Saturday, January 30, 2010

What do you give your attention to?

"Traditional Melanesian sailors can be taken blindfolded to any point of the ocean within a radius of several hundred miles from their island home and, if allowed to float for a few minutes in the sea, are able to recognize the spot by the feel of the currents on their bodies." -- Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszenmihalyi.

It is said that we can achieve whatever we put our minds to. Right now, too many of us have our minds on too many different things to do well in any one thing. To what are you attending right now?

We become what we give our attention to.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

How often are you in a state of flow? Do you inhibit others' flow?

The state of flow experience is defined by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi as "situations in which attention can be freely invested to achieve a person's goals, because there is no disorder to straighten out, no threat to the self to defend against."

Have you ever noticed how easy other peoples' problems are to solve? They're easy for us because nothing is in our way. We have no idea what goes on for people that is unseen and that prevents them from following our easy advice.

further states that those who attain flow "develop a stronger, more confident self, because more of their psychic energy has been invested successfully in goals they themselves had chosen to pursue."

Are you pursuing goals that fit with who you are, or are you chasing after someone else's idea of what you should work toward? What does it cost you to neglect to generate your own goals?

Are you expecting others to live up to your goals, or are you facilitating them in discovering and pursuing goals that fit who they are? If the former, what does it cost you and them when others in your life are not in a state of flow? What would you and others gain by supporting each other in discovering and pursuing self-concordant goals (goals that are aligned with our needs, personality, and values)?

From Flow: the Psychology of Optimal Experience by
Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

Monday, January 25, 2010

What leadership lessons do you find in stories?

If you haven't seen it in awhile, watch Apollo 13. You'll see numerous leadership lessons. Here are just two I caught:

1) leadership is shared. While Commander Jim Lovell is the leader on the craft, there are different leaders on the ground. As the situation changes, leadership moves from one person to the next depending on whose knowledge is greatest.

2) leaders trust their direct reports. In one scene, the 3 astronauts exit the simulator, with Commander Lovell and Fred Haise complaining about 4 hours sitting around for 5 minutes of action. The pilot, Ken Mattingly, says, "I'd like to do it again." Although Lovell knows it was near perfect, he also knows that it's critical that Mattingly believes in himself. He turns the crew around and they run it again. Later in the movie, different people on the ground are given absolute authority over specific decisions. Although Gene Kranz is the leader, he defers to others' knowledge when making critical decisions.

What leadership lessons do you notice?

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Our job as a leader is to help other people light their fires

What are you doing today to help your employees, colleagues, spouse, and/or children find and light their own fires?

What I did:
1) asked my husband what he liked best about his work; really listened to his answer.
2) asked my coworker who was complaining that work had become boring: if she had a magic wand that she could wave and instantly something would change at work, what would she change? Really listened to her answer.

These types of questions help people explore what they are doing and can do to attain their best life.

What about you? Anyone helped you light your own fire lately? If so, how?


This video from is a bit long (20 minutes) but gives some great insight into leadership:

Thursday, January 14, 2010