I’ve always had this love-hate relationship with motorcycles,
I love the steady feel of the throbbing engine. The rush of wind that pushes on my face. The freedom of the open road that stretches endlessly into the horizon.
I hate it when mishaps happen. Something inevitably goes wrong. An unaware motorist suddenly pulls out. They don’t see you. A random patch of gravel suddenly becomes ball-bearings beneath the wheels. An eighteen-wheel trucker decides to have a bit of fun at the bike boy’s expense and starts crowding my lane. Yeah, it happens.
I get it that there’s something primal and thrilling about testing your mortality in different ways. (I never totally got why people actually enjoy sky diving or scuba diving)
My biking friends admit their wheels represent a suppressed alter ego. Often the bike sits dormant, gathering dust for months or years.
Just having that stylin’ ride sit there represents the ultimate freedom and adventure (Motorcycle Diaries).https://youtu.be/u6jz_b80V5g
It may reinforce a latent rebellious streak. (Easy Rider/Born to be Wild) https://youtu.be/egMWlD3fLJ8
Maybe a bit of both.
One fateful day, I had three very close calls riding my bike around town.
Years later, a bit older and wiser, I got re-inspired by reading the Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Promising myself and my wife I’d be as safe as I could be, I signed up for a hardcore Motorcycle Survival Course. Recommend!
I got gutsy little dual-sport and explored a lot of high country in the wilds of Northern British Columbia.
WHAT’S ALL THIS GOT TO DO WITH THE START OF 2020?
Life lessons learned on the bike have served me well. The lessons are readily transferrable. They’ll carry me into 2020 and beyond.
This holds true literally, figuratively, and metaphorically. If you’re cruising a bike or cruising through your daily life, (or a decade), exactly where set your sight is critically important. In biking, this is an immutable law. It means the difference between life and death. At very least, a massive fail video and a whole lot of hurt.
This rider was admiring an oncoming Corvette. Fortunately, both parties were OK. See https://youtu.be/-2R4D1vBOM8
Having your sights set on things that are important and meaningful for you personally, at work, and in the community has a drawing effect. Setting waypoints and having a personal GPS system helps get you there.
See this month’s Winning Habits Challenge.
Once you hit a certain speed, the laws of science and physics dictate that you push left to turn right. This is another immutable law of successful riding.
Every human instinct screams “wrong” but it’s actually “right”. If you ignore the science of this and attempt to swerve to avoid an obstacle at speed, you’ll actually be steering right into it.
This has happened to more than one newbie rider. See https://youtu.be/VVE79XT8-Mg
Countersteering varies by speed, size of bike and geometry of the turn, etc. but if you ignore it, seriously bad things happen.
Navigating life in the 20th century at speed can be perilous.
Going with only your feelings and gut instinct when a preponderance of data dictates otherwise, leads to schmuck-ups.
Knowledge is a great equalizer. We have more knowledge available to us than ever before. In exchange for effort, the person with insight has an extraordinary advantage over the one who doesn’t.
Learn to read, research and interpret the road signs of life and respond with your head and your heart.
Yup, it’s a thrill. Gaining top speed is easy to measure and a lot of fun.
I had an early brush with the effects of high speed. It left an indelible impression. I wrote about it here.https://lorneepp.com/whats-in-your-backpack/
There are times when celerity is exactly what’s needed.
Here’s the thing.
In today’s hyper-fast world, I’m convinced that “slow down to go fast” is the only way to go.
You’ll always need time to master the basics and context of any endeavor. Then and only then can you scale up and gain momentum.
The other new 21st-century wrinkle?
With all this new knowledge coming at us, we need to regularly call a “time out” to stop and evaluate.
Unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we can’t just click our heels and magically return to a simpler, slower time. However, we can pause, look at the data, and assess what the latest change means to our personal or corporate world.
For most people I work with, there are dozens of factors that matter way more than functioning at break-neck speed.
We usually look at culture, systems, and processes first. Beyond that, there’s trust, accountability, teamwork, bravery, empathy and a whole lot of other skills that matter way more than horsepower.
Yours truly exploring on Vancouver island
I don’t ride much these days.
That said, it wouldn’t take much if the right opportunity presented itself.
You see, a part of my brain got stuck at 18.
I still have trouble acting my age.
Until next time.
Drop me a line.
If you’re enjoying this monthly article and the Winning Habits Challenge, feel free to forward it to a friend.
You might just win a referral Taco on me. It’s been known to happen.
January Winning Habit Challenge:
Three Words For The Year?
Simple But Never Easy!
My challenge every January is to come up with three words that represent the strategic directions for the year. Two isn’t enough and four’s too many so three’s about right.
There’s nothing magic or weird here. It’s just a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in 2020.
That’s why I’ve been taking the time to thoughtfully select three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.
A lot of other folks are doing this. Just check out #my3words.
I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, what has not, what was unclear and what was missing. More importantly, I try to gain a clear picture of what I want my next year to look like.
