Turn Frustration into Action

Tonight I watched the U.S. presidential debate. I also watched and read some of the posts on Twitter and Facebook.

I’m convince now more than ever that we need to move beyond the habit of storing our hopes and dreams for our future in our presidential candidates.

We need to stop fighting each other, yelling at each other, and demonizing each other. We need to start saying what we believe in and what we are doing to bring that new future into reality.

We need to decide to create the changes we want to see in our communities, states, and nations rather than waiting for someone, somewhere, to do something.

We are a multitude of someones.

We are somewhere, our somewhere: the place that most matter to each of us.

We can do something.

How?

We must become the change agents we can be. We must drive change, not people. We must live our changes and clear the way for others to join us.

We have been suffocated by people telling us they will solve our problems.  We are crushed with the promises that they will finally do something for us.  We can do better.

Are you ready to start creating the change you want to see in the world? Yes?

Do you know where to start and how to keep yourself going? No?

Everyone is a Change AgentI’m overjoyed that Everyone is a Change Agent has been published now, just weeks before the election.

Now we are at our most frustrated with the system as it has been, or as we’ve thought it might be.  Let’s turn that frustration into action.

Stop waiting for them to fix it, improve it, or change it.  You can do it! I believe in you.

Buy Everyone is a Change Agent. Read it. Live it.  You will change the world!

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Leadership Shortage?

There isn’t a leadership shortage.  There is a belief shortage.

You are a leader. You can lead.  Believe it.

You can start the path that leads to better, faster, safer, and happier.

Overcoming the crisis of belief requires you to stop putting your faith in others in your organization and start the change with yourself instead.

Act first. Learn first. Lead first.

The world is waiting for you. Believe it!

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Stop Trying to Fix the Water – Fix the Piping Instead

If diverse candidates are water and your organization is piping and you find yourself with leaks (e.g., retention problems), what should you do?

If you found a leak like this in your home’s plumbing, what would you do? You would try to fix the piping.  You wouldn’t try to thicken the water.

So, why are most of the diversity programs out there full of  “fix the water” solutions (e.g., “dress for success” workshops, assertiveness training, mentoring)?

My theory is that most people creating diversity programs have never thought to categorize their potential solutions to their diversity challenges like an engineer would categorize potential fixes to a plumbing problem.  If they did, they would notice that their programs are heavy on “fix the water” solutions and light on “fix the piping” solutions.

To balance the scales, I offer three actions any diversity program could implement to “fix the piping.”

First, implement blind auditions for positions.  When symphonies went to blind auditions, the numbers of diverse members jumped.  GapJumpers, a recent start-up specializing in creating blind auditions for corporate positions, has seen a similar jump in the numbers of diverse candidates getting interviews at tech companies.

Vujosevic says the company recently analyzed data from 1,200 blind auditions and learned that 54% of those who participated were women, while 46% were men. About 58% of those selected to an interview after the blind audition round were women, and 68% of those who ended up getting hired were women.

Second, level the playing field in meetings with a simple facilitator trick.

Please take the next five minutes to think independently about what the first three actions we must take to resolve Problem X.  Write down your thoughts.  After the five minutes, discuss your ideas with the person next to you.  Choose the Top 3 actions you and your partner would recommend.  Write each of your actions on these sticky notes and post them here for everyone to see.”

This method allows everyone to have an equal chance to be heard.  It’s much more likely to get diverse ideas out for consideration and prevents strong personalities from dominating the meetings.  If you don’t believe that meetings are hard for diverse members of your team, read this article about women in meetings carefully translating their thoughts so they can be heard.

Third, address pay parity by looking at the numbers and fixing the gaps. Marc Benioff, Salesforce’s CEO, did just that when he dug into his companies pay data himself and corrected pay gaps.

But women can’t do this alone, said Benioff. There are also things a company can do.”

Notice that in all of these examples that the diverse employees, which organizations are spending a ton of money to recruit and retain, aren’t expected to change anything about themselves.  They get to be their best selves, just as they are, and the organization is changing to retain them.  The water gets to be the water.  And, the leaks are fixed.

What are your organization’s diversity fixes?  Are you trying to thicken the water or are you fixing the leaks in the system?  Which one you choose will make all the difference.

