Current Reality, Future Reality, and Gaining Traction
Alright, it’s been a while since I’ve created a My One Thing post. As I considered this this past week, it occurred to me to write a post about creating a Vision Traction Organizer (VTO). The VTO is taken from the book Traction: Get A Grip On Your Business, by Gino Wickman.
I’ve written about the book Traction before, and highly recommend it for anyone working in the business world, both private and public, no matter the size of your business. It is a very practical and implemtable book.
Alright, so here is what the VTO for the Extended Learning Department at Linn-Benton Community College looked like in year 2.
As you can see, it begins on the left side with the department values and vision and then works all the way to the right displaying the department goals, and issues the department is facing. Hence, traction. Why?
Well, as I’ve written about before, the only way to make a vision a reality, personal or professional, is to actually tie that vision to day-to-day life in the form of smaller goals. When you have your day-to-day activities tied to the vision of who you want to be, or where you want your organization or business to be in, say, 3 years, you will develop traction.
Meaning, you will move toward and likely manifest that reality for yourself, or your team.
Now, since the department’s second year together, well, we’ve had some, let’s say, unexpected things occur, such as the pandemic. Yep, so now that we’ve been living inside of this pandemic for a full year, it was time to start to sketch out the next 3 years.
Here is what it looks like on my white board wall.
If you compare the two, you will see that the revenue goals are much lower than they were expected to be when the original VTO was created in our second year together. That, however, is the reality. And, as I’ve written about before, being clear on the current reality is necessary and needed in leadership.
We may not want to look at the current reality, we may want to instead run and hide from it, yet, it will only follow us if we do. And, in refusing to acknowledge the current reality, just as it is, the people that work in your organization or business, will be confused. Confused because they are not getting honest communication from leadership. Not helpful.
Further, when we don’t stand in and accept our current reality, we cannot create new realities. The only way to create a vision for the future, is to accept reality as it is. Just as it is now. Then work from there. Simple. Yet, this can be hard for people in new leadership roles. Trust me, I know how that feels.
However, you will find that your team, organization, or business, will be grateful when leadership stands in and actively communicates the current reality. For it gives everyone a real starting point.
Alright, that’s My One Thing for this week. The next step will be to take the “whiteboard wall VTO” and put it into a graphics design software package. Once I’ve done that, I will create another post and walk you through some of my thinking about Extended Learning’s next three years. That will be fun.
An Exploration of 4 Years Inside A Non Credit Department at the Local Community College
As I continue to reflect upon the last 4 years in the position I hold at the College, I learn more about myself, and about being a human being on this planet.
It is funny to think that leading a team at a small community college in Albany, Oregon, would provide insights of this kind, and yet, they do. Why?
Because no matter where you lead, it’s you doing the leading, for one, and two, all contexts to some extent are the same. Yes, the challenges, people, systems, and structures, are different, yet you are there, and you are always getting to know, and developing yourself and other people. Same.
After spending time in leadership in the private sector, and now having done so in the public sector, there are several things that we will discuss in this new series that are similar; and, in some ways, mirror each other.
In this first installment in this new series, I will lay out a brief outline, if you will, of the posts to come. It will be a way to set the stage for the concepts we will discuss, unpack, and walk through together.
I’m going to frame this first entry, and the following entries, by year, which will provide us a base from which to work through the narrative to follow. Ready? Alright, here we go.
I remember well when the job description for the position I currently hold, Director of Extended Learning at Linn-Benton Community College, landed on my desk. I was working in a program at the college, which was struggling, and in threat of being eliminated. In fact, the program has been eliminated.
I looked over the position description, talked to my wife, friends, and family, and took a walk with a colleague, who asked me this question. Are you an operations man, Jeff? Whoa. Was I?
I was very unsure, and needed to think about it. Here are some of the considerations I made previous to applying to the position, which, I think, are quite generalizable.
Reflecting upon my work and academic career.
Reflecting upon what I would bring to the position.
Doing research about the position.
Having conversations with the hiring supervisor.
Having conversations with staff in the department.
There were more, bet you get the idea. It is important when making a life change to make all of the considerations and reflections we feel necessary. What happened? Well, I ended up saying this to my then wife.
