constant self-reinvention: my profound habit for creating success

Video of speech I gave at a Toastmasters meeting about my primary method for obtaining success:

how to validate someone who won’t talk with you (text version)

(A video version of this content is available here).

In my post “on love“, I describe active validation of one’s beloved as a key tactic for transmitting constructive love. I further discuss how that validation must express in terms of things eternal, rather than in terms of the one sending the validation. In other words, while stating your beloved’s value to you proves important, I encourage the communication of your beloved’s value in terms of the universe or the divine.

But how do you do this when your beloved won’t talk to you (or let you write, etc.)? The mandate remains, the vitality of this action remains, and you will feel pain at the disconnect. And this scenario occurs all too frequently in our lives, so prudence dictates the formation of a plan for dealing with it.

Here I offer six strategies for successfully delivering that validation when the receiver will not communicate with you. Granted these fail to match the satisfaction of a requited in-person transmission, but they help nonetheless. By help, I mean these tactics salve your pain a bit—provide a bit of meaning and purpose. But more importantly they actually validate and uplift the other person in very real social and spiritual terms.

These six strategies, plus a bonus strategy and then two examples, follow:



Give Them Space

Learned this lesson the hard way: If a person expresses a clear wish for no communication with you, they generally mean it. Therefore the only direct way to validate them requires validation of their request by complying with it.

Again I stress that I learned this lesson the most difficult way possible, by repeatedly failing to respect my beloved’s request. This only made the situation worse—it further accentuated the distance between us. Counterproductive when working to validate.

So leave them alone!

An exception to this injunction exists, which I discuss below in the “Keep the Door Open” section of this article.

Validate and Uplift Those Around Them

If you regularly interact with folks in your beloved’s sphere of influence, work to validate them too. This accomplishes two things: First, it sets an example that those in the sphere might follow to transmit their own validation of your beloved, thereby contributing to your goal. Second, it enriches the climate your beloved lives and/or works among, as experiencing validation generally improves happiness, and happiness moves socially.

Build a Better World

Taking the last strategy to its logical next step, work to make the world a better place. Not just for your beloved, but for everyone. This validates your beloved by producing slightly better world for their children to inherit, thereby contributing to their ease and peace. One person makes a difference when they choose to.

Of course we talk about “validation” as an abstract action in this case; I argue that indirectly improving someone’s life demonstrates valuation of their life. They will likely never know. But you will know. And the divine will know. And this will aid your sleep at night.

Pray for Their Well-Being

For spiritual readers, I highly recommend regular prayer for your beloved’s and their family’s well-being. I regard this as the most powerful thing one can do for a person, provided you back it up with action if provided a chance to deliver.

Prayer for someone’s well-being declares to the divine their value to you. And (at least in my faith) the divine values the person as well, so you stand in alignment. You form a team. The divine may never employ you as a vehicle for further transmission of love for that person, but prayer sets in motion action on the part of the divine to validate and enrich your beloved’s life. (See my post “the currency of love” for further discussion of this concept).

Keep the Door Open

If you can, keep the door open for reconciliation on the transmission of radical forgiveness. Smile at your beloved. Say “hi” or wave to them if permitted. Basically, acknowledge their existence in a friendly, welcoming way.

I don’t have these option with someone I particularly love and cannot talk to right now. So I’m simply going to send her a Christmas card next December (it’s now February). I’ll address it to “Jane Doe, Attn: Peace on Earth and Goodwill Department, 123 X Street, etc.” and I’ll say little other than what comes written on the card. Hopefully that will shatter a portion of the wall between us.

Yes, by doing this I will violate her request that I not contact her, but almost a year will have passed and Christmas cards are kind. In my book a nice way to promote validation. So I’ll risk her wrath to deliver this message.



Produce Art

If inclined, produce art inspired by your beloved, or inspired by the pain of not connecting with them. Furthermore, I recommend making this art public. I write and publish songs for this purpose. I write and publish prose for this purpose.

Keep your beloved’s identity anonymous when you do this! Respect demands it!

Public delivery of such art declares to the world that someone touched your life. The individual will likely know who they are. Validation!

And whether kept public or private, I think of my process of producing art as prayer in action, as per the strategy discussed above.

Bonus Strategy: Know Your Purpose and Intent

It occurs to me that I need to write an article explaining the meaning of validation, as this article simply assumes you know. But I digress…

To validate effectively, you must know and trust your intent. If you merely desire your beloved’s attention and affection, you miss the point and will fail. One must not confuse desire with validation, though I find it “validating” to some degree when others desire me. But here I mean something far more outreaching and spiritual than romantic desire.

Intend to validate them for their value in the universe, for their value to themselves, to the divine. Only then should you validate your beloved with respect to you. Know your purpose. Know your heart!

Example

To walk the talk I now offer two examples from my own life.

In the first example, my beloved worked for the same company as myself, though in different departments. So I built relationships with individuals in her department and threw myself into projects that interacted with her department—usually offering them novel ideas on how to build their business (this was an R&D environment). By building up the individuals around her I hoped they would in turn validate her. More importantly though, I worked so hard on the projects and the business proposals to strengthen her job security. This activity served as prayer in motion. Served as indirect validation of her importance because I didn’t want her to suffer job loss.

As another example, I wrote the following song about two women at once:

While it includes expression of romantic longing, it mostly states my commitment to them as a friend, in spite of the fact that they won’t have anything to do with me. When I published this song I basically declared this commitment to the world! As I work to deliver integrity at all times, this public declaration means something to me. To others. To the divine. Expressed validation. Prayer.

