dad and my grandfather growing up about software development, they told me all the good things. They didn't tell me the bad things. I didn't really have I had a lot of starry-eyed ideas about what it would be like to be a software developer when I grew up. And the reality didn't match those ideals. I think we inherit a lot from our parents a lot more than we realize. We don't just inherit the good, right, we also inherit the suffering. And that was something that was shocking to me. I knew growing up that my dad, for instance, suffered from panic attacks, that he would get them at work. He would tell me about them. But I never connected it. Like why would this be happening to him? Right. And it wasn't until I got my first internship in software development. And I saw how miserable people could be doing something that up to that point, I thought was the most amazing thing in the world. The most fun thing in the world. Something I couldn't imagine people would pay me to do to program computers. And then to discover, it can actually be a terrible experience, a high-stress experience, an experience in which people took all of the creativity out of it, all of the joy out of it, and replaced it with a pressure cooker that just beat people down. And then I began to understand why my dad suffered the way he did not help Gaurav: 05:27 Now help me understand, in my mind, I've not been able to find the connection here. So on one hand, where I'm listening is that you are born into a context where your father, your grandfather, they were they used to talk about programming. And when you got into programming, you realize how stressful or miserable a job it is to be a programmer. Now, is it the programming, which is stressful, or the environment that you're working in? That makes it stressful? Matt: 05:54 No, definitely, the environment, programming itself can be a pure joy, right? It's the magic of creation of staring and a blank canvas and filling it up with code to get a machine to do things that couldn't do before. That's a beautiful, fun process. And you can do that with other people and still have all that fun. But what I discovered in my first 10 years or so an industry that, and whether I was working at a startup or at an enterprise, or an IT organization of a hospital, or a large financial company, like no matter where I went, somehow, it's like people had gotten together and thought, how could we make this terrible? How could we make people miserable while doing something that they love, until they don't love it anymore? Until they just want to go home and not look at a computer again? Right? That's how I eventually began to feel. And, I very much considered quitting, like the industry, I thought about doing it. And I was very lucky to get an email from a company. While I was working at a very large enterprise, that said, Hey, we saw some of your open source work, we think you could be a fit here, would you come and interview with us. And up until that moment, I had really thought I'd sort of written off the industry and thought maybe I won't be doing this in another couple of years. And then I took that interview was with a company, a little company called Pivotal Labs, they did extreme programming, which is a way of doing software development that's focused on rapid iteration, rapid iteration, massive collaboration, lots of learning and things like pair programming, lots of really radical ideas. But through the experience of even just interviewing at this company, I instantly realized like, this isn't a lost cause. There's something good that can still happen in the world of software development. And not only is it going to be good for me, it's going to be good for the products that we build, for the users that use those products for the companies that make money off those products, we're going to do great things. And it's going to have synergy and the original sense of the word like it's going to actually be a benefit all around. And I took that job and spent the next 10 years there and changed my life and my belief about what's possible in the world. Gaurav: 08:29 You know, before we even talk about what happened, from that point onwards, would love to hear you know what you're talking about I could relate to that, because I'm a computer engineer. And very early, I realized that's not, I would like to do in my life. That's not the kind of life that I would like to create for myself. At the same time that I come across so many engineers. They will tell you that how life is so miserable, and it's so full of stress. And yet they continue to work in the same organization. They continue to work in the same environment, under more or less the similar bosses. Just curious. What makes them stay where they are and continue to make their life miserable. Matt: 09:17 Yeah, I think well, I'd like to say two things here. One having been in a similar situation in which I felt stuck, like I wasn't happy, but I didn't feel safe to move. I can certainly empathize with the experience you're talking about. I think we also have to recognize that today in the midst of things like the great resignation, something is fundamentally changing about this dynamic. For me personally, when I've felt like I've been stuck, when I'm miserable, and yet I can't somehow make the move. It's been a combination of a fear of change, a fear of failure, and also in, when I felt especially stuck, I was living in a place and in a city, and in a family situation in which, even if I was making good money as a programmer, it