Episode 6: Finding Commonality in a Divided Country
with Dr. Karl Kuhnert

Today is a divisive day in America as people cast their votes for one side or another. Yet as Abraham Lincoln said, “a house divided against itself cannot stand.” Dr. Karl Kuhnert shares his wisdom and insight on what is needed from each of us to build an enduring community by focusing more on what we have in common rather than what sets us apart. He shares how outgrowing his need to be right has helped him on his own journey of growth and leadership and encourages us to do the same.

About our guest

Connect with Karl on LinkedIn

Karl Kuhnert has dedicated his entire adult life to understanding great leadership. He is currently serving as Professor of the Practice of Organization and Management in the Goizueta Business School and Associate Professor of Psychiatry at the Emory Medical School at Emory University. Prior to that, he was on the faculty at the University of Georgia since 1987,  chaired the Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program for eight years, and was recognized as the Undergraduate Teacher of the Year four times.  His current research includes applying decision making artificial intelligence software in business.  Karl received his Doctorate from Kansas State University, but still has a special place in his heart for Penn State where on scholarship he played football and learned the values of education, curiosity and resoluteness.  Karl and his wife Gay split their time between Athens, GA and Hilton Head, SC.  They are very proud of their two daughters, two cats and their dog, Paisley.

Episode transcript

Sara: Welcome back to Growing as Grown-Ups, everyone.
This episode is coming out on November 3rd, which, if you live in the United States, is Election Day. And we thought because this is such a big day in American society, that we would take a little deviation from our normal podcast strategy where we've been interviewing leaders about their personal journeys and how they have grown through challenges, and bring in Dr. Karl Kuhnert, who is a friend of both of ours, a colleague of ours who has been a big influence in the work that we do, and also the co-author of the map along with you Keith. And he is going to just have a conversation with you in this podcast that I think is going to be so great and so timely for people to just challenge them in the way they are thinking about the election and what is happening and all the division in the country. And I think it's a good way for our listeners to look at a challenge that they are facing right now in a new way and use just this election as an opportunity for growth.

Keith: Yeah, and I think you know, we talk a lot about challenge and contradiction over time and for, I don't know, maybe half the country they are feeling so worried about the challenge and contradiction that they don't want coming their way, and for the other half of the country, there may be some sort of a celebration like, hey, we won, but I think there's an opportunity for growth in both of us. And that's kind of what we structured the conversation around a little bit.

Let me introduce Karl to the audience real quick. Karl was the Chair of the Industrial Organizational Psychology Department where we both got our degrees at Georgia. He was on the faculty there, Sara, for 30 years. Five campus-wide teaching awards, and just a great person of great influence. And in the system, in the area of leadership, his publications, his journal articles, all of these kinds of things. He retired from UGA after 30 years and he is now a Professor of the Practice at Emory. But he has also gotten a professorship appointment in the psychiatry department at Emory as well. And, you know, Karl is not only a dear friend, he was also my major professor, which was a, you know, just a total privilege for me to be sort of under his leadership. But then over the last - we were just counting - over the last twenty five years (we've known each other for almost 30 years now) but over the last twenty five, we've been working together helping grown-ups keep growing. And it was such a treat to just sit down and have the kind of conversation that we so often have when we're just in the car driving somewhere together.

Sara: Yeah, I mean, there's just so much good stuff in your conversation. It was fun for me to get to listen to the two of you talk kind of like a fly on the wall and hear just the wisdom that you both share. One thing I do want to say to our listeners before we jump into that interview is that there is some reference in what you and Karl both say about something specific to our curriculum about Leader Levels and the differences between the inside-out and the outside-in levels, and level two, three, four or five, which we haven't yet gone into detail on this podcast. And then Karl also references a different piece of our curriculum, which is where we really talk about the importance of curiosity and active listening and seeking to understand, which is a really level five mindset that we can engage in that skill early on. And so I just want to say to our listeners, if this is stuff that's interesting to you, if you want to learn more, if you want to go deeper, we have a bunch of resources for you on our website.

