Category Archives: Leadership

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.

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If I ignore it, it will go away

Weird lumps don’t go away when ignored. They grow. Opossums playing dead don’t deter an approaching automobile. Leaders hoping their people and culture problems will solve themselves? What do you think? When I start coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the “if I ignore it, it will go away” hope/failed tactic. Also, “I’m too busy/tired/worn down to do anything but give up.” Often managers will add, “It’s just easier to do it myself.” That means your people have trained you well. You’re now doing their work for them. What’s an important challenge you’re ignoring? Has it gone away yet?

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I tried once and nothing changed

“I tried to play the guitar once.” “I tried to drive a car once.” “I tried to use a smart phone once.” “And when I was really young I tried to walk once. I also tried to use a fork once, to use the toilet once, to say my first word, etc.” When I begin coaching a leader I usually hear some variation of the above words about the people they’re leading. “I tried to change their behavior once, nothing changed. I tried to change the culture once, nothing changed.” Yep. I bet so. That’s not how change works. Or more specifically, that’s not how change succeeds. It’s important to initiate change. But the next step is more important. How do you persist after initial failure? If you can walk upright, use a fork and use words to speak you’ve got what it takes to keep trying.

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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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What do you want to see in 2020?

In 1968, Stanley Kubrick and Arthur C. Clarke dreamed up the film and the book 2001: A Space Odyssey. George Orwell published his dystopian novel 1984 in 1949. It’s 2018. The next number with meaning is the year 2020. That is now about 100 weeks away. Numbers like these are tools to help us think bigger. What do you want to see 2020? What do you want to see clearly 100 weeks from now? The time to start on what you want is now. Today. There is no need to look back when you hit 2020 and wish you had worked on something else more important for the last two years. There is something in you, something about you that is unique to you. Some change you want to make and help the world with. What is it now? How will you be the change you want to see in the world when you can see clearly – 20/20?   Learn more: How to Lead Change –  Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.

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Strategic or Tactical?

There is a tension between thinking strategically and tactically. We tend to just live tactically. We humans don’t do well with tension and tend to just go to one side or the other. And the daily grind is where we usually go. It’s the path of least resistance. Carl Jung said the sign of a true adult is to be able to live in the tension of the two opposites. You have 100 weeks. What do you want to see 100 weeks now from now 2020? What’s your tension between now and then? Today is day one of not giving up. Today is the day to happily rest in the tension.

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Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good

Books to Support Your 40 Days To Change For Good Changing for Good: A Revolutionary Six-Stage Program for Overcoming Bad Habits and Moving Your Life Positively Forward by James O. Prochaska, John Norcross, and Carlo DiClemente [Still the most useful and easily applicable book on personal change I’ve found yet. Highly recommended.] Changing Minds: The Art and Science of Changing Our Own And Other People’s Minds (Leadership for the Common Good) by Howard Gardner [Great research as to what makes people change their minds, and what doesn’t work. This work is one of the cornerstones of Quixote Consulting’s change and influencing work. Be forewarned: It’s very dry and dense]  Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth [A well-researched, readable look at the positive psychology of persistence.] Daily Rituals: How Artists Work by Mason Currey [Endlessly inspiring and entertaining, here are 161 famous creative artists’ rituals – from Mozart to Einstein] The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity At Work by Teresa Amabile, Steven Kramer [Completely in a work context. Repeated small successes combined with meaningful work lead to happiness. Small failures at meaningful work lead to unhappiness. Meaningless work is a straight path to unhappiness.] Gandhi An Autobiography – The Story of My Experiments with the Truth by Mahatma Gandhi [Surprisingly, it’s a page-turner. A fascinating and inspiring account of a man dedicated to personal change and through that his country and beyond] The Power of Full Engagement by Tony Schwartz and Jim Loehr [The ‘Taking Action: The Power of Positive Rituals’ chapter is a very nuts and bolts look at rituals and incremental change.] What You Can Change . . . and What You Can’t: The Complete Guide to Successful Self-Improvement by Martin E. Seligman [Especially recommended for those of you who like to know what the research has to say. There’s no self-help ‘Seven steps to lose those pounds, be loved by everyone and transform your life in just 20 seconds a day!” silliness here, just what science has found can be changed and what can’t.] The Wild Edge of Sorrow: Rituals of Renewal and the Sacred Work of Grief by Francis Weller [Profoundly helpful and beautifully written, the title says it all. You’ll either know immediately it’s the book you need to read right now or you’re not ready for it…yet. Loss and sadness are either visiting you or they’re not. The chapter on ritual is from a spiritual/mythopoetic view.] The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do In Life and Business by Charles Duhigg [Written from a journalistic viewpoint, it’s heavy on stories and light on actionable content. Three sections: individuals, organizations, societies] Leading Change by John P. Kotter [Exclusively aimed at change leaders in organizations, but the general principles are sound.] Happier by Tal Ben-Shahar [You’ll find a short section on rituals and negative (a ritual to NOT do something) rituals – which is an interesting concept]   Learn more about 40 Days to Change For Good here.

