Org charts are tailor-made to KILL new ideas. Think about it. Picture an org. chart. The org. chart is all about channels up and down. There aren’t even any lines between departments or business lines. It is a tyrannical master – in both perception and in practice.
Have you seen the movie La La Land? Did you like it? I did. I liked it for lots of reasons, not the least of which is that there is a scene in La La Land that could have come straight out of Finding Time to Lead. Yes, really.
“Sometimes you need a friend whispering advice in your ear and telling you to breathe at those most difficult moments in the work when you really need to hear it.”
Someone really nice said that to me yesterday. Great timing as I gear up to simultaneously launch my first book into the world, wrap up a crazy year, plan for an even crazier 2017, and plan for the holidays. So, I’m passing along the advice.
Our personal stories are shaped by many (many!) factors – where we grew up, how many siblings we have, our ethnic or religious background and culture, our race and gender. Things we may not even think of. I happen to be 6’ tall. Being a 6’ tall woman has shaped my experience in the world in significant ways.
“The simple and honest process of letting people know that discomfort is normal, it’s going to happen, why it happens, and why it’s important, reduces anxiety, fear and shame.” – Brene Brown, Daring Greatly
No, this is not a script for a new summer horror flick. Scarier! Asking for help. Isn’t it amazing how often asking for help strikes mortal fear in even the most enlightened leader? What is that fear all about? Has anyone ever actually been fired for asking for help?
Maybe it was the cold. It was 12 degrees that day. Maybe it was distance. I was half way through my 6 mile run. Maybe it was being alone on a trail. Whatever it was, I was reflecting on the beauty of what was around me.
Taken from the Brewster Kaleidoscope Society, a society of artists who design and create kaleidoscopes, “Kaleidoscopes are portals of remembrance that open onto the familiar, yet unexpected. Allowing the eye to marvel, the mind to explore, and the heart to leap, these mirrored tubes of magic have developed into a specific art form.”
What if we thought about a kaleidoscope in the context of our relationships – they allow the “eye to marvel, the mind to explore and the heart to leap.”
Recently, I spent a weekend at a Mindfulness Summit in Washington D.C. As we got through the first half-day, I have to confess, I felt like a fraud. There was a lot of talk of mindful meditation, being present, and yoga – to name a few. How do I practice mindfulness? I don’t. I consider myself mindful person, but practice it on a regular basis? I do not.
I am not that woman gleefully balancing on the gym ball in the ab workout ads. I do not like to do core work. I’m just not consistent. I feel like no matter how many different exercises I do, that little soft squishy mommy belly is not going to go away. I want one exercise for the core to just take care of it.
Learning new things can be hard. Teaching can be even harder.
Teaching and leadership have a lot in common. A lot of times as a leader – or, for example, someone trying to teach leadership practices – it can feel like you are leading the horses to water, but no one’s drinking.
“True empathy’s impossible. But if a piece of fiction can allow us imaginatively to identify with a character’s pain, we might then also more easily conceive of others identifying with their own. This is nourishing, redemptive; we become less alone inside. It might just be that simple.” – David Foster Wallace
Empathy and creativity keep coming up in conversation – certainly while following current events in the news, and also around the “water cooler” at Elements.
This week, I was the beneficiary of a simple but powerful act of unexpected appreciation. I received, from someone I have not talked to in over a year, a brief thank you note for a minor role I played in helping with a project two years ago. I’d been following the project’s recent “next level” success, but am no longer personally involved.
Even on vacation, some familiar new practices can pop up.
Over Memorial Day weekend, I was lucky enough to meet some friends south of London where we toured Petworth House – a Downton Abbey-esque manor and grounds that have been turned into a museum and vast public park.
Exciting news! We’re at the NeuroLeadership Summit in San Francisco. My favorite comment (of many great comments) is: “Should instructional design perhaps shift from content delivery to creating space for insight?” We say YES!!!!
It’s not about them. It’s not about what they should have done. It’s not about what they should have said. It’s about you. It’s about how you choose to show up. Even when it’s hard. It’s about choosing what you’re going to do.
During national election cycles we hear a lot about “the founders” of our country. Candidates spend a lot of time parsing their words and trying to decipher what “the founders” meant 200+ years ago when they wrote the documents that govern our nation. Thomas Jefferson isn’t here to tell us exactly what they meant when the Constitution was written. Maybe that’s a good thing. It allows us to explore the basic values, interpret them and adapt them to new realities. That’s definitely a good thing.