One thing I would really encourage you to think about is that we have just launched our online course, it's called Challenge to Change, and it's about how to help you lean into the challenges that you are facing in life and change and grow and become more mature. In that course we cover both the Leader Level models and this active listening, curiosity, mindset and practice. And so if this is something that you think would help also enhance your effectiveness as a leader in your growth, we'd really love for you to check that out. And if you sign up before the end of the year, we have a discount code for you. It is 50 percent off the enrollment cost of this class. And so check it out on our website,, and we'd love to get you in there and help you continue on your journey.

So with that, let's just jump in and hear Keith's conversation with Dr. Karl Kuhnert.
Keith: Karl Kuhnert, what a pleasure to have you with us today.

Karl: Well, it's great to be with you, Keith. And oh, by the way, when you set this up, I was thinking myself, do you realize that it's been since March that we've seen each other? And I'm not sure if in our entire tenure that we've ever gone seven months. Not without shaking your hand.

Keith: I know this whole time has been crazy for folks listening in. You may know this already, but Karl and I co-wrote a book together. But that was really the culmination of a lot of years of kind of teaching together and working together. And Karl was my major professor for the doctoral program up at UGA. Karl was a long time faculty there, has retired and since gone to Emory. But we are coming up on 30 years of kind of focusing on Leader Levels and lens change and transformation and how the grown-ups grow in the context of leadership.

As this podcast airs, we're recording it actually about three weeks prior to the election, but it is going to air on Election Day. Karl, I thought it might just be fun, this is going to be a challenge for so many people, in some ways the country seems kind of evenly split. Right. And as polarized as I think it's ever been in my lifetime and I think there's a relationship between where someone is on the developmental journey and how something like this actually winds up impacting them. So maybe over the course of the next forty five minutes, we can kind of get your take on some of this, talk a little bit about how we think this is going to impact people at different levels. I think just as importantly, what can they do to actually use this as a growth opportunity during this time? So as we come up on this season, Karl, what's your kind of overarching thought?

Karl: Yeah, well, you know, I have been thinking about this really since the pandemic. And what really had me think deeply about this, is that I actually went to the doctor yesterday for my annual physical. I call it my one hundred thousand mile checkup. And, you know, when I asked him, I said, what's new for you here in your office? What are you seeing that's really different? And I could have predicted this, I should have predicted this, but he says, you know what, I'm seeing a lot of people coming in here with, essentially, chronic anxiety. And as I said, that's really new. He says I've been  writing quite a few prescriptions for anti-anxiety medicine - more than I ever have in my career. And again, it shouldn't surprise us. I mean, we're, you know, seven, eight months into this this pandemic now, it's sort of unrelenting and still raging through our country. You know, we've also we've got social injustice, which has really surprised, I think, a lot of people. My thought, you know, I actually thought that many of these issues we had, if not behind us, at least not that far behind us. But as it turns out, we've got a lot more work to do. You know, we've got 11 million people unemployed, you know, the economy is not in great shape. And so for the doctor to say anxiety is the thing that he's seeing the most of it doesn't surprise me. But I think for me, you know, impacts when we have this much anxiety, what it does in organizations and what it does in institutions is it really limits the quality of communication people have with one another. I think where we're not as open with one another, I think it's hard to do the kind of things we're doing over Zoom. Relationships are really, you know, it's hard to build new relationships, and I think what happens is that, you know, the Zoom, while it is convenient, a lot of what we need is more connection with each other, more dialogue. And I think all of this, you know, this kind of a social isolation, we're certainly seeing this with our high school kids, our kids really struggling with being so isolated. So I think this is the context, right. This the context in which leaders are trying to lead. And more than ever, and we'll get to this more than ever, we need to have differentiated level four, level five leaders helping us get through this.

