choice Magazine

Vanguard Conversation Series: Entitlement ←→ Self-Responsibility

July 18, 2023 Garry Schleifer
choice Magazine
Vanguard Conversation Series: Entitlement ←→ Self-Responsibility
Show Notes Transcript

Leaders at the vanguard of ideas and change inspire us to loosen our grip on the comfortable status quo in favor of exploring new possibilities that better align with the altering patterns of our personal and professional lives. As we shape a world where people love their life’s work, this live conversation series showcases global leaders who embody the curiosity and discernment that stimulates a new relationship with change.

Join CEO of inviteCHANGE, Janet M. Harvey, MCC, and her co-host, CEO of Choice Magazine, Garry Schleifer, PCC, with their guest, James Pratt, CEO of Reflective Management. Explore the idea of being comfortable with the tension that exists between entitlement and self-responsibility. Build your roadmap for how to have a different kind of conversation with your peers, clients, communities ... and yourself!

Read the article exploring this tension deeper: shorturl.at/CDM45
Download the 4 Questions Handout: invitechange.com/vanguard-conversation-series
Register for the rest of the series: invitechange.com/vanguard-conversation-series

Grab your free issue of choice Magazine here - https://choice-online.com/

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Good morning. Good afternoon. 

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his):  Good evening, and good night.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Or Good Day, if you are from Australia.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): You never know.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Yes, please please feel free to bring your cameras on. If you are available to be recorded. Bring your mics open. We don't really worry too much about barking dogs or doorbells, you know. That's humanity. So be here as if we are sitting in each other's living room, having a wonderful conversation, which is, of course, our intention.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And welcome. My name is Janet Harvey. I'm the CEO of InviteChange, and please give gratitude to my wonderful colleague, friend, co-host, founder, and publishing editor of Choice Magazine, Mr. Gary Schleifer.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Yes, the latest issue is awesome all about AI. In my column, I said, fear not. Learn a lot. That's where we all are with this brave new environment.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So you are here for the vanguard conversation series. Each episode, we bring one of our wonderful and highly cherished global visionary leaders to come and share with you a thorny problem and how they've solved it, using a technique for reflection that we call the tensions of presence.

But before we go into our program today, might be useful, I see many of you are new to our program here, to know why. Why are we doing that?

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Garry and I have have spoken over the years about the evolution of society and coaching's influence on it and we all recognize that the post-pandemic environment really feels extremely unprecedented. Not just the pandemic, but many things have been disrupting. It can be really overwhelming to feel disruption as being done to us as opposed to something we choose to do on purpose.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Of course, that requires a lot of emotional courage, and

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): it does ask us to be in meaningful self reflection to see what's actually occurring, not what we think or assume or prefer, maybe have historically accepted as the thing that's happening.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): All of these are the root of bias that creates blank spaces in our understanding of the world as it is.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So fortunately we have a tool for you which you've probably already grabbed off of Linkedin. It's also available to you in the chat now. Paige has made that available. And our guest global leader today has a story to share that demonstrates how the tool functions.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So you can follow along and then you're going to get a chance in a breakout room to apply the tool to your own thorny problem. Then, before we end the session today, we'll have time for some Q & A.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And I'm going to pass it off to my colleague, Garry.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his):  Thank you so much, Janet. It's great to be here that welcome James.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): Vanguard means being at the forefront of ideas that are merging. So we proactively disrupt our thinking. Our conversations focus on our experience of life today rather than a theory or an outcome, or a process or promote, to buy anything. Forget all that.  We invite you to transform your process of listening, to get something, to giving yourself an opportunity to experiment, and to learn through practical application that's relevant to your life and experience.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So with that, said, Let me introduce James, because I don't want to leave you hanging. I want to give you so much possible spaces as we can.  I have a bio, part of which I am going to read because James, you've done such a beautiful job writing your bio. I'm like, do some work on that. But what I want to say about James is that he is he's a man I've known now for 15 years. I think something like that. Getting close, and I know no one who has the courage and the resilience and the stamina to stand solidly for mental health in the workplace.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): You have been down this path yourself. You have been down this path with others, and you are extraordinary, and your commitment to helping people understand it is part of our humanity, and it in all of its challenges it also carries tremendous gift. And I'm inspired by you every single day, James. So I want to call out your silent superheroes podcast where you're telling the real stories of people who are living and working with mental illness.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And I love this line here. James has made a career out of following his intuition and exercising his willingness to reinvent himself.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Well, rock on, man, that's exactly right. What else have we got? So, James, welcome. Thanks for saying yes to our invitation to be here and to share your thorny problem with us. The floor is yours.

James Pratt: Thank you so much, and welcome to everybody wherever you're coming from around the world. When Janet reached out to me, said, Hey, I want to pencil you in for this thing in July, and I don't know, this is back in like January or February, or something like that. She said I want you to talk about the tension between self responsibility and entitlements. I looked those up and I said I have no idea what to say on that subject, like it was just good. But you know, Janet invited me so I'll say yes, we'll see what happens. 

