Thursday, March 30, 2017

Passion

Most of us feel passionate about something.  Maybe it's a hobby, maybe it's our faith, maybe it's our work.  Some of us even manage to be passionate about more than one thing.

How do we know when we have passion for something?

  • We think about the passion-interest continually, fluidly, persistently.
  • We really WANT to be successful in that endeavor (whatever it is).
  • We easily get lost in the pursuit, often completely losing track of time.
  • We have an intense desire to connect with others who share the same passion.
  • We dig and dig to learn more and get better in that field of interest. 
  • We talk or write about our passion-interest all the time, eager to share what we've learned.
  • We are energized by the passion-interest, despite spending so much energy on it.
  • We feel attracted to it rather than pushed to it (it's as if it is our magnet).
  • We experience a deep sense of purpose while engaged in our passion-interest.

Passion is a critical component in our being able to feel fully self-actualized.  


Found yours yet?



Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Discomforted

Being discomforted is, well, uncomfortable.  We, as individuals and organizations generally prefer comfort over discomfort.  

Yet, those windows of time in which we are feeling acute discomfort are often the times we experience the greatest growth - when trying to learn physics, or when training for that half marathon, or when interviewing for that coveted job, or when pressing to complete that major project.  It seems those times of heightened cortisol and adrenalin levels (i.e., discomfort) are the precursors of significant changes/epiphanies/accomplishments.

When judiciously applied, discomfort can push us to new levels of thinking and new levels of performance.  

How can we strategically introduce a bit of discomfort?

  • Push ourselves, or our organization, to learn something new.  Invest heavily in new learning - from our competitors, from our customers, from those in completely different fields of endeavor.
  • Allow and promote risk taking.  And model it.  Try on new assignments or projects.  Assign the same to others.  Cross train within the organization.
  • Open the door to visitors.  Be transparent, open the skeletal closets, then ask those visitors about what they saw/felt/heard/smelled.  Process that feedback carefully.
  • Make principle-centered behavior the standard.  Not profit, not prestige, not protectionism.  Be willing to take losses by standing on principle.  And, protect others who do the same.
To be sure, comfort is easier.  But, on the other side of discomfort is our best chance for excellence. 

Friday, March 24, 2017

Curious

The most interesting people I know are curious people.  They're also really smart people.

The correlation between curiosity and smartness may not be causal.  But then again, it may.

Those curious-smart people always seem to have an interesting question in mind, and on their lips.  Even regarding some of the most mundane subjects/issues, these curious-smart people seem to be searching for a deeper understanding of how things work and how they might be improved upon.

Another attribute of those curious-smart people is that they rarely cast themselves as "smart."  They assume they don't yet know enough, and perhaps, could even be wrong in their current thinking/understanding.

I/You/We also know the opposite kinds of characters - the know-it-alls, the dogmatic, the condescending, the non-curious.

Hunger for new learning, and an openness to the possibility of being found to be wrong, seem to be antecedents for real growth.  Curiously.  

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Words

Some folks I know (often those in leadership positions) are particularly adept at using words for nefarious ends.  They skillfully use words to create ambiguity, hide the truth, blatantly deceive, inflict hurt, deflate, foster distrust, divert blame, divide, avoid responsibility, and intimidate.

Another group of folks I know (fewer of this kind, unfortunately) use words to authentically praise, to lift others up, to add clarity, to heal, to unify, to energize, to comfort, and to express love/care.

I tend to appreciate, and gravitate toward, the latter group most often.  They just make me feel better - about life, about the future, about me.

The words we use directly reflect the choices we have made about spirit and mindset.

Saturday, March 18, 2017

(em)Powered

Most of us prefer to work in a state of empowerment.  Some organizations (and leaders) embed empowerment within the culture.  How?  Through...

  • A clearly stated vision of "where we're going."
  • Persistently sharing successes AND losses between/among team members.
  • Affording the safety to take risks.
  • Refusal to burden the team with layers of permission requirements.
  • Pervasive transparency - in communications, in intent, in support systems, in diagnostics.
  • Ensuring legitimate "voice" to ALL stakeholders.
  • Minimization of rules and minutiae (a.k.a. bureaucracy).
  • Consistent support publicly for work well done (and private reprimands for otherwise).
  • Relentless commitment to development, growth, and learning.
While it's great fun to be a part of such environments, the question begs:  What are we doing (as leaders) to create those very conditions?

The quality of the team and it's results is directly proportional to it.  

There is great power in empowerment.

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Abdicated

Why?

Why would we abdicate...
  • The education of our children to those we don't know?
  • The care of the earth to those whose primary goal is profit?
  • Our personal peace to processes and products completely dissociated from our spirit?
  • The raising of our food to people we do not know, from places we know not where, under conditions we cannot verify?
  • The development of our opinions/viewpoints to those of only one worldview?
  • Our attention and love to "stuff" and activity, over those we love (and love us back)?
  • The devotion of our precious time to inconsequential things?
In each of those areas, we get to choose.  

When we abdicate the choice, we have chosen.

Monday, March 13, 2017

MoreWorser

I am guilty, as a leader, of making a problem more worser.  ;-)  I've witnessed countless others make the same mistake.

A few errors that propel us toward the More Worser Syndrome:
  • Turning a small issue into a big one. 
  • Denying an issue exists, when everyone knows it does.
  • Acting, behaving, or thinking in hysterical mode.  Panic breeds panic.
  • Direct blame and recrimination rather than actually dealing with the issue.
  • Lying about or covering up the malfeasance that actually caused the issue.
  • Dealing with the issue without garnering the perspective of those closest to it.
  • Procrastinating or avoiding dealing with an issue that screams for our attention.
After Action Reports (AAR), famously used by military folks, is the reflective process by which we metabolize how we dealt with the issue.  While the AAR is needful and necessary, it's called "after action" for a reason:  we should deal with the issue first.

