Moving from Me to We

Moore, OK Tornado

Success or conflict hang in the balance with every relationship due to perspective and attitude. The concept of “Moving from Me to We” was developed by my friend (and pseudo-mentor) Thomas Bookhamer (more on him below) in order to address our approach to relationships, especially in leadership and the workplace.  

The first step to becoming a truly effective leader and having greater influence is learning to be others-focused; this is what I call moving from me to we.

Thomas Bookhamer – The Leaders Factor

Why We Have Conflict 

I truly believe that a person’s perspective of another person, and the communication that occurs due to that perspective, is the core issue that determines the success or failure of relationships. If we have a preconception or bias against a person or a whole group of people (such as in racism, etc.) then your perspective is set against being favorable toward that person.  

It may be subconscious, but you are going to look for ways to support your bias in your interactions with that person. They cannot win! You are rooting for them to fail to support your bias! You aren’t really trying to help or understand them – and indifference or conflict is bound to happen in the relationship.  

In their books, the Arbinger Institute calls this “being in the box” and having a “heart at war” toward that person or group. I wrote about this topic in a previous post – here.

How to Move from Me to We 

However, if we see the other person as an individual who has value and vast potential – and we earnestly desire good for them – then we have the capability to move from Me to We. A relationship has the potential to flourish IF we approach it with the rich, fertile soil of mutual respect, love for humanity, and optimism for success.  

At first, you may have to be intentional about helping others reach their potential. Effective leadership is not about how far we advance ourselves, but how far we advance others. 

Thomas Bookhamer – The Leaders Factor

In his book, Thomas challenges leaders (and all of us lead to some capacity) to have the mindset of desiring to add value to others. If you are focused on yourself – “What’s in it for me” – then you are using people as objects and you are bound to create conflict. However, if you are others-focused, then you can focus on a “We” centered approach and develop valuable collaboration within a team atmosphere.  

The tough step for a leader is to decide to develop and empower others for success. Hear your team’s input. Truly connect with them as individuals. Develop their strengths. Encourage them through challenges, support their limitations, and celebrate their victories. Then you will have moved from Me to We. 

Application Questions:  

  1. Do you know the personality type and the strengths and limitations of your team (or family, group, etc.)? 

  1. When you communicate with them, do they feel that you truly value them and their input? 

  1. What can you change to ensure that you are rooting for the success of others? 

Thomas Bookhamer information: 

Website: https://journey.leadersfactor.com 

Book: The Leaders Factor

Email: thomas@leadersfactor.com 

Story behind the feature image:

In 2013, a massive tornado hit Moore, Oklahoma and left incredible destruction in it’s wake. Organizations and countless volunteers went in to help them clean up and begin to recover. I included this because it is an example of many people moving from Me to We in the relief effort. We can identify with these relief efforts as large groups become “others-focused” and serve those who were affected. 

Below are more photos from our short volunteer effort. The cars in the below images were picked up by the tornado and dropped in the middle of a guy’s pasture.

Is Your Heart at Peace or at War?

Peace

All of us have either a “heart at peace” or a “heart at war” in relation to other individuals or groups. Our heart’s direction toward a person or group influences how we perceive and relate with them.  

Heart at Peace

 When we have a heart at peace (or outward mindset), we recognize the individual as a human being who is legitimate, valued, and perhaps even sacred – with their own story, experiences, desires and feelings. People have the potential to contribute and are respected for their own gifts, talents, and insights.

In a business setting, we can work together as a team and resolve normal conflicts and differences with respectful understanding. We respect each other and listen with patience to what people truly mean as they talk. With a heart at peace, you are actively watching for the positive in people in order to build up their strengths and empower them for excellence!

Heart at War

 When we have a heart at war (inward mindset) toward a person or group, we perceive them as an object without legitimate ideas, feelings, or contribution. They are valuable only as far as they benefit us or our purpose. We are “in the box” toward that person or group as we actually seek justification for our perception of them.

We look for reasons to maintain our heart at war – by focusing on the negative and overlooking everything positive about that person or group. Then we develop “collusion” by inviting that person to have a heart at war toward us – creating a vicious cycle that can only be broken when one of the parties decides to have a heart at peace. 

Think about who you might have a heart at war toward and make a decision today to begin having a heart at peace. It could be an individual you know or one you don’t know. It could be a group you’ve interacted with or perhaps an entire nation or people group you’ve never met. A change of heart starts with us recognizing these assumptions and perceptions – and deciding to change them.  

Here is a great post to read more on this topicShift to See the Other

Resources

 Here is a great summary video on these concepts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MbkhK5HK_j0 

 Books by The Arbinger Institute: 

  • Leadership and Self-Deception 
  • The Anatomy of Peace 

 Videos: 

Be the change you wish to see in the world.  ~Ghandi