James Pratt: A month ago I still had no idea, we had this prep call. I get on the call with with Janet and I say I don't really know what to say, so I forget exactly the question, but you know they say with coaching that a master coach does very little of the work, right? Just sits there and listens, right? And the person works through it.

James Pratt: And indeed, that was the experience I had with Janet, where she just like, says, Okay, well, you know, one part you talk about like and then we got to the end. It's like it worked out okay. So that's Janet.

James Pratt: I'm gonna talk about how I think life shapes us all as leaders. Everything that happens. You know the smallest things, the biggest, most obvious events shape how we lead, and in my coaching practice that's what I work on with people. Understanding why they behave the way that they behave as a vehicle to them, being able to to change it.

James Pratt: As part of this I'm gonna share a story. Janet mentioned mental health, and during the course of that story I will mention suicide, and I talk about childhood abuse as well. So I want to just to throw that out there in case that's something that's hard for anyone out there to to sit with or to hear unprepared, or even that you might not want to talk about that at all this morning.

James Pratt: In which case, you know, I'm gonna support you in your decision to sort of drop off. But if you stay, I'm glad that you stay. I'm not going to go into any kind of graphic and pleasant details, but I think it's fair to warn people.

James Pratt: We have to go back to the beginning of my life, I think, to understand the leader I became. I am the third of 3 children but my closest sibling is 7 years old than me. There's a joke in my family that I might have been a bit of an after thought sort of, or even an accident. But one thing I can tell you for sure is that by the time I came along. My parents were kind of done with active parenting.

James Pratt: All right. They actively parented 2 people already and they're kind of much happy to let let me be me. So I grew up in an environment where I sort of learned to do things in my own way in my own time, be responsible for my actions. I remember when I was 8 years old  I supposedly broken, my brother's train set, and one of the trains, and I was sent to the next town probably a 20 min train ride or 20 min walk to either end,  aged 8, to go get this train fixed at the specialist train store. So I kind of grew up in this environment where I was  I was encouraged just to kind of do my thing and be self-sufficient.

James Pratt: I was, and it's taken me a long time to get a comfortable to say this, a bright kid.

James Pratt: School work came easy to me like I could prepare for an exam by reading a book the night before the exam. and that got me lots of plaudits and accolades. James top of the class changes really smart. James plays violin in the orchestra. He sings in 2 choirs like all these things that rewarded me, and praise me for the things that I did more than the person that I was.

I never thought I was great. I just knew that I was self-contained, and I could solve most problems and just deal with those things as they came along.

When I was 16, my parents had been running a a small hotel for 8 years. if you ever seen Faulty Towers, you know, a little bit like that maybe a little bit less crazy.

That's a demanding thing to do, 24/7 job.

And after 8 years it had taken their toll and they decided they were gonna leave the town where I grew up and go and move close to my grandma, and they kind of gave me 2 options.

Option one. You can go live in this sleepy town in the countryside with a bunch of kids that you don't know to finish up high school, or you can stay here. You can finish school here on your own. And we will kind of put you in a bed set, like a small apartment. Well, it's a one-room studio apartment, I guess you'd say.

 Well, 16 year old picks, like go live in a small, sleepy country community, like nobody, literally nobody.  I guess maybe some people would, because you wouldn't want to be on your own. But to me it just seemed like, well, yeah, I can do that. So I finished last  2 years of high school living on my own, cooking, cleaning. I was working a a side job as well at the time. Attending college, finishing up all my studies on my own. 

I was talking to my ex high school girlfriend a while back and she observed, you seemed fine, but I just couldn't fathom how you were so resilient. You know how you could cope with doing that much. It just didn't occur to me. Just seemed like that's life.

James Pratt: Many, many, many, many years later, I started to understand how  that and a number of other things in my life left me feeling that I was at risk of being abandoned by those around me, and it may be made it hard for me to form connections with people. That affected me as a human being, but also affected me as a leader, and I'll talk more about that in in the fullness of time.

But lately I've started to realize that even though I had that self reliance that I learned through childhood, it left me not wanting to ask people for things.

James Pratt: Left me not willing to say hey, Here's what I need, for fear that those people would walk away you know, and an abandoned me the way  I felt my parents had, but I had no ill will to my parents, of course, at all, because they were doing what was right for them. And they made, I think, objectively, probably a bad choice.

But hey, made me who I am today, and we're here talking because of that. So  we can say that the good came out of it.

James Pratt: I went to college. Long story about how I ended up there, but it was more by luck than good judgment. Studied computer science and coming out of college, I started a company because it didn't make sense to me to go work for somebody else. I felt like I had to do it all on my own.

James Pratt: So I did, and we were moderately successful. We were building apps for mobile phones in like 1997. That was about 10 years before the iphone.

James Pratt:  So you're welcome. 

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): No, no, I'm not so sure.

