Fierce Conversations

The last time I saw U2 in concert, the stage was a marvel, the crowd amazing, the evening chilly and windy but with gorgeous views of the mountains and sunset, and the music was, of course, fantastic.  As I listened to the familiar lyrics, played by the iconic stars on the stage, and punctuated by graphics displayed on the screen, I was reminded of who U2 really is. 

They’re a rock band, sure, but they are so much more than that, and their presence and influence comes not just from their music but also from their engagement with the world, with their willingness to go into the most painful parts of human existence and how we treat each other, and bring it into the light.  They share stories of inequality and injustice with their fans who, judging from the prices paid for tickets, generally exist far from a world of poverty, political oppression, and violence.

As I watched and listened, the term that came to mind was “fierce love.”  U2 works tirelessly for causes because they love all of humanity, and they fiercely defend and provide a voice to those who otherwise may not have one. (In this context, “fierce” means robust, intense, strong, powerful, passionate, among other synonyms.)  It started me thinking of how we interact with the world, and how often we are willing to be “fierce” in our beliefs and our conversations with one another. 

A book I’ve enjoyed and appreciated over the years that deals with this topic is Fierce Conversations by Susan Scott.  She promotes the idea that every conversation should be fierce: “a fierce conversation is one in which we come out from behind ourselves into the conversation and make it real.”  She lays down 7 principles of fierce conversations:

  1. Interrogate reality.
  2. Make it real.
  3. Participate as if it matters, because it does.
  4. Tackle the real obstacles.
  5. Obey your instincts.
  6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake.
  7. Let silence do the heavy lifting.

I won’t attempt to summarize the entire book here, but you get the general idea of Scott’s philosophy on human interaction.  She coaches leaders to create cultural transformation based on passion, integrity, authenticity and collaboration.  Something U2 has been doing for decades through their music, and by doing so, have positively impacted lives throughout the world.

What conversations have you been putting off or avoiding?  What are you willing to be “fierce” about?  What would your work or personal relationships look like if every conversation had passion, integrity, authenticity and collaboration?  What would the world look like?