Tapping into our Own Reasoning Process

Inside Out Conversation

We let all kinds of situations have free rein in our heads. Sometimes we spin cycles in our attempt to guess why something happened, or why someone said a certain thing. And the thing is our limiting beliefs can be willing accomplices.

This is the personal equivalent of organizational “active inertia.” We go along because it's the path of least resistance. But it's also a non starter to learn more about why we feel that way.

Here's an example of how I let an off-hand tweet at the end of my bold Inbound presentation almost ruin my day. My talk was about how I learn to help people find their path to success by creating the framework or structure that would help them learn the right things the needed right away better by using nudges and ways to re-frame what they already knew about it but labeled it differently.

The experience with the methodology my cousin used to learn how to walk and achieve her intellectual potential by multiplying her capacity was life changing. It allowed me to take what I had done, build on what I had experienced directly and build on both to benefit the organization where I worked. In conclusion, how I became a conversation agent.

My definition of conversation as a tool to explore agency and develop capacity alone and with others includes understanding biases and assumptions, along with observing habits and acknowledging the roles of feeling (like loving, or being impulsive for example) and emotion (like fear, or shame for example). In each example, the goal was to create the Minimum Viable Pathway to success. Then use it to act instead of freezing, so we could build on it.

It's a rich point to get across in a 12-minute talk. And, to make things more interesting, I blog as Conversation Agent and used the same name when I started doing consulting work. These are data points I should have used to explain why someone tweeted that I should be ashamed of marketing on the bold stage, or something to that effect.

The comment stung in the midst of a room full of enthusiasm and positive energy about the talks and in light of the wonderful opportunities that single step of trying to articulate the incredible power of conversation holds for us in front of a super smart live audience.

Well worn tapes whir in our heads when we're in the midst of enjoying strong emotions—joy was coordinating in that exact moment, but fear, anger, disgust, and sadness were there, too. The thing is, they were also in the head of the person making the comment. Maybe they were dealing with their own frustrating situation and something I said became the catalyst for expressing it.

We enter situations full of “All right everyone fresh start!” and we may end up with binders full of excuses of why we need to crawl back into our cave and not share again, or start that project, or enter the next conversation. But just because we experience those emotions, it doesn't mean we should act on them, or change our plans.

The Pixar team did an amazing job at demonstrating we are the sum total of these internal conversations, alone and together. Kids everywhere totally got this. Below is a 9-minute remix to refresh our memory.


The larger context of a move to a new city and school has put Riley's emotions into high gear and she's experiencing an accelerated version of what it feels like to make new kinds of decisions as she's growing up.

When we learn to work with them, connect them to our core values (like Riley's core memories), the interactions between these characters are valuable teachers. In the meantime, I'm with Nora Ephron on this, “don't take a note from someone who doesn't like your work.”