Category Archives: Purpose

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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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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What are your New Year’s Curiosities??

We’ve been making New Year’s resolutions all our lives. They usually don’t work out too well. 60% of those resolutions are toast by July. And they never end the way we wish they would. These intentions always end up differently. It’s hard to gather enthusiasm, isn’t it? Let’s try New Year’s curiosities instead. Curiosity recognizes that when we step forward, we step into the unknown. We don’t know the ending yet, we haven’t lived it. And curiosity keeps us in our frontal cortex, the smartest, wisest part of the brain. Here are some curiosities: What important projects will we finish this year? What projects won’t we finish? What will we begin? How much kindness will we give – to ourselves and anyone we meet along the way? How brave will we be with the hard, emotional work – the real work? How well and long will we sleep? What and who will inspire us? What and who will no longer inspire us? What change will we make in the world? How will we make things better? What is the path ahead like – 365 days of unknown – and where will we travel on it? What’s our quest this year?   What are your 2018 New Year’s curiosities?   Learn more:  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.

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