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Brutally Honest + Nurturing

From a brain science perspective, leadership is about optimizing human brains.

The brains’ primodial operating principles center around survival first and growth second.

In my experience, these two show up at different tiers of complexity, but one of the components at the lowest level is the balance between…

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From a brain science perspective, leadership is about optimizing human brains.

The brains’ primodial operating principles center around survival first and growth second.

In my experience, these two show up at different tiers of complexity, but one of the components at the lowest level is the balance between being brutally honest AND nurturing (or is it just brutally nurturing?). This is a direct survival type of communication as well as a loving and safe type – both at the same time. Brutal is, “don’t do this or you die, you get hurt badly, you are in pain, etc.” Safe is, “sweetie, you are so creative, but we can’t use crayon to write on the walls, ok sweetie?”

Both are something like, “Sweetie, you are so creative, I love it, but we risk dying when we do that. It is important that we protect ourselves but have fun at the same time.” LOL

To grow, you need both positivie and negative feedback – there are carrots and sticks based on specific situations – yin and yang – etc. Basically, as you were a child and in school, you were trained to react to certain situations. You learned differences from modeling both of your parents – they were different people with different strengths and weaknesses. In early years, motivation is a strong force. But, we don’t learn by encouragement alone, we have to try something. We have to fail. We say we want to fail fast, but we don’t. Ouch, failing hurts too. I’ve been on the bad end of that one.

Anyway, based on everything I’ve seen, too many work environments don’t allow brutal nurturing.

This is my favorite style of leadership, but it doesn’t work everywhere. When it works, it works great. But, it takes a very strong position on an exchange of value. It is honest, open, asking you to bring your best self and follow your passions, and live your life, truly, like you feel you are thriving. That is NOT a safe space for most people.

This style of leadership – I want this for you. I wish to bless it upon you, seriously. This is true leadership – tying spiritual values and personal meaning – right? Nah, don’t believe it. This is awesome shit. I have looked for it my whole life, and persevered through intense pain to find it. It is not viewed as pragmatic but loving business relationships come with freedom. My dad would say, “I would go thank people when they took their jobs because I realized they had a choice of where to go work, and they choose to work hard for and with us.”

In any event, brutally nurturing is the safest, most trusting way to rapidly improve growth or performance between two people communicating, i.e. working together, problem solving. This is a first principle. This doesn’t make it easy, but it is true. Loose communications create a lack of clarity in the feedback loop, and this is a waste of energy. Give it to me straight so I can learn. “Always be coachable,” my dad would say. Give purple and get purple back, not turquoise.

Brutally nurturing is an optimization problem. I have had to face groups of people many times and communicate something important to them. I have had to lead and take risks, big risks. I have paid the price and learned a lot. But, there are places it works very well and places it doesn’t. It is dependent on the environment – you need the right tool for the right environment. But, in the right environment, it works amazingly well. An example would be a group who has to make major decisions with deep trust.

Some ramblings…

Brutal honesty gives you perspective and holds you accountable, ultimately to a commitment of changing your behaviors.

Problem solving is aligned with a perspective on where you can grow.

Business coaching is so similar to athletic performance, that it isn’t funny. It is communion too. It is community. It is meta-data. It is common views. It is whatever-con. Perspectives. It is meaning for you. Lifestyle, even at F500 companies, matters. It always has. Therefore, healthy brains and healthy communication and environments should be a top priority. Environments and cultures create behaviors. Communication is pervasive – if you don’t cultivate it, it grows how it is biologically predestined. Conversations are crucial, they organize and influence people.

The above defines an important perspective on the design of growth behaviors.

Humans grow different ways – many growth-oriented people want brutally honest and nurturing OR perhaps better said – brutally nurturing. It is a very, very good way to grow. It is VERY healthy, but is open, raw, real, and painful at times. It is what high performance athletes want. It is being a better version of you each day. Yet, it is invigorating. It is inspiring. It is what humanity wants in their life today. It also requires commitment, discipline, and determination. Drive matters. Focus matters. commitment matters. It always has! I just haven’t sen it until now.

As an expert, I’ve spent most of my 46 years trying to figure out a way to benefit humanity so that I was good enough to be loved and accepted.

What a great triumph! I feel this so authentically.

Sums up a tremendously important thing for self and, humbly, humanity.

There is this feeling when you get to a point in your life – that you search for growth, you want to give life meaning, your brain is optimizing you for growth, happiness, survival likelihood percentage increases, and similar.

What you might need is brutal honesty. And, that is scary as shit to ask for. It is expensive, but it is worth every penny.

Business idoms are all mantras, slogans.

By Adam B Bloom

Industrial designer by education, software product marketer by profession, communicator and writer by happenstance, entrepreneur by DNA. Always interested in the overlap of sales/marketing, innovation/design, and learning/psychology, and I also like brain science, music, meditation, and technology.

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