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.

Tough Crowds

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Culture, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, New Posts, Old Posts, Opinions, Organizational Development, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Speaking, Strategies, Strategy, Training, Workshop

Tough crowds are tough because they are skeptical, secure in their own assumptions, wedded to their own worldviews, and unwilling to be convinced.

The skill of being able to face that level of social norming—whether from a crowd of 5-year old’s in kindergarten to a crowd of intoxicated adults at your local comedy club—requires a little something more than bravery.

It requires the skill of being willing to die—metaphorically usually, but sometimes, with some crowds, literally—in order to prove a point, make an assertion, or to create a space for other people to advocate for a minority view of the world.

Being able to win crowds over by knowing your audience is another skill. As is knowing your own point of view inside and out. But, beyond that, there are two key elements to focus on when seeking to internally overcome the crushing psychic weight of a tough crowd:

Never lose focus on the point you’re making.

Don’t get your point caught in their weeds.

Tough crowds seek to tame and turn a presenter, or facilitator, for the purpose of serving their own motives and motivations, and for achieving their own desires and outcomes.

But when you realize that time, focus, and the strength of your position are more powerful than that of the crowds’, you will stay in sharp rhetorical shape.

And ready to face any tough crowds, anywhere.

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?

Necessary or Urgent

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Blog, Leadership, Negotiation, New Posts, Organizational Development, Persuasion, Reconciliation, Relationships, Speaking, Strategies, Strategy, Stress, Truth, Virtue

Urgent is what is needed right now.

Necessary is what is needed to make the “right now” accelerate faster toward resolving the tension inherent between the urgent and the not-so-urgent.

We confuse the necessary with the urgent, sometimes in the pursuit of speed (just get it done) or in the pursuit of fear (just stop the demand for urgency from being so—well—urgent).

Urgent emotional labor is all around us. Here are some examples:

  • Caring when it’s not “our turn” to care.
  • Listening to someone else’s perspective when we disagree.
  • Searching for hard answers to seemingly easy questions.
  • Truly understanding context and subtext in an interaction.
  • Delaying gratification in the moment.
  • Teaching without losing hope.
  • Learning without losing interest.
  • Sacrificing ourselves for ideas, projects, and people that will outlast our existence.

Necessary emotional labor is all around us. Here are some examples:

  • Feeding the hungry.
  • Clothing the naked.
  • Honoring the memory of the dead.
  • Telling the truth in love.
  • Facing the consequences of our mistakes.
  • Letting other people face the consequences of their own mistakes.
  • Preserving face at the expense of immediate gratification.
  • Not losing focus when the emotional going gets hard.
  • Pressing into the uncomfortable and doing more of the hard things.

Don’t confuse the necessary with the urgent.

Critical Thinking is a Byproduct of Education

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Culture, Education, Entrepreneurship, Networking, Neuroscience, New Posts, Opinions, Problem Solving, Relationships, Speaking, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Virtue

Critical thinking is a byproduct of education.

When a culture prioritizes the educational process as one that exists to indoctrinate minds, ensure conformity of behavior, and to socialize to a certain level, education transforms into something other than a vehicle for encouraging critical thinking.

When public education becomes something else, it serves to overpower and induct rather than something that serves to grow engagement and interaction with hard ideas—and tough (rather than utopian) choices about life, morality, ethics, and care.

Critical thinking becomes the byproduct of analyses, interaction, and engagement in a model that favors the development of such traits. In this scheme, critical thinking is not to be confused with “criticism-thinking”: where a conclusion is pre-determined and then the student is educated backward to make sure that their answers (and their thinking) conform to the “right” answer.

Whatever that answer may be.

Fake news” as a public information issue is exacerbated by the presence of a lack of critical thinking among college students: people who are exiting a public education system that overpowered their critical thinking (but not their “criticism-thinking”) long before they became encultured to the vagaries of choices and options in the world that only applied critical thinking could help them manage.

When the public focus is more on telling people what to think, because that process sells more papers, encourages more compliance, or makes better workers (but not better citizens) the public overall shouldn’t be surprised when, after a few decades, critical thinking becomes less of a byproduct of education.

The critical thinking for which the public is looking—to create informed voters, for instance—comes about through first determining what exactly the educational system is for.

Critical Thinking is a Byproduct of Education

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Culture, Education, Entrepreneurship, Networking, Neuroscience, New Posts, Opinions, Problem Solving, Relationships, Speaking, The Future & The Singularity, Truth, Virtue

Critical thinking is a byproduct of education.

When a culture prioritizes the educational process as one that exists to indoctrinate minds, ensure conformity of behavior, and to socialize to a certain level, education transforms into something other than a vehicle for encouraging critical thinking.

