Historian or Futurist?

 

We seem to like history, especially our own history.

Our history was created through a series of events. We get comfortable telling that story. We have told that story many times. We keep telling that story. We like telling that story.

The pain, the struggle, the successes, the joy.

But those things happened in the past, they are not currently happening.

We keep telling that story.

We are the historian. We gather the crowd around us, and take them on the tour. We rehearsed the lines, know when to pause, and draw them in.

But the crowd eventually fades. The story is old. Tickets are unsold.

But there is something else.

Something different and new.

We can become a futurist.

The futurist tells a new story.

The futurist is setting new goals.

The futurist is moving forward.

The futurist understands past events, but not through a distorted lens of over-emphasis or limits.

The futurist embraces today while envisioning something better.

The futurist is creating.

The futurist is risking.

The futurist is living.

We have a choice to make: remain the historian, or become a futurist.

 

 

 

Posted in Knowing Yourself, Our Words, Random Thoughts, Your Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Spillover of Failure

It was a privilege last week to work with a group of people trying to launch big, scary & creative ideas into the world.

They have ideas.

They want to make a difference.

They brought their big, scary & creative ideas.

We discussed what can get in the way of ideas: their style, organizational resistance and culture, and fear.

We spent some time on fear.

“What are you afraid of?”

The group had many answers, most had to do with the fear of failure.

We pushed them a little more.

“What are you really afraid of? Go a little deeper.”

A new answer emerged, and was met with silence and affirming nods.

“It is not just the fear of failure that is bothering me. What I am really afraid of is the spillover of failure that may cause people to question all of the great things I am already doing through the lens of this failure.”

The spillover of failure.

One failure tainting all the other great things we are doing.

One failure causing others to question us or question our other great work.

How many times does the spillover of failure fear prevent us from launching new ideas?

What big, scary & creative ideas would you bring into this world if the spillover of failure wasn’t in play?

What does it take to create an environment where failure is celebrated instead of feared?

We need your big, scary & creative ideas.

Don’t let the spillover of failure stop you.

Below is a great TED talk with some great reasons why to celebrate failure.

P.S. This is post #299. I wonder what big, scary & creative idea #300 will bring?

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The Rockstar Dilemma

The Rockstars: the great performers in your organization.

For a while it was you. Everything connected. Everything was going your way.

You were on top.

You were the one everyone sought out.

You were the first pick to help others, mentor them, and get them up to speed.

You helped develop others.

But things change.

They began to rise.

They started to perform.

Now, they are the ones everyone seeks out.

Now, they are the first pick to help others.

A shift in Rockstar status can be disruptive. The shift can leave you feeling unsure and insecure.

“Is there still a place for me?”

“What will happen if I build and develop others, and I am no longer needed?”

At some point in your career will most likely be faced with the Rockstar Dilemma: When you move from the top performer to another role as others rise up and take their place in the organization.

The Rockstar Dilemma presents us with a choice that usually takes two different paths.

  1. We see our role not only to perform, but to help build capacity in others, and to share what we know to help them succeed.
  2. We see our role to perform as sheer competition, and anyone’s gain is our loss.

Choosing the second path is easy. We just perform, and perform, and move ahead as long as we can.

Choosing the first path is hard. We face the dilemma of performing, while helping others develop and perform, knowing that there is a chance that someday they will surpass us.

There is insecurity in the first path.

There is risk in the first path.

I hear the response every time I introduce the first path of the Rockstar Dilemma.

“But, if I develop them, I will no longer be needed. You are essentially having me work myself out of a job!”

My response is always the same.

“If you are the kind of leader who can build teams who are better than you, and can out perform you, you will never be out of a job. Organizations will pay you a lot more than you are making today to build that kind of a performance culture.”

When faced with the Rockstar Dilemma, let’s pick the right path.

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#Worthless

When you work with people and companies, you hear a lot of stories.

Some stories leave you a little speechless.

They are young, talented, and are always working. I don’t mean they work a lot, I mean they are always working: weekends, nights, and vacations.

They feel a little overlooked.

They give their all, making personal sacrifices, and not getting any relief.

No real promotions, no real raises, no additional help.

They receive an increased pace, increased workload, and increased hours.

One day they are called into the leader’s office. They are told that the company sees them, and wants to invest in them. They have a future.

Hope returns.

They work harder, more hours, and more projects.

They are working on a particular project that takes a lot of time, energy, and focus.

They need to get this right.

They return to the leader’s office.

They make a case for more time, help, and assistance.

No additional assistance is given.

No investment is made in them, just a simple statement.

“You know, none of this matters anyway. No one reads this stuff.”

Worthless.

They have been told and reminded of their value.

All the hours.

All the time.

All the sacrifices.

Worthless.

It should come as no surprise, that this company is struggling with high turn-over and a toxic culture.

Ironically they are trying so hard to bring value to those outside of the company, that they forgot about the value on the inside.

What message are you sending?

Do your people feel valued or Worthless?

