Hang in there with me for a bit. This is Part 1 of a 2 Part-er
I’m trying to capture the prevailing mood of what’s happening these days.
We’re navigating the vague ambiguities of just about everything, and I’ve got
to admit, I’m struggling to come up with the words.

There’s a new kind of antsy with the current “half normal” weirdness we find ourselves in. It’s distinctly different from the zombie apocalypse weirdness of the total lockdown. It’s distinctly different from the zombie apocalypse weirdness of the total lockdown.

The best descriptor is the secret phrase that got me through French in high school.
“Je ne sais pas.” ~ Simply “I dunno.”

August usually signals one of the more carefree months.
“Normal” means barbecues and beaches, a buffer time to ease off a bit, and recharge.
Later on, comes that creeping back-to-school, back-to-work, Sunday-night feeling.
 
But in August 2020?  What kind of school? What kind of work?    

What this will mean for many of us is a return to the home office (or couch) where we’ve been Zooming in varying degrees of casual since March.

 

Take a simple idea and take it seriously.”
—Charlie Munger

This pithy quote stuck with me and served as a visceral kick-starter.

The Idea: What if I start talking with fellow leaders about the toughest challenges that they are facing right now in our COVID-impacted world?  

One of my projects over June and July was to invite 40 Leadership Conversations with leaders I know.
A huge “thanks” to those of you who participated in this.

I started personally inviting leaders to a focussed 15-20minute conversation with me around”
What is the toughest leadership challenge facing emerging and existing leaders in your sector today?”

The conversations have been rich and varied.
I’m still wrapping up, collating, and compiling results.

Why 40 Conversations? 

Well, that seemed like a nice round sample number.

A bit of a stretch for me, but doable if I buckled down
(BTW, if you’re wondering “why didn’t I get a call on this?”, there’s still time.
More is better and I’d love to hear your story, so just hop on  my scheduler, pick a time, and we’ll make it happen.)

Why now?  We all have a bit more time.

Bigger Picture Why? 

I need help articulating current realities for an Executive Leadership course I’ll be offering in October.

Leadership realities are often way more fluid than can be captured in the latest business bestseller. LE 

Our Topic? What is the toughest leadership challenge facing emerging leaders in your sector today?

Here at HeyWhat’sNext? HQ,  I like to ask the hard questions, keep us on our toes, mix things up, try new things.

This month is no different.

Most leadership newsletters give you a litany of best practices.

Boring.

How many give you an opportunity for real-time feedback on leadership issues?

Here’s “40 Conversations” Part 1 Let’s get to it.

Today’s Toughest Leadership Challenge: Tackling Uncertainty 

THBigee: Dealing With Uncertainty

The one thing that was top of mind for most everyone I spoke with was the topic of “uncertainty”.  Most leaders I know are Ok leaning into a certain amount of the unknown. COVID has ratcheted this up to a whole new level.

Privately, it has everyone a bit freaked out. It casts a pall over everything.

A trusted friend, who is always a good bellwether on all things leadership says, “Yeah it’s very weird. Usually, I have a sense of plans and direction, but suddenly all my reference points have been wiped out. It’s hard to know if we’re even moving in the right direction.”

When we come up against situations that are charged with anxiety and ambiguity — a pandemic, a recession, a job loss, an unwanted family change — most of us have trouble thinking about an upside. We can easily become paralyzed by circumstances. It’s tough to see the bigger picture let alone figure a way forward. Scientists call this a status quo bias.

There’s Always Options 

The key here is not to get stuck in “paralysis by uncertainty”  It easy to be overwhelmed by the array of possible negative outcomes. Start rethinking things in the broader context.

To my way of thinking there are three distinct mental models that are clear options when thinking through the chaos of uncertainty.

  1. Victimhood
  2. Survivorship
  3. Accept and Navigate

Victim Mentality

One is that of defeatism and victim mentality. “Nobody ever tells us anything” and “They’re doing it to us again” are some of the common narratives of this mindset.  It’s surprising to me how many “progressive” organizations, actually have little open and transparent communication. So “us against them” rumors are an easy way to explain what’s going on and why.

It comes quite naturally. Most people can quickly identify what’s wrong. It’s less instinctive to focus on what’s right and build upon that. It takes much more courage to correct a problem than to point and complain about the problem while waiting for somebody else to fix it. For some, it brings on personal existential crises.

