DeAnna is a former Stake Relief Society president in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and the CEO of People Acuity. She works with leaders and employees helping them to “Shift Up!” blame, engagement, leadership, and individual and team performance. She is also an internationally-known keynote speaker, Top 100 Global Coaching Leader, and the author of Shift Up! Strengths Strategies for Optimal Living. She has shared her expertise and inspiration in several Leading Saints articles and podcasts. Her personal time is joyfully spent loving and lifting her family and friends – and helping each person she meets to recognize how valuable and important they are.
0:00:03 Introduction of DeAnna Murphy
0:00:48 Her deepest desire has just been to be a great mom; her best leadership training has come in that arena. Professionally, she’s an executive leadership coach.
0:03:44 Great leaders don’t just ask “what we are trying to accomplish?”, but also, “what is important about it?”
0:04:07 When we start a meeting establishing the purpose of the meeting, it creates power.
0:04:20 Beginning a 13-14 Sunday School class by establishing the purpose
0:05:43 “Of all the things you’re trying to accomplish with this summit, what’s the most important thing you’d hope they’d learn and they’re longing to hear?”
0:06:00 (Kurt) Hope people walk away with a deeper ability and motivation to run a meeting
0:06:50 We meet to unify. We meet to connect. We meet to multiply our resources together. D&C 43:8-9 – When we meet, we should instruct and edify one another
0:08:08 To “instruct and edify together” implies that each participant holds a piece – no one person holds all the pieces
0:11:06 Each person in a council has a unique strength and a unique perspective.
0:13:23 DeAnna’s experience with a leader having a diametrically opposed viewpoint – she might have a difficult time understanding his perspective. She sometimes had a difficult time communicating with him. It helped them to understand how the other viewed situations.
0:15:29 Feelings of self-consciousness, uncertainty, and fear led to defensiveness. Granting herself grace allowed her to grant others grace, and remove the defensiveness.
0:16:05 Citing Ether 12:27 (weaknesses that they may be humble); DeAnna focuses on Ether 12:37 (because you see your weakness, you’ll be made strong)
0:16:35 DeAnna’s weaknesses were not made strong by becoming like her Stake President. Instead, they learned from each other, they became stronger in each other, and were unified in the Savior.
0:19:00 Identify what is important about the meeting
0:19:18 Identify “how” we will be together: (1) There’s always room for the Savior (2) Recognize we see things differently
0:20:30 Three or four questions always help to create clarity: (1) “What are you noticing…” or “I’m noticing…” (2) “What’s important about that?” (3) “What does it mean?” (4) “Now what do we do about it” (“Why?When?How?”)
0:22:58 What do you do when you’re in a meeting and you realize that you’re not tracking what is being said? Many remain silent.
0:24:00 Feeling confusion in a meeting may be a spiritual prompting that others are confused. Consider that speaking up will likely help others in the room, not just yourself.
0:24:35 Going into meetings, agree about how we are going to “be” together. Set up ground rules for how we will conduct the meetings and participate.
0:26:17 Google experiment: The number one thing contributing to high-performing teams – cohesive and agile – was psychological safety.
0:27:17 There’s nothing more intimidating that being one of three women in a room with 15 men in their suits.
0:27:55 Fear interferes with our ability to experience oneness.
0:30:13 Confident vulnerability – the confidence that God has empowered each of us with something unique, and he’s also given us weaknesses.
0:33:30 Each person is a puzzle piece with unique strengths. If I hold my puzzle piece back, the person whose piece is adjacent to mine can’t see where to lay their piece down. Other people around me also are inclined to hold back.
0:34:05 How do I find out what my puzzle piece is? (1) Tell me about a time when you made a difference? When was it and what did you do? There’s often a pattern about how we make a difference.
0:39:05 Christ prays that his disciples may be perfect in one. The Greek word for “perfect” means “whole” or “complete.” We can become “whole” or “complete” as we are one as a council.
0:40:00 One purpose of meeting is not just to meet the needs of the people “out there,” but to lift and magnify one another in the meeting. As we magnify one another, we find the solutions to serve those we’ve been called to serve.
0:42:20 Unconditional curiosity is the antidote to judgment of self and others. When I get curious about what you mean, and what’s important about what you’re sharing, I begin to see God in you.
0:42:40 Our strengths are pieces of our Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother’s DNA in us, so as we see our strengths, we see God in each other
0:43:13 When we begin to see God in those who see things differently than us, something sacred happens
0:43:30 The Law of Sacrifice asks us: “What will I put down so that I can be fully available to love with all of my heart, might, mind, and strength?” Will I let go of my judgment? Will I let go of my belief that I’m not enough? Will I let go of my fear?
0:45:20 How do we let go of our fears and insecurities? You may ask the following questions:
0:47:11 “What’s the story I’m telling myself right now?”
0:48:50 “If you keep telling yourself this story, where will it lead you?”
0:49:23 “What would a new ending look like if I were to write a new ending to this story?”
0:50:45 “What would be one step you could take toward that new ending?”
0:56:00 How do we let go of our fear?
1:01:20 Fear and judgment hold us back from consecration.
1:01:53 Wrap up – identifying important principles
1:01:55 Principle: When people are aligned around a shared purpose and have had a chance to weight in on the purpose, it helps them come more fully to a meeting.
1:02:55 Principle: Have clear goals.
1:02:10 Principle: Pause to say how we are going to be together.
1:05:40 Meetings are just another way of ministering and loving each other the way the Savior would
1:10:10 A great meeting doesn’t start when the meeting starts. The meeting starts 6 or 7 days ago.
1:12:42 Asking the right question is powerful. Start with “What?” or “How?” or “When?” Avoid “yes” or “no” or “why?” questions.
1:13:21 If you let the person’s answer drive your next question, you will go right into their heart.
1:16:00 Final encouragement
Kurt: Welcome back to another session of the Meetings with Saints Virtual Summit. Today we have one of our favorite presenters who’ve been on the podcast and other venues. That is DeAnna Murphy. How are you DeAnna?
DeAnna: Kurt, thanks for letting me have a chance to be with you again today. I’m doing great and excited to be with this audience today.
Kurt: Good. Well, every time I put any type of content or event or conferences together, I’m always thinking, how can we get DeAnna involved here? And so I’m so glad that you said yes. And I know that you’ll have a lot to share with us. If people maybe aren’t as familiar with the other interviews we’ve done or the content you’ve put together through Leading Saints, give us your background and put yourself into context here.
DeAnna: Well, thank you for that. I want to say first and foremost, Kurt, my deepest desire and longing in my whole life has just been to be a great mom. So my heart comes from that place first, and I believe that my best leadership training has been in that arena. We have three children and our oldest son was mauled by a bear when he was 14, and we got to help him coach through his recovery at an LDS scout camp of all things. And our second daughter was born disabled, and she got to help me retrain my eyes from thinking about people from external focus to who are they on the inside – seeing that first. Our youngest son came off a snowboarding jump and had a back injury and traumatic brain injury that changed his whole life and got in his way of some of the big goals that he plans. So first and foremost, I’m a mom.
In my professional world, I’ve spent 25 years in organizational development. I’m an executive coach. I deliver leadership development training with a focus on interdependent leadership. Which as Latter-Day Saints we get that right. That is the heart of John 17. It’s about synergy. It’s about how do we become one. How do our hearts get knit together in unity and love? How do we appreciate and celebrate people who are different from us when they push our buttons when we don’t understand them? And we help leaders do that in the work world and lift businesses in that way. So that’s probably enough background. There’s lots more to say, but that’s probably the important thing.
Kurt: And I’m trying to remember. Are you in Minnesota?
Kurt: That’s right.
DeAnna: That’s right. Minneapolis, Twin Cities area.
Kurt: Nice. Wendy Ulrich connected us originally. And that led to our…just looking up here, our first interview we did was released in October 2016, and you talked about mentoring Relief Society presidents through love. And you talked about your experience being a Stake Relief Society president and how you connected with those Ward Relief Society presidents. Really powerful interview which touches on the topics that we’ll discuss as well today. Then second interview he did was creating engagement through ministering interviews where you, again, highlighted some of these principles of one to one interview views in the context of this new effort of administering interviews.