Keith: And do you see, you know, people have heard me talk about it in previous episodes of the podcast. And for those who have read the book, they get it. But how would you put into words what the relationship of this anxiety, the challenges that we're facing on so many fronts? Again, this is going to be airing on Election Day. And so there's going to be, I think, probably no resolution in terms of what I'm hearing right now, at least for a couple of days beyond when this thing airs, maybe much longer. But will you put into your own words how someone at level three, level four, level five, just the differences in the way you see them absorbing this kind of challenge?

Karl: Yeah, and as you know I actually like to talk about this, and when we're doing our programs together, we talk about Leader Levels. But I find for most of the people I talk with about this, I really like to use the word maturity. And we all know leaders who are quite immature in the way they see themselves and others. And so what we desperately need are our leaders that are more mature in what we talk about as level four, level five. And by the way, I mean just what this is. And my explanation is to say these are fundamental ways in which we see ourselves and others and this is on a continuum, and our growth, by the way, it's really derived from the challenges and contradictions in our life and our ability to learn from our mistakes, to learn from others, to get in when we get feedback from others, that we take these opportunities to really grow.

And you know, this is the really hopeful part of me in some ways, I'm not sure we really need a curriculum out of a book right now because we're living it. We're living our life right now in the leadership curriculum. It's all in front of us, right? It's all in front of us. And we have obstacles that we have to confront every day and we have to decide whether we want to live into those and use that as an opportunity to learn. Or we can, you know, go into a fetal position and just hope this thing gets over it someday soon, right? And just try and, you know, muscle our way through it without really dealing with it.

Keith: Yeah. And the changes that are happening to that. And again, we talked about these social changes.

Karl: But I just I have to tell you this, because I'm kind of knee deep in this whole artificial intelligence area now and this is also very scary for people I have never given a talk to either. This is fine. I don't think I've mentioned it to you, but I've never given a thought where when I now talk about AI people look at me and I can see they're interested and they look away. It's like they're scared, right. I don't want to hear this. Oh, that's, you know, and so this whole time we're going through right, by the way, this pandemic, what it's doing is actually fueling change. You know the things, for example, that just - one example is we have a new class. We have new classrooms at Emory that are what we call hybrid classrooms where we can seat 30 people in the room. And then on the back of a wall is another 40 screens where people can zoom in. And what's amazing is how this pandemic has sort of accelerated this change. I mean, you could always see this sort of change coming, but what's happened is we had a problem, right? We couldn't put, you know, 70 people in a room together. And so we had to figure out how to do it differently. And in six months, we have a whole new way of teaching. I mean, it's like, oh, my goodness, what's going on here? And it's just this pandemic has accelerated change.

Keith: Yeah, it has and I guess it's also in this way accelerated the opportunity for us to change as individuals as well. But we've got a little bit more control to sweep these things under the rug. I mean, the survival of the university is at stake right now. Right. So it is fundamentally moving them in a direction? I want to follow up on just kind of your doctor's anecdotal diagnosis of the anxiety, the change in anxiety, chronic anxiety that he's saying. And, you know, so often, Karl, we talk about this sort of outside-in of the lower levels of development, level two and level three. But I would say that most of our audience is between the ages of 25 and 50, I think more than half of them are still struggling or finding themselves in a place of sort of outside-in, this being done to victimhood. And I'm wondering, you know, you and I both know that one of the things that we begin to see at the more mature levels, to use the word that you just used a moment ago - that there is more sense and ownership of self. And I'm wondering, do you believe that there is less anxiety at the higher levels because it's not so determined by these really deeply shifting circumstances that are surrounding us?

Karl: Oh, yes. Yes. We have some recent data on this. And it is absolutely true that the more mature leaders are actually less stressed, have less anxiety at this point because they actually see this time as an opportunity. And there are people, by the way, I mean, there are companies who are actually doing better now as a result of the pandemic, right? Yeah, I mean, there are people who see this, again, as an opportunity to really change things, to accelerate change, to predict where their business is going. Yeah. Where my customers are going to be. Well, they've changed in six months. We're going to be in the next six months, you know and how do I meet them? How do I meet these new customers in terms of what they need? And so this is very true. It's, you know, the level we're talking about the more immature leaders, the level three, for them, it's really all about the noise. It's all about everything happening around them. And what's happening is they're getting pulled in so many different directions, which in part is creating the anxiety.

