Poetry and Prose by #1 Amazon Bestselling Author of Nature Speaks of Love and Sorrow, Co-Author of #1 Amazon Bestseller, Wounds I Healed: The Poetry of Strong Women, and Jan/Feb 2022 Spillwords Press Author of the Month
Now, in this article, we will discuss the latter two, speaking and acting. Ready? Good. Here we go.
Sociology is basically the study of group behavior. And, what do you have in groups? Yep, people. So, the study of people within context is super important. And, in fact, that’s one part of what we are doing in this series; and, we are doing so from a leadership lens.
When we reflect upon how we think and feel, we will ultimately get to a place where we are also considering how we speak, and then take action. All of these concepts are important to being, and becoming, an effective leader. Hm. When I write about effective leadership, what do you think of?
Well, in this context, I mean, a leader that understands themselves, first. Understanding yourself, who you are as a human being, is always the first step in becoming an effective leader. Why?
Because everything we do starts with us. Really. If we don’t understand why we think as we do, why we feel as we do, or speak and act as we do, we can never understand how the people we lead think, feel, speak, and act. Not possible.
However, when we are self-aware, we understand ourselves, and then? We understand the people we surround ourselves with, including our teams. Alright. Now, let’s discuss speaking and acting.
When I use the phrase, speaking, I mean it in the literal sense of the word. How we use our words when we speak is important, as words and language, are very powerful. Speaking in this sense may be in actual verbal form, or in written form. Both are important.
In the article, 4 Reasons Why Language is Power, I discuss in some detail why language is powerful. For the purposes of this discussion, it is enough to know that our integrity is tied to how we speak. And, there are a few things we can use to measure our speech.
Here are a few.
Why are you saying it?
What are you saying?
How are you saying it?
When will you say it?
Whom will you say it to?
Where will you say it?
This may seem basic, and yet, to become more aware of how our speech impacts others, we must inquire into the why, what, when, how, whom, and where of our language.
There are several ways we can practice measuring our speech. Here are a few techniques I use.
Write rough drafts – it is important to set out on paper, for me at least, the what and why first about my communications. It gives me a chance to print out the communication, and look at it from a different vantage point. I will also edit from paper.
Email rough drafts – I always write my emails in advance, and will schedule them for a time in the near future. Sometimes that’s the next day, sometimes the next week. Depends. This tactic gives me time to reflect upon the communication some more. I have often when back and reworked an email that has already been scheduled.
Whiteboard work – when I am unsure about the when, whom, and where, I often do whiteboard work about the communication. Well, actually, I often do whiteboard work about most of my communications. It is helpful to see my ideas up on a board, reflect on them, rework them, and then, send. Important and helpful.
Get feedback – another strategy I use is asking coworkers for advice and feedback on my communications. As I’ve mentioned before, I am leading a statewide conversation about noncredit education, and when I have to communicate something clearly to this large group, I’ll get several people to weigh in and provide me feedback. They always see something I didn’t. Super helpful.
Another viable and valid strategy is to hold off on writing or speaking your communication until you are clear. I have actually cancelled team meetings before when the communication I needed to make to the team was just not clear enough for me.
It is much more important to have a high-quality communication that is clear, than a communication that may cause confusion.
Creating and delivering clear communication takes practice. And, that’s okay. We all need time to practice, and believe me, practicing your communication is a worthwhile endeavor. You will find that you will need to communicate less often, when you take more time to communicate clearly.
In leadership, the actions we take, combined with the language we use, really do define our leadership. When I worked in the private sector, my supervisor once said something like “you do a very good job displaying sweat equity.”
I was very young at the time, so I had to ask what it was that he meant.
Sweat equity simply means that you are willing, and do when needed, take any action that you ask a team member to take. Simple.
One of the first things I did in my current role was to learn everyone else’s role. Why? Because it gave me tremendous information about their work, who they were as a human being, and it also provided a context for me to learn about the businesses. Very important.
Here is how I currently organize my actions.
Calendar – people often say something like, “if it’s not on my calendar, then it doesn’t exist,” and, for me, this is a truth. I work on my calendar three months in advance, and have it also scheduled that far in advance. Meaning, that I have sight into, and am actively, creating future contexts for myself and the team. Helpful.
Basecamp – an average project management system, yet the one we have today; and, it works very well to hold information for the team. We have lots of projects running concurrently, so having a single place to hold our next actions is important.
Franklin Planner – a tool I started using last year, and it helps fill the gaps between larger pieces of work and my calendar. I will typically use the planner for tasks related to the larger projects.
And, of course, I use post-its like many people, and whiteboards to help generate and create the thinking related to all of the aforementioned.
The language we use, and the actions we take say, well, really everything about our leadership.
For instance, if we speak about creating a future reality that is inspirational and gets people excited, yet there is no action, there is an incongruence that will leave people confused about the team’s directions.
Conversely, if we act and begin to create a future reality that is inspirational and has the potential to get people excited, yet there is no speaking about this newly created reality, again, there will be confusion about the team’s direction.
You may be asking, how do you know these things?
Well, like most things I write about, I’ve lived through them; and, our team has grown through them, and is stronger today for doing so.
