I'm finding it hard to keep an open heart these days. On so many important issues, people seem more polarized than I could ever have imagined. It seems that the chasm is rapidly growing wider and deeper. The world feels scarier and even more unpredictable than ever. “Conventional wisdom” is no longer a trustworthy indicator of how events will play out.
The U.S. Presidential Inauguration has come and gone. The Sister Marches around the world have also come and gone. One important question that remains for me is what will we keep marching for? What are those important values that will mobilize us to take leadership in the weeks and months ahead?
Many of my clients are interested in simple fixes that can enhance their interactions at home and at work.
They’re looking for small behavioral changes with a big pay off:
- Warmer, more appreciative interactions with family
- Teams that work productively without a lot of drama
- Staff who are engaged and motivated to do their best work
What if I told you there’s a simple fix that not only improves the quality of relationships but has also been proven to enhance the bottom line? It’s not a magic bullet, but there might be a ripple effect of positive results if you pay attention to this one thing.
Leaders often feel like they’re between a rock and a hard place. They want to create a workplace culture where people are motivated and engaged. They also must produce solid business results. They know engagement contributes to achieving business results over the long run. But they’re often too busy putting out fires to slow down and focus on the “soft skills.”
Does this sound familiar?
As the new year approaches, it’s a good time to reflect on what gets you out of bed in the morning. Without a set of highly motivating goals, you can be working long hours but still feel adrift.
These days, conversations with friends and colleagues have a tone of concern, even anxiety. The presidential election is over. No matter which candidate you favored, it was eye opening to uncover the deep divisions in this country. Confronted with this, it’s tempting to wring one’s hands, get angry or disengage. But I recently learned something encouraging and highly actionable: Happiness spreads.
December 2001 was a time of great turmoil in the world and in my life. The world was still reeling from the events of 9/11 and its consequences. I had just learned that the nonprofit training and consulting business I ran was about to lose the majority of its funding literally overnight. I was faced with the question of whether to stay and rebuild the organization or go out on my own.
Sometimes a book comes along that causes you to fundamentally change the way you think about something familiar.
There’s a new book, TED Talks, which drove home the awesome potency of communication, something I’m afraid I’ve been taking for granted. I ran across a book review written by my colleague Dana Rubin that caused me set aside what I was doing and order it right away. Written by Chris Anderson, the Head of TED, it somehow manages to be both practical and profound.
Jeanine has a really big change initiative in the works. Here she is in her own words:
“This may not sound like a big deal but I need to rally my family to clean out the attic before winter comes. We’ve got 25 years of stuff stored up there: Christmas decorations, luggage, the kids’ old sports equipment, and who knows what else. We haven’t been able to move around up there for years. Plus it’s really dusty and we’ve got mice and birds in there.
I’ve tackled organizational change efforts with fewer moving parts than this one!
While this post isn’t exclusively about leadership, it does have leadership implications. Everyday life offers many relevant lessons. The natural world, in particular, provides a wealth of learning opportunities.
I don’t know how many of you are gardeners but I have a love-hate relationship with gardening. Being out in the warm weather is delightful. Watching green shoots pop up in early spring offers a thrill of anticipation…. and then there’s the inevitable disappointment.
Here’s a quiz: Without thinking too hard, how would you finish this sentence?
Until recently my first response has been, “creativity is frivolous.” I’ve long struggled with the mental model that creativity is a pastime you pursue only after finishing your real work.
That view has changed dramatically and I’d like to tell you why.
35 years ago, an acquaintance of mine—who was an English teacher—uttered this memorable statement during a dinner in Toronto: “When you open your mouth, your mind is on parade.” I don’t remember the rest of the conversation because I was immediately rendered so self-conscious that I felt like clamping my hand over my mouth. This feeling persisted for weeks after our dinner.
What causes you to pay close attention to one person and space out on another person? How do you figure out who to give your business to, who to vote for, or who to pursue a friendship with?
Do your nerves trip you up when preparing to tackle an important challenge? For the past six months, I've been on a quest to find out all I can about reducing the effects of anxiety on performance.
Last week I received some feedback that really disturbed me. Someone had written on an evaluation form that my training program was “very average.” Admitting this in public feels awkward but I learned something that I feel compelled to share.
“I’m the front desk person for a child protection agency. Clients come to our office after their children have been taken from them. They are angry, confused, embarrassed, and want their kids back. They don’t see themselves as responsible for what happened. In their view, our agency did this to them.
“These clients often yell and swear at me. I still need to be professional and polite. I’ve been in my job for just a couple of months and already the stress is getting to me. What can I do to defuse these hostile interactions?
Do you ever feel like Miss Faversham or her boss? What would bring her up to speed in today’s world?
Rapid changes in business, technology and society demand greater flexibility and nimbleness. But the tried and true ways to stimulate behavior change can’t keep up.
Okay, I’m going out on a limb here and posting a reflection piece rather than something with specific takeaways. Although, in this case, my reflections did have concrete positive results.
We often take our dreams less seriously than we take a box of Cheerios in the grocery store. We timidly say, “I want to write a book,” Or “I hope to take a vacation in the Grand Canyon.”
Want to bring out the best in people? Create conditions for them to come alive? As with many elements of human interaction, it’s simple but not easy.
Here's a secret: Listen to them. Really listen.