Posted by: donnakarlin | July 28, 2007

Mindfulness, Respect and Acknowledgement

“When I became quiet, they could hear themselves” – Byron Katie

I just returned from a two and a half day board meeting of ICCO (International Consortium of Coaching in Organizations). It was an amazing experience. We did a reality check part way through the sessions to make sure we were getting done what we’d set out to do. It was a meeting of the existing Board and the Board elect, so many were new to the group. Regardless of history, everyone was made to feel welcome. We were valued for who we were as individuals as much as what we brought to the table. One of my favourite parts was when we introduced ourselves not just from a work perspective but from a life perspective so we all knew about each others’ lives.  

What summed it up for me in a nutshell was to say I felt and enjoyed a total acceptance from the group for my opinions, comments and insights, even when they weren’t necessarily in agreement with everyone else’s. No one finished my sentences for me or interrupted, though sometimes I wish there was more time to explore possibilities based on a comment or two. We’d still all be around the boardroom table if that were the case!

No one spoke over anyone else, feeling their opinions were more important. We respected what others had to say based on their contexts and worlds, not just whether or not it was in alignment of what we knew or had experienced in the past. We all volunteered for responsibilities based on our areas of expertise or how we want to grow and promised to be accountable to the group for pulling our weight.

I have never experienced a Board like this before in my life, either as a participant or an observer, and I observe committees in action all the time at the highest levels. This truly was a meeting of the minds, a generative dialogue.

I wish you all an experience such as this at some time in your life. The only place we can all go is up to a place of learning and growth. To get back to the opening quote, it brought so much to mind. I believe truly listening to someone else with mindfulness, respect and the acknowledgement that every person I meet knows something about life and living I don’t know is the greatest gift I could give myself and those that come into my life, whether for moments or a lifetime. I also believe that if I allow others to put words in my mouth and let them validate who I am based on who they are and what they think instead of coming from my center of authenticity is diminishing who I am and giving up some of my self-respect to them. I am making a conscious promise to myself not to let that happen to me and to not do that to others.

There’s a big difference between asking for feedback, learning and growing because of it and accepting unsolicited opinions, thoughts and validation from someone who might believe their way is the only way, whether in a meeting or any relationship you have in your life. By not saying “enough” it is in effect accepting someone else’s opinion of who you are and what you’re doing. We all have choices and in order for us to be transformational, I believe we have to pay attention to the richness around us and help everyone reach their levels of excellence based on who they are not who we are or think they should be. Then divergent viewpoints may come together to create something altogether new, wondrous and transformational. What would it mean if we did that in every facet of our lives?



  1. That sounds wonderful, Donna, I can feel the power in your post.

    And that Byron Katie quote from 1000 Names For Joy has been on my refrigerator for months. It so resonated with the work I do with parents.

    Thanks for sharing. Lovely.

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