Ludovic, a staff software engineer, was talking with his colleague Leo, a quality engineer.
“I’ve been talking with my heart, body, mind, and spirit,” Ludovic related. “Using those exercises our fearless leader Tomás told us about in the last all hands.”
“How’s that going?” Leo asked. “I’ve tried that a few times, too, and I feel like I’m just talking to myself.”
“Well, that is the point,” Ludovic said, laughing.
“I’m having some good conversations,” Ludovic continued. “Lately, though, I’m running into problems.”
“What’s going on?” Leo inquired.
“My mind keeps disagreeing with my heart,” Ludovic exclaimed. “I’m ready to give up on these conversations. They’re so frustrating. I don’t know what to do.”
“Well,” Leo started, “even though I haven’t managed to have any of these conversations yet, maybe I can help.”
First, understand what’s bothering you
“Tell me about one of these conversations,” Leo requested.
“This one was last night,” Ludovic said. “I was asking everybody what to focus on today. My heart wanted to take the morning off and go hiking. My body was all for that. My spirit said it didn’t have a preference. My mind, though, insisted we come into work and get cracking on that development specification I’m supposed to turn in this week.”
“Do you know what you’re going to write for that spec?” Leo asked.
“Not at all,” Ludovic said morosely. “I know the big picture of what needs to happen. Many of the details, even. But they’re all so complex. I don’t know how to put them down simply enough for everyone to understand them.”
“Anything else bothering you about your dev spec?” Leo checked.
Ludovic paused, reflecting. “No,” he decided.
“OK,” Leo said. “Then, how are you feeling about going hiking?”
“That’s a problem, too,” Ludovic replied. “I don’t know where to go. Everywhere I can think of is too far away. And, the city parks are too…urban. I never feel like I’m getting away from anything.”
“So, you’re not certain what to do with what your heart wants to do. And, you’re not certain what to do about what your mind wants to do,” Leo summarized.
“That’s exactly right,” Ludovic confirmed.
Second, be clear about what your parts are disagreeing about
“And, is this what your heart and mind were disagreeing about?” Leo inquired. “Whether to spend your morning hiking or writing?”
“Well, not exactly,” Ludovic responded. “My heart really wants to get out of the city. I love hiking. I haven’t been for a long time. But, now that you ask, that’s not what my heart cares about.”
“So, maybe you could write your dev spec in the next town over or something?”
“Yeah, maybe,” Ludovic agreed. “I’d have to ask my committee,” he said, grinning for the first time since Leo had started asking questions.
“You’d better,” Leo agreed with a smile. “Or you might have a hostile takeover on your hands.”
Ludovic laughed. “I might, indeed.”
“So, that’s what your heart had to say,” Leo said, bringing the conversation back. “What was your mind saying?”
“My mind is concerned about this whole project,” Ludovic answered. “It’s so complex and has so many moving parts. It feels a lot like the Great Refactoring we finally finished last month. Such a disaster! My mind doesn’t want to deal with something like that again.”
“I’m a little surprised it’s not your heart speaking up about that,” Leo said.
“It’s not concerned,” Ludovic explained. “All this work Tomás has us doing to identify how we work best and optimize our processes to fit that? That has helped my heart, body, and spirit feel confident we can take care of ourselves. My mind, however, is not yet convinced.”
“That’s really cool,” Leo declared. “That gives me added incentive to keep working on connecting with all my parts.”
“Glad I could help,” Ludovic said with a chuckle.
Third, come up with a proposal
Ludovic reflected over the conversation.
“Your suggestion to write the dev spec out of town somewhere is growing on me,” he told Leo. “Maybe I’ll take the bus to the nature preserve, write under a tree for a while, and then go for a hike. That’d also be a great distraction when I get stuck with my writing.”
Leo nodded his head. “That sounds great. May I please come, too? I want to work that way every day.”
“I don’t know about every day,” Ludovic said. “It would be pretty miserable in the rain. Sunny days like today, though? Yeah, that’d be pretty great.”
Fourth, check back in with your heart, body, mind, and spirit
“You still have plenty of sunlight today,” Leo pointed out. “Want to check in with your mind, heart, body, and spirit and see what they think?”
“I do,” Ludovic agreed. “You don’t mind if I disappear for a few minutes?”
“No problem,” Leo said. “I’ll have another go at talking with my parts while you check in with yours.”
Leo and Ludovic settled in and turned their gazes inward.
Leo and Ludovic turned their gazes back at each other a few minutes later. Leo was bouncing on his chair.
“You look excited,” Ludovic commented.
“I am,” Leo exclaimed. “I saw my committee!”
“That’s great,” Ludovic congratulated. “That’s a big step for you. Congratulations!”
“Thanks,” Leo said with a big grin. “How did your discussion fare?”
“Everybody’s on board with the plan,” Ludovic reported. “My body pointed out we should ensure a restroom available. My mind said to make sure my laptop’s charged up, and that I have downloaded everything locally since I won’t have internet. My heart and spirit are each two-thumbs-up.”
“Nice,” Leo celebrated.
Dissension can become discussion
“Your frustrating conversation became fruitful,” Leo said. “How are you feeling now?”
“Much more confident,” Ludovic answered. “Experiencing dissension turn into discussion helps me believe I can do this again. The steps you gave me made all the difference,” he said appreciatively.
“I gave you steps?” Leo questioned.
“You sure did,” Ludovic declared.
“First, get clear about what’s bothering me. Then, get clear about what’s bothering my parts. Next, come up with a suggestion for what to do. Finally, take that suggestion back to my parts and see what they have to say,” Ludovic listed.
“I guess I really am smart,” Leo said jokingly. “I’m going to tell Tomás I deserve a big raise.”
“You do that,” Ludovic said, grinning. “I’m going to get ready for my hike.”