What Do I Bring to My Environment?

Each day we find ourselves in many different relationships and in those relationships there is a certain environment; defined by Websters as…

: the circumstances, objects, or conditions by which one is surrounded

: the aggregate of social and cultural conditions that influence the life of an individual or community

Do we let the environment totally shape our perception or do we bring a certain set of principle that might shape the environment? Who or what shapes our perception, thinking, and ultimately our behavior?

Robert Quinn suggest that transformational leaders have the unique opportunity to “envision and enact a new form of community, one in which ordinary people can generate extraordinary results.”

What would it be like to be a co-creator of a new type of community – where people work with a common purpose for the benefit of all?

It would take people of influence (the common definition of leadership) who by their sheer principled behavior shape productive communities. “When people become members of a productive community they tend to become more inner directed and other focused.  They tend to be motivated by a calling that they feel deep within. They make contributions that exceed narrow self-interest…they want to be connected to reality.”

What do I bring to my environment?

How am I contributing to a productive community?

Principles from page 28 – Change the World by Robert E. Quinn
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My Apologies

I truly appreciate you subscribing to my BLOG and apologize for the recent obscure posts that have been posted by a hacker. I have tried multiple log in and password changes with no success (today’s post notwithstanding). I have contacted WordPress and hope to have it resolved this week.

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Standing On Principle

It just may be more challenging than you think to live out of your values. What would it mean to make decisions based on your principles?

From Change the Word (Robert E Quinn) – page 16

Altering our behavior to reflect what we really value is revolutionary because principle-driven actions tend to be outside the boundaries of exchange and transaction. In normalized relationships, we ask, “What does the group expect?” Around those group expectations we construct a set of rewards and punishment designed to bring conformity.

Engaging in a new behavior based on principle challenges the norms. The person with a moral purpose is usually willing to endure punishment in order to pursue the purpose. Such principled behavior sends the dreaded signal that perhaps “the emperor has no clothes.”

Recall a time when you were aware of what the group expected and knew the consequences if you did not conform?

What would it mean for you to endure some form of punishment (confrontation, challenge, etc.) to pursue your deeper purpose and principles?

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Weakness – A Dirty Word?

“New England Patriot’s Quarterback Tom Brady doesn’t have good tackling techniques!”

Sounds absurd doesn’t it?  No one would ever critique an elite quarterback for having a weakness in tackling.  Especially since he won three Super Bowls, two Super Bowl MVP awards, seven Pro Bowl selections and holds the NFL record for most touchdown passes in a single regular season. What gets highlighted are his strengths!

Why do we spend so much energy trying focusing on our weaknesses?

Management consultant Peter Drucker summed it up:

The effective executive… knows that one cannot build on weakness…. To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant.

Although Peter Drucker makes a strong case it’s hard to imagine a world in which weaknesses are irrelevant. For almost everyone, “weakness” is a dirty word, a concept we’d love to avoid but feel we can’t. We end up going through the motions when we have to. You’ll rarely make it through a job interview without being asked to discuss your weaknesses. Your performance reviews are laden with bullet points highlighting weaknesses addressed as “areas for improvement.” Rarely does your supervisor ask you to put together a plan that focuses on your strengths; having a road map intentionally designed around contributing your best to the organization.

In one of my recent workshops – Maximizing Your Strengths – a well-respected woman in a manufacturing company said to the group, “This is such a positive message. It has been wonderful to focus on strengths. It seems that so much of the emphasis is to focus on our weaknesses, pointing them out repeatedly. I would be more encouraged if I was taught how to manage my weaknesses and spend more energy getting better at my strengths.” Wow…it was a ringing endorsement!

She was right. You know what drags you down, what fills you with dread, what you’d never do again if your job didn’t require it.  Marcus Buckingham wrote,

“You may even be good at what you hate doing — but that doesn’t mean you don’t hate doing it. More often, what we hate and what we do badly overlap and reinforce each other in a vicious circle. It’s hard to love what you’re not good at, and it’s hard to get good at something you hate doing.”

What do we do with this vicious circle? I am happy to be associated with other coaches who help encourage people not to dwell on their weaknesses or obsess over how to fix them. We believe you get the best return on your investment by focusing your attention on your strengths. The good news is that research backs up our belief. “Workplace survey data over decades reveals that people who play to their strengths every day are much more engaged, less likely to quit, and much more likely to contribute to high-performing teams.”