James Pratt:  I was talking with a friend I worked with at that time. Recently we went out for dinner and we were talking about it. Do you ever think about the you know, the dark side of what you brought into existence, and we both agreed. Yeah, we we think about it a lot.

James Pratt: So I ran my own company. That company was acquired by a larger company, and I went there. I took it upon myself to like, we had a small team of 6 people, but like to establish that team in the bigger company, and to kind of make us valuable and useful and visible, and stuff like that, to make sure everybody else was okay. Make sure everybody else was having their their needs met, that their needs taken care of.

James Pratt: About 2003 I've been doing some work with this company with Microsoft. I really like the people over there. They seem really smart.  Microsoft seemed smart and strategic and like they thought about things inreally interesting ways. So I decided  to go work for them. And that's what brought me over to the US. I worked for Microsoft for 7 years. I've worked in all sorts of odd, esoteric things, like platforms to build mobile applications that at the time was a really odd thing, and people scratching theirs like what's going on here.

James Pratt: I worked on the Internet Explorer browser when it was like the most hated thing in the in the world. So I kept picking these places where there are things that need to be saved.

James Pratt: There are people, things that were the odd ones out.

James Pratt: So that's my Microsoft experience. A friend of mine had gone to establish a new division at HTC, the phone company that is now mostly gone. He's building a division, wanted someone to help set something up. And so kind of all this time I've been kind of growing up, going through the ranks, you know. More and more important  jobs, more and more responsibility, more and more people reporting to me, more and more kind of breadth of the scope. And so there I was running a team of 150, organizing all the work that was being done. Eventually I got to the point where I was running the whole division division, about 150 people, building 6 different software products for HTC.

James Pratt: I was at that time. Let's see, I guess by the time I was done there, late thirties. It's not about trajectory. That's what they say. You should do like check check check.

James Pratt: There had been a little wrinkle on the way.

James Pratt:  July 17, 2012. I woke up in Harbor View Hospital. Who here is in the Seattle area? I'm curious.

James Pratt: Okay. Couple of you.

James Pratt: Tell me. what is Harbor View Hospital for? Physical trauma, psychological trauma, very well established psych ward there.

July 17th I woke up there a little bit confused, lying back like this,  a drip in the arm here, unsure of what the hell am I doing here

James Pratt: Talking about attention of presence, there was a very clear attention to presence there, which was I am a successful tech leader. Position one. 

James Pratt: Position 2. What the hell am I doing waking up here in a hospital and not having any idea why I'm here because that's not thing successful tech leaders do, right.

James Pratt: After a while somebody came by. Oh, he's awake, they said. I remember as clear as day and you know, patch me up and stuff like that. I look down. I'm still wearing the soccer gear I was wearing the night before to go out to play soccer the night before. 

James Pratt: And someone came along eventually and said  you were in bad shape when you go here last night.

James Pratt:  You had a point .35 blood alcohol. Some of you don't know what .35 blood alcohol means? If you don't, it puts most people into a coma from which you may or may not wake up.

James Pratt:  Thankfully, I had been drinking so hard for so long that my body was pretty accustomed to kind of flushing out, but you know I drunk so much that night, and it stemmed from an argument with my wife, Amy,  about something completely stupid. Because I had brought a piece of cake home from a restaurant. this is all on me. I should say nothing to do with her, and I just started drinking.

James Pratt: And eventually someone asked me a question that kind of changed the course of my life and let me hear. They said, do you think you're trying to hurt yourself? Tension.

James Pratt: Sat there for what felt like 10 min with this person just like waiting for me to answer.

James Pratt: Yeah, I was. Maybe it was 10 seconds.

James Pratt: But what I wanted to say was, I am a responsible. fully functioning adult who would never try and hurt themselves, because that's what weak people do.

James Pratt: I couldn't answer it because it wasn't the truth. Truth was I'd been running so hard and so long from myself and my life that I'd started to try and  manage it through drink, story is as old as time. My management strategy had failed.

James Pratt: I'd run to the end of the Self Responsibility Road, could no longer do it on my own.

James Pratt: They sent me out of Harbor View. My wife and children picked me up, wearing my soccer gear. There was vomit down the front.

James Pratt: I had no idea what to do. I was completely lost, but they had given me a card. It was for a woman called Holly Delaney.

James Pratt:  Holly was a chemical dependency councilor  as part of a state run program

James Pratt: I had nowhere else to go. For the first time in my life I didn't know what to do. I didn't know how to get myself out of situation I was in.

James Pratt: So I called the number on the card.

James Pratt: You want to talk about entitlement. I called her on what it was like a probably Wednesday morning, or something like that. She didn't call back till Thursday afternoon. I was furious.

James Pratt: Can't she tell that I need to talk? Why the hell hasn't she called back?

James Pratt: So kind of comedic entitlements, I think.

James Pratt: And we started to look at my life together, and I found somebody I felt like I could trust to talk about what was really going on in my life, and she started helping me understand it's not normal when your parents leave you when you're 16, even if it's like a apparently a consent to your choice between the 2 of you like. That's not normal behavior.

