Category Archives: Change

Darwin on change and Miami Beach (hint: it’s not survival of the fittest)

“According to Darwin’s Origin of Species, it is not the most intellectual of the species that survives; it is not the strongest that survives; but the species that survives is the one that is able best to adapt and adjust to the changing environment in which it finds itself.” – Leon C. Megginson The world keeps changing around us. It’s changing faster. And climate change also keeps changing faster. Darwin’s thesis can apply to us and how we live in the modern world. But it’ll also be part of a planet-wide experiment in sea-level change, temperature change, massive change none of us have big enough brains to let in. And as I’ve written recently our brains are not equipped with seeing ourselves in the future.  I’ve been doing a lot of work in Miami this year. Seeing how small the spit of sand known as Miami Beach is from the air makes it pretty clear it won’t be there fifty years from now. And the buying frenzy right at sea level is tremendous. And I’m betting it’s pretty hard to get a 30-year mortgage there right now as well.  The smartest people and the smartest animals aren’t the ones that are most likely to survive. And the strongest people and the strongest animals also aren’t. It’s the ones that will be best able to adapt and adjust to change.  “Nature does not make mistakes. Right and wrong are human categories.” – Frank Herbert Change Quest is now available virtually for web-based team development. Click here to start transforming your team.

Also posted in Purpose | Comments closed

“Life is a dance, and we’re dancing on a moving floor.” – Klaus Obermeyer

“To be creative means to be in love with life,” Osho said, “You can be creative only if you love life enough that you want to enhance its beauty, you want to bring a little more music to it, a little more poetry to it, a little more dance to it.”

Also posted in Play, 40 Days Change | Comments closed

To each their own carrot, to each their own stick

For every person you manage – employees, children, siblings, significant other, etc. – you need a carrot and a stick. The carrot is a way to entice, encourage and ignite positive behavior. The (metaphorical) stick is a way to inform, show where the boundaries are and reorient negative behavior. Most of us do some version of this, but it tends to be one way (usually the way we’d respond to). But there’s no one-size fits all. Each person responds to a unique carrot and a unique stick. Every person requires their own playbook.

Also posted in Leadership | Comments closed

Take a stand in the middle of the chrysalis

“I stood in this unsheltered place, ‘til I could see the face behind the face.” – Peter Gabriel Caterpillars enter the darkness and the shelter of the chrysalis. When we enter the unknown as humans it usually feels quite a bit more unsheltered than that. I don’t know if caterpillars get scared. But I know we do when we try to make a change. When we’re scared the antidote is bravery. When the outcome is unknown, bravery is required. When we want to make a change, bravery is required. We can literally ‘take a stand’ for bravery. Imagine all that is unknown, uncertain, scary, anything swirling around producing a queasy feeling. Imagine yourself standing strong and brave in the middle of it all. The process into the unknown and unpleasant is necessary. It’s the only way forward. Literally stand in place for 30 minutes….just kidding…30 seconds. Stand in your unsheltered place, in the eye of the storm until, like Peter Gabriel wrote, you can see the face behind the face.”

Also posted in Play, Persistence, 40 Days Change | Comments closed

Is your world changing? Use your strengths

I walked over the bridge and looked out on the river. The water was low and flowing fast. The tree leaves on the riverbank had been green just a week ago. Now they were orange and gold. I climbed onto the rocks, put on my wet suit, took a deep breath and jumped in. Involuntary gasp as the shock of the cold hit me. I swam upstream, trying to get used to it, thrilled and miserable in the same moment. My body adjusted eventually and the misery melted away, leaving just a weird delight. The original change guru Heraclitus (born in 535 BC) essentially stated that you can’t step in the same river twice. Apparently you can’t even swim in the same river twice! It’s always changing. A few short weeks ago that water was lazily warm. And the demands of work are always changing. Just like the cold water of the river those demands are getting harder to handle, not easier. In a cold, changing world, use your strengths. They are a refuge that will never change and are always there for you. You were born with them. Your passion (strength + what you love) is as unique to you as your fingerprints and your signature. Then help your people use their strengths. If your team is faced with changing, increasing demands, as always I’m here to help you find and use your changeless strengths to do your best work together.

