One of the best books I have read this year, and in many years for that matter is Creativity Inc. by Ed Catmull, co –founder of Pixar. I was initially attracted to it for a few truly personal reasons. First, I grew up at Disney. My father worked artistically for Disney for most of his career life, so I was by proxy, exposed to a childhood of behind the scenes screening of the artistic and production genius of Walt Disney. Secondly was my fascination with Steve Jobs life and brilliance, and, ok a lot of mac-cult toys and stuff. And then of course all the Pixar movies, which have taken us all so far into fantastic and relatable realms of possibilities, compelling storylines and emotions with animated CG. Reading the book was a no-brainer for those reasons. Not to mention my insatiable desire to soak up tales of great leadership and extraordinary company foundations. With all these tasty points going in, little did I know that the book would expand on a topic incredibly significant to me. The successful and proven use of candor in community and group settings.
So before diving into my insatiable cravings for super cropping candor, I’ll loop in the clowns and seek to build a bridge to this malleable line of thinking. In a seemingly unrelated part of my life, I have been a study of the importance of Sacred Clowns, Jesters, and Coyote Medicine since I was a child. Probably because early on, I happened to be really good at clowning, therefore, I courted this major in study. Maybe it explains why my grandmother used to call me a little coyote. You can find an account of these revered beings in almost any culture around the planet with examples like the Zuni Mud Eaters, Lakota Heyokas, Cherokee Booger Dancers, Tibetan Crazy Thinkers, Kings’ Court Jesters and so on. There are many important roles these highly respected individuals brought to the community and with many differences based on the various cultures. However my simple summation of them is that they provided imperative, frank and honest reflection that supported, ego shattering, personal and community examination, and necessary growth and change. That sounds like a large framework and theatre built around candor in my mind. Send in the clowns!
Noun: candour; noun: candor
The quality of being open and honest in expression; frankness
It was shared with me many years ago, by my Lakota Elder teacher, that the Heyokas would camp out on ridges and hilltops above the community for several weeks at a time. Watching. They would carefully view every member of the community observing personal actions, interactions, leadership decisions, daily tasks and chores. Literally scrutinizing everything. Then after their determined time of observation was over they would flood into the community and act out with great theater, humorous drama and deliberate confrontation all of the ridiculous actions of the community and its leaders and members without any fear of repercussions. After this time of uncomfortable reflection, the community would assemble in ceremony and discuss these actions to determine how to shift them to more sensible and conscious paths of leadership and ways of interacting directly and as a community. This is of course is a very abbreviated share on the depth of the ceremony and topic, however just a little offering to support the point. Like the jesters of kings’ courts, all of these individuals were revered for their exceptionally different perspectives, relentless satire and humor and courageous candor. Unfortunately in a few passages of study, I have come across the tales of jesters crossing the line with a highly egoist, no humor king whom ordered disposing of the chosen truth teller. I will divulge now that I have had a few rough ups in my day from taking my role as a clown over the line, and can honestly admit that I may have just been looking for a good provoking or inciting. We all have our dark pleasures and fascinations. Don’t we?
In our modern culture we don’t necessarily have to live in tribal communities or kings’ courts to see the constant influx of sacred clowns and jesters in our lives. In fact the daily reflections of friends and intimate partners are modern replacements for these truth pranksters.
I often wonder then, where does the spiritual importance and courage of the sacred clown armed with candor illuminate our potentials for growth as individuals and communities? My first inclination is to ask, “what are the usual barriers to candor and reflection, and what are the pearls?” I would say that candor usually fails first and foremost in some form of intimate communication. From somewhere come the instilled fears from social domestication or company cultures. And whatever the source, I often observe that there appears to be a strongly anchored social thread of avoiding truth and frankness. Some will say it’s just rude, impolite or inappropriate. There seems to be an immeasurable list of reasons why many folks choose to not speak or share truth. My deeper question then is how can we possibly grow as an individual, an organization or community without an un-obstructed flow of truth?
