Getting enough exercise

Bench PressCreative Commons License Usodesita via Compfight

This post is not about physical exercise. (Though I’m still feeling the effects of a recent return to that type of exercise.)

This post is about mental exertion.

I know I’m a junkie for learning, but on most days even I don’t feel like I’ve really exercised my brain.

Sure, on any given day I’ve used my brain.  I’ve thought of problems and solutions.  I’ve pondered big topics.

Yet, have I really pushed myself or has anyone else really challenged me?  My answer most days would be no.

How do I know?  Because I felt mentally exhausted after reading through a post titled, Top 25 Oddball Interview Questions at Glassdoor.com

If I were in mental shape I would have glided through those questions like the workout video extras glide through killer ab workouts without breaking a sweat.

Try the questions.  See how you feel.  Are you in mental shape?

What would your organization be able to achieve if it challenged you mentally even half as much as those questions did?

I bet we’d all be better off if we got more mental exercise.

To that end, I’m actively looking for a guest blogger to send me a brain teaser to post each week.

I think a Wednesday brain bender would be a great way to wake us all up half way through each exciting, challenging week.  Anyone interested in the job?  You could send in one a week or send me a batch to process and stagger posting.  Either works.  I look forward to see if any of you take me up on this offer.

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Link Fuel

Over the holiday break I took some time to recharge myself.  Below are some of the topics I sampled.

What did you do to recharge yourself during the holidays?

Post a comment and I’ll send you a special participants link to more Engine For Change content.

Books: 

I traded up from my old Blackberry to a new iPhone 4S, so now I can read my nook and Kindle books on my phone.  That allowed me to finally finish Ayn Rand’s Philosophy: Who Needs It,  a collection of her essays and speeches that I found many years ago while searching about for interesting speeches given to military academy audiences (See this post about Secretary Gates’ series of speeches to the academies).  Now I’m on to flipping through The Iliad when I have small moments to spare.

I couldn’t get away from the paper books however.  I finished Half-Life of Facts by Arbesman and A Mathematician’s Lament by Lockhart.  I’m still contemplating how best to turn each into a blog post or several posts.

With those books complete to round out the year I still hit my goal of 30+ books per year, though I’ve had to augment my regular fare of business and history books with a healthy diet of children’s book to keep my numbers up and my children happy.  Such is the joyful fate of a mother of young children: the pull to read, and read, and read to the little ones.

 

Experiences:

I rushed out on December 26th to see the new version of Les Mis hit the big screen.  The beauty of the music and the message overtook me.  The adaptation is raw in the right ways, showing sharp details of the consequences of free will, faith, suffering, and a difference between a divine morality and a law driven morality.  It’s a movie worth seeing for more than its entertainment value.  It should prompt in you a desire to have a long-overdue philosophical discussion about life’s purpose, probably just the conversation Hugo hoped to spark by writing it long ago.

I <3 you too (Explored)

Linh Nguyen via Compfight

On December 28th I attended the 7th installment of what I fondly call Edmonds Day, a semi-annual gathering of change agents. We start before 8 AM in an Edmonds, Washington Starbucks and migrate to a local diner for brunch then someone’s house for late lunch/early dinner and many more hours of conversation.  I usually end the night catching a 8:30 PM ferry home to the other side of the water.  Though the group was smaller this time than in sessions past, the conversation was always lively and many new ideas were tossed about and considered from many angles.  True to his giver-of-intellectual-connections strengths, Steve Holt (@skholt) provided me more than a few titles to attempt to read in 2013.  I’ll always be grateful to Hilbert Robinson (@hrobinson), a plank owner of Edmonds Day, for sharing his larger change agent network with me.  I treasure my Edmonds Days each year.

Today I took the opportunity to spend the day with my family at the King Tut exhibit at our local science center.  It was a treat to watch my seven year old run about with a decoding page attempting to read the hieroglyphics and then to hear her start planning her life as an archeologist.  Afterwards she and I stayed late in Seattle to sample the Seattle Art Museum on their First Thursday free day.  We’ve been to the SAM before so we beat a straight path to our favorite paintings then found a few new treasures too.   I love those little moments of mother and daughter.  They are small memory gems that fuel me for weeks afterward.

