One question

Coffee beansAs if behind a mask, he was hiding. I had known this man for years, or had I? Maybe it was his unassuming stature or gentle demeanour that kept his complex character hidden? This evening it started, and changed, with one simple question. My curiosity had been sparked by a comment he had made. It surprised me because he never talked.
So I asked if I could hear more. As he opened up and told the story in detail, I was reminded of how we all are. Each of has a rich story, abilities, and contributions to make. We often hear from the louder members of humanity. Those who are more reserved or even settled in their spirits, miss our radars. Who’s story stands a chance in our busy and cluttered world?

One question can change all of that.

Sunday Thrill

What if you looked forward to your regular day-to-day? What if your mood on Monday didn’t include “Blue” as a description. What if Sunday nights did not go along with anxiety?

We all need mountain top experiences, weekends away, casual adventures, sabbaths, times outside of the day-to-day. What would change if our day to day was something to look forward to instead of something to escape?

Our mindset can make a difference not just for us but those we lead, influence and inspire. Choosing our mindset can be a start. It may take a more radical move, though. Quitting something may be the only path. Disruption may be required. Whatever the path, the outcome will impact not only our life but every connection we have. We suddenly become ambassadors of quan, agents of change.

A question and thanks

Happy Sunday. First thanks so much for reading this post. If you have not noticed, I have been posting daily since February 12th this year. So, if you have been occasionally stopping by or reading daily, I deeply thank you. It means a lot to me.

I plan to continue writing about connection, communicating better and leading with the occasional post on art and creativity. So with those topics in mind, I am opening up the comments here today.

Here is my ask. What topics on these subjects would you like to hear more on? What questions or discoveries do you have? I want to hear them.

Thanks in advance. And thanks again for reading.

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?


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.

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