I need an audience. Without readers, my words fall on deaf ears- no matter how clever, important or irrelevant they seem to be. But do I need to earn the right to speak my truth into the world? Do I need a plan to cultivate listeners? Should I be writing less but better? More and more spontaneous?
When I began I was just writing for me. It was my process and it cleared my head and brought clarity to what I was thinking. Somewhere around post 125 I began to think about you, the reader, and what you were thinking. By number 500, I was focusing on appealing to a specific model reader (who I imagined was out there waiting for my next post). After 600 on makeityourproblem.com and a nearly daily shipping of content to other blogs and forums I realized that my ideas were being censored by an imaginary prospective subscriber. I was tempering my language and censoring ideas that were either too main street or too out of the park. Do all creatives begin to create what they imagine the world, their world, wants?
My mantra that remarkable people use their strengths to strengthen others when they embrace their personal responsibility rather and allow society to absolve them is the genesis of my musings and prose. I seem to have forgotten the motivation and mission. I want to significantly influence thousands of people in their journeys to living a ‘big life’. Are you influenced by these posts? Do you feel that you are living a bigger life, leaning towards being remarkable? Do you remember any of the past 600 posts or the calls to action in about half of them? Would you recall and act if the message was more compelling? Would a change of medium (video, podcast, animation) make a difference? What if the message was being created and delivered by someone else? would a different style be compelling? If this was always satirical would it be impactful?
This year there have been about 25,000 viewers to makeityourproblem.com. I don’t know if that can be considered significant. I sure don’t know if any or all found a gem or a germ they could take away. Maybe the numbers are to small and in order to influence thousands, I need to reach hundreds of thousands. Would you react differently if you knew that 100,000 other folks were ingesting and digesting the same content?
I am taking a chance on a Saturday to write about my secret hopes for this space and for the decisions that I make in my community. Honestly I am apprehensive being so vulnerable and insecure and afraid of rejection. There is a small part of me that hopes no one is listening and another part that is excited that there may be some of you who will reach out a provide honest feedback so I can improve.
Maybe the seasons are changing and as with all things this one has passed.
Cheers and Three Cheers,
2nd post in series – see Big, Bold and Messy
For a very long time, I thought that the BBM folks were the smartest folks on the planet. They always had an idea and were always ready to share it. But I have had the opportunity recently to work with some SSS folks and have come to appreciate their wisdom.
Solid speaks to their loyalty to values, people, a team. They will stand strong beside you in a disagreement and have your back in a fight. I always know where they are going to land and stand on an issue because they are unwaveringly consistent. If they say they will be somewhere, do something or meet someone that is what happens. If they commit to a place, time or action that is the priority.
Secure in their positions on issues and in their position in a hierarchy they are able to share credit with others around them. They aren’t in it for the accolades or spotlight but are satisfied with the results. They are also comfortable in secure environments where tomorrow is very similar to yesterday. This allows them to be reflective rather than reactive and when they speak it is out of that secure and experienced reflection that wisdom flows.
While SSS folks might (likely not) not appear charismatic they are smart. They are street smart, knowing when to speak up and when to be quiet. They are relationally smart with an understanding of the hard work it takes to maintain and strengthen their family and teams. They are task smart and know their business, usually better than anyone else. They are smart about themselves and their style. They are far more able to accept unexpected results because of htheir grounding and in those situations their smarts show great leadership.
There isn’t much SSS in me (I am more BBM) but I am thankful that there are some on every team I am working with.
Tomorrow – Mired, Mediocre and Miserable
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;
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”.
- model the way
- challenge the process
- inspire shared vision
- enable others to act
- 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,
Leaders are born, not as leaders but as wee babies just like the rest of us. Leaders are nurtured by caring and significant adults; parents, caregivers, teachers. Leaders are challenged by the same significant adults – at a very young age the bubble wrap is removed and the budding leaders are allowed to fall and fail. Leaders can arise in any circumstance with the right inspiration.
Carey Nieuwhof has 5 Ultra Simple Leadership Hacks fo us.
