Episode 84: Kavanaugh/Ford From Seven Angles [The Amiel Show]

This week I look at the Kavanaugh/Ford hearings and the conversations about it from seven different perspectives. You will quickly discover how deeply immersed (OK, obsessed) I’ve been the past couple of weeks, how closely I’ve followed both the minute facts and the larger political and cultural story, and, at times, how emotionally involved I’ve become. Here, we fly the Amiel Show airplane up to 30,000 feet and observe—sometimes calmly and sometimes with great passion—the events of the past two weeks, what they mean, and how we can grow ourselves through this complex and challenging experience.

Highlights

  1. Should the Senate confirm Kavanaugh or not?
  2. What actually happened? Why do lies about blacking out matter? (23:00)
  3. Women’s voices and how men discredit then (34:30)
  4. Framing the political debate—right wing narratives, the straw man argument, and intentional polarization into tribes (53:00)
  5. Flake’s fuzzy request for an FBI investigation—there was no promise (1:17:00)
  6. Bro Codes—old and new (1:28:00)
  7. Parenting boys and girls in this era toward healthy development (1:49:00)

Listen to the Podcast

Explore Additional Resources

 

Episode 83: Sexual Polarity In Marriage With Keith Witt [The Amiel Show]

I’ve finally done it.

I’ve recorded an interview that should not be played in the workplace.

It’s perfect for the car ride home or a weekend getaway with your partner.

But do not listen to this with your coworkers over lunch or in a leadership team retreat.

This episode is about sex, specifically in the context of a committed long-term relationship.

More specifically, it’s about sexual polarity between partners: what it is, why it matters, why so often it’s missing, and what you can do to restore or sustain it in your relationship.

Our guide is integral psychotherapist Keith Witt, author of the brand new book Loving Completely: A Five Star Practice For Creating Great Relationships. Keith joined me twice before to discuss the marital love affair and men’s sexual shadow at work.

In those earlier interviews, we discussed sex, but just a bit. And if there’s one thing you and I know about sex, a bit just isn’t enough.

So this time we give it our full attention—with candor, sensitivity, and humor.

If you’ve heard Keith discuss Loving Completely elsewhere, you’ll want to listen to this in its entirely. In no other interview does he discuss sexual polarity in as much depth. This Keith has assured me.

I thank you for listening and hope you enjoy the conversation.

Highlights

  • 5:00 You have many marriages with your spouse
  • 16:00 Five questions to ask yourself when selecting a partner
  • 28:00 Polarity creates the spark in a relationship
  • 36:00 Making love as feminine and masculine
  • 40:00 Having conversations about sex with your partner
  • 47:00 When a woman is nursing
  • 57:30 Moral codes affect your sexual relationship
  • 1:09:00 Partners who also work together
  • 1:16:00 Mad Men and why being clueless isn’t cool
  • 1:20:00 Talking with kids about sex
  • 1:25:00 Exit affairs, opportunistic affairs, and “please, can we love again” affairs
  • 1:34:00 Keith is not Ashley Madison

Listen to the Podcast

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Episode 81: How Couples Grow Together Into “First Love” With Tom Habib [The Amiel Show]

This episode is for people in relatively healthy relationships who are wondering: what else is possible for us?

Couples go through stages of growth. Over the past several decades, a new stage has broadly emerged that was barely visible before. Its features include:

  • Balance between giving and receiving
  • Successful patterns for managing tasks, sharing responsibilities, and practicing reciprocity
  • A shared narrative about the relationship
  • Reflection and introspection
  • Reasonable capacity to regulate nervous systems before and during conflict

Sounds pretty good, huh?

Listen to the Podcast

It is. If your relationship looks like this, it means you’ve grown more as a couple than most couples alive today and 99.99% of couples in human history.

Millions of people are buying books and attending workshops to achieve what you experience.

This week’s guest, Tom Habib, calls this the “Relational Stage.”

It’s quite healthy.

However, once you’ve spent substantial time here, you realize that some important stuff is missing:

  • Your partner doesn’t fully appreciate what you do or who you are. When you’re honest with yourself, you realize that the inverse is true.
  • You miss the intensity and frequency of romance in your relationship’s past, and this distracts you from the love and person in front of you
  • On some level, you fear you have chosen the wrong partner. Otherwise, why aren’t things as great as they used to be?

This is an amazing opportunity: to grow, as a couple, into the next stage of relationship, which Dr. Habib calls “First Love.” It is the first time you are both present with each other to actually love the other person in their entirety. Rather than being distracted by the mirage of an ideal partner, you feel gratitude for the person you are with today.

In our conversation, Dr. Habib briefly walks through the five stages in his integral Couples Line of Development. Then we focus like a laser beam on the transition from the Relational stage to First Love.

Are you up for the challenge?