was still never enough. Right? It was still, you know, like, if we just miss one or two paychecks, we're gonna miss rent, right? We're gonna get kicked out what's going to happen to us, right? Somehow it's easy to get like when I used to live in New York City and it's easy to live in a place like that and make lots of money and still be right on the edge of disaster, financial disaster, not even doing anything. That's, you know, somehow irresponsible being responsible, and yet still living on the edge of disaster. That's a scary place to be in it can cause you to fear making any changes. Gaurav: 10:54 It is, it is fear of failure, fear of change, and the financial disaster that you are anticipating in your mind. How you manage to move out of that when you are talking about that it's a miserable space to be living at the edge. Matt: 11:12 Yeah, totaly. Well, so while I was in New York City is when I got that email, and when I made the switch to Pivotal Labs, and when I began to work for somewhere that renewed my hope, and both the field of software development and in work in general, right, because I became immersed in a radically collaborative environment in which I was paid all day to learn and geek out with fellow software engineers writing amazing code, building amazing products, iterating and learning and putting software in the hands of users, right? That was a wonderful experience. And over time, I played a number of roles within that organization, and eventually a role of global head of engineering, which meant that I didn't have to live in a specific city anymore. Because I was working with people all over the globe at that point, we had 22 offices around the world by that point. And at that point, my wife was also she had finished her graduate school work, she was in industry, and she was in a position that was global as well. And so we said, we have three kids now, we cannot live in New York anymore. Let's get out. And we made that move. And we got out of the city, and now we live in the country. Gaurav: 12:29 you know, interestingly Matt for you, the situation's worked out, everything seemed to fall in place. What about people where the situations might not be favoring them? Yeah. How can they move out of that? What kind of mindset, which is what kind of shift in the mindset required to make that move? Matt: 12:53 Yeah, yeah, totally. So here's where I think it ties into the great resignation, many, many people in a situation that I was used to be in which you felt stuck living in a very expensive city, because you had to go into an office in that city, right, were suddenly in a situation during the pandemic in which they no longer had to go into the office. And when and in which they discovered they and the people they worked with could still do amazing things, even though they weren't physically co-located. Right, they could be asynchronous that could be distributed, and they could still build kick-ass software. Right? That realization, right, I think led to a significant mindset shift on a population level. Right. Now you have millions of people who have quit their job, instead of going back to the office as the pandemic is winding down and said, “You know what, I had a better life. And you're not going to force me back into the old way of doing anymore because I know, something better is possible. And I'm motivated to find it. And by the way, software engineers right now, have never had it better from a supply-demand standpoint.” Right. So all these things are really coming together where, yeah, the fear of change is probably less than because of economic circumstances. And the mindset, change has been brought about, through unfortunate circumstances, obviously, like nobody wanted to go through a pandemic, but if there is a silver lining, it is the awareness that something better is possible and that you deserve it. Gaurav: 14:27 Thank you, Matt, for sharing this. You know Matt, in all my conversations with you I found you so grounded, there's something so magical and mystical in your voice. Above that, you came up with this book called A Radical Enterprise. What led you to write this book? Matt: 14:51 So it's a lot of what I've been talking about this experience of, you know, having terrible experiences in the software industry. Then turning that around to having great experiences in the software industry to beginning over time to ask myself, why is it great? What makes this work? Who else does this? Is it just software? Is it other industries around the globe? Right? And what forms does it actually take? Right, I began to ask myself all those kinds of questions. And then began to slowly start poking around, reading up on the literature, right? Finding people in other companies, right, eventually interviewing people in other companies, looking at how they worked. And all that sort of coalesced with the realization that not only did it work for me, and it worked at the company that I was at, it's working all over the world. And it's not just a few companies here and there, over the last 10 to 15 years, radically collaborative companies have grown from 1 to 3 to 8% of corporations around the world. And these companies, the empirical studies that are coming out about them now, by organizational scientists are discovering that these attributes that I talked about, from an experiential standpoint of why it feels so good, strongly correlate to financial outcomes, right? That are that they're out competing, their traditional hierarchical bureaucratic