Even though much of my work is literally TOO BIG FOR WORDS, occasionally I am inspired to write, and this is the place for that. Feel free to join in the conversation. Thanks for reading.
There was a fabulous story in the Times last month praising the triumph of BIG talk over small talk (http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/17/fashion/dating-the-end-of-small-talk.html?_r=0). Tim Boomer declares an end to small talk and ponders this: “Why can’t we replace small talk with big talk and ask each other profound questions right from the start? Replace mindless chatter about commuting times with a conversation about our weightiest beliefs and most potent fears? Questions that reveal who we are and where we want to go?” Big talk is diving into the deep end.
A decade ago, I grew tired of swimming in the shallow end. The big questions of life were stirring in me, screaming for safe places to swim. I searched, couldn't find, and so created spaces for deep dialogue. In the seven years since, I’ve convened 500 conversations; that’s 1,000 hours of BIG talk! I now can confidently claim: BIG TALK is life-changing! BIG TALK cements relationships. BIG TALK brings out the best in us. BIG TALK is scary to be sure, and oh so satisfying! BIG TALK is soulful and wholehearted. BIG TALK is the healthier, more fulfilling alternative to all the other ways we attempt to satisfy our cravings (food/drink/technology/TV). BIG talk transforms. BIG TALK leads to LOL with a spillover effect lasting for hours, and sometimes even days. BIG TALK is the contagious, cure-all we all need, now.
One of my Circles has met 38 times over the past few years. They are involved moms with full calendars, committed to risking undone errands and overflowing piles of laundry to engage in BIG talk. They unanimously voted to continue the conversation because they enjoy it so much, it has changed their lives, and they also report that there are just not enough venues for juicy engagement. For two hours, we turn off tech, tune into each other, enter a space for respectful listening, to talk about the BIG stuff, like who we are, who we want to become, why we are here, and what we are doing about it. We stretch and grow ourselves, reaching beyond our comfort zones, to help each other become our best selves…all through the life-changing magic of BIG TALK! My community is all the richer as a result of all the women energized by juicy conversations.
I am still unpacking gems from dozens of deep dives last month on retreat in Philo CA. Fourteen of us connected in a BIG way from sunup to sundown. I found being completely engaged in BIG TALK all day long so satisfying, so nourishing, so tasty that I needed very little else. Luckily, I can continue to connect to my purpose-guiding cohort through the magic of online wizardry called ZOOM.
“There is a huge and rising hunger on the part of just about everybody for authentic experience and reconnecting with what’s deepest and best in ourselves in an ever accelerating and complex world.”
This form of soulful, transformative engagement requires no fancy setting, scenery, or sophisticated training. You don’t have to travel beyond your own living room and it doesn’t cost a lot of money or demand hours of preparation. That said, know that the risk, the leap, the stretch is BIG. You must get real, speak your truth, and open your heart and mind wider than you think possible. At first, you may feel like you did as a child atop the high dive. You will worry about failing to use the “right words” and risk saying the “wrong” things. BIG TALK is not the norm because it requires sitting down, turning off, tuning in, to engage in thoughtful, heartfelt reflection. It demands a kind of authentic presence nearly extinct in 2016. (Consider BIG TALK 180 degree from the circus of the endless Republican debates.)
“Listening is such a simple act. It requires us to be present, and that takes practice, but we don't have to do anything else. We don't have to advise, or coach, or sound wise.
We just have to be willing to sit there and listen.”
—Margaret J. Wheatley
You can create, discover and engage in BIG TALK yourself starting right now. Here’s my question: What kinds of conversations do you want to be in this week? Invite someone else into your inquiry. Roll up your sleeves, turn off your phone and talk about what matters most to you. I hope you join me in hanging up the small talk and making space for BIG TALK. If Tony Robbins is correct and the quality of our life is determined by the quality of our questions, then BIG TALK just might save the world.
“Dialogue could bring about a radical transformation of group consciousness.
Under the right circumstances ‘group mind’ can develop
and then access knowledge otherwise unavailable.”