Thursday, July 31, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 212

Once you've engaged in a #battle, you've already lost it. #QuoteADay #Day212 #edchat #edu #FindSolutionsNotBlame

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the war and battles happening in Ukraine and Israel/Gaza.  Everyone has an opinion, and yet, the only “real” fact seems to be that once a war starts, no side is ever right.

We’ve all been in a situation like this: You turn on your computer in the morning and there is a nasty email waiting for you (or a voicemail that is just a little too negative).  Often our first instinct is to send that responsive email back that “puts the person in their place.”  Or, we’re about to pick up the phone and give the person who left the voicemail a “piece of our mind.”

But. . . .

We have to win over our egos, and take a minute to stop and think before we place that call or click send.  Once we fire that salvo, we’ve already lost the battle.

No war, no matter how one-sided, is ever actually won.  Once we engage in a war, we are guaranteed to lose.  Nobody ever wins a battle.

I know what you’re saying.  “But Fred, how am I just supposed to sit and take it?  I’ve been personally attacked here!!”

And maybe you have.

But maybe you haven’t.

You see, people make poor decisions when they’re angry, and frustration with a situation (or with something totally out of anyone’s control) might lead to an attack that feels very personal.

Regardless of whether the attack is meant to be personal or not, there are two great steps you can take to make sure you don’t get lost in a battle you can’t win.

First, send a nasty email to yourself.  Write whatever you want to, but make yourself the recipient.  Or, send yourself a nasty voice mail.  Then, give yourself twenty-four hours and listen to or read it.  I’ve done this before, and it is fascinating.  Time allows us to see things more clearly, and it also helps us see how destructive (and embarrassing) engaging in these types of negative scenarios can be. 

Then, with twenty-four hours under your belt, and with new perspective on what you were initially going to say/write, reach out to the person and set up a face-to-face meeting.  Chances are, with twenty-four hours under their belt, some of the frustration will be diffused, and face-to-face meetings always tend to take a bit of the edge off.

Then, see where things go. 

The beauty of this process is that the only battle you’ve engaged in is with yourself, and by meeting to discuss rather than putting it in writing or a voicemail (where statements/tone can easily be misconstrued) you’re set more for a d├ętente and less for a debacle.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 211

Never assume that the easiest decisions to make will be the easiest to implement. #QuoteADay #Day211 #edchat #edu #WasntMeantToBeEasy

“Easy” is such a “trouble word.”  We often think that those things that are easy will be easy all around.  Yet, life shows us this isn’t the case.

Sometimes, the decisions that are the easiest to make, are some of the toughest to implement.  Let’s look at two from very different (or maybe not that different) parts of my life.

First, the decision for my wife and me to have children was incredibly easy to make.  All implementation jokes aside, the parenting of our children has been much harder than I would ever have imagined.  While there are easy moments, they are often few and far between.  And while the collective act of parenting has been amazing, I’ll be the first to say that the implementation phase of raising children is a challenge that at the time, we were not ready for (though, truth be told, I think we’re doing a pretty good job, thank you very much).

Second, the decision to leave the classroom for a full-time leadership position was pretty easy at the time.  I knew I was “ready” for a change, and the position was right up my alley.  As I found out though, transitioning from a full-time teacher to a full-time leader is one not to be taken lightly.  It took me a number of months just to understand what it meant to create my own schedule, and I still miss working collaboratively with middle-school age learners (though, truth be told, I’m really loving working with adult learners).

In both of these situations, making the decision was fairly easy (within reason, anyway).  It was the implementation, the moving forward, the carrying on, that was challenging.  In both cases, I feel like I’ve made tremendous progress, and I continue to learn and get better as time goes on (that’s what it is all about, isn’t it?). 

However, we always need to remember, that the ease of making a decision in no way correlates with the challenge of putting it into practice. 

Moving forward, that’s an important point that I will never forget. 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 110

#Frustration can cloud any decision. Control it, rather than let it control you. #QuoteADay #Day210 #edchat #edu #TakeADeepBreath

We’ve all been there.  Something happens as we’re heading off to work (maybe we spill a cup of coffee or tea, maybe our oldest is having a monstrous “getting out of bed” scenario, or we get into our car and it won’t start) and our frustration thermometer starts to creep up. 

