“All stress comes from resisting what is.” Oprah Winfrey
Think about the time and mental energy that you spend fretting about things that you cannot change. We stress about the weather. We worry about whether others will fulfill their commitment. Whether people will like our idea or if people will like us.
How much better off would we be if we accepted more things as they were? Even if it is just for today, try to be at peace with “what is” and who you are. The clear thinking that comes from serenity will help you craft a better tomorrow.
–— beth triplett
quoted in The World According to Gayle (King), O Magazine, March 2013
I received a post on LinkedIn that described qualities of people the author most enjoyed as colleagues. I liked his Venn diagram a lot:
When I saw it, I immediately thought of the Strategic Planning Committee of 2011-2012 — my group of compadres that was responsible for the development of our new plan. That group put in a crazy amount of hours — including a Friday 3pm-4:30pm weekly meeting — but I had more fun with them than any other committee here.
I guess I have higher expectations that Jeff Weiner, because if I was drawing the circles I would have four. In addition to dreaming big, getting shit done, knowing how to have fun, I would add: open to learning. I want to work with colleagues that instinctively evaluate programs after they occur and who are continually trying to make things better. I like people who not only “dream big” but “think small” and work to continuously improve the details.
Think about your circles and how colleagues would draw them if describing you. Do you have overlap and a good balance of dreaming and doing? Are your contributions proportionate in the three or four areas? Work to become the person others want on their team.
— beth triplett
When I was in Washington, DC I was taken aback when I walked by a construction site. It was a fenced off area that contained all of the usual heavy equipment, scaffolding, large hole with workers scurrying around, etc. Only instead of a site that was designed to build a new building or even renovate an old one, all this work occurred around a pre-existing wall.
One wall. The front of the building was preserved and everything else was totally torn down. It was cause for a double-take — here was a complete wall standing in the middle of an empty lot.
I was intrigued as to how they were able to save just the front and tear down everything around it. I wondered what would warrant the obvious effort and expense to preserve just that one part of the building. Obviously it was important for political, economic or historical reasons that I couldn’t understand.
Your organization’s mission is like that wall. It needs to remain, despite the odds, obstacles or expense to preserve it. You can alter what surrounds it, but the mission remains as the center for everything else. Give yourself a mental image of what your “wall” would look like, even if nothing else were there, and take care that it remains standing through time.
— beth triplett
Earlier this week, I listened to a teleconference by Sheila Heen, co-author of Difficult Conversations. The topic was billed as negotiating, but what was most memorable for me was her description of the three types of feedback:
1. Appreciation: The acknowledgement that you notice someone and their work and that they matter. Heen believes that we don’t give appreciation as frequently as we should (guilty as charged!) and that this often makes people less receptive to hearing the other two kinds of feedback.
2. Coaching: Comments given to a person to help them become better at something. This type of feedback is given with positive intentions (although not always received that way.)
3. Evaluation: People don’t always hear coaching because it is phrased — or even heard — as evaluation: feedback that evaluates performance or compares the person to a standard or expectation.
Her example: If after a presentation you say to a person: “That didn’t go so well” it is evaluation, contrasted with: “I’d be happy to offer a few suggestions about your presentation” which is coaching.
Think about the feedback you are giving your staff and how you are phrasing it. Even if your intent is good, if you mix categories in language or spirit it’s likely that the message will be muddled rather than received.
— beth triplett
Difficult Conversations: How to discuss what matters most by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton & Sheila Heen (an excellent resource!!) 2010
Thanks for the Feedback: The science and art of receiving feedback well by Douglas Stone & Sheila Heen, 2014
I recently read an article about learning a foreign language. The author claims to have become fluent in French in five months and Russian in 10 through a process of mentally tying words to images. He cites research that shows our visual memory is “extraordinary” and by capitalizing on that, we can learn new words and actually remember them with great accuracy.
Instead of repeating “gato…cat” to learn the feline word in Italian, he suggests that you connect the word to an image of a cat; preferably an actual cat that you know. Those associations penetrate our memory and help us to learn new languages much more easily than through memorization of rote grammar.
I believe the same idea is true when trying to help people grasp new concepts. Instead of talking about the theory of enrollment management, I can make my point instantly understood through the visual of a three-legged stool. I have a wooden block that distinctively demonstrates what we are trying to achieve in our student mix and a saltshaker that illustrates a supervisory style. In my office I have visual aids such as Wile E. Coyote (like creativity and focus), ruby slippers (empowerment) and a spider (making connections).
I use analogies all of the time: applications are like bananas, ideas are like dots, goal setting or vision is like Indianapolis, transitions are like a rubber band, a marble jar is like credibility, etc. I think they help get the point across more quickly than an elaborate explanation and it serves to make the point memorable.