Now, once you are in action, and your team is moving, it is important to keep the momentum going. Steve Jobs said something about this concept; and, alas, I cannot find it anywhere. It might have been in the book I read recently, Steve Jobs, by Walter Isaacson.
Anway, the gist of it? If you are not continuing to innovate, which to me speaks of being in action and creating traction for yourself and your team, your business is already dead.
We must continue to move ourselves and our teams forward. And, that takes clear communication and decisive action.
Alright, we’ve now completed the first 2.5 installments in the Leadership Series. And, just the other day, as I was preparing for this installment, it occured to me that there are two other concepts important to developing yourself as a human being and as a leader. And, they are?
Hearing and Seeing.
Both are important aspects to leadership, and all of life in general, and we will cover them in the next leadership installment.
Remember, becoming a leader means first leading from within. Understanding the why, what, how, when, whom, and where of how we think, feel, speak, and act. Once we understand our thinking, feelings, speech, and actions, we can more appropriately and effectively lead ourselves, and our teams into action and eventual traction.
Alright, another busy week, and, yep, also not busy. I’ve not started an entry that way before, have I? Nope. Why?
Well, it occurred to me this past week that in even the busiest times, when we feel like life is moving faster than we can follow along, there is always time. Now, granted, we have to create it, yet it does exist. In these pandemic days, I just wanted to make sure this is known. More time for yourself, for myself, is creatable.
Okay, now, into the writing that occurred this past week. Here we go.
I’m currently working on a couple of new posts, which are.
The Social Construction Series Part 9: The Social Construction of Power
The Leadership Series Part 2.5: Why Developing the Self is Always the First Step in Leadership
I thought getting one of these published this week might happen, alas, that will not be the case. However, I do feel pretty confident about getting them both completed next week. We shall see. And, as I always say, or, rather, write, that is the fun part of the process. Not really knowing, and being at peace with that.
Now, let’s discuss the remote book club a little.
I’ve had so much fun with the remote book club. Last week, as we discussed in my last diary post, we finished Anxious People, and are now onto my choice, Killing Commendatore by Haruki Murakami. I’m a big Murakami fan, so I am super excited about this next book.
In my diary entry last week, I also wrote about connection and communication, and I’d like to report that having the additional connection and communication with the local folks in the remote book club has been amazing. Fun.
Well, I’ve not written about creating videos in some time. Why? Well, I’ve been putting more time into my writing, and so the videos have been deprioritized. However, I have a whole new vision for video engagement, especially for LinkedIn, and so will be creating some new videos in the next quarter.
If you’ve not seen any of my videos, and are interested, due check out my Youtube channel. I’ve only had the channel for a short time, and find that creating videos is a beneficial way to connect with people from an audio/visual learning perspective.
You can also check out the videos on my site right here. Wow, I’ve not added a new video to the website since June. Phew. It’s been a little longer than I realized. Well, that just means there’s that much more to create!
I’ve written many articles on vulnerability. All of them intended to create the importance of actively being aware of how vulnerability can be transformational to both our personal and professional development. Seriously transformational.
I am resetting them here, as I do also believe that in the future we will need as much innovation as possible. And? Well, one of the gateways to unleashing creative potential is learning to be vulnerable. Alright, here are those articles.
Hm. At this moment, I’m actually quite surprised about how similar these definitions are. More similar than I would have even predicted.
Do you see it? Either way, it’s okay, let’s take a deeper look at both courage and humility and see what we get.
7 Things You Can do to Develop Courage and Humility
As I’ve written about previously, people often mistakenly believe that there are people that have courage and there are people that don’t. Like it is a developmental trait that some have and others don’t.
However, courage is like any other skill set. Meaning that it can be developed. Yep, it’s true. And, guess what? As you develop courage, you also develop humility. Yep, also true.
Here, then, are 7 ways you can develop courage.
Develop a growth mindset – meaning, be available and open to learning all there is to learn. When you have a growth mindset you realize that there is much more to learn than is known, and you are eager to learn. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset. Meaning unavailable and closed to learning. Think flexible versus rigid. When we are flexible, we go with the flow, receive what others have to give us, and then we give what we have back to them. When we are eager to develop a growth mindset, courage follows because contexts where growth mindsets flourish are about development and transformation.
Grow your comfort zone – continuing to practice getting outside of your comfort zone is important. Important to your development, and to the development of courage. When we are outside of our comfort zone, in that moment, we are doing and modeling courage.
Embrace and practice vulnerability – I’ve written several articles recently about vulnerability. Like your comfort zone, when you embrace your own vulnerability and practice being vulnerable, you are immediately being courageous. And, guess what? The more you practice vulnerability, the more courageous you become.
Practice collaboration – collaborative contexts are naturally vulnerable contexts as they are about being open and flexible, learning, and development. When you are collaborating, really collaborating, you are practicing courage; and, the more collaborative contexts you engage in, the more courageous you will become.
Create innovation – innovation and courage go hand in hand. They have to, because innovative contexts are imbued with vulnerability, growth, collaboration, and transformation. Innovative contexts are courageous in nature. The more innovation you create, the more you are being courageous, and the more your courage will grow.
Take risks – though humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking is needed and necessary. Taking risks ensures you develop into the iteration of yourself where you can give the most back to the world. Really. Because humans like predictability and habit, risk-taking feels scary, so when you take risks you will develop courage. The more risk, the more courage will develop.