competitors, right? A lot of 20th-century psychologists like Abraham Maslow, and Carl Rogers, and others, they sort of hypothesize that what is good for people would also be good for an organization, that if you created environments in which people had the security, autonomy, fairness, esteem, trust, love belongingness, that they needed from the environment, that it would also create amazing results for the organization. That was a hypothesis back in 1950. They didn't know if it was true. But now we know, it's very true, these two things are strongly correlated. So all of that sort of coalescing for me, in my mind, and in the research, I was doing, convinced me that this is a story that needs to be told, more and more that more and more people need to understand it understand what's possible, understand what's already happening around the world, in sort of this quiet revolution that's going on, and ways of working. And the faster people began aware of it, the faster this revolution will continue. And, and because it is so meaningful to so many people, right? It has such a meaningful impact on human lives. I felt compelled to tell the story, in my own words. Gaurav: 17:41 You may have heard about radical acceptance. I've heard about radical compassion. How do you define radical collaboration, the way you've defined it in this book? Matt: 17:53 Yeah. Okay. Great question. Radical. Alright. So the companies I'm describing actually have many terms in the literature. So if you've heard of self-governing organizations, if you've heard of whole kradic organizations, or socio kradic, organizations, if you've heard of self-managing organizations, all of these different terms are used to describe what I call radically collaborative organizations, which also isn't a term I made up, it's also another term you can find out in the literature. All of these are sort of synonymous with organizations that have fundamentally restructured the way they work on a paradigm of partnership and equality, as opposed to a paradigm of domination and coercion, which is the paradigm of industrial revolution and 20th-century manufacturing, right? It is a fundamental paradigmatic break from that way of working towards partnership, and equality. Now radical collaboration itself, why did I choose that term among all the different terms you can find in the literature, it's because that speaks to the experience of it. If you have spent your entire career working in hierarchical bureaucratic organizations that have coercive elements to it, and the way that you are managed and the way that you're structured and the way you're forced to work with others, and the way you have to take orders, and the way you have to ask permission for everything if that's been your like, experience moving into one of these companies. It is radical. Radical, the meaning of radical right, the Latin root of it is radix, right? Which means root, or ground or foundation, is it about something fundamentally, hat bass shifting? And that's what it feels like it is a fundamental shift. And in a really positive sense, right? Like as a human you feel like you are suddenly walking on a ground made for humans, not for machines, which can feel like how you are treated and overly hierarchical and bureaucratic organizations like you're just some kind of cog and some bass machine, these organizations, everyone feels like a human being Being day in, day out, and they feel safe to be a human. And all that entails, write it all. It's beautiful messiness that it entails. That's why I chose the term radical collaboration. Gaurav: 20:11 Thank you. Thank you so much. You know, the canvas that you have presented right now, Matt, I can go in all directions. You chose the word, partnerships. You chose the word collaboration, you chose the word love, care, compassion. I'm just wondering, let's ident let's let's pick up this one small piece on the canvas. You know, when we're talking about partnerships and collaborations, not all the people are operating from that space. You might be operating from a space of partnership, you might be operating from a space of collaboration, the other person might be extremely confrontational or assertive. Just wondering, people who are operating from this space of love and care and partnership and collaboration, how easy or difficult is it for them to be assertive in this kind of environment? Where the other person is too confrontational? Matt: 21:08 Yeah, yeah, this, this is a topic that's near and dear to my heart, I have struggled in my life with agreeableness. Right? Tell me more about that. Well so there is sort of, nowadays, and in the field of psychology, they sort of look at five personality traits, and the combination of these traits. And that's how they can sort of think about and conceptualize different neuro pathologies, and mental illness and all that, and also mental well-being at the same time. One of those dimensions is agreeableness. And the thing is, when people are overly agreeable, those people their experience, and someone who is overly agreeable, is strongly correlated with an experience of resentment. Right. So if you're always trying to make sure that the other people around you are happy, internally, you end up discovering that you resent everyone around you at the same time, right, that you are angry at people, you probably keep it bottled up, right. And so for me, that was an experience that I had. And it was something I set out to work on, about, really intentionally to work on about three years ago