The $600 Blizzard …


Broken Computer

It’s been an unusual few weeks …

Maybe you’ve noticed the lack of recent posting here.   Let me share a bit about my life of late:  

Two trips to  auto dealership to repair paint scratches and replace a cracked windshield, repair a damaged basement ceiling, helping my wife launch her new job, moving and cmplete reorganization of two home offices (still in progress due to ceiling repairs), annual congregational meeting, completion of several learning projects, and initiation of another learning project involving multiple webinars over a four-week period, plus a commitment to provide programming around World Refugee Day.

In addition, there was the usual work going on:  appointments, presentations, coaching sessions, social media content provision, connections, and curating.   Oh yeah, I started going back to the gym regularly, too. 

All the repairs and moving means that most of our records and possessions are not in their normal places, sometimes underneath or behind other heavy objects.  Simple or easy requests are not common right now.  Everything is a “deal” …

This weekend we experienced a memorial service for the son of a dear friend, that previously mentioned congregational meeting, and several long discussions about a possible change of work for me, which will upend my current world.  

So you can forgive me for wanting to indulge in one of my favorite treats on Sunday evening.  I believe that a Dairy Queen Banana Split Blizzard is among the highest of culinary treats and I was loving this one, as I prepared to do some light composition and catching up with emails and so on …

Until I spilled half of my delicious Blizzard in the center of my laptop keyboard …

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Change Changes You …


Rebellion - Presenter Media

Change was in the air …

As a young man on a college campus during the late 1960’s, I often caught a whiff of the scent of revolution in the air.  Change seemed to be happening wherever I looked, as old and established ways of thinking and doing gave way to new, exciting and different attitudes, values, and beliefs.

It seemed anything was possible and we believed that we could change institutions, rules, and social reality, if only we believed and acted on our beliefs.  So we went about trying to foster deep societal change on a number of fronts, and in some cases we were somewhat successful, while in other ways, we failed miserably and painfully to make a dent.

Of course, I learned a few things, especially reflecting back from my current vantage point:

… Passion does not always equal success.

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Fast Food Express Lane Blues …


Running - Presenter Media

FAST IS OVERRATED …  

Let me clarify …  

FAST IS SOMETIMES GOOD …

Sometimes in life, fast is good, helpful, or even essential.  Here are some instances of that, from the trivial to the vital:

When the food is supposed to be served hot.

When the work is due and others depend on your contribution.

When damage will occur to property if you do not act.

When a person needs immediate mental or psychological help.

HOWEVER, FAST IS OFTEN NOT GOOD …

We often apply this “Fast is sometimes good” concept incorrectly.   

First, we leave out the “sometimes”, assuming faster is always good.

Second, we apply the concept to everything in our lives.

I impatiently tap my foot while waiting the 45 seconds it takes to order, pay for, and receive my Biggie Burger from my favorite QuickNGreasy (trademark pending) drive-thru restaurant.

Waiting in line to be safe while flying on an airplane was so onerous that a “fast lane” option had to be created, so people were not “inconvenienced”.  This must have come from our grocery stores, which almost always have “fast checkout” lanes or even “self-check out“, both of which exist simply to get you out of the store even faster.

Many of us grow faint at the thought of actually reading an entire article, let alone a complete book, from the very first word to the very last … we demand an “Executive Summary”, which in my opinion is another way to say “I don’t have the attention span to concentrate on one thing for any significant amount of time.”

We have created this “Fast Food, Express Lane, Faster is Better, Executive Summary” perspective in many parts of our society and culture.   Now this might just be my misconceptions, while your experience with speed in our modern culture is different.  Take no more than 5 seconds to consider this possibility.

The problem is that we have created the need for all these incredibly quick ways to get through our days and nights for two reasons, at least in my experience:

We have too much to do and must find short-cuts in order to keep going.

We lack the ability to maintain a more focused and long-term approach to our work and our life. 

I  was thinking about all this recently, as I violently pounded my computer mouse on the desk, while impatiently waiting for a large amount of information to download.  Apparently I think a computer mouse works like elevator buttons … you know, press more often and harder to make the elevator come faster.