Keith: Right.

Karl: Yeah, and it's really the time where I think the best leaders stand up, right? You know, leaders actually serve as an immune system for their institutions. You know, they're there to help make sense. And actually point to where the signals are not to be and not to be caught by the noise surrounding all this pandemic. And so what's important here? Being able to, again, know what the signal is and what the noise is, is what great leaders are able to do.

Keith: Right now, so what is the thing that, you know, we've talked about this in our programs as far as the weather, right. The noise, these things outside of us that we don't have control of. But that sort of creates instability for us. Especially from a more outside-in view of the world where you're allowing all this noise and all of this weather to disrupt our status quo, right. I mean, that's I think where the anxiety comes from, is that we're feeling like we don't know what's ahead of us. And if the weather keeps getting worse, am I going to be OK? What is your take on what folks can do who find themselves even recognizing in themselves this anxiety that they're feeling, this sort of – a sense of victimhood is maybe too strong of language, but it's in that neighborhood.

Karl: I agree with that. And again, OK, we can bring this back to the election, right? How many people do you hear nightly on the news blaming someone else for what's happening? As you mentioned, we've got a divided country. Right, and, you know, this divide is not talking to each other.
Keith: It goes back to one of your early comments that were not communicating.

Karl: Now we're not. You know, I read this book a few years ago, and it's always kind of struck me is this guy was a social biologist. His name is E.O. Wilson. And of all things, he studied ants. Ants. And he did it in a very persuasive way. Talk about how ant communities are just like human communities. And he says, if you want a community -and he was really referring to the United States here - he says, if you want the characteristics of an enduring society, they have to have cooperation. They have to have cohesiveness and altruism. And I look around and again, what I hear on the news is none of those things. That's what frightens me. Is where is the cooperation? And it was striking, you know, during the pandemic, right? I mean, we couldn't get. We couldn't get people to wear face masks in this country, right? I mean, it was like hospitals were hoarding things and states were hoarding things. I'm like, now, where's the cooperation? There's very little cohesiveness and, you know, the altruism and it was interesting where we saw altruism, I mean where I saw it and where I felt like, wow, you know what? We're probably not as bad off as we think we are. As we saw these first responders. Right. And what they were doing and the hours these physicians were putting in - much of their own. I mean, literally to their own health, they're doing this thing. And it was just remarkable to see not only what the first responders were doing. There was also remarkable to see like in New York, people opening their windows and clapping for staff changes at the local hospital, right? I mean, it was awesome, right? And I kept thinking and I said, wow, we need this on a national level. Right? We need to have this. We need to. We need to. And again, I see this as a great potential for us. I mean, I think those three things - cooperation, cohesion and altruism - are strong characteristics of level five leaders, the most mature leaders. To bring that out in others.

Keith: Right. So, you know, we often talk about level five as being the ability to sort of rise above the different points of view. Right. To still hold the point of view on your own, but to see the value and the importance of another's point of view, even in helping refine your own. But there is this sort of umbrella of values that embrace things like collaboration, cohesiveness and community in a way where we are recognizing what we have in common, recognizing the things that bind us right. We so often take up things like Abraham Lincoln's ‘A House Divided Cannot Stand’, and MLK Jr's. ‘We're all part of the same fabric of destiny’ in this rising above this level of view of things goes beyond the polarization, but actually starts to knit the polarized sides into a more cohesive whole. And yet, if we are identified by one of the polls at these earlier levels, if how we understand ourselves, others and the world is defined by one party or the other party in terms of the political scene that we're in right now. Then if our identity is there, if our actual being and the way we know ourself is there, then when there is a loss, we are essentially losing. Our very being is tied to the outcome of this election in a country that is really close to being divided 50/50. And it feels to me like 25 or 30 percent are way out on the edges on either side - 25 or 30 on either side. So the majority of the country is out there. I mean, this creates a real dilemma for us if we can't figure out how to either begin growing ourselves through it, use this as an opportunity to grow through it, or if we don't get some higher level leadership in that can begin to knit this thing back together. I don't know what your reaction to that little monologue was.

