Wait For It … Or Not

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Diving … … and we will be forever like a diver on the end of the board, hovering at the edge of action, waiting for the wind to die down, or the water to calm, or his heart to stop racing, or the stars to align, or …

As a young leader, one of the catchiest phrases I learned and shared was “Ready, Fire, Aim”.   This dry comment  was often on the lips of some of my earliest mentors.  They  were commenting deftly on the tendency by enthusiastic and inexperienced folks to act before they were really prepared  and with  “suboptimal” knowledge.  I have experienced some who felt that “real” leadership required prompt, if blind action.

Well, we all know what happens to folks who leap before they look, don’t we?

However, the other side of the coin is equally problematic, as Turgenev reminds us.

Some of us never have enough to actually act.  We need to gather more information, explore more alternatives, consider more possibilities.

We search for the perfect combination of time, place, people, events, situations, the weather, and anything else which might possibly affect our final commitment to a course of action.

… and of course, we always see one more piece of information, evidence, or proof in the distance … just give us a little more time …

I have no magic formula to help you determine where the sweet spot is between prudent research and preparation on the one hand and indecisive dithering on the other.

Just remember that both extremes come from valid needs:

The need to know what you are getting into …

The need to feel comfortable with your readiness …

The need to act …

Well, at least now I have reminded you that neither extreme is where you want to be, so hopefully your radar will be working to keep you in the middle:  prepared, ready, and doing.

Trying real hard to take my own advice in the Heartland ….

John

Musings on This Time of Year …


Autumn 2014

Yes … it is THAT TIME of year again in the Heartland and elsewhere.

What is it about Autumn and the very visible changing of the seasons that tends to inspire us?

Some do not look forward to winter, with its freezing temperatures, absence of green, and “wintry mix” weather forecasts.  

Some regret the last fading traces of shorts n’ tee-shirt weather as the days slowly or sometimes abruptly cool.

Some are oblivious to nature’s changes, spending lives and energy encased in windowless captivity and experiencing the weather in temporary brief flashes, as we run from houses to cars to buildings to planes and back again.

Autumn 2014 4

Some both regret what is past and have concern for the future … as this is regarding the weather, so it may be with life …

Maybe it is because this is the time when change is most obvious.  We often slip from one phase of life to the next, barely noticing the movement until we take time to reflect. 

This is our time to stop, observe, and reflect on what is happening … a curious combination of mindfulness of the present, along with awareness of both what is over and what is yet to occur.

Just don’t miss it completely by remaining submerged in the daily routine, the deadlines and crises, the distracting and the

Stop … Take Some Time … Get Outside …

Breathe in Autumn deeply, with the slight chill in the air and the riot of colors, with the quiet breezes and the stiff winds … experience the variations.

Go by yourself and be by yourself …  be alone with your thoughts.

Layer your clothes and adjust as you need to, because the temperature can vary from every day into every night … keep yourself comfortable.

Let your mind go of whatever you were engaged in and allow your thoughts to wander … you won’t get lost.

Autumn 2014 2Now think about your thoughts …

Consider where your thoughts go and what they reveal to you … this may be the most enjoyable crystal ball you can access.

This is not really just an ode to Autumn, although I truly treasure this time of year.  This is about taking time to reflect and enjoy being in the moment, which we need to regularly do, until it becomes second nature and no longer requires conscious thought.

Tell me how you are enjoying this season…

Remembering that mindfulness and reflection can occur anywhere and any time, especially in the Heartland …

John

 

 

 

Sixth Annual National Writing Day …


National Writing Day 2014Today is National Writing Day …

A day when everyone is forced to practice cursive writing for hours on end with stubby little pencils?

A day spent pondering the characters, plots, and techniques of obscure books once hailed as great literature?

A day to pretend to have read all those great books which some consider the hallmark of an educated mind?

Nope, it’s just about you writing . . .  

I used to think of writing as something that other people did … people with more patience, intelligence, and clarity than I.  Writing was exotic and somewhat mysterious.  I thought you had to smoke a pipe, wear patches on your jacket elbows, and be either oblique or gruff when discussing things.

As I now understand it, writing is simply putting your thoughts on a page, whether you are waxing poetic, telling an engaging story, or simply explaining a process in clear and sequential steps.   We write when we have something to share with others and we write when we respond to others.  

Even email is writing, although many of us forget that critical point … even the most routine of written communications deserves our focus and clarity of purpose.

