Thursday, December 27, 2018

Bossyish

The best leaders I know are bossy.  They do, however, manage to direct others toward action in ways that are usually not too offensive.

Here's a few of the ways those quality leaders boss us, without appearing to be too bossy in the process:

  • They communicate clearly the WHY behind what we're being asked (or told) to do.
  • They craft their messages predominantly in "pull" instead of "push" format.
  • They assign us to tasks for which we are well-suited.
  • They relentlessly express appreciation for work we've accomplished.
Doesn't seem that hard, does it?  

Thursday, December 20, 2018

EmpireOfSin

I recently read Empire of Sin:  A Story of Sex, Jazz, Murder, and the Battle for Modern New Orleans by Gary Krist (2015).


This was a work of non-fiction, but read like a historical novel.  GK wonderfully details the history of New Orleans, giving an intriguing view of the social, religious, political, racial, and criminal forces that have continually pressed, or bulldozed, their respective influences on the "life" of the Crescent City.  

GK's accounting focuses primarily on the time period of the 1890s to the early 2000s.  He skillfully describes the entanglements of the forces mentioned in the paragraph above and the characters personifying those forces, and how each have imposed their perspective and imprint on the city we know as New Orleans.

Loved it!  Beignets anyone?

Monday, December 17, 2018

ValueAdded

I recently came into possession of a priceless tool.  

My Aunt Barbara brought a box of Granddad's old pocket knives to a holiday family gathering, to let us each find a keepsake.   I carefully scoured the contents, searching not for the biggest one, or the most expensive one, or the newest one, or even one I wanted to use.  I was specifically looking for one which I remembered seeing at work in his hands.  Found it!



I watched my Granddad use this knife for a wide array of purposes:
  • Cut an apple in two and share it with me.
  • Dig a splinter out of his finger, or mine.
  • Scrape crud off the piston ring of an engine we were trying to repair. 
  • Slice a piece of cheese for me to snack on while working together.
  • Pry the lid off a beer bottle (before twist tops existed).
  • Clean a mess of catfish we caught while trotlining.
  • Whittle a whistle for me from a piece of willow branch.
  • Dress a deer I killed early one morning.
  • Hack open the lid of a can of ranch style beans.
  • Cut the rattlers off a rattlesnake we "encountered" out in the pasture.
  • I could keep going...
As often as not, the "cleaning" of his knife amounted to wiping it on his pant leg before putting it back in his pocket.

I learned a lot of things from Turney Casey.  One of them is that the skill and intent of the tool handler greatly exceeds the monetary value of the tool.  

As with most of his lessons, he taught it without overt explanation, knowing that the understanding would come in its own time.

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Bullhorns

Consider three kinds of bullhorns:  
1) the horns on actual bulls (bovine males), 
2) electrified voice amplification systems used by humans, and
3) figurative bullhorns used to impose beliefs/values/goals on others.

Actual bulls use their horns to impose their will on those around them.  The horns are, in effect, dangerous weapons/tools they aggressively use to push around or injure other animals (even humans) to gain advantage.  Yes, bulls have goals.  Trust me on this one.

Humans use electric bullhorns to impose their will on those around them.  The horns are, in effect, weapons/tools they aggressively use to gain attentive advantage over other humans.  Yes, humans have objectives, too.

Figurative bullhorns are a tool used most often by those who are unwilling to engage in civil and deliberative discourse around areas of legitimate disagreement.  The objective is to shout down the "other" or drown them out, to squelch their perspective or diminish their voice.

To be sure, bullhorns of all three kinds CAN be used for the greater good...........................but rarely are.  Almost always they are deployed with selfish outcomes in mind.

We are wise to steer clear of bullhorn wielders of all three stripes, as they are typically not at all interested in our perspective, our viewpoint, our needs, or our opinion.  

Beware the bullhorns!

Saturday, December 8, 2018

TheConstantGardener

I recently read The Constant Gardener by John Le Carre (2000).


In this work of fiction JLC weaves an interesting story of love, love lost, murder, mystery, intrigue, subversion, NGO fraud, humanitarian aid malfeasance, governmental corruption,....

It was my first reading of JLC.  While much of his cultural reference and British lexicon were lost on me, I thoroughly loved the story and his writing style. 

I'll be back...

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

YodaGang

Yoda wasn't born that way.  He (I think it was a he) was not birthed (or however those creatures arrive on the planet - er, the universe) with all that wisdom.  