Karl: I completely agree, Keith. I think the real challenge sort of post-election, the day after this airs is this is democracy, right? I mean, one of the things we know about democracy is that there are going to be winners and there are going to be losers. And what I would like to see happen and, again, let's just take the winners for a second. I would like the winners to take a breath and say to themselves, ok, what are the truths that our side is neglecting? That the other side brought up. Again, like your examples of Lincoln - what is the whole here? The whole is not your side winning. The whole is the house and we have to figure out how to mend the house. How to heal the house. And we don't do that by claiming what's going to happen or that we have a mandate. So we're going to just shove our stuff and it's going to be nothing will have changed. Right, and we're still going to have half the country disaffected. And so the first thing that the winners need to do here is really reach out and deal with the things that are central to the anxieties, if you will, of the people who lost.

Keith: Yeah, I know that's the answer. I agree that that's the answer. I think a sense of despair washes over me from time to time when I think about the likelihood of that happening.

Karl: Well, again, I mean, this is just where leadership comes in, you know. Let me go real micro for a second and underscore these values of cooperation, cohesiveness, altruism. Those are not something that you have, it's something that you are. And this is a practice for me. I'm in a lot of meetings, I'm engaged in discussions and debates where I often find myself in the minority. And I actually do this - I will go after a meeting or before the meeting, I will ask myself the question, am I willing to be cooperative here? Am I being cooperative here? And what I do is I actually force myself to reckon with my values before I go into these meetings. I'm trying to practice the very things that I'm talking about here which is living into those values, you know.

Keith: So let's build on what you just said there. What are the things that people can do when they know that they're going to be taking a walk with a friend, having a conversation with somebody that they know potentially doesn't see things the way that they do, maybe even be in some level of disagreement with them?  I love this idea of actually intentionally naming - what you're saying, in a way - the kind of person you want to be. Altruism, this collaboration, this cooperation, reminding myself that I want to be bigger than the side, that the truth is in a more connected place than it probably is completely identified with either Pole. So what are the things that people can do? To remind themselves that they are going to grow in a time like this. I think listening well is part of the answer.

Karl: But I'll just take your point. And I have to tell you, let me put a plug in for you and Sara here - the program that you do with design thinking got me to think more about being more curious in conversations. And I saw the real power of that and so what I'm now doing in most conversations, and I have to work at this it’s not something that comes naturally to me, But I have to be more curious in what they're saying and in going kind of the extra step and listening in a way that shows that I'm curious about them and what they have to say. Because part of what I'm always trying to do when I'm in a conversation is trying to find out more about that person and what's important to them. And so curiosity, in listening, is really fantastic.

Keith: Yeah. What do you do when you go in and do that? What do you feel like? How are you preparing yourself to stay in that curious mode, because in so many conversations that we have, you know, just the conversations at work, conversations around problem solving, we are preparing our response even as the other person is still finishing what they're saying. Yeah, so what do you have to do to actually stay in that curious space for you personally?