Left unattended, cynics and naysayers can easily hijack our emotional well-being. You might need to point out that raising complaints without possible solutions can be unproductive and even harmful. If team members or co-workers insist on remaining a victim, I’ve gone so far as to encourage, or even help them to find another work setting. Unfortunately, with this mindset, things aren’t that different in a new job,

Survivor Mentality

The second mindset is that of a survivor. These are the “let’s just get by” folks. Imagine a body of water where the surface is the status quo.  Survivor mentality says “let’s just wait and see what happens” while furiously treading water. Sooner or later survivor mentality succumbs to victimhood or eventually “gets it” that change is necessary and either adapts or looks elsewhere.

Navigator Mentality

The third mindset is that of a navigator. These folks look at an upcoming change and say “Hmm, this is really happening. How can I make this work for me and others on my team?”

Leaders who foster a climate of openness and welcome genuine dialogue about what’s happening earn a whole lot more respect and trust. It’s been my experience that with the right leadership coaching approach, staff colleagues and even family members can unlearn victim and survivor mindsets and actually become navigators.

Challenging the fear-based narratives by weighing objective evidence against imaginary outcomes needs to be on-going. Keep desirable alternatives or what you would prefer to happen front and center. Harness the power of imagery —you have a clear picture of what outcome you want from this situation. Ask yourself, what would a successful outcome look like? What would you be doing with the key players involved? How would you be feeling? What mindset have you adapted to rise above the difficulties and problems?

If anything, over-communicate and be very “present” during times of high uncertainty. Make the vision of the future, the picture, a very real presence in your communication. If they see a vision that you have, they will find new ways there. If they don’t see your vision, they will only find ways to do the tasks.

My life has been full of terrible misfortunes, most of which never happened.
French philosopher Michel de Montaigne

During times of necessary, non-productive downtime, we often get stuck imagining extreme either/or outcomes.

Creative leaders who are adept at managing uncertainty think realistically in terms of probabilities.
I.E. It’s possible that a meteor can land directly on your house, BUT it’s much more probable that it won’t.

They also think in non- binary terms that include “both /and”.

If we can remember there is a context vaster than we might initially have thought, filled with more options than we might have envisioned,
we are much more likely to find what I call the best minimum viable outcome.
(A Minimum Viable Outcome is the most  basic outcome you want to achieve)

Most importantly, with that broader mindset, we can weather the discomfort of unproductive uncertainty with greater optimism and calm.

Remember Those Options? 

I recently reread Victor Frankl’s account of his years in concentration camps. I was struck by his observation of how critical it was to their
survival that his fellow prisoners could find meaning in their lives, even with their suffering.

His conclusion is a powerful testament to the potential for growth even in unthinkable circumstances.
He wrote: “Everything can be taken [from a person] but one thing: the last of human freedoms
— to choose one’s attitude in a given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.”

The opportunity to exercise that freedom is available to all of us — and it is key to finding a way forward in uncertain times.

Stay safe! Stay strong!
  
Until next time.

Lorne

 

I’m not a patient person, so waiting in line for anything, anytime, is a detestable activity to be strenuously avoided. Some part of me decided a long time ago that there are some things that life is just too short for. Waiting in lineups is one of those things. Let’s just call it one of my useful biases.

Lineups represent “waiting” in general. That Invariably triggers other stuff. Waiting for that promotion that never seems to come, that colleague who procrastinates, the boss who can’t decide, the deal that takes forever to close. (There’s got to be a support group somewhere for folks like us)

Mass enforced waiting due to the COVID 19 Pandemic has made our collective psyche more than just a bit uptight.

That may in part explain some of the dramatic social upheaval dominating our headlines.

It’s taken the waiting game to a whole new level.

It also has reduced our attention spans so if you make it all the way through this post, then congratulations! A special treat awaits.


“Please Wait Here” has become the iconic symbol of our times. 
Seeing that you’re just standing here, I could tell you a COVID joke, but then we’d have to wait for two weeks just to see if you got it.
With much of our world experiencing some degree of disruption, distancing, or discouragement, this obviously isn’t the happiest of times.
Waiting has become an unavoidable part of it. ANYWAY…,

Let’s all resolve to come out of 2020 smarter, better, and stronger.