The wisest leaders and advisors I know are:  

> Disciplined knowledge curators - they read, listen, watch, search, and dig for knowledge, non-stop.
> Survivalists - they have actually LIVED through challenging experiences themselves (not just sat through a seminar on it).
> Strategic skeptics - they critically dissect the information that comes their way (even from their own Yodas) to make sure it's valid, reliable, dependable, grounded in fact.
> Cross sectional miners - they purposely seek advice, counsel, and knowledge from Yodas across a wide range of interests and disciplines, understanding that the most substantive wisdom is not bound by a particular field of study, religion, political party, mindset.

We all need a few Yodas in our network (if we want in to grow stronger...smarter...wiser).

Sunday, December 2, 2018

TrendBending

Failure is an expected outcome for those who pursue betterness.  It doesn't matter if we're talking personal improvement or organizational improvement.  

If we don't push ourselves, we don't get better.  If we don't experience some failure, we haven't pushed ourselves.

How should we respond when the pattern seems to be persistent fails, with few or no wins?   
The folks who seem most accomplished at keeping the fail-succeed scoreboard moving in a positive direction use the following techniques to bend failure trends toward success:

  • They analyze personal/team performance continually, carefully, objectively, honestly.
  • They discuss that performance openly. 
  • They take corrective measures early and often.
  • They habitize the thinking/actions that foster wins, and de-habitize the thinking/actions that affect consistent fails.
  • They do not mistake isolated failure as trending failure.
  • They do not abide excuse-making (by themselves or others).
Betterness is a process, not an event.

Friday, November 30, 2018

Inquirers

The way we use questions reveals much about us.  

As with any tool, questions can be used for great good, or great harm.

For your consideration, some parallel continua of inquisitorial status:

Non-Inquisitors< >Malicious Inquisitors< >Genuine Inquisitors
Disinterested <     > Manipulative <             > Curious
Clueless <             > Fearful <                     > Searching
Ignorant <             > Arrogant <                   > Honest
Indifferent <          > Accusatory <                > Empathetic
Incompetent <      > Manipulative <             > Collaborative
Apathetic <           > Taking <                       > Contributing
Detached <           > Divisive <                     > Empowering

You get the idea...




Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Bounce

Failure and disappointment are part and parcel of living a full life.  

Those who experience neither (or in very low doses) are rare indeed - usually limited to either the uber-privileged or the ultra-talented.  Not a lot of those folks around, and I'm not sure I'd trade places with any of them.

Three arenas have proven exceptional proving grounds in which I learned to grapple with failure in a reasonably healthy way:  1) athletics, 2) raising children, and 3) leadership roles.

From those combined endeavors (or, crucibles) some powerful tenets emerged by which it seemed failure and disappointment could best be leveraged (yep, leveraged) in order to optimize life:

  • Stay focused always on the BIG picture, always taking the long view.
  • Failure and disappointment are directly proportional to the size of our dreams and pursuits.
  • Truly, if it doesn't kill us it will make us stronger.
  • Reflection and correction are powerful tools, to be used daily.
  • Discipline and hard work are what counts; potential is virtually meaningless.
  • Seek and apply the advice of wise and accomplished role models; ignore criticisms of the puny.
  • Share what we learn from our failures with others; it helps us clarify antecedents and prospects.
  • Positive and supportive relationships  are what sustains us during the darkest times.

Friday, November 23, 2018

TearsWeCannotStop

I recently read Tears We Cannot Stop:  A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson (2017).

One of my graduate students at UT Austin recommended this book, knowing that I enjoy reading topics that pull my mind to new territory or perspectives that challenge my assumptions.

MED most certainly accomplished both in this book.  He skillfully argues that the racial unrest we are experiencing (and have experienced) in America is grounded solidly in the antecedent of racial hubris (and to far lesser extent, hegemony) that was part and parcel of its founding.  

MED further asserts that despite progress in the area of social justice, there still persists an unacceptably disproportionate privilege between the races - whites continuing as the beneficiaries in ways both small and large.

Finally, MED offers suggestions by which the chasm might be bridged.

Few writings and writers have caused me so much discomfort and so much reflection.  I don't expect to escape either any time soon.  

Hard words to read, hard words to accept, even harder (I think) to ignore.


Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Fuel/Cool

Those in leadership roles have great power to either Fuel or Cool the innovative/creative tendencies of those in their organizations.

Fueling Leaders...