Karl: I know what I have to do is I have to remind myself. I mean, I literally remind myself that if I'm not being curious, if I'm not in that conversation and the thing is, these conversations tend to be a little longer when I'm curious, but what I end up finding is they're much more beneficial. And this is hard, right? Because I've got other things to do. But it's part of the pace of life, right, that we're not taking the time to really reflect. And again, that's a big part of this, Keith, is reflecting more on what you're doing while you're doing it. And, you know, my second thing here and, you know, we grow through challenge and contradiction and the hardest thing for me over the years and I finally think I've outgrown the problem, I didn't solve it, but I've outgrown it, which is this kind of need to be right. It’s so bad because, like you, I'll get in an argument or something and all of a sudden it's completely ego driven, right, and that's the problem. I've got to be egoless in these conversations and what I am, I'm very ego involved. And so therefore, I got to win. And that winning is so counterproductive, because then we end up arguing extremes and then eventually, when you've done this enough, you realize that if you need to go down this path, that your next action is going to be an apology. Right. I mean, you just know. And so my joke has been one of the greatest things about getting older as I no longer feel the need to be right. So giving up that right to be right.

Keith: And so let me contextualize this just a little bit in the Leader Levels model, which is what the book The Map is about. It’s about this journey from this outside-in, it is protecting this this identification that we are just subject to in a way. It's just that it's doing something to us. And the real development of the growth oriented challenge is to ask ourselves the questions like, who do I want to be in the middle of this? What's the story I want to tell? What am I learning new about me in this and in questions that drive toward a more inside out answer. But there are also people listening to this podcast that have been inside-out for a long period of time. They know who they are. We call them level four leaders or level four sense makers where there's this kind of groundedness. I've decided where I am. But when we decide where we are, we believe that's the right way to be. Right. And that's where the rightness comes from. In order to keep growing from that position, I've got to give up the right to be right. It's not saying that I'm going to be wrong, but I've got to loosen my grip on my right-ness. And you and I often talk, and when we are with groups, we talk about people who don't grow in that way are the cranky old people that we meet. They are the ones who have doubled, tripled, quadrupled down on their way which only creates the polarization. And the best thing we wind up doing, Karl, is from that position, the best thing we do is we wind up managing our differences. Right. Let's agree to disagree, let's say. But there's no taking it to a higher level. For folks who know that they are in that situation where they know what they hold to be true, the opportunity for growth in that environment is to begin to loosen your grip, not give it up, but loosen your grip on your rightness but to give up to some degree the right to be right. And, Karl, that opens the door for curious listening. And you made a comment that I have to prepare myself, that it's going to take longer to stay in this place of curiosity, But don't you believe that that's ultimately, in the short run, way less time spent on this?

Karl: Absolutely. Yeah. It's because it's all so much it's in the long term, it's actually more efficient. And that is it seems counter-intuitive because if I'm spending more time here, how am I going to catch this time up later? And what happens is it does because communication is much better. And, you know, things get dealt with earlier. I mean, it's just over time you'll find that taking the time to listen and be curious pays dividends.

Keith: Yeah, so over the next days, weeks or months, you know what we can do. What we can do to keep growing as grown-ups, regardless of our place on the journey, is that we could actually take responsibility for deciding, I want to explore how the other's perspective makes sense to them. Right. I want to stay curious with you long enough that I now have this sort of "aha!" about how you're making sense of the world. It's like, oh my gosh, I get it now, because so many of the people that we love, that we hang out with, that we're related to, we know them to be good sense makers in so many areas of their lives. But when it comes to a point of disagreement, it's like, well, that doesn't make any sense. But what if we took responsibility? Right, because that's all we can take responsibility for. We can't make them take responsibility. We can invite to it, but we can't make them. But what we can take responsibility for is ourselves and decide that we're going to be curious listeners and to try and understand where they're coming from. And, you know, I don't want to get on too big of a soapbox about this, but there have been times that I've wanted to have some kind of control over this, but I just sort of  bolt the doors of the nation's capital and say you're not allowed to come out unless you can tell me exactly how the other makes sense of the other’s position. And don't you know, a larger hole would emerge from that and we can create that larger hole amongst ourselves.

