Sunday, May 24, 2020

PassionPulls

No, this is not a blog post about sex.  (Sorry, if you're disappointed.)

Passion is one of the most common attributes of exemplary leaders.  Who among us prefers to follow dull, uninspiring, visionless leaders?  We much prefer to hitch our wagons to those leaders who grab us by the imagination and energize us.

The leaders I admire (and emulate) most are pretty good at the following Passion Pulls:

  • They "see" a better future, one that depends on us collectively taking some bold and proactive steps.
  • They persistently, relentlessly describe that future (mostly through stories) so that we can also "see" how we fit in to that future and how we can, from our various stations, contribute to its realization in meaningful ways.
  • They LISTEN; well, often, attentively, painfully, patiently.
  • They create and demand LEARNING environments at all levels in which it is always OK to question, to experiment, to tinker on the edges, to take risks, in the interest of pursuing those better futures.
  • They encourage and cheer us as we enthusiastically pursue those better futures together; they also console us and empathize with us when we've fallen on our asses in the effort.
If you haven't already, consider finding and following leaders of just such ilk.

Better yet.......................BECOME one.

Saturday, May 9, 2020

SizingPeopleUp

I recently read Sizing People Up: A Veteran FBI Agent’s User Manual for Behavior Predictionby Robin Dreeke and Cameron Stauth (2020).  


My top takeaways include:
·       Behavior Prediction Sign #1:  Vesting – Creating symbiotic linkage of mutual success.
·       Behavior Prediction Sign #2:  Longevity – Believing your bond will last.
·       Behavior Prediction Sign #3:  Reliability – Demonstrating competence and diligence.
·       Behavior Prediction Sign #4:  Actions – Displaying consistent patterns of positive behaviors.
·       Behavior Prediction Sign #5:  Language – Creating connections with masterful communication.
·       Behavior Prediction Sign #6:  Stability – Transcending conflict with emotional accord.
·       Trust should be viewed as predictability, not morality.
·       5 HACKS TO ACCELERATE THE TEMPO OF A RELATIONSHIP: 1. Intensify the experience.  2. Ritualize the relationship.  3. Begin at the end.  4. Demonstrate people’s value.  5. Decode the “Code of Trust.” 
·       How to apply the “Code of Trust”:  1. Suspend your ego.  2. Validate people.  3. Don’t judge people.  4. Be reasonable.  5. Be generous.
·       The truest measure of love is not how you feel, but what you do.
·       Exemplary communicators don’t “win arguments;” they listen intently and completely.

My favorite quotes:
“Trust creates a state of calm and creativity, animates everyone involved, and unites entire nations. It sits at the top of the human hierarchy of positive actions, because it is the action-equivalent of love—and often exists in combination with love.” (p. 11)

“The content was excellent, because the absolute essence of great communication is to focus on the other person, instead of yourself. ” (p. 170).

“Love is the pure essence of the quiet mind, and fear is the constant cold shriek of the noisy mind.” (p. 214)


This one is an excellent, and contained numerous very nice literary morsels (somewhat unexpected from an ex-Marine and ex-FBI agent). 

Sunday, April 19, 2020

CoachStill

Much of my early professional career was spent pretending to be an athletic coach.  I mistakenly thought that when I stepped out of that athletic life my "coaching" would end.  My lack of understanding got the best of me (again).  

I now have a better understanding that coaching is a mindset, a belief system, that goes far beyond a particular field of interest or specific endeavor.  

Coaching occurs when a valued other challenges, prods, pushes, demands, encourages, baits, demands, expects, .....  us to be better versions of ourselves.  That coaching lifts us upward in our thinking and performance (whether athletic or professional or spiritual or intellectual in nature).

That said, below are a few commonalities I find in the very best coaches.  My best coaches expect me to:
> Focus on the things WITHIN my control.
> Quickly process, then move past, failed attempts (self-pity pays no dividends).
> Just as quickly, celebrate achieved milestones (self-aggrandizement pays no dividends).
> Reflect, often and thoroughly, on goals and performances.
> LEARN, to be a voracious student in the area of desired improvement.
> Schedule my growth, regularly and incrementally (to be disciplined).
> Invest myself fully in the process of continuous improvement.
> In turn, "coach" my teammates in similar fashion (mostly through modeling).

I still have coaches (even at my advanced age of 62).  I still NEED coaches.  I still love my coaches.  And all that they do to shape a better me.

Saturday, April 4, 2020

MaslowThinkThanks

Abraham Maslow proposed his Hierarchy of Needs in 1943.  He said we humans have some very Basic Needs (like food, water, warmth, rest, safety and security).  Once those needs are mostly met our psyche turns to meeting a subsequent level of needs which he called Psychological Needs:  belongingness, love, esteem, feeling accomplished.  Finally, as both those Basic and Psychological Needs are mostly met we spend more time and effort trying to meet a higher level of needs which he called Self-fulfillment Needs: creativity and self-actualization.