Highlights

  • 5:00 When Tom viewed marriage as a “bourgeois conspiracy by the Church”
  • 11:00 The five stages of the couples line
  • 13:00 Pre-trans fallacy
  • 26:30 What if you treated your partner like a great neighbor?
  • 39:00 A practice to do at home with your partner
  • 51:00 Most couples in therapy are trying to get to the Relational stage
  • 53:00 “Pixie dust” helps you wake up and grow up
  • 1:05:30 How your kids are affected
  • 1:08:30 Thanksgiving with your parents when you’re at First Love

Explore Additional Resources

Listen to the Podcast

 

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Episode 80: White Nationalism And Male Identity with Elizabeth Debold [The Amiel Show]

A year ago Sunday, white nationalists marched on Charlottesville, Virginia carrying torches and chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” It was not a pretty sight. Most people I know found it abhorrent. The author Ta-Nehisi Coates did, too, but he wasn’t surprised. In an earlier episode Diane Woods explained why.

The media, for the most part, has highlighted the ethnocentric dimensions of this tale: racial grievance, hatred, and the specious theories underlying them.

Yet an important element has remained beneath the surface: gender. White nationalism is also a story of a certain group of men coming to terms with a world they find unfamiliar and threatening, one where women have economic power, men have lost their traditional identities, and the worlds of work, dating, and marriage have turned upside down. Many of us would call these advances of modernity and postmodernity. White nationalists see them as epic disasters.

This week, Elizabeth Debold, a developmental psychologist and gender futurist, explains why.

It’s a story of some human minds growing into greater degrees of complexity and others’ growth halting at age 12. It’s a story of wage labor, two-income households, and the demands of being a “super mom” and, increasingly, a “super dad.” It’s also a story of men confused about what is expected of them and frustrated that society often criticizes them for doing their “jobs” of working long hours and bringing home the bacon.

Debold also reframes the debate about so-called “social justice warriors” on college campuses. Everyone from Fox News to white nationalists to Jordan Peterson cite this group as the epitome of postmodern excess. Debold says: not so fast. The ideas may be postmodern, but the minds unpacking them are operating from a much earlier stage of development.

We live in a complex age, and it takes wisdom and a multi perspectival approach to even begin to understand it. Debold brings both and more.

In some ways, this interview represents a bridge in this podcast. As my interest turns toward global challenges and the health of our politics, Debold helps connect these concerns with my longstanding series on women in leadership, the newly launched series on the American experience of race, and the ever-present influence of constructivist developmental theory.

Highlights

  • 5:00 White nationalists, incels, and the loss of traditional male identity
  • 12:00 Richard Spencer is developmentally a teenager
  • 25:00 The flaw in pluralists’ views of white nationalists
  • 31:30 The wild card: when goodness appears
  • 48:00 The modern convention of dividing work and home life
  • 59:00 Teaching sophisticated postmodern ideas to 19-year-olds with less complex minds
  • 1:10:00 Step on my head, and I’ll step on yours back!

Listen to the Podcast

Explore Additional Resources

New to Podcasts?

Get started here

Subscribe to the Show on iTunes (It’s Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without a Subscribe button (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on the Subscribe button. It’s in the upper left corner of the screen.

Give Me a Rating or Review on iTunes (It’s Also Easy!)

  1. Sign into iTunes using your ID and password
  2. Search the iTunes store for “Amiel Show”
  3. If you get a screen without “Ratings and Reviews” (a screen that looks like this), click on the show logo in the lower left corner
  4. Click on “Ratings and Reviews”
  5. Give it a rating. Bonus for a review

 

Why people resent your help [new post]

Helping others succeed in their jobs requires more than generosity. You need to understand what matters to them. For example, have you ever started counseling a direct report about his career and then noticed that he wanted to bolt the room? Or given a peer resources for her big project, then found yourself on the receiving end of a stiff arm?

That’s not fun. Surely, there is better way to give people the help they actually want. What is it?

The Case of the Runny Nose

I got a clue to this mystery a few months ago with my then four-year-old son. His nose was running, but he wasn’t doing anything about it. Like a good parent, I grabbed a Kleenex and gently wiped his nose. Easy peasy, right?

Not according to my son.

“Daddy, I want my mucus back.”

Ugh.

“It’s in the tissue.” I opened it up to show him.

“No, Daddy. I want my mucus back in my nose!”

That’s a new one, I thought. How do you get mucus back in the nose? I starting racking my brain for possible methods.

“Daddy you are stupid!”

Could you simmer down? I’m trying to figure out a way to defeat gravity and reverse your body’s natural physiological processes?

“Daddy why are you so stupid?

“Look, Z, I know you’re upset. Give me a minute.” Doesn’t he know that I’m working hard on his original request? I don’t have time for new questions. Plus, I haven’t yet figured out why I am so stupid.

“Daddy why are you a butt face?”

“Z, you know that in our family that’s not how we talk about people.” This isn’t going well. And I’ve lost my train of thought.

“Daddy I don’t like you.”

No good deed goes unpunished. 

I grabbed the Kleenex, marched into the kitchen, and threw it into the trash can.

Surely there is a better way to give people the help they want.

