Don’t Shoot!

I wrote and scheduled this entry for posting well before the tragedy that took place in Newtown, Connecticut, and the title of this entry is in no way related to that event. My heart goes out to all of the innocent children and the adult heros who were working to save them. The question I ask myself over and over is “how does someone adapt so far from our original innocence to even contemplate an act like this?” And what can we as a society do to prevent future tragedies? I could blame it on gun control, on violent video games or on intolerance of others. It is probably all of these things and a bunch more but the key thing is that we no longer feel as connected to one another. My friend Louise Gallagher expressed this very well in her blog on the weekend which you can read here …

Leonard Cohen
The iconic Leonard Cohen

As we often do while at home we were listening to music and enjoying our down time when one of my favorite songs came on. I don’t know if you are fans of the songwriter-poet Leonard Cohen, but his anthem “Hallelujah” always moves me, especially when sung by k.d. Lang. There’s a line in that song that got me thinking … “Maybe there’s a god above, but all I ever learned from love is how to shoot somebody who out drew ya.”

Squaring Off

That certainly can be true of romantic relationships, but what I started thinking about was how that same principle applies at work. For instance, how we react to someone else’s idea, email, sidebar comment or other communication when it relates to something that is within our job scope. How dare they criticize what I am doing! Why didn’t they come talk to me before they said that? How could they possibly step in front of me on that project! Why are they telling me how to do my job?

The fact is that it is so easy for us to feel “out drawn” where it feels like someone has stolen an idea, beaten us to the punch, inserted themselves into an opportunity before we even had a chance to engage. Maybe compete feels like a more apt description. Why?

Have we considered that we should stop here and ask a fundamental question of ourselves? “What’s happening here?” comes to mind. Why would a rational being do these things to me? Why didn’t they consider my feelings? Are they really telling me what to do?

When you ask your self these questions a plain truth will probably appear before you. And that truth is that no one set out to harm you in any way. The other person in this duel was simply looking for an outlet to express themselves, create/contribute something or gain experience by engaging a new opportunity. And our instinct to shoot back at being outdrawn is spawned by those very same desires. We all want to express, create, contribute and experience. These are fundamental human desires. They are how we grow.

So instead of wrestling with someone for control of the opportunity to do these things is it possible for us to offer to exchange a desire for control for a desire to collaborate? Has this process not identified for us the opportunity to combine skills? What is possible if we stop competing and look for new thought and synergies?

Harmony and connection
Harmony and connection

The answers to these questions aren’t prescriptive. Every situation is very different. But the questions remain valid and still ask us to engage. And the word “possibility” resonates with me. What if we always approached life with the question ” what’s possible?” instead of “why shouldn’t I shoot?”

While you’re contemplating this concept why not take a few minutes for yourself to enjoy the song that started this musing. Here’s k.d. Lang’s version of Hallelujah.

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Ian Munro @

Ian Munro is a leadership and vitality coach with a primary passion for working with senior professionals who wish to improve their connection to and vitality in their career, or who wish to make a transition to a meaningful and rewarding retirement. His methods are focused on helping clients understand why they present as they do in day-to-day life, discover their authentic self and give themselves permission to build a meaningful and rewarding future, both professional and personal. Ian’s love for this work has developed naturally as he built his career as an executive and leader in the IT services industry, serving in many roles and facets of this industry over 25 years. As he reached the pinnacle of his career he began to search more deeply for meaning and alternate rewards from his own career and to begin to plan for his own “first retirement”.

2 thoughts on “Don’t Shoot!

  1. funny I always get shivers up my spine when I hear her version.—I had a couple of uncomfortable experiences this week where someone was clearly trying to take advantage of me. I basically decided to shoot them down as it was not a cool business practice for them to get something for nothing and for me too lose money on the deal. If I had let them get away with it I would have set me up for future con jobs on their part. I was trying to be charitable and got treated as a doormat. I say that was a good reason to shoot.

  2. Powerful questions you ask Ian — and this one — “What’s happening here?” — yup. What’s happening here? What’s happening inside me — not ‘to’, but inside. Where am I reacting from my lesser (adapted) self? Where I am responding in fear?

    thanks for the inspiration — and the mention 🙂

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