I was enraged at the idea of not having near instantaneous access to a 40-some page research article.

As I considered this, I remembered that I was originally miffed not to find a good synopsis of that multi-page article, to avoid reading the whole article completely so I would know what was in it.  That would take a lot of time.

Finally I zoomed out for a more objective view and realized that the reason I was searching for this information in the first place was to create a quick response to post on a social media site I frequent.   I was feeling the pressure of time before I ever saw the article and all of this was for a dubious purpose … why did my response need to be so quick?

Three learnings here for me, and possibly for you if you ever find yourself speeding along and wondering how you came to such a fast pace:

OUR GADGETS ARE NOT ALWAYS OUR FRIENDS …

I like technology and love the rare occasions when I can claim the title of Early Adopter.  However, my pride exists as another example of “faster is better”.

Technology these days almost always is available before it works.  Think about those sporadic updates that begin whenever you acquire the latest and greatest technology.  

This is another way of saying “We need to fix that thing we sold you”, which would be unacceptable in many aspects of our consumer life, but which we meekly acquiesce with when it comes to our computers, our tablets, and our smartphones.

When our technology allows us to do things more quickly, we become used to doing things more quickly.   We do not always question whether doing something more quickly is doing something more effectively, enjoyably, or correctly.   Why is download speed so darned important, anyway?

We buy the latest and greatest (interpret as faster) gadgets just because they are supposedly faster than our current gadget.

WE DON’T LIKE TO TAKE MUCH TIME WITH THINGS …

I mentioned some reasons why speed might be important at the beginning of all this.  Those and other good examples of real reasons to move quickly aside, many of us have adopted a “Speed Is Good” mentality, which we often apply without question or distinction to every part of our lives.

When we accept that mentality, we tend to expect things to be faster, whether an objective reason for increased speed exists or not.  We now become very irritated and start pounding on inanimate objects simply because they do not deliver results as quickly as we expect them to do.

We are an impatient species these days.

WE CREATE OUR OWN TIME CRUNCHES …

Aside from situations that involve life or death, injury or harm, or involve me getting a hot cup of coffee in the morning, most of our daily activities could be accomplished at a slower pace than we tend to assume.

Our organizations are often leaderless in this respect, allowing cultures of speedy response and fast action to grow, rather than to instill a more thoughtful and calmer pace.  We blame competition for this emphasis on speed, even though the economic landscape is littered with the bones of organizations and people who “got there first”.  Technology is even less our friend in this respect than I mentioned above.

On a personal level, things are even less complicated.  You choose how you live … if you feel stressed because things are moving too fast, choose differently.

JUST BECAUSE YOU CAN GO FAST DOES NOT MEAN THAT YOU SHOULD GO FAST …

Of course, maybe I’m just feeling cranky this morning, because the pace of  my life seems to be negatively impacting the quality of my life.

If you can honestly say that more speed in your life IMPROVES the quality of your life, please ignore my ranting.

Seriously considering slowing down significantly in the very cloudy and soggy Heartland …

John

Image:  Presenter Media

Three Parts of Trust …


Trust Fall - 1 on 1 - Presenter MediaI USED TO HANG OUT IN THE WOODS AND FALL DOWN A  LOT …

At several points in my life, I have been deeply involved in experiential group learning … translated, that means I used to camp out in the woods with my staff or a group engaging in creative and challenging exercises, with hours of debriefing afterward.  We would experience and then process how the group communicated, made decisions, and worked together.

People faced with uncommon issues and problems can gain insight into themselves and their strengths and values, along with learning how to better interact with and appreciate the contributions of others.

Most of the exercises involved some level of trust between individuals.   A trust fall is a common way to display or build trust.  One person falls backward, hopefully into the waiting arms of another or others.  This can be terrifying the first time a person experiences literally letting go and trusting someone else to keep them safe.

Even when a person is on what we call High Challenges (ROPES terminology), all alone on a pole or beam high above everyone else, trust still matters.   You are tethered to a rope which another person on the ground holds, ready to help you keep your balance or lower you safely if you start to fall.

