Innovation and Inspiration

I am heading into a couple of days of strategic positioning and exploration. I am always excited by the prospects and like many people a bit apprehensive about the unknown.

Without tradition, art is a flock of sheep without a shepherd. Without innovation, it is a corpse. ~Winston Churchill

Ambiguity fits with my style and I am comfortable stepping forward when the path isn’t clear but those around me might need more certainty.

Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower. ~Steve Job

The cusp of greatness is upon us but large institutions and individuals are resistant. How do we get our feet moving? The first small step is just a first small step, but the second and third and … are what propels movement. I commit to taking five steps and seeing if that unsticks us.

Mindless habitual behavior is the enemy of innovation. ~ Rosabeth Moss Kanter

Friday Thoughts September 19, 2014

crystal ball“Prediction is very difficult, especially if it’s about the future.” – Niels Bohr

“The groundhog is like most other prophets; it delivers its prediction and then disappears.” Bill Vaughn

” He who asks fortune-tellers the future unwittingly forfeits an inner intimation of coming events that is a thousand times more exact than anything they may say. He is impelled by inertia, rather than curiosity, and nothing is more unlike the submissive apathy with which he hears his fate revealed than the alert dexterity with which the man of courage lays hands on the future.” – Walter Benjamin

My prediction for you is;
If you make it (the issue you are most passionate about) your problem, you can make a difference in your world. If you find two other passionate people who make it their problem, the ripples become bigger. If they find two people and they find two people.. you can see a river of change take place in their life and the world and people they care about.

“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favor all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.” Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

Start today with a commitment to make it your problem.

Masquerade

Originally published December 2/2007

rocks

In ancient times, a King had a boulder placed on a

roadway. Then he hid himself and watched to see if

anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the

king’s wealthiest merchants and courtiers came by

and simply walked around it. Many loudly blamed the

King for not keeping the roads clear, but none did

anything about getting the stone out of the way.

Then a peasant came along carrying a load of

vegetables. Upon approaching the boulder, the

peasant laid down his burden and tried to move the

stone to the side of the road. After much pushing

and straining, he finally succeeded. After the

peasant picked up his load of vegetables, he noticed

a purse lying in the road where the boulder had

been. The purse contained many gold coins and a note

from the King indicating that the gold was for the

person who removed the boulder from the roadway. The

peasant learned what many of us never understand!

Every obstacle presents an opportunity to improve

our condition.

Fight the Gravity of Mediocrity

Sometimes it feels like my world is spinning out of control. Busyness captures me and I resort to tried and true rituals rather than exploring remarkable opportunities. In this place, in this time, with these people we should expect miracles but often seemed mired in mediocrity quicksand. Multitasking my way to bounded rationality where “I have too much to do” has been my refrain and excuse for not shipping my very best. My best intentions don’t seem to produce my best work. Only when I focus and deepen my efforts do I see the quality and results I am known to achieve.

Practice makes perfect – not likely. Poor practice delivers poor results.

My battle with mediocrity is the same one I have with procrastination. My important priorities don’t receive attention because I can always create something urgent (often more fun or easier) that looks important. The gravity pulls me to do something else, almost anything else – the laundry, checking Facebook, … When I set priorities for each day (I started with 3) and don’t just tick boxes but rather complete them deeply, fully and to the best of my ability, I celebrate.

Mark Twain said ‘Eat a live frog first thing in the morning and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.’ I try get the most difficult task done first and when I succeed the Twain adage is true. I can feel myself pulling away from mediocrity towards miraculous. I feel better, lighter, readier. I am strengthened by the effort. After years of practice, this hasn’t become habitual and I need to remain vigilant or mediocrity invites me back.

Remarkable people use their strengths to strengthen themselves and others. When I am mired in the quicksand, up to my knees in  averageness, I am not strong. Today, tomorrow and the day after tomorrow I am committed to being strengthened and breaking away from the pull. How about you, what miracle could you create in three days?

 

Make Today, Tomorrow and the Next Remarkable,

 

Bob

Edit – just received notice that the master of productivity David Allen is hosting GTD Fundamentals next month for those who are serious about getting out of the quicksand.

frogs

Have You Ever Lost Your Voice?

voicelessHave you ever lost your voice? Too much partying? Caught a bug while travelling?

Did you feel helpless? Did the silence seem somehow calming? How did you make yourself understood?

Words, ideas, conversation, debate are all very important to me and define how I see myself and how others see me. Ten years ago, my sister gave me a coffee mug that said “Everyone is Entitled to My Opinion” – I think she was joking, half joking.

I get the opportunity to express myself in one on one discussion, group settings and large presentations. My ideas and opinions are heard. My gratitude and outrage has an audience. My personality allows me to speak provocatively and honestly into almost every circumstance.

What if I lost my voice? Overuse, exertion illness all could cause the vibrancy and volume of by voice to disappear, temporarily.  Cancer or another disease could rob me of my rants more permanently. But I would find a way to be heard. You are listening right now to the words I pounded out on my keyboard. I could paint, dance, direct and still have a voice. I have a position of privilege that helps my voice be heard. Some of the privilege has been earned through education, persistence, hard work, networking, reputation and some was inherited when I won the ovarian lottery. I don’t know what the percentages from merit or mother.

Some remarkable people among us go unheard every day. A single mom busy raising 2 remarkable children and working 1 and ½  jobs to make ends meet may  be too busy and weary to stake  her claim to a soapbox. Children express themselves often and often loudly but the distractions of the world leave us missing their real point. Seniors, who have much to teach us, don’t receive the respect their have earned.

I can become a better listener, an audience for those who have lost their voice. You can intentionally invite someone to tell their story and really listen to them tell it. You may not be able to do anything else (or you maybe you can) but listen.

I can become an advocate for the voiceless – not from my perspective but after listening, from theirs. You can retell the stories you hear to your circle of influence.

I can approach voicelessness – mine and others and make it my problem. Will you make it your problem?

Make Today Remarkable, for someone you don’t know,

Bob

You Can Do Something

Action

Have we all become so complacent and cynical that we don’t believe our actions make a difference? Does any action – volunteering, donating, voting, writing, caring seem meaningless? Have you given up hope in yourself, your family, your community?

In 1804, Thomas Jefferson was running to the US President for a 2nd term. A paraphrase of his campaign can be stated in one sentence. ” I believe every American given the opportunity and circumstances will take care of himself, his family, and his community.”

I firmly believe that about all of us. Yet in this time, in this place with these people when we should expect miracles, we have become mired in mediocrity and mindlessness (as opposite to mindfulness).

If we are all capable and willing then the problem must be the environment where opportunity and circumstances are created that is at fault. Every day we face messaging from big government, big charity, big business that pats us on the head and whispers ” don’t worry, we will take care of that for you.” If it is in their interest they might try to take care of it and mostly fail. Usually they won’t really try because they know we don’t really have very high expectations of their intent.

The only think that BG, BC, and BB rely on is that we have bought hook, line and sinker into the supposed convenience they offer. “Don’t worry about homeless, we will do that.” “Don’t fret about spending, we have it under control.” ” Don’t concern yourself about supper, we have peeled and chopped for you.” Unless we begin to resist the convenience, we will soon be incapable of thousands of actions that make our world a better place.

You can become involved rather than absolved. What is most important to you? What is the smallest action that you can take today to change/improve the situation? On a scale of 1-10 (10 being highest), how committed are you to taking this small action?

Your words tell us who you think you are, your actions show us who you are. Tell us about  what is important to you and your smallest action taken today.

Make Today Remarkable, for yourself and someone you care about,

 

Bob