This is the Too Many Trees newsletter, where I share what I’ve been writing and reading in the realm of leadership and personal development. My executive coaching practice is centered around the idea that we are more effective in moving towards our goals when we become more conscious and intentional in focusing our time and attention, and learn how our unconscious patterns are holding us back. If you know somebody that could benefit from my perspective, please forward this to them or let them know they can set up a free intro chat with me.

Notice your assumptions

March 24, 2024
For Global World Down Syndrome Day 2024, the following ad was created. I encourage you to click on it to watch the minute and a half video, because it is incredibly powerful.
What I particularly love about this message is that it's not just about Down Syndrome.

Assumptions become reality as a parent with your child, as a manager with your team, as a person with your partner, as a teacher with your students. We often impose limitations on others because of our own experiences without ever checking those assumptions.

What assumptions might you be making that lead to you not even giving somebody else (or yourself!) a chance to see if they can do it?
And now for the normal personal development content…

LinkedIn: These are ideas that have helped my clients (or myself), and that I share via LinkedIn to help a wider audience, and archive here.
  • Being matters more than doing. Rather than try to force an agenda on a situation, what happens if you are able to be with it as it is. If you can address your own anxiety or agitation, perhaps your resulting calm will create different possibilities.
  • Share your struggles to help address imposter syndrome. This was inspired by a discussion at the CMO Coffee Talk where most people felt imposter syndrome, but thought they were the only ones who felt that way. By sharing our stories, none of us have to feel as alone.
  • How you initially show up sets expectations going forward. When you enter a new situation, think about what expectations you are setting for others and whether you will want to keep acting that way in a year. If not, consider doing something different and/or making it clear that this is temporary.
  • Giving difficult feedback can be an act of caring. When somebody is struggling, it can feel like we should step back and just let them figure it out. But then they might wonder if anybody even notices or cares. Instead, let them know you see they are not delivering to their usual standards; perhaps you will discover what they're facing, and can offer them help.
A few links on the theme of assumptions becoming reality:
  • American Parenting vs. European Parenting. A couple with both a European parent and an American parent observed several differences in parenting styles, mostly along the theme that American parents assume that kids can't handle life, and European parents assume their kids can do more e.g. play by themselves, help with chores, eat a variety of foods. Those assumptions become reality!
  • How to be More Agentic, by Cate Hall. Taking responsibility to run one's own life can be painful: "radical agency is about finding real edges: things you are willing to do that others aren’t, often because they’re annoying or unpleasant." Hall lays out several strategies to increase one's agency, including court rejection, seek real feedback, assume everything is learnable, learn to love the moat of low status, and, surprisingly, don't work too hard.
  • The Laughing Heart, a poem by Charles Bukowski.
your life is your life
don’t let it be clubbed into dank submission.
be on the watch.
there are ways out.
there is light somewhere.
it may not be much light but
it beats the darkness.
be on the watch.
the gods will offer you chances.
know them.
take them.
you can’t beat death but
you can beat death in life, sometimes.
and the more often you learn to do it,
the more light there will be.
your life is your life.
know it while you have it.
you are marvelous
the gods wait to delight
in you.

Thanks for reading! See you in a couple weeks!
The smile of a man who just dropped his kid at ski school and has 2.5 hours to enjoy the fresh snow. I did 9 runs, mostly in the steep trees, and had a blast!
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