 

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What happens if you type in…

…”drinking” in the search box of this blog?  Two posts come up. Only two? Yes. Only two.

The first is about falling into old habits.

The second is about tribal leadership and  Tribal Leadership.

Funny that both posts came up in conversation today, so I thought that was a sign that they needed to be republished for all you new readers to enjoy.

If you haven’t read Staying Sober and Driving Change or Reviewing “Tribal Leadership,” may I suggest you dig into them on this fine Tuesday night/Wednesday morning?  Either may spark a little fire in you to keep you going through the week.

Here’s to driving change!

 

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Link Fuel

Moths to a flame...

Jason Drury via Compfight

Let’s fill up our tanks with some link fuel.

As I listened to discussions of process variability and churn today, my mind flashed to Deming’s funnel problem.  Don’t adjust a process due to random variation.  You’ll make the scatter worse.  My Poking a Dirty Finger Into the Wound post relates.

 

John Kotter’s latest Harvard Business Review article, Accelerate, came out this week.  It’s a must read.  All those readers who are also Guiding Coalition participants will enjoy the fact that for years you’ve  been living in the system that Dr. Kotter introduces to the world in the article.  We don’t get to live on the leading edge often enough.  Enjoy it my friends.

 

Rob is always feeding me great videos.  Here’s Shawn Achor’s TedTalk on happiness.

Hugh Huck started sharing videos with me too.  I’m glad to have him in the Engine for Change network.  Here’s a great one he showed me from Margaret Heffernan.  (My favorite line comes from Alice’s daughter: “My mother didn’t enjoy a fight, but she was really good at them.”)  Heffernan’s tale of Alice Stewart‘s challenges echoes the “no one believed me, but I was right” storyline of Dave Snowden’s longitude video.  It’s painful to hear how no one believed Mr. Harrison for more than 20 years and no one believed Dr. Stewart for 25 years.  Their stories give me courage to keep fighting for changes that matter to me.  If they could fight that long then so can I.  Will you fight too?

Have a fantastic weekend and be sure to recharge so you can keep driving change.

BONUS: We think we know more than we do about complex issues. Thanks for the link, Hilbert.

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October Link Fuel

I’ve been storing up a tank full of great finds.  Enjoy!

  • Seth hits one out of the park again with the post, Denying Facts You Don’t Like.
  • Here’s a great Cognitive Edge old blog post on safe-to-fail probes and here’s the link to an article library that will keep any learner busy for a while.
  • H/T to Rob Gorman for finding this video about great ideas each of us would never have thought up on our own.

  • An awesome, short explanation from Richard Feynman about storing the sun’s energy in trees.  (First found on Brain Pickings, a blog well worth following.)

  • Plus, I’m going to take advantage of Rogue Polymath’s excellent seek-and-find skills and post my not-for-profit blog one per month Savage Chickens cartoon.

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Recycling – Project 1

In last weeks #GCDrive class I touched on a lot of the topics that have been featured as blog posts here.  To aid my new Guiding Coalition members with taking their new topics to heart, I thought I would recycle some of the old posts.

At some point last week I got off on a rant about the essential difference between submitting to:

  • Physics (which is indifferent to your submission or not — submission only has value for you, not for the physics-based system you are trying to control)

and

  • Man-made rules or policies or instructions, which may or may not be documents detailing an accurate way to submit to physics.

Back in February I posted a rant on the same topic, titled “Which Rules to Follow” and cited a story about Admiral Rickover (yes, I have an intellectual crush on him!).  The story goes:

Rickover was keenly aware that there are two kinds of rules.  He understood that laws of nature, such as the effects of gravity, or radiation, or excessive temperature or pressure, cannot be gotten around by fast talk, political influence, or subterfuge.  On the other hand, man-made rules are a different entity.  Some, such as laws passed by legislative bodies, must be obeyed, and he was scrupulous about this.  Others, such as bureaucratic procedures defining how one may carry out assigned responsibilities, sometimes can and should be circumvented, he felt.  In particular, those procedures that “everyone” followed because “it’s just our policy” he not only spurned but did so with great pleasure.” – As told by Theodore Rockwell in The Rickover Effect

Richard Feynman expressed the same sentiment within the Rogers Commission Report on the Challenger disaster when he said,

For a successful technology, reality must take precedence over public relations, for nature cannot be fooled.

