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Share the climb

Building stronger connections at work

In both life and work, we often face challenges that can feel like climbing a steep mountain. The story of Tom and Bill, two climbers who tackled a tough ascent on a hot day, teaches us important lessons about teamwork, communication, and building relationships. These lessons are valuable for creating a positive and productive workplace.

Tom, a careful planner, had prepared for the climb by freezing his water bottle. As the day got hotter, he enjoyed the refreshing cold water that melted from the ice. However, once he drank all the liquid, he was left with a small chunk of ice rattling in his bottle. Bill, another climber, hadn’t anticipated the heat and found himself with plenty of warm, unsatisfying water. In need, Bill asked Tom to share his ice.

At first, Tom tried to break the ice chunk into smaller pieces to share with Bill, but this was frustrating and didn’t work well. Then, Tom had a simple but brilliant idea: instead of breaking the ice apart, why not let Bill pour his hot water over the ice and share the cooled water directly from Tom’s bottle? This small act of cooperation changed Tom’s perspective. He realized that by letting things in and working together, he could share more effectively than by trying to break things down and distribute them separately.

As Tom came down from the mountain, he thought about this experience and realized three key principles about sharing and connecting with others:

1. If there's time, let the cold thing thaw.
2. If there is no time, let the warm things in.
3. Only when necessary, break the hard things remaining and hope you can pass them on.

These principles apply beyond the physical act of sharing ice. They offer a guide for how we interact with colleagues and build strong teams. Let’s explore each principle in more detail.

1. If There's Time, Let the Cold Thing Thaw

In the workplace, we often encounter “cold” or distant moments—situations where communication is difficult or emotions are high. If we have the time, it’s important to let these moments thaw naturally. Surrender and patience can transform a cold, tense situation into a more open and positive interaction. Just as ice melts into water, misunderstandings and rigid attitudes can dissolve into mutual understanding and respect when given time and detach from our biased interpretation of the situation. This means being willing to wait, listen, let go of assumptions and allow others the space to open up at their own pace.

2. If There Is No Time, Let the Warm Things In

Sometimes, we need immediate action and understanding. In these moments, we must be willing to let the “warm things” in—accepting and embracing the emotions, ideas, and experiences of others- and ourselves!- without delay. By doing this, we create an environment where warmth and openness can thrive, even under pressure. This principle encourages us to be receptive and empathetic, understanding that immediate sharing and acceptance can bridge gaps and foster stronger connections.

3. Only When Necessary, Break the Hard Things Remaining

There will be times when we face tough challenges that can’t be easily resolved—“hard things” that need to be broken down and tackled piece by piece. This might involve difficult conversations or negotiations or working through our own internal challenges. The key is to approach these situations thoughtfully and with compassion, seeking solutions that benefit everyone involved. As Tom learned, sometimes all we can do is break things down as best we can and hope our efforts to share and connect will succeed.

Embracing Openness and Communication at Work

Tom and Bill’s experience is a powerful reminder of the importance of openness and communication in building a strong workplace. Too often, we create “firewalls” of assumptions and judgments that prevent us from truly connecting with our colleagues. We might try to manage interactions by compartmentalizing our thoughts and emotions, much like Tom initially tried to break the ice into smaller pieces. However, true connection comes from being open, letting others in, and sharing our experiences honestly.

By following the principles of letting cold things thaw, welcoming warm things in, and carefully breaking down hard things, we can handle workplace interactions with greater ease and empathy. This approach not only strengthens our personal relationships but also fosters a more collaborative and supportive work environment.

In conclusion, the climb of work can be long and challenging. Yet, by learning to accept our emotions and share our journey with others through openness, communication, and empathy, we can transform our experiences and build stronger, more meaningful connections. Just as Tom and Bill discovered, the path to understanding and connection lies in our willingness to let others in and share our resources—be they ideas, support, or encouragement. In doing so, we all drink from the same water and work towards the same goals, united in our shared professional journey.

Take Your Personal Growth to the Next Level

This is where coaching can support you ideally. If you’re ready to enhance your communication skills, foster stronger relationships, and create a more collaborative workplace, contact me to discuss how I can best be of service to you. Let’s work together to navigate your professional challenges and climb towards success.

(Article inspired by "The book of awakening." by Mark Nepo gifted to me by my dear friend Demi in NYC,2024. Thank you for your daily inspiration.)

#holisticleadership #professionaldevelopment #leadershipcoaching #buildingrelationsships #employeeengagement #collaboration #workplacesuccess #personalgrowth

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