There is a radical technique used when growing certain types of flowering plants called “super-cropping.” This technique involves bending and pinching the plant at certain points in the stem almost to the precipice of snapping the stalk. This action supports breaking up and opening the soft internal cellulose material allowing more nutrients to flow unimpeded thru the plant. As the pathways are then hyper opened to nutrients, the plant in response to this action will focus its energy toward this area of external weakness. Eventually the plant will build up over the bent area and will become exceptionally strong. The calloused outside band can then carry the additional weight of added flowers. I see this action much like the actions of the sacred clowns breaking up clogged internal beliefs and distorted egos to allow the flow of nutrient rich candor and truth to cultivate the sweet fruit of conscious communication. Maybe I’ll call it, “Super Cropping Candor.”
So if the sacred clowns bring us the reflections that need to be addressed and candor is the macronutrient by which to mend and strengthen our path to better communication, what are some real world tools that we can use to support these medicines? If our goal is to create higher consciousness and ascension based unity in comm-unity then conscious methods of communicating has to be an important place to start.
As I’m sure there are many paths to initiating and inviting candor to your life and communities, I’ll share some tools that work well for me personally and in our True Nature Kitchen community.
Super Cropping Candor
Be Kind, Considerate and always ask permission
The clowns are an accepted part of the community for the ceremony they engage, therefore their shares are always invited and welcomed, although not always pleasant. Luckily, they usually only engage the ceremony once every few years.
In our circles it is important to check in and ask if it’s ok to share your perception. Just because we observe something wrong or amiss from our perspective does not always make it ok to just pounce on someone and regurgitate our feelings or beliefs. Ask someone if they are open to a share or hearing some feedback, see if they have time, if not, check if they are willing to make time for exploring your perspective and feelings. In my years of working towards this type of communication, I have found that those who bring self proclaimed entitlements and victim mentality struggle to apply this necessary filter. This is often the point where I engage boundaries, or interests (as I refer to boundaries in the affirmative). When someone approaches me confrontationally, I will often state my request for consideration and if not, honor myself by removing myself from the situation. If this first step is impossible for someone to meet, the likelihood of a positive outcome in the moment is unlikely. The Buddha has been quoted (as have others) “If you propose to speak, first ask yourself, Is it True, Is it Kind, Is it Necessary?”
Be clear of your intentions, Seek to Empower and Grow
Is it in your heart to help support change and empower the listener or, do you just need to be heard and validated in being right or worse, to slander or undermine another? If the energy of true conflict resolves growth and empowerment for both parties and the community is in our hearts, the prospect of fruitful candor and non-confrontational communication is highly probable.
Create Sacred Space, be in the moment
We can start our conscious interaction by truly committing to the moment. In our groups, and intimately, we find places that support privacy, we move away or turn off technology distractions, and we often pass aromatherapy oils that helps us all get on the same vibrational page. Our favorite is Laurel Leaf or Sage, which through history supports courage and truth. The oil just helps us all tune to the commitment of the moment and the conversation at hand.
Be willing to dismiss social or company hierarchy
This especially applies to leadership or social situations where there is an established or perceived sense of leadership or hierarchy. To openly hear truth, listener and sharer must approach from equal grounds. This is where heartfelt language and consideration for each other plays an enormous role. I get a lot of feedback that this one is very hard in certain company environments, and I honor that and still share, Do our best.
Speak to the issue not the person
Making an issue personal is the quickest way to derail successful candor and truth. If your intention is truly resolve conflict, engage empowerment and growth than a personal attack just does not fit. Sharing how a person’s action makes you feel or how you perceived a situation will go much further than blame or accusation. This is also a great place for the listener to practice not taking the shared components personally. I encourage moving into the practice of seeing someone in there highest self and light. If the intention of this sacred moment is to empower and find resolve, then seeing the person or situation and outcome as critically important to us will help the situation far more than projecting into a confrontation with a wicked protagonist or unsolvable situation waiting for us.