Leslie was recently quoted in a Software Advice blog called, “The Secret to Landing Corporate Donations” from The Able Altruist: (http://able-altruist.softwareadvice.com/the-secret-to-landing-corporate-donations-1113/). The message of the blog post is that if an organization is seeking corporate support, it is helpful to get to know that corporation inside and out. Professional fundraisers seeking corporate support “must position their organization’s campaign to align with the company’s brand, employees’ interests and community goals to form a mutually beneficial and lasting partnership.” This is absolutely true.
Sea glass is glass that has been tossed around in the ocean for years and years until it’s smooth and beautiful. The only pieces of sea glass I’ve ever found are very small; the large pieces are fairly rare.
So we had planned a meeting, as we often do. We had planned every minute carefully and we thought we had considered every eventuality… except we hadn’t planned for a bus driver who didn’t know where he was going. I mean REALLY didn’t have any idea where he was going.
Simon Sinek. He’s our “start with WHY” guy. We believe in his work, in his words and most importantly – him. The past two days we had the opportunity to hear him speak not once, but twice and have lunch with him. Needless to say, I am deeply grateful for that opportunity and also coming off what I’m calling the “Simon high.”
“The real cost of change or creating something of value is emotional, not economic. … The shift here is from an economic measure of cost to a personal measure of will. … This is the more important discussion and leads to a more realistic consideration of whether or not the price is too high.” – Peter Block, The Answer to How is Yes
Picture yourself on one side of the subway tracks. This is your current reality. You’re waiting for the train – maybe it smells bad, maybe it’s crowded, maybe you’re tired. That’s the reality of this moment.
You find yourself imagining that on the other side of the platform is what you WISH it looked like. Over there, it smells fresh, there are a few beautiful people hanging about, nice music is playing and you’re sitting in a comfy massage chair. NOT the reality of this moment.
“The gift of good process is that it allows people to be in learning together. The gift of content is that it gets work done. When you have these two together, you get good results.” -Toke Paludan Moller, Art of Hosting, Denmark
So true! How often do we skip process “to get work done?” And how often do we chit-chat to “get to know each other” and never really “get down to work?”
My daughter attends our neighborhood public school in St. Louis County. She loves it. I love it for her. So, why do I care about what’s happening in City schools? I care deeply for a couple of reasons: I recognize that my daughter has many advantages in her school simply because of where she lives. I don’t think that’s fair. I believe a good education allows students who have no other choices a chance to become something different then what they’ve grown up believing. I believe we should all care what’s happening in schools even if our kids don’t attend them because these are the kids who are going to be working for us someday.
We have been in our office for a little over a year and nearly every person who walks through the door comments on how much they love our space. Maybe it’s the different areas we have set up for small groups to work. Maybe it’s the pew we have sitting just across from the door. Maybe it’s the relaxing colors on the walls or the many windows. Maybe it’s us.
Remember the phrase if March comes in like a lion, it will go out like a lamb? Well, March has come in like a lion for me and I’m HOPING it will go out like a lamb!
My father died suddenly on February 20 and for a month all has been a blur. I spent the weekend after my dad died in New York City meeting a new tribe of twenty hearty souls with whom I will share a ten-month (and beyond!) journey in the Good Life Project Immersion. I spent the second weekend in Omaha with family and friends at my dad’s funeral. The third week I was in San Francisco, balancing a work and vacation trip with my daughter and her best friend.
I know, I know, it’s Valentine’s Day. I’m actually a big fan of Valentine’s Day – not the schmaltzy cards and fancy dinners – just the heart of it. I think of it as a little spot of pink in the middle of a very gray month.
But it is also Generosity Day… a movement designed to inspire us to think about how we operate in the world…how we share our hearts. How we create that little spot of pink in the middle of a world that can sometimes be very gray.
You’re officially invited to join us for Generosity Day 2013.
In 2011, Sasha Dichter, the creator of Generosity Day said, “This Monday, Valentine’s Day, is going to be rebooted as Generosity Day: one day of sharing love with everyone, of being generous to everyone, to see how it feels and to practice saying “Yes.” Let’s make the day about love, action and human connection–because we can do better than smarmy greeting cards, overpriced roses, and stressed-out couples trying to create romantic meals on the fly.”