Sometimes the words come out of the goals I have set, other times I will jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.
I usually take time to talk through my goals and my three words with my wife Margaret and several close friends. That’s always helpful.
It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together and no matter what goals I have or words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.
I try to interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or on top of my workout calendar. Doing this keeps them front and center, not only pointing me in the direction of my goals but grounding me in the interim work that needs to be done to achieve them.
I’ve come to think of my words as three keys that unlock potential in the coming year.
So far I’ve settled on 1. NETWORK 2. ENHANCE 3. SIMPLIFY
Stay tuned. I’ll expand on this more next month.
It’s WAY more fun if you actually share your three words once you’ve got them figured out.
I love hearing people’s three words every year. It’s truly one of the best parts of every year for me.
Use the hashtag #my3words so that others (like me) can find what you’ve got to share.
Behaviours that can help or harm
Ok I made that up, but I’m pretty sure it’s a thing.
It has to do with your personal leadership credibility.
We all know about IQ. It’s your Intelligence quotient score derived from some standardized tests.
So if we can quantify that, it’s not too big a leap to apply “quotient” to other important things
Like FQ – Frustration Quotient. How frustrated am I ?
Or TQ – What’s the level of Truth in this situation?
Or B.S.Q -What’s the level of …well you know.
There are many other Q’s and I could go on, but will resist.
I’m Talking About “Authenticity Quotient”
It’s like your personal credibility rating, or integrity score but so much more.
I’m surprised at how many leaders have a specific work persona and a whole different person shows up elsewhere. And it surprises me when these same leaders seem shocked or confused when their employees don’t trust them, don’t like them, and can’t really wait to work elsewhere.
Authenticity in leadership is one of those things everybody declares to be super important. Many groups and organizations I work with have an “authenticity lingo” baked in to their core values (I.E. authentic culture, authentic relationships etc.)
To me, when someone self-references the word in anything other than an aspirational context, they’ve broken some sort of spell. The moment you have to self -declare a trait like this, you’re probably not a representative of that trait. It’s something you either are or you ain’t. At its essence, it’s one of those rare know-it-when-you-see-it qualities that if you have to spend a lot of time talking about it or trying to analyze it, it simply evaporates. Like wind, you can’t see it, but you’re highly aware when you see its effects.
Before diving in, I’ll offer a soft disclaimer. Nobody’s appointed me official spokesperson on “authenticity”. But if that job existed– how cool would that be? I can speak for myself and offer some good examples of authenticity that I’ve observed.
I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders.
I firmly believe that leadership is more important than ever before, yet true leaders are in short supply. There’s also a huge crisis of confidence in leaders. Something weird happened with the rise of the internet. Our humanness, relationships and accountability got reduced to a bunch of 0’s and 1’s, making sketchy leadership all the more possible. With multi-media bombardment and the rise of “truthiness” (thanks Stephen Colbert), we find ourselves increasingly attracted to the wrong type of charismatic leaders.
“I know of nothing more valuable, when it comes to the all-important virtue of authenticity, than simply being who you are.” Charles R. Swindoll
Here are some hallmark characteristics of authentic leadership at work:
- Genuine leaders practice confident humility. They know themselves. They know their strengths, understand their virtues and recognize their limitations. They stand by their convictions, but are quick to admit their errors. They seek help and feedback from others. When wins happen, they share the spotlight with others and applaud their contributions.
- Genuine leaders embrace their own life story and share it easily. They are comfortable in their own skin and learn from their experience. Somehow they are able to connect the dots backwards in order to move forward and inspire and motivate others. Genuine leaders don’t derive pleasure or satisfaction from the opinions of others. This allows them to move unaffected by fear or favour following a direction from within that’s aligned with their principles and values.
- Failure is an ever-present option. Genuine leaders master the ability to bounce back with resilience, turn setbacks into opportunities and convert fear into wisdom. Pragmatic, optimistic leadership when combined with sheer grit and a positive “stick to it” mindset can be contagious at times when the chips are down
- Authenticity strives for the good of others and speaks truth in kind and appropriate ways. Genuine leaders build high quality relationships and networks that are marked by trustworthiness, empathy and relentless reliability. Ben Franklin (U.S. Founding Father, author and inventor) began his morning routine with the question ”What good shall I do this day?” He ended it with “What good have I done this day?”
- Genuine leaders lead by example and build culture and community around shared truths and values that others can buy into. They have a knack for zeroing in on our core elements: spiritual, intellectual, physical and emotional. These four elements are the basis of all our capacity for self-improvement. This does not mean authentic leaders are “soft.” In fact leading in a forthright manner is critical to successful outcomes, but it’s done with empathy; directness without empathy can be cruel.
- Genuine leaders lead with an eye on the future and deal with today’s problems without compromising the future. They realize that to nurture individuals and to nurture a company requires hard work and patience, but the approach pays large dividends over time.