James Pratt: My mom, who is passed away now but I think probably borderline personality disorder, living with that kind of like constant emotional trauma isn't normal and isn't healthy.

James Pratt: Being abused by a sibling is not normal.

James Pratt: It's not healthy.

James Pratt: So I started to understand how this life that I thought I had control of, that I was responsible for, actually, I wasn't completely in control of.

James Pratt: It was pretty big break through for me. and that breakthrough kept on rolling for years. In fact, it still keeps rolling today.

James Pratt: But what changed for me as a leader was up until that point. Even though I looked after everybody and made sure that things were successful for everybody. I was really trying to save everybody. If I could save everybody else, maybe I could save myself.

James Pratt: I was really trying to  make myself feel important where my family had not made me feel important. 

James Pratt: When I had got praised as a family or felt love, it was because I'd done something. I got a good report card. I passed an exam. I'd go a scholarship for the private school that I was at. I played in the headmaster's special secret study performance, for you know, all the most special kids.

James Pratt: That's what it fueled my career. I've been driven to a place where I took responsibility for everything because there was something I was trying to get. There's a problem I was trying to solve in me. And this is what I see in the leaders I coach.

Time and time again the problem isn't, do I know the skills to delegate? The problem is. am I willing to let go of this thing and what it means and signifies to me?

James Pratt: So then what changed as I started to reach out to others for help. As I started to feel like I was entitled to not be on my own, not do it for myself.  I started being able to not be in everybody's shit.

James Pratt: Not have to know everything that was going on, to not have to sign off on everything, to know all the details. I remember one of my teams told me a prior to this.

James Pratt: We're having a like a review of the performance of some of our systems and I was just kind of asking questions, asking questions, asking questions. This was a team I had in Taiwan where it's less common to kind of confront somebody, particularly a westerner.

James Pratt: It was almost like that thing where you know, everybody else steps back, and at least one person who's appeared to the front of everybody by everyone else stepping back, and it was Clifford on my team who I had to lunch with recently when he was in Seattle.

James Pratt: He said, James, we need to tell you something so sometimes we don't share information with you because you ask so many questions. If we hide things that we think you can spare you.

James Pratt: I I don't know what to do with that pre-alcoholic James.

James Pratt:  But afterwards I started to learn how to be judicious, how to choose when to use my gift of asking questions, a gift I use every day with my coaching clients. When do I start to do those things.

James Pratt: It was post 201, post that breakdown that I got to the position where I was offered the opportunity to to run the whole team.

James Pratt: and I didn't need it. I didn't want it. I didn't think it was something that would like make me whole, or maybe feel better. I wanted to do it because it was a really interesting experience for me.

James Pratt: It went pretty well but I had some differences of opinion with some of the leadership of HDC, including the CEO, Share One and I realized that the clinging little bit ruthless not trusting environment that I have thrived in when I arrived was no longer the place for me.

James Pratt: So I took responsibility for the work I chose to do every day. I realized that I was entitled to work in a better environment.

James Pratt: Thank you for calling out the briar there where I point out that I've had kind of a unusual career.

James Pratt: So obviously, the next step for any leader in tech with a computer science degree, a competent engineer it's to go lead HR teams. Right? It's a path all this time.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): Yeah, sounds natural. 

James Pratt: But I saw a different kind of system.


James Pratt: An HR team is just is a program running on top of a group of people. Same thing, really.

James Pratt: And I saw that HR, in many cases lacked courage, creativity, inspiration, not because people working at the job were bad people, but because they've been beaten down over their entire career to function in that way and be fearful of risk, and all about the compliance.

James Pratt: So I got literally lightning in a ball. A CEO reached out to me wanted to restructure his engineering team, saw that I had my engineering team structured that way and wanted to pick my brain. Long story short, he ended up deciding, for reasons I still don't understand these days, that he I should be his VP of HR.

James Pratt: That is the luckiest thing, I think that had ever happened to me. And as part of joining that company rather than negotiating for some kind of sign on bonus I said, Hey, I had a bit of coaching when I was a HTC. I really enjoyed it. It was really helpful.

James Pratt:  I worked with a woman called Vicky Brock, I think I started like reverse coaching her at some point, said you've got an instinct for doing this. You should like, maybe think about coaching in the future.

James Pratt: So I said, would you pay whatever it was, $12,000 for this coaching certification at this school school called InviteChange.

James Pratt: Don't know what made me ask that question. but obviously I am glad that I did, and that's what got me involved with with this crowd. But think about it! What an evolution from kind of the clinging, need to own everything, need to to make it all happen myself leader into the truly being able to be there, taking responsibility for being there,  and taking the responsibility for not being there for people.

James Pratt:  I don't need to solve all the problems. Suddenly I know how to hold people accountable.

James Pratt: So I think I want to share one last part of my journey.