If it was meant to be, we will know by getting the offer; and, if not, then not.
Of course, you know that I got the offer, and have been in the position for almost 4 years. And, what was the first year like? Hell and heaven all rolled into one. Kinda like life.
The first year, especially the first six months, was extremely painful. One of the most painful experiences of my life. Why? Because all day every day, I was outside of my comfort zone. I was also, at this time, not treating my mind and body very kindly.
Here is what the first year looked like.
Remembering who I am.
Development outside of the college.
Breakdown to breakthrough becomes a reality.
Relationship development, with myself, and the team.
I say often when talking about that first year, that that was the year of relationships. Yes, we did other things, which I’ve written about in other posts, yet the basis for almost every action that year was developing deeper relationships with ourselves and each other. Painful in many ways, yes, and beautiful in many more.
In the second year, things started to move. Meaning, we began to move, well, almost like a team. We were getting closer, and yet, had a lot more work to do.
Here is what the second year looked like.
Process and system improvement.
People in the right positions.
Vision, mission, goals.
Metrics and measurement.
As we then moved into year 3, the team became more aligned, and we began to get traction in all areas of our business. As a matter of fact, in the fall of 2019 we were on pace to grow our service to the local communities by another 10%. Amazingly fun.
Then, as we moved from fall to winter, we continued our alignment trajectory, and, of course, you all know what happened in early 2020. Yep. A pandemic.
Here is what that looked like.
Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
Creating 5 new business models.
Initially, we were wrestling with questions, such as could we deliver completely remote classes. At that time, we did not have remote offerings, so there were no processes or systems to draw upon. Yet, we ended up taking all 5 business models completely remote, and the community response was stellar.
As we entered year 4, all 5 programs were either creating and delivering remote classes and training, or would be by the fall of 2020. And, there was a lot of work to do to continue the momentum we created earlier that year.
Here is what that looked, and well, is like.
Creating all new processes and systems.
From disruption to sustainability.
Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
Engagement, relationships, conversion, process and priorities.
Planning for the future.
10 business models?
And for next year? Well, I’ve actually been reflecting upon this question quite a bit. Someone asked me recently, what do you see for our work as we, at some point, begin to offer in-person classes again. First, I think offering in-person classes again is still in the distant future, yet I do have some thoughts.
As we move into the second-half of the 2020-21 school year, we are offering new classes and training, and filling them up with local community members.
I see a 2 to 3 year slow progression from completely remote classes and training, to what I think will be a hybrid-model of both remote and in-person classes and training in the future.
What will the percent mix be of remote and in-person classes in the future? I don’t know. I do think, however, that, unlike when the pandemic started here locally, it will not be sudden. It will take time.
And, that’s okay. There is no rush. We will meet the community needs as they change. That’s part of what we do, and what we do well.
Alright, that completes the overview of the Leading From Within series. I look forward to future posts, where I can share, in more detail, how each of these years has impacted me as a leader, and, even more importantly, as a human being.
Well, we’ve now just about completed our first full week of the new year, which means, well, many different things for people. For me? It means that I’m back at the College, and we are continuing to move our work forward. I’ll talk more about that in a minute. For now?
Well, I’m happy to report that I’ve been scheduling posts in advance, so I already know some of next week’s posts, which include a few poems, haiku#2, and two more articles on development. One of the articles is on having difficult conversations, and one is the last entry in part 2 the Leadership Series.
I am also working on two new articles, which will not be posted for a couple weeks. One is on creating intention, and the second is on the law of attraction. They should be super fun.
Alright, as it was my first week back to work in a week-and-a-half, let’s take a look at how that went.
I’ve been in this current position for almost 4 years now, so the break was, well, awesome, and different. Different in that, there was more time. I didn’t work as much, so had more time for writing and other endeavors. Was nice.
However, by the last weekend of the break, I was ready to see the team. We had a great first week back, registrations are stronger than they’ve been since the beginning of the pandemic, which means we are serving more and more people each term. Amazing.
The team is well. They are continuing to use both their heads and their hearts to move our work forward, which is, well, essential.
I’ve written before about making sure we use both our heads and our hearts in our lives, well, actually recently, so will simply state here, that it is super fun to see the team’s growth, our collective growth, and the growth of each individual. Super fun.
Remote Book Club
I am happy to write that the remote book club is alive and well. As you may recall, we are reading, Killing Commendatore, by Haruki Murakami.
Now, I’ll admit my bias, as I have before, I am a huge Murakami fan, so I love this book. Thus far, the book is about journeying. Journey’s that occur inside ourselves and outside ourselves. It is quite fascinating.
We are only about half way through the 700+ page book, which means we will not finish it until sometime in February.
I look forward to the discussion we will have in about three weeks from now, should be pretty amazing.
This past week I was more present to the word, or concept of, difficulty. For many reasons, one of which is, yes, the article I wrote about difficult conversations; and, also the continued difficulties due to the pandemic.
I am leaving you this week with the Monday message I have scheduled for the team, which will go out tomorrow morning.
Here we go.
Wow, I’ve never used the “pull quote” function in WordPress before. That’s fun. Alright, back on track.
We will always get things in life that are difficult. It is inevitable. However, we will also get things in life that are easy, also part of life. They are, in fact, one. Inseparable. Meaning?
Enjoy them all, as you are able, my friends, and live your life to the fullest extent possible.
Well, this past week, I had an insight about writing. An insight that was derived from some of the blogs I follow. Yes, some of you, so thank you. The insight? Sure.
Namely, to write and schedule posts in advance. I’ve not done something like this on a regular basis, yet I can definitely see the utility, especially when during normal work times, of which this particular time period is not. So?
Well, I’ll get to that in a moment. First, let’s take a look at this week’s writing. Here we go.
As I was writing about above, I already have two posts scheduled for next weekend. An article on leadership, and one on vulnerability. It’s nice to have those written and scheduled, which will allow me to get back to work on the leadership series, the reflection series, and the social construction series next week. Excited.
I’m present to goal-setting today, as I’ve created a new vision for some of my upcoming engagement on LinkedIn, and have set new goals within that vision. Of course, I’ve also created priorities that are connected to both the long-term, and short-term goals.
And, when you have goals that live within your vision, whether that is personal or professional, you need a system to put it into. I’ve written a couple articles about creating systems, and will share my LinkedIn system with you here.
There we go. That was fun. I do love venngage. Anyway, here we can see the department priorities, and then one way that I will take action next quarter to create more engagement through LinkedIn (LI). You will see there are some blog series listed, which are not actually a reality yet, however, that’s how goal-setting works.
First you create the vision, then the objectives, then the priorities, and then? Well, you get to work. I am excited about the opportunity to discuss the new series with you in the future.
Okay, let’s turn to holidays, shall we? Good. Here we go.
Wow, what a lovely time of year. I do love the holiday, as I’ve written about before. It’s more the time of year, when we are heading into deeper winter, and I can start to see the spring not far off.
Well, it’s still a ways off at this point, however, in the Pac Northwest, the days start to get noticeably longer in January. And, I do love longer days, and the possibility of more sun as we head towards March.
Though, we had a gorgeously sunny day today. Beautiful.
Though I didn’t travel this holiday, we did Zoom calls, like lots of people, and that was nice. I also spent time with my oldest son, playing frisbee golf in the rain and cold, yet it was so nice to spend time with him. We made a sweet potato and butternut squash chili, and had dark chocolate cranberry bread for dessert.
Yes, of course I made the bread from scratch! I love to cook and bake, which I don’t know that I’ve written about before. Anyway, the bread was delicious.
Alright, that’s all for this entry.
As we approach the New Year, I want to wish you all the best in the coming week, and in the coming year. I am so excited about this next year. Seriously. I am excited to continue to create and write, and continue to engage with your beautiful creations.
It occurred to me that I’ve used multiple strategies the past three years to accomplish this balance, some have worked well, some not as much. What’s most important, however, is not that some didn’t work, rather, it is important that some did.
Trying new strategies is part of leadership development. Actually, it is development itself. Try something new. If it works, keep it, if not get rid of it.
Well, then, let’s take a look at 7 keys you can use to balance strategy with day-to-day operations. And, if you choose to incorporate one, great. If you already do these things, wonderful. And, if they are new to you, give one or two a try and see what happens.
7 Keys to Balancing Strategy with Day-to-Day Operations
Persistence – being persistent is an important leadership trait; as is knowing that not everything that you implement will work. It just won’t. There is nothing wrong with that, and you do not get a demerit if something doesn’t work. All that means is that you need to be persistent in your actions to find that process, or system that will work. Stick to it, and you will find it.
Prioritization – we are all inundated with multiple competing priorities. It is very important, however, to get clear on how those competing priorities should be prioritized. Very important. Otherwise, all of your priorities will have the same level of importance, and chances are many of them will not move forward.
Patience – very important to have patience with yourself. When you develop patience with yourself, you will also have more patience with the people on your team, or in your business, or organization. Trust me when I write that patience will win over force any day. Patience is sustainable, force, not so much. Be patient, and give yourself the time you need to breathe.
Determination – when one is determined, they are moving forward, and do not let obstacles stand in their way. Important for every leader everywhere. Why? Because the nature of leadership ensures that obstacles will often present themselves before us. Often. Being resolute and steadfast, while also being flexible in your approach is key. You will be challenged regularly. You will also be drawn to the day-to-day operations. Normal. Yet be steadfast, and determined to incorporate strategy into your daily workflow. It is possible.
Organization – understanding an organizational system that works for you is essential. It does not have to make sense to anyone else. Just you. Important, as people often think that their organization system must be understandable to others. Not so. You need to understand it, period. Also know that how you organize yourself will change as the business changes. It is supposed to.
Time Management – a difficult skill set to develop for me, yet one that I have made progress on in the past few years. What I’ve learned, similar to learning to organize myself, is that there is no one way to manage time effectively. Important to understand. When you understand this, you will actively seek out new ways to manage your time, until you find the system that works for you. And, time management should also change as the business changes. It must.
Vision Clarity – you must be very clear on your vision. If you are not clear, you will continue to do day-to-day tasks that are not moving you closer to achieving the goals associated with your vision. Being clear on your vision, ensures that you are moving your vision forward when you are working on the day-to-day operations. You are then always working on your strategy, even when you are working in the “weeds.”
There we go. 7 keys to creating balance between strategy and the day-to-day operations of your team, business, or organization. Are there other keys, you ask? Of course. These are simply the ones that I am most present to now.
There are many meaningful ways to balance strategy and day-to-day operations. How many there are matters less, than, as leaders, we try new things, and incorporate new strategies into our workflow often. Be open and flexible to new ideas, new ways of doing things, and new ways of being.
Teams, businesses, and organizations change often. And, with change comes the need to be open to changing as the need changes. A must.
If you’ve tried the keys outlined in this post, awesome. If you’ve not tried them all, try a new one, try two. If you already do them all, wonderful, you’re ahead.
If you’re not sure how to incorporate these keys into your workflow, here are a couple of quick suggestions before I close.
Persistence – continue to try new things. Get your best ideas out, and invite others to collaborate. Your ideas + their ideas =.even better ideas. Continue to persist, you will find the process, system, or vision you are looking for.
Prioritization – how do you prioritize your work? Know that however you prioritize your work today, there are a million other ways to prioritize. If what you are doing is not working, try something new. Remember, as the team, business or organization iterates, the way you prioritize yourself will also have to iterate.
Patience – a big one. Though being persistent and determined are very important. Being patient is equally important. Give yourself the time to breath and think. A must. Schedule the time into your calendar. Make time, and let your team know this is your time to just be. Go for a walk, or just sit. Doesn’t matter. What matters is doing it daily. For a time, I had a recurring appointment on my calendar for myself. It read, breathing. And, I did just that.
Determination – yep, important. Things will happen and “go wrong.” It is the nature of leadership, especially when leading innovative teams, businesses, or organizations. Stay the course. Remember, that “failure” is part and parcel of the creative process. You cannot have breakthroughs without breakdowns. They go together.
Organization – similar to prioritization, trying new organizational strategies is important, and needed. Example – when I started my current job, I organized myself in an “old school” way. File folders, and lots of paper. Then I went completely digital, then back to files, and folders. Now, a combination. Again, what matters is continuing to try new things. When something’s not working, do it differently. You may be surprised how that will open up more thinking space for you.
Time Management – phew, time management is so important today. I am much better at it today; yet I would say the first two years on the job, I really struggled in this area. How did I begin to improve? Continually trying new things; and, asking for help. The department administrative assistant, to this day, goes through my calendar with me, and asks this question – why do you have this meeting? Hm. And, if the meeting on my calendar is not connected to the vision, I cancel it.
Vision Clarity – yep. Once you’ve become skilled in the aforementioned areas, you will have more time to work on strategy. And, once you are clear on your vision, the aforementioned keys will also become easier. Why? Because the clearer you are on the vision, the more you understand the work you really need to be doing. You begin to see other work you’ve been doing in a new light. And, you will begin to let that other work go. If the daily work is not connecting to the vision, let it go.
Alright, we’ve discussed 7 keys to balancing strategy and day-to-day operations; and, we’ve also looked at a few ways you can incorporate these keys into your workflow.
Remember, the most important thing about creating balance in your work, is to always be present to the reality that trying, and doing things in new ways is necessary and needed.
When you are unsure of what to try next, try something new, stand back and see what happens. If it works well, keep it. If not, let it go; and, then, try something else. Whatever you do, keep moving. Be and lead well.
I termed the BHAG that, at the time was just being created and not yet delivered, a disruption BHAG. And, seeing as the team I work with will get that BHAG Monday morning, I thought writing this piece made good sense. Plus, I made a promise. So, let’s go.
Here are 3 keys to creating a disruption BHAG.
Key #1: Let go of yesterday
To create a disruption BHAG, you must be open to creating from where you stand right now, at this moment. Meaning, you must be willing to let go of what you’ve done up to this point in your team, business, or organization. ALL of it. Especially those things that have worked well. They will not work the same in the future. Let them go.
Letting pieces of a business model, or a process or system go is not easy. Especially when they have worked well. However, you must be willing to let them go. Why? Because if you do not, you will not be able to visualize and put into practice new business models, processes, and systems. And, they are needed.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, many of us were forced to let go of things we were doing, whether they worked well or not. And, now I am inviting you to not only let go of those things, but to also create new ways of working with your team, running your business, or developing your organization. A must.
We create about 300 classes and training opportunities per quarter. They are all in-person. When COVID-19 began to take hold locally, we had to pivot, AND, let go of all the things we had done previously that had worked well for us. Difficult. However, that is the only way to envision a new future. Otherwise, you are always tethered to what was. And, in what was, or the past, there is no future to create. You are simply reproducing yesterday.
Reality check. We went from 300 in-person classes and training opportunties to about 50. Yet, those 50 offerings paved the way for 73 the next quarter, which is now paving the way to our goal of 150 this fall. Movement.
That was the first step in creating the possibility of getting to a disruption vision. Letting go. What was next?
Key #2: Create processes and systems to support the new work
Once you’ve let go of how your team, business, or organization was doing business, you will now begin to create a new business model, and inside of this new business model, you will need new processes and systems to support it.
First – get clear on the need, and the new components of the business model.
Second – create those new components, move them forward.
Third – get clear on the processes and systems needed to support the new business model.
Fourth – solidify those processes, systematize them, and document them.
It is important to not get stuck in creating processes or systems until you have developed the business model. Why? Because if you get stuck in thinking about developing a process without understanding the need, and the associated business offering, you will not move forward. The process and systematization will come through creating the new model.
Don’t forget to document the new processes and systems. Very important. Why? Because these are now a part of your business model, and may always be. I know for all of the new business components we’ve added to our business model, they will stay, and will continue to be offered. Let’s look at another example.
Once we created the remote, online, and remote classes, we began to ask the process and system question. And, as was aforementioned, some of these new processes and systems organically developed along the way.
For instance, in developing these new classes, and pivoting our business model 180 degrees, we knew that communicating with the local community was imperative. We filled this need by creating a communication process, and a system, which was also documented to ensure we were regularly communicating with all of our clients, students, and partners. Important.
Key #3: Create the Disruption BHAG
Once you’ve let go of the way you were doing business, and have created new ways to do business, which include new processes and systems that are documented, you are ready to create the new BHAG. How?