  • Encourage innovation
  • Make it safe for others to dissent
  • Support tinkering with the norms
  • Provide safe spaces for experimentation
Cooling Leaders...
  • Insist on conformity
  • Persistently promote protocol/policy/procedure
  • Squelch passion
  • Discourage boundary pushing
I've worked for both kinds of leaders.  Fuelers for me please.

Friday, November 16, 2018

TheInventionOfWings

I recently read The Invention of Wings: A Novel by Sue Monk Kidd (2015).


In this book, SMK weaves a dual life-tale of two females, Sarah and Handful, who share the same last name (Grimke) and are raised in the same 1800s Charleston, South Carolina, household.  The twist is that Sarah is born to the slave owing aristocracy and Handful is born one of their slaves.  The two share a bond of friendship through their lifetimes.

From childhood through adulthood both women struggle mightily to break the cultural, social, spiritual, and physical chains that tether them to the accepted norms they find reprehensible.  

SMK, in lovely prose, wove a story that not only pulls the reader in, but pulls us toward betterness.  Excellent!

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

NonSingular

As we grapple with the complexities of life - personal decisions, professional decisions, organizational decisions - we often pine for that "just right" solution.  Looking for that singular "right" decision or solution or guru or book or software or...

Before making consequential decisions and life-choices, we are wise to consider many options, to seek many and varied viewpoints and experience survivors.  

We are wise also to be willing to reverse or abandon decisions that no longer serve us well.  Holding on to decisions made under previous circumstances and under previous conditions that no longer apply comes with a very high price. 

CONTEXT is everything!  (and context changes continually)

Seeking/Thinking/Considering broadly and continually -- rather than narrowly -- almost always serves us best.

Saturday, November 10, 2018

TheNewArtAndScienceOfTeaching

I recently read The New Art and Science of Teaching: More Than Fifty New Instructional Strategies for Student Success by Robert J. Marzano (2017).





RJM has been an influential researcher and thought-leader for decades in the arena of teaching and learning.  In this book, which he describes as a manifesto, he synthesizes his previous work/writings into a superb compendium of effective teaching strategies.  

He concludes the book with eight recommendations for substantive change in the interest of making a better learning experience for students.  Those eight recommendations follow. 
Recommendation 1: Create a system that ensures teacher development. 
Recommendation 2: Focus on unit planning as opposed to lesson planning.
Recommendation 3: Use blended instruction. 
Recommendation 4: Ensure a guaranteed and viable curriculum involving cognitive and metacognitive skills.
Recommendation 5: Rely on classroom measurement. 
Recommendation 6: Change report cards. 
Recommendation 7: Adjust scheduling to address the differential effectiveness of teachers.
Recommendation 8: Gradually move to a competency-based system.


Sure wished I'd have had such a guide when I started my teaching career in 1980.

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

DichotomousInterrogative

The best leaders (heck, the best people) I know have a couple of questions running continually in the back of their minds:

How am I making this situation, this team, myself better?

How am I NOT making this situation, this team, myself better?

As answers to both questions gain clarity for these folks, they then purposefully do more of the former and less of the latter.  Intentional bettergetting.

Note to self:  Don't try this unless willing to engage in self-changing strategies.

Friday, November 2, 2018

HowNotToDie

I recently read How Not to Die: Discover the Foods Scientifically Proven to Prevent and Reverse Disease by Michael Greger and Gene Stone (2015).


The authors identify the top 15 killers of Americans and present a plethora of research in response to each that provides guidance to us on how to best interdict those potential maladies.

A chapter is dedicated to each of the killers.  Here they are, in order of their human devastation:  Heart disease, Lung diseases, Brain diseases, Digestive cancers, Infections, Diabetes, High blood pressure, Liver diseases, Blood cancers, Kidney disease, Breast cancer, Suicidal depression, Prostate cancer, Parkinson's disease, and Iatrogenic causes (death caused by physicians).

The authors also detail, with substantial research support, Dr. Greger's Daily Dozen, the foods they believe, if eaten consistently, will prevent and even reverse those killing diseases.  The Dozen: Beans, Berries, Other fruits, Cruciferous vegetables, Flaxseeds, Nuts and seeds, Herbs and spices, Whole grains, Beverages, Exercise.

Both in this book, and at his website - NutritionFacts.Org - Dr. Greger presents the findings of study after study after study (not just a few) to support his underlying conclusion - that a whole-food, plant-based diet is the surest pathway to optimal health.