Intervening to make issues less worser helps all in the organization stay focused on the truly important things - like pursuing our goals with minimal distraction.

Friday, March 10, 2017

HomeGrownHerbalist

I recently read The HomeGrown Herbalist by Dr. Patrick Jones (2014).


Yes, I really did!  And loved it.

PJ is a veterinarian, clinical herbalist, and naturopath.  Thus, he treats both animals and humans when they face health or trauma-related issues.  And, PJ also has a fabulous sense of humor.  

In this simple and concise primer for the neophyte herbalist, PJ introduces us to the basics of using plants (even some we only know as weeds) to improve our personal health.  He provides my first exposure EVER to herbal fundamentals like infusions, tinctures, poultices, salves, and electuaries.  

PJ confirmed and advanced my belief that Intelligent Design has provided the necessities for our optimal health, if we only learn to fully leverage them.

My favorite quote:  "We need to be plant based, not product based." (p. 66) 

A fun, quick, and enlightening read.  I'll never look at dandelions, cayenne, blackberry, and parsley the same way.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

Planting&Learning

Planting stuff (seeds, bulbs, cuttings, trees, etc.) and Learning new stuff are interestingly similar.  Both are acts of faith.  We partake in both in the belief that they will yield something useful and valuable to us, with time.  We understand intuitively that the ultimate benefit that both yield is a function of how attentive we are to both processes.

Not everything we plant survives.  Yet, even the plants that fail to grow become valuable nutrients from which other plants can draw upon and prosper.  Learning is similar in that even things we learn that may not immediately enrich us in some way add to the structure and context by which we can make connections for new and actionable learning thereafter.

The stuff we plant that DOES germinate and launch into the life-succession is not only gratifying to watch and facilitate, it is also downright therapeutic for us.  It's as if the life we are nurturing nurtures us in return.  Learning new things has the same effect.  When we learn something new and relevant, it is energizing to see/feel/hear that learning add value to our lives in some way.

There is yet another similarity in planting stuff and learning stuff.  Stuff we don't get around to planting, most certainly will not grow.  And, learning we never invoke and embrace most certainly will not enrich us. 

Plant something new, regularly.  Learn something new, persistently.  It's called living well.

Monday, March 6, 2017

Cheap

We've all heard the old saw, "You get what you pay for."

And, most of us have been enamored by, and purchased, the cheap option.

When we've acquired the cheapest product, more often than not it fails to work as advertised, is made of shoddy components, breaks almost instantly, or can't carry the load we need.

When we go for the cheapest service, more often than not the provider is not skilled enough, takes insanely long to deliver, hides behind a list of disclaimers and/or limitations, or can't be found/contacted when the service is lacking.

With a few things, we can live with cheap - things like paper clips, notebook paper, air freshener, combs, parking lot attendants, etc.

In other things, however, going with the cheap option costs us immensely and immeasurably - things like the food we put in our bodies, our internet provider, our customer interface software, etc.

Going with cheap usually comes with a pretty high price tag, in the form of compromised health, extended down time, lost customers.  

Count the costs, VERY carefully, before throwing in with cheap.

Saturday, March 4, 2017

SchoolCultureRewired

I recently read School Culture Rewired:  How to Define, Assess, and Transform It by Gruenert and Whitaker (2015).  


In this work, G&S thoroughly examine the components of school culture, the processes leaders can use to effectively determine current states, and propose numerous practical strategies by which school leaders can positively impact school culture.  The assertions and advice offered in this book will also aptly guide leaders of other types of organizations.

My biggest takeaways:

  • The building blocks of school culture: climate, mission & vision, language, humor, routines/rituals/ceremonies, norms, roles, symbols, stories, heroes, and values/beliefs.
  • We, individually, represent the average of the five people we spend the most time with.
  • School culture typologies:  Collaborative, Comfortable-collaborative, Contrived-collegial, Balkanized, Fragmented, and Toxic.
  • Culture is shaped by the worst behavior that leaders are willing to tolerate.
  • The best offense is one that doesn't energize the enemy's defense.
  • Influencing is a lifestyle, not a hobby.

My favorite quote:
“Cultures manage people; it takes people to lead people.” (p. 149)   

A good read for those hoping to move organizations toward a better future.

Thursday, March 2, 2017

ScriptOrPlan

A script is not a plan.  

With a script we know (and are often the authors of) the story, and exactly how it ends.  A script defines the characters, the set, the plot, and the progression.  Open the curtains on cue, say the lines, change fluidly from one scene to the next.

While that might (and that's a BIG might) be a nice scenario for living life, that's not the way it works.  While it would be handy to be able to script things as we wish it, the reality is that living a successful, happy, and productive life relies on having a plan, not a script.

What makes for a good life (or business) plan?

  1. Knowing clearly where we want go or what we want to be or what we would like to accomplish.  Clarity about the end we desire is essential to achieving it.
  2. Developing well-defined strategies/moves we believe will move us steadily toward that defined outcome.  It really helps when we write these down and review them regularly, both to keep us focused on our intent and to help us monitor how well we're doing.
  3. Building adaptability into the deployment.  Life WILL through us curve balls, it WILL hand us some defeats.  A good plan takes into account that there will be losses and detours, and provides for ways to get back on track or circumvent/overcome the challenges.  Part of the adaptability is in regularly reviewing one's plan and modifying it as needed to take into account the changes in context or circumstances.  
  4. Graciously accepting and expressing appreciation for the help others lend us in our pursuit.  We can never accomplish anything consequential by ourselves.  
Plan well.  Live well.  Accomplish much.  (Leave the scripts to the movies.)