Thursday, March 25, 2010

You must strive to fail . . .

Yup, you read that right. According to David Shenk, you have to strive to fail to reach the potential of your unique genius.

We all have gifts, but it is not just genetics that leads people to success. Instead, it is hours of practice focused on development and improvement, the willingness to fail over and over again, and the desire to learn from that practice and failure.

Listen to Shenk discuss the variables in all cultures that guide us toward certain skills, rather than internal abilities:

What does this mean for us as managers, leaders, and/or parents? How do we create and support the environment that facilitates another to become the genius he/she is capable of becoming?

Monday, March 22, 2010

Don't let new opportunities pass you by out of fear based on past experiences!

Have you ever thought about a friend, only to have him call you 5 minutes later? This is called "synchronicity." While I don't believe we can cause synchronous events, I do believe we can use them productively.

Many of us respond to experiences based on past outcomes. If we've been hurt when we reached out to someone, we are less likely to reach out to a different person. If we've been rejected when we've offered to help to someone, we are less likely to offer similar help to a different person.

It is human nature to protect ourselves. Here's how we can protect ourselves yet still expand our experiences, deepen our relationships with others, and fully express who we are. When we find ourselves fearing to take an action, we can think through this process:

  1. what outcome am I concerned about -- being rejected, being insulted, being hurt, being embarrassed, looking stupid, looking naive, other?
  2. where did this concern come from -- in what environment(s) and/or with whom has this outcome occurred?
  3. are these experiences likely to be universal -- are they likely in all situations or with all other people? Are there environments in which or individuals with whom the outcome has been different?
  4. what are the risks of testing the universality of this outcome in this situation or with this person?
When we follow these four steps, we weaken the glue between our past experiences and our current opportunities. We become open to new possibilities and to achieving our current goals.

Try it out and let me know the outcome!

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Friday, March 5, 2010

Management is common sense

"The good news is that the first steps to becoming a really great manager are simply common sense. . . Put simply, things normally go wrong not because you are stupid but only because you have never thought about it before." -- Gerard Blair quoted in Immunity to Change by Kegan and Lahey.

How do we develop common sense? Are we born with it? Do we learn it at home growing up?

"Common sense" is culture- and situation-specific. Every business, industry, organization, country, religion, and group has its own defined characteristics of common sense. For example, everyone knows it is idiotic to wear white mittens. Who knows? People who grow up in deer-hunting country.

We can develop common sense in our work environment by:
1) taking courses related to our industry and position
2) listening to those who are successful in that environment -- pay attention to what they say and do. How do they solve problems? How do they make decisions? How do they persuade decision-makers?
3) reading critically reviewed publications regarding our industry and position

How about you? How did you develop common sense?

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Want to ensure everyone is on time to meetings?

How about this: Create a policy: $5 late fee for more than one minute late to meetings. Don't have people pay the team, though -- they must add $5 to the next tip at their next opportunity. If they go out for a meal, they must add $5 to the waitstaff tip. Get a haircut, add $5 to the tip. This way the team has a lighthearted way of ensuring on time meeting starts and people have more opportunities to show appreciation to others.
Idea from How NASA Builds Teams, by Charles J. Pellerin.

Photo: Suat Eman /