Who Are You In The Network of Humans?
by Laura Hansen, COO
A few years ago, a peer director at the company where we both worked referred to me as a “Svengali.” I could have been insulted. But, this peer director and I were friends and I knew what he meant by it. Calling someone a Svengali generally means the accused knowingly manipulates people to his or her will. The title is based upon a fictional antagonistic character in George du Maurier‘s 1895 novel Trilby.
It came up when one of his team members had a complaint about a staff person in another department and wanted to talk with me about it. In this company we did our best to address issues among ourselves before going to Human Resources and I was the unofficial company counselor.
Later that afternoon, the team member came to my office. “I told my boss about what happened in the meeting,” she said. “He called you a Svengali. Is that how you got me to change my mind? I want to know because I couldn’t get myself to change my mind before we talked. And, I don’t know how you did it.”
I asked her, “Who do you see yourself to be right now?” Without hesitation she replied with her superhero smile. “I know how to kick ass. I can make anything happen.”
Then I asked her who she was when she came into my office with her complaint. She hesitated this time, then slowly, awareness registered in her face, “A victim. I took something personally. I compromised my own self-image by doing that.”
Then we both laughed. We laughed because we knew she was kick-ass, but she had let a thought that wasn’t really true for her push her out of that position.
Our Human Power
When a new way of thinking would greatly benefit us we often don’t adopt it. Even when we know exactly the kind of thinking that would help us, we won’t, don’t, or think we can’t do it. We are social creatures. We have tribes, teams and cliques. We organize our relationships into networks of family, friends, coworkers, neighbors and so on. What we aren’t as conscious of is the network that drives our decisions and ultimately our happiness.
There is so much external noise that we absorb and it stands in the way of our being able to see ourselves as clearly as we need to, and of being able to act from a place of that clearer picture of us. Separating that picture of who we think we are or can be from who we actually are and have the power to be is the trick. From the position of an empowered, intelligent and creative person, the team member I helped had a completely different set of choices and information than she did from the position of a powerless victim.
How we view ourselves is the ingredients of the fabric of the behavior-driven network that defines the experiences of people and the collective.
At Sofiia we call it the “network of humans” — our individual perspectives and actions shape the collective consciousness of any network, group, or ecosystem that we ascribe to, and ultimately we each shape the well-being of those networks we participate in directly or indirectly and the human race.
In my conversation that day with the team member, I didn’t change her mind. I wasn’t a Svengali. We didn’t even talk about the details of the complaint she had. Unknowingly, what she wanted was insight into how an empowered, kick-ass creative person would handle the coworker problem she faced, so she could make a good decision that reflected how she wanted to interact in the network of humans.
That’s what we’re building at SofiiaAi. The kind of insight and connection with others that will give us that “right now” shot of clarity about us and the information we need to become who we have the potential to be.
Challenges Inside All Our Networks of Humans
The current Presidential race in the US gives us a rare opportunity to talk about the network of humans that is the United States, which is in a self-image crisis, too. It seems we’ve moved below the surface of policy details. The deeper network that drives our behavior is what we’re operating in now, and we’re asking ourselves, “Who are we?”
We’re exposing our prejudice, our hope and our hate to the open air, our truest feelings that flow through this deep, human network that connects our hearts. And we’re doing it now because we’re beginning to ‘see’ the pain of our own human behavior. it is happening whether or not we realize it or accept it. You know what this looks like.
How often have you let something slide until it was on the verge of getting way out of hand?
Your in-law’s trash-talking about your spouse, or a coworker getting bullied at work. Within your heart you reached an intolerance for witnessing someone else’s pain. At that point, you acted.
As a nation and as a world, enough of us have reached an intolerance for witnessing someone else’s pain that we are collectively taking individual action. To see it through to a collectively better end, we’ll need to forgive ourselves for knowing the first moment the pain started and didn’t do anything about it.
I’m asking you to challenge yourself to forgive the pain and make the change. This is our evolution as a network of humans right now.
In order for all of us to thrive together, we must embrace and act from a personal self-image defined by making decisions that serve others and ourselves equally, and move into an empowered position within ourselves so we can lower our tolerance to zero for witnessing our own or someone else’s pain.
What Do YOU Think?
If you’ve done some thinking on this and taken new action around this topic, please share those insights with us at SofiiaAi. This is the beginning of an on-going conversation. Understanding how we can thrive as a network of humans is my life’s work and the work of our team. Sharing insights and exploring questions deepens our understanding. Bring it on.
What is SofiiaAi?
What we’re building at Sofiia AI is the platform to connect us as humans, specifically to deliver learning and insight tools through app technology to help you be the best you in this networks of humans. Think of SoffiaAi as your guide for reorienting yourself when you wander into the “who am I” weeds, a powerful tool for reducing your pain and supporting action that serves you and others. You will be able to use Sofiia to wake up, be better or different, help others, and stay awake and aware of who are and who you wish to be in the network of humans and in the large and small networks, groups, or digital communities you belong to that define your life.
If you’d like to be a part of testing our first beta SofiiaAi app soon to be released, sign up.
If you’d like to join the liv, 15-minute Monday Meditations I lead for the growing Sofiia community, write “Meditation” in the “Message” field of the sign up link.
About Laura…by CEO Tracy Saville
She said “No” to the millionaire who asked her to marry him. She said “No” to Oxford who wanted her to study there. She said “No” to the famous New York Artist who offered to jumpstart her artist career in the Big Apple. She said “No” to the modeling agency that suggested Playboy. She said “No” to the Hollywood producers who saw her as the next Dr. Phil.
You can say “No” when you are clear about your “Yes”.
Before her age reached double digits, Laura knew her role in the world. As she walked the last block to her first kindergarten class, Laura could see through the windows to the students and teacher.
She could tell the teacher had a pretty good handle on the class. She found the bully, the scared kids and the creative ones. By the time she walked in the door, she had a plan for creating harmony and fairness. She would then spend the next 50 years executing on that plan on larger and larger scales. From leading high school and college class clubs and community organizations in her teen years to founding for- and non-profit companies throughout her adult years, she always said “Yes” to the path toward a peaceful world.
If you looked at her life from 30,000 feet, you would see the life of an artist, mechanic, patent-holding inventor, business owner, best-selling author, activist, wife, seminary rector, executive, community leader, business advisor, stand-up comic and athlete. Each a career in its own right she used to build the person she knew she needed to be for her life’s work.
If you’re going to build an insight tool that helps people understand their blind spots and their bright spots, then you better have a consciousness expert who can impress a quantum physicist. One who’s spent over 70,000 hours in meditation and can design a behavior change game at the drop of a hat. You better have someone who’s counseled thousands of people through life’s triumphs and defeats and can parlay that wisdom into learning tracks for helping people keep their lives on track.
In part, Sofiia is here because Laura has been preparing her entire life to be here when the question was asked, so she could say, “Yes.”
She is a published author, an ideator, and a creator, and she helps us to see the north star: humans first.