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Engaging Your Special People 8212 It s All About The Thinking

"Engaging Your 'Special' People"  (It's All About The Thinking) Only you know who is "special" to you! You have your own criteria for determining who is "special." Some people want to surround themselves with power and influence. Others want people with money. Some are title collectors. Still others want knowledge and, quite possibly, wisdom in their life spheres. But, I speak not of huge groups of people that you feel are important to you personally or important to something on which you are working.

ENRICHMENT  Rather, I refer to individuals who enrich my life as I engage them. For example, I was faced with a problem of how to improve the work environment. As I grappled with the "what to do" questions, the man  I'll call him, Jim  who tends the indoor plants in that work environment crossed my path. At that moment I chose to talk with him. "How did you get into the business of tending to indoor plants in work environments?" Jim smiled bashfully. "I have a degree in landscape architecture. I owned my own nursery and plant store. One day, I accepted that I did not enjoy the work I was doing. I really wanted to work with creating plant-scapes that made lives better. I started with indoor plant-scapes through which I could capture and display the character of the people in the environment and build a future landscape that would help them move their work in a direction that made sense to them."

This entire engagement took less than two minutes. As Jim talked, I watched how he touched, even stroked, the plants. I watched how he checked for water levels. I saw his quiet joy in what he did. He helped me to think about how to show my love of what I do and express my joy in that work. Over time, our engagements grew from that initial encounter. Today, some many months later, we are discussing "gray water" and how the installation of a system could improve the work environment. My continuing engagements with Jim always give me something new to contemplate, including getting others to talk with Jim about how the plant-scapes change their work. Regularly, he enriches my life.

DIVERSITY OF THOUGHT  Also, I refer to people who disagree with me. A number of years ago a higher education colleague of mine  I'll call her Louise --- stated emphatically, "You can't evaluate art work objectively. You can't evaluate the creative act of any kind objectively." A heated discussion, really an argument, ensued. When Louise left, I found myself re-thinking all of my beliefs against all of her comments. The argument set me on an adventurous journey to find the common ground. Over several weeks and more discussions  diminishing arguments, if you will --- I came to understand that the commonality was in the word "evaluation" and our starting points with that word.

Because my world of the writer always had a defined end-product, the evaluation criteria could be expressed in what the work would look like at the end. In her world as a fine artist, "evaluation" was a journey of exploration and discovery that happens over time. "Every stroke in a painting or drawing has to be evaluated in relationship to the idea I am trying to express." I replied, "Same with writing. I have to challenge each word, its placement within the entire piece, and its contribution to conveying the message to the reader."

In the end, each of us maintained our own positions. However, we also realized that we forgot one vital ingredient. What was the situation about which we were speaking? Were we comparing the ways two creative people worked? In fact, both of us were really deeply concerned about how to help creative people in the early educational stages of their journeys find a path to their own creative expression. Although the paths differed greatly, we found a way to strengthen the academic careers of two dedicated educators. I, still, turn to Louise when I am grappling with something that is just not working for me. I count on her thinking. Her diversity of thought forces me to grow in my own thinking.

PLAYTIME  I also refer to people who have a sense of play. I cannot remember a time when I did not play with ideas in my head. Sometimes I had entire theatrical plays in my head. Sometimes I took trips to places of my own creation. Sometimes I grappled with problems I saw around me. However, in my physical world, admitting that these things went on inside  these were not things to be talked about. Engaging other people, who play internally, took me considerable time. First, I had to find the courage to reveal my own situation. Then, I had to learn to wait for the correct playmates to appear.

Well, lucky for me, William appeared. He is a statistician by training. Who would have guessed! He helps me with "what if" work. We play back-and-forth with an idea. We bring other people into the sandbox who want to play with each idea. All of us are talking about changing the present, about developing for the future, and even about how to change the people who are standing in the way. We all come from our own strength. Where I like to be bull-in-the-china-shop and function frequently from "damn the torpedoes, full steam ahead," William always approaches the situation from a perspective of statistical probability. His playtime strength focuses my exuberance on achieving success.

Yes, Jim, Louise, and William are important to me. They, however, are "special" among the important. Engaging them enriches my life, forces my thinking to grow, and focuses me on achieving. As I engage them and they share themselves with me, I stretch into new areas of my own thinking. In turn, I reveal more of me and learn about more of me. Join me and engage your "special" people.

About Author Virginia McBride :

Virginia L. McBride, The Haven Maven Founder, EPROW Images Creator, "IT'S ALL ABOUT THE THINKING" Virginia builds personalized "thinking environments" to strengthen innovative thought. Working with EPROW Images, clients identify the people who surround them. From that list emerges the "special" ones. To qualify for a free 30-minute consultation, submit a "pitch" through EPROW's PAPPY program&nbsp; => <a href="" target="_blank"></a>

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Article Added on Thursday, June 25, 2009
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