Category Archives: Purpose

Quest Story: A Passion for Radio – Phil D and WIZZ

In an era of radio stations owned and tightly controlled by a few large corporations, Phil D and his WIZZ radio station provide something rare and wonderful. This independently owned radio station decides what to play by listener request and Phil’s unerring feel for what his listeners love.  It’s radio the way you remember it was. And if you wish it were still happening, there’s good news – it is! WIZZ radio is a dynamic AM radio station that features “The Greatest Music Memories” of all time with music from the 40′s, 50′s, 60′s through today. WIZZ serves four states and also reaches avid listeners worldwide online from Greenfield, Massachusetts at 1520 on the AM dial. Every weekday at sunrise, Phil D is at the controls of WIZZ, waking the towns and telling the people what they want to hear…News, Weather, Sports, Lottery Results, Phil D has it all…even his own special humor and a touch of “friendly sarcasm”. His daily all-request show plays the great songs and artists of the past seven decades. Phil has been involved with radio all his life, starting in high school and continuing on up to today. He’s had lots of adventures along the way, and in our interview with him told us about introducing the Beach Boys at a show, hanging out with Roy Orbison, and even conducting Lawrence Welk’s orchestra. Phil’s passion for radio, music and his listeners shines through and it’s heartening to have his station be the soundtrack of our day here in the Quixote Consulting office. There’s nothing quite like it. As Phil said during our interview with him, “We’re performing a service that fills a void in some people’s lives, especially for older folks that don’t have much going for them. The music brings back great memories.” Click here to enjoy WIZZ right now!

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“That’s not me”

“That’s not me. That’s not who I am.” “That’s not us. That’s not who we are.” This is an element of a very common public apology. I guarantee you’ll hear it sometime in the news in the next few weeks. Someone famous does something stupid, or not as well as they would like and that sentence gets inserted. It’s also what we tell ourselves when we do something stupid, something we regret, something that is less than wonderful. It also often shows up when failure does. If not you, then who? Actually, that IS you. And that is that public person that did something they don’t recognize once the smoke has cleared. That is the team that froze in the spotlight. And that realization can hit to the core – a real self-identity quake. That is a sign of a full-blown amygdala hijack. The fight/flight/fear part of the brain decided it was in danger and took over the driver’s seat, shoving the frontal cortex into the backseat. Or it’s a sign that your brain isn’t yet fully formed. Our brains don’t get to full maturity until our mid-twenties, which is why so many kids do so many amazingly stupid things, like tweeting racist tweets if you’re going to be a top-five NFL draft pick. But if you’re an adult and you do something, it’s you. It’s really you. It happens inside your brain. It’s your lower impulses trying to keep you safe. It doesn’t care about damages incurred. So you can either deny it’s you. Or you can get humble and fully own it. Owning it is the only place where learning can happen. You get to learn what you do when the amygdala hijacks your smarts. You learn what triggers the amygdala. You learn the effect the amygdala aftermath has on what you care about. And you learn what’s important long-term that you can recommit to. These are very, very important pieces of knowledge. If you’re brave enough to be humble, that IS you. That IS me. That IS us. It’s okay, it’s going to happen and keep happening. And never forget that even if it doesn’t feel like it in the moment we always have a choice. We can tear what we love apart or listen to the better angels of our nature. I vote for the angels. “We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.” – Abraham Lincoln (part of his 1861 Inaugural Address)

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Do you suffer from progression obsession?

“Life, to be worthy of a rational being, must be always in progression; we must always purpose to do more or better than in time past.” – Samuel Johnson   I used to live by this quote. Throughout High School and into college it was always somewhere inside influencing decisions. It didn’t end well. There’s nothing wrong with progression. The promise of progression helps us through many hard times. And when we progress, we get a jolt of positive energy that helps us persist. That’s why I counsel teams to break big projects into small gulps and to start with the easiest part. But how much allowance is made for the shadow of progression? The opposite of ‘more and better’ – less and worse? These are scary words for companies, teams, stock markets. But not for the seasons. Not for night where there’s less daylight and worse ability to see things. In fact animals prefer the night – 90% of animal activity happens at night. The tides are also fine with less, so are moon phases. And ‘less and worse’ is not scary for people relaxed enough to see the big picture, the larger purpose. We will get sick, we will age (if we’re lucky), we will die. Others will be born after us and they will live this cycle again. More of our projects won’t be completed than will be. The moon wobbles. We will only progress – today and always – to the extent that we become friendly with failure.   “Winning does not tempt that man. This is how he grows: by being defeated, decisively, by constantly greater beings.” -Rainer Maria Rilke   Learn more: Emotional Intelligence Works - EQ is twice as important in contributing to excellence as IQ and expertise combined. Learn how to effectively manage your emotions and those around you for sustained success.

