The Evidence

Helping people understand themselves is a large part of what I do. There are various tools to assist with this process, but a solid go to assessment includes the DISC (Thank you creator of Wonder Woman) combined with Driving Forces. This combination helps people understand both their behavioral style (How they do things) along with their motivations (Why they do things).

One of my favorite opportunities to help with this understanding is part of a three-day learning experience for supervisors. I have the opportunity to spend a few hours walking these 20 supervisors through their styles.

Typically during the periodic breaks, many of them come up and want to discuss their results in more detail.

“Hey, I know it says that I can be perceived as harsh, but that is not who I am trying to be, how can I change this perception?”

“When it describes me as picky how can I balance that with the job that does have a need for accuracy and follow through?”

“Wow, how did this thing know so much about me?”

But it was a few days ago that something really caught my attention.

The session began, and one person in particular was noticeable.

I could read the body language. Arms folded, looking annoyed.

Shaking their head No.

Hardness in their face.

Then the break.

I knew what would be coming next.

They were the first to come talk to me.

The tone was aggressive.

They were on the defense.

“Hey, this thing is not right. It is not accurate.”

I paused and looked down at the page.

I can see the page, the graph, the chart.

“I didn’t really read it all, but what I did read was not me! That is not how I am perceived, and I really care about doing what is right!”

They are standing and move closer to me. We are now face-to-face. I can feel them in my space.

There is another supervisor watching this interaction, they can see the same page I can see. Their glance goes from that page, to me, to the defensive supervisor. A slight smile appears.

I smile as well.

I wait.

There are more words.

I look down at the chart once more.

I wait.

There is a pause.

A hard look at the offending page.

A third smile.

“Wait a minute. Did I just provide you with the evidence that this report is accurate?”

I waited and then chimed in.

“Well, what I see is someone who relies on past experience, and proven methods, who may be skeptical of new information, especially that which may be critical of you, because your strong ego may get in the way. Also, you may periodically bring a more aggressive approach than needed, especially when you feel threatened.”

Another pause.

Smiles all around.

“I think I am starting to get it. It is not easy coming to grips with who I am. Some of this report is great, some of it feels hard.”

“Now you are getting it. There are parts of you that are really great and help you to be successful. But some of what we are here to deal with are the parts that get in the way of your success.”

“Thank you for being patient with me.”

“Thank you for providing the evidence that these reports are pretty accurate.”

Learning about your style is not always easy. The hard parts are easily rejected.

But sometimes, circumstances provide the Evidence needed to move forward.

No Bad Runs

DSC_0780-L

Running can be hard.

Some runs feel amazing.

Everything clicks, your body responds, and you just go.

Other runs don’t feel so great.

Your legs feel like cement, that weird [knee, foot, ankle, back, thigh, or toe] pain is back, and you struggle.

Sometimes you feel young beyond your years.

Other times you wonder if you are getting too old to run.

Sometimes you get a personal best.

Other times you are afraid to look at the time.

We can be tempted to label these “other” runs.

“Today was a bad run.”

“I can’t believe what a bad run I had today.”

“I have had a bad run three times this week.”

Who said every run would be easy?

Who said we wouldn’t struggle, doubt, or wrestle?

Each run means that you actually went out and ran.

Each run is another run under your belt.

Each run becomes part of your history, your experience, your life.

Each run doesn’t limit the next one.

Some runs feel amazing.

Other runs don’t feel so great.

There are no bad runs.

 

The Decade of Training

Wander Tag(Image Courtesy of Etsy.com)

Through a combination of coaching conversations, and reflections on my own life I have noticed a pattern. Many of us wish we were further along in our lives, careers, or relationships. We speak as if there is some place we should be, but we are behind in the race. We speak with regret and sadness as if we are currently missing out and life would be somehow different.

“I have been in this job for 6 years now and am in a rut and it feels wasted.”

“I didn’t really know what I wanted to do, and moved from job to job and didn’t make progress.”

“School was not a focus for me, and I wasted those years.  Now I have to go back again.”

“Just imagine where I would have been if I didn’t squander those years.”

These conversations made me think of that quote from J.R.R. Tolkien. Maybe it is okay to wander for a little while, because those years are not always lost.

Instead of seeing those years (however long it has been) as a waste, maybe a perspective change would help. Perhaps we could view that time as the Decade of Training.

The Decade of Training helped form who we are today.

The Decade of Training helped us create goals and start to pursue them.

The Decade of Training helped us try different things.

The Decade of Training helped us know that failure is part of the journey.

The Decade of Training helped us learn to get back up and keep moving.

Those years in the Decade of Training are not necessarily lost, unless you give up and assume that it is too late to pursue the goals for your life, career (or second career, or third career), or relationships.

Most of us today will live into our 90s. To put that in perspective, when we reach 60, we will still have 1/3 of our lives ahead of us.

The real question is now that you have been trained, what will you do with it?

After Injury

As a follow-up to my the post “I am good as possible” it seemed important to share what can happen when we take that risk, try something new, and stretch ourselves.

My Right Knee

(Image Courtesy of My X-Ray, My Youngest Daughter and a Ski Jump)

Injury. It happens to all of us.

In this case, it happened to my right knee. While skiing/trying to catch up with my youngest daughter, I followed her over a jump. Regret arrived almost as quickly as the decision was made, only to be overshadowed by intense pain.

