Note: This is not the actual bridge in my story, but a very close facsimile.

 It happened some years ago but it was an adventure I’ll never forget. I was exploring a rugged and remote part of my province. My trusty truck was pulling hard in the steep terrain, and my fuel supply was dwindling.

My map showed me an alternate route that would get me back to civilization (and fuel) much sooner than going back the way I came. It meant crossing a fairly large river, but the map showed a bridge – so no problem, right?

It was almost nightfall when I got to the river. Guess what – the road led right onto a timber railway bridge!

I felt that sinking feeling in the pit of my stomach. My heart rate went up a notch.

This required some “thinking about it.”

Pulling aside, I made myself a cup of tea. Somehow that helped.

Looking more closely, the rails had 2×6 planks installed on either side to accommodate vehicle traffic should anyone be nutty enough to attempt a crossing.

 I started “walking the plank” on either side of the rail to check if it was sturdy enough. It seemed to be.

There’s no turning around or backing up with the truck, camper and loaded trailer on that narrow plank. Not an option.

There were no guardrails. The slightest deviance from the plank could tip the whole rig into the swift flowing waters.

My next thought was, “What if an oncoming train happens?”

Somewhere in a Western movie, some guy would always put their ear on the track to determine an oncoming train.

It worked in the movies, so I decided to try it. Nothing to be heard.

Taking a deep breath, I started the engine, aligned with the track, and started slowly and carefully inching across.

It was the longest twelve minutes of my life, my heart thumping every moment of the way.

In retrospect, as sketchy as it was, I had to trust that the bridge would get me from here to there.

I had to trust my driving skills to not go off the rails.

 I had to accept a reasonable risk of no oncoming train.

Trust is the cornerstone for building relationships and running our businesses.

It’s like a bridge, connecting us to others, facilitating communication and collaboration, and strengthening our bond.

It allows us to traverse the otherwise vast chasm of unfamiliarity, misunderstanding, and insecurity.

Just like many types of physical bridges get us from here to there, types of Trust can be viewed on a continuum.

At the one end there’s a tightrope which only allows fragile, one-way traffic. This might represent a relationship or business venture just beginning to build Trust. Next would be suspension bridge, or a hastily erected Bailey bridge over a washout and so on.

At the far end, a substantial, four-lane bridge accommodates high-speed, multi-directional traffic.

This could symbolize a well-established relationship or a successful business partnership where Trust is deeply ingrained and mutual.

Here are a few examples.

The Fragile Tightrope: Picture a trust bridge resembling a tightrope, swaying precariously with each step. This delicate construction permits only one-way traffic, making it essential to tread carefully. In relationships where Trust is fragile, any misstep or breach can easily send the participant tumbling down. It’s like walking on eggshells, constantly second-guessing intentions and actions. This kind of trust bridge limits openness and can create an atmosphere of suspicion.

The Swinging Suspension Bridge: Moving along the trust bridge continuum, we encounter a swinging suspension bridge. This structure allows for limited two-way traffic, enabling communication and interaction. Although the bridge may sway with the winds of doubt or uncertainty, Trust remains intact, albeit with some wobbles. It requires continuous efforts to maintain balance and address concerns promptly.  

The Substantial Highway:  This is the trust bridge at its strongest—a steel and concrete four-lane highway built to withstand the tests of time and traffic. This bridge enables fast and reliable connections, fostering openness, collaboration, and mutual respect. Trust on this scale allows for smooth two-way traffic, ensuring effective communication and meaningful relationships.

When the Trust Bridge Becomes Blocked, Compromised, or Broken: Just as real bridges can encounter roadblocks, detours, or even collapse, trust bridges also face challenges. When Trust becomes blocked, it obstructs the flow of communication and understanding. Misunderstandings, unfulfilled promises, and hidden agendas can lead to a traffic jam of emotions.

When a Bridge Collapses: The immediate feeling is denial and disbelief. You’re caught off-guard, especially if the bridge had appeared solid and sturdy. You may stand incredulous on one side of the chasm, wondering how such a sturdy structure could fall so unexpectedly.

