Tell Them

I got to connect with an old friend the other day.

We drove, we talked, we got coffee, and we talked some more.

We talked about new starts and changes.

We talked about career paths and work.

We talked about good times and bad.

Then we talked about organizations.

My friend watched an organization try to move forward.

The moving forward required some changes.

The changes would impact employees.

The organization forgot to Tell Them (the employees, the staff, the people that would be impacted), and their top talent began to leave.

After many people left, the organization learned a valuable lesson.

Tell Them.

Tell Them why the changes are happening.

Tell Them the larger plan.

Tell Them why these moves are so important.

There are so many excuses not to Tell Them.

“We were waiting until everything was perfect.”

“We were not sure how the news would be received.”

“We think it will upset our customer.”

The longer you wait to Tell Them, the more other stories build.

Stories that erode trust.

Stories that assume the worst.

Stories that will undo the progress you are trying to make.

There are always reasons and excuses not to communicate.

But there is a simple solution: Tell Them.

Even bad news is more widely accepted when you are straightforward, open, and transparent.

Instead of being afraid of what they will do with the information, we should be more afraid of what they will do without it.

 

Talking with Strangers

I can still remember the words.

“Don’t talk to strangers.”

We are reminded of these instructions when we are young to keep us safe.

But we get older.

Sometimes these words remain.

We go about our lives.

We keep to ourselves.

We don’t talk to strangers.

Our circles remain small.

Strangers cross our paths.

We could just smile politely and go back to our world, phones, books, or lives.

Instead we fight this urge to remain quiet, and begin Talking with Strangers.

We learn about their lives and their journey.

We meet second grade teachers who love Dr. Seuss and are almost moved to tears when you talk about making a difference.

We meet bankers who believe in small banks that are connected to customers.

We meet curriculum developers and admission specialists.

We meet heart transplant coordinator something something and another thing (perhaps about assisted living) that was hard to remember.

We learn about stories of big extended families.

We learn about why they meet for coffee and how they connect around the holidays.

We learn about moving away and coming back home.

We learn about passions that parallel your own.

We meet.

We learn.

Our circles expand.

I agree, “don’t talk to strangers.”

Talking with Strangers is so much better.

And…

I don’t typically do this, but a special shout out to Doug (Petey), Deb, Bob, Amy, Leslie, and Becky. Yes you did make it into the blog, and I didn’t even have to change your names. After trying so hard to remember six names, it seemed like a shame to waste it!

The More

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It is hard to explain.

There is something out there.

Calling us.

Whispering.

“Wake up.”

“Don’t settle.”

“There is more.”

It is easy to find a rut.

Easy to give up or give in, and stop trying something new.

Easy to say, “this is all there is.”

But that voice is persistent.

The voice calling us to something else.

Calling us to The More.

The More hopeful.

The More connecting.

The More inventive.

The More satisfied.

The More of our careers, lives, relationships, and communities.

Don’t settle for less.

Strive for The More.

 

 

Meticulous Framing

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During a recent conversation with a close friend, we discussed the importance of building things that last.

Relationships.

Businesses.

Creative Stuff.

Sometimes we don’t always start the right way.

Sometimes we have to go back and fix.

In order to build on what exists, you have to make sure what is underneath is strong enough to handle what comes next.

Strong enough to last.

The very next day I was on a job site for the construction of a new home.

I met the team responsible for framing the home.

It wasn’t my first job site, but this site/this work stood out.

Clean, straight, and beautiful.

Meticulous Framing.


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After the tour, there were many compliments directed towards the framing team.

The leader of the larger team and company responsible for the project told a quick story.

“My former partner used to say ‘this is framing, not finish carpentry’. I would remind him that if I did a crappy job framing, I’d end up spending more time messing around trying to fix things when I installed the finish trim, cabinets and doors.”

Everyone nodded in agreement.

The framing team agreed and spoke of how important it was to get this step done well.

I found it interesting, that once complete, no one will see the Meticulous Framing.

This Meticulous Framing is not glamorous: other things that sit on top will ultimately get all the credit for how this home looks.

This Meticulous Framing will be hidden from view, seemingly forever, or until someone makes a drastic change.

This Meticulous Framing will set the stage for the next several decades.

This Meticulous Framing may take a few extra days, but may save weeks later on.

The leader tells this story in the larger context.

“I like to say what you do in one part of your life is pretty likely to show up in other parts of your life…”

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when building relationships?

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when building businesses?

Couldn’t we use Meticulous Framing when doing creating stuff?

The next time you build something, ask your self:

“Am I building this in a way that will last, or will I be spending a lot of time messing around trying to fix things?”

Maybe Meticulous Framing is exactly what we need, so what we build will last.

New Patterns, New Memories

Getting together with people, especially with those who are close, is not always easy.

Logistics. What time, where, who, and what?

Dynamics. The past, the incident, that time, and those words.

Expectations. The food, the venue, the relationships, and the activities.

Patterns. When to eat, what to do, and how you interact.

Memories. Good, bad, stressful, and past.

These various categories cause an interesting dynamic when trying to connect with others. When these categories are associated with past stressful get-togethers, the days before you see these people again can be filled with stress and pressure.