with my therapist, and something had tried to work on my own. And then began to work on with a therapist over time. Now, 22:42 this is like you ended up saying yes to everyone, right? So rather than operating from a space of service, you will start to sacrifice a lot in your life. And of course, I can relate to that when you're talking about it will get bottled up. And what is left behind is the residual is of it for sure. 23:02 Yeah, absolutely. You know, and that's a great point. If you are always saying yes to everyone around you. You end up not only hurting yourself, you end up hurting everyone around you too. You can't actually satisfy everyone around you. Right? You don't have enough time, skill, right resources, energy, et cetera. To do that, you have to actually prioritize, you have to know what it is, it is important for you to achieve. And you have to prioritize and say yes or no, based on the right. And that is actually your responsibility inside any organization, especially in a radically collaborative organization. Right? Radical collaboration doesn't mean doing whatever everybody wants, right? It means actually compassionately, yet ruthlessly prioritizing, right, based on an understanding of what it is you are trying to achieve in your role, your team is trying to achieve and it's work your organization is trying to achieve as a whole. Right? So yeah, absolutely. You can't, if you are overly agreeable, it helps no one and ends up hurting everyone. Gaurav: 24:15 Let me just take you one step backwards. You spoke about that. It's not important, you cannot survive. If you end up saying yes. Let me just take you one step backwards, when you said that you have experienced being overly agreeable. What do you think? What is the mindset that one operates from when he or she ends up saying yes? What was the mindset that you were operating from? What was that need to say to? Matt: 24:39 Yeah, I mean, certainly. I didn't know it at first. Right. Why was I even like this? In fact, I didn't even know it was like this at first, right? It's a journey of self-awareness is a funny thing, right? You become aware of who you are and then you become aware of why you are who you are? Right? That's a whole process. Yeah. And I discovered that a lot of my own personality of being overly agreeable was related to experiences that I had in childhood, in which I became convinced that I could or could not, basically get the love that I needed from my parents around me, you know, based on my own actions, like if I did the right things, they'll love me. If I disappoint them, they won't. Right. And it's so easy for parents to do that without even trying to do that. Right. And, and I came away with that belief as a child, right. And it led me to begin to feel like I was responsible for the emotions of everyone around me that I had to manage their emotions, right? If they were upset that it was my fault, that if they were upset at me, they didn't love me. And that was also my fault. Right? Like, it was some very sort of things that happen in childhood that led me to feel like I have to work very hard in my life to keep everyone around me happy. And if they're not, it's my fault. And I'm a failure because of. So that is, I think, part of why I developed and I think why many people developed over agreeableness. And why something like radical collaboration can be hard at first because radical collaboration. One of the four imperatives of radical collaboration that I talked about in the book is candid vulnerability, which is an experience of being frank about what you think but also being vulnerable about why you think it's coming and how you. say it again. Gaurav: 26:57 I said, where is it coming from? Yeah, yeah. You know, as I'm just listening to you, Matt, I'm saying, I believe it's too heavy a load to carry that I am responsible for the other person's emotions. And an assumption is that I would continue to live a life where I'm always looking for an acknowledgment from others. First, it was my parents. And then I will continue to look at look for acknowledgment from my schoolmates, then college mates, and then people at my workplace. 27:35 Yeah, yeah. This carry 27:37 What all did you lose for yourself? What was the cost that you end up paying? Hmm. 27:45 Yeah, I think there's, well, it can be hard to put this in the words, but there's sort of the loss of a genuine experience of life. Right? If you are walking around with anger and resentment bottled up inside of you, right, and a misunderstanding about and a misattribution of other people's feelings and stuff like that. Your experience of life, right, is diminished, right? The full sort of beauty and sort of messy experience of life is lost to you. Right? Because you can't, you don't have the courage to actually say what you think and why you think it right. And, and, of course, in the same way, that I talked about and a company is gonna hurt everyone. It hurts everyone in your relationships to rain, it doesn't help. When you keep everything bottled up inside, it doesn't actually help the people around you. Right, you have to be able to be candid and vulnerable. So I think that's part of what I lost. It's a terrible experience living in anger. Right? The Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh described it as a genuine experience of how, right how is living in anger. And that resonates for me, it rings so true for me, based on my own experience. Gaurav: 29:14 Two questions one is, in this entire episode, in this entire