James Pratt: By the way, sorry about that but that guy turned out to be a complete asshole. Story for another time. I hadn't quite clocked how to choose healthy people to work for at that point, and we'll see that in some ways I still haven't.

James Pratt: So I learned to be a coach while working as a VP of HR.

James Pratt: And those combined things started opening me up, caused me to found my podcast Silent Superheroes  because I dealt with the alcohol recovery, being diagnosed with bipolar as well enable me to start truly giving to other people.

James Pratt: I found myself at a company called Gravity Payments. Anyone here heard of Gravity Payments? Okay.  Nobody who I haven't told before.

James Pratt: Who's heard of the company that pays everybody $75,000? Minimum, $75,000! More of, you know, some of you

James Pratt: Same company. So Gravity Payments CEO Dan Price, realized that employing people and paying them $20,000 a year doesn't lead to to a happy, healthy life, and so he decided he was going to find a way to pay everybody, whether you're a cleaner, front desk person, at least $75,000,

James Pratt: So I had an opportunity to go into there,  they were looking for a VP of people position. Interviews at Gravity prior to me getting were just a chaotic mess of people like going through an interview room and asking a question and disappearing stuff like that.

James Pratt: Dan is a very interesting person. By the way,  he's caused some controversy sense. He's been accused of some pretty unpleasant things. Not convicted yet, as far as I know.

James Pratt: But he's an interesting person. Sharp and lot of courage.

James Pratt: He asked me, what does the word sacrifice mean to you.

James Pratt: For the second time I've been really stumped for answering a question. First time was in the hospital where you're trying to kill yourself effectively, second time, what does sacrifice mean to you? 

James Pratt: I could come up with all this kind of bullshitty kind of oh, I sacrificed as a leader when blah blah blah, you know, like the kind of crap you come up with during an interview.

James Pratt: It didn't feel right. I could tell somebody was looking for a real answer.

James Pratt: I have started a podcast it's called Silent Superheroes and it deals with mental health and work.

James Pratt: The sacrifice in doing that is the obvious sacrifice of time and energy by doing this alongside the job. But the real sacrifice is vulnerability.

James Pratt: Soon as I put that first episode out there, once you put something on on the Internet, it lives forever. As every celebrity who has taken a disrobed selfie will testify, once it's out there you can't get it back.

James Pratt: So I was sacrificing to say, any employer from that point on, any of you could have looked me up and found out James is bipolar, he's recovering alcoholic..

James Pratt: So that was my sacrifice.

James Pratt:  I told a longer version of that story, and how I came to found the podcast but Dan shed a few tears hearing that.

James Pratt: I felt like, maybe this is somewhere I can finally be me.


James Pratt: I don't need to pretend to be someone else to be successful.

James Pratt: I'm entitled to being  who I really am.

James Pratt: So there's an interesting code to that story.

James Pratt: I interviewed for a position working for Dan

James Pratt: but that changed quickly to working for the COO..

James Pratt: She showed a lot of love and care for my mental health issues and ask me about it a lot.

James Pratt: As time went on, it was more obvious to me that the job that I'd been set up in wasn't what they really needed.

James Pratt: And my performance started to suffer. It became more obvious that I wasn't doing the greatest job.

James Pratt: We just delivered an event. We bought a new company. We were integrating it. We delivered an event about the integration

James Pratt: But there was a great event in my opinion, and I was cleaning up afterwards with the COO.

James Pratt: She was kind of critiquing how I was doing and was I operating with senior enough level and things like that.

James Pratt: I said, listen!

James Pratt: I have for my entire life been winging it.

James Pratt: Those exact words. I've never had anyone there to kind of help me figure out what to do. Good for InviteChange to help me figure out how to be a coach it's not entirely fair.

James Pratt: But in terms of work, I haven't ever had a mentor or anybody who's really, I felt, has helped me.

James Pratt: So treat me like I'm a promising senior director at Yahoo that you are going to promote to VP and teach me how to work the way you want me to work.

James Pratt: So some extreme vulnerability.

James Pratt: If I'm not operating this level, help me.

James Pratt: Few weeks later we had been organizing the company executive retreat. At Gravity the executive retreat is a very egalitarian thing, like anyone who can come.

James Pratt: It's not just the executive team. Anyone can kind of participate.

James Pratt: I think it was down in Palm Springs and it's hard work at that company to organize that sort of thing, because everyone kind of has an opinion and wants it to be heard and that's how the company works.

James Pratt: I was getting to a point where I felt like, Okay, we're pretty close to an agenda, getting everything figured out. And I'm at a competition with one of my daughters over the weekend.

James Pratt: Phone rings. It's my boss

James Pratt: Pick up the phone. 

James Pratt: So well, listen, we got a problem.  I talked to the logistics team yesterday, and they tell me that they don't know what's happening, when, what setups we need, what equipment we need. This whole thing is just going very badly.

James Pratt:  I think again, she's going to abandon me.