“Authenticity is a collection of choices that we have to make every day. It’s about the choice to show up and be real. The choice to be honest. The choice to let our true selves be seen.” ― Brene Brown
Being authentic is a work in progress and an endless process of growth.
It always starts with a critical and honest look in the mirror. Authentic leaders believe that there is always room for improvement and never stop.
Building and maintaining your AQ is hard work, but it pays off in the long term. It is like exercising: While you are training, you feel tired, but you know it is good for your body. Staying authentic in leadership and life is not easy, but it can be observed, measured and learned.
Until next time!
Here for you.
Your day has barely begun and already you are off track. Suddenly it’s nearly noon and the things you intended to do are totally sidelined. This wasn’t how the day was supposed to go. An urgent email came in, a client called and left you a cryptic voicemail, a panicked co-worker with a deadline is asking for your immediate assistance.
These are real life scenarios that people face every day. It can be stressful and overwhelming.
Whatever you’re doing right now there’s a good chance you’d rather be somewhere else or doing something else, even if it’s your dream job.
Maybe you work from home and are getting sidetracked by picking up around the house. There’s something that needs to get finished, but procrastination set in and you haven’t even started. You’ve got homework for a course you’re taking, a critical presentation to prepare for, or a difficult conversation with your significant other.
This is the stuff life is made of. It’s really tempting to blow these things off. But you can’t.
Your approach to anything is your clue to how you do everything.
My recent read through Cal Newport’s book “Deep Work:Rules for Focused Success in a Distracted World“inspired some of my own thinking about my approach to work. I love it when someone writes about what I’ve been thing about and absolutely nails it.
His premise is that we’ve entered an era of unprecedented distractions. We’ve lost our ability to focus deeply and immerse ourselves in complex tasks.
He makes the point that this is a highly valuable lost skill and presents three concepts that help us focus more than ever before.
We’ll save those for later, o.k.?
I found it helpful to Identify, quantify, and put some healthy boundaries around these three types of work in my years as a CEO.
It creates mental accountability and peace of mind knowing I’m spending appropriate amounts of time doing the right things.
Now Onward to the Three Types of Work
First off, it’s all work, and there’s inherent value and nobility in work that is well done.
Sometimes on the road to where we want to be, we wind up doing things not because we want to, but because circumstances dictate that we have to. Often starting out in our first jobs, we’re introduced to the shovel, the broom or other mundane chores.
“There’s nothing shameful about sweeping. It’s just another opportunity to excel- and learn.”- Andrew Carnegie
1. The first is what I call “Sustaining Work”.
It’s that tedious, soul-sucking, mind-numbing, eye-blear-ing, part of your job that comes with the territory. Every job description I’ve ever seen has a “not-fun” factor. In earlier times this was referred to as “toil”. The stuff that simply has to get done or there will be consequences – usually negative.
Whether you’re a parent, an entrepreneur, or a CEO, diapers need to be changed, reports need to be filed, data needs to be entered and someone else’s messes need to be cleaned up. It’s one of those self-existing facts of life that just “is”. Much like coping with weather, gravity or taxes, you don’t particularly have to like it, but having a healthy attitude with the bigger picture in mind certainly makes necessary, non-productive work more acceptable
2. Next up, there’s “Good Work”.
This is where we should be spending the bulk of our time. Ideally, Good Work should marry your purpose with your job description. It aligns your soul with your goal. After all, this is what you signed up for, right?
“Good Work should marry your purpose with your job description, and your soul with your goal.”
It’s surprising how many people, glance at a Job Description, sign an Employment Agreement and promptly forget about it.
Lack of role clarity on the JD leads to squishy, unrealistic expectations and a lot of angst.
Fuzzy Job Descriptions are the third leading cause of employee burnout according to Gallup research. See http://bit.ly/2Y8fowY
Having a well-crafted Job Description brings focus, clarity and direction on a day-to day basis. This is where you’ll be spending the majority of your work time. This is your Good Work.
3. Thirdly, there’s “Great Work”.
If you’re progress-oriented and visionary, like me, this is the type of work that really floats the boat. It’s where the magic happens. It’s the leading edge of moving things forward.
Great work is hard.
It requires periods of concentrated focus and extra effort with no immediate dollars attached. Just ask anyone who has ever stayed up late banging out a thesis, promoted a new idea, or helped an organization move through a crisis.
As a coach and consultant to visionaries, I spend a great amount of time assisting them in executing their aspirations. Visionaries are big thinkers, risk takers, and trailblazers who exhibit great amounts of faith. They seem to live and think in the future. These qualities make them admirable. Often they are the driving force behind societal changes. I personally draw inspiration from these leaders because of their courage and resilience.
The shadow side of visionary leaders, particularly those with a driven, pace-setting, or autocratic leadership style, is that they tend to burn out or blow up the people around them. The job gets done, but there’s a good chance that there’s a trail of bodies left in the wake.
How It Breaks Down Time-wise
Being somewhat (ahem) analytical, I tracked these three categories in my own work life over a period of years.
In my setting, with some fluctuation, it usually balanced out to about 20% Sustaining Work, 70% Good Work and 10% Great Work.
Great visionary work is critical to any meaningful enterprise. A small dollop of big a vision, rolled out in a consistent way, goes a really long way to keeping your team and the organization motivated and inspired. As exhilarating as it may be to spend time with shiny new ideas and our head in the future, it can be very tempting to overdo it in this zone. It can be mentally exhausting
Often in the past, I’d catch myself getting away out ahead of my team or my board as I focused too much on the future. Not good.
Enter Mr. Newport and his “deep work” concepts.
“In almost any profession, cultivating a deep work ethic will produce massive benefits.”
He wisely recommends allowing 5 hours a week for this type of work.
Here’s the How-To-Get Started Part
- Train your brain to be better at focusing (example: put your phone away after dinner)
- Set aside time for deep work (example: dedicate five hours a week for deep work)
- Adopt a tiny habit that signals to yourself that you take the ability to focus seriously (example: quitting a social media service)
Once you get some traction on getting started, it gets easier and you can keep it going.
A related article you may find interesting: http://bit.ly/2YqveU5
(Dealing With My Monkey Brain)
Got ideas or a different experience around this?
Shoot me a note. I read all my emails.
I’d love to hear from you.
| I saved this Times article, not really knowing why.
Maybe it’s because I’m a total leadership geek and try to absorb everything I can on this topic.
Ambitiously named “Project Oxygen”, the mission, as reported in the New York Times, was to build better leaders. After combing through internal performance reviews, feedback surveys, and other data-rich metrics, they distilled what makes good leadership down to 8 bullet points.
Read about it here: https://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/13/business/13hire.html
Given the massive, high profile unrest of Google employees over the last year, it raises the question “How’s that Oxygen Leadership thing going over there in Google-ville?” Resignations and protest walkouts have taken place over a range of frustrations from particular ethical concerns over the use of artificial intelligence in drone warfare to broader worries about Google’s political decisions—and the erosion of user trust that could result from these actions. A $90m payout to a top exec. under murky circumstances didn’t help matters.
I don’t need Google. My wife (or husband) knows everything!
Historically, Google has promoted an open culture that encourages employees to challenge and debate product decisions. But some employees feel that their leadership is no longer attentive to their concerns, leaving them to face the fallout. “Over the last couple of months, I’ve been less and less impressed with the response and the way people’s concerns are being treated and listened to,” one employee who resigned said.
Below, is the comprehensive list of what Google came up with as recipe ingredients for effective leadership and management back in ’09
1. Be a good coach
Provide specific, constructive feedback, balancing the negative and the positive.Have regular one-on-ones, presenting solutions to problems tailored to your employees’ specific strengths.
2. Empower your team and don’t micromanage
Balance giving freedom to your employees, while still being available for advice. Make “stretch” assignments to help the team tackle big problems.
3. Express interest in team members’ success and personal well-being
Get to know your employees as people, with lives outside of work.Make new members of your team feel welcome and help ease their transition
4. Don’t be a sissy: Be productive and results-oriented
Focus on what employees want the team to achieve and how they can help achieve it.Help the team prioritize work and use seniority to remove roadblocks.
5. Be a good communicator and listen to your team
Communication is two-way: you both listen and share information.
Hold all-hands meetings and be straightforward about the messages and goals of the team. Help the team connect the dots.
Encourage open dialogue and listen to the issues and concerns of your employees.
6. Help your employees with career development
7. Have a clear vision and strategy for the team
Even in the midst of turmoil, keep the team focused on goals and strategy.
Involve the team in setting and evolving the team’s vision and making progress toward it.
8. Have key technical skills so you can help advise the team
Roll up your sleeves and conduct work side by side with the team, when needed.
Understand the specific challenges of the work.
Really? That’s it?
I’m having flashbacks of Steve Carell and The Office.
You’ve probably seen variations of this list before. Best-selling business tomes have been writing on these topics for years.
While I agree with all 8 points, it’s still kind of Leadership 101–ish. You know, the kind of info you can find in Leadership for Dummies. (which actually is pretty good)
Perhaps Google has reached such dizzying heights that the oxygen is running a bit thin.
I get it that no one is asking my advice, however I can’t help but dive in with a few leadership pointers of my own.
What about delivering on the bedrock of character?
Deep respect, honesty, humility, being fair-minded, kind-hearted with a serving others mindset are all essential.
What about delivering on trust?
Trust is to an organization what oil is to a car engine. It keeps the moving parts from seizing up and stopping forward motion.
But trust is not something you can take for granted. It takes months—sometimes years—to build. Unfortunately, you can lose it overnight.
What about soft skills?
There’s still a lot of buy-in on the prevailing stereotypical Type -A hard-chargers in today’s get stuff done business environment. leadership is actually about soft skills such as empathy, listening, understanding motivation, communicating, and the like.
Even St. Brene’, the reigning queen of touchy-feely, is weighing in on leadership with her latest offering, Dare to Lead.
What about deep listening?
Richard Branson purportedly makes this a priority in his personal leadership style. You’d think he’d be front and center at each executive team meeting, but no, he prefers to listen quietly, making notes and contribute only when he has something to say.
What about aspiring and inspiring?
It’s not just about getting things done. It’s about making things happen. A great leader makes things happen by inspiring, encouraging, and enabling others to act toward a compelling common vision.
One of my most trusted resources on leadership wisdom is the business classic, the Leadership Challenge. Authors Kouzes and Posner make the point that the content of great leadership doesn’t change, however the context of leadership is constantly changing. The increased pace of change of the 21st century with all the complexities it brings, is the new normal.
That’s one of the reasons I dubbed my monthly memo “Hey, What’s Next?”
Figuring out what needs to happen next and navigating the new normal is a deeply personal leadership challenge for myself and those I serve.
One comforting takeaway from all this? It’s good to know that the biggest and the best wrestle with the leadership issues that you and I face on a daily basis.
“Google can bring you back 100,000 answers. A librarian can bring you back the right one.”
― Neil Gaiman
Rock- on Google! We all use your services every day. Don’t take us for granted.
I’d be delighted if you drop me a text or a note to let me know how things are going and what’s happening for you these days.
Here to help.
Lorne (604 617 4707)
P.S. Do you know a friend, a colleague, or family member who would enjoy this article? If so please click on this link.
June Habit Challenge:
Start Your Morning With Intention
Change is hard. You’ve probably noticed that.
We all want to become better people and do better at life — live stronger and healthier, be more creative and more skilled, be a better friend or family member.
Even if we get totally inspired and start doing things better, it’s tough to actually stick to new behaviors. Odds are that this time next year you’ll be doing the same thing rather than performing a new habit with ease.
Habits are our personal travel companions in the journey of life. They can be our friend or our foe. Make us or break us.
It’s a well-document fact that people who are highly effective, do some things differently than most others.
This month’s habit challenge. Start each day with an intentional morning and habits that inspire you.
Me, I like to start each day early with quiet time and a gratitude meditation accompanied with some good strong coffee. I review my three words for the year and think through how to apply them to this day’s activities. Often I’ll read from sources that are personally thought-provoking, encouraging or inspiring. Finally, I’ll jot down the main things I want to accomplish this day.
I refuse to open a device or check emails etc. until I’ve done my routine and feel good about the possibilities of each new day. That’s when I feel ready.
This is a lot of habit all rolled into one, an intentional morning.
Some people roll out of bed and start their day with a jog or a workout. Others like to spend a bit of time with their kids. There’s no “one size fits all” here.Drop me a not
For the month of June, I challenge you to design your morning. Start small, but start with intention.
How about you?
Have you ever managed to gain an inspiring morning habit—or to break an unhealthy habit? If so, how did you do it?
Drop me a note – I’d love to hear about it.
(Don’t Try This Alone)
“As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with others. Direct contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. -Susan Pinker
It felt like I had won the lottery. At least what I imagined that would feel like.
An unexpected windfall of riches and resources suddenly deposited on my side of the ledger.
Work friends threw a farewell party for me and quite the party it was! The venue was stunning. The food was exceptional. The memories flowed in animated conversations.
We were major shareholders celebrating a long- term investment of time, effort and relationship that had gone well.
I had given leadership to a bunch of ordinary radicals and visionary misfits who like me were determined to make a difference in this world in the housing and healthcare sector.
While It was about me and our time together, in so many ways it wasn’t.
Most of us had worked side by side for many years. Others were newer to the scene. Through it all, we enjoyed fights, jealousies, pettiness, arguments, faith, tears and tragedy, laughter and joy. You know, – all that confounding pile of human-ness that comprises genuine community.
Some of us watched each other’s kids grow up. At times, we vexed each other beyond words, then managed to pull it from the brink, forgive, reconcile, hug it out, and refocus.
In the end, it was a celebration of compound interest in invested lives.
Here’s the Math Part
As a kid, I disliked math. It didn’t help that I never had a good math teacher.
Besides, my active juvenile brain was saying “way too boring!”
The irony is that now I work with math every day. I appreciate the unyielding inerrancy of good math.
Whether you’re arguing a parking ticket, buying truckloads of concrete, or convincing a board of directors these budget numbers really work, you’ve got have the math right or you’re dead in the water.
Math done right doesn’t lie!
One of my favorite math formulas is the one for exponential growth:
Here’s the Standard Compound Interest Formula
“A” is the ending amount, “P” is the beginning amount (or “principal”), “r” is the interest rate (expressed as a decimal), “n” is the number of times compounded in a year, and “t” is the total number of years.