Read it only if you want to be a healthier you.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Reflection

Reflection - the image we see bounced back at us from a mirrored surface.  We take a look at how we shape up.  That examination can range from the very superficial and cosmetic all the way to deep assessments of purpose, motivation, intention, and meaning.

Reflection - a mental exercise in which we take stock of who we are or what happened, and make some judgement calls about how we respond to those realities.  In essence, we evaluate the level of our satisfaction with our performance (or that of our team) in some endeavor, or in life. 

Both forms of reflection provide important data in relation to these questions:
How we doin' right now?
How did we get in this shape?
What improvement measures are needed?
Are those measures needed in cosmetic terms, in behavioral terms, in mindset terms?

Reflection yields its best results when we engage in it often.  

Path corrections are best made before we get 100 miles (or 6 months) down the road.

Sunday, October 28, 2018

Confrontation'sDescendants

Confrontation occurs when we choose (yes, it's a choice) to address a difficult issue with another person.  Group confrontation can also occur, but it's rarely fruitful.  

Some humans seem to thrive on confrontation, as if it is an addiction.  Others persistently avoid it.  To be sure, confrontation puts everyone on edge, heightens our blood pressure, kicks the old sweat glands into gear.

The folks I know who handle confrontation in the healthiest manner do these things:

  • They ask good questions of the other, in attempt to fully understand.
  • They listen carefully to the other in response to those questions.
  • They purposefully try to turn down the volume and limit the hostility.
  • They insist on sticking to the issue, not drifting toward peripheral issues or the digging up of old bones.
  • They ALWAYS assume that, in the end, they themselves could be proven wrong.
  • They attempt to use the confrontation as a way to build a bridge rather than destroy a relationship.
Unhealthy approaches to confrontation include:

  • Threatening words, threatening postures, threatening acts.
  • Surprise engagements, the launching of the confrontation without warning or prelude.
  • LOUDNESS in the discourse, as if the decibel level somehow lends credence to ones position.
  • Leveraging divisiveness, rather than unity or compromise, as a tool.
  • Demonizing the other when resolution seems elusive.
I trust that Moe (my lovely bride of 41 years) and I were reasonably successful in teaching our children the healthier approaches to confrontation, for most assuredly, our grandchildren (and their own) will harvest the efforts of that teaching.

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Jackass

"Jackass" was a popular TV show a few years ago.  It featured stuntmen trying crazy stuff that was clearly risky.  Almost always, viewers could forecast the potential risks as we watched the attempts unfold.  Often, the results were extraordinary fails, which made for great entertainment.   

The wisest leaders I know exercise thoughtful and deliberate forecasting before launching a risky decision.  They purposefully rely on very deliberate cost-benefit analyses before making decisions that put their organization at risk.

The wisest of the wisest organizational leaders leverage the thinking of trusted others before putting their organizations at risk.  Thoughtful decision making doesn't necessarily make for great entertainment, but its absence often yields Jackass-like results -- the loss of time, productivity, market share, customer allegiance, talent, or even life.

Jackass behavior/thinking/decisions are best left to................the Jackasses.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Ists-Ans-Ics

Communists
Bostonians
Alcoholics
Capitalists
Vegetarians
Academics

Labeling is a handy convention we use to plop people in groups.  We can then jump to some conclusions about that person, or those people (or, canonize/demonize them according to their grouping).

Problem is, the labels don't define us.  Making assumptions based on labels is like walking through a minefield.

If we want to know another person, perhaps it's best to get to KNOW them, personally.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

MultiGuided

The best leaders I know do their research, consuming and metabolizing wide-ranging content and perspectives.

These leaders understand that, since they are servants beholden to those who choose to follow them, they own the responsibility to be well-informed, to be addictive consumers of knowledge, to be keen observers of human dynamics, and to be macro-learners.

These wise leaders avoid mightily organizational insulation and echo-chamber-like sources/resources that tend to foster very narrow world views, that limit innovative thinking, and that affect short-sighted decisions.

In short, the wisest leaders intentionally choose to be MultiGuided, rather than MisGuided. 

Saturday, October 13, 2018

YouThey

A lot of folks in leadership positions seem to start sentences/speeches/diatribes/soundbytes with a couple of key words:

"You.............." or "They.............."

In most cases both of those words put the hearers somewhat in defensive mode, from the git-go.  

