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Jeremiah, the senior vice president of engineering at a mid-stage, mid-size software-as-a-service startup, was talking with Rose, his coach.

Last time, we discussed how I know a replenishing resource is running low. We also examined how I can thrive even when I cannot replenish it immediately,” Jeremiah recapped. “We identified my signals and mitigations for my physical challenge resource. My work for today was to find the signals and mitigations for my other resources.”

“How did that go?” Rose asked.

“Well, I’m about eighty percent of the way there,” he replied. “For each of the other three resources. I don’t know how to get them from getting there to spot on.”

“Let’s go through them one by one,” Rose suggested. “Tell me what you have and where you’re stuck. Then we’ll see if we can’t get them finished off.”

Myth 1: Anyone else can replenish you

“Let’s start with new perspectives,” Jeremiah decided. “This replenishing resource is about bringing in fresh ideas and points of view, especially ones that surprise me. The signals I came up with are how many new perspectives I’ve picked up each day and how surprising each one has been.”

“Those sound nicely quantifiable,” Rose said. “What feels not quite right about them?”

“Well, two things. One, counting seems like cheating. Two, I have this nagging feeling I’m missing something.”

“What about counting seems like cheating?”

“It’s so quantitative. Aren’t I supposed to be feeling these things?”

“Not necessarily. While your feelings are important inputs, so are your other senses. Logic is important to consider as well. While none of these may turn out to be involved, checking in with each other is a good way to start if you’re feeling like something’s missing.”

“Oh, okay. That makes sense. If counting is ok, then my signals for this feel right.”

“Excellent. What feels off about your mitigations for this resource?”

“My mitigation is to invent ways the perspectives I already have could mean the opposite of what I believe they do. I invent new perspectives, essentially.”

“That’s clever,” Rose complimented. “What is missing that prevents it from feeling spot on?”

“Again, it seems like cheating. I can always do this. I want to get new perspectives from outside. Not just to spawn them off my existing perspectives.”

“Right now, your description of this resource just mentions ‘new perspectives’ and not their source. Do you feel you need to adjust that description?”

“Well, no. So, I guess coming up with new perspectives myself should be fine. It still feels off, however.”

“If coming up with new perspectives yourself doesn’t quite feel right, how about getting them from someone else?”

“That’s where I usually get them,” Jeremiah replied. “That’s why I need a mitigation, that I’m not getting enough from outside myself.”

“I just heard you say they don’t need to come from outside yourself,” Rose reminded Jeremiah.

“Oh, that’s right.”

Myth 2: Your past experiences do not affect your present

“Let’s dig into this a bit,” Rose recommended. “Is something or someone telling you that your new perspectives must come from outside yourself?”

“Maybe?” Jeremiah considered Rose’s question. “I don’t know. I’m not getting any clear answers.”

“What does your Council of Counsel have to say?” Rose asked.

“Let me ask.”

Jeremiah took a deep breath, closed his eyes, and sat quietly for a few minutes. Then, he opened his eyes and took another deep breath.

“The memory they showed me was when I was three or four. I was telling my parents about Dr. Seuss’s book And to Think I Saw It on Mulberry Street. They came down on me hard, saying I should never lie about my experience.”

“How do you feel that bears on your perspectives not being good enough?”

“When I explore the opposite of a perspective, to invent a new one, that’s making up a story. Like the boy in that book did. I don’t have any way to evaluate whether that new perspective is true.”

“Do perspectives need to be true to replenish your resource?”

Jeremiah opened his mouth to answer, then shut it. A few moments later, he opened his mouth again and said, “No. They do not need to be true.”

He sat in thought for several minutes.

“That experience, my parents telling me I must never lie about what I experience, has affected me in many ways,” he said with wonder. “I had no idea. I feel those effects fading away, now that you helped me make that connection. And, my hesitation about my mitigation is fading away as well.”


Myth 3: You can know the impact you have on someone else

“I think my concerns about my signals and mitigations for my other two resources have similar sources,” Jeremiah said with wonder.

“Your concerns also arise from a belief that they involve cheating?”

“No. My concerns also arise from past experiences.”

“How so?”

“My concerns for my last two sets of signals and mitigations share the same set of experiences,” Jeremiah explained. “So many times, when I played with a parent or someone else I cared about, they weren’t really there. Maybe they were talking with someone else. Or they were gazing off into space. Or they seemed to be driving the toy car or stacking blocks without paying attention. That sort of thing.”

“You didn’t feel they were present and focused on you?”

“I didn’t.”

“They seemed to be just paying lip service to being with you?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“How does this connect with your signals and mitigations for these two resources? Play with people important to me and someone being present in the moment as they focus on touching me with care and empathy?”

“I’ve believed the other people are the important part of the equation. They’re not. What’s important is being present as I play.”

“Your feelings about them not being present with you colored your view of your resources? Making the presence of other people an important factor?”

“Yes, exactly.”

“What impact does this have on your signals and mitigations?”

“Well, first, these two resources are really just one resource: being present as I play. Then, my signals that I’m not getting enough are feeling bored and not being present. My mitigation is to drum a silent rhythm with my fingers. I can make a game of matching the rhythm of the person talking. That gives me a sense of play even while I stay present in the conversation.”

These myths may be coloring your experience

“So now we have three resources: physical challenge, new perspectives, and play being present,” Rose reviewed. “Do these feel correct and complete?”

“They do,” Jeremiah confirmed. “So do their respective signals and mitigations.”

“Fantastic,” Rose said. “Any questions?”

“I’m surprised at how impactful these early memories have been. I would never have guessed something from so long ago could make such a difference now.”

“Our early experiences color everything that comes after. Every experience colors everything that comes after, in fact. Anytime you have a reaction you don’t understand, an earlier experience is often at play.”

“That’s going to, um, color the way I see every interaction I have over the next few days,” Jeremiah said laughingly. “I’m curious how that will affect me.”

“I look forward to hearing what you learn. And, yes, we’ll also get to that third factor in sustaining your movement next time.”

“Finally,” Jeremiah said emphatically. The suspense is killing me.”

This is part five of a series:

1. Transform your environment from exhausting to easeful in three steps

2. Focus on this one thing and feel energized all day long

3. Stuck finding what perfectly fuels you? Look at three things

4. Feeling tapped out? Transform to thriving with just three questions

6. Do your days feel congested? Ask four questions to help your day flow

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