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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.

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.

Risking to share your story

The real risk begins when it is your turn to share, post, or speak.

When is that? Really it comes more often than you think. The more we show up daily to work, friendships, family and life the more chances we have to share our real stories. Everyone is clamoring these days to shout out an un-invited story, product or service. But that is not what I am writing about here. Instead, this is the moment when someone says “what about you?”, “I am reading your posts daily and enjoying them”, “I love your drawings. I can’t wait to see the next one”. This is when the stage is yours. This is when you are handed the mic.

And the risk is to share more of yourself. The more we share the more we connect.

So what will you share today?

Using inputs

Like any input, words have influence on us and others.

Sailors are skilled at using the winds and currents to help move them forward through the water in their intended direction. A fighter is trained to use the energy of an opponent to form and deliver their next blow. In both examples the result is forward motion.

While we do control much of what we encounter in a day there are inputs that we can’t avoid.

Instead of letting them derail, incite or panic us, like the sailor or fighter we can see them as opportunities to make our next move. The insult can be seed for a new story or helpful reflection on how we may have delivered a similar blow the day before. The worrisome word from a frenzied co-worker can remind us how we used to fear the next memo but now instead deflect them or better yet only allow email to influence us twice a day instead of every minute.

Cultural anti-chameleons

Chameleons are cool in nature. They are the best at hiding, blending in and avoiding attention. But you are not a chameleon. We are called to stand out. Hiding to avoid being seen is the opposite of giving the world your art. The clique might be the safest way to survive high school but they will eventually hold you back, kill your heart.

Every generation has the crowd that says “you have to wear this or say that” to fit in. But every generation also has those who say “no, I won’t”, the rebels that, against the crowd, decide to have a voice. They are the writers, thinkers and innovators we revere today. They are the ones who stood up against the tyranny of their day. Often what they stood up against or what they said yes to was subtle.

So as artist Hugh Macleod says, avoid the water cooler crowd. Stand out, stand up, shout, make a ruckus, turn a table over (it is a great week for that by the way), interrupt the bully, paint, hit publish and love radically.

Be a cultural anti-chameleon.

Student Day

Today is Student Day at GDC (The game Developers Conference) in downtown San Francisco. Hundreds of student will be able to get free passes and access to the masterminds behind the world best and brightest in the video game industry.

For the rest of the world, every day is student day.

For every person that tells a student ‘they can’t” we can tell them they can.

We get to listen to their dreams, be their much needed advocate.

Maybe we can invite them into a job shadow or offer an internship and ask them the heart questions with expectant ears.

Possibly we have the honor to say “I choose you”.

Better yet, how much more value can we add when we encouraging them to choose themselves.

Once they do that we get to offer them a hand up, maybe buy them a much needed tool or connect them to others.

Happy student day.

Unoticeable

There are no missteps, arguments, confusion or wrong orders.

Everyone has a role, played in unison with the rest of the team.

This happens every night at Ryoko Sushi Bar in San Francisco.

Their team is synchronized. You really don’t even notice it as a customer. That is why people are delighted. That is why there is a line down the street even on Sunday nights. People come back every time because of what is not noticeable.

To have a team like this there needs to be buy-in.

A culture needs to exists where people own their work, their craft, their mindset.

To work here they chose excellence over drama.

Coworkers care so much that when someone is sick everyone picks up the slack. That is why customers only notice the sushi, the laughter, their friends delight. And they come back over and over again.

It is how it should be. Everywhere.

Fresh Stories

I caught myself telling a stale narrative last night.

It was story that had become over-used and actually worthless.

I knew that I had better things to share, even as I told it.

We all do this.

Every day has many events. Like bricks in a wall they build build our overall story.

We often, just as I had, fall back on old stories. These are standbys, cheap filler added to what really is a rich life.

Why do we do this?

I have many theories. Here are a few.

We often have little margin to reflect on our daily lives.

Without it we are like speeding trains going about our day without perspective, evaluation and reflection. This is a great reason to write daily, why journaling is so helpful. We are able to see when we’ve drifted from my own narrative or become distracted by the many things that can easily clutter a story.

Another is the belief that we don’t have a significant story. I have never met an uninteresting person. I have though met many people that have told me they don’t have a story though. It doesn’t take long, if someone asks the right questions and spends time to listen, to show how untrue that is.

Last, many people fall into a common trap. They believe (even if they won’t admit it) that they are stuck and there is no way out. These are are the worst offenders. If you spend enough time around them they will tell the same stories over and over.

So now that I have discovered this stale story I will today as I connect with people, stop and choose another one. Or better yet, maybe I will be silent and listen more.

How about you?

Leaping

The time comes when we have to leap.

That final paper draft is just that, a draft. It has to be placed in the inbox.

The resume and cover letter must get mailed, as is.

The huge project launch has to launch.

Yes, check it over several times but then …. ship.

Sometimes we have to leap with out all the variables known.

Take marriage for example.

How many couples say “I do” and later are so thankful they didn’t know what “in sickness and in health” really meant. (Aaron and Leith McHugh have an amazing story on that. Listen to it here.)

Knowing everything would keep us from doing anything great

So go ahead and ship, mail, submit, send, say yes, I do, I will.

In my own journey taking 1000 cold showers helped.

But that is another story altogether.

From remembering to creating

Introducing a student to a new concept could be the beginning of a journey of creating for them.

That should be the reason we teach.

Education without creative vision leaves the student at memorization.

Those learning poetry may know how to compose a perfectly constructed poem. But is it a lifeless regurgitation of method?

Now consider sciences or business. Focusing on knowing the “right” answers won’t help innovate or reach the next breakthrough.

Bloom’s Taxonomy of Learning illustrates all the needed steps in between to have students, who on leaving school, will have the ability to not only know the subject but be able to contribute their “own verse”, as Walt Whitman penned it.

Yes testing is an important part, but so is reflection, reaction, analysis, argument and application. That is why so much can be accomplished in one well done field day as opposed to the classroom.

Giving students real world problems to tackle sparks creative genius.

We need world changers, ones who connect the undiscovered dots, ones that surpass even us with unconventional methods.

They need more windows and fewer walls.

On this note I am reading through Seth Godin’s eBook published on Medium called Stop Stealing Dreams.
I invite you to join along. I will post more education and learning related blogs as the topic inspires them.

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