Taking Initiative

(Image Courtesy of Pixabay.com)

The session is about conflict and learning their preferred styles and other styles.

The session ends with some group work and a case study.

The case study provides a scenario and context to apply what they just learned.

The scenario describes being partnered with a peer to organize and work on a project together. But, when they arrive at the meeting, the peer has already started the project and assigned work to other members of the team.

Participants are asked to describe what they would do.

The response to this scenario has ALWAYS been the same.

“I would confront this peer about moving forward without me.”

“I would address this peer’s behavior and establish some structure and boundaries so we are working together on this project.”

“I would talk to my boss about this peer and make sure our roles are clear.”

The response to this scenario has ALWAYS been the same.

The response to this scenario has ALWAYS been the same, until recently.

This group surprised me.

“I would thank the peer for taking initiative and ask them how I can help moving forward.”

“I would support this peer and see if they need me to take a more active role.”

They went on to explain their response.

“You see, I am super busy. And just because it didn’t work out perfectly, or not exactly what I had in mind, that is fine with me. I appreciate when someone takes initiative and gets things moving. I don’t always have to be in charge, sometimes I can play a support role for what is already in motion.”

Wow.

Let me say that again. Wow!

A much different response and view of someone else taking initiative.

A response that rewards action and doesn’t take things personally.

How many times do we see taking initiative as a threat?

How often does our ego get in the way of movement?

How often do we see negative things when there is something positive to be appreciated?

Maybe it is time for a new response to taking initiative.

Just because that project, that dinner, that event was not exactly what you had in mind, can we learn to appreciate those taking initiative instead?

Let me know if you struggle with others taking initiative and if you try taking this alternative view in your own world, workplace, household, or lives in the comments section.

LLKA (Life Lane Keep Assist)

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(Icon Created by Richard Nixon from the Noun Project)

Our cars have become technology powerhouses. Cars remind you where they parked, describe alternative routes to upcoming traffic, make noise when you get too close to the curb, brake to prevent collision, and my new favorite: keep you in your lane.

These cars scan the road ahead. If you start to veer our of your lane, the car is there to help by gently nudging the wheel to keep you in your lane.

Small gentle nudges to keep you safe.

Small gentle nudges to provide direction when you get a little distracted and start to drift.

Imagine if this technology was available for us.

I can see the commercial.

Cue the dramatic music, and cut to video of busy, distracted living, while people race down winding roads.

[A voice begins]

Do you get distracted from your larger picture life goals? Do you spend time thinking about what you could have done, or should have done, instead of working on that thing right in front of you? Have you felt the pull of comparison to others and the resulting and life-stalling envy?

Welcome to the Life Lane Keep Assist.

The new Life Lane Keep Assist is designed to keep you in your lane.

Life Lane Keep Assist is a friendly nudge when the distractions or comparisons in life tempt you to compare your self with others, forget that you have value, and veer away from your own journey.

Life Lane Keep Assist works with you and your mind, head, and heart to turn to back to what is important in your life. It starts with a small nudge, builds to a larger push if needed.

[The cameras pan to a few individuals for one-on-one testimonials.]

“There I was, going though life while comparing my journey to others. It was discouraging, but with Life Lane Keep Assist, I began to live in my own lane. At first it was hard, I kept wanted to go back, but the small nudges and re-directions provided a much needed focus.”

“It was hard to focus. There were so many demands and needs, I was trying to do it all. I didn’t know how to say no. Thank you Life Lane Keep Assist for helping me steer away from the unimportant, and focus on how to make a real difference.”

“Before Life Lane Keep Assist I got way to involved in other people’s lives and created unnecessary conflict. Life Lane Keep Assist helped me from putting myself in the middle of conflict that wasn’t even mine to begin with.”

Life Lane Keep Assist – Available to help in your life journey today.

[Music Fades and screen goes blank]

Until Life Lane Keep Assist is standard equipment in our lives, we will have to just remind ourselves when we start to drift into the wrong lane. When we get out of our own lane, our own journey, our own lives, maybe it is just a simple nudge that can help us get back.

The Elephant in the Room

We all have conflict in our lives. Some good, some not so good.

Recently I had the privilege of working with a leadership team on conflict and their conflict styles.

We talked about the various ways or methods to conflict well as a team.

We talked about our styles and the impact on our ability to conflict.

We talked about our tendency to avoid conflict.

We talked about avoiding the elephant in the room.

I remembered a story I read about Kayak.com and their solution to avoiding conflict. They have highly visible conference room, and placed a stuffed elephant in that room, a room that was a designated place to encourage open and healthy conflict.

As described in the Bloomberg.com article by Claire Suddath:

There’s an elephant in the room at Kayak.com. An actual elephant—a two-foot-tall stuffed animal named Annabelle that Kayak’s co-founder and chief technology officer, Paul English, bought and put in a conference room. “So often at work, people have issues that they can’t resolve because they won’t talk about it,” says English. “I don’t like that. We try to be shockingly transparent about everything here.” Annabelle is a symbol of that.

We laughed about the story, and talked about ways this team could take the elephant in the room approach to conflict.

This team could find a space that is visible and open.

This team could start to practice engaging in conflict in a healthy way that sets an example for their peers, and for the organization as a whole.

The day was coming to an end.

We recapped some of the lessons and strategies to move forward and make progress as a team.

The leader encouraged everyone to apply the lessons learned, and to begin to practice some of these new methods.

To help the team apply these lessons, the leader did something else.

The leader reminded everyone that they do have a visible and open conference room.