James Pratt: Oh, God, yeah. Maybe we should get everybody together on a call and a resolve the issue. And then, like this piece of clarity hit, me.

James Pratt: I could bolt for the blue. I said hang on. That doesn't make sense.

James Pratt: I met with that team yesterday.

James Pratt: I gave them the layouts, the equipment request. I didn't have like exactly final details of every session but this is the structure that we'll need, and then it will work. I've done that stuff like hundreds of times. I know how to how to play that game.

I said I need to pause.  I spoke to that team yesterday like I just told you, and I said
I gave them everything that you've asked for. So one of 2 things are happening. Either they're lying to you to make me look bad or you're bullshitting me.
Really sorry to say this, but I think you're bullshitting me.

James Pratt: So she squirmed around for a while. I kind of went into litigation mode like, Okay, you said this.

James Pratt: Then you said this. Then you said this.

James Pratt: That's not true.

James Pratt: That was an intentional lie and she admitted it.

James Pratt: I was gone. I left, quit the next week

James Pratt: I quit because I finally felt entitled to be treated well.

James Pratt: I didn't have to make everybody else happy. I got to live with dignity. I got to be around people who cared about me.

James Pratt: And she gave me a gift and the gift was I finally got the courage to go full time as a coach. I've been doing kind of on the side since and to spend my life every day with people who are on the journey to find themselves to show up as themselves.
Show up free, confident, happy individuals!

James Pratt: So a cynic might say, Oh, you still save people, then.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): Well, coaches, we know it doesn't work that way. I would say people like themselves. I just asked the right questions.

James Pratt:  So that's my journey.

James Pratt: A little kid, who assumed nobody was there for them. Built half a career on running as hard as possible to make it work and then second half of my career, learning how I want to be treated it and how I want to live my my life.

James Pratt: That's everything I want to say.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): Thank you.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Thank you, James.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Such an honor to witness and hear your story.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I think, instead of breakouts, I'd love for us to simply stay together here. and Paige, you can go ahead and just put us back on wallpaper. If you'll have your form handy, I want to pull some thread to out of how James is taking you through this.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Perhaps that morning, evening, afternoon, whenever it was morning, I guess at Harbor View was the beginning of recognizing, Wow! I've created a result that is absolutely not what I want in my life. But I have no idea

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): actually how I got here. Right? So the results, some actions. But

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): did I make a decision? Was it conscious? What was I believing? What was really going on? So the first reflection step, he's given you that story there and then he went on, to describe

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): habits. Take care of everybody else. Preferences stay in motion.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I stay in motion. I don't have to feel it. Assumptions. There's nobody there for me, even if I asked for help.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And the bias that shows up that we're not entitled to have dignity.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Hmm! That's a tough one. So really tough one. And frankly, when we think about all of the data that's out in the market right now about mental health in the workplace, about loneliness, about what's going on with suicide. And, you know, leaders unable to cope with how are they to be with this new environment they find themselves in? call it hybrid, or whatever you want to do.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): and their first response is to say, people are not entitled to have their flexibility.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Really? Interesting. James fortunately, was able to stay on the path and to construct a new way forward.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): He began to take in for the first time, probably the reality of the people he was with? Who was I choosing to be with? What was I believing they were providing me? What about what I was providing them?

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Where is the integrity? In that conversation? The alignment step is about values at the core of our being. When those become the lens through which we make decisions, we take different actions.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): and it produces a different result.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So that step 3. But you cannot go to step 3 without really examining the habits and preferences and assumptions and biases that are operating.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): The tricky bit is they're always invisible until something disrupts our experience and we have a moment to say, huh!

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I wonder from where within me did that arise?

James Pratt: I I would add to that that doing this work that we're walking through here. is a far gentler way of accomplishing change.

James Pratt: For me, I had no choice. I mean in theory, I had a choice. I could have just
put the blinders on and gone back to the the life, but I had to in very literal sense, drive the the car into into wall, and come crawling out the wreckage and I can't recommend that as a as a strategy. So I'm grateful that we have these other strategies that Janet is talking about.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Yeah, that's exactly right, James, and in so many ways. And I don't really mean this is the commercial, but it really in my own life, having always felt like I was on the outside, I learned that I had to find the way to invite the change that I wanted. If I didn't like the people I was with, didn't like the work I was doing, if I didn't feel proud of myself, if I was sitting in shame, it was up to me to make a different choice.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I firmly believe we do not have to change out of trauma and break down all the time. Doesn't mean you still won't have those experiences, but we can accept responsibility because we're entitled to have a life of dignity.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And this is the reason this tension was so prominent for me. I see leaders every single day who get caught up in being on the extreme of self responsibility, and then make everybody else wrong for being entitled. You're not working as hard as I am when in fact, what they're really saying is, I'm entitled to have some balance, too. Thank you very much.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Then they don't hold people accountable. Well, that's kind of a crazy term, and that's a tangent I won't go into. But they really want people to be self responsible. They're not asking for that or making the environment capable of it but they don't know why. This is why this method of reflection is so empowering that it gives people a way, what did you say, James? , gentler way. Thank you for that. A gentler way to navigate when things just don't feel like they fit right, and they can't consciously get to it, because it's not a mental construct.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): It's experiential. I've embodied a way of walking in the world that isn't working.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): That begins the journey, and we get to do that as coaches to help them start to reveal, make visible what's invisible that's creating the experience they're having that they don't want.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So I'll pause there and just open the floor for comments, reflections, questions, and if you wouldn't mind, use the hands just so we can stack and make sure everybody that wants to can have a chance to talk with James or ask a question or make a comment. Floor is open.

