I Do It: The lesson from a 3-year old

Meeting new people is great. Meeting this particular group was great because they are new (so you can ask a ton of fun questions and hear new stories) and they are going to be connected with us moving forward.

As I reflect it was more like holding an interview for someone who already got the job. No pressure, just getting to know one another, because the outcome is already decided.

But one member of the group stood out.

The energetic 3-year old.

His grandfather describes him as a constant joy and ever-present “investigator” of his world.

As the father of four, I can appreciate an energetic “investigator.”

What I witnessed was someone who is bold and fearless.

When faced with something new (marking his name on the plastic glass, meeting new people, deciding what food to take from the buffet) he had one motto, one thing that helped him push through any perceived difficulty or lack of experience with this particular task.

He would loudly proclaim “I Do It!” and he would just go attempt whatever task was before him.

No fear or worry.

“I Do It!”

No reflection of whether or not he had the skills needed or the right training.

“I Do It!”

No calling a meeting or scheduling a call.

“I Do It!”

No panicked paralysis pondering if it was going to be perfect.

“I Do It!”

Although each attempt or task was not perfect (the permanent marker on a new shirt serves as proof), the motto and the persistence remained.

As I watched each interaction, each proclamation, and each action I found an interpretation.

“I Do It!” really means “Hey, I am new at some of these things but have ambition and I want to be given the chance to try, fail, try again, and succeed. I may not always get it right, but that is part of learning right? We are all just here trying out things, finding what works for us, and moving on to the next thing. Thanks for giving me some space to give it a shot. I am building confidence and mastery along the way.”

Thanks for the lesson.

When I get stuck, doubt myself, and wonder how to move forward, I will remember those words.

“I Do It!”

#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.

Change, Loss, and Resistance

“They have a new building, a new workplace, but there is resistance, and I do not understand why they are not embracing the change.”

In other words, “hey we invested in a new building, a new space, and they should be happy!”

There was more than a building change.

A lot changed.

We talk more about the new building, the new workplace.

We learn that there were other changes.

They used to work together, now they are alone.

They used to have space to connect as a team, now there is isolation.

They used to be comfortable and a little distant from the direct issues, now they are directly in the middle of the problem.

All this change may be a better way.

All this change may be beneficial for the job.

All this change may workout in the long-term.

Now we can understand the resistance.

Now we can understand the disruption the new building caused.

Now we can understand the loss of connection with the team.

There is a great quote about change.

“Change is a form of loss. 

You need to let people grieve it.”

The resistance is grieving a loss.

The resistance is trying to adjust to the loss of team.

The resistance is getting used to working alone.

We need to understand that the change (even if that change is ultimately good) can also create a loss.

We may need to be patient while they grieve.

We may need to understand and recognize the resistance.

We may need to provide support in the process.

We will need to explain why this change is important, and acknowledge the loss.

We may need to explain it again.

We may need to provide more support than we imagined.

We may have caused other issues that we didn’t intend.

Change: It is much harder to manage than we may have guessed.

Wired for Solutions

We have already talked about being wired for problems. We all have different styles, and some behavioral styles have this uncanny ability to scan the environment for problems.

At first this sounds negative.

Always pointing out what is wrong.

But there is a flip side to having a style or mind that is wired to discover problems.

That same mind or style is also wired for solutions.

The more I work with people about their style, the more they need to see these two sides.

Not everything about our style is positive.

Sometimes we don’t always like everything about our style.

But our styles have two sides.

You may be more prone to follow the rules, and that same style promotes excellence and accuracy.

You may be prone to be talkative and social, and that same style can move people to believe, and hope, and dream.

You may be prone to be a little scattered or distracted, and that same style breaks out of the status quo and moves organizations forward through change.

You may be prone to focus on the task or the process, and that same style will build organizations that can scale.

Knowing who you are, and your style is the first step. If you haven’t taken one of these assessments, contact me and let’s find how you are wired, and how you can make the most impact in your world, your business, and your journey.

