I pledge…

…we mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes, and our sacred honor.” – Thomas Jefferson, Declaration of Independence [July 4, 1776]

Maybe your change requires a commitment less than your sacred honor, but it still requires something.

You must align what you’re willing to pledge with what your change requires, be that a pledge to start your meetings on time or a commitment to spend the years necessary to build an organization that could change the world.

What will you pledge toward the change you’re driving?

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I Still Shout

On the days when I wanted to give up I think of a parable Admiral Rickover used to tell.

The parable goes something like this,

An ancient philosopher came to a city to save its people from their sins.  The inhabitants of the city, who at first listened to the philosopher, gradually turned away.  One day a child asked the philosopher, ‘Why do you shout when they do not listen?’  The philosopher replied, ‘In the beginning I shouted to change them.  If I still shout, it is to prove they cannot change me.'”

What’s the take away?

Be ready to shout even when no one is listening.

Always remember that if you stop shouting–if you stop driving–you’ll never get the change you want.

I still shout.

Will you shout with me?

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Quote of the Week: Make it big enough

Whenever I run into a problem I can’t solve, I always make it bigger.  I can never solve it by trying to make it smaller, but if I make it big enough I can begin to see the outlines of a solution.” – Dwight D. Eisenhower

If you’re driving a change that only solves your problem look around for others who share your concern and make the change you’re driving big enough to include their concerns.  In large organizations the charge to “make it big enough” is especially important if you want to gain sway over the powers that control company-wide policy or procedures.

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Patience

I bet you’ve met someone like Bill before.

Bill works hard every day, is above average in his work output and is a pleasure to work with.  Bill is waiting patiently for his boss to offer him a big promotion.  Bill hasn’t applied for any new jobs, hasn’t mentioned his interest in the promotion to his boss, and is not known to many people outside his immediate work group.  Bill is known as a patient guy.  He knows the promotion will come someday if he just waits patiently.

Ugh! Poor Bill.  Someone has misled him all these years.  I’d be surprised if he ever gets that promotion with the way he’s going about getting it.

Bill’s story leads me to our quote of the week:

Patience is the art of waiting.  It is not necessarily the art of waiting patiently.” – Peter Kreeft

I find joy in this quote, joy because it lends shades of color to the blog tag line, “Stop waiting.  Start driving the change you want.”  And, it helps Bill understand what he must do to get his promotion.

When I wrote, “Stop waiting,” I had in my head the picture of you hearing, “Stop waiting!” then awakening, leaping to your feet, and putting your shoulder to the boulders in front of you, the boulders that stand between you and the change you want.

Yet, I expected you would know that I meant for you to keep at the boulders, day after day, even if (and especially if) they seem immovable.  I expected you to know I was encouraging you to be patient for your outcome and at the same time impatient in your actions today.

But, how could you know that was what I expected?  I didn’t clearly say.  Let’s try to make the situation clear by returning to our friend, Bill.

Do this: Be patient for your destination.  You will arrive in time and it’ll be worth the wait.

Bill may have all the knowledge, skills and abilities to deserve that promotion and excel in the new role. Bill should set his sights on that promotion and know that someday it will be his.

While also doing this: Act impatiently along your journey.  Those who wait patiently rarely ever reach their destination.

Bill must act impatiently today.  By the end of the day, he could tell his boss he is interested in the next promotion.  By the end of the week, Bill could ask what training, experiences or results he’d need to be considered for the promotion.  By the end of the month, Bill could network with other colleagues, to increase his name recognition with the promotions board members.  Bill could do a lot of things and Bill should do something, today, this week and this month to get noticed and draw others to his side in his journey for a promotion.  If Bill does nothing but wait patiently, then he’s likely to get nothing in the end.

Don’t be Bill.

Be patient for the destination and wildly impatient along the journey.

Stop waiting. Start driving the change you want.

Why not start today?

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Quote of the Week: Learning

The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education.” – Albert Einstein

As an implementer, an engineer, someone who turns ideas into practical applications, I enjoy this quote.

I enjoy the quote because within it I hear a challenge to do more than absorb information.