As always, thanks for reading. It means a lot to me. Lorne 

Photo Courtesy of Raquel Garcia in Unsplash ​

Why Waiting Can Make Us a Wee Bit Bonkers
(it’s actually not the wait that drives you crazy)

In researching this, I learned that there is a bit of an art and science to waiting.
I came across an excellent piece written by business author David Maister who wrote on this topic some years ago.
I’m borrowing heavily from his key points. 
  

Occupied Time Feels Shorter Than Unoccupied Time.

That’s why business often strategically place mirrors in high wait zones like elevators, waiting rooms and even gymnasiums. What better way to occupy a wait than the inane activity of looking at yourself or others while waiting for that “UP” arrow or taking a mandatory rest between reps.
Then there’s always that default activity of looking at your smart phone. What better way to appear cool and confident while trapped in a wait zone? Mea culpa on that one myself.

People Just Want to Get On With Things (rather that wait to get going) 

Anticipatory stress while waiting for something to happen makes it feel like we’re waiting much longer than we actually are. That’s why physiological stress symptoms like tension headaches or stomach nerves often appear ahead of key meetings, presentations or difficult conversations.

 Anxiety Makes Waits Seem Longer.

“Waiting + Anxiety = Seriously Not Good”

Waiting plus a strong undercurrent of anxiety is crazy-making stuff.
We’ve all had the experience of choosing a line at Ikea, the bank, or the airport, and stood there worrying that we had indeed, chosen the wrong line.
A debate with yourself ensues as you try to decide whether to move, or switch to another line. The anxiety level ramps up and the wait becomes intolerable.
Being a leader in circumstances where your entire team is anxious and wanting to switch lines is especially difficult.

 Open-ended Waits Are Longer than Waits with a Time Frame 

At the doctor’s office, patients who arrive early will sit contentedly until the scheduled time, even if this is a significant amount of time in an absolute sense (say, thirty minutes). However, once the appointment time is passed, even a short wait of, say, ten minutes, grows increasingly annoying. The wait until the appointed time is finite; waiting beyond the point has no knowable limit.

Unexplained Waits Are Longer than Explained Waits

If the doctor’s receptionist informs me that doc just got called out to an emergency and offers a re-schedule, I can wait with greater patience.

Airline pilots also understand this principle well. On-board announcements usually reference baggage being a bit late, fog over landing strips, safety checks, or waiting for the air-traffic controllers’ runway instructions. Explanations may have varying degrees of veracity, but they are way better than no explanation at all.

Unfair Waits Are Longer than Equitable Waits

In traffic jams, (a vehicular form of lineup) where you don’t know the cause of the delay or the timeline for getting going again, the level of anxiety is demonstrably high. Situations like this are fertile ground for incidents of road rage.

In other wait situations, facilities have a “take a number” system where you are served in strict numerical order. Often the number being served is prominently displayed so that customers can estimate the expected waiting times.

 The Higher the Perceived Value, The Longer People Will Wait

This explains why ardent fans will camp out on the sidewalk days in advance of an event to get priority positioning for their favorite band or artist.

Disney Corp. marketing folks work this to perfection. They are so successful that they get parents with young children to happily stand in line for an hour for a four-minute ride — a pretty remarkable feat.

This illustrates the principle that wait tolerance largely depends upon perceived value of service, -perhaps with the emphasis on the perception.

Solo Waits Feel Longer than Group Waits

One of the remarkable things to observe in these Pandemic times is to witness how conventional social isolation suddenly has become cool. People with zero connection now have a common threat and a common bond

Total strangers suddenly turn to each other from 6 ft. away to express their exasperation, wonder collectively what is happening, and console each other. What this illustrates is that there is some form of comfort in group waiting rather than waiting alone.

WAITING IS NEVER EASY! Sometimes having a better understanding and awareness of a situation helps. It doesn’t make the waiting time any shorter, but it does make it more acceptable or bearable to those of us who wait.

You still here?

Here’s that treat I promised.

See STAY IN QUEUE from Laboratoire Ferdinand Lutz Enjoy.

FYI – I’M PRESENTLY REACHING OUT TO SOME OF YOU FOR HELP WITH AN IMPORTANT RESEARCH QUESTION. IT’S FOR AN ONLINE COURSE CONCEPT I’M PLANNING FOR THE FALL. IT WILL BE SPECIFICALLY FOR EMERGING LEADERS AND EXPERIENCED LEADERS WHO WANT TO “LEVEL UP”.  Thanks to those of you who already helped out in this way. Thanks also to those of who have booked a future research conversation. I appreciate your valuable insights.