Anger soon follows, kindled by the hurt of betrayal and fanned by resentment towards the person who let you down and perhaps even towards yourself for not seeing the signs.

The broken bridge also leads to anxiety, as you’re stranded, unable to reach the other side, unsure how to rebuild or find another way. Thoughts of lashing out might bubble up, but they only lead to more destruction and less resolution.

Financial damage might occur, especially if the trust bridge was between business partners or in a marital relationship where finances were intertwined.

Moreover, the stress caused by a betrayal of Trust can manifest as physiological symptoms such as loss of sleep or appetite. In some cases, individuals may even resort to thoughts of self-harm or harming others, showing the severity of the psychological impact of broken Trust.

In its aftermath, a bridge that once stood firm may be left in ruins. Moreover, the relationship might be terminated, as rebuilding a fallen bridge takes more energy and resources than building a new one.

The effects of this broken Trust may spill over into other relationships, contaminating them.

As a result, you might start questioning other bridges, even those that are well-built and sturdy, casting doubts on their stability.

“Trust is the glue of life. It’s the most essential ingredient in effective communication. It’s the foundational principle that holds all relationships.” Stephen R. Covey

To mitigate these adverse effects, it is crucial to diligently maintain our bridges of Trust. Frequent checks and balances, open communication, and mutual respect are the pillars that uphold these bridges.

 Friedrich Nietzsche once said:

 “I’m not upset that you lied to me; I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”

Therefore, let’s work to keep our bridges strong because they are not quickly rebuilt once broken.

However, even when a trust bridge breaks, it’s essential to remember that it’s not the end of the road.

It’s a lesson, a warning sign that helps us build stronger, more resilient bridges in the future.

 “We build too many walls and not enough bridges.” Isaac Newton

So, let’s focus on building bridges of Trust, nurturing and maintaining them because, ultimately, these bridges connect us.

Without them, we are but islands in a vast sea.

Until Next Time.

Hey – If you found this article helpful, you might also enjoy this one

(Just click on this title)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Just the other day, I caught myself reminiscing about the good old days of floppy disks and dial-up internet.

Ah, that ding-ding sound of “You’ve Got Mail!”

But, as much as I love a good jog down memory lane, I’m grateful for the progress we’ve made.

Thanks to our rapidly evolving digital landscape, we now have access to an abundance of knowledge at our fingertips.

So, what better way to “carpe’ the diem” than by becoming a lifelong learner?

The Lifelong Learner:

I recently came across a fascinating PDF (which I will refer to as the “The Lifelong Learner”)

The article eloquently and succinctly highlighted the important benefits of embracing learning throughout our lives.

The document reveals that lifelong learning not only enhances our personal and professional lives but also contributes to our overall well-being.

I already know what you’re thinking:

“Great, another thing to add to my never-ending to-do list.”

But fear not, my fellow knowledge-seekers!

The beauty of lifelong learning is that it can be pursued in a variety of ways – from attending workshops to reading books to listening to podcasts.

It doesn’t have to be a chore; it can be an enjoyable journey of growth and self-discovery.
As the renowned Albert Einstein once said,

“Intellectual growth should commence at birth and cease only at death.”

This sentiment perfectly encapsulates the essence of lifelong learning.

The Zone of Proximal Development:

Coined by psychologist Lev Vygotsky, the ZPD is the sweet spot between what we can do independently and what we can achieve with guidance.

In other words, it’s where the magic happens!

Initially the Zone of Proximal Development referred to early childhood learning where it provided  a framework for teaching tailored to each child’s individual needs.

By identifying a child’s Zone of Proximal Development, teachers and parents could provide appropriate challenges and support to help the child learn and develop new skills.

The concept of  ZPD is equally applicable to leadership development in adults!

In this context, the Zone of Proximal Development is the range of skills and abilities that a leader can develop with the help of a mentor or coach.

