Management Form of Writer’s Block

By | Active Listening, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Workplace, Workplace Development

Making a decision should be easy for managers.

However, when the cost of not making a decision is lower than the risk of experiencing consequences from the impacts of a wrong decision, managers tend to experience paralysis.

Writers share a similar mental experience when they navigate the fear of showing up to do the work of writing and the fear of that work being rejected. In this case, writers experience writer’s block.

Both writer’s block in artists and paralysis by analysis in managers come from the same root: Fear.

The Resistance to making a decision, showing up, experiencing consequences, or doing the work to make the change in the first place, is strong, persistent, and unyielding.

Managers can be artists and creative with people as well as writers can with words, idioms or ideas; or, they can be technicians in the way that writers can be merely typists.

But either way, showing up and doing the work persistently and consistently, is the only act that frees us from paralysis and blockage.

Digital Wisdom

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, Networking, New Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Technology, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Twitter, Twitter, Virtue, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

Many people who have the historical memory of a different communication world,  intuit that the digital world is moving too fast, taking away too much of the “old” world and values that used to be held dear, and is corroding what has remained.

There is also the unstated worry, that the world of digital is moving so fast that it has passed by the wise, in favor of the ignorant, ever seeking knowledge, but failing to ever find the Truth.

The list of problems and issues these people have with modern digital communication are endless:

Lack of relevant empathy.

Increases in narcissism.

Lack of ability to listen.

Loss of critical thinking skills.

Loss of interpersonal communication skills.

Valuing speed to being first over the patience to determine whether you could be wrong.

And so on. And so on. And so on.

I have immense empathy for those who believe that the world is passing them by.

There is an incalculable need for human wisdom from all areas and perspectives to add value by leveraging new digital tools, that it would be a shame to let people other than the wise, to have all the fun in our new digital paradises.

Don’t you agree?

Thinking You Know the Answer

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Training, Workplace, Workplace Development

Thinking you know the answer to the question before its even asked, is a sign of a mind that is at the bottom, impatient, arrogant, and prideful.

When you think you know the answer before the question is asked, you have to wonder if curiosity and empathy, or impatience and self-interest are the  motives that are driving you.

Thinking you know the punchline, before the joke is even finished, demonstrates that your ability to be open to the new—is really closed.

Now, there are some answers to some rudimentary questions that are obvious.

But there are so many places to add value to the human experience—through effective conflict engagement, the application of radical self-awareness, and the use of connective storytelling—that we need more people to be impatient for the joke to continue.

And for the punchline to remain non-obvious.

However, if individuals continue jumping to conclusions about the answers to hard problems with non-obvious solutions, in a race to the bottom to “just be done” already, well…

…we all have seen how that has worked out in the past to solve the hardest human problems.

Haven’t we?

Beginnings are Overrated

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Mediation, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Speaking, Storytelling

Beginnings are overrated and too often imbued with meaning.

Endings are also overrated and too often imbued with criticisms, “what if’s” and irrelevancies.

It’s what’s in the middle that counts the most.

Who did what, where, how and why. And, of course, what was shipped.

When you begin a new project, hire new people, or start working on a new idea, remember three things:

The longer you stick with a formula, the more chance it has, to work. This doesn’t mean that you stick with a losing formula, or that you stick with a formula that has not chance of a positive outcome. It means that changing in mid-stream is a bad idea.

The more innovation you can build in at the beginning of a project, the more likely creativity will be the key thing that will be valued—even in the mundane. Many people don’t build expectations, clear communication, or follow-through into their projects. In the rush to get a result out the door, they neglect the small things that will ensure innovation and change happen even as they stay the course.

The smaller bets you make, the smaller wins you are guaranteed, which will lead to much larger wins further along the way. The compound effect is real and has real consequences. Aim small, miss small. The bigger the goals, the bigger the risk, and the less likelihood your project will ship out the door.