If you are interested in knowing more or participating in this, I’d love to speak with you about this. Just click the link below and book a time for a 15-20 minute Zoom conversation.

Until next time,
Lorne

Click here for a ” time 

 

 

Climbing Out of the COVID Rabbit Hole and Looking Back, Forward and Up

It feels like I’ve been in a rabbit hole for the last 8 weeks. 

Photograph by Richard Barnes. Set Design by Jill Nicholls

Who knew Hey What’s Next?, would be THE question on everybody’s mind these days?

It feels as if we’ve been under some kind of weird siege and we’ve had to “hole-up”
until there’s some sort of all-clear signal. My personal time/space continuum has gotten seriously messed. Tuesdays feel no different than Saturdays and it all just kind of melds together.The crisis has been physical, emotional, spiritual, financial, political, and existential.
It’s individual and collective. Hope you and yours are doing ok.

I’m more grateful than ever for coffee!  My morning coffee ritual has been one of those little things that help “ground” me. One of those familiar and comforting constants that stays the same when all else seems to have changed.

What’s helping keep you grounded and going these days? (In a good way) However small or weird it may seem, if it’s working for you, please share. It may help others as well. Shoot me a note and I’ll share it with everyone next time. Deal?

BTW. Feel free to pass this along and invite other readers. Easy signup here. 

Yup. I’ve had that holed-up feelin’ for about the last 8 weeks now.

Finally, it’s semi-safe to pop my head out and have a look around. (appropriately masked, gloved, and socially distanced of course)

Much like the fierce rabbit characters in “Watership Down” (a tale of survival and adventure) we all had to scurry to our respective warrens and hole up ‘til the outside threats of danger subside. The pandemic has upended things with breathtaking speed.

Our hopes and plans for the future have been compressed to almost nothing. We’re flying blind into a foggy future. If we make plans or draw assumptions that don’t embrace uncertainty as an all-encompassing factor, we’ll get messed for sure.

Side Note Rant Re: Uncertain Times

The ubiquitous phrase “these uncertain times” bothers me in several ways.
It dismisses the pain and disruption that many people are experiencing right now.

Yeah, we’re feeling uncertainty alright. But many are feeling far worse as well. Some are dealing with the certainty of being painfully sick. Others are worried sick about their loved ones. Millions are grieving the certainty of loss, while others are living in fear of layoffs that are certainly coming. Hordes of people are feeling intense loneliness, confusing disruption, or getting squirrely with cabin fever. So, these are not just “uncertain times.” They are also painful times, distressing times, sad times, frightening times, and so much more. “Uncertain times” seems like such a woefully inadequate description.

It also feels like a phrase coming from a position of considerable privilege, people who haven’t lost their jobs, who aren’t worried about their health, whose loved ones are well, and who are relatively comfortable during this pandemic. The worst thing in their lives is right now is the inconvenience of uncertainty.

Truth slap!  I’m probably one of these people, at least so far. My angst these days is mostly due to uncertainty related inconveniences.  My decades in the housing and health sector taught me that there are those around us who are poor or powerless, people whose lives are regularly disrupted or devastated by things beyond their control. They live with a measure of uncertainty that—honestly—is rare in my life.  I need to remember that millions of others are struggling with much worse.

I’m thinking of those, and I want to be compassionate and helpful in tangible ways.

Looking Back 

Realize this. Our generation has never had to face a world event of this magnitude. My pattern-seeking, data gathering brain immediately goes into hyperdrive to make some sense of it all.

Just one hundred short years ago, the civilized world was reeling from the effects of WWI.

By the end of 1918, twenty-million people had been killed. In that same year, 1918, the Spanish Flu pandemic broke out. Combined these two world events killed approximately 50 million people, which included mostly young, healthy people.

Then came the roaring 1920’s and people felt good for a while. That is until the Great Depression began, putting 15% to 25% of people out of work for years. And what was it that ended the Great Depression?  World War II, which caused the deaths of about 70 million people between 1939 and 1945.
For almost the first half of the 20th century, the world was slogging through one big honkin’ disaster after another. Those were hard times, but people got through them, and later prospered like never before.

COVID-19 is a big problem, but in hard comparison to past world-shaping events, it’s not quite as catastrophic.
Our familial grandparents and great grandparents had to walk through all this stuff. Both world wars, a global depression multiple economic collapses, political revolutions, and much more.

