Transactional and Transformational


Every time we engage with another, we can make a choice as to whether it is only transactional, or also transformational. Let me provide a real life example. Several years ago, I was on a plane headed back to the OC from San Francisco. I noticed an attractive woman and three boys sitting across the aisle from me. The oldest boy had found the little blue bag in the seat pocket in front of him and announced to all he had found “the barf bag.” The seemingly embarrassed woman scolded him for broadcasting his discovery. In support of the young man, I looked at her from across the aisle and with a smile confirmed that it really was a “barf bag.” We are now married!

Every transaction may not be as transformational as meeting your future spouse. And we always have the opportunity to be present in the moment, and allow for the simple act of giving and receiving from each other. What distinguishes transactional moments from being transformational is what I would call transformational vulnerability. It is the ability to be heart centered in the midst of anything and everything. It is a choice and skill that acknowledges how mindfulness of our interactions can transform us in any moment. When we are conscious and intentional of living in our heart, then we co –create this vulnerability with others.

I was once leading a retreat for about one hundred physicians. I was exploring with them the concept of being care providers and care receivers. Most of their training and practice had been on what they were providing, not so much on what they might receive. I invited them to discuss this further in small groups. When I gathered them back as a large group, I inquired about their conversations. Immediately, an older physician raised his hand to share. He posed his sharing in the context of a question. “If we are going to be care receivers and care providers, don’t you think the first thing we need to do is to become vulnerable?” “Yes!” I responded. I still believe it is true. How about you?

Originally Published October 26, 2010

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