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Leading Change: A New World Baked Fresh Every Day

On my early evening walk I came across the mountain laurel, pink-budded and ready to bloom. Beauty! And in the warm late sunlight I heard crickets for the first time this year. Noticing is like that – it’s easier when something’s new and fresh to your awareness. And every day brings something new. I once started – yet to be finished – a song called New World Baked Fresh Every Day. And it’s true! Every day we’re alive is baked fresh, whether we notice it or not. And change is like that. It’s always happening. We, myself included, can regard looming change with a mix of suspicion, reluctance, anxiety, and whatever other emotion the word ‘looming’ inspires. The unknown by definition can be pretty scary. But, the unknown by definition is also an adventure, a daily hero’s journey. This is the quest – a journey for something larger and better to benefit ourselves and everyone we touch and the greater world. To do that kind of work requires a great deal of change – both internal and external. This is the kind of work I explore in our change training sessions like Change Quest, 40 Days to Change For Good, and How to Lead Change. Spring into summer is a perfect time in nature and in life to encourage us to see how beautiful and welcoming change can be. Here’s to you connecting with all deep, benevolent forces all around you and them fueling your quest for fresh changes to bring what your heart truly desires.   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: Change Quest – Time for you and your team to evolve quickly, whether you’re driving the change or the rest of the world is. 40 Days to Change For Good – Don’t just manage change, lead it. Create a successful forty-day blueprint to lead a change that lasts. How to Lead Change – Learn how to be an effective change leader and lead positive change that lasts.

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Heart King

My mantra so far this year has been Heart King. This means that I am ruling my life from my heart primarily. This is an interesting proposition, considering I work in corporate America, which is very much the province of the mind. Here the heart is looked upon with suspicion. And yet, this is my greatest strength. This is the best of me I have to offer myself the people in my life, and the people I try to help with my work. What do I mean by this? In Myers-Briggs terms my primary strength is introverted feeling. What this means is that I am best at identifying and living from my feelings and identifying the emotions of others, preferably in small groups. And even more preferably one on one. I have traditionally worked from my second greatest Myers Briggs strength – extroverted intuition. This is much more accepted in corporate America, and is generally a safer thing to reveal and live from. However, it is not my greatest strength. I truly enjoy it and feel energized when I use it but I am feeling called to use my greatest strength more explicitly in my work as well. And my StrengthsFinder assessment, taken numerous times over two decades, repeatedly lists my greatest strength as empathy. This is the feeling function in action. People around me know that I can go into an informal therapist mode. This can energize me but also burn me out. People who know me may also notice that I have steadily decreased that role in the last decade or so. I think what burns me out about it is that I have not been as good lately in aiming it at myself. Attempts at doing that I’ve been very calming and extremely helpful. I recommend it! I am in the process of revamping my offerings and the website. My old mode would be to just try to add more things on to find more clients that are new that would be attracted to something else. I’m trying something different this time around. I am letting things go that my heart is an excited about. And I am organizing things in order of what my heart is excited about and feels is most wonderful to offer, most helpful to people. Some people may be uncomfortable with the word heart, because after all our literal heart is just this organ that it’s pumping blood. If this is you, perhaps you could think of it in terms of the brain. The amygdala tries to keep us safe. The neo cortex wants connection. This is the neocortex in charge now, not the amygdala. It is helpful though, do you think of the heart as the metaphorical location of the neocortex. There is a reason we put a hand on our hearts as kids saying the Pledge of Allegiance. It would look a little weird if we put our hands on our heads while saying the Pledge of Allegiance. And just try giving a brain-shaped box of chocolates to your sweetie Valentine’s Day. So the metaphorical heart is in charge now for me. If you relish this idea, I recommend taking it on today as well. I believe we are all ready for some compassionate leadership.   Explore this idea more fully in Quixote Consulting’s team building and team development activities: StrengthsFinder – Gallup’s online assessment of unique top five strengths. Learn your team’s strengths and learn how to put them into action. MBTI Team Quest – Discover and leverage the various ways your people make decisions, strategize and access information, using this organizational standard. Team members begin to recognize the strengths that other types bring to the team, and the power that comes from multiple types working together.  

