Let’s Go Brain-to-Brain, Birds

Chickens, I’m continuing to think about how “quaran-time” has us reconsidering our connectedness…collectively, we’re “distanced” from others in a way we’ve never been or imagined we ever would be…and it feels weird…it’s a unviersal ‘awkward-moment’ and we’re all dealing with this raging case of ‘separation anxiety’ in our own ways…

Me? Well, I think I’m doing what most of us do in times of crisis…fall back on tried ‘n’ trues…and for me, “distance” has always been a state of mind.

In other words, when it comes to “connectedness”…physical proximity isn’t a necessity…or even a priority. Physical proximity may actually distort our sense of connectedness…

It seems counterintuitive that people sitting together, in the same room… hearing-seeing-touching-tasting the same things…could leave the room being disconnected. However, not unlike the classic images above, the assumption of connectedness is illusory. Our “quaran-time” is a friendly reminder that sharing a classroom, office, or home with people does not guarantee ‘connection.’

How can it be? How can we be so far apart even when we’re not this far apart?

If you have a significant other, I know you’ve had this experience…you go somewhere together…dinner w/friends (remember those days?), a doctor’s appointment, a movie…and the next day, you talk about it…

but a few minutes into the conversation, you’d swear in court that he/she couldn’t possibly have been in the same place, at the same time…your experiences were so different…so disconnected…you actually start Googling AI-generated people. Are they a ‘thing’ yet??? Is there a Tom-‘bot’ living in my house?

Such are the building blocks of our experience…completely arbitrary…they are ingredients…if we do nothing with them, they remain a cup of flour, a cup of sugar, 2 eggs…only when our brains start to mix and bake…then, only then, do we have cake!

Only thing is…we each have our own recipe book…one that has been cultivated year-over-year with unique influences like perspective, preference, personality. So imagine…when we hear “Let them eat cake!” how motley our dining will be!

In my last post about teamwork, Kirsten Weir differentiated between ‘teamwork’ and ‘taskwork’ by identifying teamwork as …the interrelated thoughts, feelings and behaviors of team members— […] that enable them to work effectively together” which speaks to the true nature of connection …understanding how others think…what recipe they’re following, what cake they’re trying to make, and why.

Throughout ‘coronamunication’ (apparently portmanteaus are another pandemic pastime…gotta’ love English majors!) I’ve recognized a pattern in my communications that goes something like…

Sooooooo, here’s how my brain is working

then asking for reciprocation…

How is your brain working?

In other words…’let’s go brain-to-brain’ and figure out where and why we’ve disconnected.

It is no coincidence a ‘best-practice’ study strategy is called “mind-mapping”…finding a way to verbalize and visualize our understanding is essential to learning and learning is, ultimately, a process of connecting. Mind-mapping can be time consuming, but it’s critical if we’re to find out where our paths diverge…because divergent paths create disconnection in our relationships – personal and professional.

When we go ‘brain-to-brain’ we begin to uncover the real reasons for disconnection…things beyond the standard non-verbals like eye contact, posture, and inflection. While it’s true non-verbals like tone are hard to read in electronic communications…(even face-to-face when we can read the eye-roll, the “salty” stare, the slumped shoulders…these after all, are just superficial expressions of disconnection) unearthing the underlying causes and roots of disconnection will yield far more substantial and effectual results for teams and relationships, in general. But this is hard work, so we often stay on the surface…regardless of proximity.

‘Perspective’ is one such deeply-rooted facet that shapes how we connect with others…and perspective is a kaleidescope of experience, education, values, interest, survival, worldview, personality and on we go…

Consider:

…as the progression of images above from the picture-puzzle book ZOOM and the classic elephant example below suggest…

perspective shapes everything and it has a very complex relationship with proximity. It’s also heavily influenced by what we’re looking for. As an example, let’s really get into some “Monkey Business,” Chickens…

Keep in mind, an individual’s perspective is never right or wrong…it just is. So we have to give ourselves over to suspending judgment with regard to an individual’s perspective, but at some point, as Steffan Surdek suggests in his Forbes article on understanding perspective, personal perspectives have to adapt, to intersect, to merge, to at least run parallel, if connections are to be made and sustained. Surdek uses the term “perspective-coordination”…another way of saying mind-mapping or ‘going brain-to-brain.’

