Something to Read:

“Wabi Sabi is the art of honoring the beauty of imperfection.”

This quote came from Adam Grant‘s new book, Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things (2023, Random House), which is a title that several colleagues and friends have mentioned to me over the last few months.

A person reaches for a book from a bookshelf.

Photo by Christin Hume on Unsplash.

It’s no surprise that people are talking about it – Grant’s books and content always seem to strike a chord with readers. For me, his discussion of wabi sabi in Chapter 3 has been running through my head constantly. Derived from sixteenth century legend of Japanese tea ceremonies where the “immaculate dishes” were replaced with tableware that had faded designs and chipped edges from years of use. Through time, natural imperfections occur. Finding beauty in imperfection is what allows us to move past the discomfort of perfectionism and move toward connection.

  • Get a hard copy of “Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things” from local Boston bookstore Beacon Hill Books & Café. Find the digital or audio book from your online retailer of choice.

Something to Hear:

Full disclosure, this ….collection of ideas….I was going to write newsletter, but that feels rigid and too serious for the tone we’re hoping to convey. (Let’s continue to ponder what we are doing here and what we are going to call it..but also, let’s move on). This collection of ideas is a series I have been thinking about for a long time. It has been my own anxiety about putting my ideas out into the world that has held me back.

Have anxious feelings about communication ever held you back?

A person holds an iPhone that shows a podcast playing. They are taking notes in a notebook while listening.

Photo by Dillon Shook on Unsplash

Earlier this year, I heard a podcast that did a nice job of giving some explanations for why we feel anxious around communication settings and what tactics we can actually use to get through it. These ideas came from “Think Fast, Talk Smart” a weekly podcast by Stanford professor Matt Abrahams. Episode 122 talked about the “ABCs” of communication anxiety – spoiler alert…..

A is for affective (how we feel in communication situations), B is for behavioral (how our body reacts in communication situations), and C is for cognitive (how our thinking is affected in communication situations).

Matt does a great job of explaining each of these components in more details and giving some practical tips for how to embrace and overcome them….notice I did not say “how to get rid of them.” Another spoiler alert….you can’t get rid of the stress responses entirely, but we CAN use strategies to address them. His recommendation is to establish a plan – something he calls an AMP (Anxiety Management Plan). I love this acronym because it reminds me of being “amped up” (i.e., really excited) for something. Communicating your ideas is something we should all be amped up to do – you have important things to say and they deserve to be heard.

  •  Check out the 16-minute Episode #122 and all past episodes of “Think Fast, Talk Smart: Communication Techniques” by visiting Matt’s Stanford website or wherever you get your podcasts.

Something to Do:

Make your own AMP (Anxiety Management Plan).

Matt Abrahams‘s suggestion for an amp is to have 3-5 things that you will plan (in advance!) to do when you feel anxious about communication. He recommends at least one tactic from each of the ABCs. Learn more about  ABCs and the AMP in the above “Something to Hear” section.

A hand holding a pen and writing a goal plan on white paper.

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Honestly, I’m suggesting this for all of you because I think I could use one for myself as I step out of my comfort zone by sharing my monthly “collection of ideas” (…that phrasing is growing on me).

My personal AMP:

  1. Affective: The anxious feelings mean that I care about this and want to be able to clearly communicate my passion to others.

  2. Behavioral: [In a place of privacy] I will literally shake out my anxious feelings. If this is not possible, I will hold a cold-water bottle before beginning.

  3. Cognitive: The anxious feelings will not cloud my belief that making a connection with other people is more important that communicating a pristinely perfect message.