And so having a summit all about meetings, I wanted to maybe touch on these things again, and then also just talk about how to draw…you have a special skill set that you’re very effective at teaching others as far as drawing out others in a meeting setting or a classroom setting. But really, you know, you think of Ward Council, it’s really just another teaching setting, but maybe more formally a council, which I think we hope all of our Sunday school classes are more of a council than a teacher-student relationship. So where should we begin with all this as far as understanding the one to one interview dynamic of the one to one interview meetings and also Ward Council meetings and those dynamics? Where should we go?
DeAnna: Well, I’ll tell you it’s an interesting question that you ask. And I would name that there’s actually a principal in your question. So let’s actually point to the question in terms of what it is that we’re trying to accomplish together. Great, great leaders, the first thing that they’re doing it’s not just what is it that we’re trying to accomplish but what’s important about it. And one of the things that I often see is that when we start a meeting, whether it’s a one on one or whether it’s a Ward Council, what’s the purpose? Why are we here? What is it that we really want to happen? And to establish that at the very beginning, creates power, whether it’s a Sunday School class or a Ward Council or a one to one.
Maybe to give an example of that, Kurt is, because a story is somewhat powerful. Right now my current assignment is that I teach 13 and 14-year-olds. There are a rowdy bunch by nature, right? They’re kind of fun-loving. They’re not too serious yet. They haven’t quite yet got into the depths of the gospel. And yet I’m watching these 13 and 14-year-olds. They come in the door. The moment they sit down and we’ll share something like this today, [00:05:00] “We are here for a very sacred and specific purpose. We’re here because the Savior wants to speak to you. He’s going to speak to you today, and he’s going to teach you and you’re going to hear it in your heart, and He’s going to prepare you to help you to positively influence other people. And we’re going to be practicing how to do that in this class today, starting right now.”
Now, I am astounded at how 13 and 14-year-olds who are giggly and laughing come into Sunday School and almost instantly their hearts are looking for the Holy Ghost. So your question is great, and it’s what’s our deeper why. And maybe I’d ask you a question in return, which, by the way, is one of the things great leaders do, and I’d asked you, Kurt, of all the things you’re trying to accomplish in your summit, given the needs of the people who are listening to us right now, what’s the most important thing that you’d hope they would learn and they’re longing to hear?
Kurt: That’s fantastic. I’d probably say, you know, the most important thing is I just hope that people walk away from this summit with a deeper ability and a deeper motivation to run a meeting. Oftentimes, we started getting this rat race of “well, we’re supposed to have a Ward Council because that’s what the handbook says. We’re supposed to have regular one to one interviews because that’s what the handbook says.” But what if we saw these as tools that we can draw upon to create unity, connection, deeper purpose, and vision? But sometimes I think on paper, we all think, “Yeah, of course, I want to do that,” but we don’t know how to get there or we lack the ability to do that. And so hopefully, they’ll gain something from these sessions that will better prepare them to do that.
DeAnna: So notice what you just did is that we went from, “hey, this summit’s all about how to hold a meeting” to “wait a minute, what’s the real reason we meet?” If I might add to what you’ve said, I love the words unity. That was one of the words you used. We meet to unify. We meet to connect. We meet because it multiplies our resources together so that exponentially we can accomplish more. The words that are coming up for me as I’m listening to you, Kurt come from Doctrine and Covenants 43:8 and 9. And it’s interesting because that’s where the Savior says that when we meet together we’re supposed to instruct and edify one another. I believe sometimes we misunderstand and misrepresent that teaching to mean instruct means I am to stand and tell you.
And notice what we are already doing, Kurt is a bit of a model of what leaders do as they’re empowering others. It is to first ask, what is truly important here? What’s our deeper why for coming together? Instruct and edify implies that we each hold a piece. No one holds all the pieces. I get that bishops and Stake Relief Society presidents get special and sweet inspiration. And I understand that mental well, at least the Stake Relief Society mental – I don’t know the other side of the equation obviously. I recognize the sacred revelation that comes in that calling but it’s not 360 degrees. You get a piece. And if our callings and our chance to meet together is to grow one another – he’s growing Zion in us – and it’s to become a model of how to knit our hearts together in unity and love, then when we meet together, the idea is that we are sharing unique perspectives, validating one another, adding to one another’s perspectives so that we all become edified.
And what I find is that when we do that well, the Holy Ghost begins to instruct each of us in very unique ways in our assignments. And I might get a different revelation as a Relief Society president than you might get as a bishop. And that’s part of the brilliance of it. The promises that are there, that as we meet in this way where we lift each other, we ask questions together, we multiply together, we become sanctified, we have our hearts bound together, like I’m thinking of Mosiah 18, our hearts knit together in unity of love, and that we know how to act and carry out His will. I’m grateful for that. Because I don’t know about you, Kurt, but many times as a church leader or as a parent, I would go, “I have no idea how to act here. I mean, over my head, I don’t know what to do with a kiddo who’s got a brain [00:10:00] injury or I don’t know what to do with a Relief Society president who tells me, ‘I stopped praying three months ago.'” I don’t know what to do. But I’m pretty sure that as we stay in that place of openness and curiosity and really try to understand the hearts of people, and we invite them to share their perspective, then the Spirit begins to teach us all. And that’s part of the beauty of it.
Kurt: And I’ve always appreciated you really took a deep dive into this concept when you came out to Salt Lake for one of our live events. As far as this 360 degrees where when we walk into these meetings or scenarios, just realizing we don’t see all the perspectives and the people in there each have a different view and perspective, and going back to being curious and open, what you’re doing is you’re recognizing, I don’t see it all but they see something I don’t see and I can learn from that. So I’m going to be in this state of owning what I do see and bringing it to the group, but also being open to the other perspectives in the room.
DeAnna: Kurt, you just named something, if we were together, for our audience, I would actually have a stand back to back. And I’d ask you how far can you see before your peripheral vision ends. So if you put your arms straight out, you’ll start to notice it’s about equal to your shoulders, and then it starts to end. But if we’re back to back, what happens is our hands will touch. And I can see to a certain point, and then you can see what I can’t. There is a lot of research behind what I just named. And to offer a perspective, if you consider the 360 degrees of perspective, and you envision that each strength has a unique view, almost as though we’re posed with a problem. Kurt, some people on your Ward Council when they’re posed with a problem, the first thing they’re going to think of is, how will this affect people? It’s very relational. Other people will say, “I wonder what the root cause is that we should be considering so that we make sure we’re operating from the root cause analysis.” Someone else would be saying or thinking, “I wonder what the most efficient and fast way to execute in resolving this would be?” Each of them, none of them wrong. All of them uniquely different.
Someone else might be thinking I wonder what resources we could combine together and marshal to serve and solve this problem. Literally four different domains of strength, each with its own unique perspective. And on a Ward Council, I’ve really learned that every single person is going to bring a perspective that is entirely unique. 20-ish years ago, Don Clifton and Marcus Buckingham, the foremost researchers in strengths, identified about 350 different patterns of talent – that’s really remarkable – documented it with 2 million different people on the books. And then mathematically they started doing this factor analysis or correlation to say, are there some that are similar? And indeed, they found that was true. And that’s how the 34 themes of the Clifton StrengthsFinder were created. And so it’s very interesting because, within strengths, we’ve got some things that are diametrically opposed.
Well, I remember being a Stake Relief Society president when I would sit one on one with my stake president. We were utterly back to back. Like literally. He was looking at the opposite side of the equation. And sometimes I’d be listening to him and I’m going, “He’s talking English, but I don’t even know what he means.” And I’d feel confused and then I’d feel scared or stupid or all the things that we do when we’re listening but we don’t understand. And I didn’t know how to communicate to him sometimes at very beginning. We were both called at the same time. So both of us are learning. I’m learning how to communicate with him and he’s learning how to communicate with me. It took us about two years before we figured it out. About that time, it was time for me to be released, by the way. But over time, we had to learn that we both saw different things.