This stress and pressure can hijack the present event by overwhelming you before you even arrive.

But, what if you could shift the pattern?

What if you tried a new approach?

I am lucky to be part of a group that is experimenting with a new pattern. 

Instead of crashing after a meal, we go for a walk (and talk).

Instead of huddling around the TV, we are playing fun and weird games.

Instead of large group discussions, we are making time to connect and catch up individually.

A new pattern is forming.

New memories are replacing the old.

Good Patterns. Good Memories.

It is awkward at first? Oh yeah, but totally worth it.

The Attempted Compliment

Sometimes we become hardened towards those around us, even our customers.

Prior interactions, prior conflicts, or prior assumptions cloud our current view.

They complained, they were unhappy, they were…[insert specifics here].

Now we see them and the world through a tainted lens.

I heard a story the other day.

A customer complained. They needed some assistance. They needed something corrected.

A small team was mobilized to respond.

This team was on-site to solve the issue.

The customer approached this team at the end.

The customer began to speak.

The team responded first.

“Are you here to complain again, about something else?”

But, the customer was not there to complain.

The customer was attempting to compliment the response, the team, and the work.

The attempted compliment was shut down before it could happen.

Hardness had set in.

Where have we become hardened?

Where have we missed the attempted compliments?

Take a moment today and think about what you are holding onto, and against others (including your customers), that may be getting in the way of what they deserve.

A Little Friendly Research (My Turn)

I asked you a series of questions, and your answers appeared in the last 7 posts. Your answers were vulnerable, honest, funny, serious, and clever. Your answers inspired questions, discussions, and honest conversations about friends, and friendships. Your answers inspired some actions, as friends connected, reached out, answered phone calls, and actions became a little more deliberate and focused.

I wondered about how to end this series, and a few of you suggested that I weigh in on those same 9 questions.

So, it is my turn.

Question 1: What are the best attributes of your good friends?

They are intentional. They reach out. They call me, text me, and email me. They initiate as well as respond. They seem to have this internal counter that knows when too many moments, hours, days, or weeks have passed and the alarm goes off and they remember to connect.

Question 2: Do you think friendship is hard? Why or why not?

Friendship seemed easier in elementary school when you walked with the same person every day to school, then goofed around every weekend together on little adventures in the woods and on the pond. Friendship seemed easier when you were on a ship and saw them everyday for 6 months, and ate, slept, and worked together. Friendship seemed easier in college when you were in that crappy little apartment waiting for your paychecks so you could actually buy meat at the store.

Friendship seemed to get harder in the next stage of life. New jobs, new cities, new neighborhoods, new kids, and new distances between all of them.

Friendship is getting easier and harder at the same time in this current stage. My expectations have grown as the years have passed. What satisfied this need to connect years ago, doesn’t seem like enough. I have more time for friends then a decade ago, but some of them don’t have the same time available to me. The number of friends “goal” has been replaced with a depth of friendship “goal” which I recently realize is a much harder prize to attain.

Question 3: What do you expect from a friend?

Balance and equity in the long-run. I may need something from them for a season, but I want to find a season to give back as well. They shouldn’t be the only one to initiate connection, I want to call them, text them, email them, or reach out as well. I need that same little internal counter in my head that reminds me that too much time, distance, or life has gone by and I need to take action.

This question caused me to wrestle the most. I fear my expectations may be causing interference with some friends because my expectations may be higher, and unspoken.

There is tension expectation. How do we learn to give freely, and not be taken advantage of? When do you give? When do you need? How do you measure balance and equity?

No great answers, yet the wrestling seems like a good thing for me to work on.

Question 4: How much time in a given week do you think about your friendships?

A LOT! Until I read your responses, I thought I was a bit of an outlier (well I may still be). There was comfort to know that I am not the only one who thinks about this pretty often.

My mind wanders towards friends and friendship throughout my entire day. The morning computer/writing time, the commute, at random times each day, lunchtime, afternoon coffee, closing time, the other commute, dinnertime, vegging out time, before I sleep (you get the idea).

Bottom line, if you are my friend, I think about you a lot.

Question 5: What are your best attributes as a friend?

I care about you. I think about you. I connect with you. I am here when you need something (yes that has included the occasional furniture moving). I invest in you. I want you to succeed. I have hope for you. I find time for you. I love you.

Question 6: If you could say one thing to your friends that would help explain what you need from them, what would you say?

Be real. Be present. Be available. Be my friend.

Question 7: How many close friends would you say you have?

Nine.

Question 8: Anything else you would like to share?

Yes. This process, this journey has helped me understand friends and friendship in a new way. Your responses have helped shape me and I don’t want this journey to end.

Earlier this week I was teaching a class and we talked about leadership. One participant mentioned that leadership has an expiration date. In other words, if you are not exercising those skills, they expire, go bad, and become rotten.

I think this applies to friendships as well.

Question 9: In 10 words or less, what advice would you give the World about friendships?

Intention. Balance. Mindful. Time. Hope. Connect. Remember. Savor. Initiate. Love.