Friday, December 30, 2016

OnePower

There is tremendous power in having one-to-one conversations.  In a world full of communications tools that have massive reach (think comms on steroids), we often forget that the connection made with our communications embodies the real power of the exchange.

Some things we can express far better in a personal encounter are:

  • Heartfelt appreciation
  • Noticings - of good work or noble intent
  • Seeking of advice and counsel
  • Probing the best thinking of others
  • Deep listening
  • Full attention to body language - 80% of communication

Does it take more time to communicate individually?  You bet!  Try accomplishing the things you see in that list above with a mass-blast email or Instagram post.  Not so easily done (even if they see the message).

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

ADangerousFortune

I recently (re)read A Dangerous Fortune by Ken Follett (1993).


In this novel, KF takes us through the life and times of a prominent British banking family (the Pilasters), around the turn of the 20th century.  

As usual, KF masterfully runs several intriguing subplots, intertwined with each other, while tying all to the main plot - the rise and fall and rise of this influential family.  Laced with political machinations, international financial dealings, betrayal, lust, love, murder, familial loyalty (and not), KF weaves a wonderful tale while at the same time providing an excellent tutorial on British history as well as the mechanics of the banking industry.

I'll read anything KF writes, fiction or non-fiction.

Monday, December 26, 2016

Prabits

Practice makes perfect.  We've all heard it, right?  The corollary is that it's perfect practice (not just practice) that makes perfect.  Probably heard that too, huh?  The truth is, however, that practice simply makes us better (not perfect) at whatever it is we're practicing. 

That said, our habits are a form of practice.  Our habits betray our intentions (whether those intentions are conscious or unconscious, noble or nefarious).  Our habits (our practices) make us incrementally better at whatever it is we're practicing.

If our practice is healthy eating, we get better at it (but never perfect). 
If we practice forgiveness, we get better at it (but never perfect). 
If we practice at archery, we get better at it (but never perfect).  
If our habit is skepticism, we get better at it (but never...). 
If our habit is service, we get better at it (but never...). 
If our habit is hatefulness, we get better at it (but...). 
If our prabit is respectfulness, we get better at it. 
If our prabit is optimism, we get better at it. 
If our prabit is sarcasm, we get better at it. 

Not only do we get to choose our prabits, we DO choose.  Daily.  

What have we chosen to be better at?



Friday, December 23, 2016

Mainstream

I've never felt quite like I was comfortably nestled in the mainstream of thought.  I'm good with that.  In fact, I find that I am often cognitively drawn to the kind of thinking that colors a bit outside the lines.  

Perhaps it's in my nature.  Or perhaps it's the result of my primitive understanding of chaos theory - new birth (genesis) begins on the outer fringes of order.  Or perhaps it's from that analytical side of me which questions why we continue to use approaches, solutions, systems, protocols that have consistently yielded average or low results.  Sadly, it seems, that the mainstream is most accurately described by words/phrases like safety, conformity, politically correct, low risk. 

Why not tinker with something that's broken?  What harm in challenging that which ain't working?

My lovely bride of 39 years (Moe) often and correctly advises me to be careful in this regard.  She reminds me regularly that I need not be a "distraction."  She is not at all opposed to edgy thinking.  Rather, she understands innately that we can marginalize ourselves by being too distracting - in the way we dress, the way we speak, the stuff we buy, the habits we adopt, or the sensibilities we offend.  Moe is right, of course (I suppose I should try to warm to fashion in line with the current decade).  

From a leadership perspective, a degree of social conformity allows for others to safely consider our ideas/thoughts/proposals without endangering their own social status.  We can operate slightly out of the mainstream of thought, without jumping completely off the cliff.  Nobody wants to charge over the cliff all guns blazing.


Tuesday, December 20, 2016

NobodyWantsToReadYourSh*t

I recently read Nobody Wants to Read Your Sh*t:  Why That Is And What You Can Do About It by Steven Pressfield (2016).  Yes, I did!  And it was really quite good.



SP provides salient advice to writers in this work, both in modeling and in meaningful content.  He speaks to the cognitive, emotional, social, and financial challenges of literary expression.  SP offers guidance specific to the writing of advertising, fiction, screenplay, and nonfiction works.

My biggest takeaways:

  • Streamline your message. Focus it and pare it down to its simplest, clearest, easiest-to-understand form.
  • Every work of art, writing included, must have a concept. 
  • Regardless of genre (even if giving a speech), adhere to the three-act structure, and tell a STORY.
  • Write nonfiction as if it were a novel.

SP's fundamental recipe:  
“1) Every work must be about something.  It must have a theme.  2) Every work must have a concept, that is, a unique twist or slant or framing device.  3) Every work must start with an Inciting Incident.  4) Every work must be divided into three acts (or seven or eight or nine David Lean sequences).  5) Every character must represent something bigger than himself/herself.  6) The protagonist embodies the theme.  7) The antagonist personifies the counter-theme.  8) The protagonist and the antagonist clash in the climax around the issue of the theme.  9) The climax resolves the clash between the theme and the counter-theme.”  (p.120)

My favorite quote:  
“Nature cannot be tricked or cheated.  She will give up to you the object of your struggles only after you have paid her price.” (p. 165)

Excellent!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

TheCarpenter

I recently read The Carpenter:  A Story About the Greatest Success Strategies of All by Jon Gordon (2014).  

In this novelette, JG tells the story of a young man (Michael) suffering a heart attack, having his life saved by a carpenter who just happened to be passing by, and the relationship that developed between the two.  The carpenter subsequently became a confidante and advisor to Michael.

The book, in true JG fashion, is a pithy guide to living well and wholesomely.  

My biggest takeways:

  • "Giving" is a beautiful way to live and work.
  • Some powerful questions to help us frame our intentions and actions:   What does it look like when we are at our healthiest, strongest, and best?  What does our family situation look like while we are pursuing success in our work?  Are we ignoring the people we love the most or making more time for them?  What matters most?  What priorities drive us each day?  What are we doing that makes us come alive?  What are we doing to live and share our purpose?
  • The most successful life strategies are extremely simple, yet powerful.  Simple, however, does not mean easy.
  • “I just know that what you think, you become.  I know that how you see the world determines the world you see and how the world sees you.  I know your perspective can take a bad situation and turn it into a great outcome.  I know a positive attitude not only draws people to you, but it also gives you power to overcome all the obstacles you will face as you build your success.” (Quote from the carpenter on p.34) 
  • Fear is the root cause of busyness and stress.
  • The Greatest Success Strategies: Love-Serve-Care
  • When we love, serve, and care, our value goes up (while at the same time showing that we value others).
  • Caring is an energy producer, not an energy suck (for both the sender and the receiver). 

My favorite quote: 
“I know that I’m not a human being having a spiritual experience.  I’m a spiritual being having a human experience.” (The carpenter, p.121)

Quick read.  Good read.  Reflection-triggering read.