I Had Big Plans For Today …

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Many are talking about FOMO, fear of missing out, and Brene Brown has recently talked about how it kills our mojo in her new book Rising Stong. 

This past August and most of September I experimented with this idea and didn’t check into any of my regular social media. I did check blogs and newsfeeds on my news reader but I avoided Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. 

It was an empowering couple of months which allowed me to continue work on my book and reinvigorated me for my blogging. More importantly though, I was more at peace and happier overall with my life and work. By saying no to FOMO I regained a sense of my own passions, priorities and dreams. I lived in gratitude instead of comparison.

I am now back to my social networks but am trying to put some boundaries around it – like no checking evenings and weekends or when I’ve had a bad day or am just not feeling my best. It’s a work in progress!

When does FOMO get you and what are you doing to manage it?

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’s Your Winery Effect?

  Whats Your Winery Effect? vision leadership communication   
First off let me say that sketching a landscape on a phone was a big challenge so hopefully you can tell this is a winery and vineyard …

But more to the point, those of us who have done wine touring know that friendly, warm and passionate tasting room hosts contribute to the “winery effect,” wines that taste fabulous and those you absolutely must buy. When you get home and open those wines, sometimes they are still fabulous and sometimes they are good but not as great as you remember.

The reverse is also true; we have visited a favorite winery, been greeted by a tired and uninterested person and been uninspired by wines we have loved in the past. Vintage aside, who is pouring your wine and what they are doing to make it a great tasting experience makes a huge difference.

This type of customer service cannot be taught; a set of steps to follow does not a good experience make. This type of service must be discovered and is unique to each person.

It occurs to me that the same is true of leadership. As leaders we create experiences and have an effect on others that is way beyond “doing the right things” and all about the discovery of our unique passion as a leader. 

What’s your winery effect? 

Your blind spots are showing

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Dave and I just finished teaching our 4 day Strategic Leadership program at Royal Roads University last week and had a wonderful time with an energetic, bright and creative group of people. One of the major concepts in the course is the importance of convening diverse groups of people to plan strategy in our increasingly complex environment.

This can be a tough concept for folks who have been trained to develop strategy from an “expert” mindset. “What could someone not familiar with our business possibly contribute?” is a question often asked.

As it turns out, they contribute a lot, namely in the area of helping to surface our own blind spots and bringing random, creative ideas to the forefront. Novel strategic approaches and newfound energy is unleashed when one is open to feedback and insight.

Is this easy? Absolutely not. I think it’s the human condition to assume that we know and understand our own blind spots (ironic though that sounds!). Incorporating feedback that points out how flawed our thinking and strategies have been is a blow to our identity. And that’s what makes it so hard. Just who have we been continuing to pursue a course of action despite its ineffectiveness?

And that’s what great leaders can do – develop the humility to admit they have been off course or better yet, assume they may have been and bring a “non expert” in to provide a different perspective.

Are purple or yellow flowers more beautiful?

I’ve gone on several hikes in the past few weeks and have been inspired by the sheer beauty and energy of spring. On one occasion I came across a clearing of vibrant yellow and purple flowers. Eager to share, I pulled out my iPhone, fired up Facebook and was about to update my status with the photo when I read a few updates from others and before I knew it my upbeat, happy mood had started to dissipate.

What happened? I had robbed myself of the enjoyment of the moment by comparing myself to others. How crazy is that? It would be like comparing the vibrancy of the purple flowers to the yellow and determining a winner.

Comparison has been a thief of happiness in my life and it’s something that I realize may never go away completely. Asking why that is so for me is a fruitless search. Rather, I need to accept it and manage it through a regular practice, in the same way that exercise and eating right need to be regular practices.

I have found that doing some sort of journaling or, more recently, expressing myself visually, help me. And thus today’s visual 🙂

And what does this have to do with leadership? Barsh, Cranston and Lewis would suggest that understanding what gives meaning and happiness to our lives is a central tenet to being a centered leader.

 Are purple or yellow flowers more beautiful? vision spirituality learning happiness emotional intelligence creativity

What’s your story?

As an ex-English teacher, I am a huge fan of stories and storytelling. In fact, the name of our company, Calliope Learning, comes from Greek mythology. Callope was the muse of epic poetry, those big grand sweeping, usually tragic stories 🙂

And so combining my love of stories with my recent love of visuals produces something exciting for me. I was very pleased to sit in on Deborah LeFrank’s Visual Life Stories session held at the Victoria Executive Centre last Thursday. Deborah’s talk and actual examples of visual life stories was inspiring and energizing.  I love how she is using this process not only to help individuals capture their life story, but also to help organizations tell their story. To me, this is a powerful way of capturing your culture and brand, and helping your customers connect to it. Can you imagine how we would engage people if our annual reports were a visual story?

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Moving beyond position

I love it when I find books that capture ideas that have been swirling around for me, but that I haven’t put into some kind of order or framework. How Successful People Lead by John Maxwell is a recent find that does just that. It is an informative read, with tons of great insight and practical tips about how leaders can continue to develop. Key insights for me from Maxwell:

  • He challenges people who only view themselves as positional leaders to move beyond that.
  • He does a nice job of blending the age old productivity/people dilemma.
  • He provides some great insight around delegation and developing your people.
  • He addresses the idea of one’s legacy as a leader.

He suggests we develop our leadership through progressing through 5 stages:

  1. Position
  2. Permission
  3. Productivity
  4. People Development
  5. Pinnacle

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Systems Blindness

As organizations grow more complex, the old parable of the blind men and the elephant remains amazingly relevant. How you make decisions and even communicate with others depends upon what part of the system you “see.” Do you have a hold of the tail or trunk but fail to acknowledge the ears? Once we recognize that we may be blind to other parts of the system, we are less likely to personalize actions from others and work harder to understand the whole system before we ourselves take action. Using this parable to guide problem solving meetings forces us to slow down and understand the system before we engage in the favourite activity for most people, coming up with solutions.

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How to get back to yourself

I have been journaling off and on for over 20 years. I have a drawer of completed journals that I’m terrified will fall into the wrong hands. I have used journaling for many reasons – to make sense of situations, understand patterns, create my future, get grounded, practice gratitude, and most importantly come back to myself.

Every once in a while I pull out a journal and read through it. I am both amazed at the progress I’ve made and depressed by some of the patterns (negative mainly) that persist. I’m entertained by some of my goals (swear less) and intrigued by others (the mind map of my ideal partner). (By the way I did find him. I just had to leave the country but that is another story 😉

But I digress … this past week, I went to a session by Lynda Monk on journaling. Lynda did a great job of gently inviting people to journal, along with helpful tips and her personal experiences with journaling. The most insightful observation for me was around how “sticky” trauma or strong emotions can be to those in helping professions. Journaling is a way to release those emotions.

I found her 5 step Life Source Writing process particularly helpful. I would say I have mainly focused on the writing, reflecting and affirming so I look forward to practising the first 2 steps of arriving and relaxing. The middle of the model is my main takeaway, that journaling brings me back to myself.

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