His way wasn’t right and my way wasn’t wrong. It was together we got more complete. And it helped us as we tell together about some of the needs to be respectful that the questions that he was asking me, they weren’t wrong. They were great. It’s just that he was looking in a different place. And sometimes the things I would bring to him they were important, but he always didn’t know how to integrate what I was bringing to that equation. And so we got to learn together. We bumped along and we were super kind to each other and very forgiving once we found our way through it, and we learned a lot. And we’ve just become a dear friend. I’m very, very grateful for him and feel like we learned together.
I think a lot of times when we get into those roles, and [00:15:00] we feel misunderstood, we get our feelings hurt, and we might make up stories about other people and they’re judging or not judging us. I think there’s something for us about recognizing all of us see and we don’t see. And when we start to grant ourselves first grace…I had to give myself grace and go, “DeAnna, it’s okay. You’ve never been a Stake Relief Society president before. It’s okay if you don’t understand what to ask or what to share or what he needs.” And to grant myself grace allowed me to grant him grace. When I was self-conscious and fearful that I was failing him, I became maybe more defensive. And I believe that’s a very normal thing. I could track my own defensiveness right back to my own uncertainty. It’s so easy to impose our negative feelings onto other people. In reality, I was scared at times because I didn’t know.
And for me to give thyself grace and allow the Savior’s mercy to hold that I didn’t know, I really fell in love with Ether 12 which we often quote. We quote Ether 12:27 all the time. “I give unto men weakness that they may be humble.” As in heavenly Father gives us weakness just like He gives us strength. And it’s not bad. We often don’t quote Ether 12:47 that says “Because you’ve seen your weakness, you’ll be made strong.
DeAnna: I don’t know that it’s that I’ll be made strong isn’t suddenly that weakness becomes my strength. But you know what happened? I never became like my stake president, but I learned to lean into him. And I became strong in him, and he became stronger in me. And we were more unified in the saver when we learned to appreciate each other’s differences and to hold each other with grace when we didn’t know.
Kurt: Yeah. I appreciate you bringing up that example of a Stake Relief Society president with a Stake President and sort of the different dynamics happening there at the moment. Because sometimes we’ll go in and we don’t realize that we’re back to back. We just think, “The Stake presidency is in one galaxy and I’m in the other and why can’t he see it like me.” When in reality you’re just seeing different parts of the same issue. Sometimes we can default to we recognize, “Okay, the Stake president has keys, he has authority, so maybe I just need to back up and just try and get into his galaxy, whatever it is, right?” But when you realize that, no, you’re actually setting back to back and you’re seeing things differently, it really broadens that experience.
Because I would say people either do two things, generally speaking. They either get submissive and they’re just like, “Okay, whatever you say. You’re the leader. Oh, you want to do that?” And you’re thinking, “Okay, this is the craziest idea I’ve ever seen right?” Or you get defensive, like “No, president, why are you seeing this?” Or you go home and grumble to your spouse that “he’s just in a different galaxy.” Any ideas as far as better approaching that dynamic that you have mentioned?
DeAnna: I love that you named it. As I consider your question, I’m very aware, Kurt that where you’re pointing us and I feel grateful for it, it is equally applicable at home with your spouse. This is true in your presidency with your counselors. And it’s true when I’m listening to 14-year-olds who are coming from another galaxy literally in Sunday school. But the principle is always true. Let’s talk pragmatics. Let’s talk tools. If we were sitting down together, Kurt and we were trying to counsel best. Let’s imagine we’re on a Ward Council about where to start. There is always the question that we started with today, what is truly important here today? What is the why for meeting? And getting alignment together around it.
By the way, sometimes the leader will tell. I believe asking is more effective. I think it’s a great way to invite people to consider. What’s important about meeting here today? And once we identify what’s important, it might be that there are some goals that are identified, but let’s not forget how we’re going to be together as we do that. Number one, that we want to make sure that there’s always room for the Savior. Number two, that we’re recognizing that we see things different and we’re getting curious about what we don’t understand rather than feel stupid. And it’s very easy in our LDS culture, where it’s really easy to look at other people who seem so perfect. And we are so not.
And I can’t tell you how many times in my leadership experiences, and I’m sure I speak on behalf of others who are not so different, where I would go, “If you only knew what was going on in my life, you would never want me to be your leader. I don’t belong here.” Because I’m aware of all of my imperfections and [00:20:00] I’m aware of that the Savior has lifted me to a place that I don’t feel like I belong.” And there’s always going to be a little bit of that for us when we literally are being asked to stand in. That’s a little scary. Let’s just name that reality. So always starting with why,. Getting clear about what our goals are is important.
When we get in and we start to talk, and you recognize that somebody is speaking Greek, it is actually important to rather than go along with it, I think I’d love to name that there are three or four important questions. And these are the same questions that we’ll use when we teach, but they always help create clarity. One is either it’s an asking or a sharing “I’m noticing something.” It’s either, what are you noticing? With my 14-year-olds, when we’re teaching them a new concept, they read a verse together, the first question is always, what are you noticing? What observations do you make? What’s the learning that’s coming up for you since we last visited or whatever that is? There’s always a chance to reflect on what you’re seeing or noticing. Also, as a leader, sometimes I’m going to just simply reflect. I’m noticing, Kurt that as we start, you’ve got a lot of possibilities from which we could choose. Therefore then my next question becomes, going back to how we started earlier, what is most important here to start to clarify?
The next question that I believe is important is what’s important about that? So if we’re starting with a topic and we’re trying to get some understanding about it, here’s what we’re going to go toward, what’s important about this? And what does it mean is the third question. If we’re going to talk about compassionate service for a sister in our ward who has some disability, when we talk about compassionate service, it’s kind of funny. We throw these terms around all the time, Kurt and we believe we’re all on the same page. I think it’s important to stop and think about, what do we mean when we say compassionate service? What is it we’re actually wanting to happen? What is it that we want to create? And to get alignment about where we’re trying to go and instead of bowling down into the details of how we’re going to get there when we’re not really even aligned on what it is that we’re after. I just think it’s in life in our one on one conversations in our meetings, a lot of times that we’re using terminology that means one thing to one person and something to someone else, and we haven’t stopped to align around what it is. And it creates a lot of misconceptions. So getting clear on what do we mean by that.
And then I think we’ll be able to say now what do we do about it? That’s really the next thing. It’s why, what, and how. Always why, what and how. What’s important first? What is it that we’re going for? How do we get there? I would say it might be one more thing. There’s one more thing coming up for me, Kurt going back to your question. Let’s go to the place where we’re in dialogue. And all of a sudden, I’m having a recognition that I’m not tracking. Now, have you ever been in a meeting where that’s happened before, Kurt?
Kurt: Yes, many time.
DeAnna: What do you do? Let’s just go there for a second because I’d be curious, in part because it might help us think about how we speak to other people who might have that same problem. So when you’re not tracking in a meeting, what do you do?
Kurt: I usually stay quiet because it’s almost like my ego doesn’t want to reveal to the room that I’m completely confused or I’ve been so off track for so long that if I bring it up now, they’ll look at me like, “What planet have you been on?” The ego gets in the way, I’ll just stay quiet. That’s what first comes to mind.
DeAnna: I would expect that that’s probably true for a lot of people. Most of us when we don’t know we stay quiet, which just accelerates the confusion. I’d love to offer perspective, Kurt. I wonder if especially discerning leaders, leaders who have the spirit of discernment, which I believe a lot of Ephraimites do. One if the confusion that you’re experiencing is actually the spirit of discernment prompting you to notice that others in the room are also confused?
Kurt: Yeah, right.
DeAnna: And when you get out of me, and we go, “Okay, all right, I’m noticing that I’m experiencing some confusion and I’m noticing that it would help me…” So I notice my language, Kurt. Notice that there’s a way that we can tell ourselves that doesn’t make us dumb. “I’m noticing that I might feel a little confused around what you mean when you say this.” And notice that that may actually be a reflection of what others in the room are feeling, and there may be other people around you who go, “Oh, thank you.”