journey, not episode in this entire journey, where you are striving really hard to take care of other people's emotions. What about your emotions? What happened to them? Gaurav: 29:33 Yeah, totally lost. Yeah. Well, if you believe you're responsible for other people's emotions, the funny thing is you also tend to believe other people are responsible for your emotions, right? Like, oh, if I'm angry, it's their fault. Gaurav: 29:48 Yeah. So that means, on one hand, I am giving, giving, giving, giving, giving because I feel I am responsible for their emotions. On the other hand, they are huge expectations that I have up from people. So yeah, anyone can trigger me and I can feel sad, I can feel bad I can feel hurt, I can feel being a victim. Matt: 30:12 Yeah, being a victim. And it leads, you know, and feeling the anger and feeling the resentment. It's a, it's a vicious sort of trap, honestly, that sort of underlying belief system about where emotions come from and what you need from others and what you're getting from others. It's a bad spiral. And it can lead to very dark places for people. So being able to step out of that, right to take responsibility, first and foremost, for how you feel right and not blaming it on everyone around you. That is the first step in my own experience. And in my work with my therapist, that is the very first step that I have to take, right. And I developed some techniques for doing this. If I am suffering from an angry thought, that won't stop in my head, one thing that I have found very effective, is to imagine a small version of myself in my head, saying that thing. And then for me to walk up to that small version of myself and tell that version, it's okay to give that version of myself a hug, right to accept that these emotions are real and that they happen. But to also take responsibility for them and recognize that that's not anybody else doing it to me, it's me, right. And the same can be true for all the other sort of negatively valence emotions that I feel that technique has helped me take responsibility for how I feel, which is, in my own experience, my first real authentic steps towards radical collaboration and more specifically, candid vulnerability, because once I'm able to do that, right, my ability to be frank with others, to be open with others, to be transparent with others, to be vulnerable with others, is circumscribed entirely by my own ability to take responsibility for my own emotions. Gaurav: 32:22 You know, Matt, I hear you, I hear you 200%. Since you've walked that path, and thus, it's comparatively easier for you to say that, hey, I can recognize my emotion. And I'm responsible for that. And I'm just wondering, how easy or difficult would that be for that person who isn't that in that deep shit of resentment and anger, where he's not been able to see that emotion? He's not been able to, or she's not been able to recognize that emotion. How would that person come out of that bin? Yeah. Matt: 33:08 It's, it's very tricky, because no one can do it for them. As much as we want to be able to save other people who are in very bad places in hard places. Right, you can't force somebody to change. You can't force somebody to think differently and feel better. That first step really does have to start with them. That doesn't mean we create, create supportive environments around people that give them every chance and every hope and opportunity. But the first critical step really does have to start with them. And it can simply be the step of recognition. Right, that first tiny spark of awareness around what is actually happening, right, that begins to fundamentally flip the narrative inside your mind about what you're experiencing and why you're experiencing it. Yeah, yeah. Gaurav: 34:04 So in that situation, it's not that they are hurting themselves, they are hurting people around them as well. And as you mentioned, for you, it began from the very early age of your development. And that's the reason in case you don't heed ourselves. We'll end up hurting those who did not 34:20 even hurt us. Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. 34:24 How did you manage to come out of that? And then I hear you, you said start that small drop of awareness. But what was How was your journey? Very curious to know, Matt? Matt: 34:38 Yeah. Well, this actually began my journey really around. This began, really, very shortly after the birth of my first child, our first daughter. We were still living in New York at the time. And I was so my wife was on maternity leave, my wife and the baby. Every morning when I got up to go to work, we're both asleep. And they would sleep like that until maybe 10 am every day. And I would get up and go to work. And I became seized by a fear that after I had left the home, I would be struck with this fear that maybe I didn't lock the doors, and therefore may be something very bad will happen, some bad person will get in, and I couldn't get that thought on my brain. And so I wouldn't be able to make it all the way to work, I'd have to come home, I'd have to come home and check the locks. And I wouldn't just do that, at first, I just would come home once and check them and then I'd be able to get to work. And then I'd have to come home twice to check them three times to check them. Pretty soon, I wasn't able to get to work, right, I was so struck by this fear. And I told my wife, something's wrong. I'm not quite right. I don't know what it is. She helped me, she found a therapy practice very close to us that did