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

 

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

 

 

What Does Success Look Like For You ? How Do You Know When You Get There?
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Like You, I Wonder About “Success”.  How Do You Know When You Arrive?

Are there “stages of? ….building blocks for?….  formulas or recipes?

It’s a big topic so let’s get it popping.

True story:

I recently ran into a business friend from many years ago.

We’d known each other when we were both grinding it out through a dismal time in the construction industry.

We’d agreed to catch up over a Starbucks. Now here we were.

Phil is a burly guy with a kind of brusque manner and voice that is permanently set on “outdoor” volume.

After some opening banter, he pauses and then declares (outside voice).

“I googled you man. You’re a freaking 40-year overnight success!”

The conversations around us fell silent. I could feel multiple laser stares aimed right at me.

His spontaneous outburst and the absurd hilarity of it all caught me off guard. Something welled up and I bust out laughing and couldn’t stop.

He joined in full volume, enjoying the dramatic effects of his own comedic delivery. When our moment of mirth subsided, the surrounding conversations came back to the normal Starbucks level.

As with any honest humor, it’s usually wrapped around a nugget of truth. This was no different.

Examples of “success” in any field if examined, come after a ton of hard work, sacrifices made and obstacles overcome over extended periods of time.

“Success is walking from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.”    -Winston Churchill

When you talk “success” and how you actually define or quantify it, the definition tends to vary.

A quick G search of the word renders 210 million hits in .64 seconds so it’s obviously top of mind for lots of people.

For some folks, it’s about money.  Ok, probably for most folks that’s the measuring stick for comparison.

For others, it might be house size or being able to travel to faraway places. For others, it’s about a relationship to their family; for some it’s faith, and for many, it’s honestly just staying alive another month. The definition of the term will change relative to where you’re at in life, probably dozens of times.

The part I love most about my work is helping clients figure out what success looks like for them. Then we start navigating obstacles, achieving more or getting better at something – a.k.a. becoming “successful.”

Because most of us spend on average 1/3 of our life (about half of our waking hours) pursuing a livelihood to make ends meet, it’s important to have some sort of scaffolding or contextual framework around how to think about this concept.

From observation and experience, there are some underlying factors to success in any realm.

Wealth is definitely an easily understood way of keeping score, but if that‘s the only way then look out!

Ok – back to the point.

 

Because the wealth/success thing has such an overshadowing effect,  I’ll get it out of the way in this months’ post.

We’ll deal with the other success factors in future posts.

“Try not to become a man of success. Rather become a man of value.”  ― Albert Einstein 

A Remarkable Essay

I love it when someone else writes a brilliant article around something I’ve been thinking. Moreover, they absolutely nail it.

In this instance, kudos to American venture capitalist Morgan Housel who has provided a remarkable essay ranking every type of wealth and poverty.

It’s equal parts enlightening, entertaining, surprising and useful for perspective.

Stage one of 19 on the wealth spectrum begins where you would expect – complete dependence on others for sustenance – but quickly jumps to people who have money and assets but are impoverished in other ways.

Stage four is a cautionary tale, “Your lifestyle expectations consistently grow faster than your income and assets. Adaptive poverty.” Stage seven is too: “Your entire personality is built upon the appearance of being wealthy, attracting a predatory social group that will abandon you.”

The stages of wealth start looking attractive around number 13, where you love your job enough that it feels like a hobby and pays more than you ever expected.

I’ll let you go on to discover the highest stage of wealth – the psychological equivalent of the Forbes billionaires list.

If we command our wealth, we shall be rich and free; if our wealth commands us, we are poor indeed.  –Edmund Burke  

 

The overriding revelation in the piece is that wealth is often as much a matter of perspective as it is a sum of money.

Folks who are deeply envious and generally insecure are unlikely to feel wealthy no matter how big their investment account becomes.

Those with close family ties and social connections can feel content with far less.

Another poignant revelation of this innovative list is that we often fail to recognize the wealth of all types that we already have.

