Joseph Grenny’s non-profit, The Other Side Academy, is a life skills reeducation program for people who’ve lived broken lives. They currently have 180 students split between two Denver and Salt Lake City campuses. The average student has been arrested 25+ times, has been homeless, and faced long-time challenges with drug addiction. It’s free to attend. It’s a community where people learn to live in their communities in a better way.
But they must be self-reliant. The students produce the income that supports the house through running social enterprises, which is also therapeutic for them. Joseph believes that work is a great opportunity to learn about ourselves. The residents run world-class organizations top-rated in their market areas. They get to accomplish remarkable things while micro changes happen in their lives.
You can tell the truth in a loving way
Many people believe that it’s okay to lie to a friend to maintain the friendship. But Joseph believes there’s a requirement, to tell the truth—and there’s a right way to do it. He also believes that all lasting happiness in life is about having the capacity for truth and love. Most of us try to hold back our real feelings and opinions in relationships thinking we can hold on to those relationships. It isn’t possible.
If you aren’t talking it out, you’re acting it out. It creates division. The lack of transparency leads to a lack of authenticity. The relationship will rupture. Truth is necessary. But truth without love is brutality. It’s self-serving and damaging. Love without truth is permission to allow them to destroy their loves.
The goal at the Other Side Academy is to try to achieve both. You have to be in a community with deeply flawed people—just like the rest of us—and learn to tell the truth. You point out each other’s weaknesses and faults, not to hurt them, but because you’re trying to help.
We perceive the truth as threatening because it’s so rare that we experience it. When you experience it regularly, you begin to realize that the truth is a blessing. When you stay in a place where you’re absolutely loved, surrounded by unflinchingly honest people, you’ll grow—or you’ll leave. Most people stay, change, grow, and become better human beings.
How to maintain the changes you make
The foundation of their work is their book, “Influencer: The New Science of Leading Change” which is about human change. There are six different sources of influence that shape choices. You must learn to create the sources of influence that help you get where you want to go.
Joseph emphasizes that your social context shapes you more than any other source of influence. The people that you surround yourselves with are important. You need to surround yourself with people who care enough to sustain change. It’s their encouragement and support that keeps us on track.
That’s another reason why The Other Side Academy is so successful. You can learn more about its mission—and hear a fascinating conversation about crucial conversations—in episode #327 of the Negotiations Ninja podcast!