What if we learned to simply manage our weaknesses and spent most of our energy building on our strengths?

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Your Personal Hedgehog

The Hedgehog Concept

Jim Collins – Good to Great (Chapter Five)

The Personal Analogy

Suppose you were able to construct a work life match that meets the following three tests.

You are doing work for which you have a genetic or God-given talent, and perhaps you could become one of the best in the world in applying that talent.

I feel that I was born to be doing this!

You are paid for what you do…playing to your strengths more than 75% of the time.

I get paid to do this!

You are doing work you are passionate about and that aligns with your purpose and values, enjoying the actual process for its own sake.

I look forward to getting up and throwing myself into my daily work, and really believe in what I’m doing!

If you could drive toward the intersection of these three circles and translate that intersection into a simple, crystalline concept that guided your life choices, then you’d have your personal Hedgehog.

Posted in Maximize Your Potential, MissionBuilder, Personal Development | Leave a comment

Begin With the End in Mind

This blog post was inspired by a Monday e-Newsletter I received from one of my consultant friends who encouraged employers to, “Empower the success of direct reports by asking each what they really want to accomplish as a development goal this year.” Thanks Cyndi Gave (The Metiss Group) for reminding me about Covey’s Habit #2.

So often we begin the new year with every intention of accomplishing a task(s), making a paradigm shift, or changing a habit. We might even play the mind-game of avoiding the word “resolution.” As I approach this year, both personally and with the people I coach, we might do well to dust off one of the principles proposed years ago by Stephen R Covey in “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” – start with the end in mind:

“To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going so that you better understand where you’re going so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.”

What strikes me is how Covey begins the chapter. He asks the reader to create a space that is both uninterrupted and alone. That is a bold ask! Given our activity-rich, jammed-packed schedules it almost seems like gibberish. It isn’t just the concept (Why) that is difficult to grasp but also the means (How) to step into it.

What if you decided to embark on two activities this month that would truly enhance your well-being and bring deeper levels of satisfaction? These activities won’t cost you money but will demand the attention of your mind, your heart, and your soul.

  • Take the courageous step to block out 90 minutes of your schedule where you can be alone and uninterrupted; where you can breathe deeply and begin to think clearly. Open your spirit.
  • Begin to ask yourself the questions with the end in mind. My encouragement is to write your answers. Here are just a few to start you off:
                       What would I like to be like at the end of 2012?
                      How can I think more often about things that are good, noble, and right?
                      What relationships would I like to nurture and what relationships should I give more distance?
                      What are my unique talents and how can I serve others more fully with them?


Posted in Noticing|Awareness, Solitude | Leave a comment

A Coach in Your Corner

Have you thought about Taking Your Strengths to the Next Level?

Here’s a thought from Strengths-Guru, Marcus Buckingham:

When most people hear the word “coach,” chances are they think of a middle-aged guy with a whistle around his neck barking orders at a bunch of athletes. Our stereotypical professional athletic coach works in a field in which the only thing that matters is results. He gets paid a lot of money to help people perform to the best of their abilities, and if coaching didn’t have an impact, he probably wouldn’t have a job.

Athletes and sports fans aren’t the only ones who care about excelling, though. So why shouldn’t the rest of us have coaches, too? A recent article by Atul Gawande, medical correspondent for The New Yorker, observes that a growing number of surgeons and other professionals are turning to coaches to help them improve on their technique and stay sharp (no surgical pun intended) as they advance in their careers. (December 2011, Inside Strengths)

What would it mean to have a coach pay attention to each client’s personal strengths, keeping a sharp eye out for abilities, skills, talents and other positive personal characteristics?

I am grateful for 2011, when CEOs invited me into their corner to support their effort to build a strengths-based organization through Maximizing Your Strengths workshops and monthly coaching sessions.

As we enter 2012, more CEOs have invited to me into their corner to support their effort as I lead Maximizing Your Strengths workshops with their senior teams.

Whatif…you put a coach into your corner?

Posted in Coaching, Organizational Health | Tagged | 4 Comments