Each time, they didn’t acquiesce and say “well, I guess this is the new normal… we’ll be at war or depressed forever.” Yes, those events shaped them and changed their worldview, but it wasn’t like they emerged into a completely new way of living.
They adapted and moved on. They innovated.

I suggest we’ll do the same.

The takeaway? Own your mindset. Protect it

“It’s entirely possible to be both realistic and optimistic at the same time.”

Yes, it’s a tough time, and there’s a chance of more difficulty before it gets better. It’s important during this time to stay clear-headed and acknowledge the challenges while maintaining a sense of hope in the midst of it all.

Hope is not just a feeling. It can also be a plan.

Looking Ahead  

Of course, the immediate future presents a difficult set of problems.
All the easy ones are already solved.
Difficult problems are precisely what we as leaders sign up for, right?

Here, in no particular order, are a few emerging trends that I think will become more mainstream.

URL (virtual connecting) AND IRL (in real life)
It’s like these two very different things got popped into a high-speed blender and totally homogenized. Can’t say I’m totally used to this yet, but adapting.

Touchless – I love hugs and handshakes.  This won’t be okay, at least for a while now.  On another front, public touch screens and keypads will still be the enemy, too. Touchless payments and digital transactions will be a big part of the new normal.

Concise and to the point- We’re in attention overload. Alvin Toffler’s book, Future Shock, pointed to the overall mental state brought on by unrelenting change.

This pandemic has been the tipping point factor that’s caused a lot of people and situations to hit a wall. The result is that people will begin to need everything to be brief, compact, and repeated. More prompting and instruction could be the new protocol.

Green(er) – It’s hard to want to go back to driving my car everywhere when I see satellite images of how air pollution has dropped since we all were forced to stay home. Luxury travel and exotic vacations via planes and boats all are going to get a serious re-think.

Different /Better Work – Work colleagues have seen us in our jeans and a hoodie now. Kids and dogs are increasingly a part of Zoom business meetings. Why do we have to stay so formal? And why waste so much time?  Meetings for the sake of meetings has never been my thing!  Learning to teach, lead, and manage remotely just became the new must-have skillset.

Gig Economy – and work from home. Job monogamy has been in decline for some time now It appears we’re going deeper on this one. Big corporations are taking notice and following.
We have a capacity for more fluid interactions. More than one boss. More than one team.

Creative Renaissance – What’s happened during quarantine? A lot more art. More music.
A lot more business creativity. It seems forced downtime gets the creative juices flowing.

Take a moment to think about whichever ones resonate with you.
Better yet, shoot me a note or book a “let’s just talk” time. I’d love to hear
your thoughts and ideas around this.

Looking Up 

Generations of writers have used the “peaks and valleys” of life analogy, so let’s go with that for a bit.

Each successive change in life comes with its own built-in dip. You know – a downside, a trough, and an upside. Change management researchers tell us we can’t avoid the dip. We just have to find our way through it.

This infographic courtesy of J.M.Fischer explains it beautifully.

On the downside of the curve, we experience a whole range of seemingly unrelated random negative emotions (of fear, anger, denial)

At the bottom, or the trough is where the existential questions arise. Who am I? where am I going?

The trough is the fertile zone for finding resilience. Bill George in his book True North calls these times “crucible moments”

This is where we re-prioritize, rediscover, or perhaps reconnect with a personal faith tradition. We human beings are after all spiritual beings with intellect, creativity, will, and purpose. (not just a bunch of sophisticated bio plumbing with a survival instinct)

Other sample questions might be:
What brings me meaning and joy? What do I really want?
Where do I want to be? What do I want to build?
What do I have control over/absolutely no control over?
Where do I need to fight?
What do I need to surrender?

By processing the negative emotions that come on the downhill side and digging deep on personal meaning, goals, and direction, then and only then, can we begin to contemplate processing forward and looking up. Here’s where individuals find their resilience factors

If you can find your way past “the trough” then there’s really nowhere to start looking other than up.

Face it. Everything just became so different. Life and work just got more intertwined than ever, and really, none of us have enough time left on the planet to hide and worry.
The pace of change in and of itself can be mentally exhausting and physically draining.

There’s an additional undercurrent of anxiety and It doesn’t take much to set people off or get a little bonkers. I’ll pick up on that thought next time.

Meanwhile, stay safe and strong.

