Archive - April, 2016

Over do it: communication

talkingStop emailing me. Stop calling me. Stop talking.

I would rather hear these from staff, co-leaders, my kids, spouse, friend, and strangers.

Instead, we often hear; I didn’t understand, I heard you wrong, you were not clear, I did not know.

You see, people can filter, schedule, turn off, sign off and ignore.

We think everyone is listening but really few are.

So to really lead, to really change we have to often over-communicate. State things clearly. Sometimes this takes multiple tries, multiple ways. Send a simple “got it” to an email. “Sure” go a long way to say “I hear you and I have it covered”.

Did that make sense?

See what I did there? 😉

Going first: Review of Udemy Leadership Course by Seth Godin

deskLeadership for me has become an exercise in connection.

In my experience, I have only learned to lead as much as I am willing to go first in the harder things in life.

Usually, that means that I will be breaking things first, failing first and sometimes stumbling on what works.

Not many people are willing to go first. I sure wasn’t for probably the first 30 years of my life. Instead, I chose to let others break the ice. That also meant that not much happened for me. I now realize that I was over and over again settling for second best. I had settled for whatever was left in the wake of those who decided to stick their necks out and try something. I was risk averse.

Along the way I learned to step out more. Every time I have, something remarkable has happened. I meet incredible people, nothing stays the same and many opportunities are presented. So in a way, I have become addicted to it.

In this pursuit, I have found many good resources along the way. Probably one the most valuable ones in recent years is the online leadership course I just completed from Seth Godin on Udemy. You can read my assignment journal entries (most of them) here as blog posts. Check it out. For those with a busy schedule it really only costs an hour for each session. The challenges and insights you will gain from are valuable though.

Desperate to connect

Broken human connection can results in isolation not only from others but ourselves. Internally we lose the ability to process our emotions and inner life. Going to the extremes, broken connection can cause us to dive into addiction and self-destructiveness. Tina Francis Mutungu, like my self-travelled to Thailand with The Exodus Road to tell some of the stories of those trapped in sex trafficking as well as the people rescuing them. I was struck by Mutungu’s video and how she framed this disconnection not only for the people working as sex workers but the men who fuel the trade.

I could not help but turn the question inward too. What am I doing to further isolate myself? What habits am I feeding that further disconnect me? Take a moment and watch the video. Think of those who may be disconnected in your circle. How can you offer them friendship? How can we disrupt this vicious cycle here in the US by offering healthy connection?

Alone?

MIT professor and author Sherry Turkle gave this TED talk on being connected but alone in 2012. Think off the tech that has burst on the scene since she gave this. Virtual Reality was barely in our vocabulary. Now it soon will be in the hands of millions. Tech that supposedly connects us continues to march forward (how connected does that smart watch make you feel?).

I urge you to rewatch Turkle’s 4-year-old talk. Reflect on all that has occurred since 2012. Do you feel less connected to those you care about or more?

Sherry Turkle: Connected, but alone?

Refresher on the fast

I will be offline for the next five days. Posts have been scheduled daily. Anything that comes up will need to wait till next Monday. I found it helpful to review some of my own writings on tech breaks, in my own prep to be inaccessible to those other than the people with me in person.

So here are some of those posts I have written on the subject as well as one I found very helpful.

Feed the innovator, connector, world changer
The connector recharged
Preparing for a digital fast

And one from John Eldredge on And Sons MAgazine:
Cutting the Cord: Cell Phone Addiction

The failed connection

Travel arrangements made, accomodations booked and connections with people planned. Well, most were. There was one last one, an important one. That one had said no.

Why did this single hiccup in our trip matter? An award was be given to us. Two even. We were meeting with some incredible new people and some old friends. It was a great trip even before we left.

This one “no” felt like THE failure, and I could not stop thinking about it. It bothered me for weeks. Why? At the time, I could not objectively understand the why.
Now I see the why. I was taking myself too seriously, hanging my leadership (and my worth) on one detail. That detail was a failure. The dreaded gatekeeper had locked the door, so to speak, and I could not see past it.

Failing should be (I have realized now) built into the plan from the start. Most of all failure can’t be about me.

Getting stuck doesn’t help anyone. Getting stuck blinds us to moving on.

In the end, the trip was great. In the end, it didn’t matter at all.

Over the next month or so some of my daily posts (including this one) will be assignments from a leadership class I am taking from Seth Godin.

The menu connection

Recently I visited two restaurants in San Francisco. One was a famous steak house, and the other was a top ranked Sushi Bar.

foodAt the sushi bar, my friends and I ordered a long list of items without any idea of how good they would be. We had come there because my experience said it would be great.

At the steak house, I scanned the menu frustrated because I had to choose.

With technology, our connectedness becomes often fragmented because we can easily choose which conversations to take part in as well as what parts of those conversations to involve our emotions, attention, and investment.

We miss out on the dives and turns a conversation can take when we only limit it to a text, tweet, blog comment or chat room. Facial expressions and subtle references are missed or ignored.

What would it look like if we risked more, allowed ourselves to be more vulnerable and even stuck within the tension of a conversation in real life more than we do through technology?

MIT Professor and author Sherry Turkle would argue that we are slowly isolating ourselves.

One way to combat that isolation is to be around each other more without technology.

Another way is to be with ourselves in solitude without it as well.

Like the sushi dinner, we open ourselves to a dynamic experience. We take the risk of real connection instead of choosing from the menu.

Oh, and the steak dinner I had was ok but predictable. The sushi dinner, in contrast, was thrilling, unexpected and so memorable.

Re-connecting

friendsThere may be two or three. There may be dozens. Stop and take a moment and ask yourself. Who have I lost contact with?

Maybe a good place to start would be another question.
Why did we lose contact in the first place?

Was it a broken promise or a betrayal?

Often it is just a life circumstance like a move or a change in jobs.

The reasons for lost connection is many. The reason to reconnecting is simple. It is just good.
All of us need connection. Throughout history, there has been a pull toward disconnection. War, leaving a community for a better life or even survival, feuds over family disputes or hardships.

It takes intention to re-connect. Look for the opportunity. Or better yet make one.

We didn’t connect

-Harrison Ford
-Pizza
-Video Games
-Wooden Spoons
-Milk
-Patchouli Oil
-Heavy Metal
-Donald Trump
-Motorcycles
-Clowns

man-person-red-whiteThese are ten things that either people love, hate, or at worst don’t care about.
Each has a tribe of people that are crazy about them too.
And that is ok. Better than ok it is great.

It is the same with connections. Not everyone will become close friends, allies, business partners or a customer.
And that is ok too.

We lead when we don’t worry about who as much as the act of connecting in the first place.

We lead when we risk reaching out a hand and greeting someone new, attend an event where no one is familiar, or we stand up and say “I will” when someone asks “who will?’

And back to the list. It doesn’t matter that some will reject you. In fact, you hope some will. If they don’t, you end up trying to please someone who will eventually realize their list of ten things is way more interesting than yours.

Over the next month or so some of my daily posts (including this one) will be assignments from a leadership class I am taking from Seth Godin.

Manners to connect

tableCustoms and traditions keep us from offending our hosts.

Table manners ensure our opinions are heard and not quickly discounted.

Common courtesies build trust and respect.

Grammar eases the reader of even bad news.

Conventions allow for agreements even while in conflict or war.

All of these can be understood, taught, studied and even mastered.

In a connected world where little seems uncontrollable, all of these give us a foot up.

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