cognitive behavioral therapy. And they diagnosed me with an obsessive-compulsive disorder. And I recognize that, like my father, and like his father, I had suffered from anxiety for a long time, had never done anything about it, until it eventually spiraled out of control. That was my first sort of awareness of my own experience. Before that, I never thought about my own experience in consciousness, and what I was going through, and that was my first steps towards awareness, and that spark, and over time, that led me on a journey, both with therapists and without therapists, through self-exploration, both through psychological literature, through spiritual literature through meditation literature, to begin to understand what's really going on in my experiences, and in my mind, and what's possible, what it is now, but what it could be. And, that being said, I will say that over many, many years now, in the last decade, plus actually 12 years that I've been on this journey, I have done and tried many things, and I have made many, many gains. And, and I think many ways sort of fundamentally change that underlying experience. And yet, there is no secret silver bullet to anything that I did that I can point to, to say that that's the thing. And everyone should do that. It was such a trial and error journey. And some days, I would just wake up and realize something is different. Often something has gone some terrible thing that I used to be stuck with, in my mind, just not there anymore. And I couldn't always put my finger on why. But nonetheless, I've kept this journey up over time. And I feel much better about the place I'm in today. Gaurav: 38:18 You know, what I'm listening is it? It begins with noticing your own patterns. And if you notice something is not working, it's time to revisit, question yourself, hey, where is it coming from and what's not working? You know, here's another spin to this entire conversation, I have personally come across a lot of people where there's a dire need to look for acknowledgment from others. They have this complaint behavior, they're looking forward to fit into particular sector of team members that they've been working with. There's a need to please others so that they can get an acknowledgment in my assumption is that something which is working by staying in this behavior, the way they have stayed for the longest period of time, too. So there's some kind of results that they are getting? Yeah. So when you're moving towards, not towards when you're moving to the other end of the continuum, where you are trying to be assertive, from being compliant to being assertive. How do you manage that fear that in case I let go of this, I might not be able to create the results that I have created in the past. Yeah, yeah. Catch-22 situation, right. How did you manage that fear? 39:35 Yeah. So our ability to take a risk, like speaking out, saying things even though you know, others might disagree or even get upset about is to a large extent possible, based on the amount of psychological success we experience in doing it. Right. And so if you had experiences early on in your life, in which doing those sorts of things did not result in psychological success, right? Because you were just a child. Right? You were just a kid you didn't know any better, then you will really struggle as an adult, you really do need support from others, could be professionals could be therapists, could be friends, could be family. You know, it could be religious, you know, your priest or your zen master, whoever you look to for guidance, right. But you do need some kind of support. Because what you discover, I think, as an adult, once you're able to take these first steps towards candor and towards vulnerability in the adult world, it is not nearly as scary as you thought it was going to be. And that actually, not only is it not scary, oftentimes, it does lead to amazing things. It 41:03 could be liberating for you, because a lot of load that you have been holding on to, for so many years, something that you've been trying to protect somebody that you have been trying to guard for so many years, suddenly you realize that you just one tap that got released, and that there's a new realm of possibilities that might be waiting for you. 41:22 Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. And I think that is my own experience of doing this. There all the time now where I can recognize that in the moment, there is something that either I want to say, or something that the participants in the situation are thinking but probably not saying, and that if somebody had the courage to talk about it, this interaction would be fundamentally changed by that we would actually be able to move forward. It's like sort of like seeing that something has been dammed up, right. And everyone's just walking around, and no one wants to touch the dam. Everyone wants to pretend it's not even there. And so all you have is this little trickle, right, that's coming out of the dam, you had to break that dam down. And it takes courage to do it. But often it is fundamentally transformative in small and sometimes big ways, right? But it can really fundamentally change the dynamics of a relationship of a conversation, of a meeting, right of a collaboration. And the more and more we are capable of doing it and taking that risk, the more and more we discover that doing so was successful, which gives us more energy the next time. 42:37 Matt, you do a lot of work with different organizations, you have worked with an organization in the past as well. How does this behavior of complying and saying yes, or being a Yes Boss kind of a person? Or looking for an acknowledgment? How does it show up in an organizational structure? 