After winning several music awards one year, Carlos Santana was asked by an eager young entertainment reporter, how he felt about “this belated recognition after so many years as a professional musician.”
In an apparent non sequitur, Santana smiled warmly and replied, “I am becoming the people I love,” to which the reporter responded, “But what does that have to do with the awards?” Santana explained, “To a greater degree over time, these friends, musicians or not, seem to infuse my music and my life. And my friends say the same has happening to them.” Then, looking gently at the reporter, Santana asked, “Have you had that gratifying feeling of mutuality?”
Hint: Becoming ever more deeply connected with those you admire and love bolsters, in you, the traits you most admire in them.
With whom do you spend the most time these days? Have those shared experiences enabled you to:
- Do what you are most passionate about more often?
- Use your best talents with others who are too?
- Be sought-after by those who appreciate your passions and talents?
- Enjoy a life that’s adventuresome, accomplished and meaningful?
- Feel a gratifying sense of friendship and belonging?
Would they say the same about being with you?
In our increasingly complex, yet connected world, those who cultivate a mutuality mindset are the lucky ones most likely to succeed and savor their lives with others.
Remember the many compartments of the heart, the seed of what is possible. So much of who we are is defined by the places we hold for each other. For it is not our ingenuity that sets us apart, but our capacity for love, the possibility our way will be lit by grace. Our hearts prisms, chiseling out the colors of pure light.
Tip: Whatever most captures your attention most controls your life.
Ready to redefine your life around mutuality?
Though I still sometimes stumble on this path toward living a mutuality mindset, it remains my core belief. It is the single most nourishing, life-changing behavior I’ve found. Looking back on life so far, aren’t your most positively indelible memories those where you accomplished something remarkable with others?
The Back Story That Pulled Me Forward — Toward Mutuality
Why do I believe this? Growing up I was a stutterer, once diagnosed as “phoebically shy” yet I was simply trying to why people did what they did. Feeling an odd duck, I could not only not figure out how make conversation, let alone make friends. Over time, I’ve come to realize that many others, perhaps you too, have an insatiable desire to really connect, yet hesitant as to exactly how.
I may have become a journalist because it gave me the perfect excuse to ask questions. In so doing, I discovered how most people really want to tell their story. From thousands of interviews as a reporter for The Sacramento Bee, then the Wall Street Journal, and finally for NBC, I realized how often those I interviewed had trouble hearing the questions I asked, as they were so preoccupied with what they wanted to get across. Some didn’t even investigate in advance or ask about the kind of stories I covered. In brief, few bothered to consider, in advance, what would be the best story to give me that matched the kind of stories I was hired to cover – and would further their goals.
Why Might You Move Toward a Mutuality Mindset?
One of our biggest mistakes we make is attempting to make others like us. Counter-intuitively, it’s not how others feel about you that matters most. Rather it is if they feel about themselves when around you.
If they like how they feel, they are inclined to like you. In fact they will often project onto you the qualities they most admire in others even, sometimes, if you have not demonstrated that you actually have those traits.
Conversely, if they don’t like how they feel when around you, they will see the qualities in you they most dislike in others – even if you have not demonstrated those. Guess which feelings are felt most intensely and last longer? That’s why an early step toward mutuality is bringing out the side they most like in themselves.
And there’s always a sweet spot of shared interest, even among those with very different beliefs and goals, yet we can only discover it, to our mutual interest, if we are willing to look for it together. Understanding this point alone is life changing. See how politics, religion, national pride, alone cause so many arguments and violence because neither “side” is willing to persist in bringing out the better side in the other and seeking that common ground. The same right/wrong inclination is the top killer of marriages and any kind of relationship.
“To be successful you can’t show up to the potluck with just a fork.” ~ Dave Liniger
Take Three Steps Toward Greater Mutuality with Others
One: Deepen self-knowledge, to project less on others and thus be able to more clearly…
Two: Cultivate an empathic capacity and desire to step into their shoes, because only then can you speak to their interests first so they feel heard and motivate to respond.
Three: Explore and suggest sweet spots of shared interest, listening closely for their response, to involve the other person in find those sweet spots.
Tip: “Many ideas grow better when transplanted into another mind than in the one where they sprung up.” ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes