All posts written by Johnflurry

In the silence

conversation between friendsThe modern world abhors silence. It is something to be filled. But in silence, there is time to think, formulate, and measure. Lately, I have been enjoying podcasts on longer drives. Some of my favorites include interviews. Something I have noticed is that the better more meaningful episodes have guests who pause before answering a question. Often these pauses are long. To our modern ears, they feel foreign.

Did the app die?
Did I lose connection?
How many bars do I have?

That part of us that wants the next thought fast, the quick replies in our conversations, gets terribly uncomfortable. We squirm until the silence ends.

My grandad told me once to think everything over twice before it is said. See how it sounds in your head before anyone else hears it. This practice goes against our fast paced age.

How many things said but later regretted could have been avoided? Could we have better formulated that statement?

Our conversations might take longer, but they will be richer.

Responsibility for the taking

I hear a lot of grumbling (even my own) as the political parties approach picking their candidates for the 2016 presidential election.

What we need innovative responsibility for real change in our country.

Are looking for the next president who promise through authority to “make america great again”, “Heal + Inspire + Revive”, “reigniting the promise”, “rebuild the american dream”, put “people over politics”? On and on they go (you can see all of the 2016 slogans here).

But what is needed is not authority. We need responsibility. And the great part is we already have it if we are willing to take it.

Here is a list of 25 ways that today through taking responsibility we can make ourselves and our country better.

-Visit a veterans hospital once a week and hang out with a vet.
-Ask someone over 80 to tell you their story, then (with their permission) tell it to the rest of the country through a vlog, short film or blog.
-Hold a meetup on a hot topic where everyone is invited and they agree to some civility. We have a lot! (gun control, marriage equality, health care, mental health crisis, homelessness…)
-Get your passport and use it.
-grab a coffee with someone who has the opposite beliefs as you.
-Volunteer to be tutor so an adult can learn to read.
-Take a class on the American political process
-Vote (this little action set you apart from half of those in the US)
-Read more and talk less
Learn a new language
-Visit washington DC
Go offline once a week.
-Find something remarkable to do and ask others to join you.
-Educate yourself on all the candidates and issues (start at Project Vote Smart.
-Resist road rage
-Get to know your neighbors
-Watch less TV
-Learn to code
Get out of debt (stop using credit today)
-Take a history course (or pick your choice from free Stanford classes)
-Be inspired by past stump speeches
-Create your own media and news plan
-Make a campfire or patio fire and invite friends over with one rule: no gossip
-Don’t take yourself too seriously
-Tell others your own story (know your own story).

None of these need authority. All of them take responsibility. So take it.

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

Warding off the sweet stuff

A proverb caught my eye the other day. “The words of a whisperer are like delicious morsels; they go down into the inner parts of the body” Proverbs 18:8

fireGossip is an easy snare to fall into. And like fast food it is readily available today. Magazine racks survive on it. Daytime television and talk shows would lose their luster if it went away.

I love camp or patio fires. Some of my favorite conversations have been had around them. The really good conversations while looking into the flames and embers are those that turn toward personal story sharing and conversation, not the easy fuel like gossip or talk about others behind their backs. And we have all partaken in those.

But choosing to ask the harder questions or simply listening to what a good friend will share if given time can result in a banquet of fine hours. It is delicious because it was not cheaply gained by bringing others down or delighting in the mocking of others. Stories are told and desires to make new grand adventures are birthed.

I’ll end with another proverb on gossip. “For lack of wood the fire goes out, and where there is no whisperer, quarreling ceases” Proverbs 26:20

So here is to long lasting fires made from connection.

The prickly ones

ouchIt isn’t the best friend or people we would choose to be stranded on the desert island with that help us grow the most. It is the prickly ones.

I am sure you have heard this one.
Q: How do you pick up a porcupine?
A: Very carefully.

It is the same with the prickly person, those who are just not easy to be around or are always someone who upsets us. They take care. No one hacks us off quicker. Blood pressure easily rises and we are tempted to dismiss them all together any time we interact with them. Worse yet we avoid them at all cost.

Turning things around we find that we may be just as prickly to them as they are to us. Also, we can take apart our reactions and see many things that we could easily change. Just a small movement toward this issue can result in tremendous forward movement in our relationships. And if we can handle the small actions we gain bravery to tackle the bigger ones too.

Here is are some places to start.

Earlier posts: Taking ourselves too seriously and Yourself removed

Our relation styles (From Become Good Soil)

Pose revisited

maskAround this time of year I begin to prepare for some talks I give at a men’s conference I have helped lead since 2005. One of the topics I usually speak on is posing (how men will begin to take on a persona, even at a young age, to cover up, survive and get through life). It is a topic I think a lot about. I have seen in my own life how freeing it has been to realize my own poses. Living in a pose keeps me from creating from my heart and giving to others from who I really am.

This morning I was thinking of another aspect of posing. It also has a great impact on those around us. Depending on the depth of the pose we can both isolate those we should be drawing closest to by pretending to be something/someone else. If a pose works well we will live in it for years and eventually lose our true identity completely. Every one does it to some degree. The more we can see this the more we can become free of it.

Here is some more exploration I have written about on the topic.

Striking a pose

Yourself removed

As a continuation on this topic of not taking ourselves too seriously a great practice is removing ourselves completely from something we have deemed extremely important.

rocketFor example, that team project, mission, initiative that you have worked so hard on has an important word in it.Team. What would happen if you were removed suddenly?

If it all goes off well, even better than you imagined, then you can bet you did not take your role too seriously. Now I am not saying your role wasn’t critical. If you lead well, the critical part was built in already. I am sure the team would have missed you but a well trained team who has been given permission to break things, make the big decisions, cut things, innovate, will easily fill the gaps.

It s a great test of both the team and the leader.

Go ahead, call in sick and see what happens.

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

Too seriously

I had just left the stage. It was the first time I had spoken in front of a large group of people. I had shared a rather hard part of my story. A five minute talk had taken me weeks to prepare. I felt that I had delivered an honest and truthful story. People connected with it. They even came up and told me so.

But then a close friend pointed out a few “speaking flaws” I had delivered. I turned red with embarrassment. Then I was angry. “How dare he” I thought. I had poured my heart into this.

Was he right though? Yes. Was I listening? No.

You see I had taken myself too seriously. It blinded me to any feedback or correction.

It is also easy to do this in a crisis when we panic or overreact.
Things go wrong every day. And things will get better.
We take a breath and handle it. We “work the problem” and continue on with the mission and task.

Then the journey can continue.

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

Who shall we invite?

Who shall we invite?

At the beginning of fundraising or recruiting for a new start up, a kickstarter, non-profit or short or long term mission it is helpful to namestorm. Setting aside some time and to think of everyone that you are connected with surfaces often hundreds of names.

writeOne shortfall that is easy to fall prey to is discounting people due to preconceived assumptions. Their name comes to mind and we think “they are not in a place to give, support, join in” or “they would’t be interested or passionate about ____”. We are in error here because we know very little about what they would actually do if asked. .

Lives change and often rapidly. They may be very interested or their financial situation may have radically changed since the last time your assumptions were based on. They may be the next partner in helping you change the world

Most of all we are missing out on the most important piece. You have the opportunity to invite them into something big, something outside their smaller story and into something much larger. You may have a gateway for something they have been hoping to be a part of for a long time.

So back to the original question: Who shall we invite?

Stories that fit

Our dreams and stories have weightiness. Each time we share with them they have the power to inspire others that follow us to leave their mediocrity and embark on their own path.

Somewhere along the path of life everyone gets discouraged and gives something up. I have a friend who went to school to become a communications professional. Even with a degree she chose at the time to give up that dream for another noble one. After successfully raising and sending beautiful children out into the world she then chose to once again pick up that other dream. And she is rocking it! Along that path were many inspiring leaders and people that told their stories, challenged her and kept believing in her.

Also, not everyone is going to resonate with you. And that is perfectly ok too. In fact the sooner they stop reading your posts, buying your books and watching your Vlogs the better off we are. They need to go find the right ones for them. Round pegs don’t fit into square hole, on purpose. But the ones that do fit need to be energized, inspired, challenged and sometimes even pushed.

In organizations this concept is critical. Once that someone who fits is involved in the story, they make great changes. And we get to applauded for it. Even the mistakes! They take the risks and move an organization forward. They break a lot of things but finding the huge wins along the way.

So here is a call. First, really understand the story you are living in. Once you know that story be radically transparent. Expose it someplace people can find you. If you lead in an organization, (by the way, you already are even if you are in the mail room) the success of the organizations depends on it.

And the really cool part about this is that once you do this you will have no problem finding people to support you, encourage you and help you accomplish the big audacious dreams. In fact you will have to get out of their way so they can do even more to help you get there.

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

Tech to connect or isolate

Social media has been revolutionizing how we connect with each other for the past 15 years (my own journey began with connecting with other fly-fishermen online in 1994)

tabletThe struggle between true connectedness and isolation marches on as well as tech betters the ways we are finding each other and deepening our virtual connectedness. As the advancement of the virtual reality (VR), artificial intelligence, and location based abilities among other developments surface, all these tools must be balanced with the question; will they connect or isolate us? We run the risk of tech both falling prey to misuse (so well illustrated in this VR themed futuristic mini-film by Argentina’s Federico Heller called The Uncanny Valley).

UNCANNY VALLEY (2015) from 3DAR on Vimeo.

Continued delights exist even with all the sci-fi nightmares seemingly around the corner. One is the way simple tools allow portals into each others hearts and minds, asking questions way beyond Facebook’s probing questions of “How are you feeling?” or “What’s on your mind?. Take Nintindo’s bold foray this month into the mobile app space with Miitomo.

Through a series of questions the app takes the user and her friends through a series of missions based on answers to simple life questions. What results is a conversation both in and and hopefully out of meatspace.

Where will this take relationships though? We need to continue asking this as our lives not only become more connected but more technical.

Oh, I ordered my first VR device, Google Cardboard. I have plans to use it to share, connect and delight across thousands of miles. More on that in the coming weeks.

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