Making Cabinets

building-cabinets

“It was easier when I was making cabinets.”

“Why, what was different?”

“At the end of the day, I could see and feel my progress. Now I just deal with people and it is hard to know if I accomplished anything.”

As I reflect on my own work. I can relate.

A lot of what we do is less measurable, less tangible.

It is certainly easier when you make something. It wasn’t there before. You built it. It now exists. You can see it.

Ideas, thoughts, managing, leading are harder to quantify.

But we are still making.

Building ideas.

Crafting thoughts.

Developing people.

Creating and expanding organizations.

“Maybe it would be easier to ask yourself a simple question at the end of the day: What Cabinets Did I Make Today?”

“What do you mean?”

“Think about your work now in terms of cabinets because that is where you started. Take your interactions with customers, sales gained, estimates written, and turn then into cabinets.”

“You are a little weird.”

“Yeah I know, but keep tracking. This will tie your current work to the familiar and fulfilling work that you keep longing to do again.”

“I can try. So when I complete four estimates in a day, that may be a cabinet? Instead of not feeling like I am making progress, I can look at that pile of paper, and see a cabinet?”

“Yes, making cabinets out of your current work.”

Maybe that is how we can all calibrate our time, our effort. Think about our work in terms that are familiar and comfortable. A lot of our lives can feel like spinning our wheels instead of Making Cabinets.

What Cabinets are you making?

What [insert your cool creative thing here] have you built today?

Go. Make a difference. Make Cabinets.

 

Conversations and How to Have Them

Together we discussed friendship, which was one of my favorite experiences. But recently I have noticed that friendship (or relationships in general) are built and fueled by conversations.

Over the past few months I have been observing conversations.

But conversations are weird.

Some are like duels.

Some are like speeches.

Some are veiled.

Some are superficial.

Only a few are deep and memorable.

I recently shared some of these conversation observations with a class. Not just any class, but the last class of the year. This particular class has become a yearly tradition and it isn’t lost on me that the final chapter of the year (right before the Holiday Season) is a class on Emotional Intelligence.

Before I shared, I asked.

“What does it take to have a good conversation?”

The answers came.

“Listening. Letting other people speak. Making eye contact. Not being distracted. Not looking at your phone. Asking questions.”

Great answers. Great advice.

It was the last one that really resonated with me. It is what I have been observing.

Asking questions.

You need all of the first things, but it is the last part that may make the real difference.

Asking questions.

Demonstrates that you are interested in others and not just about yourself. (I have a friend who has made extreme strides in this area, and jokes about how they used to be as a reminder. During a conversation they will jump in with “Enough about me, now I want to hear what you think about me.”

Asking questions.

Questions help you to learn about others.

My assignment to this class was to spend the Holiday Season practicing having conversations. This practice starts with asking questions. It may be helpful to try out a few of these questions over your Holiday Season as well.

  1. How are you? (And listen to the reply. Wait for a reply beyond “I’m good” or “Fine” and maybe ask a second time. Really, how are you?
  2. What is going well?
  3. What are you most excited for in 2017?
  4. What are three things that you would most like to accomplish in the next year?
  5. What is the last book you read?
  6. How are you balancing your multiple roles?
  7. Can you tell me a little more about what you do? What most excites you about what you do?

And the list goes on.

Be careful about asking a question, then jumping in with your own answers to each of these questions. Remember my friend’s quote, this is about them, not you.

Asking questions.

Go try it out and let us know how it goes.

P.S. Sometimes conversations drift towards things that are not as important (Politics, Sports, the Weather) and I have a fun trigger phrase with a few friends when we drift off. Whenever one of us dwells too much on the latest game stats or news story, one of us remembers to say, “Are you Sad?” (Because we must be avoiding real conversation out of sadness…) We all chuckle and get back to focusing on things that matter most.

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.