James Pratt:  I am a completely open book. So ask whatever you want.

Chris Mijatovich: James. Thank you for sharing that story. It's very inspiring. I'm learning and touching parts within myself that I

Chris.Mijatovich: I wasn't ready to see, or at the depth that you've just described. So thank you.

James Pratt: You're welcome.

Life Coach  Shivali: The story, the journey, it gave a lot of goose bumps because I could relate with it a lot at many points. 

Life Coach  Shivali:  What I reflected upon in my own story, and when I connect with it.

Life Coach  Shivali: is appeasement has been something which takes you away from, you know, taking either your own responsibility or ensuring that you're entitled to the life of dignity when you do that. So what is your take on appeasement? And how do you ensure that you don't end up doing it, and you kill yourself in the in the attempt to make others happy?

James Pratt: For me, I think you've taken the first step to to acknowledge that. I realize I'm starting to get to kind of 12 step stuff here. But, you've acknowledged that there's a a problem. I think, for me, the next step is understand what underpins that?

James Pratt: How did you get to the place where you feel the need to appease people? Because I I think when you're appealing somebody. You're not really appeasing that person. You're using somebody else that was like back in the past.

James Pratt: And then for me, I find the next step to be if I can create that moment of awareness just that split second of oh, I can see what I'm doing.

James Pratt: That's a great practice, because that takes a long time to kind of create that pause, that space. Finally, to Janet's point, then you can make a choice.

James Pratt: What am I going to choose to do here. I'm going to choose to continue to go down the appeasement of the path. I'm going to choose to go down a sort of new path that, I think, leads me to a better place and that is just practice. Sometimes people like oh, I figured out, and it's like it's it's changed overnight. It hasn't. You know you have to keep working. I always think about

James Pratt: There's a a well known Buddhist nun called Pema Chodron. Anyone heard of Pema Chodron. Just kind of celebrity known here in the US in particular. And she tells this wonderful story about, at this point she's been a nun for 40 years, or she's been practicing mindfulness 40 years, and so we have this retreat every year she says in her storytelling. I love the way she does it.

James Pratt: And there's this woman there, Ruth.

James Pratt: Every time I see her, it's like, I just tense up, and my friends just like Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth and I am just gone.

James Pratt: She said, you know what I had to learn to do it just in a small pause. I think Janet put something about, you know, pausing and and noticing. And she says, you know, so next year I was able to get to Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth, Ruth. It's like, you know, it's that pause. Keep doing it, it gets bigger and bigger, it creates more space over time. So I think the same is true. If you try to learn that piece of habit in pause and notice it.

James Pratt: Just keep working at that, and eventually I think it will shift.

Life Coach  Shivali: Thank you so much.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I really want to put an exclamation point on the pause.  I think this has been my greatest learning in the last decade.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): and I am ruthless with clients about this. I will intentionally interrupt them. Stop with the story you already know. That's not what we're here for.

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James Pratt: Oh!

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And then in that pause tears come, or laughter comes, or the gaze off into the distance comes and now we get to do the real work.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): If I'm not emotionally courageous enough to cause the pause, they don't get to do their work. They get to do their persona.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): They get to do the thing that they think they're supposed to do.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I'm not interested in that. Our greatest value is liberating whatthe soul wants to say.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): That requires pause, so we always talk about it where it is. Clarity, alignment. Well, guess what pause to notice and maybe we'll get to awareness.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Go ahead, Stephanie. Your turn.

Stephanie McCluskey: Thank you. James. I'd love to hear your thoughts on when you have these acknowledgments that something's misaligned, or you're not in like a system that matches with your integrity, whether it's a work system or a family system, but you're not at a place where you can lead, whereyou have to find a way to function in that system? What are your thoughts on that?

James Pratt: Well, first I'm going to dodge the question and say what makes you believe you can't leave?  I think that's the place to start, because many of the places I've stayed are because I couldn't leave. When I said my CEO gave me a gift of showing me how ruthless and dishonest she was it forced me to do things, I wanted to do. I could have done what I'm doing now 5 years ago. So I think that's the first place to really interrogate those assumptions. I'm sensing first, that wasn't the answer that you wanted to. 

Stephanie McCluskey: So what if you're choosing to stay for some reason, because of your value of security or your value of trying to have that family relationship.