Here Are The 19 Stages Of Wealth

  1. Complete reliance on the kindness of strangers for sustenance. Deep poverty.
  2. Your income is above average but you are overcome with envy and a feeling of inadequacy towards those who earn more. Psychological deep poverty.
  3. You have a large income and net worth that was acquired in a way that brings active disdain from people who would otherwise want to like you. Socially bankrupt.
  4. Your lifestyle expectations consistently grow faster than your income and assets. Adaptive poverty.
  5. You have so much money you can do nothing, and doing nothing leads to boredom at best, self-destruction more often. Ironic poverty.
  6. You have a large income and net worth you are satisfied with, but your career and assets are fragile (often leveraged) and will disappear when the world shifts only a little leaving you yearning for the money you used to have and became accustomed to. Pent-up poverty.
  7. Your entire personality is built upon the appearance of being wealthy, attracting a predatory social group that will abandon you without remorse the moment the money stops.
  8. You have a large income and net worth that was made in a job you hate that requires such long hours that it derails your social and family life. Financial wealth, life poverty.
  9. You have a job you love surrounded by people you enjoy but one that doesn’t pay well and leaves you vulnerable and stressed about your finances. Financial poverty, life wealth.
  10. You have enough money to stay comfortable and a good group of friends but you didn’t earn the money yourself, creating a lack of pride and ability to appreciate the value of a dollar that makes you feel poorer than someone with less money that was earned from hard, meaningful work.
  11. You can afford a little bit more than the people you interact with daily and it makes you feel superior to them. Technical wealth but actually insecurity that’s likely to backfire into social poverty.
  12. You can afford a little more than the people you interact with daily but you still live the same material lifestyle as they do, which creates social cohesion among your friends that’s valuable. You have a high savings rate that puts a gap between your mood and most financial hassle.
  13. You like your job so much it doesn’t feel like work and it pays more than you ever expected to make.
  14. You could stop earning a paycheck tomorrow and your lifestyle could remain the same for the indefinite future.
  15. You can go to bed and wake up when you want to. You have time to exercise, eat well, learn, think slowly, and clear your calendar when you want it to be clear. Health wealth.
  16. You can, and want to, use your wealth to help other people. And you want to help them because you care about them, not because it will make you look good or make them beholden to you.
  17. You genuinely feel no benefit from the social signal of wealth, because everyone you want to love you would still love you if you weren’t wealthy. So everything you spend money on is for its utility, rather than glitz.
  18. The people you love the most will have to work hard in life, but your wealth provides them a safety net that will help them avoid undue hardship.
  19. You are respected and admired by people you want to respect and admire you regardless of your financial circumstances. Psychologically speaking, you’re now on the Forbes list of billionaires.

“I’m a success today because I had a friend who believed in me and I didn’t have the heart to let him down.” ― Abraham Lincoln

Phil’s perception of my alleged success was that somehow I had “arrived”.

My read on the same scenario was that I was merely “staying on track and keeping going.”

Huh! Guess that’s the kind of stuff that makes life interesting.

Like Abe,  I had some friends who believed in me. I didn’t want to let them down.

Until next time!

Note to Reader:  This “Success” article will probably wind up being one of a three-part series into 2020, so stay tuned.

 

 

 

What’s Your Authenticity Quotient?

 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 AboutAuthenticity 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.

Conclusion :

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. 

(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.

Bottom line?

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
Lorne

Hi there !
 
If you’re new to our tribe, (even if you’re not) here’s the deal.
My name is Lorne and top of each month I’ll send you my very best ideas and truth powered concepts. 

Why?

I’m a slightly irreverent, non conforming, modern day elder with a strong bent to make a dent in today’s messed up world.

One of the best ways I do this is by 
helping us become better servant leaders and difference-makers right where we’re at.

I write about the business of life, leadership, community and relationships and how that all intersects with our quirky human nature.

Basically, I’ll tackle anything that gets us down the road toward our vision of service to others.
Hopefully this is a bit of “leadership jet fuel” that serves to inform, inspire and  focus us for the month ahead.

BTW. Did I mention I like coffee? I’m still working my way through that monster bag of Torrefaction Foncee’ espresso beans that Margaret brought home last month. It brews up nicely with “crema”. It’s that tawny, caramel-y layer of micro foam that occurs when you get the just right amount of super heated hydraulic pressure forced through roasted and ground-to-perfection beans. It’s a sort of holy grail for true espresso lovers.

My tastebuds are doing the mamba right there in my mouth.
Stop it guys! 
                                             

Ok. Take a moment and get yourself a cuppa whatever you love. I’ll wait right here and enjoy mine.  
Once you’re back, we can walk through some important ideas together.

