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.
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?
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.
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.
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.
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.”
They have been told and reminded of their value.
All the hours.
All the time.
All the sacrifices.
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.
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.
We move forward despite the resistance.
We will have doubts during the entire journey.
We will feel stuck, get stuck, and periodically wiggle free.
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.
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.
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 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.
(Image Courtesy of Imagekind)
We either build or inherit organizations. Either we started it from scratch, or we came into the organization once formed.
The organization is intended to move forward, presumably in an efficient, smooth, and relatively safe way: Like a Canoe. (Work with me here.)
You want your Canoe (organization) to get to the destination with ease of effort and maybe even enjoyment along the way.
You are trying to paddle your Canoe forward.
You are probably good at watching for rocks outside of your Canoe.
But there is a problem.
There is resistance.
Things are sluggish.
Instead of focusing outside, you look inside.
There are Rocks in the Canoe.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are employees who are not buying into the change of direction, strategy, or approach.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are rules and procedures that are working against your customers.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are having the wrong people doing the wrong jobs.
Some Rocks in the Canoe are distractions and procrastinations that move us away from our goals.
You didn’t notice it at first. Slowly those Rocks in the Canoe began to add up.
Maybe you have been spending so much time focusing on avoiding the rocks in the river, that you failed to notice the Rocks in the Canoe.
Your Canoe is heavy and weighed down.
Your Canoe is slow and sluggish.
Your Canoe is hovering dangerously close to the waterline.
Can you see the Rocks in the Canoe now?
The Rocks in the Canoe didn’t get there all at once. Some rocks started as pebbles, and seemed to grow over time. Some rocks were there when you first got into your Canoe, and you may not have noticed.
The Rocks in the Canoe need to go.
But, your Canoe may not respond well to quick motion and disruption.
Your Canoe may be a little wobbly.
It is important to keep your balance and not overturn or sink while removing the Rocks in the Canoe.
If you stand up and immediately start throwing rocks, you may tip over or crash.
Maybe we can learn from how the Rocks in the Canoe got there in the first place.
The rocks didn’t show up all at once, and our job is the methodically remove the Rocks in the Canoe.
Imagine what your Canoe could do if it wasn’t so weighed down.
P.S. Don’t be afraid of your competition picking up your rocks. If they want to put your rocks in their Canoe, let them. As you are moving quickly forward, they may be slowing down and not even realizing the cause.
“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.
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.
Winter here has been weird.
In a week and a half, the temps have varied from 65 to 8.
Running has been a challenge.
Some days are cold, some are warm.
My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.
Luckily I am part of a Tribe.
The Running Tribe.
The Running Tribe spends time together.
The Running Tribe encourages each other.
The Running Tribe is a little weird.
The Running Tribe laughs together, especially while waiting around for the start of strange races that get us outside despite the weather.
Life can be weird.
In a week and a half, I can go from confident to insecure, happy to sad, encouraged to frustrated.
Leading can be a challenge.
Parenting can be a challenge.
Partnering can be a challenge.
Friendships can be a challenge.
Some days are cold, some are warm.
My body and my attitude has needed to adjust.
We need more Tribes.
Tribes for each challenge.
A Leadership Tribe.
A Parenting Tribe.
A Partnering Tribe.
A Friendship Tribe.
Find the Tribes.
Create the Tribes.
Join the Tribes.
Join My Tribes.
Let’s try doing these things together.
Creating and running a business is not easy work.
You have competing demands of your time, attention, and energy.
Success increases that competition.
Success increases the demands.
You start to grow.
You start to expand.
Things start to break.
The old ways are not enough.
Processes are created and updated.
Processes start to build the right foundation: forms, agreements, and structure.
Processes are designed to make things more uniform, more streamlined.
Processes are meant to free up time and energy.
You need increased capacity.
You start to discover and learn your own style, skills, and “highest and best use.”
You are good at some things.
You are not so good at other things.
You may need to give some things away to others.
The Customer likes what you have to offer.
The Customer still remembers when they took the risk on you.
The Customer likes how they used to connect with you.
The Customer wants to continue without a lot of disruptive change.
Balancing Processes, You and the Customer can be a challenge.
Some Processes can upset the Customer.
You may resist the Processes because it feels confining.
The Processes may put a little distance between You and the Customer.
The Customer may always want to speak directly to You.
Building and scaling a business is not easy.
Sometimes we spend too much time focusing on just one of the areas.
When we focus only on Processes – we unleash rules, policies, and procedures that can choke off flexibility and creativity.
When we focus only on You – we can get lost in self-reflection, doubt, and self-criticism.
When we focus only on the Customer – we suffer, compromise, and become spread too thin.
Balancing Processes, You and the Customer is even harder when you grow.
What Processes do You really need? Which make our jobs easier with the least impact to the Customer, and the largest return on time/energy for You?
Where should You be spending the bulk of your time?
What does the Customer really want from You and any Processes?
As you scale, remember to ask questions and regularly spend time thinking about all three.