Conclusion

I hope you find these strategies useful in your own life! But please do not limit these strategies’ underlying spirit to those who won’t communicate to you. Please apply them to everyone you value! Also, please let me know how it goes, or send comments and questions, by commenting on this post below or through Twitter or Facebook. I look forward to hearing from you!

See Also

radical forgiveness (video)

the currency of love

the pedagogy of love

on love

why I transferred ownership of Gender Punk 360 and Axis Evil to a corporation I hold majority stake in

Today I transferred ownership of Gender Punk 360 and Axis Evil to a corporation I hold majority stake in. Here’s why:

I founded Whole-Systems Enterprises, Inc., the corporation, late last year to provide legal structure for my efforts to elevate the lives of transgender people through business enterprise. Axis Evil and Gender Punk 360 operate as enterprises that support the same goal, so I thought it best to roll these brands under the same corporate umbrella.

Now that Axis Evil and Gender Punk 360 generate (a currently small) income, the work faces tax liability. The new tax law in the United States (which I don’t approve of) offers reduced tax rates for corporations compared with individuals, so I retain more of the income to roll back into scaling up these efforts. Moreover, corporations may write off expenses while individuals cannot.

poise, leadership, and mindfulness

I think a lot about poise: How to cultivate it, how to maintain it, what it means. I also think (and write) much about leadership. Concluded that the two overlap substantially. Further concluded that mindfulness forms the glue that holds them together.

Please permit me to elaborate:

Recently I developed my own description of poise for a witty Twitter and Facebook posting. Here is what I came up with:

Poise is an interesting mix of following tradition and inventing novelty. An interesting mix of following and breaking society’s rules.

This does not define poise, but it illuminates my vision of its practice. We follow tradition with etiquette designed to lubricate social interactions, but invent new ways of accomplishing (presumably noble) goals together as needed. We follow society’s “Golden Rule” but work to transcend society’s moral lassitude.

Realized that this describes a good leader.

Realized that this also describes the woman I want to become.

I have always been a natural leader. Not a natural executive or manager, just charismatic. Cut my teeth in leadership development as teenager organizing rock bands, an environment rich in people-skill development opportunities because you have to deal with creative conflict, egos, and drug addictions. (Compare to performing in a youth orchestra, where adults tell you what to play and how to play it, and the biggest conflicts are resolved by the same adults).

When your bassist is high and your guitarist demands the spotlight, you quickly learn to remain poise lest the whole endeavor falls apart.

But other than that I’ve never thought much about poise (until recently). I wore t-shirts and jeans exclusively, cursed like a punk rocker, and didn’t give a damn about etiquette. My best redeeming features were deep kindness and compassion. For better and worse, I moved forward in life by fully leveraging the “sexy rebel straight guy” ethos.

Likewise, I never thought much of cultivating leadership skills until recently. I just “winged it” when I needed to lead something. Also led culturally by inventing and promoting intellectual output, whether new music compositions or new ways of designing nucleotide sequences.

What changed? I decided to become a “lady”. (Please note that I used the word “lady” instead of “woman” here—they form very different concepts). This led to my search for feminine poise. This also led to a complete reevaluation of my workplace skills: I realized that my talent lies with people and technology, not just technology. Many a transgender woman reports this shift—I think the reason emerges from a combination of cultural expectation and consuming large doses of estrogen. Whatever the cause, I emerged ready to lead and/or facilitate in a formal manner.

But that’s my story. Lets get back to the intersection of poise and leadership, and throw in a discussion of mindfulness, because that might prove more useful to the world than my navel-gazing:

Leaders gain the confidence of their followers through poise. During the last presidential debates, Hillary Clinton made a conscious choice to maintain her presence and delivery rather than stop to confront Donald Trump for hovering in her space. While either decision would have been appropriate, she believed the best way to win voter confidence was through the action she felt showed the most self-control, the most poise.

Any loss of poise, though really often just a result of human frailty, knocks down a leader. Consider Donald Trump’s approval rating at this moment. The man can’t sustain a solid presence and has reaped the fruits of it.

Compare to Jesus, whom the Pharisees always tried to trap in some legal black hole. He (reportedly) always held it together with them, delivering nothing less than wit and wisdom. Jesus also provides a model of when it is appropriate for a leader to lose their cool: We consider his anger at the money-changers in the temple justified.

And here is the first place mindfulness comes in. I bet Jesus held complete in-the-now presence of mind while overturning those tables.

Poise requires mindfulness to execute, and leadership requires poise as I’ve demonstrated above, so the three concepts interact. In my example of Hillary Clinton’s debate decision above, she mindfully delivered the content while evaluating the circumstance. To manage this her mind could be nowhere else.

Similarly, in my work toward developing stereotypical feminine poise, my mindfulness skill strengthened as I learned to live my regular life while monitoring how I walk, sit, stand, talk, etc.

So my formula for leadership development from here on out involves mindfulness practice.

dead reckoning

Sometimes circumstances require that you calculate your position using no information other than knowledge of your previous direction and distance traveled. Of course, this statement specifically refers to marine navigation, but it serves as a rather good metaphor for life and leadership.

Two years ago I became “Emily”, drawing courage only from deep confidence in who I was. In other words, I solidly built upon my “previous direction and distance traveled”. But I had no clue how things were to unfold, and the way they did unfold completely surprised me.

Leadership is often like this. Sure we try to acquire as much data and metrics as possible. We try to collect others’ narratives and experiences to guide us. But sometimes we must dead reckon: Sometimes we proceed with only our own internal reference points—our intuition—our knowledge of previous direction and distance traveled.