Have you ever sat in a meeting and wondered, "couldn't this have just been an email?"
We all have.
And most certainly we've all led or contributed items in a meeting with information that could have been better delivered without a captive audience who are all facing their own time-crunches.
Of course, there are times a leader needs to deliver information or a tough message with clarity, but common sense tells us that if we're going to bring people together, in most cases, it should be for shared expertise and contribution.
Uncommon sense maybe?
Other than delivering information ahead of time in an email, there are other tools we can use. And this doesn't have to only be for big staff meetings. In fact, the battle with meetingitis can be won in small teams in offices too!
Have you ever noticed how some people seem to brighten and warm-up every room they enter ?
Like a weather front moving in, everyone feels a change as soon as they enter the conversation.
Good or bad, we all carry our own weather.
Certainly, carrying good weather comes easier to some than others, but whether we are greeting a visitor at the front desk, leading a meeting, or listening to someone else lead, we have the ability to be a room brightener.
Whether the room brightens when we enter or exit is most often is determined by the weather we carry.
Is feeling helpless becoming routine?
It's only natural that a pandemic and the terrible events we've witnessed become hope and energy vampires. We fight the good fight each day with clarity, compassion, community, and courage.
We may feel discouraged, exhausted, lonely, and a plethora of other very real emotions, but we can't allow ourselves to feel helpless.
What we think about almost always influences what we will and won't do next. If we allow ourselves to feel helpless, we run the risk of allowing our actions will follow suit.
Thankfully, the space between feelings and actions is also ripe with opportunity.
When hope is dwindling, we can double down on being helpful.
The power of focusing on being helpful isn't in doing more, but in being mindful that even in the face of extremely difficult circumstances, we continue to make a mark on the world.
You are today where your thoughts have brought you, and you will be tomorrow where your thoughts take you because...
Have you ever been ready to hire someone and something just doesn't feel right? How about that situation where you have to decide between two people who seem equally qualified? Or maybe you've just been introduced to a new staff member and you can't help but wonder how that person even got through an interview?
Hiring well is often the difference between success and failure. In Give and Take, Adam Grant demonstrates how at work "most people operate either as takers, matchers, or givers. Whereas takers strive to get as much as possible from others and matchers aim to trade evenly, givers are the rare breed of people who contribute to others without expecting anything in return."
Of course, no one is entirely a giver, taker, or matcher. It's what we do most of the time that places us in one camp or another.
It doesn't take too much study or time to identify how someone operates, but surfacing reality can be difficult in the artificial confines of a job interview. Many applicants that...
In 2005, the National Science Foundation published an article that found the average person has about 12,000 to 60,000 thoughts per day, of which 80% are negative, and 95% were repetitive thoughts from the previous day.
Our minds too often focus on the negative, and even worse, create a playlist that loops daily.
Another study that same year (Leahy, Study of Cornell University), identified 85% of our worries never materialize and that 97% of our worries are baseless.
Not all negative thoughts are created equally. Being aware of danger can help us survive, but most negative thoughts only serve to create pessimism and useless drama.
Watch your thoughts; they become words. Watch your words; they become actions. Watch your actions; they become habit. Watch your habits; they become character. Watch your character; it becomes your destiny. — Lao Tzu
So how can we surface and nurture positive thoughts?
The highlight reel, an...
Do you remember the first time you jumped into the deep end of the pool?
How the exuberance that rushed through you was matched only by your need to grab onto the edge of the pool?
Clarity is our edge of the pool when we are plunged into uncertainty. It offers us the confidence to take a chance on something that feels precarious, knowing we have something secure to hang onto when fatigue and fear inevitably set in.
But, in challenging times, when clarity is scarce, that pool can feel like the middle of an ocean.
Every next move feels uncertain.
But is it?
The future can be akin to "driving at night. You never see further than your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way." (E.L. Doctorow) We only get about 200 hundred yards of light, and often there is no signage to let us know what's around the bend.
Like the edges that allow us to make that first leap into the pool, we can use all available clarity to journey more confidently...
No plan ever survives its collision with reality.
We often coach well-intentioned leaders who are serial planners. Inevitably when we try to drive home the point that someone actually needs to do the work, we will start with a smile and the phrase no plan ever survives a collision with reality.
But we’re not going to say this anymore.
Because for the serial planner, it's simply not true.
The inertia that plagues many school districts and schools is all too often poorly masked by lofty, beautifully crafted, and jargon-filled plans and mission statements that aren’t affected by reality.
Many well-intentioned plans lose track of the very problem that is being solved and become the end and not the means.
The very best plans are malleable and adjust to the needs of the students, teachers, and community. Plans should be active documents and if they are printed, they should be dog-eared and wear their fingerprints and coffee stains proudly.
Many years ago, a...
In many ways, email is a to-do list created by others.
When someone sends us an email with a request, what do we typically do? Probably something like this:
A 15-minute meeting with myself every week to proactively review next week's priorities and place them in a calendar can help us say “no” to things that aren’t important to us. We can overcome much of the pressure to say ”yes” with one glance at our calendar.
All too often, calendars only include events like meetings, around which we take care of what the day presents while hoping to have time for our priorities.
A properly constructed calendar includes our ...
Do you feel like there's a lot of stuff coming at you?
If so, you might be suffering from the always-on conundrum.
You know that feeling that something will come at you at any time or that awful persistent thought that you might be missing something?
It's hard to put edges on our work in the information age.
Just fifteen or twenty years ago, people could parcel off pieces of their lives. Not completely of course, but enough to have some peace of mind when spending time with family and friends.
Thus we have the conundrum.
If we try to compartmentalize our work and home, we probably make the noise worse, because of something called ironic process theory: The more we try to not think of something, the more that thing is cemented into our brains.
You may have read studies on this using a white bear or a pink elephant.
Give it a try.
Don't think about a pink elephant!
While one part of the brain is shutting out thoughts of the pink elephant, another part helpfully reminds you that...
A leader who doesn't empower people to dig into issues or take the time to build consensus creates a culture of parking lot conversations and hallways filled with whispered negativity.
Power illuminates strengths and weaknesses in areas that can be improved, like skills and tasks. And it also illuminates those things ingrained in the leaders that are very likely to never change like empathy, integrity, and engagement.
“With great power comes great responsibility.” (Voltaire)
And it can be difficult to identify those who have the qualities necessary to both pursue and nurture an exceptional culture.
The founders of Western Philosophy (Socrates, Aristotle, and Plato) subscribed to a belief wherein the few wisest should be permitted to rule. One problem is, of course, gaining agreement on who is the wisest.
But even if we could choose the wisest leaders, what if the person with power lacks integrity or is simply an unkind or apathetic person?
Herein lies the problem: how do...