Just like in early childhood learning, learning in the Zone of Proximal Development in leadership development requires a balance between challenge and support.

The ZPD  concept perfectly aligns with the idea of lifelong learning, as it encourages us to continually push our boundaries and seek new challenges.

As an Executive Leadership Coach, I often witness the power of the ZPD firsthand.

Picture this: A seasoned executive, initially reluctant to embrace new technologies, suddenly finds herself leading a team of digital natives.

With a little guidance and support, she flourishes in her newfound ZPD and becomes an innovative force within her company.

Voilà – a lifelong learner in action!

From Experience:

Now, if you’re still not sold on the idea of lifelong learning, let me share a personal experience.

A few years back, at what some might consider a “more distinguished” age, I wanted to up my game skills in the area of videography and independent film-making.

I enrolled in some part-time courses at a well-known international film school.

Here I found myself surrounded by a group of enthusiastic twenty-something creatives.

They came with all the add-ons like tats, piercings, and unusual coloured hair.`
(Disclaimer- just reporting, No judgement here)

There I was, the proverbial “old dog” learning new tricks. My much younger counterparts acted as both my guides and fellow students.

This personal adventure taught me a lot about cross-generational laughing and learning.

My younger colleagues and I bonded over our shared passion for life, good coffee, and storytelling.

Our differences in age, experience, and perspective only enriched the process.

Today, I’m glad to say that I’m still in touch with friends from that learning cohort.

We continue to support and inspire each other in our creative pursuits.

As the celebrated author and motivational speaker, Brian Tracy, put it,

“Those people who develop the ability to continuously acquire new and better forms of knowledge that they can apply to their work and to their lives will be the movers and shakers in our society for the indefinite future.”

My Call to Action:

So, my fellow aspiring lifelong learners, let’s embrace the journey and dive headfirst into the Zone of Proximal Development.

Whether it’s picking up a new language, exploring a new hobby, or mastering the latest technology, remember that the pursuit of knowledge knows no age or bounds.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’ve got a short screenplay to write.

Lights, Camera, …Action!  (I always get kick out of saying that )

Until next time.

 

“The beautiful thing about learning is nobody can take it away from you.” – B.B. King

 

 

 

Finding Focus  Marc Kleen (Unsplash)

“Guess we’ll have to wait and see” has become a running joke at my house.

My wife and I will be discussing something we plan to do in the future. First, one of us will abruptly stop. Then we’ll start laughing, and in unison, recite, “Guess we’ll have to wait and see!”

It’s been one of those years when extreme circumstances put everything in a state of flux and uncertainty.

At least in my part of the world.

First, there was extreme heat. B.C. Heat Wave Shatters Canadian Record

Then extreme wildfires. BC Wildfires 2021

Then extreme flooding. B.C Flooding  

If all of the above isn’t enough,-There’s been a spike of existential angst due to a resurgent pandemic.  Pandemic Heading into 2022 

No wonder many of us feel like we’re muddling through day by day and looking at life in slow motion through a foggy windshield.

We don’t fully understand the impact of what we’re going through right now, but at some point, there’ll be ramifications from kids losing gobs of in-school time and access to peers. Adults are becoming more insular while grappling with the stress of long-term uncertainty. Close-knit families are being torn apart by the fierce vax/anti-vax personal politics of COVID.

I’m happy to report that I’m still standing and in relatively good spirits despite all of the above.

I sincerely hope I’m confident enough to keep on trying and humble enough to keep on learning.

With this brief prologue, I’m once again diving into some of my aspirational hopes, dreams and goals with “my three words” focus exercise for the year ahead.

What Are My 3 Words About?

Well, it’s 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 2022

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.

My Process

I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, what has not. Also, what was unclear and what was missing. But more importantly, I try to understand what I want the coming year to look like.

Sometimes, the words come out of my goals, so I’ll jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.

I usually talk through my goals and my three words with my wife 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 the words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.

My Approach

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 doing to achieve them.