Deal?


What’s in Your Backpack?

I love this story.

It’s about four people on an aircraft that has only three parachutes.
There was a genius, a minister (rabbi, imam, priest, spiritual advisor of your choice) a Boy Scout and of course, the pilot. 

Sure enough, about an hour into the flight, the engine catches fire.

The pilot, highly trained in emergencies, promptly locks the controls, grabs one of the parachutes, says “follow me” and bails out. 

The genius stands up and says, “I’m the world’s smartest man! The world really needs me” 
He grabs one and jumps out leaving the minister and the scout.

The minister looks at the boy and says, “Son– you have your whole life before you. You take the last parachute.” 

The scout answers “Don’t sweat it, mister. The world’s smartest man just bailed out with my backpack!”



Stuff happens!

There are emergencies happening all around us. We often stake our entire future on the survival gear that we’re carrying. These could include good works, possessions, faith, money, education, training, grit, merit or status. 

Fact is, we all go through life carrying stuff around with us. Not all of it is useful or good.

There’s the stuff we’ve latched on to that we can’t seem to let go of.
Other stuff we hang onto because we think it defines us and somehow or make us cool or special. 

There are experiences and traumas that leave an indelible mark. Memories are very real. They can linger in the pathways of our brain for years, sometimes decades. When triggered, they can unleash a flood of cortisol- fuelled “fight or flight” emotions.

At age eighteen, I was involved in a horrific car crash. My friends and I were able to walk away with only stitches, a broken ankle, and deep bruises. That didn’t lessen the emotional impact. 

Huddling dazed and shaken beside the road, we watched as the grotesquely twisted, pancaked pile of metal erupted into a flaming fireball, lighting up the rainy night sky. We could have been in there.
I relived the moments of the crash in slow motion again and again in the form of nightmares for years to follow.

It was an event that left me profoundly changed in ways I didn’t immediately understand. It infused me with an awareness of the fragile preciousness of life.

The dawn of each new day, every pleasure, every pain, every second is a gift.

Each relationship and each human interaction no matter how fleeting has eternal value. It left me with a fierce, deep-down resolve to fully live each day with intent, meaning, and purpose.

I mention this as an example. It’s now a distant memory and I rarely think of it anymore. It just became a part of me. It’s part of the everyday survival gear I carry, 

On a side note, to this day this experience informs my engrained defensive driving habits You never know how fast you’re really going until you leave the road and start crashing into stuff. 

Trust me on that one.

When it comes to real life backpacks, I’m a huge fan.

 It’s my favorite aisle at Mountain Equipment Co-op.

Being fairly active, I have a dedicated “go-bag“ that keeps me organized and ready for just about everything I do. My video gear bag has everything I need to capture great stories. My fishing backpack has entirely different stuff than my hiking bag. My book bag of dog-eared reads and my Kindle is always nearby.  My work backpack has everything I’ll need for that particular workday. Daypacks, overnighters, weekenders. The list goes on.

There comes a point when I need to get down and dirty, dump everything out and re-assess my stock of baggage items I carry.

Is this still useful? Does it bring me joy or cause anxiety? Is this essential for my well-being or survival?


Does it help me help others?

If you ever meet my friend, Nita, there’s a couple of things that’ll stand out. You’ll note she is smallish and compact with a cheery disposition and a winsome smile. The other thing you’ll note is her ginormous backpack that she packs around like some kind of urban Sherpa. 

When I ask her “Nita, what all do you have in there?”, she smiles mysteriously and says “oh,   …many important things.“  

Every time she heaves it up and slings it on, there’s a moment of teetering uncertainty until the load centers, balance is regained, and off she goes.
210f1fb7-1242-495e-8146-c1fc360df9e9.png
She recently admitted- “Sometimes, when I can’t find something in the house, I just have to remember to check in my backpack and quite often, there it is.“

I may never know what’s in Nita’s bag.

I do know whatever it is, it’s definitely working for her.


What kind of baggage do you carry?

When it comes to life’s baggage, each of us carries something different. 

If you’ve ever been wrongly accused, cheated or abandoned, you might have trouble trusting.
If you ever were made to feel ridiculed or put down, you might have trouble feeling acceptance or worth.
The more you know about your own personal baggage, the better equipped you are to handle situations that arise. 