My mistake in this situation (one of many) was to wipe my son’s nose without first asking him. I acted physically without first making an offer. My son had no opportunity to signal whether or not he wanted my help. Because I didn’t make an offer, he had no freedom to accept my offer, decline it, or make a counteroffer (“Hand me the tissue. I’ll wipe it myself”). He experienced me as acting on him unilaterally rather than with him in a spirit of mutuality.

Lessons

I was reminded of five principles of helping people through offers.
  1. People like to choose whether or not to receive help.
  2. Making an offer gives them an opportunity to choose.
  3. To make an offer powerful, ground it in what matters to them—something they actually want or care about.
  4. There is no promise without an acceptance. Offer + Acceptance = Promise
  5. The other person has four legitimate ways to respond to your offer: accept, decline, counteroffer (a different What and/or When), and promise to reply later.

So the next time you are tempted to counsel someone about their career—or wipe their nose—ask yourself: what is a powerful offer I could make right now, and do I think they will be open to it?

Questions about friendship, parenting, and anxiety [new post]

Last week, I shared questions I’ve been wrestling/playing with as I coach executives, consult to organizations, and consider my impact on the larger world.

This week, I share questions I’m exploring in three other domains: friendship, parenting, and anxiety.

Friendship. What makes a friendship worth pursuing, and how can I recognize the presence or absence of these conditions?

Life offers a big spectrum of relationships. Between casual acquaintances on one end and best friends on the other is a wide variety of ways of relating. Since I was a kid, I’ve had at least one best friend and a variety of buddies. These friendships have offered me companionship, joy, learning, and solace—and occasionally disappointment and pain. In recent years, I’ve been noticing what makes a friendship worth pursuing or sustaining and how to recognize when these conditions are present or missing.

With this clarity has come greater boldness. I’ve started speaking up about what I need in friendship and to a lesser extent what I can offer. I’ve thanked some friends for what I appreciate about our friendship and told others what is lacking. These are hard things to describe, and society provides few teachings or role models, so I stumble along. I tend to overestimate others’ awareness of my needs and underestimate the level of specificity I need to give them. For each friend who has appreciated my candor and vulnerability is another who’s felt confused or hurt. All of these friends are men, so that adds another wrinkle. For many men, friendship is something you do after you’ve finished everything else, if at all. We are stumbling along together.

Parenting. What nourishments do my children need right now, and what can I do to provide them?

My five-year-old son, because of his stage of development, needs loving touch, a safe environment for sensory exploration, and a sense of rightful place. He is a snuggly little guy, so the loving touch comes easily. Due to his temperament and Montessori education, he’s good at playing on his own and with others, and takes delight in kinesthetic explorations.

Rightful place is a bit harder to provide. What boundaries, created with love and held with power, will help him feel like he is right where he belongs? How can I be “the mountain” for him, equal parts compassionate and firm?  Asking these questions matters most at the very moments I’m least likely to consider them: when he’s complaining I’ve made his oatmeal the wrong way, clamoring to go outside when it’s time for bed, or angry at his brother, my wife, or me.

My first instinct at these times is to do whatever most quickly quells the disturbance and pacifies the belligerent. These quick fixes may or may not create a short-term solution, but they are unlikely to foster his long-term development. So I catch myself, take a breath, and ask: what does he need right now?

Anxiety. Who am I when I’m not having anxious thoughts?

It’s no secret that my peers and I have our own “stuff.” Even the most mature leadership coaches have blind spots that, if unilluminated, can erode their clients’ trust in them and their ability to grow.  Even the most seasoned consultants have idiosyncrasies that, if unattended, can thwart their best designed interventions.

Earlier in my career, I assumed that if I hid my flaws from clients, they would trust me more. Needless to say, that didn’t work out well. It’s hard to trust someone who is hiding themselves from you, especially in a field like leadership development.

These days, I don’t spend a lot of time with leaders talking about myself, but I also don’t avoid it. One thing that I’ve begun speaking about is my own anxiety. No, I don’t tell long stories about my childhood or give detailed descriptions of how my mind catastrophizes. But I do mention, particularly when helping people understand themselves through the Enneagram, that my mind reflexively imagines worst case scenarios (Type Six), and that it takes presence and practice to tame this habit. On rarer occasions I reveal that I take medicine for anxiety; I do this to destigmatize mental illness.

My psychiatrist told me last year that of all of his patients, I’m the one he worries about the least. So he only needs to see me once a year. I told him that of all of his patients, I’m the one I worry about the most.

That’s the thing about anxiety—or any other condition or quality that can trip us up. When it is a subject of our awareness, when we cannot see it, it literally holds us in its grasp. Thus, we can see only what it lets us see, both about others and about ourselves. Nothing else.

What happens when anxiety becomes an object of my awareness, when I can recognize its presence, shape, and form? Instead of it holding me, I hold it. Who is this “I” that is big enough to hold anxiety?

That’s one heck of a fascinating question. I would tell you my latest answers, but I fear what you would think of them. 😉