Here Goes

 

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. GUIDE

2. CO-CREATE

3. DEMONSTRATE

Guide: It’s a noun and a verb that packs some intention into what I do. A guide fits my role as a coach and consultant. My job is to move ahead of my colleagues and clients, survey the landscape, assess risks, recommend paths of action, and communicate a cohesive plan. In my profession, that makes sense. The most famous guides in the real world were also very physically vibrant, so I’m piggy-backing my intention to stay strong and healthy into this word. It has to carry a lot.

Co-Create: This idea is a lot more simple than a guide: what do I intend to co-create with other people in any given situation? For example, when I work with the Executive Leaders and their teams, I survey and test ideas before meetings. When I talk to stakeholders or fellow board directors, I co-create a very different experience. Sometimes, with my grandkids, I get a bit lost in the actual intentions of the moment and just plain have fun, so this relates to me there as well. My job is to co-create scenarios where those around me can grow and thrive.

Demonstrate: This one’s the hardest for me to explain to you because I’m still working on it.

Recently I was helping my granddaughter sell her handmade toques at a Christmas Farmer’s market. When someone looked interested in a particular toque, we’d demonstrate by getting them to hold it, feel it, try it on and then take a phone pic to show them how good it looked. Most of the time, it resulted in a sale. (The kid cleaned up)

I know it’s marketing basics 101, but I’m learning how to scale up and maintain an online marketing presence to showcase and demonstrate my products and services. The enemies to this kind of intention are many: procrastination, fear of rejection, unrealistic negative self-talk, and on and on.

This idea, roughly, is to seek out small marketing wins in everyday opportunities. If I hit a wall or a roadblock, waste NO time, but instead go around, switch tasks, move to the next effort. If something unforeseen happens, shrug it off and find the next win.

This one will be the hardest of all 3, but it’ll make for an exciting year if I pull it off.

Review Them Daily

The more you review your 3 words, the better. I have mine scribbled into my daily planning guides and workout calendar. They help me decide stuff. For example, “Should I say yes to this project?” or “Well, how does this align with my three words?”

What Are your Words for 2022?

It’s your turn:

  1. Please shoot me a note or share it wherever you like to share.
  2. Use the hashtag #my3words to find other people’s shared experiences, and if you’re a last-minute person, don’t worry.
  3. Start when you’re ready.

I look forward to seeing what this next year has in store.

Until next time.

 

There’s zero doubt that mentors and advisors have played a significant role in my life.

Good advice and good mentorship are really synonymous. At times when I was facing decisions, weighing options, or having some sort of crisis, there’d be someone with timely and applicable words of advice that helped get me through. This has been true of career, health, personal finances, spirituality, and relationships. Finding the right kind of mentor with the right kind of advice isn’t always easy.

It’s not always just about the big picture, either.

Recently, in a high country off-road adventure, the red light on my trusty ATV began flashing and telling me the drive train was about to fail. Multiple scary scenarios raced through my brain. We were deep in grizzly bear territory and about 30 miles from the nearest civilization.

Photo by Author

The prospect of abandoning my ride on a mountainside in the heart of the grizzly bear country was definitely upping my heart rate.

However, my biking partner Trevor, wasn’t too fazed.

Photo by Author

“You had the quad trip checked, right?” Check.

“You had the drive belt replaced, right?” Check.

“The machine seems to be running fine, so the light is probably a factory thing.

Let’s just keep going and see what happens. Worst case scenario- we’ll be that much closer to home.”

Trevor called it.

We got back to civilization OK, and a short session on the University of YouTube explained everything.

Turns out the warning light was pre-programmed at the factory to come on at a certain number of hours to ensure getting back to the dealership. A motorcycle gearhead on YouTube named Oaky knew my machine’s exact make, model, and year and exactly why the light was coming on.

Like any good mentor, Trevor challenged my limiting belief and provided common sense encouragement to keep going. Oaky had the precise knowledge and expertise to help me fix the problem and reset the light

OK.

Now, if only everything else in life was that simple!