3 simple steps
Brainstorm – or, as I’ve termed this in other posts and videos, get your ideas out. It seems very simple when reading, I know, yet, I also know that it is not that easy for everyone. Especially when we are inundated with day-to-day operations. Yet, creating time to think is a needed and necessary strategy for every leader.
Connect them to the larger BHAG – once your ideas are out, see which ones connect naturally to your team, business, or organizations BHAG. Then play with those ideas, and ask yourself a few questions:
Where are we going?
Why are we going there; and,
How are we going to get there?
When you can answer these questions about the larger BHAG, and can see how your new ideas fit into that BHAG, you are almost ready to create the disruption BHAG. Yet before you do, I invite you to reflect.
Reflect and contemplate – let the ideas sit for a little while. And, continue to reflect and contemplate until you are clear on the disruption BHAG. Once you are clear, write it down.
Once you have the disruption BHAG written down, I suggest letting it sit for a little while. I let the one I created recently sit for a couple of weeks. I continued to play with the language and the concepts, and am clearer on the BHAG for doing so. And, the clearer you are, the clearer your team, business, or organization will be.
Now that you have your new disruption BHAG ready-to-go, it is time to invite the team, business, or organization that you work with to this new vision. You can do this in many different ways. Yet, I do recommend connecting deeply with the people you work with about this new BHAG. They must see themselves inside this new vision, and you are the one to show them this possibility.
Alright, we are still in the midst of COVID-19, and the team is still remote. How do I invite them to this new BHAG vision? Hm. Not sure? I wasn’t either. Until I had a conversation with a colleague. They said, “you should do a video.” Wait, what? I’ve never done a video before. Uh, oh.
Well, that is exactly what I did. Cut to many takes later, and hours worth of time spent learning how to upload a video correctly – use YouTube, please, very easy, will save you time – and I have a 6-minute video. Phew. Was awesome.
The email, video, and worksheet will go out Monday morning. I am super excited.
I believe that people are moved by their hearts. You must pull them from there to create anything that will last; and, because I was not able to create the BHAG with them, the video, I do believe, is the next best thing. Looking forward to Monday.
Remember, you can create an additional BHAG inside of the one you currently have. Actually, I think this is the best time to create a new BHAG. A disruption BHAG. Having a new BHAG will create a context that is specific to this next year. As we all know, all teams, businesses, and organizations will be different this next year. Why?
Because, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all changed. And, it is inside of this change that you can create new momentum for your team, business, or organization. And, you can do this by connecting with people in a new way through a disruption BHAG, which can live inside of the longer-term BHAG already in existence.
What is the difference between conceptual thinking and execution? And, what lives inbetween the two? Let’s take a look.
A concept is considered an idea, intention, or plan to do something. Though conceptual thinking is needed and necessary, without the execution behind the idea, intention, or plan to do that something, nothing real will exist in the world.
I often think that people do very well at the thinking part of leading a concept or idea into a planning phase, yet often times during the planning and the following execution phases of a project, traction falters, and the project either stalls, or drops completely. Why is this?
I believe it has to do with the myriad of stimuli we find ourselves dealing with every day, combined with the habit of continually firefighting in whatever business we find ourselves in.
Two years ago I went to an all day strategic thinking training, which included people from all spectrums of work, from line workers, and administrative and operations personnel to company presidents. And, what did all of these people, including myself, have in common? Every one of us was spending more time working in the business rather than working on the business.
When you spend more time working in the business, you are reacting, and firefighting, which, in effect, keeps you on track to reproduce the same outputs and outcomes that you’ve already been producing. You are effectively treading water. If you feel this way about your work right now, you are not alone.
I learned a lot from that strategic thinking training, and one of the most important takeaways was that I was not alone. We are all trying to work on our businesses, or our marriages, or our relationships, yet we continually, without being aware of it, reproduce the same results every day, which keep us stuck in the same place we were yesterday.
To become unstuck, you must not only think, or conceptualize a different future, you must then actively create it. One step, or action, at a time. Otherwise you will continue to get the same results as you’ve always gotten. And, what did Einstein say about that: “The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.”