Does your company have a high turn-over rate? Are you driving hard for results and forgetting something along the way? Does your culture promote appreciation and value, or do people feel Worthless?

If you or your company are struggling with conveying value, contact me today.

Let’s send a better message.

Posted in Change the World, Knowing Yourself, Leadership, Making a Difference, Our Behaviors, Our Words, Random Thoughts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Permission

I have been wrestling with how to close out a project that has been consuming my mind, energy, and emotions. The project is a risk, and includes trying to help others launch their big ideas into the world.

I have learned a few things along the way.

Taking risks is hard.

Launching ideas is scary.

Fear of failing is paralyzing.

But.

We move forward despite the resistance.

We will have doubts during the entire journey.

We will feel stuck, get stuck, and periodically wiggle free.

So.

What do you do when you are at the end of a project?

How do you end one journey and make sure it closes out correctly?

How do we move from one project to the next?

I was recently talking to a close friend and they offered a great word.

Permission.

And not just any Permission.

Two specific areas of Permission.

Permission to Rest.

Permission to Celebrate.

Permission to Rest – to acknowledge that your efforts and energy that you put into this project will require recharging afterwards and to make space and allow yourself to rest without feeling guilty, lazy, or worthless.

Permission to Celebrate – to acknowledge that you did something, created something, and made something happen, and to give yourself some credit even if it wasn’t perfect or exactly what you had hoped.

Permission to both Rest and Celebrate is difficult.

We are so “busy” that natural Rest feels like we are doing something wrong.

We are so critical and/or trying to be humble that to Celebrate feels wrong as well.

Maybe all projects should end with Permission.

Go ahead and give yourself the Permission to Rest and Celebrate.

And just in case that is hard to do, we give you Permission for both.

Posted in Change the World, Making a Difference, Random Thoughts, Your Dreams, Your Story | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

New Ideas

There is a problem with trying to bring new ideas into the World.

The problem is the resistance.

The resistance tries to wear you down, so you will stop trying.

At first glance you may think that the resistance is only on the outside.

Systems.

Organizations.

Power.

Resources.

Surprisingly the biggest resistance may not be outside at all.

There is a group on the inside trying to stop you.

The resistance committee of fear, failure, shame, and pessimism do a fine job of wearing you down, and shutting down the new ideas.

The resistance committee wants to keep you isolated.

The resistance committee wants you to think that your new ideas are stupid, silly, and will never be welcomed.

The resistance committee wants to convince you that the World will never embrace you and your new ideas.

But the resistance committee is wrong.

The World is waiting to embrace you and your idea.

The World has Systems that will help you get off the ground.

The World has Organizations that need your new ideas.

The World has Power to move things forward and Power to share.

The World has Resources to invest in you and your new ideas.

Don’t let the resistance committee keep you isolated.

Don’t let the resistance committee convince you that the World is the enemy.

You have new ideas.

The World needs new ideas.

The World needs you.

Posted in Change the World, Knowing Yourself, Making a Difference, Random Thoughts, Your Dreams | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The No Red Rule

Did you ever notice when you travel to a new place, there are local traffic rules that everyone but you seems to know? These rules are not written down, but you tend to learn them as you drive.

You can clearly see the stop sign, but everyone is just driving through without the slightest pause. You hear blaring horns or interesting gestures when you apply the break.

Organizations seem to have these local rules.

An unwritten code that everyone obeys.

Navigating or even learning about these local rules can be a challenge.

These local rules seem to be contrary to stated practices, or are sometimes just plain weird.

We encourage people to be flexible with their schedule. But don’t come in after the boss or leave before they leave for the day.

Fridays are dress-down days. But not really if you want to be promoted or taken seriously.

We encourage new fresh ideas. But don’t do anything risky that may fail.

But recently I learned about a local rule that is clearly my favorite: The No Red Rule.

Yes, The No Red Rule.

In reports, financial statements, and presentations there is The No Red Rule.

The No Red Rule isn’t printed anywhere, but it seems to originate from a senior leader.

People discover The No Red Rule when creating reports or presentations when someone else reviews and tells them.

“You know about The No Red Rule right?”

“The what?”

“The No Red Rule. Whatever you do, don’t use any red in this presentation.”

“Are you kidding? How am I supposed to show his without red?”

“I don’t know, try green, or maybe blue, purple may not be great because it contains red…”

As I reflect on The No Red Rule, I cannot help but wonder about the origin. Maybe the color red has some negative stigma. Maybe the color red seems too angry. Maybe the color red…

Whatever the reason, it is more fascinating to think about the amount of time, energy, and lost productivity The No Red Rule local rule seems to cause.

The No Red Rule creates uncertainty and fear.

The No Red Rule creates revisions and reviews.

The No Red Rule feels arbitrary and needless.

What local rules does your organization have?

Where are you not allowed to use red, try new things, develop new ideas, or be flexible?

The real problem with local rules is that you don’t really know they are there until you violate them.

If you do have a local rule like The No Red Rule (and it is important) make it official and explain the rule. In the absence of the explanation, we are left with uncertainty.

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