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Are you a professional?

For Lukasz, Niels, Clifford, and Ray, and more, I offer this quote from “The Rickover Effect,”

Traditionally, the professional man follows certain tacit or explicit rules of conduct which vary in detail vary in detail as between different professions. Basic to all of them, however, are two rules: first, the obligation to reject lay direction in the performance of professional work—that is, the duty to maintain professional independence; and second, the obligation to use professional knowledge and techniques solely for the benefit of their clients. . .
Service ceases to be professional if it has in any way been dictated by the client or employer. The role of the professional man in society is to lend his special knowledge, his well-trained intellect, and his dispassionate habit of visualizing problems in terms of fundamental principles to whatever specific task is entrusted to him. Professional independence is not a special privilege but rather an inner necessity for the true professional man, and a safeguard for his employers and the general public. Without it, he negates everything that makes him a professional person and becomes at best a routine technician or hired hand, at worst a hack.

 

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Never enough time

There’s never enough time. Get over it and decide what you will do with the limited time you have.

Choose what change you want to make in the world, then make it.  If it’s important enough to you, you’ll find the time.

Why not try?

Teddy Climbing
In 2011, Teddy, age 3, wished for an accessible playground. In two weeks, when he turns 7, we’ll celebrate his birthday at his accessible playground. I made the time and you can too.

 

 

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Too Many Priorities

I love it when someone says, “I have too many priorities.”

Why?  Because they’ve revealed themselves to be a person who struggles with decisions.

Webster’s gives three definitions for “priority.” All three involve the person deciding how to separate tasks into an ordered list that then instructs the person where to apply their time, i.e., to the top priority task.

When someone says, “We have too many priorities,” they are admitting that the organization struggles with deciding the order of the list or struggles with applying time in the order of the list, or both.

Where this turns interesting isn’t in this deduction of the problems, but rather in the opt repeated solution to the problem, “We need fewer priorities.”  The logic implied is: If I had less tasks to pick from or fewer tasks to apply my time to, I’d be better at putting my time and attention to the tasks.  Where this breaks down is that the exact will power you need to keep the list short and time to the short list is exactly the willpower that the person or organization lacked when the list was long.

The engine that drives a successful prioritization is the individuals willingness to work in priority order, to avoid distractions, to not let the little things of the day creep in.

You can dissolve all the fights about priority quickly by saying, “What if you only got one priority.  What would you work on right now because it truly can’t wait any longer for your attention?”  See if you can get an answer (sometimes you won’t).  If they answer, then ask, “What’s stopping you from working on that right now?”  What you’ll find in the answer to that question is all the other things that are really higher priorities to that person, but they just weren’t willing to admit (perhaps even to themselves).

[Note: Feel free to interrogate yourself with this technique next time you want to say, “I have too many priorities.”  It really does help you surface what you may have been prioritizing over your most important tasks.]

People and organizations don’t have a priority problem.  They have a willpower problem.  Once we diagnosis the disease and stop treating the symptom, then we might be able to actually make ourselves and our organizations better.  Why not try?

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Get On With It

Labyrinth

If it is the first time you’re doing something in your organization, there won’t be a neat little plan for how to do it.

You’ll actually have to think your own way through it while the leaders think their way through too.

Just because they don’t have everything all figured out doesn’t mean they are bad leaders; it means they are human.

Engage your brain. Use your time to craft your plan (and act on it). Don’t waste your time micromanaging their plan from the sidelines.

Help achieve the objective in the best way you know how (oh, and prepare for changes of course along the way–that’s just the way it is.)

I’m going to get on with making a big change.  Feel free to join me.

Or, don’t.  It’s still your choice.  Make it.

Let’s get on with it already.

photo credit: vgm8383 via Compfight

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No time

It seems lately that I’ve had no time for blogging and yet all the time in the world for other things.

I don’t know about you, but I’m almost always harder on myself for what I haven’t done than anyone else is on me for what they think I haven’t done.

I think about what I could do, could be, could say, could write and the possibilities stretch out before me. Yet, I can only take on a few (if any) at any one time.

It is true that there is no time do all of those “could do” things. Yet, there is time enough to do something.

And, by doing something, you and I might just change the world.

Why not try?

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