Kurt: And I’ve been that person that said, “Oh, thank you,” many times. [00:25:00] I’m so glad they raised their hand because I’m exactly where they’re at.
DeAnna: Well, it’s the point that you’re making, Kurt is to back up at the beginning. Because oftentimes when we start a meeting, we’re talking about why we’re here and what’s important. There is a space that I’ve noticed in teams that seemed to function best. I don’t know that this wouldn’t work for Ward Councils. I would use this both with my Stake Relief Society presidency and other presidencies I’ve been part of, both as a counselor and a president asked for this.
In my one on one meetings, it’s something we do in coaching and it’s about designing the relationship. Now that might sound really formal. A very simple way of saying it’s let’s just agree about how we’re going to be together. What are some of the things that will just help us be together so that we can all feel confident and safe about sharing? Often, teams that have that conversation overtly they mitigate a lot of the confusion that you’re talking about Kurt and they get people who feel uncertain rather than holding back. Because we’ve discussed in agreement ahead of time how we’re going to be together, then the judgment isn’t there. There’s an interesting thing to just speak to the business world for a moment.
Google did a really interesting study to examine top-performing teams, and their findings would be equally true for Ward councils. Because the number one thing that created high performing teams, cohesive, agile, able to make and execute decisions quickly, was psychological safety. And just remember when we come in as Latter-Day Saints, and I’m just thinking about, again, my own experiences, but over the years when we were navigating our challenges at home or our son’s injury, and he was struggling as depression and anxiety that was interfering with his ability to serve a mission and other things, and we’re just thinking, “I don’t belong here. I’m not a model. What looks like at home doesn’t look like a model of perfectness.” The things that we’ve got going in the background, we actually create our own unsafe feelings. We bring them to the meeting. The beliefs I have about myself, I carry into the meeting and it interferes.
I will never forget, and I would probably echo every sister who is listening to this, there is nothing more intimidating in all the universe than to be one of 3 sisters in the room with 15 brothers in their suits and white shirts and their priesthood keys and their amazingness and we’re supposed to represent the fair gender and all the perspective of women. I remember sitting next to these stake primary presidency, young women president and all three of us we’re not sure who should hide behind whom. There’s a little bit of that at the Ward level, but I do think that there’s just a way that when we bring our fears and insecurities to a meeting, what happens is it interferes. Fear interferes with our ability to experience oneness.
And it’s my opinion. So I’m going to share a perspective about our covenants that relate to this. It’s almost as though before we go to those situations, the law of sacrifice isn’t just my time,, talents, or means. It’s will I put down my judgment? Will I put down my fear? Will I let go of my false beliefs about myself and other people and show up authentically in service? Now, I think most of us want to say yes to that. And I recognize that all of us, every single one of us, come with our fears, and we bring those to the meeting. And that interferes with our ability to experience unity.
So in many ways, one of the first things is to simply as a leader when you name that, “Look, I recognize that for all of us, we have our feeling of confidence about being a leader and we also have our fears about being a leader. And here we’re going to trust that we’ve got each other in the Savior’s got what we don’t have. And so whatever you say here is going to be valued and no one’s going to judge it.” And we all agreed to that. So when I look at the teams that have the highest level of performance, they have a no-judgment zone, overtly spoken and invited and people operate from it. And it allows for people to have more safety in sharing.
Number two, the second agreement that I see high performing teams that relationships have it is everybody brings your puzzle piece. It is I’m back to back with you. And if I don’t share my puzzle piece, Kurt there’s 180 degrees missing. In a roomful of 10 or 12 people, each of us have one puzzle piece. The Stake president doesn’t have more puzzle pieces than the rest of us. He’s got one piece. My sweet Stake president Jeff, Kurt I’ve just loved him so much, he knew how much he needed to invite other people in. And he worked [00:30:00] really hard to invite people into the equation by asking really good questions, by hearing them, by repeating back what he heard. “It sounds like you’re saying this. It sounds like you’re talking about this and this.” And allowing people to feel validated and heard. He was so good about that. It’s so important.
The last puzzle piece is what we call confident vulnerability. It exactly what we’re describing. It’s the confidence that God has empowered each of us with something unique and special. We can see it. He’s also given all of us weakness, just like He gave us strength. And strength don’t make you good a weakness doesn’t make you bad. It makes you human. And when I recognize that my weakness is someone else’s gift to shine, to feel valuable, to feel like they matter, and I give them room, I speak up and say, “I’m noticing that there’s something here that is a little unclear to me. I wonder what the rest of you think about the meaning of this or how this relates.” And you give people a special. I’ve yet to have anybody walk away from that, go, “Well, you’re such an idiot because you asked that.” It was like, “Wow.” Because people around you who had the chance to then give are lifted up because I was willing to show my hand.
Kurt: I would imagine just that, you know, you’re talking about creating space and in walking into a meeting. I think it’s natural to feel like, “Okay, I have a perspective. I have a voice here. I wanted to be heard and maybe I do feel safe to speak up and say it.” But instead of saying, “I have a perspective, and I sort of want to win people over to my perspective,” walking in there and saying, “We’re all different pieces to the solution. So how can we work together to identify our piece not so that we win and shape everybody else’s piece like mine, but so that we can start putting a broader vision and purpose together?”
DeAnna: Wow, Kurt, that’s a really loaded question. It’s a great question. I’m betting that there are other people out there wanting to go, “What is my piece?” First, I’ll just give you a statistic for those who love numbers and understanding the answer to this. It, it actually validates why your question is so important, Kurt. Going back to this idea that there are patterns of talent that you can mathematically identify. Over the years, I’ve spent 20 years, so over 2,000 hours of coaching and strengths coaching people. And what I’ve discovered is that most people really play to about 8 to 10 strengths pretty solidly. And then they’ve got another five or six or seven that they can pull from that are a little less strong. The chances, Kurt that you have the same top 10 strengths as anybody else on the planet in the same order – are you ready for this? So this is based on 34 themes of talent. 1 in 476 trillion.
Kurt: And there’s not a trillion people on the planet, right?
DeAnna: Well, there’s 120 billion people born since Adam and Eve. This is to validate the importance of your question. I don’t know if you’ll remember. Neil Anderson gave this really awesome conference talk about two or three years ago, and there was a graphic. It’s so beautiful. I’m picturing it in my mind. And it’s the graphic of the world and every person was a puzzle piece. And he said, “Each of us are puzzle pieces, and each of us help put other puzzle pieces in place.” Now when I hold my puzzle piece back, Kurt, what it means is the person whose puzzle piece is [unintelligible 00:33:34] to mine can’t see where to lay their puzzle piece down. They don’t know. My holding back means that other people around me also feel inclined to hold back. Now, I’m not suggesting that putting my puzzle piece down needs to be about me and my vision. Because I believe when we start to lift ourselves out of our fear, our minds go from me to we. And when we go to we, then sometimes my puzzle piece might be asking questions to help other people clarify the puzzle pieces that are around them. And what do I have to bring?
Now let’s go to answering, how do I find out what my puzzle piece is? I think there are a couple of things that a person can do. So here’s the easy one. Here’s the first one. First one is, sit down with someone who cares about you. And you’re going to ask them to ask you some questions. And this is the question. This is the first question. Tell me about a time when you made a difference? When was it and what did you do? And by the way, I love to ask this question and I and then isolate it to a time period. Tell me about a time you made a difference when you were a little child? I think most people could probably find a time when something they did mattered. Tell me about a time you made a difference when you were a teenager. What was it and what did you do? Tell me about a time when you were a young adult that you may difference? [00:35:00] And you start to go through the timeline of your life and you start to tell stories.