Also posted in Passion, Strengths | Comments closed

A tracking form helps you persist

The research says that journaling and tracking your progress greatly increases your chance at persisting at something that’s important to you. In my experience I have found this to be true. I’ve been using a tracking form daily to help me persist since October 20, 2010. I just wrote on mine this morning. Here’s how I use the tracking form. Take the concept and make it your own. The date I put on top is the start date. After the date in smaller type I include inspiration to encourage me and focus me. I don’t often change the inspiration part. I also don’t often notice it. But it doesn’t hurt to have. Each form lasts for two weeks. The first week is on the left side of the day column. The second week is on the right. I include current items in the following ‘buckets’ of my life that are important to me: work, music, exercise, nature, health, each of the 4 Ps of At Your Best (passion/play/purpose/persistence), and inner work. I focus on what’s most important to me that could otherwise be buried in the tugs of a myriad of small urgencies that life and work blithely hand out. My work examples: revamp website, blog writing, newsletter writing, current client work that demands greater focus My exercise examples: flexibility, aerobic, strength My health examples: icing painful areas, posture, physical therapy exercises, tendonitis stretches, sleep log (when I fell asleep and woke up), what hindered or help sleep, whether I took a siesta My inner work examples: meditation, mindfulness, and whatever old fear I’m working on to loosen its grip on me. I place the greatest importance on some aspect of the ‘big stuff’ I’m here on earth to do. That big stuff, if not tended, can lay forgotten. The things that I actually end up tracking invariably are SMART: specific, measurable, attainable, realistic. Mine is double-sided. Most people would be well served to make their forms single sided. I print it out on yellow card stock and put it on my clipboard. I mark it by hand, ideally by the end of the day. I find it helpful to also look at it at the beginning of the day, but don’t always get to that. I’m at my best with this form when I feel the pride of filling something in, with no berating for all the things I didn’t get to. Everything counts, even five minutes. A tracking form is not for everyone, but it might be for you. Give it a try and let me know what you come up with. Click here to download this tracking form

Also posted in Persistence | Comments closed

What do the 2018 Family Separation Policy and the 1940 London Bombing Blitz have in common?

How do you get a politician known for doubling down in the face of all opposition to change his policy of separating toddlers and infants from their mothers? This policy had separated over 2,300 children from their parents from May to June 2018. But widespread public outrage peaked at the end of June. What changed? Why the sudden outrage almost 8 weeks in? Rewind almost 80 years. Before the U.S. entered WW II, the Nazis bombed London almost daily for eight months, killing more civilians there than British soldiers previously had been killed in actual fighting. All of Europe had fallen to Hitler. England was the only country left standing against the Nazis. The U.S. had a strong isolationist movement in 1940. This is when the phrase ‘America First’ first reared its head. More people wanted the U.S. to stay out of the war than enter it. Roosevelt was re-elected for a third term on the promise that he would keep the U.S. out of the war. He stated, “I have said this before, but I shall say it again and again and again; your boys are not going to be sent into any foreign wars.” The message was clear: England was going to have to go it alone against Hitler. Then just a few months later, the U.S. was at war with Germany and Japan. What changed? Simply – a stronger story. And specifically, a story with visuals and audio. In the case of the horrifying 2018 family separation policy it was this audio and the photos by John Moore, particularly this one below. You can see more of his amazing photos and his story here. If there’s a family separation story in the news it’s accompanied by one of his photos. In 1940 it was Edward R. Murrow reporting live from London (once even reporting from a rooftop in London during a bombing) that changed public opinion in the U.S. What was once theoretical and remote became real and immediate. You can hear what the broadcasts sounded like here. The final tipping point came when images of Pearl Harbor hit the newspapers. Words work – after all you’re reading these. But images and sound are infinitely more compelling. They engage the brain more strongly and with more immediacy. Hearing or seeing children sobbing is very different from reading the words, “children were sobbing.” Hearing air raid sirens live is different from reading “sirens were blaring”. If you want to influence changes to make a better world, if you’re serious about making a difference, add visuals and audio to sink your story in deeper. Make the world be better, by telling a better story.

