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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Dear Hannah: LEarning (The Humpty Dance (Discerning Your Relationships))

Dear Hannah,

I don't have a lot of people who are part of my life - but the ones who do engage either want my fellowship, wisdom, service, or all three of these.

Here's how I discern what they want.

Successful relationships build through a progression that starts with acceptance ("you are alright with me"), then affirmation ("you are alright, period"), then accountability ("I should not have done that"), then authority ("what should I do?").

This progression will not look the same in every relationship, but these stages are reached - and remain present - in the ones that work and last.



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"LEarning (The Humpty Dance (Discerning Your Relationships)) (4-22-2018)"
By Derrick Brown

I am a big fan of Digital Underground.

I remember "Same Song" - which featured and introduced us to Tupac Shakur.

Tupac was a dancer, "hype man", and background vocalist for the group.

I remember the honor Digital Underground showed to Parliament / Funkadelic ... they sampled a lot of that funk, and gave George Clinton co-writer credits on "Kiss You Back".

I also remember "Piano Man".

Digital Underground would let "Piano Man" play live keys over samples - and it worked.

The organ groove and solo in "Same Song" was bananas.

I recently learned that Digital Underground was first a militant rap group ... that paid homage to The Black Panthers.

Public Enemy came along and blew up with the same schtick ... so Digital Underground reinvented itself as something more lighthearted and entertaining.

We all remember Digital Underground most for "The Humpty Dance".

Everything about "The Humpty Dance" worked - especially that bass line.

I know I am the only one, but someone else had to tell me that "Humpty-Hump" was bandleader "Shock-G's" alter ego.

"Piano Man" was also "Shock-G".

I grew up watching music videos - which facilitated the illusion that they were 3 separate people.

I did not know.

I am a quick study sometimes ... but sometimes it takes me a minute.

Watch me get quick with this.

See, Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall - then things fell apart.

Things don't always fall apart, cousin.

Sometimes they never come together in the first place.

Our relationships can be like that.

I don't have a lot of people who are part of my life - but the ones who do engage either want my fellowship, wisdom, service, or all three of these.

Here's how I discern what they want.

Successful relationships build through a progression that starts with acceptance ("you are alright with me"), then affirmation ("you are alright, period"), then accountability ("I should not have done that"), then authority ("what should I do?").

This progression will not look the same in every relationship, but these stages are reached - and remain present - in the ones that work and last.

Today we do everything fast, so it is easy to skip right through these stages.

I mentioned in a recent message that submitting yourself in service is humble ... but also humbling ... but also strategic.

This is especially so in relationship building.

Submitting yourself in service will show (and reveal) character (both your own and the other party's) ... it also reveals care, concern, respect & synergy (or the lack thereof).

It helps you see the potential path of your relationship.

Let me add another tool today - assigning "homework".

Ask the other person to do something - not necessarily something for you.

Ask them to do something that will help them.

Again, this will reveal care, concern, respect & synergy (or the lack thereof).

So how does this work in real life?

Well, in my life I get far more opportunities to submit myself in service than I get to assign "homework".

That should tell me something.

I attract a lot of people who profile as "visionaries" who are tasked with saving the world from itself.

This personality type is often predisposed to myopia, tunnel vision, and self-centeredness.

It takes one to know one, though - so I am not judging ... I am confessing.

So let's say that I have a special insight to these folks ... because I am one of these folks.

Here's a recent example ...

Podcast Tales

I hosted a breakout session on podcasting as part of a local networking group's regular meeting.

This cat introduced himself at the general meeting in a distinguished way - that impressed me.

Then he approached me to exchange numbers as I headed to my breakout session.

He would not be able to stay for my breakout session, but was interested in chatting about podcasting later.

Cool - man, let's get together.

So we met twice via Skype.

The first meeting was a introductory, icebreaker-type meeting.

I noticed that he talked a lot about himself.

No harm, there ... when afforded the opportunity, I can get a little chatty about "me", too.

The second meeting, though, felt like a job interview - he yielded the floor to me so I could tell him all about my approach to podcasting.

He asked me near the end of the meeting if I had all of what I had shared written somewhere.

We set a third Skype meeting - for which he did not show.

There was a hurricane that day (seriously), so I figured that he might have gotten caught up or delayed.

So a couple of days later, I contacted him to follow up on the missed meeting.

He explained that his assistant cleared all meetings from his calendar once they learned of the impending storm.


OK - even I see the red flags when retelling the story.

I saw them while experiencing the story, too, but focused on my need to create partnerships that could bring new opportunities.

I reached out a few weeks later to ask if he had followed up on the "homework" I assigned (to pick up the inexpensive HD webcam I recommended to start filming his ideas).

He had not followed up, but thanked me for holding him accountable.

A couple of weeks later, he invited me to join his podcast team for their bi-weekly online production meetings.

He added me to their Google Docs collaborators folder.