It’s the formula for the compound interest that savvy investors have employed for centuries. Some have called it the eighth wonder of the world.
Let me explain it this way:
There’s a picturesque pond with a small patch of lily pads. The little lily patch doubles every day.
If it takes forty-eight days to cover the whole pond, how many days to cover half of the pond?
Our linear way of thinking screams twenty-four. Wrong!
The answer is forty-seven days.
Compound interest is difficult to grasp because it is difficult to think exponentially. In other words, we think by 1 + 1 + 1 = 3.
The compound interest principal uses exponential thinking. Just like the lily pad, it takes forty-seven days to cover half of the pond and BAM!
Only one more day to accomplish what was done in the previous forty-seven.
What if we applied the same mathematical law to the social currency of our relationships?
Here’s the Relationship Part
In her 2014 book “The Village Effect” psychologist Susan Pinker provides compelling evidence of our need to invest in face to face human relationships.
From the flap: “As humans, we’re hardwired to connect with others. Direct contact matters: tight bonds of friendship and love heal us, help children learn, extend our lives and make us happy. Not just any social networks will do: we need real in-the-flesh encounters that tie human families, groups of friends, and communities together.
In one of the lengthiest longitudinal studies ever, Harvard researchers undertook a multi-generational 75-year study. The Grant and Glueck study tracked the physical and emotional well-being of two socio-economic groups: 456 poor men growing up in Boston from 1939 to 2014 (the Grant Study), and 268 male graduates from Harvard’s classes of 1939-1944 (the Glueck study). You can read all about the 1 Secret To Leading A fulfilling Life.
You guessed it.
The clear message that we get from this 75-year study is this:
Good relationships matter, Good relationships keep us happier and healthier. Being a world-beater in a chosen field, or having tons of money just plain doesn’t matter in the long run.
Begs the question: Can a precise law of math be applied to the social currency of relationships?
From lived experience, I’d say a resounding “yes”!
Only one minor caveat. Our flawed human nature messes the variables somewhat, but in general, the principle still works fine.
Author James Clear in his book “Atomic Habits” says
“Time will multiply and compound whatever you feed it.”
That goes for regular deposits in our portfolio of relational investments.
Something to Think About.
What if we asked investment type questions around our relationships?
What is my investment timeline? Am I prepared to be patient?
What is my tolerance for risk here?
Does this investment pay dividends? Am I happy with the results?
Can I ride out a reversal?
Am I comfortable with the costs associated? (time, effort, emotional energy)
What is my strategy for allocation? One-time invest? Regular deposits? Both?
Do I double down, reinvest, buy and hold, or cash out?
Something to Do
Check your list.
See who matters
Do the math
Invest regularly and often
The windfall of rich benefits will astound you!
PS. A deep heartfelt thank-you to all of you who made my farewell bash such a memorable time. I’ll cherish your kindness forever.
As usual, I’m thrilled if you check in with me.
Call, text, email, smoke signals.
Here to help.
Until next time
I don’t watch a lot of television .
That said, one show that gets airtime at our house is called NCIS.
Let’s just say my wife is a fan.
It’s a popular 15 year plus series that follows the escapades of the Naval Criminal Investigative Service’s (NCIS) Washington, D.C. Major Case Response Team, led by Special Agent Leroy Jethro Gibbs.
Team leader Special Agent Gibbs (played by Mark Harmon), is a tightly wound, monosyllabic type with steely blue eyes and a tense jaw twitch that flares whenever he’s pissed off, which is pretty much all the time.
The other notable thing about Gibbs is that he lives by a set of iron-clad rules. His rules, accumulated over time, are his worldview and personal guide for life. Appropriate to the series, they are a sure-fire checklist for solving all sorts of heinous crimes. His team has to get acquainted with his rules pretty quick if they are going to understand Gibbs or survive his highly driven personality.
Gibbs’ Rule #8: “Never take anything for granted.”
It all started when his first wife, Shannon told him that “Everyone needs a code they can live by” After their wedding, Gibbs began writing his rules down, keeping them in a small tin inside his home. Though he uses the tin full of handwritten rules often, we almost never see it.
Gibb’s Rules has spawned its own website and an entire spinoff industry of T-shirts mugs, posters and plaques. See: https://bit.ly/2FHtCgE
“Any fool can make a rule, and any fool will mind it.” Thoreau
Point is, we all have personal rules and corresponding habits that form around them.
I recently poured through the book The Power of Habit by Charles Duhag and skimmed Atomic Habits by James Clear. Both authors make that point that our internal rules and habits are insanely powerful.
No matter if it’s the Ten Commandments or Gibb’s Rules, how we engage with rules and habits governs just about everything. It dramatically impacts our personal well-being, productivity, and overall happiness.
Researcher and author Gretchen Rubin who is best known for The Happiness Project offers some remarkable insights on how we interact with rules, – both our own and those imposed by others.
No one size fits all.
We have widely varying responses to rules that shape and govern our lives.