We cannot attain different results without “getting out of our lane.” We must remove the blinders that keep us in the same lane, and venture out into unknown territory. Uncomfortable, yes. Yet, these are where the jewels of life reside. The rare and wondrous moments of growth, are when we stop reproducing the same thing we had yesterday, with the same result, and take a different action, or set of actions, giving us different results.
Conceptual thinking and execution are both needed. When you have both, you have the ability to create new future realities. And, inside these new realities, you have the opportunity to live life in new ways. Ways that were previously unknown and unavailable to you. Regardless of the context.
How do you do this? First, you must be prepared to be uncomfortable, as the journey to creating new realities through new conceptualizations and corresponding new executable actions will be new territory for you. Because humans feel most comfortable inside their already created patterns or habits, living outside of them is uncomfortable.
If you are prepared for such discomfort, the process is not altogether difficult, and must also include an openness to all that is happening, and all those around you. Meaning that things will happen that get in the way of the actualization of your created concept, or you may forget about it at times.
The most important thing to remember is that becauses things happen that get in the way does not mean that you cannot still attain that goal. Building a new habit around a new goal is difficult, yet people do it all the time.
Persistence without resistance is key. Meaning that when things get in the way, know that these things are there for a reason, and that it is okay. Don’t resist what is happening, and continue to persist.
For instance, I’ve wanted to learn another language for a long time. And, have created the opportunity to do so, yet for the past two weeks, I’ve not studied very much Now, I could get frustrated, effectively resisting reality, and give up. Or, I could accept reality as it is, reserving all of that time and energy spent on being frustrated, and put that time and energy into studying.
In order for anything to exist in the world, there must be both concepts and actions that execute on those concepts. And, to do both requires an understanding of how most human beings typically operate, which is inside of their comfort zones. A comfort zone that will produce results that are similar to the results they’ve produced in the past. And, there is nothing wrong with that.
However, if you are looking to produce extraordinary results, you need to be prepared to conceptualize and execute outside of your comfort zone. In that territory that is unknown to you, until it is known. And to know, that once that territory is known, it will be time to create something outside of your now larger comfort zone. This is the process of growth, and you are never too young or too old to grow.
This week, I’ve been reflecting upon grace and humility. I am thinking about grace as in goodwill towards others, and humility as in being humble. I do believe that the need for grace and humility are now more important than ever. And yet, I find myself also thinking that larger doses of both grace and humility would be beneficial for society regardless.
We live in a fast-paced society, where the expectation to do more is always present. And the expectation to do more, has a corresponding quality, which is to want more, and or feel we need more.
All three of which, the expectation to do more, want more, and need more, often superseded qualities like grace and humility. For instance, in the hunt for that next promotion, or raise, we might inadvertently run right over a fellow human being, such as a colleague or a peer.
I am in no way suggesting that developing, or creating, the determination necessary to excel in one’s work in order to gain a promotion or pay increase is in some way an issue. It is not. It is, rather, the way we handle ourselves on the way, the journey, to that result that can be an issue.
I’ve written in other posts that humans often get caught up in focusing too much, or even solely, on a result. And, when that result is all we can “see” the tendency to be less present to others in our environment goes up; and, when we are less present to those around us, we are also less present to how we treat them.
Right now, you may be thinking, are they saying that competition is in some way bad? No. Competition is needed and necessary. We are, however, talking about how we compete. We are talking about competing while displaying both grace and humility.
I was telling part of the team I work with today that one of the insights I’ve received from the COVID-19 health crisis is that slowing down is not only necessary, it is needed. Slowing down to take in all that is around us, including those we are in competition with.
As states around the country start to create action plans on reopening, businesses will likewise create their plans on how they are going to reopen. Additionally, these business owners, especially small ones, will consider what other services and or products they should invest in to increase their relevance in a very unknown and unpredictable market.
These business owners will also research their competition to better understand how the particular niche they are creating will fill a need and also be profitable.
As business owners consider their options, I am suggesting that showing each other grace and humility will be an advantageous tool. Grace and humility will ultimately be advantageous as fear of the unknown will continue to be present for everyone.