Beginnings are overrated and too often imbued with meaning.

Endings are also overrated and too often imbued with criticisms, “what if’s” and irrelevancies.

It’s what’s in the middle that counts the most.

But If The Answer Is…

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Reconciliation, Relationships, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

When followers say that they want self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management as traits in their best leaders, then leaders must ask questions starting with the words “why,” “how,” and “what.”

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “why,”is an ever-descending whirlpool of internal negativity, defensiveness, and fear-based answers in leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose for pursuing the attaining of self-awareness is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “how” is applying, and advocating for, ever-increasing layers of organizational bureaucracy and lethargy in the team, then followers must ask what the real purpose of storytelling is.

But, if the answer to questions beginning with “what,”is endless handwringing about the potential consequences of actions before they are even taken by leaders, then followers must ask what the real purpose of positive conflict will be.

Self-awareness, storytelling, and conflict management are the only traits that matter in the 21st century if we want leaders to lead effectively.

These traits—which are really skills—are also critical to encourage if we want to create more leaders rather than more compliant followers.

The lack of inner curiosity, desire to care, and hiding from decisions are the real skills hobbling the development and growth of the kinds of leadership that followers say they want.

Let’s eliminate those skills first.

The Dip Within the Dip

By | Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Persuasion, Platform Building, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy

The act of working to get out of a dip, as it is happening, is a dip in and of itself.

The dip, of course, is the place that we all get stuck in when we’ve invested so much that we believe we can’t go backward, and that we are so buried in (emotionally, financially, psychologically) that we can’t see a way out.

And then we quit. In the dip.

When we are in the dip, however, certain acts we engage in create that place of being stuck. The acts of trying to exit the dip, become dips themselves.

Since no one tells us when we’re in the dip, and since no one tells us when our process of getting out of the dip is compromised, the act of knowing what acts are dips in and of themselves, becomes a necessary skill, rather than a “nice to have.”

Knowing what to focus on and when will help you travel through the dip to the goal that we are seeking to achieve. But just working on projects and patterns that will distract us from having to think about the dip’s we’re in, is a form of hiding.

We need to hide less and work more.

Our 1,000th Post

By | Emotional Intelligence, Advice, Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Facebook, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Platform Building, Presentations, Reconciliation, Relationships, Resolution, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Speaking, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Twitter, Twitter, Website, Workplace, Workplace Development

I thought it would take less time to hit this milestone than it has taken.

But that’s not an unusual expectation. Many people overestimate what they can do in a year and underestimate what they can accomplish in ten years.

My expectations with this blog started out high minded and then crashed to earth and then became high-minded again.

But with 1,000 published posts, some of which are guest posts, podcast episodes, and other sundry items, I can say, with some assurance, that I have gone further than I thought I would.

And you have responded.

You have retweeted, e-mailed, reposted, commented, Facebook “liked” and “shared” posts, and have even gone as far as to reach out to me offline to give me feedback.

That’s how this blog grows.

It’s not like kudzu, where you plant a vine and then come back a year later and there’s growth without investment.

It’s more like planting corn: Some years it’s good. Other years it’s not so good. But the farmer still tills the soil, plants the seed, prays on the knees, and then brings in whatever harvest there may be.

Year after year. Bumper crops and thin ones.

What comes next? What does post 1,001 to 2,000 look like?

Well, there’s another book coming this year, a collection of my best posts about work, disrupting your workplace, and how to accomplish all of that while also disrupting your boss. And it’s about why external training and development doesn’t work for the creation of change.

Look for that in the Fall of 2018.

There will also be a shift as parts of this blog go elsewhere on the web to serve other functions.

In 2018, as I advance and grow my personal brand, the writing will separate, and my blog posts covering conflict management, self-awareness, storytelling, and other contemporary leadership and people management skills and best practices will be featured in this space more prominently

Articles about personal leadership, business development, branding, entrepreneurship, bootstrapping, risk-taking, marketing, social media, the future of human communication on the Internet, and other more personal brand based content will migrate to a new site, focused on building my personal brand with an eye towards keynotes and speaking opportunities.