I reviewed his writing that outlined the vision for the show, and the assigned team roles.

It was a strong concept, and a strong team with clearly defined roles.

I noticed, though, that he assigned me the role of audio engineer.


I appreciated being considered, but would have appreciated being asked even more.


Well, because I have my own show, and would love to collaborate with other show hosts and producers in synergistic ways.

We could share music (that we have exclusive rights to - a time saver!), be guests on each other's shows, write shows together, promote each other's shows - there's a lot that we could do to help each other.

Frankly, being the audio engineer on his show sounded like a great way to help him.

Maybe it would help me by allowing me to be part of a multi-person team ... and not just a one-man band?

I know that is a stretch - maybe a full-out "reach".

I saw the newest red flag, but decided to see the process through and attend a few meetings.

Maybe my participation and input would make a mutually beneficial role clear to him, or make it clear to me that there was no such role.

So we have a couple of meetings, outline processes, and start gathering show ideas.

I contributed a couple of ideas that I developed for my show, but was willing to co-produce with partners.

During one meeting we talked through each team member's role on paper, and what it would look like in "real-life".

I understood everyone else's roles, but the one I had been assigned was "talked around" and discussed in little detail.

He even mentioned to me that he would be following up with me individually because my role was so important ... and because he was so detail-oriented.

He was also super-busy - with a full-time corporate job - so he never did.

It became clear to me that no one understood the details of my role, but knew it was needed.

It then became clear to me that perhaps all of our early meetings were "interviews" - to identify the group's missing set of skills (remember "is all of this written somewhere?").

So here we go again.

First Groundhog Day of 2018.

Another cat who seems very interested in my skills - but not interested enough in me to know that I am the best person to decide how I want to be involved.

See, I would have been more than willing to provide a "behind-the-scenes, all-access" peek at my production process.

I would have recorded it, and provided it as a resource ...

... and I then would have skipped all of those meetings.

... and we perhaps could have then collaborated on something of greater mutual need.

Then came the climax.

There was a scheduled meeting where I was the only confirmed and actual attendee besides him.

I followed through on attending - figuring this would give us an exclusive chance to "talk shop" about my assigned role - and my preferred one.

He hurried me offline and said that the meeting would be rescheduled.

Alright, man ... I can see clearly now.

I had been doing "The Humpty Dance" so hard, I could not see that "Shock-G", "Humpty Hump" and "Piano Man" were the same dude.

I am trying so hard to find a way to collaborate, I cannot see that this cat sought to employ me to handle production details he did not understand.

See, I am so familiar with that game, I should see it coming, right?

Sure - if I am operating from a pessimistic / realistic platform, and always looking for things to fall apart.

I was operating from a place of hope and opportunity.

I wanted to see if we could put things together for our mutual benefit.

All I lost was time - but time is a significant asset in my life.

So I stopped attending meetings, and waited to be contacted by a detail-oriented leader who declined to honor the opportunity afforded by our last meeting - but would now want to know why I have not been showing up for work.

Child, please.

Well, that happened ... last week.

I responded to say that I was concentrating on writing and producing the 3rd season of my own show ... and that I was still available to guide and consult, but would not be involved in the day-to-day production details.

He thanked me, and wished me well on my 3rd season.

I'm not sure he got it.

But I do.

I can provide that consulting and guidance to someone who values and has requested it.

OK, man.


What have I LEarned?

I can assign myself properly to new relationships by offering my time, energy, care, concern, and respect through humility (submitting myself in service) and "homework" (asking them to do something that will benefit them).

Then I let "The Humpty Dance" remind me that their response will either propel our relationship, or repel it - in clear and certain terms.


About Derrick Brown (Standup Storyteller)

I am Keisha's husband, and Hannah's father.

I am a “standup storyteller.”

I fuse rap, spoken word (poetry), oration (traditional public speaking), singing, and teaching into messages of hope, healing, and change that I write, direct, and produce to help people who help people.

Everything must change - and stay changED.

Tradition begins and ends with change.

Change begins with me and the renewing of my mind ... then continues through efforts to effect small-group discipleship (equipping others to equip others) with audiences that respect and embrace mentoring, mediation, and problem solving as tools of change.

I am the product of my mentoring relationships, peacemaking (and peacekeeping), and problem-solving ability.

My education began when I finished school.

After school, I enrolled in a lifelong curriculum that includes classes in ministry, entrepreneurship, stewardship, literacy, numeracy, language, self-identity, self-expression, and analysis / synthesis.

My projects execute a ministry that has evolved from wisdom earned through lessons learned.

I want to share this wisdom to build teams of "triple threat" fellows - mentors, mediators, and problem solvers.

We will collaborate in simple, powerful ways that allow us to help people who help people.

I now know that power is work done efficiently (with wise and skillful use of resources, interests, communication, and expertise).

Copyright © 2018 Derrick  Brown. All Rights Reserved.

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