Obviously, it was not a great decision. That split second resulted in numerous bags of ice, pain relievers, doctors visits, x-rays, and some physical therapy.

But, we all sustain injury. Injury may be physical, emotional, or relational. Injury can happen at home, at work, on the slopes, or just about anywhere.

Injury will happen.

Some injury can be prevented, but not all.

During injury, we have to manage the pain, rest, and rebuild.

The choices we make after injury may be the most important.

We may choose to avoid.

We may choose to fear.

We may choose to stop trying.

We may choose to try again, but perhaps with a little more caution/wisdom.

The decisions we make after injury determine if our world becomes a smaller place, with less risk, less adventure.

Keeping our world big after injury is its own risk.

As my leg healed and the pain left, I kept anticipating that the pain would return. My steps were more cautious, and the memory of the pain was almost as real as when it actually hurt.

The other night was my first time chaperoning without skiing. I was not ready to put on those skis, so I modified my role. I encouraged the kids. I made sure they all knew where they were going, and cheered them on.

I have decided to ski next week. I am making the choice to keep my world big, despite the fear and memory of the pain, and possibility of another injury.

Where has injury impacted you?

What choices can you make after injury?

To continue in my role from the other night…

Don’t give up.

You can do it.

Keep your world big.

Get back up.

Get back on those skis.

“I am good as possible”

I live in New Hampshire. With the exception of my time in the Navy and a few years of grad school, I have lived here my whole life.

Every winter, it snows here…a lot. The world slows down, and we tend to hibernate and stay inside more.

I have a confession: I never learned to ski.

Combine this fact with the fact that I agreed to chaperone my daughter’s ski club helped prompt me to do something that I have been meaning to do for years: learn to ski.

At 44 years old, I decided to stop putting this off and start taking a lesson (the Sunday before a Wednesday ski club). Despite my initial fear, of falling and/or making a fool of myself, the lesson went well and I had enough skills to chaperone. Enough skills to get by. I stared to wonder if I needed additional lessons.

I told this story to a friend. This friend had a story for me. Years ago when their young child was learning to ski, their family would spend days on the slopes. Most of the day was spent in lessons, and occasionally they would “free ski” afterwards. Their child had good skills and some natural talent for skiing and could out-ski most of their peers. The lessons continued.

After lunch, most of the family was going to ski the slopes and the young child had to return to their lesson. The child wanted to ski with the rest of the family, but the lesson continued in the afternoon. A meltdown ensued with this youngster trying to find a reason why they didn’t need to continue the lesson.

“I don’t need another lesson. I am good as possible!” they screamed.

We laughed at the story, but those words remained. “I am good as possible.”

How often do we think we are good enough at something and fail to continue to learn and challenge ourselves? When does “good enough” satisfy us so that we stop refining our skills? Lessons can be boring, especially when compared to skiing down the slopes.

For me, I decided to continue with the lessons. But this story and those words caused me to look to at my own life to see where I have shouted “I am good as possible” instead of realizing that I could improve with just a few more lessons.

Learning to Ski

P.S. For anyone who thinks they are too old, tired, experienced, afraid, (insert word here) to try something new, my instructor told me about a 78 year-old grandfather who decided to learn to snowboard so he could go down the slopes at least once with his grandchildren. And he did!

The “Know Yourself” Message

Know Yourself. Change the WorldOne of my first posts involved explaining the tagline for what this little adventure is all about. The “Know Yourself. Change the World.” post was almost a year and a half ago. I began to reflect on those simple words, and wondered if this message is still valid. Wondering if this message still resonates.

Imagine my surprise when I opened up a Christmas present from my oldest daughters. It was a coffee mug that they had customized for me. Right there on the mug was the tagline, the message. They both read my posts (when they are not studying hard while away at college…hint, hint). The message resonated enough for them to include it in my Christmas gift.

Sometimes a simple confirmation is all that we need. Someone to recognize the efforts we are putting forward. This gift is more than just a vessel for my coffee. This gift is a daily reminder that the message resonates and to keep trying to change the world by helping others know themselves.

What is your message? Where can you help encourage someone else’s message?

As for what is on the other side of the mug, well that is a story for another day.

Be More Helpful Than a Handout

One of the best parts of presenting and teaching is reading the evaluations.  If you listen to what is said, the insight and suggestions from the participants can help refine both the content and the style.  It is not always positive, but learning from feedback can help you become great.

The other day, I read the best comment ever.

“Carl is more helpful than handouts.” 

Maybe that should always be our goal.  If we are not “more helpful” why are we even there?  Wouldn’t the handouts be enough?

Here are a few tips:

1.  Be Authentic: Be yourself.  You are not perfect and that is okay.  Admit the areas that you are still wrestling with.  If you are talking about leadership, describe a time you made a mistake, what you learned, and how you recovered.

2.  Use Stories:  Facts, data, and bullets on slides are one thing, but linking the information together through a story engages the listener to apply the information in a real world situation.  Stories move us, inspire us, and motivate us.

3.  Be More Helpful Than a Handout:  Don’t read your PowerPoint or other materials.  Know your stuff, engage your audience, and leave them better informed, better able to address the issues at hand, and perhaps even a little inspired.

Good luck out there, you can do it.