We know the feelings that come along with this.  Tension, stress, an inability to control our thinking.  Basically, we’re like Bruce Banner transforming into the Hulk, but likely without the green skin and ripped purple shorts (but good for you if you’re wearing these).

Frustration can’t really be avoided.  It happens and we have to address it.  But, what happens after can be moderated.

We always have the choice to control our frustrations, or let our frustrations control us.  Let me give you a quick example.

We had company over last night for dinner.  It was great, and both of our kids had a great time.
They also went to bed way too late.

So, it wasn’t a surprise when our oldest (she’s four) did the whole teenager thing and refused to get out of bed in the morning.  Now, granted, I couldn’t really be mad about this.  After all, we were the ones who had the company over, so if there was blame anywhere, it was on me and my wife.  Still, time stops for no one, and we had to get going.

We finally got her and our youngest ready for day care, and as I was buckling in our four (going on fourteen) year old, she had a major meltdown.  In the car seat (ever try to strap in a melting down kid into a car seat. . . yeah, it was like that). 

I felt myself getting hot, and knew that I was going to lose it.  In fact, I opened my mouth and said, “Sydney (that’s my daughter) we. . .” and then trailed off.  My voice was too loud, and I was speaking before I was thinking.

So I stopped.  I backed away from the car for a second, took a deep breath, and then came back.  I let Sydney tell me what was going on, and just listened for a minute.  I fixed the problem (which was due more to her being exhausted than anything else), and strapped her in, and we were off.

Now, I likely could have yelled and shaved a minute or two off the commuting clock.  But for what purpose?  To arrive to work angry? To further upset my daughter?  Definitely not worth it.

Any leader and learner that wants to start and end the day happy needs to be the shepherd of his/her own frustration flock.  We need to know when it’s coming on, know how to address it, and know how to prevent it in the future.  Otherwise, we end up making decisions that aren’t really made by us, but instead mirror our feelings at the moment.  And that rarely ever works.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 209

When you can't think of anything else to say, don't say anything. Instead, just listen. #QuoteADay #Day209 #edchat #edu

 I have a problem (well, a few, actually). 

But here’s one: I talk a lot, and I like to talk.  At times, I can talk too much.

This year, I’ve made it my business to spend more time monitoring my own airtime, and doing what I can to make sure others monitor their own as well. 

This hasn’t been particularly easy for me, but I’ve seen the positives of this already. 

For one, simply by monitoring my own airtime, I’m spending more time listening to others which has helped me become a better leader and learner in general.  In addition, I’ve been able to strengthen my listening skills and become a more effective participant in conversations (yes, simply by remembering to keep my mouth shut J). 

A second benefit has been that I actually have realized that sometimes you can say just as much by saying nothing at all.  This has been humbling for me, as it has made me wonder if all my talking in the past has really been necessary, or if I could have saved thousands of words and still got the same point across.  In many cases, I think so.

I’m going to end the post here, simply to monitor my airtime.  I hope that for those of you who are like me, and love to talk (and sometimes, like me, hear yourself talk), you’ll consider the power of reducing your voice (and your word count).  It’s been wonderful for me.

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 208

Nobody can always be right, and by that same logic, no one is ever always wrong. #QuoteADay #Day208 #edchat #edu #ASCDL2L

It seems somewhat strange that we all tend to know someone who believes they are always right (we always seem to have at least one of these people in our circles).  But, simply by the law of percentages, there is no possible way that anybody is right all the time.  In addition, no one person can always be wrong.

Truth be told, most people are never really right or wrong anyway, as much of the decision-making scenarios we are faced with have varying acceptable answers and are less "black and white," and much more "gray."  

And yet, some folks find themselves in a position where they're always trying to exhibit their knowledge by showcasing how "right" they believe they are.

How do we deal with those who always believe they are in the right?