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Mark Hamill vs Rian Johnson on who to focus on when you want to influence

At times, I’d say to Rian, “We gotta think of what the audience wants.” And he’d say, “No, we’ve gotta think of what wewant.” – Mark Hamill Who’s right, Luke Skywalker or the new Star Wars director Rian Johnson? They both are. When we’re making a change, when we’re influencing, we do it with empathy. We travel to where the other person lives, where they are most comfortable. We unearth their unstated wants, desires, hopes and fears and try to address them. But it doesn’t stop there. People need to help getting to their best selves. If we just cater to their lowest selves, that’s accommodation, not empathy. We’d be best served to do the double emotional duty – bravely look at what’s underneath for the people we want to help and bravely look at what change we hope to do, what we know to be true, to stand for something. True empathy, true influence, true connection, true change, true teams are built where “what the audience wants” and “what we want” meet. And it all starts with what happens today. “You can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometime, you just might find you get what you need.” – the Rolling Stones  

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“We’re Too Busy to…” (Quest story)

Jayne told me the story of a team she once facilitated to help communicate more effectively. The leader of the team told her and his team a laundry list of things this team was too busy to do: •    We’re too busy to have meetings with agendas •    We’re too busy to touch base with people how projects are going •    We’re too busy to think about communication preferences This leader was also swamped: “I get 200 emails a day from the team telling me status updates.” What about his team? Here’s what they had to say: •    He sends emails barking orders that repeatedly say ‘get it done, get it done, get it done’. •    We’re successful but we hate each other. This was a team with swagger. All millenials (including the leader), they said to Jayne at the beginning, “You better have extra things for us to do because we’re going to be better and faster than any team you’ve ever worked with.” And they meant it. The first team building activity they tried they leaped into action…or more specifically the leader leaped into action. “Here’s what we’re going to do and how we’re going to do it.” And off they went, implementing his plan…at least at the start. The result? Jayne said it was amazing to see a team get something so wrong, so early in the game and stick with it. The plan pretty quickly got thrown out the window – not consciously, it just kind of happened that way – and they rushed headlong down a dead end, getting more and more frustrated. Then they looked at Jayne as if she had betrayed them somehow by giving them a challenge that they were terrible at. This story is sad and it’s funny in a schadenfreude kind of way. “Hey, at least we’re not that team!” And it may hit a little too close to home. Does this sound like a leader you know? Are you this leader? Are you on this team? We all share some of these characteristics when we’re under stress. Bad teams and bad leaders don’t lack energy or personal investment. What they lack is a way to work smarter, not harder. They get the job done operating in a pretty constant emotional state of “We’re successful but we hate one another.” You’re busy, too busy really. I know, I am too. But if you’re reading this – busy as you are – you’re at least open to answering three questions: 1.    What kind of team will you be on today? 2.    How will you lead? 3.    What will you do today…that you’re too busy to do?

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Every Journey Is a Hero’s Journey

I recently returned from two weeks ‘out of the office’ in the Dominican Republic. It was…really out of the office – a real journey and a real break. My computer stayed home and my phone went into airplane mode until I was back in the states. Every journey can be a hero’s journey. You move into the unknown, get something, bring it back home to your tribe. Carl Jung said, “I feel it is the duty of one who goes his own way to inform society of what he finds on his journey of discovery.” You’re the tribe I’m part of. You’re my society. By telling you my insights my little trip becomes a hero’s journey. Here are three gifts I’d like to share with you. Perspective: When I moved away from the jittery speed of daily email, news, social media, public controversies, much of what we think as important looked pretty meaningless to me. Few things matter in the world, but they really matter. And the daily grind can obscure the important stuff. Appreciation: On getting back to the states I noticed how wonderful it was to run the tap and drink the water without purifying it with a backpacker’s water pump. Visiting a supermarket with ample fresh vegetables and fruit made my heart sing. The English language, the organization, the familiarity all were appreciated. Things that were unnoticed or that annoyed me were seen in a fresh way Return to the core: I don’t need much to make me happy and fulfilled. And those things have remained the same for almost 50 years. A lot of the daily grind I choose has nothing to do with my core delights. When I do return to the core, I’m at peace in a way that is both familiar and too rare. You can make your work day, your weekend, anything a hero’s journey. You don’t even need an articulated quest. All it takes is to step into the unknown for even a moment. And then tell us about what you learned. Here’s to your hero’s journey this month, this week, this hour, this life.