And if someone’s listening, writing it down – here’s what I’ll bet. I’ll put money on it – you’re going to find that there’s a pattern. There almost always is. That there’s a pattern about how we make a difference. And our pattern goes all the way back to our childhood because Kurt, we spent 10,000 years before we came here developing these talents, and we brought them to earth with us. As a little child, if you look back, I can look back, I was coaching my younger brothers and sisters – I’m the oldest of 10 – when I was seven. My mom had some difficulty with bipolar disorder. I read her like a book when I was a child. And I cared so much about her and my family that I pulled them together and I coached them into how we would mitigate that. I was a little tiny kid. And we all have these gifts and we’ve brought them with us. We practice them for years.
And so when you start to tell stories over time and you have someone who will simply listen and write down what you’re saying, and reflect back. “It sounds like what you said is this. It sounds like what’s important to you is this.” And you start to feel free to find the stories, by the time you get to five stories, you’re going to see some patterns. Now, if you take StrengthsFinder 2.0, my favorite strengths assessment on the planet, what you’re going to find is that when you go and get your strength finder results, I’ll put money on the fact that you can make you think fighter results and hold them up to your stories and go, “Oh, yeah, there’s my strength called empathy right there. There’s my strength called connectedness right there.” And you could put strength back into the story and go, “Oh, yeah, I’ve been using that since I was a little kid.” Now I think a strengths assessment is lovely.
I’ve done some work with missionaries in the Ogden North mission a few years back, and one of the things that I saw there was the use of their patriarchal blessing in the context of their strengths results. Speaking of making a difference, dad, there you go. Feels important. So I believe that the Next pieces once you’ve got stories, if you’ve got a formal assessment tool, and then if you’ve got, as I’m thinking about your patriarchal blessing, and you start to go, how do those things weave together? And then I can go, the spirit of discernment was true for me when I was a little girl. I could discern. I didn’t know what I was doing but that spirit of discernment was there.
And when you start to give language, then you begin to realize when I come to a meeting, my particular contribution may not be that I’m going to offer brilliant solutions, but what I might offer is good questions. And I might help link these two disparate ideas together because I listened very carefully and help that person understand that that person is saying something completely different. But if you put them together, you’ve got one solution. And so I’ve learned that when I go into a room, I don’t have to be all of it. I just have to be the little thing I was born to be, and my job is then to magnify other people’s puzzle pieces so they can play well too. And then when you know it, then you just show up who you are. Stop trying to be what you’re not.
Kurt: I love this whole analogy as far as the puzzle pieces because, I mean, a puzzle piece implies that it’s not complete. And so oftentimes as leaders, it’s easy to sort of, maybe you’re called a bishop and you think, “Okay, it’s my turn to present my vision and do it my way.” But when we see it, like, “No, we only bring one piece just like everybody else brings it on piece,” it’s never about “this is about my vision, or this is what how I want to see things done, and I’m in the chair now.” And so you bring that to the group and it just stimulates this perspective of curiosity of I want to put these together, let’s see how they fit right and that stimulate such a more effective meeting or culture in general.
DeAnna: Well, what you just said is really important. Here’s a perspective I’d love to add to where you’re looking because the idea of a puzzle piece, what you’re saying about puzzle piece is so important. That if I can let go that I don’t have to have everything, I just put my puzzle piece out knowing that it might stimulate someone else. I’m thinking again back to Scripture in John 17. The great intercessory prayer: that they may be all one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.” And then and then he goes on to say, “That they may become perfect in one.” And you think about the Greek meaning of the word “perfect” is “whole and complete.” And it’s okay that right now, you and I, we help each other become more whole through the Savior. Again, without speaking of sacred things outside of sacred places, but it’s the experience that we have in people, a feeling, our ability to magnify one another, to strengthen each other and living in honoring our covenants. And that it’s okay that I am not all and I don’t know it all, and I’m not able to do it all.
And it’s so great that I’ve got a bishop or stake president or a young woman president who they’re figuring out who they are through the work [00:40:00] that we’re doing together. If we can recognize that one of our purposes in meeting is not just to meet, it’s the needs of the people out there, the ward, the stake, the whomever. That our first purpose is that we lift one another that we serve us so we can serve others. That when we come into that meeting with the mindset, that we magnify one another just the way the Savior magnifies us. And as we magnify each other, we find the solutions we need to serve those that were called to serve. It’s a different mindset because we come into those meetings with a hunger to be able to serve those we’ve been called to serve. But we might want to remember that it’s just like what Elder Holland said about missionaries. The first conversion is for the missionary. The first service is the missionary to their companion. We are no different. That my first service if I’m in a one on one with my stake president is to him. Is to lift him. That when he leaves, he’s stronger as the Stake president because we’ve met. And when we start to serve each other that way, everything’s possible. Everything’s possible.
Kurt: And I love that perspective because there’s so much empathy in that state of mind. I get the emails from people that think, you know, my leader is just a train wreck. You won’t believe this guy or whatever it is. But when you realize, well, he’s just sort of still discovering what his piece is. And maybe the goal isn’t to have a perfect leader in organizations, and maybe that’s why we do have lay leadership is because it stimulates more of an opportunity for that person to discover who they are. And so the best way I can serve him isn’t to encourage him to come around and get on board here, but instead, be open to the process that that leaders going through even though it may end up our board isn’t a perfect ward in the long run. And that’s okay. It’s part of the sanctifying process.
DeAnna: Well, a couple of things that come up for me when you say that, Kurt. It feels super important to just say, when we’re back to back, and you might even be making me crazy, by the way for back to back, because when you’re speaking, I don’t understand. I could feel triggered because I don’t understand – we’ve mentioned that before. And yet there’s this place, that when I begin to get curious and nonjudgmental, unconditional curiosity is…by the way, the antidote to all judgment of self and others. And so when I get curious about what you mean, and what’s important about what you’re sharing, and try to understand it, I begin to see God in you. So when I understand my own strengths, our strengths are just pieces of our Heavenly Father and heavenly mother’s DNA in us. When I begin to see them, I see Him in me, therefore, it’s harder for me to be a friend. Because if He is in me, even though I don’t know, and even though I’m undeveloped, I know that He is part of this equation, this imperfect and yet not fully develop equation.
When I see that in you, so when I get curious about what’s different, and I begin to see God in you something sacred happens. When I look at you with an appreciative lens instead of a fearful lense something happens. Again, I’d mentioned this earlier, I believe the law of sacrifice asks us, what will I put down so that I can be fully available to love with all of my heart, might, mind and strength? That’s charity. That’s consecration. And it isn’t just time, talents, and money. Will I let go of my judgment? Will I let go of my belief that I’m not enough? Will I let go of my fear that somebody might judge me if I say I don’t know what’s going on or I don’t understand? I believe that’s the law of sacrifice. And I believe that the law of the gospel, that doctrine of Christ that anchor in the Savior, eyes on him. D&C 6 that tells us, “Hey, I don’t condemn you. Just go your way and sin no more. And whatever you sow, you’ll also reap. Look unto me and every thought out not figure out what’s important messages? Look, you don’t know everything. It’s okay that you don’t know. In fact, D&C 6 is one of the most beautiful gifts to all of us because it’s where the Savior reminds us you have a gift. It’s sacred. It comes from above. It’s important.
Kurt: And that leads me to the question of, you know, as far as…because you mentioned this earlier, as far as, you know, start bringing your fears and insecurities into some of these meeting dynamics. Because that makes sense on paper, but what does that look like? How do we do that? Because fears and insecurities can just consume us, I mean, and identify us in ways…I mean, the adversary leverages those things. So every day all day. So how do we begin to let go of those things? What processes can we go [00:45:00] through to actually let go?
DeAnna: It’s interesting because we paused at the doctrine of Christ. And when you think about repentance it’s a change of mind. It’s a fresh view of God or yourself or the world. That’s what the Bible Dictionary says. Direct quote. It comes from a Greek word that means a change of mind or fresh view of God or oneself in the world. And so I’m going to give you one of my very favorite coaching tools. Are you ready? For those of you who are listening, you can write this down because I have worked with so many people, and have found that when you start to ask these questions, and you ask them in this order. It’s like you take a walk into the sacred chambers of someone’s heart. And you go with them, and you love them while they go there, and they’re able to identify and flip it around.