I hear a challenge to apply my knowledge, to seek the learning that comes with trying–and yes, sometimes failing–at something new.  [For a lesson in failure: See my post about my first attempt at a Guiding Coalition.]

There is no formal education in driving change.  This blog is a map to help you on your journey.

Don’t confuse this blog with your destination.

It’s time to move past the education.

It’s time to use the map.

It’s time to learn, try, fail and succeed.

It’s time to drive change.

Are you ready?

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Everyone is Coachable

I’ve scrawled quotes on piles of index cards over the years.  Nearly every card has the quote plus the quote’s author, the book I got the quote from, and the page number the quote is featured on.  Note that I said nearly every card.  Why? Well, because this week’s quote comes from a card with no name, no book and no number; yet I’m sharing it none the less.  [Bonus points out there if anyone knows where this quote is from.]

Coaching is not giving direction; it is a way of being that sees others at their very best, confronts them with their gifts, talents, and potential; and then holds them accountable to living up to that potential.  When we approach others in this way, everyone is coachable.

Remember this quote when you’re driving change.

You’ll want to give direction, but shouldn’t.

You want to prevent all falls, but can’t.

Your job is to prepare the way, then let them drive.

They can’t be their best if you’re standing in front of them looking backward.

Instead, stand next to them, put a hand to their back, and encourage them on.

Let them drive change too.

[Secondary bonus points to anyone who posts a link to a consult/don’t consult conflict cloud! My version is buried in my work files somewhere and I’m too lazy tonight to draw a new one.]

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Your thoughts?

A dear friend sent me this quote today:

You may encounter many defeats, but you must not be defeated. In fact, it may be necessary to encounter the defeats, so you can know who you are, what you can rise from, and how you can still come out of it.

— Maya Angelou

Your thoughts?  Have you encountered a defeat that tested your limits?  If so, what did you learn from the defeat?

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Real Progress

When you’re driving change, you may be drawn into conversations about what progress you are making.  Whenever I’m discussing (or thinking about) progress I try to keep this C.S. Lewis quote swirling in my head:

But progress means getting nearer to the place where you want to be.  And if you have taken a wrong turning, then to go forward does not get you any nearer.  If you are on the wrong road, progress means doing an about-turn and walking back to the right road; and in that case the man who turns back soonest is the most progressive man.”

How can you know you’re making real progress?

For me, I get a feeling, a thought, an external indication that all I’m doing is making a bad thing work better; I know I’m not creating a real good.  When I get that thought, feeling or indication, it takes all my will to stop moving forward.

But, as I slow, stop and turn toward the right road, I start to feel, think, notice that the indications are back in my favor and I’m back on course to drive change toward the place I want to be.

Example: In an earlier post I mentioned the battle I waged between overtime and throughput.  Improving the application of overtime was progress down the wrong road.  Advocating for throughput goals (and the application of overtime only to enable the throughput goals) was the right road.  It took all my strength to slow, turn and restart that engine, but choosing the right road made the difference.

You can do it.  You can create real progress.  Are you willing to try?

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Improvement is doubly possible

When you’re driving change, you’ll want to remember this quote:

Improvement is doubly difficult when individual habit is reinforced by group inertia.

It comes from the Navy Correspondence Manual and it’s referring to writing official letters, memos and recommendations.  But, to me it means so much more.

Say you’re the first person in your work team, civic organization or company that chooses to drive change instead of drive people to change. Will it be easy to drive change?

No.

Will you feel pulled by the behavior of others around you to stop focusing on wins and removing obstacles and instead spend meeting after meeting blaming those “others” who won’t change?

Yes.

But, just because it is doubly difficult doesn’t mean it’s impossible.

Some days it’ll feel like a solo battle and others there will be an army (no Navy disrespect intended) with you.

Try instead this affirmation:

Improvement is doubly possible when individual habit shows the group where new inertia will lead them.

Be the new inertia.  Show the others around you what’s possible.

Write better if you like (Chapter 3 of the Correspondence Manual is a great place to start).

Drive change if you’re willing.

You’ll love both…I promise!

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