What does love look like?
Let’s talk about how we show people that we care. Do we buy things for them? Do we cook for them? Clean up after them? Provide a home? All of these things take a lot of time… and energy.
Attention, the rarest of commodities
What is one of the most important (and ‘cheapest’) things we can do for our children, spouse, friends, relatives, employees?
We can listen to them. Look them in the eye and give them our full attention. Try to do it for one full minute. Is it difficult? Do you feel like you ‘should’ be doing something else? email, texts, reading, exercising, paperwork, etc.
Giving someone our full attention isn’t easy in the age of distraction. Check out this terrific post by the wonderful Beth Kanter on improving focus (simple ideas to practice) when there’s too much going on.
Just for today, pick one person. Turn everything off. Sit down with them and ask them a question and then listen to the answer. Can you repeat back to them what they said? Did you really hear them? Were you able to ask follow up questions? Did you understand how they felt, whether they told you or not? Be generous with your ATTENTION, with the people who mean the most to you. Let me know how it goes.
Image credit: Listen closely photographer credit: 20 questions
Quote credit: Simone Weil Image credit: Quotesville.net
Be Strong not Stubborn
Firm not Harsh
Flexible not Fickle
Humble not Proud
Helpful not Showy
Affectionate not Hurtful
Annoyed not Resentful
The Glue and not the Crack
Being You yet Accepting others
Brave yet Grateful
Helpful yet Modest
Right yet Wrong
Successful yet Grounded
Angry yet Composed
There are a lot of benefits to being a grown up and there’s a bunch of sh*t too. In reading this ‘definition’ of maturity, I was struck by the list of ‘opposites. “be the glue, not the crack.” The reality is that sometimes we are the crack. No matter how hard we try NOT to be. It’s complicated to be right yet wrong, successful and grounded, firm and not harsh.
The reality is that some of us will mature more fully. Lots of things get in the way of being mature… #1 is ego and I equate a big ego to someone who isn’t confident. They push and pull their way through life. The sharp edges never wear off. No. Matter. What.
My favorite saying on this list and the one I’ve worked hard on is “angry yet composed.” Being raised a ‘girl,’ I was taught, shown and constantly reinforced – girls don’t get angry. It’s ok for boys, after all, they’re boys. (Yeah, I feel sick too). Growing up in a very dysfunctional home, it was easy to be angry. I was good at it. I had a lot of practice. so what was I supposed to do with it. Channel it into new lipsticks and hairdos?
Remember, I was born before the legislation that changed the lives of American women forever, Title IX (pros and cons article).
The law that sports had to be equal for men and women. Prior to Title IX, sports were not available to women. Hell, we’ve only had the right to vote since August 26, 1920. 95 years! There are women alive today who couldn’t vote in the early part of their lives. It’s hard for me to imagine.
So now that traditional outlets for learning, growing, understanding winning and losing, choosing our own destiny, etc. are available to us, finding a way to be angry and composed is easier. Not easy, but at least today, I’ve got a clue.
When I take my dog outside and it’s windy … she stops and puts her face directly into the wind, even if it’s cold outside. It’s like she’s thinking, this wind is awesome … life is good.
In Paul Simon’s song, “I Know What I Know,” he uses the phrase.. “who am I blow against the wind?”
I take the lyrics to mean… “if you say so.” If you think I’m rich, a loser, a genius, a nut job… who am I to try to change your mind? It implies a passive attitude toward life. For me, that takes a lot of energy. Of course, it takes energy to stand up, speak up and challenge also. Sometimes we are greeted with a sh*tstorm. Sometimes we are patted on the head. Sometimes we help make a difference.
Rocker Bob Seger sang a song called, “Against the Wind.” In the song, Seger seems to think that as a young man, he didn’t do what was expected of him… that he did what he wanted, whether other people liked it or not. Then he got old and stopped ‘running against the wind.”
I think that there are times to run with the wind and times to run against it. No one can tell us when to go with or against. I will suggest that if you always run with (too conforming) or run against (too “too”), then think about mixing it up a little.