Sharing with each other, then, the grace and humility that comes with an understanding that we have all been affected by the COVID-19 health crisis, positions us all to benefit from each other’s unique perspective and knowledge base.
For sure, some have been more affected by the COVID-19 health crisis than others. Yet all of us have been affected, and will continue to be affected by COVID-19 long after the headlines dwindle to the background, and a sense of “normalcy” begins to return.
At the outset of this post, I stated that grace and humility are qualities that are needed now more than ever, and that overall society could use additional doses of both grace and humility regardless. Grace and humility were needed pre-COVID-19, are needed now during COVID-19, and will also be needed post-COVID-19.
Extending grace and humility to your fellow human being can create a context where competition can thrive in an environment that values each of us as the unique contributors to society that we are.
My invitation to you is to remember that when things are busier than ever, whether that be now, or in the months to come, to slow down, take in all that is around you, and extend grace and humility to your fellow human beings.
To find something insinuates that you’ve lost something. Now, I’m not sure that I ever lost writing, however, I am sure that writing is back in my life in a way it was not previously.
Throughout my day I reflect upon the writing I’m now engaged with, and find myself grateful for the time the COVID-19 health crisis has provided me. Not grateful for the health crisis, mind you, grateful for the space provided to slow down, take in all that is surrounding me, and engage with things I enjoy.
It started with a conversation I had with my oldest son just prior to the shelter-in-place order being put in place. We were talking about the additional time people would have, being removed from their daily routines, and that with that extra time people might begin to imagine and create new things to do. I believe my son actual said something like, we will probably look back on this time as one of the most creative times ever. I agree.
I’ve noticed a lot more creativity in the world, from people creating new routines to keep themselves busy, new hobbies and activities to stay fit and healthy, new business models to engage shoppers in new ways, and much more.
I created a site called covid-19creativity.com as a place to warehouse my own creativity during the health crisis, and beyond. I just added the4catalysts.com website, and one other on youth development, to covid-19creativity.com so that all of my creativity is in one location.
Writing is pure creativity. As pure, I think, as any other artistic medium. It is a space created intentionally to communicate through language to both the intellectual and emotional parts of ourselves. In fact, I think the best writing is that which addresses both the head (intellect) and the heart (emotions). Not an easy task.
I never did lose writing, then. It was simply laying dormant within me awaiting the right time to reemerge. And, that time is now. So, if there is something you like to do, and you’ve had that inkling to give a try, do so. Take that first step, and see what happens. You might be surprised at what you get back. I sure was.
This past week, I created a message about fear of the unknown in a Friday Message to the team of folks I work and collaborate with.
Here is that message
This week I’ve been noticing, and reflecting upon fear. Fear that comes with not knowing. And, the byproducts of fear of the unknown, like being nervous and or anxious. I notice them first within myself. The only way one can notice them in others is to first notice them in oneself.
There is also a knowing in all of this unknown, however, which is that fear and fear’s byproducts are a normal part of the human experience. You are not alone in your fear. If someone tells you they have no fear, they are simply not aware of the fear within themselves, or refuse to accept it.
I was talking to my mom this week, who lives in CA, where the restrictions on shelter-in-place and social distancing are much more rigorous than here locally. We were talking about my mom’s fear about the future, and the realization that this is a normal process of understanding.
I believe that to understand what is possible, and to create new future realities, we must acknowledge all aspects of our being, our shared humanity. When we do so, we open up a creative space within ourselves and the space to share ourselves with others experiencing the same emotions and fears.
By recognizing our fears as a part of the normal human experience we also create acceptance within ourselves of our fears, and likewise then create the space to accept others and their fears.
This is called compassion. Compassion for ourselves, our neighbors, our friends, family, team, our local community, and the greater world.
I share this with you as a creation that stemmed from the COVID-19 health crisis. To often, I think, people get caught up in thinking they are not creative, which can actually inhibit creativity, and is simply not true. Creativity lives inside each of us, and can be defined in a myriad of ways, from an idea, to a fully operating business.
One of the distinctions about creativity, is that in order for a creative idea or business model to live in the world, action must be taken. Otherwise the creative idea or business model remains a concept in language. So, take action today, and go execute on your conceptual creativity.