Face your fears – every human on this planet is afraid. Yes, there is a continuum of fearfulness, yet know that you are not alone in being fearful of things. Fear is a natural part of being a human. However, when you face your fears, you develop courage. And, like risk-taking, or any of the others on this list, the more you face your fears, the more courageous you will become.
Alright, there we have 7 ways you can develop courage. Now, let’s make the connection to humility, shall we.
Here then are
7 Reasons Why Developing Courage Will Also Develop Your humility
Growth mindset – as you develop a growth mindset, you will become more present to just how little humans really know; and, conversely, just how much there is to learn. It is vast, and humbling.
Comfort zones – getting outside of your comfort zone is hard work. Really. At times, very hard. As you get outside of your comfort zone, you will realize how tiring and depleting it can be. Rewarding absolutely, and very, very tiring, and humbling.
Vulnerability – being vulnerable is extremely hard. Of all the items on this list, maybe the hardest. Oftentimes, just being vulnerable once in a different way will cause you to experience great humility.
Collaboration – connecting with other human beings through true collaboration is lovely, and is also an experience where you get to see other humans in action, being vulnerable, developing themselves in new ways, being courageous, taking risks, and transforming. It is a wondrous sight, and very humbling.
Innovation – any and all innovation is humbling. Just the idea of creating something new is a humbling experience. When I created the first iteration of this site, which took a long time, and was totally out of my range of expertise, I was tremendously humbled by the experience.
Risk-taking – like being vulnerable, taking risks is scary. And, if you take risks often, especially while working alongside others, you will experience a whole new level of humbleness.
Fears – facing our fears is extremely difficult; and, when you face them often, you become more humble. You sort of wake up to the reality that facing fears is hard for everyone, so when you witness someone do it, it can actually bring tears to your eyes. Shared humanity.
Alright, there are 7 ways you can develop courage, and 7 reasons why developing courage will also result in more humility.
In the event you’ve been wondering, I picked the introduction picture intentionally. Why?
Because developing courage by doing any of the 7 listed above is about being in action, doing things, living your life the best way you know how by giving your all every day.
Sometimes people conflate courage with iconic pictures of the hero saving the day, which is very dramatic. Yet, I want to offer you a different way to think about courage.
Courage is about being human. Recognizing our fears, the current limits of our knowledge, and doing something to face them, and grow ourselves. When we recognize where we have opportunities to develop, we can then take the necessary actions to create opportunities for ourselves to grow.
And, yes, if you like, to even transform. What does it take?
A willingness to set aside the ego, a little at a time, one step at a time, and take a different action. Take an action you’ve never taken before, and see what you get back. I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.
To question, or not to question? Hm. How many times do you remember being in a class, with a group of friends, or in a work environment where you wanted to ask a question, yet didn’t? Yep, me too. Really, we all have those memories.
Many people are afraid to ask questions, to speak up generally. Why? Afraid of looking silly, asking the “wrong” questions, not being taken seriously, or being made fun of. Has happened to all of us at some point.
Yet, the ability to ask questions, to discern relevance out of a context that is unclear, to move toward more clarity, while acquiring more knowledge and adding to the knowledge-base within the context is really important. Why?
Well, let’s ask Socrates, shall we. Here we go.
“True wisdom comes to each of us when we realize how little we understand about life, ourselves, and the world around us.” – Socrates
Powerful. Simply, there is so much unknown about life and the world, that to not ask, to not speak up in a way cheats ourselves and all of humanity out of possible progress.
The topic of questioning is so important. Important to life, the world, the production and eventual dissemination of knowledge, and, yes, it is also very important to our development. Why? Well, I’ve got 10 reasons.
Ready? Very well, let’s go.
Seems simple, yes? The more questions we ask, the more we learn. Though this concept is simple, in practice, many people struggle to ask the questions they have deep inside them. They do. As was aforementioned, though an extrovert, I too once struggled with asking my questions. The issue? When we don’t ask, we actually carry that question around. Literally. We have it within us, unanswered, which can cause us pain, and frustration.
When we ask our questions, we gain knowledge, and we also contribute to knowledge acquisition. Yep. In every question there lives the possibility of more knowledge. We know so little about life and the world. Yet, with every question that we ask, we create the opportunity for us, and everyone else, to learn more.
The more questions we ask, the more clarity we have. And, the more clarity everyone else has. As we learn, so does everyone else. And, as we all learn, we transform the nature of the context we’re in, to a context where questions are possible. A context where those that are fearful of asking questions, as you are, or once were, will be empowered to ask their questions. Powerful.
Asking questions is also the breeding ground for collaboration. When we ask questions, we are naturally contributing to a collaborative context, where learning from each other is embraced. We are actually fostering a collaborative context by asking our questions. Seriously, it is true.
Asking questions is also super important to developing and executing on strategy. Without questions, you will only ever produce what was produced yesterday. Questions are the birthplace of strategy. And, with strategy, both concepts and execution, we get movement, and with movement, eventual traction in whatever it is we are doing.
Like strategy, innovation depends upon asking questions. Creation and innovation are intertwined with curiosity, and those that are curious ask tons of questions. They have to, they are curious. With questions comes the possibility of innovation, and new ways of seeing and experiencing the world.
When we ask our questions, we are also being vulnerable. We are modeling an attribute that is a necessity for development. Developmental growth is dependent upon being vulnerable, and when we accept our own vulnerability, even enter into vulnerable spaces intentionally, we will ask our questions.
Well, if questions are important to strategy and innovation, they are equally important to leadership. Leaders are interested in what others think, know, and feel. They have to be interested, it’s part of being a leader. And, to learn how people think, know, and feel, you must ask questions.
When we ask questions we also contribute to a context or environment of trust. When we are actively interested in someone else, and what they know, or how they feel and think, we are modeling trust. Especially when we get back questions from those around us, which by leading through asking questions, we will definitely get.
Asking questions means that we get to learn more about those around us, which also means that we get to deepen our relationships with those people. It is inevitable. Learning about someone necessitates a relationship. And being in a relationship means knowing about that person, and to know, we must ask questions.
Alright, there are 10 reasons why asking questions is important to your development. Let’s take a look at how they are interconnected. Ready? Here we go.
When we learn, we know more, and when we know more we have more clarity about our life, yes, and of the lives of those around us. Learning and knowing are part of development. And clarity is an output of learning and knowing more.
When we collaborate with others we get to know people better, and we also get to know ourselves better.
Knowing others better will always shine a light on the parts of ourselves that we want to develop. It is normal, and is also very healthy.
Within a collaborative context that embraces strategy, we also create the possibility of developing an innovative culture. And, inside of an innovative culture, we create more innovative possibilities, which also contributes to future strategies. All of which contributes positively to our development and growth.
I’ve written in other posts that vulnerability contributes to and fosters innovation. Vulnerability is actually where the seeds of innovation will eventually grow. And, like innovation growing through vulnerability, we also develop and grow when we are vulnerable.
Relationships are created, in part, through trust. When we trust each other, we can be real, be vulnerable, learn more from each other, and grow together. When we are open to each other, we get so much more from each other.
Knowing that we, as Socrates might say, know so very little about life and the world. Knowing this fact is at the center of development and growth.
Leadership is dependent upon all of the aforementioned. And, I am not only writing about leaders in the traditional sense. I am also writing about every human on the planet. We all have the opportunity to lead. Lead from within, and from without.
When we lead by asking questions, we model our interest and support of contexts that are open to development and growth. We create more possibilities for ourselves, and for everyone around us.
Possibilities to learn, to know, to have more clarity, to build collaborations and strategy, which foster vulnerability, trust, and relationships; and, that is leading.
Ask your questions, and develop yourself and everyone else around you.
Have you ever considered becoming an agent of change; or, considered, how to move yourself into the realm of transformation? How about considering what leadership, change agency, and transformation have to do with each other?
Simply, the distinction is that transformation is internally driven, whereas development is externally driven.
And, of the former, becoming a change agent as a leader is transformative. Why? Because when we move on the leadership spectrum away from the status quo and toward becoming an agent of change, we create the possibility of transforming ourselves and everyone around us.
Alright, let’s take a look at becoming a transformative change agent as a leader. There are two parts to this conversation, and they are as follows.
4 things you can to do to move into the realm of transformation; and,
3 things you can do to become a change agent.
Ready? Let’s go.
4 Things You Can Do to Move Into the Realm of Transformation
1. Question All of Your Current Beliefs
When we are living in and for transformation, we always question what we know. Why is this important? Good question.
Because if we know everything there is to know about a particular topic or subject, we can’t learn more. And, when we are closed to learning more, we are also closed to transformation.
The entire realm of transformation occupies the unknown. Why? Because when we live today as we did yesterday, which is essentially what happens when we are closed to learning something new, we simply reproduce today as we lived yesterday. Not transformative.
However, when we are open, and question all of our beliefs, we immediately create a space where learning is possible. Yep.
Now, though learning is possible when we are open and we question our beliefs, we must also be willing to let go of our beliefs. Questioning our beliefs is the first step, and we must also learn how to let go.
2. Let Go of the Beliefs that No Longer Serve You
When you begin to question your beliefs, the next step is to let go of those that no longer serve you. Can be difficult. Why?
Because we are socialized to think and act in certain ways. And, socialization is powerful. However, when you begin to question your beliefs, you will see there is much to learn. And, it is often necessary to let go of our previous views. It’s okay.
Letting go of beliefs that no longer serve you is not a problem. You don’t get a demerit for letting go. Know also it’s not a sign that those that taught you what you know, were wrong.
It’s not about right and wrong. It’s about knowing that letting go is a natural process of growing, first, and, second, letting go is necessary and needed to find your transformational path.
Once you question your beliefs, and begin to let go of those that no longer serve you, it’s time to begin re-creating your belief system.
3. Recreate Your Belief System as Often as Needed
People interested in transformation, are actively interested in recreating their belief systems. They are always searching for new ways to learn, to develop, and to be.
Though development and transformation are different, they are related. Development is a wonderful platform to gain the knowledge necessary to enter into the space of transformation.
Recreating your belief system simply means that you are open to doing the internal work necessary to transform.
When we are quiet and do the internal work necessary to question all that we believe, and then let go of the ideas, concepts, and emotions that no longer serve us, we automatically create the space needed to recreate our belief system.
Know that in a space of transformation this process is continuous. It becomes a daily practice. And then? Well, then you are ready to act from a new space, with new beliefs.
4. Taking Action From Your New Belief System
When we question our beliefs, let go of the beliefs that no longer serve us, and then recreate our belief system to fit our current transformative iteration, we automatically take action from that new belief system.
We begin to act from a new space and in a new way. Does it happen all at once? It may, yet often it is iterative, which simply means, as was aforementioned, that it is a continuous process.
Transformation is a continuous process of inquiry, investigation, and in some cases interrogation.
Old beliefs, habits, and patterns can be hard to let go of; yet, with practice, and guidance as needed, new beliefs, habits, and patterns can be created.
Yet, because these beliefs, habits, and patterns are so deeply ingrained within our beings, it takes being intentional.
Much like development, you must want to transform. You must create and set the intention to develop, and you must do the same with transformation.
Alright, once you’ve intentionally embarked into transformation, there are three more things to consider in order to see the connection between leadership, change agency, and transformation.
3 Things You Can Do Today to Lead as a Change Agent
1. Create Your Future From Your Future
When we create our future from our future, we recognize that to do other, is to create our future from our past. Happens often. It’s not a demerit.
However, to really create change, we must move into a space where we let go of the past, and stand in a reality that is being imagined as a future concept of a reality we want to live into. Important. How, you ask?
Imagine. Dream. Create. Repeat.
You have within you all of the imagination and dreams that have been present for, well, possibly, your entire life. Time to let them out.
Once you have, you can begin to create the future you want to live into. Create? Meaning, you can begin to take ideas and put them into systems and processes to see them realized. Concept meets execution.
Three simple steps, ready?
Put your imagination to work. Get those dreams out of your head and heart and into the world somewhere, anywhere. Write them down. Don’t limit yourself. Just write them down.
Create a map of those ideas, connecting the ones that are connectable, and then categorize them, or prioritize them. What do you want to create first?
Now, one at a time, create plans and associated actions to see these dreams into reality. Doesn’t matter how “big” or “small” these dreams are. What matters is that you put them into a system to make them a reality. Try it.
2. Don’t Worry About Barriers, or People That Don’t Understand
People that actively work to create change in the world are often met with barriers, and people that say it’s not possible. Normal. Why?
Because the status quo is more comfortable, and it’s what people know. People are fearful of what they don’t know, and don’t understand. You will be met with resistance.
However, when you are aware of this, you can meet those barriers and people where they are at. No judgment. And, no problem.
Where there is a barrier, or a person that says what you’re doing is impossible, there is another path toward the realization of your dream. Truth. Often, there will be several other paths, you just need to be patient.
They will show up. How do I know? I’ve experienced it many times. When you are creating change in the world, you are in action, you are pushing on systems that have been in place, in some cases, for years and years.
Yet, they are changeable. All of them. With a little persistence without resistance, you can create the change you want to see in the world.
Well, sometimes that force can also feel like resistance. Like we are resisting our current reality by trying to create something new to supplant our current reality. It can be subtle.
Or, have you ever just plain resisted your current reality? Maybe, more common?
Either way, when we resist our current reality, we are, in effect, creating more of that reality. Paradox? Yep, yet it is true. There is another way.
Be persistent without resisting your current reality. Meaning, accept your current reality, just as it is, with all that you enjoy and dislike. Then? Begin to create from that space. A space of no judgement about all that is in your life. Can be difficult.
Yet, in a space of persistence without resistance, we have the best opportunity to actually manifest the reality we are working so hard to create. Yep, just like that.
Alright, so we’ve now discussed 4 things you can do to move yourself into the realm of transformation, and we’ve also covered 3 things you can do today to lead as a change agent.
And, there, then is 4 + 3 = 7 Ways to Become A Transformative Change Agent Today. As I’ve written in many other posts, we need more transformative change agents. In fact, I would argue, we need every one of us to step up, and work to create the change we want to see in the world. Why?
Simple. Because you deserve it, we all deserve it, the whole world does. We all deserve to live in a world where dreams, imagination, innovation, and positive change are regularly created by each of us, you and me.
A different kind of post today. I am interested in investigating how it is that teams continue to stay motivated, at the individual, and team level, during times of great change and innovation. Have you ever made this consideration? Yes, no? Here is how I began to consider the topic.
COVID-19 has created contexts in teams, businesses, and organizations that have required great strides in innovation. Innovation that is continuous. Every day. Making choices about how to continue to pivot your business model, to keep up the momentum, stay relevant, and remain sustainable. We’ve been inside such a context, much, I’m sure, like you have.
Then about two weeks ago, we had a team assignment connected to the department’s disruption BHAG, which I wrote about in, One BHAG, Two BHAG, and Creating a Disruption Vision . The assignment was to create our top three priorities for July. Why only July? Because, as was aforementioned, the amount, scale, and speed of change right now is so great, creating priorities for more than 30-days seems unreasonable.
During that time, one of our team members asked this question.
How do you maintain motivation inside of innovation? A wonderful question.
It is inside of this question that we will do two things.
Investigate how to continue to create motivation, inside of vast amounts of change and innovation.
Invite you to respond with your thoughts, ideas, and best practices.
We have, then, an investigation, and an invitation. Ready? Let’s go.
First, I have questions. Here are a few that will guide our investigation.
Where does individual motivation come from?
Where does the team’s motivation come from?
What does the larger institution, organization, or business have to do with individual and team motivation, and morale?
What strategies can leaders deploy to ensure that each individual team member and the team as a whole stays motivated during great change?
What is the responsibility of each individual team member when considering motivation inside of innovation?
1. Where does motivation come from?
Though many people look for motivation in things that live outside of themselves, motivation actually comes from within. You become motivated by doing things. For instance, if you want to become more organized or organized differently, you must try new things. Put a new system in place, and practice it. If it works, awesome, if not, try something new.
When we actually practice that which we want to become better at, motivation will arise inside of that practice. In this example, becoming more organized happens as we practice and learn about how to better organize ourselves.
2. Where does the team’s motivation come from?
From a psychological perspective, each individual contributes their individual motivation to the collective team. And, from a sociological perspective, the collective team motivation is an output of those individual motivations. The leader of that team must then direct both the individual and team motivation toward the vision, goals, objectives, and priorities.
However, I think it important to remember that when priorities change often inside of creating new business models and learning about new ways to do business, motivation can become precarious. Not necessarily because people are unmotivated, though that is also possible. More, I think it has something to do with just how much work it takes to continue to pivot your business. Again, and again.
3. What does the larger institution, organization, or business have to do with individual and team motivation, and morale?
For me, the answer to this question is rather simple. Whether it happens or not, may not be as simple. All people that work within an organization need to understand, have access to, and be able to connect their individual work to the larger institutional vision. Important.
When these connections can be made, there is more cohesion, and the possibility of motivation remaining higher. We must also remember, however, that there will be varying levels of motivation inside of the institution, organization, or business, dependent on how each team leads their work. There will be differences.
These differences can affect motivation and morale when people cannot see themselves inside of the vision. When creating new visions during times of great change and innovation, these visions should connect to the larger vision. Also important, people need to see themselves inside of these visions.
4. What strategies can leaders deploy to ensure that each individual team member and the team as a whole stays motivated during great change?
Difficult, as leaders may also be struggling with their own motivation during times of great change. Yet, there are things leaders can do for themselves, and their teams to keep motivation present for people. All the while recognizing that there will be times when people are unmotivated. That is also okay. It’s part of the human process.
What things can you do to stay motivated, and to keep the team motivated.
Create a new vision – when things are changing on such a vast scale, creating new ways to conceptualize your work is critical. If people continue to do their work just like they did before, which may not work, motivation may remain elusive.
Be flexible – flexibility goes hand in hand with adaptability. You must be flexible to adapt to changing situations, no matter how small or large they are. Be open.
Listen – understanding how each person is doing on the team is very important. And, you must listen well to really know how they are doing. You need to create individual time with people, and listen.
Provide feedback – honest and direct feedback is helpful. We all need to know that we are heading in the right direction, and when we are not, to be guided back. If you lead teams, your team can also do that for you. Important to have that reciprocal relationship.
5. What is the responsibility of each individual team member when considering motivation inside of innovation?
There is really only one thing I want to write about in this area; and that is about Communication. Communicating with each other often by telling each other how things are going, where changes or adjustments are needed, when we are feeling unmotivated, or especially motivated is extremely important. I cannot overstate this fact.
When there are communication breakdowns, people have limited sight on what is happening and understanding of what is known. And, when there are limitations on what people know, people will fill in that gap with what they believe is happening.
Typically, however, the stories that are generated to fill these gaps are incomplete. And, they are only so, because people don’t have all of the information they need.
Communication is one of the most important principles to practice at any time on a team; and now, during COVID-19, it is even more important. Staying connected, and in good communication with your team is essential to maintaining motivation inside of innovation.
Alright, there is an investigation into motivation inside of innovation. I believe that the investigation has yielded a few possible insights, so let’s capture them again here.
Motivation comes from within ourselves – motivation does not live inside of concepts or objects in the outside world.
The team’s motivation is individual and collective – team motivation comes from each individual’s contribution and the teams combined motivation, which are guided by the leader.
Motivation, vision, and morale – individuals must be able to see themselves inside of the overall vision, and visions need to be connected. Remember also, motivation will go up and down, and that is okay.
Leadership strategies – create a new vision, be flexible, listen well, and provide feedback.
Responsibility and motivation – communicate, communicate, communicate. Important.
Now for the fun part.
I am inviting each of you to contribute to this post. I would like to know from your perspective, how do you, or how do you plan to maintain motivation inside of innovation. You can use the questions that were used to guide this post, or you can use the ones that follow.
Here are some questions for you to consider?
What strategies do you use to maintain motivation for yourself and your team?
What strategies have worked well in maintaining motivation on your team?
What other strategies have you not yet tried that you plan to implement soon to increase motivation for yourself and your team?
What strategies did not work as well, and why?
What other insights do you have to share about motivation and innovation?
Okay, there we have it. An investigation and invitation in how to maintain motivation inside of innovation. Was fun.
Have you ever thought about how the imagination works? I’ve not considered it overmuch, yet have been considering it more recently.
With the current COVID-19 pandemic, the whole world is working to conceptualize new businesses, lifestyles, relationships, organizational structures, and staffing models.
There really is no safe haven from the need to innovate continuously right now. If you find yourself in a situation where creating new ways to conceptualize the aforementioned is unnecessary, I believe you are in the minority.
If you find yourself in the situation, like many, where the need to continuously innovate is your ever present reality. Breathe.
I’m thinking that a cursory look at imagination and innovation within a sociological context is an important inquiry. And, I think this inquiry is more important today than ever before. Why?
Because innovation is hard work. You can find yourself, as happens to me often, feeling frayed around the edges, and very tired. Yet, you must continue to persist.
Why? Because persistence inside of innovation is necessary and needed. The imagination, you ask? The imagination makes it all work.
Alright, so what does sociology have to do with the imagination?
As we’ve discussed in other posts, sociology is the study of group behavior. It is the study of how groups, and people within those groups, understand their place in a social and or cultural context. How they move, or are limited in movement, how they adapt, change, grow, work, and live.
Inquiring into imagination and innovation from a sociological perspective means taking a look at how innovation and imagination works in groups. Here are a couple of questions to get our inquiry started?
How do groups use their collective potential to utilize imagination in unique and innovative ways?
What are some strategies people can use to get the most out of their own imagination; and, harness the groups they belong to, to create innovative possibilities?
What does sociology have to do with imagination and innovation?
Okay, let’s start with these, and see what we get.
How do groups use their collective potential to utilize imagination in unique and innovative ways?
Though I can only speak to groups I’ve been a part of, I believe they probably function quite similarly, with some variance in the amount of creative output dependent on the members of the group.
For instance, in my current workgroup, we went from somewhat creative, to more creative in about 2 years, to very creative in year 3, and now, hyper-creative. Why the latter? Necessity.
As I’ve mentioned, the current state of reality right now demands it. You must stay on top of innovation, and your own personal and professional imagination is the gateway.
Here are some ways groups use their collective potential to imagine and innovate.
Share ideas with each other, all of them – often people are shy or fearful about sharing their creative potential, their own imagination to innovate. Don’t be. Share, and create, it is an awesome process.
Take people’s ideas further – when you are working with someone on a project, and they have an idea, take it further if you can. Step outside of timidness, and give all of your imaginative power to the project. You will get more innovation this way.
Step into ideas that live at the edge of what’s possible – live in a limitless space when you are imagining and innovating. Stay away from limits. Putting limits on your imagination, limits the project’s possibility.
Continue to reflect – even when you are not directly working on the project, continue to reflect upon the last conversation. You may get more imaginative insights, which will make your project more innovative.
What are some strategies people can use to get the most out of their own imagination; and, harness the groups they belong to, to create innovative possibilities?
There are many strategies you can use to kickstart your imagination. And, there are also various strategies to keep your imagination moving. Meaning, strategies to keep you open to more possibilities in the realm of the project you are working on. Let’s take a look at some of these.
Just get those ideas out – any way you can, get your ideas out of yourself, and into the world, somewhere, anywhere. Where and how matters less, than simply getting them out. An aside – once my oldest son came into my office, which was plastered with very large whiteboard post-its, and both white board walls were also full. He felt a little uneasy. He is now at a local company doing a computer science internship, and just recently shared with me that he understands the process of pouring forth your imagination in a whole new light. Get your ideas out.
Invite others to give you their insights – when you have your ideas out, have other people give you their insights. I find collaboration inside of imagination and innovation highly productive. You will find that they will take some of your ideas further, and then, guess what? You will take their additions to your ideas even further. A wonderful gift.
Let the ideas sit for a little while – one strategy I employ everyday inside of using my imagination to innovate is to let the newest ideas sit. Then I take time to reflect upon the ideas to see what other insights I get. Fun. I always get more insight after the initial creative output and collaboration.
Create a plan – as I’ve written about in many other posts, in order for your imaginative output to actually create innovative results, you must create a plan to bring the ideas into the world. Create a 30-day, 60-day, or 90-day plan, step 1, 2, 3, etc., to bring the project into the world.
Take action – once you have your plan in place, take at least one action a day. In order for a plan to actual bring forth your ideas, you will have to create time to actually work on the project. Too often projects fail, even with great ideas, because the actions to bring the project to life are not followed through on.
There are five very pragmatic strategies that, when used on a daily basis, will bring your imaginative potential to bear, and create more innovation within whatever context you are wanting to develop new possibilities.
What does sociology have to do with imagination and innovation?
How important is it to understand well those people you are in a relationship with? Yep, very. It is equally important to understand the groups you belong to just as well.
You must understand who in the group is the most imaginative and innovative. Why? Because you will know where to go for collaborative insight into the projects you are working on. Important.
And, to understand groups, it is important to understand how groups work, how they function within the greater context that the group belongs to.
For instance, if you are on a team within a larger organization, you need to know what are the limits on your creative possibilities. How is the group looked upon within the organization? Are they seen as an innovation center? Or, are they required to work within a more strict protocol?
After working on my current team, I can tell you that a mandate for any future endeavor will have to include the ability to imagine, innovate, and create. A must. A dealbreaker for me if it is missing.
However, if you are not thinking about these questions and concepts before taking on a new job, or project, and you are an imaginative and innovative person, you may get stuck in a situation that limits your potential. Not helpful, and can feel quite limiting and restricting.
