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.

How Do You Define Teamwork?

Teamwork.  There is a seemingly endless list of how to define it, thousands of books written about it, and the notion that we should all strive to obtain it.  Teamwork has been rattling around in my head lately, and I was trying to remember a defining moment for any team where I was a member.  Nothing was coming to mind until I met recently with a member of this team for breakfast.

This particular team had been through some rough times together, but also celebrated well during successes.  The defining moment that I remember was during a meeting where we had been instructed to reduce our budget.  It wasn’t just a little reduction, the reduction was large enough that it would cause everyone in the room to take a hit.  I had instructed each of them to bring a list of what was important that needed to remain, and a list of what could be reduced.

One by one, each member of this team shared their list.  The items on the lists were important things that would have a significant impact on each person’s part of the operation, their ability to provide the right level of service.  After all the lists were read, it became quiet.  Part of me expected the real battle to begin, and each person around that table would start lobbying about why their department should be retained, and someone else should take the cut.

It was at this very moment that I witnessed teamwork, and what I heard had and still has an impact on me.

“After listening to the group, their lists seem more important to the overall operation.  I think I can reduce a little more.”

“I can take the hit, let’s make sure that other department has what it needs this year.”

“I don’t know how I am going to explain this to my employees, but I am withdrawing my list of needs, the other lists just seem more pressing.”

One by one, every member of that team saw the overall organization and operation as more important than their particular department, silo, or fiefdom.  Each member of that team knew that the only “win” was ensuring that the organization “won” not whether or not it was a “win” for them individually.

How should we define teamwork?  Maybe the definition is simple.  Teamwork is when everyone that is working together can look beyond themselves, see the larger picture, and “take the hit” for others.

Reflections on the Challenge

Where did January go?  If nothing else, the collective challenge helped the weeks go by.  It was strange this morning to wake up and have the freedom to check the news online, but I refrained.

The News.  What is happening in the world?  I don’t know, but I do know what is happening in my world.  I feel a little more connected to people around me, especially my wife and kids.  I feel less negative about the world, the people in it, and the state of the economy (I had to buy a new washing machine so I am totally doing my part).  We actually had our neighbors over for dinner this month (it took 3.5 years to make it happen) but we did it.  I read a few more books this month.

Being Generous.  For the past month I have been trying to find ways to do this one. There were a few opportunities but I hesitated and the moment passed.  I tried to be more generous to those around me this month but that doesn’t count for the challenge so I had to create a plan.  I did.  Tomorrow is the day, and I am going to try it out.  Wish me luck. (Yes, I will be two days late, but it still counts right?)

Dreaming Big.  As for the dreaming big part, I went out on a limb this month.  There is this national conference I attend each year with some colleagues, and in January they sent out an email asking for speakers and ideas for the conference.  A big dream of mine has been to be a speaker at this conference and I took the leap and submitted my idea and topic.

Putting the idea out there was pretty scary but the response has been great.  My colleagues and others voted, made some great comments on my idea.  Time will tell if it becomes a reality at this year’s conference, but the process and taking the risk was helpful.

Hmmm.  I wonder what February will bring?