The ability of the person up there to recognize and trust the person holding their safety rope is essential.  Feeling safe enough to risk, since the perception of falling is still strong, even when you have a strong rope anchored to you and are in little real danger.  Trusting that person on the ground is critical.

THREE TYPES OF COACHING TRUST

It strikes me that leadership and life coaching is something like those outdoor learning experiences.  Trust is also an essential ingredient in the coaching relationship, and trust is developed within three related, but distinct categories:

TRUST SELF:

As the coach , I must believe that my experience and skills are adequate to the challenge of helping another grow intentionally and in a positive direction.

As the client, I must develop the belief that I am capable of intentional and positive change, with discernment and support.

TRUST THE PROCESS:

As the coach, I must trust the coaching process includes everything needed for me to help another engage in intentional and positive change on multiple levels.

As the client, I must trust the coaching process will help me develop confidence, courage, and clarity of vision.

TRUST EACH OTHER:

As the coach, I must trust the client.

As the client,  I must trust the coach.

This is the type of trust we tend to think of first, but in truth, trusting each other is both a combination of the first two types of trust and the interaction of personal chemistry.   

It’s sort of like magic how all this comes together to create a relationship of trust…

Hoping that this provides value to someone today in the Heartland …

John

Image: Presenter Media

 

 

Paying Attention …


Who Are You - Presenter MediaNot a new thought, but valuable enough to bear consistent repeating…

FIRST QUESTION:  What and Who Do You Pay Attention To?

Think about those things and people who capture your interest or demand your energy.  Consider what is happening to your time and energy every day, over a week, and through the seasons.

Sometimes we have no choice, but to pay attention to something.  Our work may require this of us, and we cannot choose not to pay attention without risking significant job actions.  Of course, sometimes we talk ourselves into thinking that we “have to” focus on some work-related issue, when no particular evidence other than our own thinking supports this.

Other times, when we are honest, we choose the level and quality of our focus in an area and on a person.   We probably have much more freedom to change in these instances than we might think. 

FOLLOW-UP QUESTION: How Does What You Pay Attention To Help You?

Here are some common topics under which activities and individuals can be grouped.  Please note that in some cases, we pay attention to a person because of a goal or the reverse.  In those cases, consider the tangible value that derives from your investment of time and energy in that person or activity.

Please add any other major areas not included below to your Focus list.

FINANCIAL:  You focus on making and using money through earnings, investments, and the acquisition of valuable things.

CAREER:  You concentrate on building professional experiences and reputation in a workplace environment.  Titles and authority are important to you.

FAMILY:  You nurture familial relationships with children, parents, cousins, and other relatives, along with people you feel close to.

EMOTIONAL:  Your concern is primarily about how you feel about others and events, with a goal of healthy interactions and emotional stability.

STRUCTURAL: You work to develop a pleasant and safe environment for yourself and your loved ones.

Also remember that items on your list may overlap with more than one topic.  

For example, I used to run 4-5 miles per day and often started my weekend with a race at some local event.  As my children grew, I began to enter them in the short races which often accompanied my longer races, producing both health benefits and shared relationships with my children.

ANOTHER QUESTION:   How Well Does What Is On Your Focus List Align With What You Really Value?

This is the most important step and the hardest for most of us to do, since it involves really getting clear about what we want out of life.

I would say this is the place where you need some objective help.  You alone know best what you concentrate on doing or thinking , as well as what you truly value.  

However, a professionally prepared helper can make the process of determining the fit between what you do and what you want much easier than when you slog through the process alone.   There’s a reason why professional coaches are coming into the public eye more frequently.

FINAL QUESTION (Two-Parter):  1)  What Are You Going To Reduce Or Stop Doing, and 2) What Are You Going To Start Or Increase Doing?

Well, you knew I had to ask this one, right?

Not much point consider your current state of focus, unless you also create specific plans with measurable milestones and clear goals to change your focus where it does not align with your values or goals.  

These plans should include something like a “Stop or Reduce” list and a “Start or Increase” list of actions to help you devote more of your focus, and your energy, to the things which matter most.

Having lots of fun asking some very useful questions in the Heartland ….

John

 

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