leadership dot #2762: precise

I understand the volatility of weather patterns and the difficulty in predicting specific outcomes. What I don’t understand are the inconsistencies within the same app forecasting for the same time period. For example, in the “daily forecast” the app showed a high of 50 degrees, but in the “hourly” predictions, 48 was the warmest it would get. I realize there is little difference in two degrees, but the lack of internal integrity calls the whole forecast into question for me.

Think about your organization and whether your employees act in the same manner as the weather app. Do your customers receive different answers depending upon who they ask? Do you provide updated information to your front line so that facts can remain current and accurate? Is there a process to monitor and evaluate the replies that are given?

Maybe the variances are minor but there should be certain responses that are consistent throughout. Strengthen your communication with internal alignment and practiced precision about the numbers that matter.

leadership dot #2616: mile marker 1

Musician Lzzy Hale bought her house because it had a mantle to display her prized trophies: one, a Grammy that her band Halestorm won in 2012, and her “other favorite trophy”, the Schukill County Fair 3rd place trophy that the band won in 1997. She describes that as “equally monumental – mile marker 1.”

Halestorm has been performing over 20 years with another Grammy nomination and many other mile markers along their path, but Lzzy stays grounded by remembering the band’s humble beginnings and the roots that got the group started.

We often focus on the end goal but sometimes forget the importance of mile marker 1. It’s easy to diminish the importance of that initial landmark – when someone actually pays you for what you do, when you are quoted for the first time, when you receive that initial recognition – but it can be that early beacon of hope that keeps you going forward.

Starting on a long journey is tough. By the time you have slogged through hundreds of steps to get to the first mile, you need a marker to acknowledge that even though there are many steps to go, those initial ones have meant something. So, even if it’s a third-place trophy from a county fair, cherish the markers that indicate all those incremental steps are getting you somewhere.

Thanks, Mike!

leadership dot #2594: power wash

I have been lamenting about my filthy windows since winter. I tried to borrow a power washer to no avail. The person I tried to hire never returned my calls. Finally, my housemate purchased a power washer and tonight we tackled the big task.

It struck me that with my “flippable” windows that tilt in, I ended up doing all of the window washing from inside without any power washer involved. In other words, I could have had this done since March. Yes, power washing the screens made a huge difference. Yes, washing the outside casings and siding makes the house look so much better. But for the part that bugged me the most, no new equipment was needed; it was just a matter of doing it.

Isn’t that the case with so many dreaded tasks? We put off exercising until we join a gym or fitness class when simple walking would make progress toward strength and health. We avoid beginning that project at work until we install new project management software when a simple legal pad could get us started. We eat out because we don’t have 100% of the ingredients instead of making an easy substitution.

The mind works magic when trying to avoid an unpleasant task. The next time you catch yourself listing reasons why you can’t do something until ______, power wash the thought from your head. I’ll bet there is a way, right now, without anything new, that you can take a step forward.

leadership dot #2503: not yet

When implementing something new or creating any kind of change there is a tension between wanting to be more ready and wanting to begin. It’s scary to launch when things are still imperfect but waiting too long can be a curse as well.

Researchers Amy Collier and Jen Ross have coined the term “not-yetness” to describe this not yet fully evolved or developed condition. “Not-yetness is the space that allows for emergence. Not-yetness is not satisfying every condition, not fully understanding something, not checklisting everything, not trying to solve every problem…but creating space for emergence to take us to new and unpredictable places, to help us better understand the problems we are trying to solve.”

They write of not-yetness in the context of technology in distance education, but I believe the concept can apply to all manner of projects. We should embrace the beginning and doing as a method for discovery, without any expectation that what we undertake will have been totally understood by just thinking and not doing. If we become more comfortable with the idea of “not yet”, it opens a window to the perspective that we expect to learn more, that we acknowledge that things aren’t fully figured out and that we are prepared to have a few things wrong at the initial stage.

Not-yetness lets us off the hook of perfection and gives us permission to publicly begin.

What are you working on that is not-yet-developed but could be shared today?

 

leadership dot #2460: crocus-minded

An unknown author captures the sentiment of what it feels like to be a change agent by comparing it to a crocus at the start of spring. The poem conveys this challenge:

It takes courage to be crocus-minded.

I’d rather wait until June like wise roses,
when the hazards of winter are safely behind and I’m expected.

Everything is ready for roses, but crocuses?

Knifing up through hard-frozen ground and snow,
sticking their necks out,
because they believe in spring and
have something personal and emphatic to say about it.

I am by nature rose-minded,
even when I have studied the situation
and know there are wrongs that need righting,
affirmations that need stating –
Well, I’d rather wait until June.

But somebody has to care enough
to think through and work through hard ground
because she believes she can do it
and knows there is someone greater than herself
to help her break through.

Me? Crocus-Minded?
I pray for courage.

It is always easier to let someone else go first; to allow them to forge the path and create a more conducive environment for growth, but, like crocuses, hardiness is required for those who wish to impact change.

Do you have the courage it takes to be crocus-minded – to persist even in the face of adversity – to go first and push through frozen ground to achieve growth? Use the spring blossom as a metaphor to remind yourself that it is worth the effort to be that burst of color in the snow.

Image by jplenio on Pixabay

 

 

 

 

leadership dot #2425: first follower

There is much written about leaders but not enough attention is given to those who follow. In this video clip “Leadership Lessons from Dancing Guy” Derek Sivers highlights the critical role that followers play in creating a movement –especially the pivotal role of the first follower.

“The first follower publicly shows everyone else how to follow,” he says. Once someone follows the leader “it’s not about the leader anymore; it’s about them.”

 We often give accolades and recognition to the leader but could do more to acknowledge the role that early followers play in creating change. It takes courage to be among the few who pledge their support to an early movement. It requires bravery to be an early adapter and to join in instead of waiting on the sidelines to see if others accept what is happening.

Leaders should think carefully about who could be the first followers to help them build the momentum needed for their plans to gain traction and then line up the early support of those people.

But everyone can play a critical role and exert influence in change efforts. Take the bold step of being a first follower to jump-start the movement you care about most.

Thanks, Amy!

 

 

leadership dot #2397: in three years

If you need an example of a growth mindset in action, look no further than the All-Pro Curling Team, a group of four former NFL players who have their sights set on making the 2022 Olympics as curlers. All-Pro Jared Allen and three other retired football players decided their competitive spirit wasn’t satisfied even though their professional gridiron careers had ended. So, they are seriously striving to make the Olympics in this lesser-known sport.

And taking it seriously. They have hired a former Olympian as coach. They fly from Nashville to Minnesota to practice on “good ice”. They played the full game against formidable competition to gain the experience. They understand the value of film review and making modifications based on feedback from coaches.

They began their journey three years before they would need to qualify for the Olympics. They know they are starting from the beginning but bring with them a growth mindset that tells them they can learn and get better, and they are willing to put in the effort.

Allen told ESPN that their biggest challenge was learning how to slide correctly on the ice. “We all fell a bunch,” he said. Yet they kept going, trying to win the Super Bowl of curling by first learning how to fall. “Our short-term goals are to continually get better: fundamentals, strategy, sweeping. We know if we master these little things, it will take us a long way,” he told the Associated Press.

In three years, these current novices just might make the Olympic team. In three years, what do you wish to accomplish? The time to start your journey is now.

Source: A new frozen tundra by Jimmy Golen for the Associated Press in the Telegraph Herald, January 6, 2019, p 8B