And so the tool that I’m about to introduce to you, we call it the see shifter tool, because it change the way you see. The first question is this. And I might name something by the way. I think we have to allow ourselves and tune in. There’s a way that we can begin to discern. The Savior never uses fear as a tool to motivate. That is not His style. He uses love. And so our negative emotions are great feedback mechanisms propel us that we’re holding the belief with the lie. When we’re holding negative beliefs, the feeling will be as D&C 9: 7-9 says, we all feel confused. We all feel confused.
So using our negative emotions, when we stop and check in…when I first started doing this with myself, I actually every time I would take a drink, I would use water as a reminder to stop and just look and “DeAnna, where are you right now?” Because we get trained to live in our fear. And we get really good at it. And you’re right, that I think especially with Latter-Day Saints, Satan is an expert at using fear as a driving force in the way that we operate. If we’re going to undo that, we have to become aware of when we’re being driven by fear. So negative emotion is the indicator that you’re holding a lie. Then the fastest way out of it is to ask yourself a series of questions. And here’s what they are. Are you ready?
Number one. What’s the story I’m telling myself right now. Now, to use an example so we can make this real, I was 23 years old when our little disabled daughter was placed in our arms. We were at BYU. We had no money. We had a 2-year-old son. And they tell us, “Mr. Mrs. Murphy, she’s going to be severely mentally retarded. She’ll never walk.” That was the words. And I watched her suffer excruciatingly for the next three months in the hospital. And every time she suffered, I suffered with her. We wanted to have another child and I began researching what caused Spina bifida so that we could eliminate it. And that led me to a conclusion that I had caused her disability. My ignorance. There were things that I didn’t know that I could have avoided, things I could have done to prevent. And I didn’t do any of it.
And so I held a belief that led me to clinical depression for eight years. And the belief was I have caused her suffering and she will never have a normal life and so it’s my fault. By the way, this tool was born when she was eight years old in the hospital where they had to break her leg that her hips and ankles and rotate her bones outward and reattach them because you can flip her feet all the way back around. She was suffering so excruciatingly and I’ve been suffering for years with her. And the savior in His kindness asked me these questions, is where it came from, “DeAnna, what’s the story you’re telling yourself right now?” “I’m causing this.” For three days, I just held her my arms because she cried every time she woke up. And I began to realize that I had been telling myself the story that this was my fault and I’d caused it.
Second question is if you keep telling yourself this story, where will it lead you? Well, I knew the answer to that question because I had spent eight years in clinical depression. I’d had some counseling and I was actually almost suicidal at different times because I would get so depressed, believing that my family was better off without me. Talk about vulnerability to share that here. And so you ask yourself, what’s the impact if I keep thinking like this? What’s the end of the story? And then we’ll ask this question. And this is where it begins to change. So what would the new ending look like if I were to write a new ending to the story? And I remember the spirit invited me to consider like, what if this is a gift? What if this wasn’t an accident that you caused? What if there was a way that I intended to bring more joy than you could ever imagine into your life through this gift? What would the new ending look like?
And maybe for the first time of my life, instead of [00:50:00] seeing the loss of her never marrying, never having children, not being able to go to school and not being able to make the kind of contributions that you want and envision and dream for your children, I began to imagine that she would be giving some of the gifts that we’re [unintelligible 00:50:14] to show up. So that third day, she looked up at my eyes and saw my pain. And she tried to make me laugh. She tried to ease my hurt. I was hurting because she was hurting, and she wanted to help me. And I began to wonder what would happen if she could take that compassion and give it to the world? Who could she bless whose life might be different? And all of a sudden, I saw what was happening with an appreciative lens. What’s the new ending? The new ending is she could have a great life, she could still bring joy to people, she could still have an impact.
And the thing that we asked next – so this isn’t such a global thing – is, okay, what would be one step that you could take to move towards that new ending? And for me, the step was simple. Every day, notice one thing that I could appreciate about her. So instead of looking at her through a deficit lens and go, “This is my broken kiddo. I caused this,” I could go, “Look at what she did today.” Notice that she made this tiny little step and begin to appreciate it. So what is one commitment you will make to begin to move toward the new ending? I’m just going to share with you that that simple tool, it not only flipped the story on its ear; it actually opened up the door to what I’m doing right now. Because I had a meeting not three months after that with a special ED director. It was the toughest meeting that we’d ever had with the school district. And I wasn’t working. I had a master’s degree in psychology and I had a 3-year-old in preschool and I didn’t want to have a career because I had these kids with these needs. But it was a tough meeting.
We came out of that meeting, and he said, “DeAnna, I have been through hundreds of these meetings, I’ve never seen what just happened. I can’t believe how you came alongside us. You helped us to see what your needs are. You listened to us so well. Can you help other parents? Can you help them do what you did here today? And can you help us work with parents so that we can collaborate instead of fight with them?” And that was my first job. And I don’t believe I would have ever got it. And it ended up that Mandy and her disability created my career. And I work in 32 countries. I mean, there are thousands and thousands and thousands of people that have experienced my content, and it started with that tool.
Kurt: Wow, that’s powerful. It begins with that first question is what’s the story I’m telling myself? And then did you say, what’s the better ending?
DeAnna: Yeah. Second question is if I keep telling myself this story, where will it take me? It’s letting yourself follow through and notice. And not in a shameful way, but to just go, “I’m kind of tired of doing clinical depression. I’m tired every day of hating my life and feeling like I’m failing as a parent. I don’t think this is going to get me anywhere good.” Then the next question is, what’s a new ending? It never occurred to me that I could change the ending to the story. I just thought the story was what it was.
Here’s one of the things we teach leaders and it’s equally applicable here. It’s not what happens to us, Kurt that informs how we feel, what we do, or what we get. It’s how we choose to see. This is why repentance is so important. Repentance isn’t just sin. Repentance is teaching us how to align our view with the way the Savior sees. And I did not understand until that moment that he sent her to me as one of his kindest gifts. He intended to bring me more joy than I would ever find if I would have had a healthy daughter. She knows that actually, and she takes great pride. She tells me that she’s grateful for her disability. She knows every time that I fly off to the Philippines or somewhere that she’s the reason I’m going to serve people on the other side of the world. She knows that. And I let her know all the time.
I just think there’s a way that when we understand the covenants that we have made to this degree, we realize that we can bury our own weapons of worry. And our deepest weapons are the ones we create ourselves through fear. When we bring fear into meetings, we interfere with our ability to edify and lift and find a unity in the Savior. We can’t have our hearts knit together in unity and love when you have fear. You used the word “empathy,” Kurt. Empathy is just another way for saying charity. Charity is empathy. Empathy is charity.
Kurt: That’s powerful. [00:55:00] I think the process of recognizing some of these fears and insecurities and then just asking that first question like, “Why am I telling this story? Where does this come from?” Just that exercise alone I think will get them so far away from these fears and anxieties and really analyze. Because they may have certain fears and anxieties at work that maybe never show up at church. And then they have certain fears and anxieties that show up at church when they’re being called as a Relief Society president, whatever it is. So just looking at them and sitting with them a while and trying to understand them so that you can then figure out how to remove them.
DeAnna: Right. What you just said is so important. By the way, I’ve used this tool with Relief Society presidents in my one on ones. We all have fears. This is a tool that you can use with yourself and take it to prayer even. Sometimes we have a hard time identifying the story. Maybe I’ll be a little personal and share something with you, as we’re speaking about this because you’re asking how do we let go of fears. It is interesting.