This is some high-level, Gordan Ramsey, Top Chef style cooking we’re into now, my Plumed Pals…and from my perspective we’ve scratched enough of the surface, done enough mixing (of, ahem, metaphors), to keep us connected for another day…but we’ll go ‘brain-to-brain’ again soon…and don’t hesitate to share your perspective in the comments section…show me how your brain’s workin’…map it our for me, Birds!

Kershaws Bespoke Gifts

It's a Process…

I would ask how you’re doing…you know…living through this unprecedented pandemic an’all. It continues to reveal itself, doesn’t it? The ripples extending softer and wider each day passing…but I think the better question is…how are you processing?

How are you processing, Chickens?

Let’s do be sure we all have the same eggs in our baskets:

As a verb, let’s consider how “processing” can be defined:

  • the act of performing a particular series of operations on information
  • actions that are taken to change raw materials during the production of goods
  • the use of a computer to collect, store, organize, and use information

And when we use our glorious gray matter to collect, organize, and apply all the “stuff” coming in…all the ‘sees,’ ‘smells,’ ‘feels,’ and ‘thinks’…we make this “raw material” into “goods” or something good…in the form of learning, awareness, experience…

And so when we ask “How are you processing?” we’re asking the most essential human question:

How are you making meaning of your life?

Dive with me, Chickens…this is an unusual time for us as individuals and communities…our lives have been interrupted in the smallest ways (have you tried buying toilet paper recently or avoiding memes and GIFs about buying toilet paper?) right on up through the biggest…the global economy, our health care systems, international relations, life and death, if we get right to it…

Many of us are experiencing our work, our families, our communities in entirely new ways, feeling the whole while like our heads have been separated from our bodies…so who has time to ‘process,’ you Crazy Chicken Wing-o, you may be asking.

But I think that ‘processing’ time has to be included on our ‘To-Dos’…it’s what has allowed homo sapiens to reach the top rung of the evolutionary ladder, after all. It is our ‘job‘ to learn and grow…to develop our self-awareness and our connection to the world. So what is a crisis, but the universe reminding us to do our jobs.

I know we are all just survivin’…but I also know we will. So let’s agree to step back and make time to ‘process’…we live our lives on continuums and ‘processing’ is no different…some of us can’t stop (to the detriment of everyday activities like recognizing we’re almost out of toilet paper) and some of us would rather extract our own teeth with a rusty monkey wrench…wherever you fall, there are ways to make time for ‘processing’…the following are some ‘breeding ground’ activities…

  • Go for a walk/jog, any kind of individual exercise
  • Sit for 15 or 20 minutes by yourself, if it feels weird…make a cup of coffee or tea
  • Find a ‘processing buddy’ – someone who likes to think deeply about life (you don’t at all need a Ph.D for this…my dad has only a high school education and worked in a steel mill his whole life…he was my first ‘processing buddy,’ an armchair philosopher…he has an endless curiosity for psychology, sociology, biology, astronomy, music…he is still, after almost 8 decades, fervidly passionate about living in the world and loves to spend time thinking and talking about “being human,”…he was and still is, for me, a most valued ‘processing buddy’)
  • Go for a drive to nowhere (stay in the car, social distancing an’all, and find some ‘country roads’) wonder and wander
  • Listen to music…it ‘frees the mind and the rest will follow’…music is always ‘en vogue’ (yikes! that’s a “dater”)
  • Do 10-15 minutes of “stream-of-consciousness” writing…write anything and everything that pops into your head…DO NOT CENSOR yourself, that’s super important…and surprisingly hard to do…to kick start your ‘processing brain’ write on napkins
  • Take a nap

These activities give your brain time and space…when your brain has time and space it defaults to ‘processing’…yep, we are literally built for it! Even when we’re sleeping, maybe especially because we’re sleeping, our brains are ‘processing’…

Usually, we’re so busy…often creating ‘business’ (e.g. distractions) for ourselves…socializing (virtually & F2F), shopping, eating, running errands, helicoptering and bulldozing for our children…and on and on…we work really hard to oppose ‘processing’ in the course of our ‘normal’ lives.

So Chickens, I hope to keep connected with you (I know I’ve failed fatly and epicly for at least a year now…) to keep ‘processing’ with you…

It is, after all, a ‘job‘ we share.