If we’re the most prepared, have the best data and make the best arguments, we will win. That’s what we think.
What if… instead of thinking about how we can “win” with our arguments, plans, data and points of view… we imagine that winning means arriving at the best solution, the most sustainable path, the most innovative approach or the most powerful shared vision?
As my daughter walked down the hall toward me, she immediately put some note cards in my hand. They had that cute little kid handwriting on them, so I quickly asked about them because who doesn’t love little kid handwriting? She replied, “We filled each other’s buckets today.” I was a little taken aback because they couldn’t possibly be doing what I thought that meant. When I asked her to tell me more she said, “Our teacher said that if someone was nice or did something that made you feel good you should let them know, so we take a notecard and write a note to the person and put it in their mailbox.”
I invite you to read an article from April in the New York Times called “The Flight of Conversation.” You can find the link here: http://ow.ly/cZPgn. The article describes this time of being so connected on social media networks yet people feeling very alone. Texting, e-mailing, Facebook, Twitter have all allowed us to edit our lives and let them appear much better than they really are. The technology and instant connections that it offers allows us to keep relationships just where we want them – not to close, not to far, but just right. The author calls this the “Goldilocks effect.”
A bit of background on Sasha Dichter: I’m a big fan. He is Chief Innovation Officer at the Acumen Fund and the creator of Generosity Day. He inspired my colleagues and me to be part of Generosity Day last year. This year, we signed up to help spread the word about Generosity Day in our city, St. Louis.
Those three words alone conjure up all kinds of feelings in each of us. For me, it’s a combination of the three words… is it that I’m so afraid to change that I fail? Or is it that I’m afraid to fail so I never change? Either one is terrifying.
I just finished Tony Hsieh’s Delivering Happiness. If you have a chance to read it, you should. (It’s a quick read, in case you’re wondering.)
From the beginning, they were very intentional about creating a culture that people wanted to be a part of. How? They asked their employees about their personal values and why they were important to them. Here’s what they came up with.
Like many of you, I’ve signed up to get the latest blog posts of different writers. I recently received one telling me about a new book called Humanize: how people-centric organizations succeed in a social world. I thought it sounded interesting, I clicked on the link and realized immediately that I needed to buy this book. I invite you to check it out here: http://www.humanizebook.com/
I have a confession. I used to not be the biggest fan of Valentine’s Day. I used to think it was just another stupid holiday invented to make me feel guilty for not wanting to be a part of it and even more guilty for not having the time to participate. I used to feel that way, until a dear friend told me that it was an opportunity in the gray, bleak winter to tell those closest to you that you love them. A little sprinkle of sunshine. From that moment, Valentine’s Day didn’t seem so silly.
If you haven’t heard of COCAbiz, they are a division of COCA whose mission is to “build a more creative, engaged and effective work-force by delivering innovative classes, workshops and events that employ authentic arts teaching to deliver real business results.” I like to think of them as trying to bring more fun and creativity into your work no matter your industry. Monday night, COCAbiz hosted Iain Roberts of IDEO. I’ve been to a couple of COCAbiz events and have enjoyed them. I had no idea who Iain Roberts was, other than from the blurb on the invitation. He works in the design industry which really doesn’t sound like anything I do or frankly, know anything about, but I like COCAbiz so I went.
I’m not sure that the word grateful covers how we are feeling these days at Elements Partnership. Even though we’ve been working for a few months, we recently had a launch party to officially kick-off our work. Six days later we moved into new office space which made everything very real. Our work is keeping us extremely busy. And yet, with all of that, we keep asking each other:
This is Melvin… he has been aptly named ”Melvin the Relevant Elephant” by my ten-year-old daughter.
Melvin has big plans to accompany me to the meetings and workshops in which there are elephants in the room. This, by the way, would be VAST MAJORITY of the meetings and workshops I facilitate or attend!
Imagine for a moment, it’s raining. Your kiddo forgot their lunchbox. You’re running late to a meeting. There isn’t a parking spot near your building and you don’t have an umbrella. You open your car door to start the wet trek and a total stranger offers you a hand and their extra umbrella. Your morning was instantly made better by the kindness of a complete stranger. Sometimes, it’s the littlest gestures that make the biggest difference.