With the "You" stem, it feels a little like there's a finger being pointed at us, like we're being accused of something, as if we're in for a good scolding, like we've done something wrong.

With "They," it feels as if we need to gear up for some fight against an evil entity deserving of our wrath/scorn/hatred, yet the pronoun doesn't even clearly tell us who we should fear or despise.  "They" is just the enemy (for this moment, or this speech), so get ready to wage war.  (Expect casualties.)

The leaders I most admire, and who seem to me the most worthy of my attention, use a lot of sentence stems with these words:

"We.............." or "Our.............."

Just feels a little more like we're being invited into something bigger than ourselves.

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

ChristModel

I rarely discuss religion in this blog, only making tangential reference occasionally (and I avoid politics like the plague - perhaps it is one???).

My faith is in fact just that -- FAITH.  Faith that what I currently believe is even in the right ballpark, or universe.  My views of the Christian faith and the efficacy of my attempts at adherence to its tenets have changed over time.  I assume they will continue to do so.  

In the discussions, debates, and arguments about right practice of that faith (and, boy, do we Christians have wide-ranging understandings and applications), I continually find myself trying to listen/read with an open mind.  I seek to understand if there is something I am missing, or have missed, in my faith learning along the way.  Some of the nuances and ambiguities seem intractable, even irreconcilable. 

Always, I find myself thinking about what I know of Christ himself, and wondering how he might behave and react, were he in my boots.  I never bought one of those "WWJD - What would Jesus do?" bracelets, but I find myself asking that question quite a lot.  

Against that standard, I consistently find myself unworthy.  Jesus seemed to embody and express LOVE in ways that I am not yet able.  

I am eternally grateful for that "grace" component embedded in the Christian faith.  It seems that may be my only salvation.  

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Spicy

I've always preferred spicy over bland.  That preference goes for food, and for people.

Here's why:

  • Spicy "feels" vibrant.
  • Spicy is a little surprising, even when expected.
  • Spicy lingers in my brain long after the initial effect.
  • Spicy clearly differentiates itself from "the crowd."
  • Spicy piques my interest, garners my attention.
I know!  It's just my personal preference.  I'm not trying to persuade you.

Bland just feels too............mushy, too average.  In every way.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

(p)ReAct

The wisest leaders I know implement a number of strategies that position them well to

Preact rather than React.

What are some of the things they do?

  • They refuse to insulate themselves.  They have a wide network of connections, both inside and outside their organization.  They purposely gather many viewpoints and opinions, refusing to live in an echo chamber.
  • They exhibit extremely high levels of trust in the people that work with/for them, intentionally distributing the decision making responsibilities.  (When team members prove unworthy of that trust they are marginalized quickly, with dignity.)
  • They deliberately and with great discipline keep as much attention/discussion/effort on the long-view decisions as they do the short-view stuff.  Agenda items usually appear in that very order - farsighted precedes shortsighted.  
I've worked for a few of those leaders.  

Too few.


Thursday, September 27, 2018

AntiExample

As a lifelong educator I have spent a lot of time learning about LEARNING.

There are bazillion moves we can make that cause learning to happen, with varying degrees of effectiveness.

One of the certainties is that Anti-Example is a powerful learning tool. 

Case in point:  Ineffective leaders frequently do these things...

  • Devalue others (let us count the ways).
  • Seldom LISTEN (mostly because they're talking).
  • Always think they know.
  • Micromanage.
  • Expect to be served, rather than serve.
Lesson learned.  

Pass the pop-quiz please.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

ComfortFriends

We hear the phrase "comfort food" quite a lot.  It's the cuisine that makes us happy, that lights up the dopamine receptors in our brain, that makes us feel like everything is gonna be all right (at least for a little while).

It seems we also benefit from having some "comfort friends."  

Here's what they look/feel like:

  • They seem to be fully aware of our flaws, but somehow see through them.
  • They are honest with us, but gently so.
  • They amazingly have the ability to forgive us, repeatedly.
  • They listen to us a little more deeply than others do.
  • They don't make our friendship a (con)test.
  • They allow us to deactivate our defense shields.
  • They exhibit toward us something more akin to "love" than "like."
The hang is always easy.

Saturday, September 15, 2018

TimeSucks

Time Sucks are those things that rob from us precious seconds, minutes, days, and even weeks of productivity.  They contribute little or nothing in moving us toward our goals.

