Don’t Expect an Exchange

Tackling issues as a teamGuest Post by Jessica Soroky

Christopher Avery here. If you are a regular, then you know Jessica — an evolutionary event in our time. If you don’t know her, check her last 52 posts here. Enjoy. (I appreciate you Jessica.)

Many people believe that nothing is truly a selfless act because if I am to do something, then I must be getting something out of it.

I don’t disagree with this idea. There hasn’t been a time when I have done something and haven’t gotten anything out of it.

I go to work and get not only a paycheck out of that but a satisfying feeling in my soul that I am doing something purposeful. I spend time with my parents because it is a place I feel unconditional love and complete acceptance of who I am.

To dive even deeper, I donate time and money to charity because it makes me feel like a “good” person.

Some of what I do is for me, and some is to feed my belief that what other people think about me matters.

After my breakthrough that everything in my reality is a collection of my choices, I started reflecting on some recent difficult interactions.

Quite quickly the idea of reflection became a big temptation to evaluate.

To evaluate and shame myself or not, that is my choice. Right now, I choose to not do either.

I realized that a lot of what made certain situations frustrating was due to the “why” behind what I was doing.

Beyond doing things for me and doing things because of how people will think about me, I started to see that I do things sometimes with an expectation that I will get something from that person in return.

Here is a simple example: a few weeks ago a co-worker asked me for a favor, for help with a problem, and I gladly assisted her. Flash forward two weeks and now I am facing a problem and want help, but that same co-worker I previously helped is unavailable or unwilling to assist me.

Instant frustration, maybe even anger – but why?

It’s the exchange principal. If I do something for you, I now have an expectation that you will do something in return. If we have agreements or a higher level of trust, I may be able to delay my desire for you to give something back to me, but I’d still like something back eventually.

This goes beyond physical exchanges into mental exchanges. I won’t dive into how this affects intimate relationships, instead my focus is on relationships and interactions that involve responsibility. (Hint: They all do.)

I began to wonder how many times my expectation of exchange has set me up to leave a situation frustrated, let down, or discouraged?

Christopher and Bill, The Leadership Gift™ Masters, often say, “If those around you are responding from a mental state below the line, the only thing you can do is raise your own level of responsibility.”

Below the line means any state below Responsibility in The Responsibility Process™.

The Responsibility ProcessIn the past when I have practiced this, I have resented it at times. I even went as far as to say, “Why do I have to be the one who always raises my level of responsibility?”

That is textbook Obligation, but I have the power of choice, so where was the obligation coming from? I talked this through with my mentor and it came out immediately:

“I am a millennial, and because of that I have to work even harder to break through the stereotypes I am painted with. They (executives, managers, team members, etc.) are at least 15 years my senior. I thought they were supposed to be “leaders.” So when are they going to up their game?”

There it was: I had an expectation of those I interact with based on their seniority — in age, title, etc. — to in some way, somehow, some day complete the exchange and be the more responsible one.

My new-found awareness felt like I ran full speed into a brick wall. I cannot control anyone’s actions and responses other than my own.

So what could I do? I could practice allowing and remind myself that everyone is doing the best they can with what they know.

Yes, sometimes it would be easier to not be responsible, to take a rest in the fuzzy warm blanket that is the mental states of Denial, Lay Blame, Justify, Shame and Obligation. To choose not to be responsible, however, comes with consequences, having to constantly cope instead of address the problem.

Even though it may feel “easier” to operate “below the line,” the feeling I get when I master my own responsibility in a situation before responding is one of the greatest highs I’ve ever felt. The only high greater is the knowledge and confidence that I can handle anything I face.

Before entering a situation, my intention now is to be aware of what I am getting out of it. If what I get out of it is an expectation for an exchange then I can simply choose differently, I can give without the need of receiving.

What if every interaction wasn’t selfless but instead entirely selffull?

Jessica Soroky, CSMIMG_3285

Recently turning 22 years old, Jessica is already a Certified Scrum Master with two years of practice in agile delivery and team leadership. She is also the youngest participant in The Leadership Gift™ Program and its growing worldwide community of leaders and coaches. After five years of non-profit development through Nellie’s Catwalk for Kids, Jessica continues her leadership journey in state government, not-for-profit, and private sector leadership studies.

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Posted in Responsibility on 10/08/2014 08:49 am
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