Until next time,

Lorne

 

 

“WHERE ARE YOU LOOKING IN 2020?”

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.
All of them were other drivers doing something incredibly stupid. The cosmos was trying to tell me something. I wanted to see my kid graduate. The bike got sold shortly thereafter

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.

Number One 

“YOU ALWAYS GO WHERE YOU LOOK!”

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.

Number Two 

“COUNTER INTUITION IS YOUR FRIEND!”

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
The silver lining here? He hit a fire truck full of trained paramedics.

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.

Number Three

“GOING FAST IS OVER-RATED!”

Yup, it’s a thrill. Gaining top speed is easy to measure and a lot of fun.
Getting there first and fast has an allure for a lot of folks.

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.
It may sound counterintuitive, but when every instinct is telling us to run faster, it’s time to slow down and check to see if we’re running in the right direction.

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.
You see, there’s hard data based on solid tangible facts and soft data that only appears that way.
Soft data leads to making assumptions that may or may not be true. Hard data leads to asking the right questions.

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.


Where are you looking in 2020?
Got your three words figured out?
I’d love to hear about it.

Drop me a line.
I personally read and respond to all my emails.

Lorne                       
                                      SHARE WITH A FRIEND

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.

My Process

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.

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 to be done 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. NETWORK  2. ENHANCE 3. SIMPLIFY 

Stay tuned. I’ll expand on this more next month.

BTW    

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.
 

 

 

September is always a reality check time for me. Time to park my liminal “summer brain” and get back at things.

If you’re part of my community, I can only assume you love doing meaningful work that benefits others. You’ve been working hard, so it’s check-in time to see if you need to make adjustments down the home stretch.

Remember back in January? We started out with a brand-new year. It was a clean slate with some fresh goals and aspirations. You may have even joined me in the three-word challenge.

Well, now we’re at the nine-month mark and it’s time to hard evaluate.

What are you going to do with your next 4 months?

Do you have a clear plan in place?

Last year at this time I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with some of the personal and professional goals I had set for the end of the year. I worked with a coach to create a plan of attack to achieve what I had in mind. 

We focused on having a simple plan and taking consistent daily action. It was amazing how empowering and exciting it was to see the plan on paper. Once I had someone guide me through what to do, it demystified the process and made it extremely doable. 

Oh, and besides just FEELING good about my goal. I actually hit it.

It’s crazy what a simple plan can do.

If this sounds like a plug for coaching, it absolutely is! (I can’t help it. It’s what I do)

But plans of action aren’t just for personal goals like finances, fitness, personal development, etc.

They are extremely effective in business too.

Some Relevant Questions

So, how have things gone so far this year? Did you execute your game plan well?

What does your scorecard say? More specifically, are you getting the results you wanted to achieve? If so, how do you know? 

How you choose to keep score is up to you. Look, this is your game. You set the rules. But you must have some way to track the results of your efforts. Otherwise, how will you know what’s working and what’s not?

So, let’s break it down. 

What do your results to date tell you?

What’s working well?

What’s not working? 

What’s confusing? 

What’s missing?

Your Four Options

The way I see it, you’ve got four basic work options for the rest of the year.

Stick to the Plan

Adjust the Plan

Get Back to the Plan

Make a new Plan

Yeah, I get it. Every situation is different,

The “make a new plan” option is only for extreme circumstances at this stage. A big rock has dropped into your pond and changed everything. Some compelling data has come to light and you’ve got to change course or go back to the drawing board.

The other three options are far more probable. We get distracted and veer off, we need to make adjustments, and sometimes we just need to keep working the plan.

It’s also true that we experience setbacks, negative change or crisis points in our personal and professional lives.

Whatever your circumstance, lean in with your strengths. Don’t waste energy, trying to compensate for your weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting everything done on your lengthy to-do list. 

Maybe some of those things didn’t belong on the plan in the first place. That’s not excusing -making. You instinctively know when something doesn’t quite fit and when you’re making rationalizing noises. 

We can’t direct the wind, but we can always adjust our sails.

So, take a wee break. Look at everything you’ve done so far.

 Choose your approach. 

And then get back out there and let’s bring this thing home. 

Until next time,

Lorne 

p.s. If you’d like a personalized strategy chat about where you’re currently at your business or professional career and where you’d like to go, let’s find a time and schedule a friendly, no obligation call. https://lorneepp.com