One way is make sure that the data necessary for decision-making is always shared and always transparent.  It is very hard to argue with data, and if it is out there, then the data is "right," not the person.

Another way to help others see that it doesn't have to be about right or wrong is to make sure that everyone has the chance to share their thoughts and that protocols exist to monitor airtime.  Often those that can't deal with being wrong will attempt to pontificate about their "correct" views (whether purposefully or not) to sway people to their side.  By making sure that decision-making protocols exist, we can avoid "correctness fatigue," where people simply give up so they don't have to listen anymore.

Finally, we can engage in a difficult conversation with the person or persons, with the goal to help them see how decisions are always better when we strip away the "right" and "wrong" and simply emphasize who and how a given decision will serve.

After all, it's rarely about the decision-makers, and the majority of time about the ones who aren't sitting at the table (despite the fact that they should be. . .but those are thoughts for another time :)).

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 207

Building a network must be like building a home.  We must always focus on the foundation first.     

Leaders who are experts in relationship building understand that to truly cultivate a network, you have to start from the ground (or underground) and build up.

Like a house, if networks are going to stay connected, a solid foundation must be built; it does no good to work on upper levels until you've got something in the ground to hold things in place.

Foundations can really be anything. . . they can be geographic similarities, positional connections, or, something as simple as a love for the same past time (think card games, Comic Cons, authors, YouTube videos, etc.).  They can also be deeply held mantras, for instance, three words like "Learn.  Teach.  Lead."

So, how do you make sure that the relationships you build have foundations that can last a lifetime?  Here are three thoughts:

1.  Be Who You Are, Not Who You Think Others Want You To Be.  When trying to cultivate a network, the importance of being yourself can't be ignored.  Foundations require people to be who they are and say what they mean.  If you are honest about yourself, the foundations you build will be better able to withstand anything that comes their way.  Truthful foundations are necessary for powerful relationships.

2.  Listen Up!  If you want your professional learning networks to have strong foundations, then you need to take as well as you give.  Relationships are never just about you, but about the give and take between all parties.  Do you hear what makes others tick as well as you share what works for you?  If not, you'll never be able to make your network as strong as if it was about "us" as opposed to just "me."

3.  Do Great Things Together.  Networks can form with little to no effort.  But sustaining them, truly getting them to last and grow, requires more than just speaking and listening.  It requires actual "doing."  And, it is more than just doing, but truly doing "great things."  Find the targets and benchmarks that you've identified through your foundation-building, and work together to reach them.

We can all build long-lasting relationships.  But if we don't ground those networks first, we'll never be able to reach the heights we're truly capable of.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 206

We must take positive risks.  Otherwise, how can we separate great ideas from ones that are not yet great? #QuoteADay #Day206 #edchat #ASCDL2L

Yesterday I had an opportunity to lead an IGNITE session.  I've done IGNITEs for much smaller groups; this was the first time I was doing one for a few hundred people.  It was nerve-wracking to say the least, but a great experience, and quite a bit of fun.  If you've never done an IGNITE, I strongly recommend trying it out.  Students can create them to share ideas (think "revamping the book report") and teachers/leaders can use them to provide recaps and updates of "goings-on" (flipped faculty meeting, anyone?).  These are just a few quick ideas. . .

We need to take positive risks in life.  If we turn down too many risks, then we're turning down the opportunity to truly learn.

When faced with an opportunity to take a positive risk, we should always consider the potential learning that can come from it.  What can I gain?  What can those I serve gain?

We should consider these questions before we consider the one that often seems to come first: What can I stand to lose?

Taking positive risks, regardless of the outcome lets us determine whether "great" ideas are in fact, truly great.  This is important, because without that data, we would never be able to truly serve our communities in the best possible way.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 205

#Journey often.  Nothing encourages #thinking differently like being in a different place.  #QuoteADay #Day205 #edchat #ASCDL2L #SeeYouSoon

I’m sitting in JFK airport waiting to board my plane to Reagan.  I’m heading to ASCD’s Leader 2 Leader conference (L2L), a conference that is designed to build the capacity of leaders both for serving in their current and future positions as well as within the ASCD organization. 