Life can certainly become burdensome at times. We all know this is true. Carrying the dead weight of the wrong kind of baggage just makes matters worse. Have the right stuff in your backpack for life. Recognize what needs to stay behind.

Something to think about.

Simplicity is making the journey of this life with just baggage enough. -Charles Dudley Warner

Have a great month of October!
Until next time.
Lorne 

Hi there!


I hope you’re geared up for a fun, relaxing Labour Day holiday! 
 
One of the things I look forward to (even on holidays) is bringing you my best ideas and truth powered concepts that help us become better leaders in our work and in our lives. It’s focused in our vision of service to others and reflects our values and current realities. I send this out at the top of the month to be a bit of “leader fuel” that informs and inspires us for the month ahead.

One of my little writing rituals is to have something handy beverage-wise, preferably caffeinated. Right now, I’m enjoying a Torrefaction Foncee’ espresso from my trusty stove topper.
I think that’s French for “a whoopee load of tasty good.”                                                          

It sounds real fancy, but Margaret bought a big honking bag at Costco. Why? Because it was on sale and she knew I’d love it. She’s right about that. She usually is. 

So grab a coffee or whatever, settle back, and let’s spend a few moments together and work through some important stuff.
 

Little Game-Changers 

Definition
 
Game -Changer NOUN                       
A person, event, idea, or procedure that effects a significant shift in the current way of doing or thinking about something and profoundly alters outcomes.
 

Sports fans are familiar with that goal that turns the tide and wins the game or that star player who brings a level of skill and grit that makes for a winning team.  

“Game-changer” people in sports and in business are highly valued and sought after because they influence outcomes and tend to make everyone around them better.  
 
There are also little game-changer words and phrases that if practiced every day, can make for a winning team and fuel big outcomes. Anyone who has ever tried to start a campfire from scratch knows that you need a bunch of small sticks to get a blaze started and then add some more ‘til the bigger logs catch.

Like those bits of kindling, If you work these little phrases into your conversations, I guarantee they’ll help fuel some bigger conversations and better outcomes.
 
Here are a few little “game-changers” I’ve used effectively along the way.
 
Try ‘em. I guarantee you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the outcomes 
 
First on the list: 
 
“Here’s what I’m thinking.”
 
Quite often, you’re in charge of something that involves a group initiative or moving a plan forward. 
 
That doesn’t mean you’re smarter or know more than everyone else.  
 
When you let people know what you’re thinking and explain why it frees up the lines of communication and invites a response. 
 
It also opens up the possibility of dissension, maybe criticism but that’s ok. It also paves the way toward a creative dialogue that improves new ideas and fosters better suggestions.
 
Having authority or title can create an illusion that you are “right,” but collaboration engages everyone. It certainly helps everyone pull together in the same direction.
 
“I was wrong’
 
“There have been situations where I come up with an idea that I thought was a brilliant plan to improve things or solve a problem in our workplace.  
 
On paper, it looked perfect. In practice, it didn’t work out.

When that happened, I had to go back and say, “I knew you were thinking this approach wouldn’t work. You were right. I was wrong.
Let’s go back to the drawing board on this
At the time, I felt bad thinking that maybe I had lost the respect of my team. 
 
It turns out I was wrong about that, too. 
 
Later one of my newer co-workers said, “I didn’t really know you that well, but the fact you were willing to admit you were wrong told me everything I needed to know.”
 
When you’re wrong, say you’re wrong. You won’t lose respect–you’ll gain it.
 
“That was awesome.”
 
No one ever gets enough praise. 
No one. 
So when someone has done something well say, -“Wow, that was great how you did that.”
Add some details. “I especially appreciate……”
This works retroactively as well. “You know, I really liked the way you handled that situation last month…”
That makes just as positive an impact today as it would have at the time. 
 
Praise is a gift that cost us nothing to give, but it is priceless to the recipient. 
 
Start praising. 
The people around you will love you for it–and you’ll like yourself a little better, too.
 
Say “Thank-you” and “You’re welcome.”
 
Think about a time you gave a gift and the recipient seemed uncomfortable or awkward. Their reaction took away a little of the fun for you, right?
 
The same thing can happen when you are thanked or complimented or praised or even if someone says “have a nice day”
 
Don’t spoil the moment or the fun for the other person. 
 