James Pratt: Yeah, because it is hard to quit families.  I think understanding what is you and what is them?

Stephanie McCluskey: Hmm!

James Pratt: Separating who you are from who they are?

James Pratt: There's something  I think I could be that myself a while back. But I realized that in a relationship. So you have a relationship with a family member or members, there's you and there's them. And then there's a relationship.

James Pratt: So I think that's a variation of what I said. Like understand what you are, who you are, be comfortable in that, and then understand how you're going to move within that relationship and what you want that to be. And those 2 things are separate. They're not the  relationship. You're not that's the thing that is in between.

Stephanie McCluskey: That's really helpful. I think I was seeing that maybe I wanted to control the relationship rather than coming authentically for myself. And the relationship is going to be organically what it is, based on what they also bring.

James Pratt: And then you get into boundary setting and all that kind of good stuff. You want to know your relationship.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Go ahead, Sarah.

Sarah Graves (she/her): Earlier on in your story, and just a beautiful story, James.

Sarah Graves (she/her): You use the term normal, and you use healthy kind of not interchangeably, but in the same sentence. 

Sarah Graves (she/her): I think this has been coming up lately in in my peripheral people saying something about well, they're just not normal. And you know I'm sort of a Dr. Gabor Maté fan what is normal and what do we have? So I guess I'd like you to clarify a little bit more there about that use?

James Pratt: Yeah, that's a good question, and thank you for bringing it up, because I did casually throw that around.

James Pratt: What I really meant was that was not traumatic.

Sarah Graves (she/her): Hmm!

James Pratt: I look at friends I have from that time and their worldview fits within the broader definition patterns of society.

James Pratt: It's interesting. What I always found is that  as I went through this recovery process I started looking at my close friendships.

James Pratt: I started to see that most, if not all, of my close friendships were with people who had experienced significant trauma.

James Pratt: So like even the outsiders in that sense became the insiders. Within our world being traumatized in some way, an abusive family member, abandoned whatever it might be, was normal. It was like the prevailing behavior.

James Pratt: When I say it's normal and healthy, I think what I was saying was like moving outside my bubble of being informed by trauma into being informed by other non traumatic things, and I can never know what that is because I can't go back. I can't do it again.

James Pratt: I think that's that comes a lot when you get into the coaching that I do.
In cosmic times, our lives don't even exist from a time perspective. In pretty short all the we're all going to get to the end of our roads. If you have a faith system, you believe that there is going to be somebody sitting in in judgment in some way of you, typically. 

James Pratt: For many people they don't.

James Pratt: I think it's going to get down the road and look yourself in the eye. So you know, maybe being normal doesn't matter. What matters is conducting yourself with a place system that you can live with. Some people live with some pretty shitty things.
We'll talk more about that one, because I feel like I actually still don't know the answer to the question. Kind of walked around it a little bit. 

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): I often wonder in my own life what is the necessity for labeling in a evaluative way.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): So you know what does normal, mean? But what are we really communicating to the world to say something is normal or healthy or well being? 

Janet M. Harvey (she/her):  I think the only person that that matters to is me.

James Pratt: Yeah.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): And somehow that's the call of the soul.

James Pratt: In those last moments you're the only person that matters.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her):If I can come home to myself, and I can stay connected
at home to myself, no matter where I'm walking in the world, there is no suffering. Stephanie. Go ahead, build on.

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Stephanie McCluskey:  I just wanted to share in my past career. I worked as a police officer, and I talked to people who have been victims of pretty serious crimes and a lot of children. And I just wanted to share my experience that we're normal can be a really incredible tool to help level set with somebody that that is not doesn't need to be a defining feature for them. My goal was to get to a point where they could see themselves as a victim of somebody's really poor behavior

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Stephanie McCluskey: and not have to feel like they needed to redefine themselves because of an experience that someone else chose for them.

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Stephanie McCluskey: So words can be such incredible tools. And I don't think we're always all gonna agree on what they are because they're unique to each person.  I just want to share that word normal, it can be really incredibly powerful, really just depending on your audience and who you're talking with.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Yeah, I think the key piece you're bringing, Stephanie, I totally agree, is normalizing the experience normalizing that that's not healthy  and that's not in contribution to our existence with each other. It's not in respect in the relationship and all kinds of ways to go into that.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): Well, honoring time, want to say again, thank you so much, James, for your being here for your being-ness or your vulnerability, your wonderful story. It sounds like it's impacted us all in one way or another.

Garry Schleifer (he/him/his): Almost in a normal way. Nope. Thanks everyone for being here. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Yeah, thank thank you for your wonderful witness with James, and I hope you have fun playing with the tool and Paige, when is our next one.

Paige Christian: It this August 18th, and I believe we will have Elder Jackson from Inside Circle.

Janet M. Harvey (she/her): Which is an extraordinary association. If you have not, check it out, insidecircle.org. Doing amazing work with the incarcerated. So hope to see you in August. Until then go well.

Thank you so much. Thank you, James.