A slight delay (due to some crazy attempt by Delta to board four planes from the same gate and a missing flight attendant; explain those to me) has given me about twenty minutes to put this post together.  This is good, because from the time I arrive today until I leave on Saturday, my brain will be going nonstop.  The past two years that I have attended, my brain has actually hurt at the end of the conference.  I have no reason to believe this year will be any different.

What’s so great about going to any conference is the ability to think differently.  Sometimes, all that is needed is a change in location to help us reframe our thoughts, whether that means more creatively, more constructively, or something else entirely.

Like any leader or learner, I actually enjoy the process of thinking.  I love what it feels like to have ideas go through my head, and I enjoy letting them percolate.  I enjoy sharing my own ideas and hearing the ideas of others.  All these characteristics are important traits for developing leaders and learners.

What is so great about L2L is I’m surrounded by folks who are infinitely better and more successful leaders than I am.  So, I can take the opportunity to learn from each of them.  What is even more special about the conference is it happens in a place that is different from my normal places of thinking and learning.  As I’ve mentioned previously, when I’m in a different place, I’m able to consider ideas differently, and building different pathways of thought is incredibly important to being an effective leader.

While the journey is sometimes half the fun, exposing our senses to different stimuli is really what lets us expand our thinking.  I’m looking forward to the opportunity to take my learning and leading in new directions.  I hope you are always looking forward to these experiences too.

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 204

You should never attempt to be the best, but you should always attempt to be better than you were before.#QuoteADay #Day204 #edchat #ASCDL2L

Striving to be the best at anything is a worthless endeavor.  Why would we want to be the best?  What does it really get us?

Nothing, really.

Yet, we often feel there is some sort of “worth” to being the best at something.

Instead, we should really be focused on bettering ourselves and what we do.  It is so much more important for us to be constantly improving than really striving to reach any true “apex.”

After all, if we reach an apex, then what do we have to strive for in that field or area?  Nothing in particular.

And that’s a tremendous problem.  Being a life-long learner means that you set your sights on benchmarks and goals that are both reachable, and also not end-alls.  In creating goals, we should never strive for a goal that would have any finality.  That’s not the way goals are supposed to work.

Our goals need to be focused on making us a little better, every single day.  In this way, as we reflect on our growth, we see a constant trend upward.

Nothing serves as a professional vision like, “I will learn something new every day.”  Those leaders who can hold to that truly have proven themselves to be better, and to be constant at getting there.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 203

If you're not being criticized for the work that you do, you're not doing the work that needs to be done.#QuoteADay #Day203 #edchat #ASCDL2L

Criticism is a funny thing.  Some of us tend to deal better with it than others, and it takes a major mind shift to truly see it as something that we need, and something that will make us better at what we do.

In fact, it stands to reason that if we aren’t being criticized for the work that we’re doing, than it is very likely that we are doing the wrong work.

This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t try to make as many people as possible happy, but in reality, making everyone happy is a goal that can never be reached.  Better to set sights on a change that will make life better for the majority of stakeholders, than spend all our time constantly trying to appease everyone.

In reading a great book by Alvy and Robbins (Learning From Lincoln), the authors discuss one of Lincoln’s lessons in that great work doesn’t necessarily equate to supreme happiness for all.  In citing Lincoln’s changing view of slavery, the authors discuss how what was an extremely unpopular view in many parts of the country became Lincoln’s vision for the only way that the union could continue its existence.

It’s clear that Lincoln was a person who enjoyed being liked, and who also like people, in general.  What’s also clear is that Lincoln realized that it was more important to do truly great work that would benefit the many, then worry about being liked, individually.

As leaders, we should welcome criticism, as we know, with its arrival (and even if it isn’t constructive), that people are paying attention to the work that we’re doing, and it is making a difference.  Of course, we also have to remember that before we make truly adaptive or proactive changes, we have to build the capacity for this work.  While some may never be happy with the changes we make, we stand to be better prepared, when we’ve already shared the importance of this work with our charges.

