Category Archives: Purpose

Six changes Millennials and Generation Z want

Millennials (born 1980-1996) and Gen Z (born after 1996) want something new from work. According to Gallup, here are six ‘wants’ that are different. Past (workers used to want this)FutureMy paycheck My purposeMy satisfactionMy developmentMy bossMy coachMy annual reviewMy ongoing conversationsMy weaknessesMy strengthsMy jobMy life What does this mean? A paycheck is no longer enough. There needs to be meaning to the work. Who and how is this helping?Beer kegs and ping pong tables don’t get workers excited anymore. Their growth is what they care about.Less hierarchy, more help.Feedback once a year is useless. Short ongoing feedback, especially digitally, instead.Strengths develop infinitely. Focus on strengths.“Does this organization care about who I am, what I do well? Can I do what I do best every day? If not, I’m gone.” Learn more: Generations Collaborate – Learn about the different generations that make up your workforce and team. Set the stage for true collaboration on your team by finding out what makes each generation unique, how they prefer to communicate, get work done, their triggers for excellent performance, and their triggers for conflict. (data from It’s the Manager book by Jim Clifton and Jim Harter) 

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Someone is waiting at the cross walk

Someone is waiting to cross the street. The person is standing there as traffic streams by both directions. There may or may not be a cross walk there. Or that person is on a bicycle, also waiting. You’re in your car and you see the person. You may or may not know if they’ve been waiting a while or just got there. What do you do? While I was waiting on the cross-walk of the Norwottuck Rail Trail, someone stopped for me in one direction, the side I was closest to. We could make eye contact. I waved in thanks to him and started across the street. Seeing that car stopped, the next car coming in the other direction then slowed and stopped, allowing me to fully cross. I carried on, a little more inspired about the human race, at least on that sunny Sunday morning. That’s how influence works. One act of generosity influences/shames another person to also be generous. Norms – unspoken standards of behavior – are created constantly throughout the day based on where we are and who we are with. The airport has norms, the airplane has norms, the subway or train has norms. The rush hour traffic in New Jersey has norms. We are – unconsciously – what those around us repeatedly are. And when someone sets a higher standard, in this case as simple as delaying his journey 30 seconds, it influences another driver in a different vehicle to do the same.  Behavior is contagious, emotions are contagious.  So, going back to the first paragraph. You’re in the car. What do you do? What norm will you choose to live by? What influence do you want to be on your world?

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Are you still above ground? Steven Adams and Russell Westbrook

Oklahoma City Thunder center Steven Adams has played his entire NBA career there with Russell Westbrook. Westbrook was traded to the Rockets over the summer. This will be the first year that New Zealander (one of only four Kiwis to ever play in the NBA) Adams will be there without him.  “Obviously it’s a bit tough, mate,” he replied when asked how it felt to lose his teammate, “but you know, you deal with it. Still above ground.” Still above ground.  The more comfortable our lives get – and they’re pretty comfortable compared to 50 years ago, 100 years ago, 200 years ago…even 10 years ago – that comfort doesn’t seem to lessen the tragedy we feel when unwanted things happen. The difference?  The more comfortable we get, the smaller the things we get upset about. A dropped call while driving, shaky wifi makes you wait while streaming something, an extra-long traffic light. The grand parade of smallness that upset marches on all day, sunrise to sunset. One antidote? Still above ground. Sure, get upset that your coffee isn’t as hot as you’d like. AND say out loud, “still above ground.” That gift of being above ground is with us every moment we’re alive and can be recognized any time to bring a wider perspective to the daily discomforts that wear the mask of tragedy.

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If you’re a leader is safety or happiness more important to focus on for your people?

If you are a leader, start with making your people feel safe. Address their fears first. Then work your way up to happy. Calming the amygdala in the brain is the first step. Then you can engage the frontal cortex. That’s the order. 

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Safe or happy?

The amygdala part of the brain wants to keep us safe. It’s its primary function. The frontal cortex part of the brain developed after the amygdala. It is more interested in whether you’re happy, fulfilled, have good connections with the people you care about or not. In any given moment one or the other is in charge. Not both. So that means in any given moment – like this one – you’re either focused on feeling safe or being happy. What we say we want and what we act like in daily life are often two different things. Lastly, safe and happy are in two different categories. They don’t happen at the same time. When I say ‘happy’ here I’m not talking ‘yay!’ Happiness in this case is a sense of fulfillment of flourishing of being at your best. You won’t find safety there. This is the Hero’s Journey – the trip into the scary unknown. You leave safety in search of happiness.

