Inspire Shared Vision

Part 3 Revisiting Leadership Challenge by Posner and Kouzes

Inspiration comes from communication. Clear transparent and two-way communication allows for an  idea, an intention, an expression to swell into a vision. For the preferred future to become accepted across a team, a family a society it needs to be understood and embraced. It needs to be adaptable and flexible (as all visions do) in a constantly changing environment.

This kind of leadership practice is absent across most political jurisdictions. We never really know where, how or why political candidates see tomorrow. A leader could succinctly respond to the question ” how will the world be different in four years?” – they may not be right but that doesn’t reduce the power of expressing a compelling vision that we can all work towards.

The absence of shared vision often leads us to “the best of the worst’ decisions. Recent elections have demonstrated that our current ‘leadership’ didn’t understand that vagueness and single-mindedness were no longer qualities we respected.

If you dare to have a vision for tomorrow. Share it, listen to feedback, and share it with more folks and listen again. Create an environment where the vision can flourish and then be open to its power. Be open to surprise.





Challenge the Process

A continuation from yesterday’s post regarding  Kouzes and Posner Five Practices from ” Leadership Challenge”.

I begin by confessing that I am not really a process guy. I tend towards variation on a theme and so I try not walk home the same way twice in a row. I still get home but following Dr Seuss’s advice I get to say;”And that is a story that no one can beat And to think that I saw it on Mulberry Street.,

That said, challenging the process can still be daunting. The bounded rationality of success however limited fixes the path. Process is just the path that others have discovered that takes us from A to R  supposedly efficiently and effectively. But locking into ABCDEF…R reduces the possibility of discovery, excitement and improvement. Maybe ABDLR works and we create something valuable and unexpected along the way.

Go for a meandering walk today and see  if you come back with a story like;



Live to Lead

I just started reading Wayne Stewart’s new book ” Live to Lead; The Missing Link in Leadership Development” which I will review next week. He reminded me of  Kouzes and Posner’s Five Practices of Leadership from ” The Leadership Challenge”.

  1. model the way
  2. challenge the process
  3. inspire shared vision
  4. enable others to act
  5. encourage the heart.

My take on the the practices will take a few posts. Generally  I think they were right on the mark although as always 5 seems arbitrary (maybe 4 or 8?).

Model the Way is more important today than in the past as more and more people have lost their ability to see the way forward. Conformity, bubble wrapping and an exponentially changing world now makes it difficult for all and impossible for many to figure out the next steps. Leaders need to model the way, for today and into the future. They need to model expectations, style and balance for those observers who are looking for someone or something to follow. Modelling takes courage; leadership courage. Rather than waiting for an easy or obvious path, leaders often need to forge their own and make it wide enough for others to begin following and adapting their journey along the new track.

Modelling the Way is more than management or maybe not management at all. It is setting out a vision, expectations, norms and actively encouraging others to take that pattern and make adjustments so that it fits them. Modelling can take a frustratingly long time to achieve and there will be a temptation to just ‘tell’ people how to behave but in this case patience will be rewarded.

Are you modelling what you want others to see in you? Are you offering a pattern that you would want others to use?

Make Today Remarkable, by using your strengths to strengthen others,




How Long is the Truth True?

Does truth have a shelf life? Can/will everything we hold to be true eventually be disputed and ‘disproved’? How much of your world today still holds onto ‘facts’ that you learned in elementary school? How much will still pass a veracity and authenticity test in 20 years?

Are you like me? I try to hold onto my truth bias as gospel until the last second and then surrender to the new certainty. I wiggle and squirm for quite a while to confirm what I believe in the face of contradiction. When the tipping point happens I can two- facedly expound on the new honest to goodness truth.

If my exactitude and rightness is so malleable  why do I grasp and defend with such persistence? I think it is about my foundation. I have pretty good sea legs when I am afloat but appreciate getting back on solid ground. It is exhausting (or it feels exhausting) fighting the swell and stepping onto a dock seems secure.

What if the only way to continue the journey is to get a bit wobbly and then trust that your values, experience and gifts will keep you safe in the sea of change? I have, on occasion, trusted and found the next leg in my adventure to be exciting and impactful.

Get off the dock and experience life (2)

Very little happens if you stand on the dock too long. Step out and set yourself adrift for the next exciting experience.






When asked “what time is it?” what if you answered “now”? Not likely the expected response but certainly more interesting than 11:17. Not immediately helpful for someone on a schedule but certainly more inspiring. Not as easy to make small talk or a graceful exit with but certainly more likely to open a new conversation.

I am uncomfortable in now. For many of us our tendency is to live through time so we have difficulty just being in the present. I marvel at those who tend to live in time. Even though they are often late when they arrive they are completely present in the moment with you.

Now can be a measure of the present; at the present time or moment. Now can be a starting point; without further delay; immediately; at once. Now can be precise;at this time or juncture in some period under consideration. It can be used to describe the current circumstances and convey a new understanding.

Three letters, one word, lots of power. How are you thinking about now? What are you thinking about now? Are you ready, now? Now is the time. Now I understand.

Make Today Remarkable by trying out now,



The Most of My Time

If I want to be a legend what do I need to do with my years to make the best use of the 80ish years I have? Can I have a more positive impact in the next 20 years than the last 20? Who is important in my life and how do I add value to theirs? What will be the measure of legendary when my times- relationships, money, influence, change, charity? All of them?

To make 20 years count I need to make each year count and each month and each week and each day. I need to be discerning and judicious without being an evangelical pain in the butt about each hour. “Is this the best way that I can spend this hour?” ” Will this move me closer to my goals or stall me in the mud?” ” Can I be closer to my grandsons if I choose to do X?” “What gift does this hour bring to a life lived fully?”