Rubin outlines four broad categories as a framework of understanding on how we respond to rules. People tend to fall into these four general response categories.
Obligers are great at meeting outer expectations. They deliver projects on time in a dutiful fashion when someone else is counting on them They struggle with inner expectations, such as setting personal resolutions. They become discouraged when trying to adopt new habits because they’ve tried and failed in the past. They need outer accountability to meet inner expectations,” says Rubin. “They do well with deadlines and team supervision.
There are hundreds of ways to build outer accountability, and that’s what obligers need.
There are Questioners who question all expectations. They will follow the rules, but only if it makes sense. They want to know why they should do something because they have a deep commitment to logic and efficiency. This tendency can be viewed as being disrespectful or insubordinate because they seem like they’re trying to undermine authority. Some workplaces (or families for that matter) reward questioning and some absolutely don’t. Questioners generally need to learn how to ask questions in respectful ways.
Rebels resist all expectations, outer and inner. They do what they want to do in the way and when they want to do it, acting from a source of freedom, choice, and self-expression. When someone else tries to get a rebel to do something, they resist.
“Identity is so important to the rebel,” says Rubin. “For example, a rebel might resist going to a 10 a.m. staff meeting because they hate being told where to go and when to show up.”
If you’re a rebel, it might just help to be not too self -absorbed with it. Just remind yourself of the example you’re setting or the goals you want to accomplish.
Upholders are good at meeting inner and outer expectations. They meet deadlines, thrive under rules and expectations, and keep resolutions without too much of a problem. Rubin is self-admitted upholder, which is why she had an easy time completing her Happiness Project.
While this tendency sounds like productivity perfection, one of an upholder’s issues is that they can be seen as rigid, having a hard time switching gears when circumstances change. They also struggle when they’re in an environment that has an emphasis on flexibility If there is a rule, they don’t break it.”
If you’re an upholder, you thrive under routines and schedules. You can do what you want to do once you decide, says Rubin.
She explains it all beautifully here. https://youtu.be/gBNEVXg2CNU
Grab a coffee and give it a look. Well worth the watch. Recommend.
“If you don’t like their rules, whose would you use?” Charlie Brown
Something to Think About
Our personal tendency around rules shapes every aspect of our behavior, so understanding this framework of responses lets us make better decisions, meet deadlines, suffer less stress and burnout, and engage with others more effectively. The framework helps explain why we act and why we don’t act.
Something to Do
Check your personal inventory of rules and habits. Maybe some things need “Kondo-izing”.
The world around us is constantly changing, yet there are things we cling to for no apparent reason other than it’s become a comfortable habit. A self-imposed rule may no longer be relevant.
The better you understand yourself, your own nature, your own temperament, your own habits, your own values, the better you can engage with others and the rules of life.
Have a great month!
As always, I really appreciate your thoughts, observations, questions and comments.
We’re doing important things together in this world, so I love hearing about what’s happening for you!
(or even what kind of coffee you’re enjoying this month)
Drop me a text or an email. I’d like that.
Lorne 604 6174707
Opening up this blogpost is one of the better decisions you’ll make today. You’re one step closer to being a smarter, happier, and just generally more interesting and well-adjusted human being. Way to go!
Every month you can look forward to a hand-crafted, expertly curated blogpost and update from me on the 1st of every month except when that falls on Sundays. That’s because I like to slack off on Sundays and do other super cool things that others might not understand.
I write about life, leadership, faith, relationships, hard work and connecting the dots to try and make it all come together. I love learning new things and I love helping others do better. My goal with this monthly reach out is to propel us toward excellence in becoming better servant leaders. Most importantly, it keeps us tracking with each other and our work together.
Grab a cup of your favorite hot drink and let’s hang out for a bit. I’m tending a mug of ambrosial Guatemala blend. It’s a Christmas gift that I’m trying to make last. Thanks, out there.
You know who you are.
Dealing With My Monkey Brain
So I’m at Starbucks with my friend Brad, solving the world’s problems over a Grande Americano and he asks a vaguely disquieting question.
“How are you really doing with this whole resignation thing? “ I could have easily skated around that one with a stock “doing ok.” In a moment of radical candor, I had to confess there were times I was was dealing with the monkeys in my brain on this one.
This doesn’t happen often for me, but it does happen. You know how your mind can race around in 14 directions?
Monkey Brain Syndrome is “brain gone wild” due to excessive multi-tasking and hurried activities fueled by addictive technology, media stimuli overload, and the rigours of everyday life demands.
Our 86 billion neutrons in our brain that regulate our thinking/feeling processes get over charged and start crashing into each other at warp speed. The next thing you know, the thinking/feeling train starts coming off the track.
Engaging in this frenetic brain activity has diminished our ability to complete simple tasks accurately, think clearly, accomplish a fulfilling day’s work, maintain a healthy body, develop meaningful relationships, grow and have fun.
