genius

Are Your People Geniuses or Not?

We can see people as either geniuses or not.

If they are not, they are like machines; they have a fixed performance capacity. And we believe our job is, first, to figure out what that capacity is. We ask them to step up. Then we give them tasks that meet that capacity. We monitor them for mistakes. When the work we have for them exceeds their fixed capacity, we replace them.

If they are geniuses, they have indeterminable capacity. Our job is to release more and more of the genius. We still ask them to step up. They still take on new tasks. When the work we have seems beyond them, we step up. With a quiet, respectful curiosity, we expect they will be able to grow. And we coach them to find the key that unlocks this growth.

Let’s be very clear. It is a heck of a lot easier to think of people as not geniuses, like machines.

It’s a heck of a lot more profitable (and delightful) to think of people as geniuses.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Yes, I am saying that it is your call. You get to choose whether people are geniuses or not.

 

Today’s photo credit: hom26 via photopin cc

story book

Our Story of the Future

More often, when we tell the story of our future, is it of the future we want or of what we don’t want?

Is our future assured? Will we be okay? Is everything going to work out well? Is life, in general, safe?

We each have the power to choose how the story turns out because only we can evaluate our own leadership, work, and lives. And because things have that very odd way of lining up with our expectations.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Of course, not knowing the future (or doing an excellent job of pretending not to know the future) keeps the zip and zing in this adventure of a lifetime of ours.

Today’s photo credit: omnia_mutantur via photopin cc

to-do list

The To-Do List is Dead…

Long live the to-do list!

Even people who are good at making lists of their tasks get overwhelmed. Despite having up-to-date lists, they find it impossible to prioritize, delegate, or know when to say, “no.”

Yes, to-do lists are great for holding all our tasks in one place. Yes, they give us a sense of being at least a little more in control. But they can’t tell us which, of the hundreds of tasks on our list, we should do now.

That’s because our standard to-do list is flat, meaningless, just a list.

We need a to-do list system that would capture why each task is important to us. It would remind us which tasks are part of larger projects. It would help us group similar tasks (e.g. “Show me all the calls I could make right now.”) so we can be efficient. It would tell us what tasks we have promised to someone else by a certain time and date. And this system would track reference material and the tasks we don’t need to do now but may someday do.

With a system like this at our fingertips, we have all we need to prioritize, focus on what’s most important, and step away from overwhelm.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Learn more about this system of lists, the habits you can build to run this system, the quick start option, and the barebone edition.

 

Today’s photo credit: koalazymonkey via photopin cc

atlas

In A World…

In a world–heck, even in an organization or family–where things are tense, chaotic, stagnant, or dim, we can lose sight of things.

Yet beyond, beneath, or behind

Left or right,
Hawk or dove,
Boss or subordinate,
Subways or streetcars,
Right or wrong,
Good or bad,
Old or new,

there are always love, growth, freedom, and happiness.

Let’s focus on having more of these for us and for the people we lead, influence, sell to, work with, and live with. The rest will work out fine.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Start by asking, “What would make me happier, really?” Next, “What would make them happier, really?” Then, “What can we do so that we both win here?”

PPS: We may be tempted to say something like, “This is soft, touchy-feely stuff!” If we do it’s because we never have tried it. If we had, we would have seen how titanium-hard (as in results and as in effortful) this really is.

 

Today’s photo credit: wallyg via photopin cc

perfect

Strong, Perfect, Included, Right

As leaders (with or without title), it really feels like we are on the hot seat, doesn’t it? We feel we need to be strong, perfect, included, and/or right.  And that costs us time and energy. But what for? There is actually no need to be perfect or right or strong or included. Despite any evidence we may see at work or elsewhere, we are fine. We are exactly where we need to be. Now.

Can we grow? Be happier? More effective, more free? Sure. If we so choose. We just need to know our edge, look over that edge, grow past that edge, and repeat.