I can be a bit of a zealot when I reframe my path and need to find some ‘goofing off’ time for personal harmony. If I understand that I am recharged by certain activities that don’t have an easy metric towards the preferred future then I can cut myself some slack. 1 hour a day do do whatever I want seems reasonable for me. Is 1/24 somewhere near what you need? The 4% slack is what I am striving for this year  and I am keeping an eye  on how I feel and what I achieve. If I need more or less slack, I will adjust on the fly.

Do get where I want my life to be in 2036, I need to read, write, run, rest, relate, recreate, recompense and refresh. If about 30% of my day is in resting and 4% assigned  to slack then I need to be thinking about where I put an hour running, two hours writing, six hours working I still have 8-10 hours to add value to myself and those around me.

Sounds like a plan. Another easy to say, harder to do practice.



Do You Feel Welcome?

Have you entered a room and felt uneasy about your ‘right’ to be there? Have you visited a city and felt like an unwanted alien? Have you called a friend and wondered about the reception you received? Is it about you or the others involved? I tend towards taking everything personally so I often feel like I have rubbed someone the wrong way (unintentionally because I often rub intentionally) and am concerned about what faux pas I made.

I woke up today thinking about how I come across. Am I welcoming? Does my countenance or manner suggest that I am not elated by your visit? Do I make an effort to invite the stranger into the conversation? Sometimes, sometimes, sometimes. could my unease in certain situations be lessened if I was more gregariously welcoming in others?

Can I become warmer to guests if I appreciate those around me more, who have the gift of hospitality? Is this like everything I ponder; it takes work, practice and more work? I know people who seem to naturally exude pleasure in the arrival of guests and relish the opportunity to include strangers. Did they work at it or are they innately different in their congeniality? Can I become more cordial? Should I? I welcome your comments.



What is Appropriate?

By special request

Yesterday we had an amazing train ride north to San Clemente pier for brunch and then on to San Juan Capistrano.  It is always fun touring the shops on Alipaz St and then we crossed over to the mission side of the tracks. We didn’t go through Mission San Juan this trip but we did have a conversation about how its story and the story of the church gets told in this generation. From the perspective of the mission and the church they were ‘saving’ the heathens (both indigenous and Mexican) from themselves and their practices.

Much like residential schools in Canada the tribal leaders now talk of cultural genocide and abuse. It seemed ironic that there was a sign on a shop that said ” Catholic Book Story Closed – No New location”. It seems that time and perspective rearranges what is appropriate or seen to be appropriate.

After a cool refreshment we decided to catch the 3:42 train back to Oceanside and have a sunset dinner at Hello Betty’s (as always great food and atmosphere). While waiting at the station we began seeing a parade of young women (high school age) posing near the tracks. With a little bit of detective work we figured out that there was a Winter Formal taking place. The women (girls really) were dressed in their Orange County finest. Short dresses (too short) and high heels (too high). I imagine their perspective was that they were out on the town looking fabulous and strutting their stuff before the big party (honestly I can’t really imagine or articulate what a 17 year old girl might be thinking).

From the perspective of some 60ish year old observers it was inappropriate for these children to be out wearing such skimpy clothes. ” how would you let your daughter leave home dressed like that?” I don’t have any photographic evidence of the shortness of skirts or the height of the heels (estimate 5-6 inches) but there was lots of pictures taken. In fact peers took photos, strangers took photos, parents took photos and a 12 year old boy wandered away from his parents and took an album of pictures. Besides parents primping and pimping their daughters while they posed in heels on a heavily used railway track and besides the apparent glamour of skimpy attire and besides the attraction the spectacle drew (here I am writing about it) there was a deep conversation about how something/anything is deemed to be appropriate and what swings the pendulum.

The only conclusion that I came to was that I am so lucky not to have to set guidelines and figure out how to raise a teenager in 2016.

Make Today Appropriate, whatever that means,



Two Hands – Three Balls

Are you juggling too many balls? Too many is a relative term. I can keep two in the air with one hand but struggle to keep 3 or more up with both hands. If I had another pair of hands or many more jugglers everything gets more complicated. It is why jugglers (and magicians) impress me. But for the rest of us, what do we do with the additional balls?

I might never master keeping three projects going simultaneously. In me the myth of multitasking seems to be disprove. I am easily distracted by another shiny thing but only if I set aside what I am focused on in the moment. To make the transition work I need to lay down one file and pick up another. I need to bookmark one conversation so I can return to it if I am drawn into something else. I dog ear books and love that Kindle remembers where In was when I stop reading.

I use lists, calendars, memory cupboards with some success and I schedule almost everything to try keep the saucers spinning in the right direction. You have all seen what happens when one stick wobbles and the whole array of plates crashes.

I don’t have a simple solution to juggling. I probably don’t have a simple solution for anything. But for me improving focus on the task at hand and then demarking it in some way helps me make a smoother slide to the next task. It isn’t really juggling but the balls all keep getting passed.


Make Today Remarkable, by not joining the circus,



Pushing the Boundaries

Every day I have opportunities to be better than yesterday. Different in some small way. Smarter in relationships. More patient in trying circumstances. More persistent in trying circumstances. On the days that I take small steps, I usually succeed. When I try to jump the shark and take one giant step I usually fail.

g you go through grows you

My life has been a small step, small step, side step, small step, back step, big step journey. Yet, there are times each day that I attempt a flying leap over the first or last crevice. I am lucky to grab the other side and fortunate when I don’t get hurt falling in the hole.

Are you taking small steps towards your 2016 goals? Are you aware of the opportunities that you face each day and the chance to do something slightly different/better?

I am back believing that all our boundaries are malleable and need testing in every situation. Take one more trip around the track, one more lap in the pool, one more email to a friend, one more glass of water and another serving of vegetables. Take another small step today, tomorrow and all your tomorrows.