So take solace in all the criticism that you receive (even when it is particularly biting).  It lets you know that you’re doing truly emotional work, and hopefully work, that will make the lives of many better, even if it is at the expense of a few.

Monday, July 21, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 202

Making #mistakes is akin to making #progress. One cannot be separated from the other. #QuoteADay #Day202 #edchat #edu #MakeMistakes
Making a mistake is something we should welcome, rather than run from.  Mistakes prove to us that we still have learning to do, and, that after making them, we are more informed than we were prior.

Interestingly, we tend to abhor mistakes.  My four year old daughter hates making mistakes, and both my wife and I strongly encourage mistakes to be made.  However, somehow, our toddler has “learned” that a mistake is something to be feared, rather than embraced.

How do we prevent this “view” from being taken?  Is it natural, or are we somehow implanting it in even the youngest of minds?

I had a talk with my daughter on Saturday evening about this, trying to get her to see why mistakes are actually needed, if we’re ever going to learn to become better at doing things.  She wasn’t in the right frame of mind to hear it; she crossed her arms, and walked out of the room, as toddlers will. 

Clearly, we have much work to do in overcoming this misconception (and clearly, I still have a lot to learn about parenting :) )!

That said, it is a misconception that needs to change in all learners and leaders.  If we aren’t comfortable making mistakes, then very simply, we aren’t comfortable learning.

We can never progress or succeed without making mistakes and failing.  Embrace the mistakes you make, as they are the only steps that can lead to future success.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 201

"Can't" is simply "Can," just spelled incorrectly.

Too often we let "can't" get in the way of doing things.

We tend to think we're less capable than we really are.  And there is a danger to that, a danger that exists when we think we can't really do something (and we haven't yet tried).

Whereas failure, the act of not succeeding at something that we've tried, is actually just the first step towards later success, giving up without trying, saying "I can't do this," is an admission of surrender, something that no leader should ever really do.

So, I challenge you (and myself, really) to not allow "can't" to enter the vocabulary that we use.  And before we use that word, we should think of it as "can," just misspelled, and in need of a grammar fix.

Let's all vow to each other that we'll never hold back from giving something a try, and instead of saying, "I can't do this," let's all say, "I can do this soon," or "I can do this with the help of others."

Because in reality, there really isn't anything we can't do.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Quote-A-Day:Day 200

Rather than waste energy worrying about time you don't have, make the most of time you've got.

Anyone else out there always feel like there isn't enough time to do everything you need to do?

I've been thinking a lot lately about the fact that "never enough time" is never going to change.  We're always going to be in a time sink, where our "To Do" lists keep getting longer, and no matter what we do, we never seem to be able to get to everything.

I've started wondering though, maybe worrying about the time we don't have isn't the right way to do things. Maybe, instead, we have to emphasize the time we do have, and making the most of it.

This is obviously harder to do than it sounds, as our instinct is to pity ourselves over the time that we're missing or we've lost.  And yet, the flip side of that same coin is to be thankful for the time we have, and make sure that we accomplish as much as we can in that time.

Our success and our legacy isn't built on how much we accomplish, but rather, the quality of what we accomplish.  If we can leave a few enormously helpful impacts on those we serve, then isn't this much better than hundreds of "accomplishments" that don't mean much to anybody?

I think so.  What do you think?

Note: Today marks my 200th quote.  Thanks for all the support!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 199

While our gut is often right, checking your thinking with a colleague is never wrong.     

How often have we "gone with our gut" when making a decision?  Quite often, right?

For many of us, going with our gut is something we do regularly, and something that is rarely a wrong decision made.

Yet, there is nothing wrong with checking our thinking before making a decision.  In fact, our gut should never be the sole determinant of a decision.  Rather, we should always be consulting deep data and "checking in" with colleagues.

Leading can be lonely.  At times, we may think like we need to know everything, or at least pretend that we do.  But, nobody wants an uninformed leader, and more than that, nobody wants an uninformed leader who is afraid to admit that he/she doesn't know everything.

That's why checking your thinking is so important and necessary.