Think about how you can enhance your visual connections — not just through words on a power point, but by analogies and images that are as sticky as a spilled jar of honey.
— beth triplett
Source: The path to fluency is paved with pictures by Gabriel Wyner, Wall Street Journal, July 30, 2014.
Last week, a local news story unexpectedly went viral, so the requests for interviews came in. The best person to speak on the topic was someone who is normally not a spokesperson. While she had the most knowledge of the details, she had little experience in being questioned on the radio; thus, she was understandably nervous.
As she was being prepped for a media interview, her boss stopped in with words of encouragement. “You’re building your threshold,” he said. “The next time you have to do this, your threshold will be higher.”
What great words of advice. People often avoid doing challenging things because they are not experts at them, but it is precisely through doing the difficult work that our threshold increases and our proficiency in doing the hard task is improved. The skills she learns in doing the media interview will translate into making it easier to have difficult conversations in other venues. The confidence she gains by succeeding at something she did not think she could do well will carry over and buoy her in different settings.
Instead of listening to that inner voice that urges us to avoid the difficult tasks, embrace them as a threshold-building workout. Your strength will amaze you.
— beth triplett
Thanks to Mike and Stan!
Today is our first day of classes. Our students are set to fill their brains with many lessons; in my mind the most important thing they can learn is time management.
Time is the great equalizer. President Obama may have more power than you do, but he has exactly the same amount of time. Warren Buffet may be richer, but he, too, has the same 168 hours week as you. LeBron James may have more talent, but no more time than a kindergartener or homeless person.
How you use your time will set you apart — in good ways and bad. Too much frivolity and leisure will leave your career wanting; too much work will leave you stressed. A lot of time in one area can make you proficient, but too much focus can make you sheltered. Too much time on planning can preclude action; too little time on it can result in chaos. Time is our most precious resource to balance.
As you start a new school year, or just begin a new week, first think about how you use those seconds.
— beth triplett
Oftentimes we are so convinced that our point of view is the right one, if not the only one, that we don’t pause to consider that our perception reality may be way off base.
Such was the case when I first saw the picture above of the beautiful parrot…
then I learned that it isn’t a bird at all, rather a woman who is covered in body paint. (If you have trouble seeing her, start with the blue tail/her foot and work your way up to the white face and eye).
Just like that famous drawing of the old woman/young woman from psychology class, once you see both views, you have no trouble seeing them again, but when you first view it only one image comes into focus.
The next time you are in a discussion or debate and you can’t imagine how the other person holds the viewpoint they do, think about the painted woman above. Remember that while their argument may ruffle your feathers, to them it is just a different color of paint.
— beth triplett
Thanks to Curt for sharing!
Our annual employee picnic had always been a potluck. Like most such events, everyone brought far more than they could eat so a lot of food remained at the end. A ridiculous amount of leftovers, actually, so last year we made “assignments” as an attempt to cut down on what people brought. Half the people brought desserts, the other half beverages, and the rest was catered.
As a result, what was left was a copious amount of desserts and beverages. So this year, the event was 100% catered with no potluck dishes at all.
And it became ordinary. There were no special treats that you heard about at work and wanted to try. You didn’t learn about the favorite dish that your co-worker makes. Your beverage choices were punch or water. For dessert: cookies or brownies. It became generic and even institutional.
There is a trade off between not having to deal with the remaining food and having something become a special event. Just as when people grumble about participating in the talent show at the annual meeting, but later acknowledge that it creates memorable bonding. Pitching in a few bucks isn’t the same as walking in the charity fundraiser either.
Personal investment yields a high ROI in many intangible ways. Easier is not always better.
— beth triplett
I have been in a hundred situations where I saw someone that I knew and did not exchange a greeting. This isn’t with people I know well, of course, but with those who are acquaintances or even more remotely connected than that. If I see them out in a restaurant or store, I may not interrupt them to interject a greeting unless our paths naturally meet each other.
But the other day, I was out shopping and saw a former member of the arts council where I serve. I went over to her and said hello and this led to a wonderful conversation. I learned she is just beginning to pursue a doctoral degree and so I shared my words of encouragement regarding that as we had a nice chat.
The next day, I sent her an article* I had written about tips for finishing your dissertation. She wrote back one of those warm-your-heart-and-keep messages about how she has admired me, etc.
Had I not said hello, I wouldn’t have even known that I made any impression on her at all and who knows, perhaps the article will help her persist to finish her degree.
You never know the impact you are making on people or how much your interaction can mean. My exchange was a reminder of what we do know: that the little things — even a simple greeting — can help people be inspired or blessed.
Just like in the film Jerry Maguire, you had me at hello.
–— beth triplett
*if you would like a copy, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org