Thursday, April 28, 2016

ForeveverWork

Work comes in all shapes and sizes: physical labor, mental processing, paper shuffling, monitoring, selling, supervising, harvesting, etc.  The list is endless, and the impact is mostly temporal.

Some work, however, is forever work.  This is the work we do that has impact, that lasts beyond our lifetime, even beyond our generation.  Forever work is not about putting food on the table, making the mortgage payment, or funding the vacation.  Forever work is about legacy, and it's always grounded in our relationships.

Of course we have to work for the almighty dollar (most of us, anyway) in order to make ends meet, but we must also work for that bigger picture - the forever work.  

Essentially, it's the work of passing along values, ways of thinking, and ways of being.  And how do we transmit those critical elements?  Through strong and carefully attended relationships with those we love (and, derivatively, with the ones they love). 

It is important to assess how we dole out our time, our effort, our thinking, and our attention with respect to those two kinds of work - the temporal kind and the forever kind.

And, we should probably ask ourselves if we're happy with the apportionment.  If not, today is the day to make adjustments.  Forever depends on it.

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

HeardOrHerd

When we actually listen to others, to the point that they are certain they are being heard, we convey to them their value as individuals.

When we don't listen (or worse, do all the talking), we make others feel de-valued.  When anyone feels de-valued (us included), they feel frustrated, disrespected, powerless, discounted, invisible.  It's as if they're part of "the herd," lost in a mass of equally de-valued others.  

Heard = valued.  
Unheard = herd relegation.

There is tremendous benefit in being a powerful listener (and it doesn't cost us a darned thing).  And, it's okay to start now...

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Dogma

"Incontrovertibly true!"  "The discussion is over."  "The debate is settled."  "The science is conclusive."  "Virtually everyone agrees."  "Only the ignorant or uniformed would disagree."

Statements like the ones above are meant to restrict our thinking and to muzzle our mouths.  Attempts to scuttle our curiosity or to thwart honest skepticism are frequently used techniques of the dogmatically entrenched. 

Dogma is a belief adhered to zealously (contrary evidence be damned).  Dogma leaves no room for doubters.  Dogma marginalizes all others.  Dogma requires strident conformity.  The dogmatic are often willing to discredit, disparage, or impugn any who would disagree.  Their position is that there simply is no room for dissent.  

WARNING!  We should be most suspicious of anyone who would extinguish or censure skeptical inquiry.  There's most certainly some nefarious reason they don't want us to ask questions.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

WeedEaters

Weed eaters are wonderful tools.  They're usually powered by gasoline engines or electric current, and give us the ability to cut/eliminate a LOT of weeds in a real big hurry.  They are made for destruction and rarely fail to deliver on that front.

The down side is that the weed eater has no ability to discriminate.  When powered up it takes down whatever the operator directs it toward.  Thus, too often the weed eater also becomes a flower, grass, tree, paint, fence, and/or window eater as well.  Not good.

The same sort of good-tool-gone-awry dynamic happens in organizations when we craft procedures and protocols aimed at the "weeds" among us.  Maybe the weeds get eliminated, maybe not.  Too often, many non-weeds fall victim to the destructive tools we create as a side effect.  

Damage thereby done is very slow to heal...

Friday, April 15, 2016

TheNightingale

I recently read The Nightingale, a novel by Kristin Hannah (2015).
  

The novel is set in France, with most of the story unfolding between 1935 and 1945.  Sisters Isabelle Rosignoll and Vianne Mauriac grapple, in their own unique ways, with the nightmare of World War II and the eventual German occupation of France.  Each loses loved ones, family, and friends to the war, in one way or another.  And each determines eventually to become part of the French Resistance (though in quite dissimilar roles).  

KH does a remarkable job of developing the characters in this book, as she pulls the reader in emotionally.  An excellent story, woven through and around one of the most tragic events and time periods in human history.  

You’ll need tissues if you decide to read this one (and I think you’ll want to).

