I have a challenge for you this week: Answer the question “How are you?” honestly.
I know, I know. The correct response, the expected response, the comfortable response for everyone involved is, “Fine, thanks; you?” And then the other person says, “Fine” or “Good” or some iteration of a generic keep-it-moving response and that’s exactly what we do: We keep it moving.
To answer honestly is disruptive, not only to the usual patter of conversation start-up but also to ourselves, the giver of the honest answer.
When someone asks me how I am, I pause and I almost inevitably – regardless of how intimately acquainted I am with the asker – feel a twinge of discomfort in my belly because I know I’m supposed to say “Fine, thanks; you?”
Even with my inner circle – those who are as committed to introspection, growth and honest connection as I am – I feel the inner disruption of breaking the usual pattern. I feel the disruption of pausing in conversation, of leaving a simple question unanswered, even if only for a moment. I often feel a need to give a brief apology, “Just pausing to really consider that one – I want to give you an honest answer.”
I recently read an explanation of someone’s choice of they/them pronouns as a decision, in part, to disrupt the unthinking social relationship to the construction that is dichotomous gender identification. I wish I knew where I read it; I would love to quote them here.
In this, I read the joy and possibility of disruption.
This is disruption as non-violent activism, as a means of connecting more fully both with oneself and with one another. This is disruption as an act of gritty determined stubborn love or, as Valarie Kaur calls it, revolutionary love.
Something as simple (and revolutionary) as a non-binary pronoun, as simple (and revolutionary) as an honest answer to your well-being, is an act of saying both that the norm (i.e. the non-disruptive option) is not good enough, not nearly, and an expression of faith that the collective – that we – can do better, can be better.
So, this week, I invite you to lean into your own discomfort and allow for the discomfort of others. Pause in the wake of that mundane question – “How are you?” – and check in with yourself. Notice your person, your emotions, your state of being in that moment.
Then answer honestly, and in the context of the relationship. As Brené Brown says, people have to earn our vulnerability so a brief, “Uncomfortable and hopeful,” or even an honest answer to yourself with a, “Yup, noticing some complexity in here – you?” to the other fits the bill beautifully.
Even in your briefest moments of disruption, you make the world a better place and you model that revolutionary love for others.
Coaching is all about love-filled disruption – disrupting our old unhelpful patterns of thoughts and behavior and putting in their place patterns that are packed with connection with self and others. I’ve got space in my queue for someone who is ready to be even more revolutionary, even more loving, even more disruptive. Is that you?