It was about a little over 10 years ago that I would walk in the trees. Northern Minnesota is so beautiful. At fall the leaves are coming down and I’m noticing the dark rich soil beneath my feet and the great life that grew from it. And found myself asking and crying out, ” Father, what needs to come down in my life so new life can come? And I will never forget the Spirit’s answer. It was, “Deanna, give me your fear. Give me all of it because you cannot consecrate yourself fully to me when part of your heart is dedicated to storing fear. You have not given your fear to Me, Deanna, that part of your heart you’ve held back. I’ve paid for everything that you’re afraid of. I paid for everything that’s hurting inside there. And if you’ll give it to me, I’ll tell take you to places you’ve never been.” And I went, Uh, I’m scared.” I don’t know how to give up my fear.” He was so kind because that’s what He really began to teach me because I started asking Him. And I wanted to understand how can I give up my fear so that I can be a better servant.
I’ll just share flat out that there was a time where He just counsels with me, “DeAnna write down the stories from your life, and ask yourself the stories from your life where you have got pain and sadness that is not yet resolved. And with each of those stories, write down what you believed because of what happened.” And I discovered, Kurt I had a bunch of stories – I wrote for pages and pages – but I discovered that all those stories all had the same three beliefs. I’ll never forget the day that I went to the temple with those beliefs and He helped me sort through and share the lessons and give up allies and walk away from those beliefs forever. And it was the beginning of turning over the storage containers in my heart because I had them. And we all have them. I didn’t realize He was teaching me like if you imagine your hearts like a [unintelligible 00:58:10] – I recognize it’s not finite but let’s just use that for an example – imagine that you’ve had a lot of pain or fear that you haven’t resolved. If you think about that you’re holding that as storage, it means that you’re operating out of one very tiny percentage and the rest of it is being held in storage. And when we give up the storage, then all of that is available energetically to love and serve people.
He was teaching me that principle while I was still holding all my fears. And teaching me, “DeAnna, if you’ll give me your fear, I will free up more room for you to love and find joy.” And He is absolutely right. And I found that with each lie that I held…I’ll just give you an example because lots of us have it. My value equals my performance. As Latter-Day Saints, we have a version of that. My value equals the callings I get called to. My value equals if my sons go on missions and my children marry in the temple. My value equals my ability to live everything that the Church teaches perfectly and have everybody believe that that’s true. I mean, on and on and on. It’s so ridiculous when you say it out loud.
But there’s a way that in our heads because the world teaches us to equate our value outside of ourselves and we do not…I think we struggle to understand intrinsic value. Value that’s not related. Like I don’t get more value because I am a Stake Relief Society president than I do as a Sunday School teacher. Sunday School teacher is way easier. I like that way better. I would take that one anytime. But you don’t get more value because you’re living better or because your children do something better. The world teaches us to think like that and it gets in our way and then we compare our value [01:00:00] meter to somebody else’s value meter. Like it can go up and down like in the stock market and it creates fear. Anyway, that’s a tangent I didn’t mean to go off on it.
Kurt: And I appreciate it sort of this wormhole has gone down a little bit because when people want to learn about meetings, it’s easy to default to the things like, “Well, here’s a cool agenda format you can use and here’s how to set up the chairs, whatever.” But how many times do we walk into a Ward Council or to a one on one meeting or any type of meeting and say, “What are the stories that each individual walked in here with?” And if I’m going to create an atmosphere that’s that safe, where they can bring things up and bring it out, they first have to deal with those stories or else there’s nothing I can do. There’s not some cool tactic that’s going to solve all that. And so creating that safety, encouraging people to say, you know, what stories are you telling yourself and what can we do to help you figure out your infinite value and the value that you bring to this meeting? I think that’s just a dynamic we never take time to consider. And I’m glad we’re doing it here.
DeAnna: Well, it’s interesting that you went there because you realize that this is directly tied to what we’re up to in the doctrine of Christ. This is what the doctrine of Christ is about. It isn’t just that we turn from our sin, is we turn from our fear, we turn from our judgment because the fear and the judgment actually hold us back from consecration. It would be more like sins of omission usually than sins of commission, but I do believe it still affects us. It feels a bit like there’s a need for us to summarize because we’ve gone a little bit in a roundabout conversational way, which is something I always love with you, but it feels important for our listeners to say, “Okay, let’s tie it up in a bow.”
We’ve identified a couple of really important principles. Number one, when people are aligned around a shared purpose and they’ve had a chance to weigh in on the purpose, it actually helps them come more fully to the meeting. Having clear goals is important and that’s obvious. The one thing that’s less obvious is to stop and say, how are we going to be together? In our Sunday school class, we’ve brought those three agreements that I named. Will you all agreed to have a no-judgment zone? We all agree to bring your puzzle piece? Will you all agree to just know and not know. Confident vulnerability. Be confident about what you are and be okay with who you’re not. And then we constantly validate each other.
An example of how powerful that is right now, we’ve gotten across a little girl. She’s 14, just moved to the United States from the Honduras. She doesn’t speak English very well, and I’m astounded both at her willingness to share. She speaks in Spanish. My fellow teacher speaks Spanish fluently, so she’ll translate. And the rest of the class is so kind and encouraging her and it makes her feel welcome. And these agreements have helped people play. I think there’s something around making sure that we’ve got clear agreements around why, what, and how. I also believe that there is this element where every time we’ve got an agenda that there’s room for us to explore a gospel topic. And one gospel topic is we’re talking about repentance hear in a different way than most of us ever think about it. It’s having to change your mind or fresh view of yourself. It’s recognizing the lies that we believe that get in our way of fully finding joy and unity and being together. It’s recognizing that individually I can tackle that, but boy, you know what, as a leader, you can also invite it.
I’ll never forget our Sunday school class about four months ago where I invited them and a Post-it Note, “write down your biggest fear. Put it on a Post-it Note.” And then I asked them to post it. So share with the whole class. Because we have a lot of safety, they were willing to do it. And each of them put their Post-it Note up there. You know what 60% of that class said? “I don’t think I’ll ever be good enough to go home and live with my heavenly Father again. And I’m really sad about that.” Now, I needed to know that. I really needed to know that because then as I go and minister one on one with them, and even though I’m just a Sunday school teacher – I don’t want to say “just a Sunday School teacher” because I feel really honored to be a Sunday School teacher – I go to their homes, and I do one on ones just like I did when I was just Stake Relief Society president with my Relief Society presidents. And I go sit with those kids and I invite their parents and sit in on because some of these parents have never seen a one on one before. They don’t know how to do it.
And so when I have a one on one with their child and invite them to be present and help that young person recognize their gifts, recognize their testimony and their growth and challenge them in very specific ways to grow themselves spiritually. And I’m having some of the most sacred experiences, including with a young man whose mother just died about four months ago and his father’s not a member of the church. An having one of [01:05:00] the sweetest and most sacred ministering experiences when I went to that young man’s home. And I started off by asking his dad, “What is something you love about your son, Eric? What is the quality or strength or characteristic you really value?” And we started right there. And then turning to Eric and saying, “Eric, what do you love about coming to Sunday School every week and starting off by sharing when have I felt the Savior’s love.” And then have Eric describe what it’s like for him to think about when he remember the Savior’s love. And then his dad’s cry and the Spirit is so strong.
These opportunities that we have to be with one another and strengthen one another is so sacred. And the Savior needs us to be magnifying of each other and to not be afraid, and to just show up with love. I believe meetings are just another way of ministering and loving each other the way the Savior would. And if we showed up at every meeting believing “I’ve come to love everybody here. I’m going to help love them.” I didn’t figure that out at the beginning of my being the Stake Relief Society president. I figured out by the time I was released, but I really see it better now. Every meeting is just a chance for us to love each other. And when we do that, fear goes away. And there is no room for it in the room. And the Spirit fills up the space.
Kurt: That’s so powerful. I love that. Speaking of one to one meetings, you know, because early on in this you talked about as far as like establishing the purpose – what’s the why of meeting today. And putting that in the context of one to one meetings, I think we oftentimes miss that because I would imagine you think about a ministering interview, I would guess on average, the number one question that’s asked first is, how are your families doing? But imagine if we sat down together and said, “What’s the purpose of us meeting today?” And hopefully, they don’t say or if they do, you know, you have some work to do, they’ll probably say, “Well, we’re supposed to meet. This is what we’ve been asked to do.” But asking that question with no preconceived answer, or that I’m going to tell you why we’re meeting, but just seeing how they respond. And I mean, there’s so much purpose and meaning that can come from starting with that question of asking one to one, why do you think we’re meeting today?