A few notable Time Sucks:

  • Layers of "permission" required, just to make simple decisions and take simple actions.
  • Meetings that are either agenda-less or completely disconnected from our goals.
  • "Hair on fire" work environments, where urgency persistently trumps importance.
  • Team players, at all levels, who seemingly don't understand our mission.
  • Systems and processes that are bureaucracy protective rather than customer focused.
Oh, one more:
  • Organizational leaders who don't understand Time Sucks.
We can reduce or eliminate almost all of those Time Sucks.

Time's a wastin'....

Monday, September 10, 2018

ProductiveExchanges

Complex problems/challenges require collective intelligence.  Our best chance of solving complex problems is to explore a wide variety of options and examine the problem from various perspectives.

Here are some strategies that promote authentic discourse, in the interest of actually solving complex problems:

  • Enter such conversations with a curious mind - suspending our preconceived notions and striving mightily to understand our own assumptions/biases.
  • Ask deep, open, and probing questions (not those designed to be position statements).
  • LISTEN to the responses of others (and ourselves) - with our ears, with our eyes, with our minds.
Here are some strategies that virtually ensure that complex problems DON'T get solved:
  • Make others feel stupid or devalued.
  • Keep others from expressing their viewpoint/thoughts.
  • Use diversionary tactics that turn focus toward things/issues other than the problem at hand.
As always, we get to choose...

Note:  Complex problems rarely have simple solutions.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

ThinkingFastAndSlow

I recently read Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman (2011).  
This is one of the best books I've read in the last 10 years.  DK is a Nobel Prize winner for research in the field of economics (though he's a psychologist by trade).

In this work, DK describes how our brains come to the conclusions they do, as often as not completely outside our awareness.  He depicts what he calls our "System 1" brain, the intuitive brain that takes in vast amounts of data in microseconds and launches us to a decision or action in a heartbeat.  DK also fully describes our "System 2" brain, the much more deliberative, reflective, and analytical of our cognitive tool chest.

Well written, this book is a great resource for any of us who want a deeper understanding of how we humans make decisions, come to conclusions, and can influence (or be influenced).  An excellent read for parents, writers, leaders, gamblers, car buyers, and advertising targets (that just about covers us all, I think).

This one goes on the top shelf, for much future reference.  Thanks for the recommendation DP and TM.

Saturday, September 1, 2018

Refined

I have seen many posts and pictures of students/educators/families launching a new school year.

I am gratefully reminded of the impact "school" and its agents had on this guy:  
  • Educators and staff members who taught me to live well, not just perform academic calisthenics.
  • Teachers/professors who challenged me to THINK - deeply, broadly, critically.
  • Mentors who compelled me to "begin with the end in mind" (channeling Stephen Covey), to take the long view.
  • Coaches (of all stripes- life/athletic/music/intellectual) who taught me that substantive growth only occurs as result of pushing through discomfort.
  • Teammates (young and old) who confirmed that working together, toward BIG goals, is one of the most meaningful and satisfying experiences in life.
Can't measure that stuff with a multiple choice test.

Each of those influencers, in their own way, shaped me, refined me.  Some are still at it. 

Time to pay it forward (or, keep paying it forward).  The clock is tickin', you know.  

LEARN ON!


Thursday, August 30, 2018

Energized

Most of us love to feel energized.  We get that feeling naturally from accomplishing something important to us (in big things or little).  We are energized, too, when someone else notices said accomplishments.

The wisest leaders I know have a way of energizing others.  They engage in some simple moves, authentically delivered.  Here they be:

  • They notice the good work of others (no matter how insignificant).
  • They acknowledge that good work (always personally, sometimes publicly).
  • They deferentially request the help/counsel of others.
  • They ask really good questions, then LISTEN carefully to the answers.

The by-product of energizing others is that we get to know them better, and we advance our own learning by a mile.  

And, it costs little more than a few minutes of our time.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

FlexiblyRigid

Inertia and mediocrity are the result of indecisiveness and low commitment.  (Almost sounds like a definition of bureaucracy, huh?).

Our non-negotiable tenets (i.e., values, beliefs) anchor us to that which is "important."  We must be rigid in our commitment to those anchors.

The day-to-day deployments - schedules, strategies, processes, habits - should always be focused on that big picture vision of "where we're going."  Yet, they must be malleable, adaptable, modifiable, always subject to improvisation.  The deployments are most energetically achieved when there is flexibility built in (and freely allowed, even encouraged).