1. Make someone else the hero. While I think we should all put on our invisible cape and hero’s hat every morning, I also believe that we need to be lifting up and celebrating all those around us. Acknowledge your team, give credit where due, encourage and delegate.
2. Do what you say you’re going to do when you say you’re going to do it. Integrity is the most important hallmark of a leader. In those rare occasions when it becomes impossible to ‘do what you said’ then honestly explain and apologize if necessary.
3. Focus on outcomes. Autonomy, mastery and purpose are the three Pinkian motivators to success. Seed purpose, cultivate mastery and allow your team to handle the how.
4. Look people in the eye. I know so many great leaders who are completely present with you in the moment. They give the person they are with all their attention. (This is an area that I need to work on)
5. Smile. Apparently, not smiling is never interpreted as neutral. We are drawn to smiles and confused by the dissonance of happiness and joy without the outward display. Show your glee today.
Make Today Remarkable, by being a leader,
I knew I was in trouble when I made a statement, in a meeting, that I had no doubt to be perfectly crafted and assuredly true. There was a flash that lit up in my peripheral vision that had happened, and been ignored, a dozen times in the last week: A warning that I wasn’t heeding like high blood pressure.
I had become an expert again. The “Hi my name is Bob and I am an expert” kind of expert. I was certain about everything, sure about my direction, completely confidence in my advise, remarkable in my coaching, and unbelievable in my consulting. I was the pearl in my own oyster – perfect.
Of course, none of that was real. Perception had trapped me again. I have been recovering from the curse of expertitis for 25 years but this bout seemed deeper and I was actually enjoying the spotlight even more than usual.
When I spend time with children, my grandkids in particular, I am reminded what the as yet unimagined has to offer. They zealously seek new ways of overcoming challenges. They embraced curiousity through sincere and outrageous questions. There is a zeal for exploration and risk that comes from a different confidence than the expert. They are confident that the world is theirs to explore and by turning everything on its head, they see the world anew. My confidence was based in formulas, models, tried and true experiences, status quo. In today’s world where everything is changing, exponentially, we all need to find the child’s position for a few hours a week. This isn’t just a provocation exercise, it serves as an innovation platform. You can launch your next ‘cool’ idea and watch it soar or sink without fear.
Take 4 hours this week (4/168 = 2.38%) to be open to curiousity, search out mystery and take something that you are so confident about and give it a good shake. I, for one, would be curious what flies out.
I get to make a lot of choices every day. I choose what I eat, when I sleep, where I go and how I get there. I choose how I feel in specific situations, why I say the things I do, who I listen to, and if I am going to live up to my expectations for myself. I choose to trust and then that choice becomes invisible.
Trust doesn’t mean that all my expectations of myself or others will be met. Trust doesn’t mean that I won’t be disappointed. Trust doesn’t mean that I am on moral high ground.
Trust is the frame that I choose, today, to wrap my life experiences, thoughts, and passions in.
It doesn’t make me gullible. It doesn’t deny me the right to question. It doesn’t close the discussion. Trust helps make the picture in the frame easier to see and maybe understand.
In a world where the distrust index continues to rise, I wonder if we can reverse the spiral by choosing to trust.
We worry about what a child will become tomorrow, yet we forget that he is someone today. ~Stacia Tauscher
How do we honor our children and grandchildren regardless of their age?
– be a great listener (listen intently and listen globally to what is said and unsaid)
– be equitable ( try to bring what is needed to each child in each situation, not just their share, not what they deserve but what they need)
– be a confidant ( keep the secrets that are shared unless danger is involved)
– be a reliable parent ( quality time only works if their is enough quantity time for the relationship to blossom)
A child can ask questions that a wise man cannot answer. ~Author Unknown
I am often surrounded by people who think they are experts. I am often one of them, myself. My expertise blinds me with bias and blinkers me to options. I hope to learn to be more like my grandchildren who ask with curiousity not problem solving at the heart.
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. – Will Rogers
My impatient, imperfectionist with an action bias shining through.
Make Today Remarkable, for a child,
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