When public education becomes something else, it serves to overpower and induct rather than something that serves to grow engagement and interaction with hard ideas—and tough (rather than utopian) choices about life, morality, ethics, and care.

Critical thinking becomes the byproduct of analyses, interaction, and engagement in a model that favors the development of such traits. In this scheme, critical thinking is not to be confused with “criticism-thinking”: where a conclusion is pre-determined and then the student is educated backward to make sure that their answers (and their thinking) conform to the “right” answer.

Whatever that answer may be.

Fake news” as a public information issue is exacerbated by the presence of a lack of critical thinking among college students: people who are exiting a public education system that overpowered their critical thinking (but not their “criticism-thinking”) long before they became encultured to the vagaries of choices and options in the world that only applied critical thinking could help them manage.

When the public focus is more on telling people what to think, because that process sells more papers, encourages more compliance, or makes better workers (but not better citizens) the public overall shouldn’t be surprised when, after a few decades, critical thinking becomes less of a byproduct of education.

The critical thinking for which the public is looking—to create informed voters, for instance—comes about through first determining what exactly the educational system is for.

Ingredients are Baked In

By | Blog, Conflict, Conflict Communication, Conflict Engagement, Conflict Resolution, New Posts, Organizational Development, Platform Building, Problem Solving, Relationships, Speaking, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, Workplace, Workplace Development

Most, if not all, of the problems and conflicts in organizations, stem from cultural issues, baked in before you started working there.

“This is how we do things here.” (Status quo)

“Isn’t everything going great here?” (False expectations/Poor feedback loop)

“Don’t say anything and it’ll just get ‘better’ on its own.” (Silencing response)

“It’s always been thing way here. Why are you trying to change things now?” (Shaming)

“The last time someone tried that, not only didn’t it work, but they also got fired.” (Threats/Retaliation)

“The pot always gets stirred around here about something.” (Fake/False Conflicts)

The statements represent the issues that can be overcome with courage. But, especially in organizations where the status quo needs to be preserved for people at the top of a hierarchy to “win,” more often than not, statements like those above represent organizational cultures where courage is in short supply.

Baked in fear, power misuse and abuse, failures of courage in leadership, ignoring and avoiding real issues, and denying reality—these are all based in, supported by, and encouraged within cultural milieus that must change.

Or else the future of work, leadership, innovation, and growth will remain far away indeed.

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Five, Episode # 7 – Eddie Thomason

By | Emotional Intelligence, Active Listening, Advice, Blog, Earbud_U Podcast, Earbud_U!, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Old Posts, Podcast Archives, Podcast Episode, Speaking, Storytelling

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Five, Episode # 7 – Eddie Thomason, Speaker & Inspirational Entrepreneur

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Five, Episode #7 - Eddie Thomason

The fact is, entrepreneurship might be interesting and hot right now, but it wasn’t always this way.

The fact is, being a rapper or a hip-hop musician was seen as being the way to success, not that long ago.

The fact is, becoming an athlete (particularly an elite one) is still viewed as a path to success for many people.

The fact is that these are all narrow doors.

It’s never mentioned (or rarely mentioned) in breathless articles in Inc., or Fast Company, but the vast majority of entrepreneurs would be far happier aiming at making a living creating $3 million dollars in value for clients and the market per year, than they would trying to win the start-up lottery.

The vast majority of entrepreneurs fail; the vast majority of freelancers go back to working regular jobs; and, the vast majority of people are perfectly happy being employees.

But…

If you get your head right about what exactly is on offer, and what exactly it’s going to take to attain and grow your entrepreneurial dreams, then you can stare all kinds of events, people, and incidents in the face and never blink.

Listen to the interview with Eddie and connect with him in all the ways that you can below.

And start the process of staring your dreams in the face.

Connect with Eddie all the ways that you can below:

Eddie’s Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/unlockyourselfU/

Eddie’s YouTube: https://youtu.be/rxfnHLrv2s8

Eddie’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/unlockyourselfu

 

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Five, Episode # 6 – Randy Shain

By | Emotional Intelligence, Blog, Earbud_U Podcast, Earbud_U!, Education, Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Negotiation, Networking, Old Posts, Opinions, Persuasion, Podcast Archives, Podcast Episode, Speaking, Storytelling, Strategies, Strategy, The Future & The Singularity, Workplace, Workplace Development

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Five, Episode # 6 – Randy Shain, Author, 173 Pages Every College Student Must Read, Entrepreneur, Speaker, Mentor & Coach

[Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Five, Episode #6 - Randy Shain

Dear 2017 Graduates of High School and College-

Congratulations, you have come to the end of a long, traditional, mostly academic journey, whose steps and path were mainly decided for you by other people.

