Monday, May 31, 2010

Just Start!

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. 
Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.” –Goethe

I believe that we let obstacles and excuses get in the way of our dreams.  Pay close attention to conversations about change.  The focus is typically on "what could be?" or "why we cannot do things differently".    Very little time is spent on the actions that need to take place.  We can debate the change that should occur in our world, lives, education, etc.  The unfortunate thing is that nothing changes unless someone is bold enough to begin it.  I have a couple of questions to ask as we wind down the present school year and plan for the next.  
  1. What are you bold enough to change?
  2. What actions are you willing to take to accomplish the change?
  3. How can we change conversations to focus on what truly matters?
The most important thing is that we opt to be bold, take action, and enjoy the moments that follow... B

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Is Being in the Majority a Good Thing?

"Whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, 
it's time to pause and reflect."

- Mark Twain

Somebody recently said that they begin to get nervous when people start to agree with them.  I love this quote because it reminds me to continually reflect no matter what side I find myself on.  Complacency can easily occur when you are on the side of the majority.  It is the downfall of many people/organizations.  You have to continually reflect on your practices, beliefs, etc.  How do you do this when the majority of people are telling you that you are doing great and headed in the right direction?  I have two ideas that I find helpful.

1.  TIME - Set aside daily time for reflection.  It is the first thing to get cut out of a busy day but you cannot let it.  Decisions, initiatives, etc. should be continually assessed to determine the effectiveness.

2.  THE VOICE OF REASON/INSANITY - Find someone who gets the work that you do and the direction that you are moving in.  This person is easily identifiable because they never just tell you what you want to hear.  You can also identify this person because they have the innate ability to ask questions that will challenge your thinking.  This person/people will be critical to your continued growth in your journey to be who you were meant to be.

I don't find myself on the side of the majority often.  I think it has a lot to do with setting aside time and having that 'everything' person.  Keep in mind that you really aren't changing/challenging anything if you aren't making someone upset.  How do you continue to push yourself forward? B

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Creating the Future

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." -Albert Einstein

How does it happen? 
When does it start? 
Where does it go wrong?

When do you start using the phrases... 
"This is how we have always done it."  
"That will never work here."
"Things are just fine the way they are"

You encounter these phrases often when you are trying to implement change or move an initiative forward.  If you do not encounter these phrases, you really aren't moving anything.

Many organizations attempt to use the same logic that caused a problem to solve it.  The concept of recycling is alive and well in many organizations as the same ideas continue to be implemented year after year.    

Unleashing creativity will be the key to sustained improvement in tomorrow's organizations.  How do you unleash creativity and stop recycling ideas?  Here are a couple of suggestions.

1. Lead by Example - Take chances, publicize failures, and model the thinking that leads to improvement.

2. Incubate Ideas - Give new, different ideas a safe place to be tested.  Successful ideas can then be scaled up and implemented effectively because people have a visual of what it should look like.

3. Reward Forward Failure - Forward failure can be defined as any effort to make improvement that doesn't work as planned but gets you closer to the end goal.  Provide opportunities, supports, and incentives for people who dare to be different.

Fostering failure and risk-taking will lead to a brighter future in the end. How are you creating the future where you are? B 

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Humility, Blinders, and the Impossible

"You can't go back and make a new beginning, 
but you can start today and make a new ending "

What role does humility play in trying to do the impossible?  This is something that has dominated my current thinking.  Success can be contagious and can easily lead you away from your mission.  In an effort to do impossible things, you can end up becoming an impossible person.

I recently read a post entitled "Blinders".  I even passed it on to a good friend because I thought the message was important.  The post focused on keeping your blinders on.  I believe that there are times to put on blinders but there are also times to remove them.  This post explores both.

Blinders are critical when it comes to focusing on your mission.  It is very easy to get wrapped up in what other people are doing/not doing.  This can absolutely overwhelm you and make you lose sight of what is important.  There are times as a leader that you need to put on your blinders in an effort to stay focused on the things/people that are truly important.

There are also times to remove your blinders.  Blinders can be detrimental when it comes to how you are perceived as a leader.    Leaders must be cognizant on how their message is delivered and more importantly how it is received.  Leaders must take the time to remove their blinders in order to conduct a 360 degree evaluation.  It is important to get honest feedback from all levels of the organization about your performance, attitude, etc.

Leaders can easily fall into the trap of putting on blinders when it comes to themselves and removing blinders when it comes to the work that everyone else has in front of them.  Exceptional leaders understand when to put on blinders and when to remove them.  It is this type of situational awareness and self awareness that separates good leaders from great ones.  I've realized recently that I haven't been using my blinders very effectively.  This realization (with help) has me focused on exploring the relationship between humility and leadership.  Here are two important things to know about humility.

  1. Humility can go a long way in a leader's journey towards success.  It is important to remember that you are always part of something bigger.  A leader typically falls when they put themselves before the mission/organization.  This is an easy trap to fall into when you encounter success. 
  2. It is also important to remember that every member of the team brings something unique to the table.  Great leaders capitalize on each individual person's talent in order to move the organization forward.  It is very easy to get caught up in focusing on shortcomings and deficits.  This will not get a leader very far because organizations are only successful if we all move forward.  
Great leaders lead from a place of influence, not position.  This influence begins with a strong sense of humility and the proper use of blinders.

Stay Focused. Remain Humble. Do the Impossible.  B