As result of the COVID-19 pandemic, I've been thinking a lot about Maslow's hierarchy.  More of my time, effort, and thinking seem centered on those Basic levels these days.  It has been, in effect, a bit of a recalibrating experience.

I'm thinking more often and more appreciatively of a wide range of folks whose efforts make the satisfying of those Basic Needs a reality in our lives.  All why they're most certainly anxious about those Basic Needs for themselves and their loved ones.  

So, let me say thanks.  Thanks to the folks who grow and deliver and prepare our food.  Thanks to those who make sure we continue to have fuel and electricity and communications capabilities.  Thanks to those continue to make sure water flows to our homes.  Thanks to those who keep our communities secure, those who guard our borders and those who protect our sovereignty.  Thanks to those who selflessly mask up, gown up and rush to the aid of those who fall into health crisis.  Thanks to those who bolster our faith and our resilience in times of doubt/fear.  Thanks to those in the "essential services" that keep us supplied and functioning in numerous ways.  Thanks to the leaders at all societal levels who are daily making some gut-wrenching decisions in the interest of our survival and prosperity.  

Despite the inconvenience and anxiety associated with this pandemic, I'm thankful, too, for the recalibration process itself.  I'm beginning to see how I had disproportionately important-ized a fair number of folks who really were not in any way involved in meeting my most important needs.

Saturday, March 21, 2020

ConflictOfVisions

I recently read A Conflict of Visions: Ideological Origins of Political Struggles by Thomas Sowell (2019). 

In this book, TS articulates the foundational differences in worldview of those we customarily label as “the left” and “the right.”  TS is an intellectual, and he writes in a very cerebral way.  This book is definitely NOT a page-turner.  TS’s work reminded me of the non-fiction works of C.S. Lewis in that I almost felt I needed a dictionary close at hand. 

Some of my biggest takeaways:

Ø  Opposite ends of the political worldview continuum can be described as “Unconstrained” (what we would call The Left) and “Constrained” (what we usually label as The Right).
Ø  Regarding the concept of Vision, the Unconstrained worldview articulates in terms of desired results while the Constrained worldview aspires to processes designed to achieve desired results.
Ø  Regarding Knowledge and Reason, the Unconstrained worldview tend to value individual intellect (and intellectuals) while the Constrained worldview skews heavily toward historically evolved systems (whether religious, legal, or social).
Ø  Regarding Social Processes, the Unconstrained worldview holds that elite intellects (either individual or in groups) are best positioned to design and deploy processes that result in equity and fairness.  The Constrained worldview, on the other hand, insists that such outcomes are most likely when grounded in time-tested rules, constitutions, legal systems, and social contracts.
Ø  Bottom line:  The Unconstrained worldview focuses on equality of outcomes that are optimized through decision-making of an elite few while the Constrained worldview focuses on equality of opportunity premised in evolved systems of collective agreement and codification. 

My favorite quote:
“Here, as in other areas of the constrained vision, it is the experience of the many rather than the brilliance of the few that is to be relied upon, and historical evolution rather than excogitated rationality that is paramount.” (p. 197) 

Thanks for the recommendation, JK. 

Friday, March 20, 2020

Anchors

In the literal sense "anchors" are those heavy thingamajigs we pitch over the side of a boat (tied to a rope or chain, of course) to keep it from drifting off.

Figuratively speaking, "anchors" serve the same purpose for us.  Our anchors firmly moor us in place to keep us from drifting aimlessly,  Perhaps more importantly, they protect us from being driven to destruction by storm.  

Our anchors tether us to solid ground even when we're not on solid ground.  Anchors provide us with connection, even when tenuous, to that which is firm, unshakable, dependable.

It seems all my anchors have been teachers.  Not all were literally teachers, but all taught me.  Each a Yoda in their own way.  They taught me how to be anchored and when it wise to be anchored and to what we can dependably anchor.

Intentionally or not, they also passed along to me the import of anchoring others.  To channel a popular country song, "I come from a long line of anchors."

Truly thankful at this time in history that I have had, and continue to have, so many anchors.  

Seems they were prescient in their understanding.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

tenBoom

As a teenager back in the 1970s I read a compelling autobiography by Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom.  Ms. ten Boom's book was titled The Hiding Place and details how her family in Amsterdam harbored many Jewish (and Gentile) refugees in their home, all fleeing the Nazi German onslaught.  (Note:  The book is a most worthy read.)

Ms. ten Boom went on to become quite a thought leader of the Christian faith until her death in 1983.  

I was fortunate to have gotten to hear her administrative assistant speak at a conference in the late 70s.  I can't remember the woman's name but I remember vividly a quote she attributed to ten Boom in relation to facing seemingly insurmountable trials and tribulations:

"God does not lead us down stony paths without providing for us strong shoes." (perhaps not exact, but that's my 45-year-ish memory of it)

True now - as it always has been.