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How To Complete a Project – Project Management Training

This is a new team development training I designed that I’m going to explore in the blog in November and December. Stay tuned for lots of helpful information for you to complete your next project. How To Complete a Project is Quixote Consulting’s unique approach to project management training. The team training can be tailored to focus on either individual project management or team project management. The core of How to Complete a Project is Quixote Consulting’s proprietary 40 Days to Change For Good change ritual. A change ritual is a pre-decided repetitive action that combines practical and symbolic value. You decide what you want to change, what your change ritual is about before you begin, then you do it repeatedly (in this case every day for 40 days). You get practical value from doing it daily but it symbolically shows your commitment to your change. This powerful combination re-wires the synapses in your brain that creates lasting positive change and actually gets those projects completed. Project Management Tools Teams and individuals receive a wealth of tools to help them complete a project. Some of the project management tools you will receive include: How to prioritize the big picture. How to create manageable action steps to keep the project moving forward and combat overwhelm-pessimism. How to set a sprint goal – the same tool that Google’s highly successful design teams use. How to identify what is the most important non-project related work to be completed prior to beginning. How to make space for the project in the face of overwhelming current workloads. Identify environmental support and people-support Identify and counter self-defeating attitudes How to create an Action-Thinking-Feeling Project Checklist The importance of journaling and recording daily progress. Why the project goal needs to be made public. How to harness the power of purpose to keep the project on track. The importance of continually rewarding project management persistence throughout the process. GRPI Project Management Tool Teams will also learn the GRPI project management tool. The GRPI model is a tool used by teams for better project management and many other areas. Developed by Richard Beckhard, the GRPI tool is simple enough to be memorable with enough depth to be useful again and again in a variety of situations. If your team is lost in the weeds, the GRPI project management tool helps team members reconnect with a common purpose and realign with what’s most important for you all. GRPI stands for: Goals – Noel Tichy says that unclear goals are the cause of 80% of team conflict. Roles – Clear roles let people on the team know who’s doing what and who is responsible for what. Process – Successful teams have clear (and frequent) communication, constructive ways of dealing openly with inevitable conflict, as well as elegant processes for group decision making. Interpersonal – When people do care about each other as people and know that they’re cared about as well, teams become very strong and very durable in the face of adversity. How to Complete a Project Management is packed with the latest research from positive psychology, project management experts, major companies that have successfully completed projects, scientists, personal experience, and people just like you. Are you ready to complete that important project? We’re ready to help you. How To Complete a Project is Practical and Applicable At Quixote Consulting, we know how important it is for any new training knowledge to be practical and applicable. That’s why we put such great emphasis on immediate and realistic application in the project management training. Participants leave with the workshop with a plan in place for employing their new skills in the coming week and beyond. How To Complete a Project is Energetic and Fun We also know that people respond best to presentations that are energetic, interactive and fun. There is always laughter in the session. And the unique methodologies we employ definitely help – we incorporate many team building activities to explore the workshop content. Any of our fun team building programs can be easily combined with your project management training to create that magical mix of meaningful fun. How To Complete a Project is Highly Interactive and Engaging Quixote Consulting master facilitators create an experience that maximizes engagement. First a concept is briefly introduced. Next, the team gets to play with it an active learning setting. This hands-on exploration can incorporate team building activities, group discussion, pairs interviews, brainstorming innovation sessions and more. Lastly, there is reflection time as the team relates the new project management tools to their own work life. This three-step formula continues throughout the day, ensuring continuously high engagement, interactivity and personal ownership of the valuable new content.  How To Complete a Project Incorporates The Best of the Best Quixote Consulting’s research team gathers the latest management and leadership research and sifts through that impressive collection of knowledge and wisdom. We then distill what we’ve found down into what is most important, memorable and applicable to you and your team to complete your project. In short, we do the work so your people can benefit the most.  How To Complete a Project Has Lasting Impact Participants walk away from the project management training with practical tools that can be immediately applied to their individual work situations, as well as a vision of the powerful productivity possible in a team that recognizes and leverages all team members’ strengths. Support/accountability partners make their ‘smart’ goals about bringing the workshop home public, which greatly increases follow-through rate. We stretch our time together (and your training dollars) by including (optional) pre-workshop assignments, post-event success tools and coaching.  How To Complete a Project Will Be Customized Just For You We customize key components of the project management training to ensure that you get the right material to the right people at the right time, maximizing the return on your investment. We take into account your unique team situation and your desired outcomes.   Results Learn the tools to complete an individual project Learn the tools to complete a team project Set up the next project to complete Lay out a pathway to successfully complete that next project Formats Available: Half-Day Workshop One-Day Workshop Two-Day Workshop We also recommend: Individual coaching to maximize the effectiveness of your training investment Fun Team Building events all of which […]

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