In my current position, my supervisor and I regularly check our thinking with each other.  We might get a gut instinct about a choice to make, and in the majority of instances, we're running that gut instinct by each other first.

This accomplishes two things.  First, it provides additional thoughts and different viewpoints to what may be a very complicated scenario.  There can never truly be too much data when making a choice.  The more we have, the more informed we can become.  Second, it helps us equalize and provides for some decision reliability.  While we might not always see things the same way, we can at least begin to know deeply how we think.  Understanding the thinking patterns of those you work is so important.

So go with your gut, but before you do, give your gut the chance to speak.  Check your thinking with a colleague and do so regularly.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 198

The best compliments you can receive are the ones that YOU actually don't receive. #QuoteADay #Day198 #edchat #edu

I had the opportunity to present at a conference yesterday on using Google Hangouts.  The two sessions I facilitated were great, and I had an excellent time learning alongside everyone.

Last night, I was getting myself prepared to return home, and after doing most of the packing, I spent some time checking out the feed on Twitter.  I happened to stumble upon a tweet that wasn't directed toward me (from someone who isn't in my network, who I didn't even know until yesterday) mentioning how much she got out of the session, and the day as a whole.

This compliment wasn't meant for me, and had I not stumbled upon it, I never would have seen it.  Yet, unlike compliments that are sometimes backhanded, or that are made in hopes of receiving something in return, this one was just simple feedback, with no strings attached.

Our best praise is the praise that never reaches us (or, finds us from some other source, rather than the one who gave the compliment or provided the praise.  These types of compliments mean the most, because they are made without any desired response.

As we gauge our learning and our leading, we must pay attention to these if they ever come our way.  They tell us when we've really done excellent work, simply because they aren't meant to tell US anything at all.

My hope for you is that the compliments you receive are ones that never reach your ears or eyes directly.  Their sheer existence means that you are on the right path.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 197

Better to up potential fixes early, then to get caught off guard once it's broke.

"If It Ain't Broke, Don't Fix It."

We've all heard this before, and we've likely cited it a number of times in our personal and professional lives.

But, let's think about it for a moment. . .

Does this quote give truly sound advice?  Are we truly better off not "messing" with something if it is currently working?

In my humble opinion, the answer is a resounding "No."

While we shouldn't consciously "break" things that are working, we should regularly and often "mess" with things, if for no other reason than to check to make sure they are working as well as they could be.

If we end up breaking it?

So be it.  Chances are, this is an example of one of the ways it would end up "breaking" in the future.

Regularly testing our own capabilities is a hallmark of solid learning and effective leadership.  If we aren't constantly checking our thinking and the work that we do, how do we know if we're truly on base, or way out in left field?

In fact, those processes that seem to work extremely well, that we haven't "touched" in years, are precisely the ones that we need to be checking up on, if for no other reason than to familiarize ourselves with how they work.

We tend to learn more and learn deeper when we constantly refresh our understanding of all the things we encounter.  For that reason, we should always be thinking of fixes, even if things are not yet broken.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 196

Is it any wonder that #lead and #learn both start with the same three letters? #QuoteADay #Day196 #LearnToLead #LeadToLearn #edchat #edu

I'm not a big conspiracy theorist, but I do find it interesting that both lead and learn are almost exactly the same words.  Both start with "lea," and in the case of "lead," seventy-five percent of the word is exactly the same as "learn."

It's no wonder than that the best leaders also consider themselves learners, and the deepest learners also tend to make the best leaders.

So, how do we make sure that we keep the connection between "leader" and "learner" alive and well in each of us?

First, make sure that you understand that regardless of whether you are a leader or learner in professional and personal ways, when it comes to life, you need to be both.  This means that leaders need to actively seek opportunities to learn something new, and those who spend most of their time not taking the lead need to pick up the reins from time-to-time and lead on.

Second, regardless of how you see yourself, everyone needs to take time to reflect.  If we are to become better at leading and learning, then we need to make sure that we take the time to think back on the leading and learning we've done so far, and what we need to do differently.

