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Welcome to nc’s blog. Read, comment, interact, engage. Let’s learn together - recursively.

Saturday, September 29, 2018


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


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


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


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


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


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


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.