If we want.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: If in doubt, study a child, a pet, a plant, or an amoeba. This edge-out process is how life likes to operate, it seems.

 

Today’s photo credit: VinothChandar via photopin cc

terrierfied

Terrified

When we don’t say what needs to be said, when we don’t do the thing that is right to do, when we don’t make that big change, when we hold back, distract ourselves, or go numb, we do so because we are terrified. Terror holds us away from what we want and blinds us to the solutions we need.

Yet we need not be terrified.

If we are terrified, it only means that we are approaching something important that we’ve never done before. We fear failure in these cases but there is no real failure. We can handle any challenge, any situation. We can be vulnerable. Then we reap the rewards for dealing openly, honestly, and immediately with each challenge. Those rewards are new insights, better solutions, new or deeper connections with others, freedom, wisdom, and happiness.

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Yes, acknowledged: the first few times we try shifting from terrified to open can be difficult. That’s because terrified is a habit, a very strong habit. The first step is easy, though: we commit to changing it.

Today’s photo credit: ocean yamaha via photopin cc

express

Express Train to Results

Selling or influencing or leading change can be like riding the local train making all stops: it takes a long time. Often too long. We waste way too much time because we think we need to get our ducks in a row, know the answers, prove ourselves, and be perfect so that others will listen, agree, and act as hope they will.

None of that is necessary. In fact, it gets in the way. All the effort we put into making our case prevents us from taking what is the most expedient and sustainable path: getting clear about the high-level results we want to see, listening, being vulnerable, and seeking win-win solutions.

Welcome aboard the express train.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: alantankenghoe via photopin cc

shortest distance

The Shortest Distance

We are here, we need to be there, and we need to take these steps to get there. It’s the straight line, the shortest distance. Yet other people not only can’t see it, they get in the way. They don’t do their part. They engage in politics, passive or aggressive resistance, and interference. Why can’t they see it? Why do they insist on making us take the long-way around?

Because what we see as obvious they see as a threat. Our plans conflict with their sense of themselves and with their opinions, beliefs, values, thoughts, egos, and emotions. They feel challenged, rejected, unsafe, or wrong. So they react, often unconsciously. And the path that seemed the shortest distance ends up taking way too long and costing way too much.

The path that seemed the longest–understanding what would be a win for each other then creating together a real win-win solution–is really the shortest distance between here and there.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Wolfgang Staudt cc

light and playful

Be Light and Playful for Fun and Profit

We always have the choice to be light and playful or to be heavy and serious. No situation at home or work demands that we be heavy and serious. We go for heavy and serious strictly out of habit.

Whenever we choose light and playful, we feel and do better and so do those around us. So why not go for light and playful, like, always?

 

In your corner,

Mike

PS: Light and playful can include respectful and appropriate. The big, sad, critical, or important situations may still tempt us to say, “Wow, I really need to be heavy and serious now.”  Instead, in those situations, I recommend we go with a version of light and playful called caring and helpful.

 

Today’s photo credit: Lip Kee via photopin cc

hairball

Avoiding The Leadership, Sales, and Influence Hairball

Leading, influencing, and selling involves getting others to give up something they value–usually money, attention, political currency, time, or effort.

If we are not careful and caring in our approach, we end up trying to get them to agree or even to obey. Unfortunately, this approach creates a massive hairball of resistance, defensiveness, politics, struggle, waste, loss, and exhaustion. And our work becomes more and more difficult.

Yuck-o-rama.

When we are careful and caring, we follow these four steps (more here):

  1. We build a foundation of trust, then
  2. We explore what’s true now, what we all want to be true, and why, then
  3. We explore how we will get there, who will do it, and by when, then
  4. We agree and get going.

This way matches how people want to be led, influenced, and sold to. Taking the time to go this way makes our work easy and everyone wins. The hairball happens when we try to skip right to the “agree and get going” step.

 

In your corner,

Mike

 

Today’s photo credit: Bitterjug via photopin cc