Karl: Boy, that's well said, Keith. You know, we know that the most effective leaders, most mature leaders, take more rather than less responsibility for things around them. And while that's easy to say, you know, an example that we've used frequently is that there's always someone in any office that you would rather not see or not deal with. Right. That you would rather duck into the bathroom in the hallway than meet this person, even though they're in the same company. And the challenge here is, can you be more rather than less responsible for that relationship? Because you know that the strength of the company actually in some ways depends upon your relationship with people you don't know as well. And so it's so yeah, it's a real challenge. It's so important, again, you know, for the winners of this election is to not be responsible for the hole that is for the country. And what a challenge that would be to say, ok, this is our responsibility here to mend this country. And what's it going to take?

Keith: Yeah, and so we can wish that at the national level, right? But I think the thing that is so powerful and what you're saying is that most of us are part of a family unit. Most of us who are engaged in the community are part of a friend group, most of us who work in an organizational setting or even volunteer in that setting are part of a team, right. If we're part of that organization at the next level, we're part of the company or the whole organization or the larger community, and then you can begin to scale that up, that we're also members of our state, our country, sure, and if you want to just go ahead and push it out, we're citizens of the world, right? So we don't need to wait for the winner of the election to do this. We can take responsibility for more rather than less and not wait for the other person to do that, we can take responsibility for that and our family or our friend group. Or, for crying out loud, in a single relationship with another person.

Karl: Yeah, no, it's funny, I have a colleague at Emory and we talk quite frequently and she's a family therapist and we use the same language, whether it's family dynamics or organizational dynamics. Right. And so the very things that we're talking about here clearly apply to families, teams, Institutions, organizations, wherever people are together, right, and to be effective. The same principles of mature leaders apply.

Keith: And I think the thing that we need to bump up against is the worry, fear or resistance that we have, that we may lose something if we stay curious, allow ourselves to go down the road of their position, understanding them in a new way. I think that's the thing we need to bump up against, is that what's going to happen? You know, one of the things I've encouraged people to do, Karl, and this is maybe a different way of being curious without putting yourself at risk that the other person may, I don't I don't even know what, convinced you of something you didn't want to be convinced of. I don't know what it is. But it's like if you're a Fox News person, how scary would it be to just listen to CNN every other day for a couple of weeks? If you're a CNN kind of person and I'm just using those kind of examples that to me seem to represent the two Poles, how scary would it be to watch Fox News every other day for a week or two in a spirit of curiosity, to see if you can understand how are they making sense of this? And as I begin to understand that, does that change me in any way? So I'm not picking a side here. I'm just saying that you and I both know that what the research shows is that the people who continue growing into these higher levels of understanding, this is kind of what they do naturally.

Karl: Yeah.

Keith: Right, the reality of the other side, they recognize that there is a larger hole that exists above the positions.

Karl: Exactly, We've talked about this, but we've got this kind of a herd mentality right now that you're part of a herd. Right. And, you know, it could be the Democrat herd or the Republican herd or whatever that herd is. And what it does is it actually prevents herds from talking to one another. And I'm not sure I want to go this far, but I'm going to say it anyhow, is that what it actually feels like is that the leader of these herds are the least mature? Who are running the herds? Right, and what happens is much of our conversation has been debased or has been minimized and we end up we end up in a place where the only thing that matters is winning.

Keith: Yeah, our side winning. Yes, and there does appear to be almost an immaturity that doesn't make sense. A lot of time for the identified leaders on both sides, I mean, surely there are exceptions and I know that there are exceptions to that. Karl, you make this quote by heart, right? Because we've talked about it before. But this so reminds me of Martin Luther King's quote. Do you know it by heart -- "I am convinced That men hate each other because they fear each other. They fear each other because they don't know each other. And they don't know each other because they don't communicate with each other. And they don't communicate with each other because they are separated from each other."
Karl: I mean, you could nail it better today, and he said that in 1957.

Keith: Yeah - Iowa, October 15th, 1962.

Karl: Oh, no, I'm sorry, I thought it was 57. OK, 62.