We may be at risk of losing control of our most important personal asset,- focussed brain power.
The term “monkey brain” was originally attributed to Buddha more than 2500 years ago,
He described the human mind as being filled with drunken monkeys, jumping around, screeching, chattering, carrying on endlessly.
Today in the 21st century, his observations are as relevant as they were then. The digital age and smartphones are actually re-wiring our brains to have shorter and shorter attention spans.
A 2015 survey of Canadian media consumption by Microsoft concluded that the average adult attention span has fallen to 8 seconds, down from 12 in the year 2000.
We now have a shorter attention span than a goldfish!
We think in McNugget time. Informational flotsam and jetsam flows unfiltered, along with the meaningful stuff in an eternal stream. We get a feel-good hit of dopamine from the perception that we’re getting things done.
Seems I can’t wait for a haircut, or stand in line at the bank, or even pause long enough for the microwave to ding, without fighting a reflexive urge to sneak a peek at my smartphone. It seems the last digital micro-high only accelerates the need for another one.
Here are some of the symptoms of Monkey Brain Syndrome
- Inability to stay on-task longer than 10 minutes
- Checking emails or texting more than 5 times an hour
- Dissociative or distracted interactions
- Random irritability at slightest delays or interruptions
- Can’t remember what you did 30 minutes ago
- Difficulty solving normal problems or making decisions
- Feeling of being pulled in too many directions
- Feeling like busyness is out of control *
- Not enough time to get things done*
- Making frequent mistakes
- Nearly impossible to quiet your mind (trouble sleeping)
- Strained relationships with people you care about
**Hurry Up Sickness **is closely related to Monkey Brain Syndrome
To some degree, we all have monkey minds with dozens of monkeys all clamoring for our attention. Fear is an especially obnoxious monkey, sounding the alarm incessantly, pointing out all the things we should be wary of and everything that could go wrong. Ego, is very loud, pushy monkey and wants a lot of airtime. Then there’s Doubt, Not-Good- Enough, Rationalization. Perfection and Procrastination and Rebellion all on a rampage, swinging from limb to limb, agitated and noisy.
I’ve been around long enough to have developed a few personal antidote strategies.
- S-L-O-W D-O-W-N. Not to the point where my productivity lags, but enough to remember that I will get everything done eventually – it doesn’t have to be right now. Manana is sometimes a good day to get things done.
- Take a few deep cleansing breaths – I prefer an outside walk and imagine the new air circulating through my body, revitalizing and refreshing me.
- Take a mini break. Nearly all well-known creatives do this. IE Einstein was well known for his violin breaks. Me, I prefer guitar.
- Have routine daily quiet time meditation.
- Count blessings – instead of the numerous tasks at hand. We are all blessed with so much goodness in our lives– we just need to remind ourselves of those special things and people in our lives.
- Stay positive – The game plan for each day emerges from God’s drafting room. Even with its hang ups and bang ups, I need to give it a chance to unfold. Trust more. Stress less. Dial up gratitude. Mute grumbling. Stay true to what I’m about
Author Rick Warren (Purpose Driven Life) has three great questions to help manage our emotions.
1. “What’s the real reason I’m feeling this?”
Maybe the answer is fear or worry. Maybe it relates to something someone said to you years ago that was never resolved.
2. “Is it true?”
Is what you’re feeling at that moment true? Have a good listen to what you hear yourself saying . You’re acting like you’re the only one trying to do the right thing in the whole world! No. That’s not true.”
3. “Is what I’m feeling helping me or hurting me?”
Will you get what you want by continuing to feel this way? A lot of feelings we have seem natural, but they’re actually self-defeating.
Let’s say you go to a restaurant, and the service is extremely slow. You wait a long time to be served, and then a couple comes in 15 minutes after you and gets their food before you do. You get increasingly more irritated until you feel something welling up inside you.
What’s the real reason you’re feeling that way? You’re hungry!
Is it true? Yes. You’re frustrated because the service is slow. But is your emotion helping or hurting? It’s hurting. Do you get better service by getting angry with the server? Absolutely not.
Does nagging work? Has it ever worked? When somebody tells you all the things you’re doing wrong, does it make you want to change? No! All it does is make you defensive.
When you ask yourself these three questions, you get a better grip on why you feel the way you do and what you need to do to help the situation.
That’s called managing your emotions.
Brad’s deadpan assessment?
“Don’t feed the monkeys!”
Have great month of March!
Got any monkey’s you’re dealing with right now? I’d love to hear about it.
Seriously, hit me up. Here to help.
Hey what’s next?
- Today’s Toughest Leadership Challenge – Forty Leader ConversationsAugust 27, 2020 - 5:03 pm
- Why Waiting Can Make Us a Wee Bit Bonkers (it’s actually not the wait that drives you crazy)August 21, 2020 - 9:08 pm
- Climbing Out of the COVID Rabbit Hole and Looking Back, Forward and UpJune 4, 2020 - 4:27 pm