Question: What do Barack Obama and Brené Brown have in common with most of Oprah Winfrey’s other 37,000 interviewees?
Answer: They all asked her, after their interview, “How’d I do?”
Brené Brown lands on this question while exploring the topic of Trauma, Resilience and Healing in a fascinating podcast with Oprah and Dr. Bruce Perry, a specialist in the area. Oprah observes that no matter who was on the show, they always wanted to know if they were “ok”. Or not.
And that’s human. Most of us judge ourselves externally: We compare ourselves to others and seek validation.
A narcissist, someone at an imperial level of mind, likely would not think to ask this question, nor worry about the answer – they’d already believe that they were great. Nor would someone at an integral level of adult development. i.e. the 1% of people who have transcended both the socialised and the self-authoring stages of development. The question and the answer just aren’t relevant to them.
When we are seeking to externally validate ourselves, we are often looking to ensure that we are still liked or accepted, or that we looked smart, or that we were successful. This is the classic “How was I?” question. Notice that it doesn’t even consider “How was it for you?”
Oprah’s response to this question contains the seeds of great leadership. Knowing that the need for validation is part of the nature of most people she interviews, she reassures them during the interview and immediately afterwards. She let’s them know “Well done. That was great.” She does this to put them at ease and to let them feel that they are accepted as they are.
Why? Because she believes that what people really want to know is “Am I ok?” no matter what form the question is asked in.
As leaders this points us to something very simple, yet profound: Start with the person.
Create safety by communicating to others that they are ok as they are. Once the person feels safe, everything else becomes possible.
Simon Sinek encourages us to start with WHY.
We encourage you to start with WHO.
Once the other person feels safe, seen and heard, then you can get around to WHY, HOW and WHAT.
Get in contact to discover how our leadership coaching can help you build stronger, more influential relationships.