It’s Going to Rain

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Checking the weather is an ingrained behavior in most of us, a way to measure all kinds of things it seems. I realized recently just how delicate the balance is between a focus on the future and an experience of the present. I spent so much time getting concerned it would rain on our vacation that I sometimes missed whatever sun did show up! I also realized that when it did rain, there were other interesting ways to enjoy my vacation.

It seems to me we may do the same in our organizations. In our desire to be strategic and anticipate what might come, we neglect the present experience and the opportunities that might be there.

Where is your focus and how does it help and hinder you?

What If You Just Took a Step?

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I started visual blogging as a result of a 30 -day challenge over two years ago. Then I used my iPad mini, and the apps Paper by 53 and WordPress. I just purchased a new iPhone 6S and both of these apps are now available on an iPhone. Today I am starting a new 30 day challenge, to blog everyday using only my iPhone.

I have been thinking a lot about my blogging and visuals over the past year and wanting to change them, breathe life into them, adapt them, you get the picture. But I have just been thinking and trying to figure it all out. I realized it was time to just take a step and see where it would lead me. So here I go. 

And my question to you … what is something you have been thinking about and thinking you need to figure out entirely before you will take action? What if you just take a step?

The illusion of control

I started using the radio alarm after being away on vacation and much as I love the CBC, I have to admit that listening to the doom and gloom first thing in the morning is taking a toll on my mental health. It reminds me of the spheres of influence model we often teach in our leadership programs. About the only thing any of us controls in this volatile environment is ourselves, what we watch, what we pay attention to, how we frame things, how we approach every minute of our lives. We might be able to influence others, but ultimately we cannot control anyone else and we certainly can’t control the weather, the economy, or whether anyone buys our consulting services. Letting go of what you can’t control is an easy concept in theory but amazingly difficult to practise. It requires trust that all will work out and not being attached to a particular outcome. When I am able to do this, I enjoy my life, am way less stressed, and I actually do better work.

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Spiritual weightlifting

Vacations provide the opportunity for hours of uninterrupted reading. While I have gobbled up escapist fiction like The Hunger Games trilogy, I also read a book that has had a profound impact on me, SQ21 by Cindy Wigglesworth. Wigglesworth suggests that we can develop spiritual intelligence as we can emotional intelligence, and the title of the blog is a concept she highlights. I think it provides the much needed missing piece to developing ourselves as grounded, non anxious and whole people and leaders.

My major takeaway has been the difference between operating from our ego self, which is the part of us hard wired to avoid pain at all costs, versus operating from our highest and best selves. Figuring that out is unique to each of us and where I’m at now in my own thinking is that my ego most often operates from scarcity and my highest self from abundance. In every interaction we can make the choice to act from ego or from our highest self. Simple …. but certainly not easy.

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Keeping things simple

Those of us who enjoy research and analysis can sometimes over complicate simple things. Leaders who do this frustrate their teams (in particular the top performers who are just wanting to get on with it!) and waste a lot of energy. When the path forward is fairly obvious to everyone and the implications minor, just do it!

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How do you frame organizational challenges?

I learned about the importance of how we frame organizational situations early in my career. I had just started consulting and developed a great relationship with the training manager. A new CEO was hired and I assumed my strong relationship with the training manager would ensure continued consulting opportunities. Wrong. I had completely ignored the political realities of the situation.

Bolman and Deal’s framework is simple and powerful, but not easy to implement. We tend to frame situations according to our own biases; skillful leaders develop skill in all four areas and frame challenges and solutions accordingly:

Structural – leaders attune the structure to the task, technology, and the environment
Human resources – leaders align organizational and human needs
Political – leaders develop an agenda and power base
Symbolic – leaders create faith, beauty and meaning

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How’s your morning going?

Look familiar? If you find yourself burdened with your employees’ problems, first you need to ask yourself why, and then you need to address those issues. Learn how to say no, to delegate, to let go of control, and to develop your employees.

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Blank the end

I am a huge curling fan and was excited to watch Canada and Scotland yesterday in the Men’s World’s here in Victoria. (Canada won yeah!) Curling is a game of strategy and a great metaphor for leaders wanting to be more strategic. Having last rock (the hammer) is a big advantage and teams will often blank an end (not score any points deliberately) if they won’t take more than one point or if they want to keep last rock advantage for the end of the game. It really is a great concrete example of the idea of playing the long term game. What type of leader are you? Short term wins or playing toward the long term vision?

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When to make big decisions

It is absolutely beautiful today … spring is definitely here with the yellow daffodils and purple violets fully in bloom. Spring brings new hope, optimism, and energy. It seems to me the best time to make really important decisions is the spring, metaphorically speaking. Making decisions in the depth of darkness or hopelessness or our worst moods may not serve us well.

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