The spotlight may make you feel a little uneasy, but all you have to do is make eye contact and say, “Thank you.” Or make eye contact and say, “You’re welcome. I was glad to do it.”

Don’t let thanks, congratulations, or praise be all about you. Make it about the other person, too.
 
“Can you please help me?”
 
When you need any kind of help just ditch your ego and say, sincerely and humbly, “Can you please help me?”
 
You’ll usually get a positive response. And in the process, you’ll show vulnerability, respect, and a willingness to listen–which, by the way, are all qualities of a great leader. And a great friend.

“I’m sorry.”
 
We all make mistakes, so we all have things we need to apologize and ask forgiveness for: 
words, actions, omissions, failing to step up, or show support…
 
When that occurs, say “I’m sorry” and “please forgive me.” 
 
Don’t follow the apology with a disclaimers. 
But I was really mad, because…” or “But I didn’t think you were…” or any statement that places even the smallest amount of blame back on the other person.
 
Say you’re sorry, say why you’re sorry and take all the blame. No less. No more.
 
That way you both get the best shot at starting over.
  
“Can you show me?”
 
Advice is temporary; knowledge is forever. Knowing what to do helps, but knowing how or why to do it means everything.
 
When you ask to be taught or shown, several things happen: 
 
You implicitly show you respect the person giving the advice; 
 
You show you trust his or her experience, skill, and insight; 
 
Don’t just ask for input. Ask to be taught or trained or shown.
Then you both win.
 
“Let me give you a hand.”
 
Many people feel that asking for help as a sign of inadequacy or personal failure. So, many people hesitate to ask for help.
 
Truth slap!
We all need help.
Don’t just say, “Is there anything I can help you with?”  
Most people will automatically reply  “No, I’m all alright.”
 
Be specific. Find something you can help with. 
 
Say “I’ve got a bit of time now.  Can I give you a bit of help figuring that out.?” Offer in a way that feels collaborative, not patronizing or gratuitous.
 
Model the behavior you want others to display.
Then actually roll up your sleeves and help.
 
 Find appropriate ways to say “I love you.”
 
Not in the mushy romantic sense, but in the sense that conveys “I have a great deal of respect for you” or “I think highly of you”.
 
Some time ago, I got an email from a colleague who I had worked with for many years, 
 
 It started this way. “I’ve been meaning to say this for some time now but there didn’t seem to be a good opportunity so here goes.  
 
From there on she went on to say some very affirming things and how she appreciated our work together. She acknowledged that she had learned a great deal from me and how she would always value our great working relationship and how proud she was of things we were able to accomplish together.
 
The email ended with “And no, I don’t want to borrow any money, or your car or anything 😉 m just finally telling you what I’ve thought for some time now.” 

Well.. you can imagine the effect that had on me. To this day It has a lasting impact.
 
The point is, we all have people who are super important in our life and when you have the chance, let them know. 
It will create a meaningful moment that will last a lifetime. 
 
One final thing to say.
 
Nothing.

There are times where the best thing to say is absolutely nothing. If you’re upset, frustrated, or angry, stay quiet. 
 
You may think verbal venting will make you feel better, but it never does.
 
That’s especially true where your tenants or co-workers are concerned. 
 
Results come and go, but emotions and feelings remain in the pathways of our brain for a very long time.
 
If you criticize someone in a group setting, it may seem like that person will eventually get over it, but inside, they never really do. 
 
Before you speak, spend more time considering what others will think and feel in response 
 
You can easily recover from a mistake of faulty information or genuine misunderstanding. 
 
You’ll never recover from the damage you inflict on someone else with words that are hurtful.
 
Be quiet until you know exactly what to say–and exactly what effect your words will have.

There you have it. Nine little game changers.
 
You may have little game- changers of your own going on. Shoot me a note. I’d love to hear about that. 
 
My thirty-day game-changer challenge. 

Try these phrases out for only thirty days, and if you’re not completely satisfied, I’ll provide you with a total money back guarantee.

For the first three people who write back to me with their own game – changer experience, I’ll buy you a taco. Yup, you got that right. I’ll buy you a taco wherever you are. If it works out, we can go for a taco together.

If you don’t like tacos, we’ll figure something else out. 

Drop me a line at epp@me.com. or lorne@morethanaroof.org. I’d love to hear about your game- changer experience this September. 

Until next time. 

Have a great September!
Lorne