The Elephant Room

The leader also invited a special guest.

The Elephant in the Room

Where have you avoided the elephant in the room? What reminder would help you learn to conflict well?

Find a space.

Find a reminder.

Go and conflict well.

Wired for Problems

How you see the world

Understanding our own behavioral styles is essential to our long-term success. Knowing that you have a tendency to follow the rules, or that you can connect with others helps you leverage those strengths in your style (maybe you have a passion for finance or you are great at sales).

Knowing how you are wired also helps you know when your style needs to be modified (maybe you are too strict at enforcing rules or you connect so often with others that you are not getting your own work done).

The other day I was having a somewhat difficult interaction and an overreaction. When I react this way, I revisit my own style (often with other people) to help determine the cause and see if this insight provides some solution or an easier way to modify my style in the future.

As I described the situation to someone close, they provided some much-needed insight.

I am wired for problems.

How you see the world (1)

 

My natural tendency is to see things in an unfavorable light. Combine that with the perception that I am in control or have power over a situation, and things get interesting.

What I see as a problem, others may not even notice.

When I want to fix things, others may not be ready or aware that the problem even exists.

Sometimes this style works well.

If organizations, teams, or individuals need to change or improve.

Sometimes this style doesn’t work out as well.

If we are just having a casual conversation, or interaction.

This greater self-awareness helps me understand that although I would like to fix a lot of things, not everything is broken or a problem that needs fixing.

What is the old saying? “If you are a hammer, after a while everything begins to look like a nail.”

How are you wired?

If you know your own style, take a few moments to revisit your results.

Ask yourself the following questions:

1. What are the best 3 things about my style that really work for me in my role, job, career, or life.

2. What are the 3 things about my style that seem to get in the way the most, or if modified would lead to greater success.

Put that list somewhere where you can see it each day, and leverage what works, and begin to modify what doesn’t work.

If you don’t know your style, drop me a line or connect with someone who can help you identify your style.

Glasses or Binoculars

GlassesBoth of these tools have lenses, and are designed to help us see the world more clearly in their respective application. They are not competing with each other, but we may favor one over the other in our lives.

When looking at a situation, do you reach for your glasses or your binoculars?

Glasses help you see clearly.

Binoculars exaggerate and make everything appear closer.Binoculars

Glasses address things right before your eyes.

Binoculars help you see things that are far away, but may need your attention.

Glasses may need new lenses as life changes and our vision fades.

Binoculars may take some practice to learn to focus and interpret events.

Both glasses and binoculars have their respective role, application and usefulness. They become a burden when we get so used to using one, that we forget to change when the situation warrants.

A life lived solely through glasses makes the world seem smaller, as a quiet seclusion develops over time. Everything around you is in focus, but there is everything “out there” that is fearful and unknown. The life close to you is clear, but there may be a larger world around you that too far off in the distance to be seen.

A life lived solely through binoculars makes everything feel more close, more personal, more perilous. Interactions are overly scrutinized. Risks appear larger than life. Even the past events stay close because of the ability to keep them in sight, long after they have passed. This distorted view may cause you to miss the life that happens close, since your focus is much further away.

Where have you used glasses when binoculars were needed? When have your binoculars exaggerated aspects of your life when glasses would have brought the much-needed focus?

Picking the right application for both glasses and binoculars can be the key.

(Images courtesy of my iPhone and Lifesun)

Understanding the Differences

The Differences
Helping others on their journey is one of my favorite things. There are times it is important to gather some of these people together. When in a group, we discuss how their particular styles impact others to help the other people understand the differences among them.

During a recent session we were discussing differences around a creative approach versus a more practical approach. We talked about how each person may see things, and how these differences may manifest.

One person is more practical, the other is more creative. As we were taking, I glanced down at the participants notebooks. Their notebooks clearly provided the illustration I needed during our time together. They are different people, each bringing something valuable to the relationship. Understanding those differences helps each of them see the world from the other person’s viewpoint. It is this kind of understanding that helps move beyond conflict and deepens relationships.  

Our notebooks are different. We are different. We all have something we bring to the table, the relationship, or the workplace. Sometimes opening up your notebook is the first step towards understanding.

Everything Requires a Conversation

A few days ago, I sat down with someone who began discussing a few issues that needed to be addressed in their workplace.  All were minor issues, but were getting in the way of getting goals accomplished and creating some minor disruptions or tension throughout their building.

The first issue was described in detail with a question at the end.

“What do you think I need to do about this?”

“It sounds like you need to have a conversation.”

The next issue was described, this time it was about a conflict and how another person’s work-style was causing disruption.

“What do you think I need to do about them?

“It sounds like you need to have a conversation.”

By the time we approached the third issue, it became clear that this was even more complex and involved multiple departments and people.  Again the question came.

“What do you think I need to do about this?”

But before I could answer…

“I know what you are doing to say…EVERYTHING REQUIRES A CONVERSATION!”

I paused, wrote it down on a sticky note and posted it on my computer monitor.  They were right.  Most, if not all of the conflicts and issues at home, in the office, or where you volunteer exist because people are involved.  The only way to make progress is to have a conversation.

I am not saying that these conversations are easy.  I spent a good portion of my time facilitating conversations between individuals and teams that have gone far too long without having the conversations needed to address the issues when they were small.

Take out a piece of paper and make a list of the top three conversations you should be having.  They are not always easy, but for me making a list helps keep me accountable to accomplish the task, especially when it is a difficult one.  And remember, everything requires a conversation.