We’d all do well to have that over our desks to keep that truth in our active thoughts each day.

Now, let’s turn to communication:

And, self-preservation while driving change:

Well, that should be enough to keep any new Guiding Coalition member busy and get them poking around the blog to see what topics I’ve already touched that they may have missed.  I hope you enjoyed this recycling project.

Did you know there are 446 posts on this blog?  That’s a lot of content.  One of these days I’ll have to curate it down into an e-book or something.  If you’ve got an preferences for what topics should be featured in the book, drop me a comment.  Right now, that’s still a glimmer in my eye and open to much shifting and parsing.

 

 

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4th of July Link Fuel

  • Great leaders serve others, or so says David Marquet in a TedX talk. (Thanks to Gene Sedy for the link).

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Because They Said It Better

I don’t have to create new content all the time.  Sometimes, it’s best if I point you toward a few places I’ve been looking.  I can admit that they’ve said it better than I could.

If you wonder why we keep doing stuff in organizations that long ago ceased to have a functioning purpose, read Seth Godin on Understanding Stuck in an organization and starting over.

If you know in your heart (and in your head) that efficiency is not the goal of organizations, read Mark Addleson on how efficiency sucks and what we need is good work.

If you are sick of people trying to…(choose your frustration), Maria Popova at Brain Pickings posted two gems on creativity as told by W. I. B. Beveridge: The Art of Chance and How Intuition and Imagination Fuel Scientific Discovery.  I especially enjoyed the quote from Beveridge on the trap of conditioned thinking:

Psychologists have observed that once we have made an error, as for example in adding up a column of figures, we have a tendency to repeat it again and again. This phenomenon is known as the persistent error. The same thing happens when we ponder over a problem; each time our thoughts take a certain course, the more likely is that course to be followed the next time. Associations form between the ideas in the chain of thoughts and become firmer each time they are used, until finally the connections are so well established that the chain is very difficult to break. Thinking becomes conditioned just as conditioned reflexes are formed. We may have enough data to arrive at a solution to the problem, but, once we have adopted an unprofitable line of thought, the oftener we pursue it, the harder it is for us to adopt the profitable line.

If you’re still following the goings on at the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization (TOCICO) Conference, Jack Vinson gives us Day 3.

 

 

 

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Following TOCICO from afar

I didn’t have the opportunity to attend the Theory of Constraints International Certification Organization (TOCICO) Conference in Chicago, but that won’t stop us from learning something from it.  Thanks to Jack Vinson for blogging about the conferences highlights yesterday in two posts.  I look forward to more posts and will post the links when they become available.  [Hat tip to Steve Holt (@SKHolt) for tweeting the links to Jack’s blog.]

Update Monday Night: Jack’s posted two more posts from Monday’s festivities at the conference.  Keep checking out his posts if you want to keep up.

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Link Fuel

The below list of links are some of what I’ve been reading and pondering lately.

What ideas have you been letting into your head to rattle around?

Anything good going to come of the rattling?

New Paradigms by Stephen Dale

Changing the Status Quo by H. William Dettmer

Systems Thinking and the Cynefin Framework by H. William Dettmer

Can Your Organization Handle Losing a Leader by John Kotter

Agility Results: Naval Shipyard from the Kotter International Newsletter

Why There’s No Right Way To Do MBO (Management By Objective) by Kelly Allan

The Struggle for the American Curriculum posted by drburwell

Coming Full Circle with Boyd’s OODA Loop Ideas: An Analysis of Innovation Diffusion and Innovation by Captain William Angerman

Touching the Art: A New Approach to Art Appreciation by Luc Travers

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