Now, upon graduation, you are in charge of your own decisions. And, where you may wind up at the end of the path known as your life.

I have been thinking a lot about your path, future conflict, and where you might wind up as adults.

I will not lie to you: Your seeming multiplicity of choices about when, how and why to start on your path really comes down to one deeply black and white choice. No matter what you have been told by professors, faculty members, or parents, the choice really comes down to answering unequivocally and thoroughly one black and white question:

Do you want to work or not?

Your work is not your job.

Your work is also not your passion.

I am not going to write here and tell you to “follow your passion.” That is often given, facile, advice provided to you by well-meaning, but misguided, people who operate organizations that may seek to hire you post-graduation. But more likely than not, they won’t.

But more likely than not, they won’t.

When you answer the much more interesting and pivotal question about whether or not to work in your own mind and heart, and to your own satisfaction, then you can make all of the other decisions that will cascade dividends throughout your entire life.

Let me paint you a picture:

I decided after the first ten years of being in the working world after college, that I wasn’t going to work a job—any job—another day in my life.

Think about that.

Now, make no mistake, I work at my business.

I work at my corporate training gigs.

I also work when I advise clients, take them through the sales process and get profit at the end.

I work when I write blog posts, do research, create videos and even do my audio podcast.

Like the one right here I did today with Randy Shain, author of 173 Pages Every College Student Must Read. But go get it after you read the rest of this.

In the traditional understanding of “labor,” both the Marxist and the Capitalist have it wrong: Labor is something that you can do for no money. And that labor—the labor that you decide needs no compensation—will assuredly be the labor that reflects your truest passions, desires, interests and goals.

And—trust me when I write this—money soon follows.

Your job (current or future) is not your work, college and high school graduates. Your job is merely a series of tasks that you accomplish in an organization in the pursuit of someone else’s passion.

This does not excuse you from performing in said job with excellence. As a matter of fact, it is your moral and ethical duty to perform any job task that you take on in the pursuit of working another’s passion, with excellence and moral verve.

At this point, you may be thinking, “This guy is crazy. First, he tells me that he’s not going to tell me to pursue my passion. Then he tells me something that sounds remarkably similar to that advice that I hear very often.”

Let me be even clearer: Many people, from James Altucher to Tim Ferriss talk a lot about “choosing yourself.” This is the idea that no one—not a boss, a parent, an authority figure in government or anybody else—can truly provide your life with security and meaning anymore. The rules, the safety net, and the promises of the Industrial Revolution are dead and gone. They represented a brief, flashpoint in world history and humanity is gradually and fundamentally, moving away from those promises, all the way from cradle to grave. What this means is you have to pick yourself and do the hard work of actually building yourself up. You have to research and employ the tools that are laying around everywhere for free on the Internet—but that you haven’t been fully integrated into for the last 22 or so years—to develop yourself and your truly meaningful work.

This is the work of your life that you have to choose to do. Or not

Yes, answering, truly answering, the question about whether or not you really want to work, means that you will have to commit to doing two—or more—things at once. You will have to delay gratification, show grit and persistence in the face of rejection, and preserve empathy and remain courageous, in the face of dismissal, passivity, and societal apathy.

School didn’t teach you how to deal with this.

Work—in the way that people traditionally think about it—won’t teach how to deal with this either.

The church and your volunteer civic life may have gotten close to teaching you these lessons.

These fine line distinctions that come from committing to one choice and doggedly sticking to it. But I can guarantee you that the rich, meaningful life for which you are searching, will become available to you if you answer this one question firmly, unequivocally and then act on it in the same fashion.

Oh, and by the way, don’t worry about all of those banks and student loan debt that you’ve piled up while dutifully learning and regurgitating the meaningless lessons of a dead, industrialized system. There are plenty of smart people out here who are tap dancing as fast as they can to undo the banking system, which is the second to the last edifice of the old Industrial system.

That is their passion.

Their true work.

If you really want to do something about your debt, go get a job working at one of these organizations.

They are growing, they are hungry and no one sees them coming.

So.

Do you want to work or not?

Connect with Randy in all the ways that you can below and click on the player above to listen to his thoughts on all of this:

Randy Shain on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/randy.shain.7

Randy Shain on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/randy-shain-68b03010/

One on One Mentors Website: http://www.oneononementors.com/about/

One on One Mentors Blog: https://www.facebook.com/oneononecollegementors

One on One Mentors on Twitter: https://twitter.com/oneononementors