Writing is simply communication . . .  

Now I write something every single day, varying in length from a few sentences to a few pages, and occasionally more … and I think writing is something well within the grasp of most of us.  We just have to get started.  As someone has undoubtedly said in one way or another, “The greatest novels start with one word.”

Not that writing a novel is all that easy, but if you start, you have just geometrically increased your chances of completing something written over those who never begin.

I have gathered below a variety of links about National Writing Day, along with some of my favorite writing inspirations.

Start with “Ten Writing Myths” to clear the air and create a proper framework.  I particularly recommend “Writers Write”, whose daily social media stream is a treasure trove of information and inspiration.   If you tweet about writing , use this hashtag:  #WriteMyCommunity

Ten Writing Myths

National Council on Teacher Education (NCTE) 

National Writing Day 2014

Writers Write on Facebook

Writers Write website

Lazarus Dodge on Writing

Jack Kerouac on Writing via Maria Popova

Here’s the bottom line today … It’s just you, a pen or pencil (sigh … okay, maybe a keyboard), and blank space waiting for you to create something.

Preparing to do what I enjoy doing every blessed day in the Heartland ….

John

 

 

 

 

 

I Already Knew That …


Button and SignatureBill Treasurer was the keynoter at the ATD ST. Louis Conference held yesterday.  He is also the author of a powerful leadership development book: Leaders Open Doors

I already knew the stories …

I knew that Speedos would be discussed, since I know Bill’s diving background , although I was not ready for the video that reminded me of something Bill and I share:  a fear of heights. 

I hoped that he should share the story of how his son inspired the title and direction of his book and he did so.  

I expected to hear about his daughter and how her courage drives him … but I did not expect the reward of a video showing her courage and spirit, which made me mist up just a little.  

Sometimes the smallest among us are the most courageous and insightful.

I already read The Book

I knew that trust would be lifted up as an essential ingredient of positive leadership interactions.  

I knew that Bill would talk about the strongest opportunities and greatest change coming from when we are uncomfortable, as people and as leaders.

I knew that the point would be made and remade that we exist as leaders to help others survive, grow, and thrive.  He never uses the phrase “servant leadership”, but he talks it with every sentence.

Okay, I learned a little something …

I knew Bill was smart and humorous, but I did not know how enjoyable his presentation would be.   I have experienced other best-selling authors, whose delivery in person was … shall we say “restrained”.  Okay, let’s be honest and just say “boring” and on one occasion “stultifying”.

I learned that Bill understands how to create energy through sprightly pacing and interaction with his audience. He makes the time pass without effort and the learning just flows, almost without being noticed. 

What I got from hearing Bill Treasurer speak in person: 

A little blue button that says “Be Courageous”, a nice note on a page in The Book, and an abiding respect for his ability to speak from the heart, engage effectively with others, and bring real value to us.

Possibly the highest compliment I can pay Bill Treasurer is that I took few notes and tweeted only once or twice at the beginning of his presentation.  My usual mode is to busily share on various social media networks while taking copious notes of pearls of wisdom being dropped by a speaker … Bill motivated me to just stop what I was doing, listen to him, and soak it up. 

I believe I got more out of doing exactly that than my normal mode … do I detect a behavior change coming?

BOTTOM LINE: 

If you ever have the opportunity to hear Bill speak, take it in a heartbeat.  Change your schedule, break open the piggy bank, take a sick day if you have to, but do not miss the opportunity to breathe the same air and interact with him.

I guarantee you will not regret it.

Still feeling smug about a morning well spent (even with traffic) in the Heartland ….

John

 

 

ABOUT BILL TREASURER

Leaders Open DoorsBill Treasurer is chief encouragement officer (CEO) of Giant Leap Consulting and the author of Courage Goes to Work, an international best-seller that introduced the new management practice of courage-building.

For over two decades Treasurer has designed leadership and succession programs for clients such as NASA, Saks Fifth Avenue, UBS Bank, CNN, Hugo Boss, the CDC, the Pittsburgh Pirates, and the U.S. Veterans Administration. Prior to Giant Leap, Treasurer was an executive Accenture, a $29 billion management consulting firm. He became Accenture’s first full-time executive coach.

Treasurer is a former captain of the US High Diving Team, a cancer survivor, and the father of three children. He is a champion for the rights of people with disabilities, which includes his daughter.