Keith: Yeah, October 15th that he may have said it several times, actually, but October 15, 1962 at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. This has been said for the bulk of this conversation is absolutely there's separation. And I guess here's the thing. Again, this is airing on Election Day. I think it's going to be potentially, from what I've heard, days, weeks or months before we understand the outcome unless something happens where landslides one way or the other. We can live into the solution. Ourselves, absolutely, we can encourage that that happens in a collective community, global, whatever level. But as we grow as grown-ups, we can take responsibility for this literally this afternoon, literally tomorrow. We can decide that we are going to not be separated, that we are going to communicate, that we are going to know. With the hope and belief that will dispel the hate. And boy, Karl, that's growth, that's growth, that's huge growth, right?

Karl: And I'll just say this, that if you're not doing this, if you're if you're not reaching out, you are part of the problem, right? You know, some people respond to carrots and some people who respond to the stick, this is thick, you are part of the problem. Yeah, and I encourage people that there's a lot at stake here, let's say this in this way, Karl, when we don't reach out, that's right, we are part of the problem, right? What it does, though, it prevents what we want, which is a solution to what we're separated over.

Keith: So we, in the coming days, weeks, months, take responsibility to be part of the solution at whatever level we have influence, right? I mean, this is I think, the takeaway.

Karl, we're drawing to a close here in terms of time, but, just thank you so much for the conversation, doing this in this format with you. It feels like a lot of the drives we've taken in cars together. It's been a treat for me. And thank you, thank you, thank you for just carving out time knowing that this is the day that this thing is going to air on. And I’m just so, so grateful for my relationship with you and look forward to maybe a couple of more of these kind of conversations in this environment.

Karl: Well, thank you, Keith. You know, your friendship means a lot to me. And it's been, wow, a great 30 years together. Although I do I do resent the fact that you look so much younger than I do. But other than that, I really appreciate our friendship.

Keith: Hey, be safe. Take care of yourself. Thank you. The feeling is mutual. And we will we will look forward to talking again soon. Look forward to it. Thank you. Thank you.

Sara: Keith, that was such a great conversation with Karl, and I think it was such a great example of this Level Five, this more mature way of understanding the world that I just don't think we get to hear enough of, at least in the media and in the big public conversations that we're having about these topics. And one thing that just really struck me was through both Karl and your take on what's going on in the election and what our country needs is this idea both of rising above differences instead of taking sides in the polarity of winners and losers That comes with a democracy of saying let's rise above and let's find the commonalities. And in the challenge that Karl threw out there of if you are not reaching out and trying to understand the other, you are part of the problem. And it's like, oh, man, right. So often we want to say they are the problem. They are arguing and blaming and all this stuff. But I think about even in my family, the differences in the tensions that exist of, you know, there are people very strongly on both sides of the of the line in my family, and I just think when have I gone to one of those people and said, help me understand why you feel so passionate about this thing. And it's like, ok, I must be part of that problem because I'm not trying to bridge those gaps. And so I just thought that was a great challenge. And I would encourage our listeners to think about that for themselves. Right. This idea that the most mature leaders take more rather than less responsibility for the things around them. And it's like this is a hard time to do that, but it is what we need to do.

Keith: Yeah. And it requires, you know, that we really put our own perspective on the shelf for just a minute and really get curious with other people. And not only is that a higher level of being together, right, not only is it more mature from a sense making perspective in the way that we've talked about it in leader levels and all of this kind of stuff, but it's also a way to grow ourselves, Sara. And this is the growing grown-ups podcast, and so I hope people will take the challenge to be part of the solution. You're going to take a walk, you're going to have a conversation with people. You're going to talk to family. And, you know, as we said during the podcast, it could be days, weeks or longer before we know the outcome and the country's intention. There's challenge there. Surely there's a challenge right now. Right. And challenges and opportunity to grow.

So glad I got to have the conversation with Karl, and I hope folks enjoyed it.

Sara: Yeah. And just a reminder, again, if you want to go deeper and learn how to apply this stuff in your own life and accelerate your growth, check out our challenge to change course, at and get some more resources and tools to help you have these difficult conversations and become these more mature leaders that we've been talking about.