Boundaries, Relationships and Culture

*Trigger Warning: Content may include strong material.

Learning how to make new boundaries can be tough. Boundaries matter deeply in every segment of our society. An overarching idea of boundaries is present in our daily lives. These boundaries have an impact locally, nationally and globally. We are all effected by them and direly influenced by the way they are enforced. We’re in a pandemic right now, and we have to maintain a 6 feet distance from one another; respecting this boundary means respecting one another’s well-being, health and life. It’s taken a while to recognize the importance of this “social distancing.” Similarly, it’s taken a while for me to be more cognizant of boundaries in relation to “relationship management.” Consumed by the constant need to feel involved, it is easy to forget understanding the individual limits and capacity each person has. And, I guess, I’m saying this out of my mindset: as a people-pleasing person, it can be so difficult to get out of saying YES. It can be frustrating when someone doesn’t respect unsaid boundaries. And it can totally lead into an unsafe culture. Advice is often given from one’s own perspective — the limitation of empathy all together. What is a relationship? What are the boundaries that we each want to set in order to really create a safe space? What is the significance of creating a safe space?

It’s fascinating how relationships work. Relationships help communities thrive based upon the health and wealth they bring. When communities build stronger relationships, they work in congruence. As humans, we are interdependent upon one another. I used to get really weighed down by the idea of “independence.” It used to frustrate me, consume me, and trouble me when people pointed out: You have to be independent. I was really trying my best, but I felt a little lost in the way to find what that even meant. It is so so much deeper than that. Independence doesn’t mean that you can’t have support, but it’s actually about creating ideas and forming newness among a crowd of supporters. Studies have proven how deeply relationships affect our overall well-being [1]. Science has shown that the amygdala isn’t just about responding to danger, it’s also about safety.

Successful companies that have an incredible work-culture present this type of interplay. The one thing that strikes the strongest in creating a culture of cohesion are belonging cues. Google is filled with belonging cues. People feel a part of a team. They work well through the understanding that their body is constantly feeling safe, connected and immersed in projects. Particularly, on May 24, 2002, Google’s founder Larry Page wrote a note on the wall stating, “These Ads SUCK.” Google’s competition with another big company called Overture was not going well. Google was not accomplishing the task of matching up the right words or terms to the appropriate ads. Jeff Dean was one of the last people to see this note. He was on the Search team, he had literally no business doing this work. But it deeply intrigued him, so he sat down and started working on it. Somehow, after hours of tinkering with the problem, he found the solution. AND IT WORKED. It boosted the engine’s accuracy by double digits. Advertising was providing 90 percent of Google’s revenues. When Jeff Dean was interviewed, he said that he barely remembered the moment. He said, “it was normal.” His response showed that this type of effort was normalized. Therefore, achievement wasn’t rooted in managing what it brought the individual, but it was focused around the problem. They didn’t manage their status — they worked in unison, quickly, efficiently and without making it about anything else other than the problem at hand.

Google won because it was safer. It was a safe place to connect. People felt comfortable working on tasks. When safe communities are formed, people can work more cohesively, sustainably and in unity. Cohesion isn’t a task of intelligence; it’s based on signals of safe connection. BOUNDARIES and respecting those lines that we can push off to the side as “blurry.” Tackle the complexity with simplicity. Relationships, unity and working in teams bonds people to work on a task. It pushes people to come together and manage their power to allow it to manifest into something bigger than themselves.

Belonging cues are necessary for our well-being. Connecting and being a part of a community is healing. If you want to produce work, one must learn how to find ways to keep the amygdala at peace. Yoga, meditation and mindfulness allow us to reconnect with every part. We create a safety barrier around ourselves to face and shelter the peace within us. As we progress into these unprecedented times, remember to connect, find peace and work with your community. I’ve learned a lot on maintaining safety, peace and boundaries in different aspects of life. I’ve learned how to be more acutely aware with how I make boundaries to bring in connectivity through my mind, body and spirit. I have so much hope.

Create a space of safety and present those belonging cues to your loved ones. Designing a culture of safety allows for higher levels of productivity. Keep shining my folks!

[1] The Culture Code: The Secrets of Highly Successful Groups by Daniel Coyle.

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