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Da Vinci on building a team with strengths and weaknesses

“An arch consists of two weaknesses which, leaning one against the other, make a strength.” — Leonardo da Vinci The ideal team recognizes that each person has peaks and valleys, highs and lows, strengths and weaknesses.  Taken individually, a person might try to fix those weaknesses, obsess over them, or hide them. Our brains are wired to look for flaws. It’s old survival behavior. The new way individually is to stop obsessing over weaknesses and focus on strengths more.  And the best way to build a team is to look at that team as three-dimensional. There are peaks and valleys based on individual strengths. And interestingly, those peaks and valleys overlap and cancel each other out. One person might be horrible at follow-up, another one is brilliant at it. One person might excel at winning suspicious people over, another person might consider that a worst nightmare scenario.  The ideal team forms a series of Da Vinci’s arches. People with a weakness in an area lean on other people on the team that have that strength – whether to shift work responsibility, energy support or tactical suggestions. These pairings take away the weakness from the team. The vulnerability shown and interdependence explored with those mini-collaborations is what the team trust is built on – arches.

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Viktor Frankl on why you can’t be replaced

“Everyone has his own specific vocation or mission in life; everyone must carry out a concrete assignment that demands fulfillment. Therein he cannot be replaced, nor can his life be repeated, thus, everyone’s task is unique as his specific opportunity to implement it.” –       Viktor Frankl Automation is coming! The robots are taking over! The Brookings Institute estimates that 25% of US jobs are at high risk of being automated. Hint: if you’re in production, food service or transportation you’re particularly in danger. Emotional intelligence is one of the things that so far is least likely to be automated. If you want job security invest in your emotional intelligence. But Frankl isn’t really worried about automation. He knows you can’t be replaced if… If you Quest to find out what your mission is in lifeLook for your specific opportunity to implement your mission. If your life can’t actually be repeated by anyone, or by a computer, make it obvious. 

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Thomas Berry says “Nothing is itself without everything else”

Every living creature, every particle all tied up with every other living creature. Everyone and every thing you and I come into contact, we are part of each other. What I do to you, I do to myself.  The daily ‘awareness eraser’ called modern life does its best for us all to forget that. Yet we’re at our best when we remember what Mary Oliver wrote, “our place in the family of things.” “Everything is integral and interacts with everything else. This means that nothing is itself without everything else. There is a commonality, an integrity, an intimacy of the universe with itself.” — Thomas Berry

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How many bottles are produced every year for US consumption?

Q: How many bottles are produced every year for US consumption? A: 140 billion There are 327 million people in the US. That’s over forty bottles per person, every year. When you start adding up our collective impact, it’s astounding – for better or for worse.  Your impact, your influence in the world is hard enough to think about. We don’t do it well – our brains aren’t wired that way.  Even harder is to think systemically. For example, what 327 million people might use in a year. Or how connected we all are. And how what one does, many do. It’s hard – and worth it.  It’s hard – and you just did it.

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How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.?

Q: How many paper cups are thrown away every year in the U.S.? A: 60 billion That’s enough to pave a coffee cup highway to the moon and back seven times over. Next… Q: Are they really paper cups? A: Nope. Most ‘paper’ coffee cups are coated with polyethylene, a plastic.  Which means they don’t get recycled and they don’t degrade in a compost bin, on the side of a highway or floating downstream. We are powerful beyond our imagining. Especially when what we do is combined with others. And combined with a daily ritual – like buying coffee.  Our actions often reflect a mindless non-choice and reinforces behavior we wish we could change or that the world would change. But we don’t. And the world doesn’t. We change some repetitive action, someone else changes their action because we’ve normalized something that used to be strange, like using our own fancy ceramic cup or travel mug. And it spreads, like Rilke said ‘in growing orbits’.  PS – Influence Without Authority is now completely revamped and updated with the latest research. Click here to start transforming your team.

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