We all know the stories around the catch phrases – “The elephant in the room,” or “Just sweep it under the rug.” Both of these represent thoughts around how most chaos creeps in to every system. Instead of shining a bright light on whatever may be the subject matter that’s tearing us apart, we choose instead to simply whistle in the dark. Moment by moment, we choose the easier alternative of keeping the peace by keeping our mouths shut or at a minimum mumbling under our breath.
These are sins of omission and they are deadly to teams.
Most humans underestimate the deadly deeds that are NOT done. We tend to focus on sins of commission, but most of our destructive conflict comes from sins of omission. We can’t put our finger on it, but we know somethings not right. As parents/leaders/lovers, we feel the separation growing but instead of starting something real and raw, we sweep. The messiness, the fight, the deep desires for intimacy/belonging are buried under the rug. The accumulation begins and kinda like a volcano, the pressure builds.
One day, however, the rug reaches it’s limit. We trip in the dark and everything buried within comes rushing out. Chaos. Just like the quiet, beautiful, Hawaiian volcano, we erupt violently and explosively. We say nasty shit and hear way nastier. We do nasty things and observe nastier. We come undone and can’t see how Humpty Dumpty can ever be whole.
Everyday, in this work of BTL team practice, we see teams committing sins of omission. They don’t know how to start the conversation or they keep remembering how horribly it went when they did so in their last company. They don’t trust their leader and they don’t trust us. So, they sweep, they ignore the elephant. We, however, don’t sweep and don’t ignore. We, the BTL builder, stir the pot. It’s the builders job to shine a bright light on stuff that’s been hiding in the dark. This makes teammates uncomfortable and builders unpopular.
Lead anything, friend, and you’re gonna have to learn how to poke people to get the stuff they’ve been hiding to see the light of day. We cannot build oneness without dealing with junk, mess, and lots of stuff buried deep in the craw. Leaders have to start hard conversations and learn to do so without anger, spinning stuff with too many words, or passively placating and hoping it just goes away. Problems are not self healing. Problems are solvable, at least most are. Conflict does not have to be avoided. Conflict is mostly a conversation to be had.
Next week, one of my clients has asked me to enlighten some teammates on the realities of resolving conflict. Here’s what they’re gonna learn. Most conflict between parties is not the real problem. Most conflict between people isn’t going away. That’s not the real problem either. Most conflict is within. Most conflict is within ourselves. Start cleaning up the stuff you know keeps tripping you up, friend. Get real/raw with yourself. Work on you. Hard on you without getting down on you. Here’s what will happen as you come clean and replace nasty junk in your craw with real strength in your BTL core. You will become more distinctly you, the way God intended you. As you make peace within, you’ll more deeply connect with others. The next time something comes up between you and another, your second nature will kick in. Instead of sweeping like a banchee, you’ll shine the light. Here’s another fun fact. You won’t see the other persons stuff so clearly but you will see your own. The log in your eye has been given some kinda Lasic laser treatment that brings clarity within; with others, not so much.
The little mess won’t gain traction. You’ll clean it up and in no time be laughing about what you once loathed. My root problems are not with you, or you, or you know who. Step one, friend, is realizing our root problem is the conflict within, not with another. Most humans skip step one. They skip the look within and start sweeping instead. Start here, friend. Commit to building a better you. Real. Hard. Work. Before you know it, you and your messed up teammate will be skipping along in the light, instead of whistling alone in the dark.
Skipping along. See, that wasn’t so hard, huh…