Rigid in the commitment to our vision.  Flexible in the deployments that move us forward.

Flexible rigidity is not an oxymoron.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

PathSmoothing

When doing complex and/or innovative work, we find the path littered with barriers and blockers.  Those impediments come in all shapes and sizes, at every level of pay grade, and wrapped in all manner of socio-political interests.

So, how do we get "permission" (or forgiveness, if that is the eventual need) for our bold and edgy work?  

Some ideas for the consideration of trailblazers:
> Stay relentlessly focused on pursuing the BIG PICTURE vision of the organization.  The boss(es) are usually focused on the same thing.
> Develop positive relationships top to bottom, from the CEO down to the temps.
> Avoid entanglement in political struggles (and yes, there are always political struggles).
> Dose out innovative ideas/implementations in small bites.  Not only are the more cautious among us generally risk averse, they abhor tsunamic craziness.
> Keep sharing/publicizing the small and incremental wins (stories usually play better than spreadsheets).
> Addictively thank/praise others, no matter how small their contributions.
> Be PLEASANT.  Niceness is a virtue; meanness almost always boomerangs.  

Happy jungle hacking...

Sunday, August 19, 2018

Shiftless


Leadership is about growing - growing ourselves and growing others.  

Wise leaders know that growing intentionally is always better than growing accidentally.  

Dan Rockwell is one of my favorite bloggers on the topic of leadership.  In his blog of September 4, 2014, DR captures some of the shifts in my own growing over the years.  HERE is the link to his complete blog post.  The most compelling element from that piece I have captured in shaded text below.

If we're not growing, we're stuck on shiftless.  May the (intentional) shifting continue...

15 shifts in thinking:

Here are some shifts leaders commonly experience.
I used to think leadership was about ______, now I think it’s about ________.
  1. What you did; who you are.
  2. Power; integrity.
  3. Data; culture.
  4. Me; us.
  5. Telling; showing.
  6. Knowledge; wisdom.
  7. Bossing; serving.
  8. Power; humility.
  9. Managing; inspiring.
  10. Authority; love.
  11. My skill; their development.
  12. Position; mission.
  13. Government; community.
  14. Instructing; constructing.
  15. Telling; listening.

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

TowardWisdom

Information is cheap, but it's not knowledge.  Knowledge/Experience is making sense of the connection between information and its usefulness.  Reflection is the processing of knowledge/experience, discerning its effect on the user and the environment, prompting judgements on the efficacy of the knowledge applied.

Wisdom is the culminating result of Information + Knowledge/Experience + Reflection

Information = Cheap as dirt

          Knowledge/Experience = Beneficial

                    Reflection = Great value

                              Wisdom = Priceless

There are no shortcuts to wisdom.

Saturday, August 11, 2018

RightlySaid

Words are a powerful tool.  Flippantly or carelessly deployed they can (and often do) ravage and harm.  Thoughtfully chosen and expressed, they can serve to heal, secure, calm, foster, encourage, and develop.

Here's a thought experiment.  Think of a time in which a person spoke words to you along these lines:

  • Disrespect
  • Hateful
  • Condescending
  • Meanness
  • Dismissive
  • Spiteful
  • Biting sarcasm
  • Angry
Now think of a time when someone aimed words toward you that expressed the following (somehow):
  • Gratitude/Appreciation
  • Love
  • Care
  • Encouragement
  • Kindness
  • Optimism
  • Openness/Inclusiveness
  • Forgiveness
Which person would/do you prefer to interact with?  Which would you be more inclined to follow?  Which would you feel better about serving?  Which would you feel better about serving alongside?  Which would you prefer to embrace in partnership/covenant?

If better futures is our goal, well chosen words, rightly delivered, serve as powerful accelerants.

Thursday, August 9, 2018

WrongFinding

Negatives are easier to identify than positives.  Building up is much harder than tearing down.  Finding the bad is far easier than pointing out the good.  Criticism flows much easier from the tongue than praise.

Pointing out what's wrong is not rocket science.  Solution crafting is our real work, and that requires optimism, engagement, creativity, buy-in, and teamwork, none of which are the fruits of wrongfinding.

Viewing the world and engaging others from a deficit mindset changes little and wins few converts.

The best leaders I know follow the road less taken; they choose to find and accentuate the stuff that's going right disproportionately over the stuff that's going wrong.  And yes, it is a choice.

Wrongfinding is a fool's errand.