Hold Space, Listen
It is important to commit to giving the sharer the opportunity to get through their part. This is a sometimes difficult exercise that becomes easier the more it is accomplished. Truly listening with the intention of growth, empowerment and resolve without interruption reaches deep into the grounding of all-future candor-based relating. When we constantly interrupt, spin off into the how we will respond or retreat to the banks of our anger or triggers, especially if the share becomes personal, we loose the opportunity to stay in focus with our intentions. When we find the place of honoring the courage that it takes for someone to share uncomfortable truth and that by simply holding space and allowing the flow, we empower and encourage another and ourselves to grow in this path of sharing candor.
When there is consensus that the person-sharing candor is complete, it is vital to acknowledge and reflect on what has been shared. Before launching into a retort, give the space and consideration of repeating back what you heard in the share. Often times it is here that the misinterpreted feelings go awry by recreating our version of what we think the other person shared. By repeating back what you heard, you sow the fertile soils of seeking deeper understandings that fruit truth. My experience has shown that it is at this point where most conflicts get resolved and sometimes laughed at as the ridiculous nature of the innocent communication of misunderstandings reveal themselves.
Bring yourself and personal solutions, Own your part
My goal here is to do my best in the opportunity to deeply honor what conditions may have invited an interaction, and that it is most likely a reflection of self that supports the moment that arose. When we are able to bring the components of what we brought to the interaction, or “our part,” and choosing then to see it and “owning or accepting it,” quite often it removes the blaming and accusational aspect of many communications and interactions. Often the issue or misunderstanding has to do with us. Oftentimes stemming from places we are in lack of, or non-support of, ourselves. If we can earnestly speak to our own needs, and even more maturely, how we can ask for support of these needs then we are presenting affirmative solutions. Coming with solutions, and not just problems, is a highly developed method of collaborative candor. Bringing ourselves also does not mean that we have to take on something shared that does not fit either, sometimes there is purely misunderstanding or fragmented perception.
And a few more Advanced Techniques to anchoring candor
Touch your Heart
Literally. I have found that when my hand is touching my chest over my heart in candor communication, I have a quicker line of connection to my feelings, over my thoughts, and sometimes it helps to me to quickly transmute hard to hear truth. I view it as a powerful act of supplication to my partner and myself.
It is important for us to know ourselves well enough to know our “redlines” that no longer foster good communication. This happens to us as emotionally driven human beings. It is just as important to know when to take a breath and step away from a moment of heat and storm. To use ‘Time Out” effectively, it is very important to do it with integrity. Be sure to share that you are still interested in the outcome, and that at the moment you have exceeded your emotional capacity to carry on effectively. In intimate settings, this is a great place to share that even though you are angered or triggered, that there is still love and compassion. Always commit to return and complete the process, and use the time out to really look at where you are in need of further understanding and support from yourself. Be sure to communicate your learnings when time out is over and dialog resumes.
Practice repeating the powerful Huna, Hawaiian Mantra Ho-opono-pono. Really good during time outs, or preparing for an interaction.
Thank you, I’m Sorry, Please Forgive Me, I love you
We often hear about the many forms of gratitude and how rich and fertile its vibration and frequencies can carry us. It is important to acknowledge gratitude and thanks at all aspects of the candor process that unfolded and all individuals involved. Be sure to share this aloud at every juncture possible.
Well, as Forest Gump Says, “that’s all I have to say about that”
It’s not perfect, and sometimes it’s messy. Especially when the holy hell fires of intimate relationship or community storms strikes hot and fast and our candor clad tools belts go flying out the tornado broken window next to Toto and the Witch of the West on a rickety bike. Or was it the east?
Candor can be uncomfortable at first, and it takes a whole lot of practice to master the steps and the concept. However creating partnerships and communities that can hear and share truth and commit to candor will go a long way, and in my opinion is imperative for us all to step forward in the universe as conscious and considerate beings. In a world riddled with deceptions, hocus-pocus and shenanigans, seeking and sharing Truth is a powerful act of RE-LOVE-UTION.