Interesting research recently indicating that empowering people who lack a sense of belonging causes them to be more insensitive to others. Power without belonging leads to uncaring. This explains th bullying of leaders who feel increasingly isolated and competitive. Creating connections becomes key to a culture of mutual respect.
There is mounting evidence that our sense of the future is perhaps more significant than our sense of the past. This is true for things we call optimism and depression, agency and helplessness, compassion and apathy.
It is what brings life and power to liberating structures like the Agile Canvas and Open Space. Our sense of the future animates and focuses the mindful present. New questions all find their source in a new lens on the future. When we want to reshape the present, we need to reshape our sense of the future through new questions.
Some people feel they do their best work alone. They feel more productive and creative. Collaboration lands somewhere between inefficient compromises and unfulfilling distractions. They often have important and useful contributions to collaborations when invited and engaged. It is a benefit to any group to make these invites and engagements happen. Everyone ultimately benefits.
One of the most valuable gifts of leaders is inspiration. Good leaders practice a bias for being inspiring rather than managing by hope, criticism and bullying. They inspire with new questions, storytelling, useful feedback and connecting people. People grow capacity for mindfulness and learning when they are inspired more than perspired.
Being focused and productive starts with being reflective. Bouncing between meetings, emails, social media and obligations does not make for a reflective life. Reflection happens with journaling. I would suggest from experience that journaling delivers a uniquely better reflective expedience than many forms of meditation or yoga. The benefits are vast.
The quality of our attention is a habit. If we practice monkey mind of distraction, anything can be an object of attention. The habit of focus becomes more possible when we own our attention. We do this by accepting that when our attention goes to something, it's when we put it there. Nothing has the power to attract or distract us. We do that. As soon as we stop blaming technology for the quality of our attention, we empower ourselves to grow capacity for intentional focus.
We were in a conversation this week with a room full of twenty and thirty somethings who work for a company whose question is how people can do emails better. It's incredible to us in this age where we have more apps that we could ever need to eliminate all emails altogether. We still have miles to go before we sleep.
The idea that people believe what their tribe believes is as old a narrative as human experience. The idea that equal credibility could be given to data that defies tribal beliefs is a more recent development in the human narrative arc.
It's bringing about a new tribe. This is the tribe that believes that data is our friend, not the enemy. Buddhism is one of the oldest traditions in this tribal perspective, even today when we hear the Dalai Lama say you cannot be Buddhist and deny quantum physics.
Being confronted with open contradictions between data and tribal beliefs sends people into existential tailspins. The choice feels life threatening and untenable. If we can't live with the question about what each has to offer, we can default to the more viscerally imperative protection of tribal narratives. Escaping the dilemma becomes possible in living from new questions.
The old leadership conversation on accountability was attention to clearly communicating extrinsic consequences to good and bad performance.
The new leadership conversation is about learning. Performance improves when people learn new ways of working. Consequences don't cause learning. People learn when they have the why and how to do so. Learning requires courage. Fear, which naturally occurs with the imposition or threat of consequences, prevents learning and makes people more learning disabled.
"An Improbable Courage" is the first of this year's new work, book 22, hopefully out by the end of the year. It's a series of meditations on courage. Courage supports us in any life and career transitions, personal changes and adventures, in recovery from loss and in beginning any new relationships. Courage is what we do in the face of uncertainty. It transcends optimism and pessimism. It is commitment to discovery.
In a workshop we did yesterday, I had the opportunity to provoke people with the reality that, according to hundreds of studies, the more we focus on our strengths and those of others, the more they grow.
Strengths live on passion and quality continua. We have more to less passion for them. The more passion, the more likely we are to engage them. We have more or less quality in how we engage them. The more quality, the more value a strength yields. We grow strengths in passion and quality through understanding our why, learning from others who have more mastery with them, and practicing them.
Time doesn't expand or contract in reaction to the size of our todo lists. We never get more or less time. It is a constant and not manageable because managing something implies the ability to change it somehow. The idea of time management is pure illusion, and the basis for a plethora of unrealistic expectations and accompanying frustration. All we can manage is how we create and sustain momentum in whatever we have to do, all the musts and wants.
One of the first steps in becoming less distracted is owning our distractedness. This means no longer blaming other people and things. It's knowing that and how we distract ourselves. We are not distracted by other people, technology, emails, alerts, and the plethora of possible unplanned phenomena in our everyday experience. As soon as we own it, we choose when and how we want to be distracted.
Many organizations continue to romance mythological lip service to "holding people accountable" which is code for making sure people know they will have some flavor of punishment or at least sanction for violating dictatorial rules. It's an insult to higher performers and has no power over low performers. It can sometimes intimidate some middle performers into convenient and temporary compliance that lowers their sense of agency.
The frame was the only valid model we had until we had the actual science on what causes people to learn, grow, engage and contribute value. None of this has to do with living in a state of fear or hiding. It has everything to do with focus on passion and strengths while feeling connected, free and valued.
There is a close relationship between innovation and not making market assumptions. We become more innovative in the B2C when we don't assume one generation will want what another wants. We become more innovative in the B2B space when we don't assume one industry sector will want what another wants. Innovation is a dynamic process of listening.
In making any work process more lean, one of the most critical components is the team's capacity for mindfulness. Even the best engineered process will suffer when people are easily distracted and reactive. Being mindful is the shortest distance to any desired outcomes.
From birth, we learn naturally through observing, experimenting, inquiry, feedback and reflection. Most of our most significant learning happens without courses, classes and programs. It is from this reality that we should think about how students, employees and leaders learn. This implies that they would learn in these five core areas of meta-learning. The implications are particularly significant for any kind of life, work, profession and career learning.
Meetings are expensive time real estate in all teams. Worst use of meetings is status updates that people should be doing with any kind of shared app. Best use is live work sessions, which are best organized with clear deliverable questions, preceded by individual work.
We're more and more moving from hierarchies to networks in thinking how communities grow. In networks, no one is in charge. Whatever gets done gets done by new collaborations of dreaming, discovering and doing. Working in networks means working in natural relationships through inclusion, trust and shared efforts.
Many organizations practice the myth that knowing what personality boxes other people "fit" in helps us relate to them better. Now that we have better, more valid, tools for appreciating the gifts of ourselves and others, we spend more time on the growth mindset question of how we want to grow. Knowing this is infinitely more useful than the fixed mindset of personality identifications.