Can I Be Honest? Blog post

Can I Be Honest?

24 hours travelling and making it easier to do the right thing

I don’t know about you but when I open an email and it begins with, can I be honest? I tend to take a deep breath and ground myself a little before reading further because I suspect some feedback is about to land in my lap. In this particular instance, I was right. So here I am in my first hour of 24 hours of travelling working hard to understand my own part in creating an uncomfortable dynamic. Fortunately, it doesn’t take me too long. Over the years I have become quite nimble at noticing my own patterns and sources of behaviours (there are so many of them to notice I sometimes wonder how I ever get anything else done!). The bit I am still trying to learn is how not to react in the first place, but that’s ok, hopefully, I have time left to master that. As the train meanders onward toward its destination I reflect that the older I get, the quicker I am to be loving toward myself, to look at myself with gentle eyes and forgive myself for not being perfect. I am also grateful that my dear friend I have upset is a gracious one and we move through our moments of tension quickly with an acknowledgement of unmet needs, different expectations and lazy communication (on my part), we move back into the familiar rhythm of our friendship. 

My only unexpected reflection is that part of me wishes that when they had asked me if they could be honest they had waited for a reply. I might have said, No! not today, it’s been a hard day, or since you ask I would prefer if you would lie at the moment I’m feeling a little fragile. Now, that’s a bit of learning for me – I sense I have a reputation at times for being uncomfortably truthful; someone even asked me recently if there were many people who could cope with me. Maybe I need to check if I have permission before I offer ‘my gift’. 

Writing blogs can be such an illuminating process, I didn’t see that one coming until I was typing it. 

I feel like I have digressed ever so slightly so let’s head back to 24 hours of travelling and making it easy to do the right thing. As my friend and I settled back into the familiar territory of healthy communication, we began reflecting on how hard travelling is when you try to do it the right way. What I mean by the right way is one that has come from conscious decision-making; respect for the planet, respect for the need for face-to-face contact, respect for the pockets of those paying, and respect for the time available. We will all have our own criteria – I am usually pretty clear on what mine are.

What I notice though is that it is so hard to do the right thing, it seems like many things in our current system conspire against me. I look at flights to Berlin from my closest airport; £300 return plus £30 for the coach to the airport. The trip would have a travel time of about 6 – 7 hours door to door. So here I am paying twice that for trains and hotels and my journey will take over 24 hours. Now, I am ok with that, I have come to peace with the fact that to attempt to live carbon-light takes patience. But let’s be honest, it is mad. We know we need to do something about carbon emissions, but it’s really expensive to do what we need to do and cheaper to carry on as we are.

(I suspect that some of you will be muttering under your breath hypocritical soul, why doesn’t he do what he needs to do on zoom – why go to Berlin at all?)

Well, sometimes I just need to work with people face-to-face and some things just don’t seem to work as effectively when virtual.

Now I have finished justifying my journey, can we move on?

For me, there is a deeply systemic theme to this ‘making it easy to do the right thing’. I spend a lot of time thinking about how I might influence retailers, train companies and those responsible for infrastructure, and how I might nudge banks, brands and the wider business community to make it easy for me to do the right thing. In my activist moments, I have tried some interesting things, and I hope they helped.  Maybe that’s a question we could all ask ourselves; what can I do or not do that will force the hand of others to make it even easier to do the right thing? 

Now it’s all too easy to talk about others changing, as Rumi said so well, Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.” 

I’m wondering what I can do to make it easier for me to do the right thing, what led to my lazy communication and what could I have done earlier at that moment, that hour, evening, day, week or even month that would have made it easier for me to make a different choice? 

I’m going to write a free-flow list- partly for my own reflection- but also in the hope that some may resonate with you. 

  • Always imagine that the person is sitting in front of me when I write an email 
  • Think about how what I am about to do will build a relationship
  • Try to do fewer things at once 
  • Take a gap between tasks to breathe 
  • Treat everything as sacred 
  • Work on my relationship with intimacy
  • Sleep more 
  • Spend more time uncovering what makes me come alive 
  • Never take anyone for granted
  • Be braver and stop doing some things 
  • Slow down 
  • Phone people instead of, or before sending any written communication 
  • Make all my communication a conscious part of my meditation practice 
  • Laugh more 
  • Spend more time outside 
  • Swim in more rivers 
  • Take what I do less seriously 
  • Think of everyone I communicate with as the most precious person in the world 

I am sure there are more – I can see a number of things on my list that I can and will do but I’m wondering, what will you do to make it easier for you to do the right thing?

Interested in finding out more? Let’s talk.