In Today’s World, We Value Self-sufficiency

After all, shouldn’t we be able to get our own lives in order without help from anyone else?

In fact, there are some aspects of life where we feel like we might be looked down on if we ask for help. Aren’t there?

Unfortunately, some cultural values and practices have dwindled through the years. For example, for centuries, the idea of formal mentoring was considered a cultural norm. Thus, one would go into a line of work involving something called an “apprenticeship” where they would work under someone with more experience to learn a skill or trade. For some modern-day disciplines, this is still the case.

The true secret of giving advice is, after you have honestly given it, to be perfectly indifferent whether it is taken or not and never persist in trying to set people right. Hannah Whitall Smith

Fast forward to today’s information age. Naturally, there’s an “I’ll just Google that” mindset that kicks in.

The truth of the matter is: mentorship is necessary if you want to get ahead. This was simply a very formal arrangement that holds the seeds of what modern mentorship is today.

It holds all the shortcuts and gets you where you want to go faster than you could in any other way. So we need mentors, whether we realize it or not.

Consider some of these benefits of mentorship:

Mentors Help Us See Things Differently

One of my favorite writers from another era is C.S. Lewis. In his essay “Meditation in a Toolshed,” he describes the dramatic difference between looking at a beam of light and then looking along the same shaft of light.

“I was standing today in the dark toolshed. The sun was shining outside, and through the crack at the top of the door, there came a sunbeam. From where I stood, that beam of light, with the specks of dust floating in it, was the most striking thing in the place. Everything else was almost pitch-black. I was seeing the beam, not seeing things by it.

Then I moved so that the beam fell on my eyes. Instantly the whole previous picture vanished. I saw no toolshed and (above all) no beam. Instead, I saw, framed in the irregular cranny at the top of the door, green leaves moving on the branches of a tree outside and beyond that, 90 odd million miles away, the sun. Looking along the beam and looking at the beam are very different experiences.” C.S Lewis 

Perspective makes all the difference.

A good mentor helps us see things differently.

Mentors Challenge Us Toward A Better Version Of Ourself

 

He that gives good advice builds with one hand; He that gives good counsel and example, builds with both; Francis Bacon

 

In the 2000 movie The Legend Of Bagger Vance, a disillusioned burned-out war veteran, Ranulph Junuh (Matt Damon), reluctantly agrees to enter a local golf tournament. He used to be a pretty good golfer. However, the psychological scars of war left him struggling with PTSD. As a result, he finds the game and much of his life futile.

Enter a mysterious caddy, Bagger Vance (Will Smith), who coaches him back to the secret of his authentic golf swing. It turns out also to be the secret to mastering any challenge and finding meaning in life.

The cinematic turning point is a beautifully captured scene called “The Woods.”

Bagger helps Ranulph look “along the beam” and see what’s possible and just play the game.

Mentorship works much in the same way. You have a goal. The mentor has the expertise and experience to lead you right to what you need to achieve this goal. They’ll even point you to the resources and give you some advice on achieving this goal.

The best mentors are the ones who give their mentees the skills to succeed. This means taking the time to teach them what to do, pointing them toward resources that will be useful, and even sometimes guiding them to the questions they should be asking.

Timely advice is lovely, like golden apples in a silver basket. King Solomon

To paraphrase this ancient proverb from the good king, great advice can actually serve as a highly valuable centrepiece that we can build a strategy around.

Every situation is relatively unique when it comes to mentoring. The best mentors are attuned to the needs of the moment. While a checklist might provide guidance in a general way, finely tuned instincts are needed to know what is called for.

For example, there are times when empathy is the answer and other times when it’s tough love and vice versa.

Today, you can find thousands of hours of content and advice on virtually any topic on Youtube alone.

It’s not the volume of information that’s valuable. Is it from a reliable source?  Can you boil it down into a simple system you can quickly implement?

Remember, sincerity, dedication, and a genuine desire to help that counts most for both parties. The rest is just icing on the cake.

Until next time,