I’ve always run against more than with and for me, it’s been good.
Do you run with or against the wind?
Now that I am old(erish), I thought my curiosity about the world would decrease. After all, it’s gotten me into plenty of trouble.
When I read, “The Routine Gene – Can Productivity and Creativity Coincide?” I knew that my love of ambiguity/curiosity was alive and well. That’s because I have a high CQ (curiosity quotient). This is in contrast to my IQ (aka Intelligence Quotient) or EQ (Emotional Quotient).
Our “curiosity quotient is measured by how inquisitive and open to new situations we are. People with higher CQ, dislike routine, but embrace ambiguity and have a knack for finding simple solutions to complex problems.”
The following quote (from the article) describes my approach to routine and creativity:
“The art is finding the balance between turning everything you do that is repeatable into a well-oiled machine (call it ‘a routine’) whilst keeping all your attention and senses open for serendipity and creativity. The best entrepreneurs zip through life on autopilot where their creativity isn’t needed and bring intense focus to those areas where they can make a huge difference.” This manifests itself in various ways; I generally eat the same thing for breakfast. Steve Jobs wore a black turtle neck and jeans.
If you are bored with your work or your life, maybe you need to figure out how to up your CQ. I like to ‘feed’ my curiosity. Here are few ways that I do it:
- Watch a movie and imagine I am the director. What would I have changed? Who would I have cast?
- Take a walk outside and appreciate the simple complexity of nature. I look very closely at tree bark, rocks, flowers. I look at the pattern, the texture, the color and I smell everything.
- Listen to someone talk about what they love to do. Somehow, watching and witnessing their joy and passion is completely inspirational.
How do you feed your curiosity?
Photo credit: Eugene O’Neill Quotes
“Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill
The whole point of life is to keep trying. Fall down, get up, stumble; stumble forward.
Many people don’t understand the joy of trying and failing. Somehow they gauge their worth by things; not by how many times they fall on their face and get back up.
I’m begging you; be weird. The world needs you.
Image credit: Banksy
What Is a DTM?
I was one of those employees labeled as ‘difficult to manage.’ When I worked in corporate america, I wasn’t intimidated by anyone’s position in the company. I tended to say my ideas out loud, even when they weren’t solicited. I was comfortable organizing chaos and happy when working with a team to make progress where others didn’t see how it could be done. I haven’t changed; much.
In this article in the Harvard Business Review, “Improve Your Ability to Learn,” I finally feel vindicated. Here’s how they describe such an employee (aka me).
“While talented, Alex had come to be known behind closed doors by the moniker “DTM” – difficult to manage. He marched to the beat of his own drummer, and he wasn’t afraid to challenge the status quo. He loved a challenge, and he was comfortable taking risks.”
Oh, Oh, Now What Do I Do?
The point of this article is that some DTM’s can be exemplary in their ability to learn, including the importance of “learning agility, a set of qualities and attributes that allow an individual to stay flexible, grow from mistakes, and rise to a diverse array of challenges.” It’s gratifying to know that my brashness and challenging personality were actually good things.
Here are some characteristics of DTM’s – we tend to be more extroverted, focused, original and resilient and less accommodating to slow progress and excuses. If you have these characteristics, try the following – look for stretch assignments, regularly seek real input and most of all, enhance your listening skills. As for me, I’m old… too late for me to get along like a nice girl.
Photo credit: Five tips
Imagine All The People, Living Life in Peace
John Lennon wrote a song called Imagine. The song asks us to imagine a world with out countries, religion, ‘nothing to kill or die for…’
Part of this “imagining” fundamentally denies or perhaps ‘polishes’ our human desire for belonging. Without color, race, nationality, language, heritage, family… how do we know were we belong? But it is exactly that ‘belonging’ that separates us from one another. I’m a Christian, you’re a Muslim. We’re different.
Part of our ‘comfort’ with the world is predictability. Being able to know what will happen next. My daily rituals order in my life. But it is precisely in ‘not knowing’, taking a risk, going on a adventure, that we become stronger and more fully human.