Look for this split to happen gradually, and then all at once by the Fall of 2018.

But no matter how it plays out, I want to thank you for joining me on the journey so far.

I write this blog because it’s good for my mental and physical health.

I write this blog because it’s good for my writing muscle and it further establishes my own “voice” in my own head.

I write this blog, because it connects me to you, whether that connection happens now, or one, two, five, ten, or twenty years from now.

I write this blog, whether anybody will read this blog or blogs in the future that I may launch, or not.

I write this blog, because the acts of thinking, writing, and then publishing to the world, is still an amazing thing—even in a world of Internet thinness.

So, the real question is where would you and I like to go next?

Internet Thinness

By | Advice, Blog, Culture, Education, Facebook, Google, Media, Negotiation, New Posts, Old Posts, Platform Building, Social, Social Communication, Social Media, Website

There is a species of thinness at the center of most of what you are reading, absorbing, and choosing to be activated by, on the Internet.

Social media (from YouTube to Soundcloud) drives a lot of this thinness by providing distractions, by watering down complicated subjects, and by blasting your attention and awareness repeatedly.

There were many people who believed that the rise of the Internet would herald deeper, more intimate connections between people.

They believed that the mechanism of combining television, radio, computer technology, and phone and cable lines, would herald a newer, fresher, more meaningful communication experience for humanity.

They believed that the Internets’ ability to scale empathy, connection, and action, would overcome the human tendencies toward tribalism, passivity, and disconnection.

And to a certain degree, they were right.

At scale, however, it only took a little while, for the forces of the big to take over and dominate the center of the Internet communication schema, and to use it for their own ends.

Which typically means to sell you more stuff at a faster rate, than ever dreamed of before…

…and as the long tail has gotten even longer, and as the “get rich quick” artists have fallen away;

…and as the large communication conglomerates have dominated more and more of the center;

…and as the average person has decided that active publishing and shipping is too hard, and that passive consumption is easier;

…and as the metrics of engagement have proven to be more and more inflated;

…the thinness of the big dominating the center, has become more and more apparent.

In the face of these realities, the hard thing now is to stick to the outer edges of the Internet universe; to do the work of publishing hard, thick, crusty ideas; to be committed to the building of communities of like-minded people over years (and in some cases decades); and to do, say, show, and commit to the hard thing without hope of payoff.

Instant, or otherwise.

It will take a long time for the thinness to thicken up in most of what you read, absorb, and choose to be activated by, on the Internet.

At this rate, it may take another twenty years.

But if you choose not to ship, choose not to participate, choose only to observe, it may be impossible for you to act when you’re ready.

Start this year.

No One Cares How Hard the Work Is

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Culture, Dysfunction, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Truth, Workplace, Workplace Development

Here is a brutal, unavoidable, and unpleasant truth: No one cares how hard the work you’re doing is.

The fact is, many people believe their own story more than they will ever believe yours. And their story is one that involves their work. And their work is always harder than your work.

The fact is, many people (although they would never say this out loud) believe that their pain—disappointments, disputes, troubles, failures—is more important, more pernicious, more deep, than your pain.

The phrase “You don’t know me. You don’t know my pain,” has real resonance with many people.

The fact is, they are right: You don’t know them. You will never know their pain.

And that knowledge of that pain is unimportant in the grand scheme of how hard the work that they are doing is. Your pain is also unimportant in the grand scheme of how hard the work that you are doing is.

But many people care about the process of shipping the hard work.

Process is the thing that fascinates, connects, resonates, and ships. Seeking empathy (or sympathy) around the hardness of shipping the work, producing the work, or failing at getting enough people to care about the work, doesn’t scale.

Get your audience to care about your process, not about how hard the process is.