Finally, we have to always remind ourselves that the practices of leading and learning are not two ends of a spectrum or even two sides of the same coin.  Rather, they are like a canister of Play-Doh, literally the same thing just molded in slightly different ways, always ready to go back to the way it was previously and be molded again.

Quote-A-Day: Day 195

No matter how loud you say it, if it doesn't matter to people, they won't hear it. #QuoteADay #Day195 #edchat #edu

You can say things as often as you want, and as loudly as possible.

But, if people don’t care about something, no matter how loud you say it, it won’t make a difference.

They still won’t hear you.

Repetition and volume does nothing but annoy others if they aren’t interested.  If people can’t see why they should care about something, then saying the same thing differently won’t cause it to register.

So, what is a leader to do?  Shout louder?  Repeat the same thing again?  Something else?

Clearly, something else.

The best leaders understand that it isn’t how you say something that makes the difference.  In fact, it also isn’t always what you say.

Rather, it is whether you’ve built the capacity for stakeholders to see the importance of what you’re saying. 

Which means that before you say what you deem to be important, first collect data to determine whether others truly care about it.

If they do, great, then feel free to shout your thoughts to the world.

But, if not, before you even share the information, lay the groundwork for people to see why it is connected to them.  This can be done easily, simply by sharing thoughts on the topic or querying the community on what they think about the topic at hand.

Once you’ve started to make people aware of why the issue is important, half your work is done already.  The key though, is to never try and push through an idea that no one cares about.  Those ideas are doomed to fail no matter what.

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 194

The best don't lead like their lives depend on it. They like someone else's life depends on it.

You may have heard someone say something like, "___________ like your life depends on it."  The idea behind this statement is to express the fact that you should be doing something seriously, with heart, and with the full force of your abilities.

This is a powerful statement, as it tends to show the importance of whatever it is that we're working on.  But it misses one very relevant point:  When we do something for ourselves, we never do it as thoughtfully as when others are involved.

Here's a quick example (and note, I have no research data to back this up): I've noticed that people tend to drive recklessly more often when they are by themselves, then when they are with someone else.  Maybe it is because as much as people care about their own well-being, they are much more likely to be careful when others are depending on them.

So, when it comes to leading, we need to lead like someone else's life depends on it, rather than our own.

Another important idea to consider. . . .Someone else's life most likely does depend on how we lead, and it may be someone who we never thought needed our leadership.

Often, those we impact most are those who we least expect to have a deep impact on.  For that reason alone, we need to lead always for others, and much less often for ourselves.

This speaks to the importance of being a servant leader, someone who leads with the best interests of his/her stakeholders in mind, rather than individual best interests.

So lead well, and always as if someone else's life depends on it.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 193

The power of a extends way beyond making it. Your on it is a powerhouse of .

When we make a decision, there may often be a feeling of finality to it.  But, that feeling of finality is actually misplaced.

The power of a decision doesn't exist with the making of it.  Instead, the true power of a decision is in the reflection we do long afterward.

Often, we take most of our thinking time to decide how we're going to make decisions.  We question, "Is this the right way to proceed?"  "Have I collected all the data that I need to?"  "Will this decision benefit the greatest number of stakeholders in the community?"

These are all important and necessary questions to ask.

However, it is common for our deep thinking about a decision to end after we've made it.  After all, the decision is made, we can't go back in time, and there are now other decisions that need to be made.

Of course, we stand to gain the most learning from a decision after we contemplate it deeply.  We can look back at various points (a day, a week, a month, a year), and ask ourselves whether the decision had the impact we expected at that time period.

Creating a decision matrix, where we map out the intended effects ahead of time, and then input what actually happened after the fact, is a great way to help ourselves reflect on what we imagined, and what reality actually had to show.

We can then ask ourselves a very important question, "If presented with the situation again in the future, would we make the same decision, and why?"

This question has deep learning implications for us, as it allows us to gauge our decision-making with the help of time.  And, just as importantly, it often provides us with new-found perspective, perspective we could not have gained had we not deeply reflected after the fact.