43:02 Hmm, yeah. When people inside an organization can't say no dysfunction is sure to follow, you are going to end up with managers or leaders who are fundamentally ineffective at supporting their teams, at supporting the business and supporting stakeholders, etc. Because they can't actually prioritize their time. Right and their work, which means that the important things don't happen, right? And, and instead, you get stuck in all the minutiae of stuff that at the end of the day actually didn't matter as much. Right. And in fact, focusing on the stuff that doesn't matter hurts everyone. Dysfunction is the result of over agreeableness, wanting to please everyone, right? And I don't, I don't want to have this. I don't want people listening to this, to think that there is something wrong with you. If you want to feel recognition from others. There's nothing wrong with you. If you want to be recognized by others. It is a fundamental human need. We all are born with the need. It's called the Esteem need in the field of psychology, we need to feel self-esteem, we need to feel esteem from others, we need to be held in high regard. Right? And so there's nothing wrong with you for needing that. But if the need becomes pathological, right, if it becomes something that could never be satisfied, right, you end up creating pain for you and for others and for the organization as a whole. 44:45 Yeah, you know, thank you for bringing that, where does this need coming from? Is it coming from a space of fear or is it coming from a space of expression because expression is one of the basic desires of the human soul and when you're when you are expressing from your superpowers, when you're expressing from your gifts and talents that you have been blessed with, you connect with others really well. Otherwise, you will be getting into transactions because, in that transaction, I'm looking forward to an acknowledgment from you. 45:19 Right? Yes, no, totally, you're right, it becomes you, you only see people and as much as things that are useful or not to you, right? That is the fundamental nature of what in psychology is referred to as deficiency motivation, right? If you are deficiency motivated, you are looking around in your psychological environment, meaning the people around you the intersubjective environment around you, you are looking around and asking yourselves, does this person or do they not satisfy one of my fundamental needs? And again, that's normal, there's nothing wrong with it. Right? We do need to create environments in which we feel safe, secure, autonomous, in which the environment is fundamentally structured, to be fair, for people to feel like they have the esteem, they need the respect they need, right? There's nothing wrong with that. But it is not the end, right? Creating an environment that does that is just the beginning. Because that unlocks all new possibilities for people, right? Because the other thing that is true is when you get all the security, fairness, autonomy, esteem, trust belongingness, that you need to feel like a good human being, you stop needing those things, you start looking around you to say, Can you give me this? Can you give me this? What are you giving me? What are you taking from me, you start to fundamentally think differently, and that unlocks whole new levels of potential for yourself, for the people around you and for your organization. 46:52 Thank you so much, Matt. I mean, totally enjoyed my conversation with you. As I've told you, all my conversations with you have left me with deep reflective questions to ponder on. And as you said, that it's okay to walk the path of safety, security, and survival. But what is the concern area is if you continue to stay there, because if your need to be agreeable, continues to grow. Your growth takes a toll. If you end up saying yes to everything, will not be able to make choices. And for that, the first step is, as you mentioned, notice, notice, and notice because awareness creates possibilities. Matt, thank you so much. For your time, an absolute pleasure being with you listening to you. If there's one thing that you would like to share with our audience, as you're just coming to the conclusion of this episode, what would you like to tell them? Where should they bring 47:52 in? Yeah, radical collaboration begins with each of us as individuals. It doesn't matter how draconian your organization is, how overly hierarchical how bureaucratic it is, there is nothing stopping you from treating the people around you. With trust, and respect and autonomy and fairness, and esteem, there is nothing stopping you from doing that for the people around you for creating opportunities for genuine connection, and ultimately collaboration. Right? And so don't think just because you are in an organization that doesn't seem radically collaborative today, doesn't mean that you can't take that first step. You can, you can and it will have an impact, at the very least on those around you a positive impact, and it'll have a positive impact on you, too. 48:55 Thank you. Thank you so much, Matt, for being who you are. And I'm looking forward to our conversations in the future as well. 49:04 Yes, thank you so much for having me. I really enjoyed being here.
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