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A Vital Question for "Back To" Season

"Back to" season is upon us in the US and many parts of the world. For some, it's back to school, while others return to work, caregiving, and the daily hustle and bustle. Amidst the collective sigh of relief, resignation, or anticipation that accompanies this season, I invite you to pause and ponder a fundamental question:

What's our shared purpose?

We pose this when introducing the Prosocial Matrix (otherwise known as "the second loop"), and it's a question Kevin Polk and I ask frequently. Given the prevailing negativity and discord in the collective online and virtual dialogues, it's particularly relevant today.

In our presentations and training, we have been starting with the shared purpose question when presenting the Matrix, even before delving into who's important.

But why this change in approach?

Today's current level of chatter is often marred by discontent and hostility. Our lack of shared purpose gets tons of social media engagement. It does not bring people closer together. It separates us into "me" vs. "me." There's no "me" without a "we." Humans need humans.

So, during your "back-to" journey, consider asking, "What do you think our shared purpose is here?" Share your thoughts and experiences. In my years of posing this question, I've never witnessed anything negative arise. Once the question is out there, people respond thoughtfully. "We" takes center stage momentarily, and if we persist, we discover common ground, even amidst differences. Respectful conversations work wonders in creating a sense of safety and connection.

If you have time to present the entire Matrix, go for it. However, even if you only have a moment for the We question, you'll have achieved something significant - a shift towards a shared perspective. Just as a teacher can gather their students and ask this question, you can do the same at work, during Zoom meetings, or at the dinner table.

Allow the question to guide your discussion. You don't need to prepare in advance; we're all here for a reason, even if we're still determining that reason. What matters is asking the question.

I invite you to join our ongoing experiment. Please share how it goes. Things could get interesting if we foster more meaningful connections and discussions during this "back to" season.

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