Thursday, April 14, 2016

TheSpoon

Moe (my lovely bride of 39 years) and I possess a serving spoon.  The spoon belonged to my paternal grandmother.  We use it almost daily.  Moe also owns a potato masher, owned by her maternal grandmother, whose loving hands used it for decades in the preparation of meals for family and friends.  We also own a ceramic serving bowl that looks like it has survived a couple of world wars (and perhaps it has).  It belonged to Moe's paternal grandmother.  The bowl has been broken and glued back together no telling how many times.  In that bowl were served countless meals at her Granny's table.  Now we serve meals to our own family and friends in it.  I own a 16 pound sledge hammer that belonged to my maternal grandfather.  I use it regularly (but not daily, thankfully) in my work on the ranch.  Every time I touch it I "feel" Granddad's presence as I'm working.

Dr. Rupert Sheldrake theorizes that there is such a thing morphogenic fields, which he describes as a sort of inherited memory and collection of habits, that passes from one generation to the next.  I believe Dr. Sheldrake is on to something there.  Perhaps even those morphogenic fields find a passage to us through those simple tools of our grandparents.  With each use of those precious artifacts, our memories fondly return to those loving, and loved, grandparents.  Every time.

That spoon probably wouldn't bring a nickel at a garage sell, but it is worth more than gold to us.

Monday, April 11, 2016

TheUnsaid

Listening has repeatedly been the topic of this blog.  Of all the communications tools we have available to us, none is more powerful or beneficial than the skill of listening.

As important as it is to be active and attentive listeners, it is equally vital that we are perceptive listeners.  Listening for what is unsaid is a valuable skill unto itself.  By being perceptive listeners, attuned to the unspoken, we can often reap important insight into the speaker's motivations, intentions, aspirations, fears, reliability, passion, and commitment.  

Just as listening carefully to the words provides us valuable insight, being attentive to the non-words can also convey very important messages. 

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Boomerang

Nothing makes us smaller than when we disparage someone else.

Nothing makes us weaker than when we point out the weakness(es) of others.

Nothing makes us more ludicrous than when we make fun of others.

Nothing disgraces us more than when we behave disrespectfully toward others.

Nothing impugns our honor more than when we spread hurtful gossip about others.

Denigration has a built-in boomerang effect.  Trying to make others smaller never results in our getting bigger.  Trying to make ourselves bigger at the expense of others always makes us smaller.

"Do unto others as you would have them do unto you."  - Luke 6:31

Golden. (And so simple.)

Friday, April 8, 2016

TalkingContests

The best leaders I know can talk with the best of them - but they rarely do.  Rather, those leaders limit their talk.  They understand that very little learning occurs when they're talking.  They also understand that the success of their organization (and their own) is directly proportional to how much they can learn.

Thus, effective servant leaders DON'T let conversations between themselves and others turn into talking contests.  Rather, they ask powerful questions that invite others into substantive dialogue.  Then, they listen like crazy.  Next, they ask powerful questions that invite others into substantive dialogue.  Then, they listen like crazy.  Next, they ask...

Monday, April 4, 2016

Leadership&Spirit

I recently read Leadership and Spirit by Russ Moxley (2000).


In this work, RM takes examines our humanness through four dimensions:  mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual.  He delves deeply into the spiritual component, particularly as it relates to leadership, to partnership, and to community.

My biggest takeaways:
> Fully engaging the spiritual/emotional in our work creates necessary congruence.
> Ignoring the emotional/spiritual ultimately results in commitmentless work.
> Leadership exercised devoid of attention to the spiritual dimension fails to plumb the depths of organizational achievement, experiencing only the shallows as result.
> We often say yes when we want to say no – a collusion derived from fear- or dependency-based environments.
> Only from honoring a diversity of viewpoints can a shared sense of purpose and meaning emerge. 
> Fully actualizing work should bring to us a sense of life, rather than the feeling of a daily march toward death.
> An environment of partnership, of community, which recognizes and invites differing gifts, skills, energies, and thinking, fosters high performance and worthy achievements, both individually and collectively.
> When we spend more time in human doing than in human being, we begin to understand the emptiness of the former and miss the power of the latter.
> Our inner life irrefutably affects our outer work. 
> Only when leaders learn to create space for honest dialogue, truth finding, shared decision making, does true partnership in the leadership process emerge.  
> Only through relationships and community do we come to fully make sense of our lives. 

Favorite quotes:
“... our practice of leadership either suffocates or elevates spirit.” (p. xii)

“It is my conviction that in the activity of leadership the who is more important than the what or the how.” (p. 107)

An excellent book, very well written.  Thanks for the recommendation, RP.