DeAnna: Yeah. I had a really sweet experience. I was on the receiving end a couple of weeks ago of administering interviews with our Relief Society presidency. And they set it up like tithing settlement, and they had all members of the Relief Society presidency in the corners of the gym running meetings at the same time. We all had to sign up for times. I was blown away by the sweet counselor who sat across from me and she said, “We’re here today because I want to make sure that we’re meeting your needs, that we’re understanding the challenges that you’re facing, and we’re able to do a better job of coming alongside and support you. And we really care about you. How are you doing? How are you doing, DeAnna?” And I’m thinking, “How many times do I answer to someone else? It’s the first time in years that anybody just asked me that.” I felt so loved in that moment. Just starting with that simple thing. She didn’t ask me what I thought my purpose was, but she did share, “We’re here today, because we want to make sure we’re loving you. Great, we’ll talk about your families, but we’re here today because we want to love you and we want to understand what your needs are.” And it was really special.
I think a lot of us go through our lives and we give and give and give and give and we don’t feel or know if it even matters. In that tiny little moment, for 15 minutes as I sat with that counselor, I knew I was loved and I knew that the work that I was doing with these sweet little ladies, which nobody ever sees, I don’t know, matter to God, matter to her. I just think that, again, the purpose of our meeting is to love each other. And we stand in the Savior stand and we just love them for a moment with his hands, and His eyes and His voice. And boy, if we had that mindset every time we started a meeting, we wouldn’t go very far along. We sure wouldn’t get caught in fear.
Kurt: DeAnna, as we wrap up, a few things that stood out to me. One was bringing that question to the one to one meetings, I think is so powerful. And then your list of questions as far as what are you noticing, what’s important about that, what does it mean, and what are we going to do about it? Is that accurate?
Kurt: I love that first question as far as what are you noticing. And just from our interactions, I’ve used that several times. In a teaching scenario, especially when scripture is read or something because it’s so easy to passive-aggressively sort of guide the class to a certain place. But when that question of what did you notice about that, it removes that preconceived or that game of guess what the teacher’s thinking dynamic that isn’t helpful. And it really just opens it up and saying, “No, I really want to know what you notice about it. Not what you think I noticed about it, but what you notice about it. And bringing that into a meeting [01:10:00] context to really stimulate some great discussion rather than trying to figure out, “What the bishop is thinking? I want to see what the bishop is thinking.”
DeAnna: It’s a funny thing to say, Kurt. I’ll echo something I said three or four years ago that a great meeting doesn’t start when the meeting starts. A great meeting started six days ago or seven days ago when I read my scriptures in the morning before the day went and I started mentally preparing. What I’ve learned is that great meeting, especially conducted in a gospel perspective, begin in our scripture study. I am astounded at how many times a need came up in a ministry in conversation or presidency meeting or a stake council meeting where the answer to the question was something that I studied in my scriptures earlier that week.
And so when the scriptures become part of every meeting, then those questions become even more relevant. Because now we’re discussing something all of a sudden it’s like, “Oh, wait a minute, let’s flip open to D&C 43: 8 and 9. Let’s read it together. Let’s ask a question.” What impressions come to your heart? What do you notice? A lot of times, with my 14-year-olds, for example, since we’re sort of weaving a little teaching into this before we read a scripture, I always say, “Now listen, the Holy Ghost wants to speak to you right now. You have to be listening. So as we read, we’re going to read it together as a class and then I’m going to ask you to read it again. And I want you to listen for the Holy Ghost. When you feel an idea or a word or phrase that jumps at you, you just share it with us.”
When we prompt people to prepare for revelation, they do. Because most of the time we don’t hear because our minds are too busy. And when we slow down and we point people, “Look for and listen for what impressions come up. And when you feel them in our meeting today, please just share them because the Holy Ghost is going to give you different things than he’s going to teach me if I’m leading this meeting. So you have full permission when you have an impression to please raise your hand. Even if you’re confused, please raise your hand because you might be feeling something that someone else has experienced. You know, we need help here. So please bring what you have.” And I’ve learned people will do. People will do it if you design them. So designing people s important, and helping people get clear about what their roles are, and they can show up with confidence.
Kurt: I think generally we all agree that questions are powerful, but when you have the right questions, it’s amazing the difference. I mean, there’s a 10 x difference that the right question will make other than just asking questions in general. Really drill down to what the right question is.
DeAnna: So it’s important. It feels important to me to add to what you’re saying because we also get paralyzed by worrying about what the right question is. So a couple of guidelines to help you know what the right question is, is just start a question with what or how or when. Don’t use why question and don’t ask yes or no. Right questions are going to be any what, how, or when question? When have you felt the Spirit? What is your most important observation from last week? Or when have you felt the Savior’s love most recently? That’s my question I always start with. How does that feel when you experience that? What does that mean to you?
I teach people also that if you let the person’s answer drive your next question, you will go right into their heart. So they say, “Well, I felt the Savior’s love this last week when I was listening to…” This is one of my kids. He always says, “My brother who’s a missionary, I felt the Spirit when we got to listen to him on Friday.” And my next question is, what is important about that, Grayson?” “Well, what’s important is that I can feel the Spirit testifying to me that he’s on Lord’s work. And I can feel the Spirit prompting me that I need to prepare.” “How do you need to prepare, Grayson?” I need to be reading my scriptures more. So it’s amazing. So you let the answer drive the next question. What happens is you walk right into people’s hearts right where the Holy Ghost is, where the Holy Ghost starts to magnify what’s happening. Beautiful.
Kurt: I love that. Walk right into their hearts. That’s true. Well, I have one more question for you, DeAnna. But if people want to get in touch with you or learn more about your business, I know you have a great book that you’ve written, where would you send people to learn more about you?
DeAnna: The answer is www.peopleacuity.com. And acuity is a word that means seen with clarity. So if you get your eyes as you’re wanting to see with acuity. So peopleacuity.com is our website. I’m also on LinkedIn. To be honest, like anytime I have a Latter-Day Saint who reaches out to me and says, “Hey, I’m struggling. You got 30 minutes?” My answer is always yes. [01:15:00] I feel really driven to we’re here to grow people prepared to meet the Savior. That’s what President Nelson said in his last conference talk to our sisters. I just believe we have fun with each other helping each other so I’m willing to talk to anybody. That’s a scary thing to say because I know that there are lots of people that might be listening to this. But if you’re stuck, send me an email at email@example.com. Send me an email.
Kurt, we also have a children’s book out that I coauthored with David Bowman called “Choose to See You.” It’s out on Desert Book. A neat little book about some of the things we’re talking about in children – how to dispel the doubts and fears that come into their minds and see themselves for who they truly are. And we’ll have another book coming out later in the year about interdependent leadership. So good things happening.
Kurt: Well, cool. As we wrap up, just imagine being in front of a roomful of bishops, Relief Society presidents and Elders Quorum presidents, all sorts of people that are tasked with holding meetings, what final encouragement would you give to them as they venture off into the world of meetings?
DeAnna: That’s an easy one, Kurt is I would say to you and to them, you have been prepared 10,000 years for the mission that you’re on right now. And while you may have questions or concerns or worries about doing it right, your Spirit knows and remembers. And when you turn to the Savior, and you let other people help you, the answers that you need will emerge, and you’ll have everything that you need. Just be willing to lean into the Spirit and lean into each other and you’ve got what you need. You’re valuable. You matter. You’re important. And God needs you to bring your puzzle piece and to not be afraid. Give Him your fears and He’ll help you. So I think that’s what I’d say because we’ve got it, Kurt. We were friends before we came here, we covenant to help him at this time, and we’ve got to bring the people to prepare for the Savior, ready for Him because He needs to come back. I got a little disabled girl who’s waiting to be healed and I can’t wait for him to come back. So I’m going to be in line.