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Influencing in the dark

I returned to the Cueva Del Puente (in the Parque Nacional Del Este in the Dominican Republic) on my own later in the week after the owl encounter. This time I went dark, no flashlight, just moving slowly, staying still when needed, feeling my way and being patient with my slowly adjusting eyes. And I felt again and again the rush of air and heard fluttering near my head in the darkness as bats flew by. I met these little creatures where they were, in the environment they are most comfortable, in the way they were most comfortable – in the dark. I, however, wasn’t comfortable. I was scared, facing a dark unknown. But I was also thrilled. This is what it’s like when you honestly try to connect with someone. It’s the ‘hero’s journey’ of communicating and influencing. You leave your known world behind and get curious about where the person you’re trying to influence lives, what is comfortable for them. It’s unsettling. It’s often scary. It’s not easy to see. A plan got you here, but a plan can’t get you any further. As David Whyte said, “What you can plan is too small for you to live.” And you emerge changed yourself. The influencing isn’t just a push. It’s a pull as well. The influencing quest is a journey into the unknown, an adventure – scary, thrilling and definitely memorable.   “To go in the dark with a light is to know the light. To know the dark, go dark. Go without sight, and find that the dark, too, blooms and sings, and is traveled by dark feet and dark wings.” -Wendell Berry

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What ‘no’ will get you to ‘yes’?

This is the 10-year anniversary of the newsletter. That’s 120 newsletters. This month I’ll post my 1,300th blog post. It’s something I’m very, very proud of – perhaps what I’m most proud of persisting at this past decade. And I’m grateful for you reading these words. If you weren’t here, I wouldn’t be either. This kind of persistence comes at a cost though. Something else had to be given up in order to write each word I wrote. Again and again I had to say no to something enticing or demanding or relaxing or meaningless enough to not have fear attached to it. There is something you want to do, isn’t there? There is something meaningful to you, something that will be helpful to others. Something that will make your world and the worlds you intersect with a better place. There’s lots of persistent work to be done to make that something to come into fruition. But now, what’s even more important? The seed of that something is going to need to some space to begin to grow. You’re going to need to say no to something else. Something is going to have to be left behind. The journey ahead is long, and you’re going to need to travel light. We have a fascination with the TV show Hoarders. How can people compulsively hold onto so many things that are no longer important? How, indeed? You and I? We’re also hoarders of something. What am I holding on to that is no longer important, no longer helpful to my work? What are you? What can you say no to that will clear the space to do the most important work you were meant to do this year and beyond? What ‘no’ will get you to ‘yes’ – to being the change you so want to see in the world?

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Quest Story: Around the World In Twenty Days – Savoring the Adventure

On March 1, 1999 Bertrand Piccard and Brian Jones set off in a balloon from Switzerland in an attempt to become the first piloted balloon to fly around the world nonstop. Here is Piccard as he savors his adventure in this journal entry from the night before their triumphant landing in Egypt twenty days later. During the last night, I savor once more the intimate relationship that we have established with our planet. Shivering in the pilot’s seat, I have the feeling I have left the capsule to fly under the stars that have swallowed our balloon. I feel so privilege that I want to enjoy every second of this air world. During our three weeks of flight, protected by our high-tech cocoon, we have flown over millions of people suffering on this earth…Why are we so lucky? Very shortly after daybreak, [our balloon] will land in the Egyptian sand. Brian and I will be lifted away from the desert by helicopter, and we will immediately need to find words to satisfy the public’s curiosity. But right now, muffled in my down jacket, I let the cold bite of the night remind me that I have not yet landed, that I am still living one of the most beautiful moments of my life. The only way that I can make this instant last will be to share it with others. We have succeeded thanks to the winds of providence. May the winds of hope keep blowing around the world. (National Geographic, Sept. 1999: p44)

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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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