Connect With The Person, Let Go Of Your ‘Belonging’
For today, I’m going to ask you to think of someone whose point of view you simply don’t understand. Now, picture yourself as them. Going to work, loving their family, eating lunch with a friend. Are they really all that different from you?
The next time you feel misunderstood, encounter someone thinks you’re crazy or you feel isolated in your view of the world… stop and say, it’s ok. We disagree. I’m not lost, they are not lost. We simply disagree. I don’t have to make sure that they know I’m right.
Thanks to Seth Godin for the idea for this post. Title credit: Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood – The Animals
Photo credit: Does not work CarbonNYC
Today’s Hustle Is
… have a company, get money from other people, learn on their nickel. A lot of good that comes from this. Ideas get vetted and people learn valuable skills. What’s not good – the idea that you need to be the leader of a company, ‘your’ company. Everyone has to listen to YOU. You make the rules, you decide what happens. You’re in charge.
This. is. not. leadership.
Being a Leader Requires Self-Awareness
It takes a big person to look in the mirror and say, I am not good at that. And I don’t mean… I’m not good at math. I mean, I’m not a good listener, I’m not generous, I’m self-absorbed.
When we try to lead others without self-awareness, we simply draw them into our drama. We may be very smart or charismatic or well-connected and that’s how we’ve gotten as far as we have. But when it comes to knowing ourselves, we’re nowhere.
Do you know someone over 40 who is completely oblivious of the effect his/her personality on others? Especially in the workplace? It’s depressing.
Get On With It
Areas for examination are: personality, values, habits, needs and emotions. Here’s Gary Vaynerchuk’s take on the importance of self awareness. He suggest that we audit ourselves. I’m going to work on my audit. I’m going to start with habits. I think I need some new ones.
Good Leader vs. Great Manager
Would you rather be a good leader or a great manager? There isn’t a ‘right’ answer. It’s all in what you value, probably the stage of your career and many other factors. Lots of people think they are both a good manager and a good leader. The reality is, that rarely are people really good at both.
Recognizing Your Natural Strengths
Years ago, I took a leadership and strategic planning course. The instructor insisted that people who weren’t ‘born’ leaders, including the ability to think strategically, could be trained to do so. I disagreed then and I disagree now.
I think each of us has a natural strength toward either leadership or “managership.” We can build leadership “skills,” which are very important, but the notion that we can ‘teach’ people to be great leaders is problematic.
Learning to be a good manager is hard and takes a long time. Good managers make the team feel positive and empowered. Good managers take themselves out of the equation and focus on the task and the team.
Maybe I’m Wrong
But wait, most mothers (and a lot of dads) are the ultimate managers. They know how to get things done. They make it look easy to run a household, feed, clothe, educate, chauffeur, etc. At the same time, they lead each child to be their very best. Maybe classroom teachers learn both. Maybe master tradesmen, learn both.
Maybe if you practice every day, seven days a week, 365 days a year, for 20 years; you learn both.
“Never tell people how to do things. Tell them what to do and they will surprise you with their ingenuity.” – George S. Patton
Watch a child learning to walk. We let them fall down, over and over; they have lots of ways to get that toy. They’ll crawl, knee-walk, butt-slide and many more ways we’d never consider. If we dictated when and how our child learned to walk, would that be better than letting them find their own way? No. Because they are learning more than just walking. They are learning to learn, to gain command over their muscles.
The older we are, the more we want to tell people what to do AND how to do it. We’re afraid they might not do it … “the way we want.” When was the last time you let the people around you (co-workers, family members, etc.) figure out the ‘how’ to get something done.
The Power of Letting Go
There is a place in the world for control freaks (think safety). But if General Patton was able to let soldiers find the “how” within the structure of the military, then surely we can let go of the “how” at work and at home.
People rise to the occasion if they understand what they’re supposed to do and, whenever possible, WHY they need to do it. Sometimes when people complain about having to much to do, it’s because they don’t know how to let go, ask for help, or see that there are many ways to solve a problem. Think about it.
Photo credit: Happily Learning to Walk Delta Mike