Also posted in Influence | Comments closed

A New Way to Assemble Mr. Potato Head

“The arm goes on the second hole up on the left side! No, one hole lower. Turn the arm around!” And so it goes in the ‘Assemble Mr. Potato Head’ team building activity. One person is blindfolded, the other team members look at a picture and tell the blindfolded person what piece to pick up and where to put it to replicate what’s on the picture. It’s a fun activity, and great for honing team communication. The attempts and results in many team building activities are often fairly predictable for me. But part of what I love about this work is the innovation that shows up unexpectedly. I worked with Kaiser Permanente recently and they did it differently. In all the years I’ve seen groups assemble the venerable plastic spud, they always verbally tell the blindfolded person where a certain piece is and then where it goes. This time, they let the blindfolded person pick any piece at random, then told them where it went. Every piece was ‘the right one to pick up’. The person without sight is given a 100 on the test. The most vulnerable person is in charge, is ‘right’. This is a simple tweak of genius. If we want to influence someone to do what you want them to do, if we want to change the world, we start where the other person is, not where they should be. We visit them in their “home”, their most comfortable way of doing things. We tolerate discomfort in the service of change. Brain science tells us this is true for the brain as well. If we want to help an emotionally hijacked person out of it, the first step is to meet them, without fear, in the hell they have entered. Then we can show them the way out.

Also posted in Play, Team Building, Quest Stories, Brain Science | Comments closed

No more guys

While working with the Kaiser Permanente National Equity, Inclusion and Diversity Team, one of the team members told the team that she is committing to no longer using the word ‘guys’ to describe a group of people that is comprised of women and men. A diversity team, perhaps more than any other team, needs to be the change they want to see in the world. That hit me. I use ‘guys’ while working with teams all the time and have for 20 years. And over the last year, it’s felt more uncomfortable – especially if I’m addressing a group of women with no ‘guys’ in sight. So that moment I committed as well. I want my impact to be positive. And while I harbor no conscious ill intent using that word, it’s impact that matters to others, not intent. This is how change happens: Lack of awareness Awareness that is built up in the background over time Contemplation but not action Epiphany (often accompanied by excitement and/or remorse) Decision to change Make the change public. She did to her team. And I’m doing it with you, my team. Conscious, persistent action Change sticks sometimes, sometimes it doesn’t. Play the change – try, fail, learn, try again. Stay in the game no matter what Change is internalized. It’s now unconscious level and happens naturally without any additional effort. So what’s the new word? I’m going with team or everyone for now. I’ll keep playing with it. Like all change, it’s awkward at first, and takes more energy. The longer a day with a team is, the more likely I’ll be to unconsciously say ‘guys’. And it’s no big deal if I do. But I will persist, and over time the conscious change will be engrained unconsciously. Where are you in the change cycle with what you’re trying to change?

Also posted in Persistence | Comments closed

Two boys playing with $100,000,000

Dunkirk Director Christopher Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema are everywhere in behind the scenes photos of the filming of the movie Dunkirk. It looks like the $100 million movie that two boys filmed. That’s the two of them in the water next to the plane in the photo above. Hoytema is the bearded man on the left and Nolan is the blonde man on the right. After all the preparation for filming – I’m sure it’s a long journey from idea to writing to funding to first day on set – the arduous task of actually filming the movie is like finally arriving at your favorite playground. They weren’t letting anyone else do the fun part – the actual doing the work, filming the movie. And that was where they played with their creativity. Story after story in interviews told of ‘never been done before’. Like Roger Bannister’s miracle mile they turned impossible into reality. It was not easy. Hand in hand with ‘never been done before’ is ‘how do we do this’? Trial and error involves a lot of error to learn. In a $100,000,000-spending high stress situation there’s a lot riding on success. And the water in the English channel is not known for its balmy temperatures. 59 degrees Farenheit is normal for June. Most of the movie was filmed outside in the real original Dunkirk locations. Weather was unpredictable and rarely cooperative. Towards the end of filming production moved onto a set for some of the water scenes. Many of the crew and producers were relieved that everything just got easier – controlled environment, temperature, no worries about rain, tides, waves. But not Hoytema. “On days like this Chris and I would look at each other and say, ‘I don’t like this.’ It’s warm, the water is acceptable in temperature. This is all too convenient and it’s all too nice. [Laughs] It’s something you have to learn to live with.” Play isn’t meant to be easy. Too easy, too ‘convenient and nice’ and the fun is drained from it. Play is meant to engage us, enthrall us, take us over. To finally be immersed, joyfully engaging a challenge. If you want to play more, you might look for the places that are difficult already and bring in the play element. Or if you’re really brave, look for your equivalent of $100,000,000 on the line. Take the leap and jump in. The water’s either fine or (hopefully) cold enough to shock and excite you into play.

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