I should add here that we are all imaginative and innovative. Sometimes that imagination and innovation gets covered up with concepts like adulthood and being grown up. Sad, and unnecessary.
The most productive and timeless contributions to history are made by those with no limits. Who take on their work and their projects with a sense of play.
Creating possibilities through their imagination and innovative ideas, while also bringing those around them into the conversation to take their playful ideas even further. Wonderful, exciting, and really being alive.
Alright, your turn. I know well that we all think differently, and use different strategies to imagine and innovate, so I would love to hear from you. And, here is a question you can play with, or feel free to create your own, which would be very much in line with this post.
What do you think about imagination and innovation, and their relation to sociology, and understanding well the groups we work with?
In the past day or two, I’ve written a couple of posts on vulnerability. I am constantly amazed at the importance of recognizing and participating in our own vulnerability. It is in those spaces, where we find our most vulnerable selves that we also find wealth beyond measure. For me, it is not money, or prestige, I’m after, it’s creativity and innovation. And, to create and innovate, you must be vulnerable.
Here is me being vulnerable with you right now. Though I’ve never really liked to read poetry, I like to write it. Not often, just here and there. And, here is one, I’ll share with you now.
The seed looked up at the sky,
and the sky said,
I’ve never before showed this poem to anyone. Actually, I don’t think anyone knows that I like to write poetry. Vulnerable. Actually, this poem can be written another way, which I just thought of, so let’s put that one in too.
The seed looked up at the sky,
and the sky said,
Funny, and fun. Just a short few years ago, I did not possess the vulnerability necessary to write poems in a post like this, or in any other forum. However, as I’ve written elsewhere, vulnerability, like any trait, can be practiced. And, when practiced, you get used to doing it. For, it is in the actions we take, that we become more comfortable doing those things that make us uncomfortable.
Writing in itself is a rather vulnerable pursuit, like any other art form. This is why creativity and vulnerability are so closely related. In order to be creative, and to develop a creative outlet through any medium, one must be willing to be vulnerable.
What I’ve recognized these past two years is that when we are vulnerable, we get back so much more by doing things that we once might have declined to do, or resisted doing. A sense of accomplishment, yes, and a visceral understanding of what it is like to live through experience, rather than through thinking about experiencing something. Experience is everything. The ultimate knowing.
What can you do? You can be vulnerable. How, you ask?
Here are a couple of suggestions.
Do something you’ve been planning to do, yet have made excuses and justifications for why it is not necessary, or it’s not the right time. Just do it. No pun intended.
When a friend asks you to go somewhere, or do something with them, and your natural inclination is to say, no, because you are too tired, or have something else to do that you think is more important. Do it anyway.
The next time you have a thought or insight about doing something artistic, or creative, don’t put it off, or make excuses about not being creative. Express your creativity.
Just a couple of suggestions. Whether you try those out or not, please remember one thing.
We are all creative beings, every single one of us. Humans are naturally creative.
Some say it is our highest quality. Not sure. Yet, I do know how it feels to be vulnerable, and to be creative. It feels scary and uncomfortable, and exquisite and amazing all at the same time.
So, if writing is your thing, write. If it is art, then do art. If you don’t have a creative outlet yet, do some research and pick a medium. There are many. It matters less what the medium is, than it does that you create the space for yourself to be the creative being that you are. And, it takes being vulnerable to get there.
I used to believe that inspiration, imagination, and innovation were all concepts that you needed to find. Similar to my post on motivation, I believed these concepts lived outside of me. As if, I could find them somewhere in the world.
And, it is true, we can see something that inspires us to imagine and innovate, however, what we see has very little to do with what we are actually seeing, it is, rather, the filter through which we see that matters.
What we see, and how we see, are products of how we think. If we believe the world is full of inspiration, we will find and see inspiration. If we believe the world is uninspired, then know matter how hard we try, we will not see inspiration.
Obviously, if we find and see inspiration, we will be inspired. And, conversely, if we do not find and see inspiration, we will be uninspired. If this is true, then, we can never really find anything outside of ourselves. What we see is a mirror of how we think. It all starts with us.
Finding inspiration is a process of looking inward. And, looking inward is the only real place you can find anything. It is the process of developing oneself, and creating inspiration that gives birth to imagination and innovation.
Funnily enough, when you find your inspiration, and you begin to imagine, dream, and innovate, these actions double back on themselves. Meaning that once you find inspiration within, your creative capacity is unleashed, and the imagination and innovation that comes forth breads more inspiration. A full circle, if you will.
At this point, you may ask, how, then, does one find their inspiration? Unfortunately, I cannot tell you how to find your inspiration, yet can tell you how I found mine, which may serve as a catalyst for your own search.
Finding My Inspiration
Finding my inspiration began with a personal quest to understand my own suffering. It started about three years ago when I took a job that, at the time, I was not fully prepared nor developed enough for.
Every morning I would awake to the “I can’t do this” mantra, and after 6 months of this kind of thinking, and a great deal of less sleep than is optimal, I began to question my thinking. At that time, questioning my thinking simply meant that when I had the thought, I can’t do this, or this isn’t working, I would question whether or not that was actually true.
Questioning my thinking, and remembering that the context I was working in was but one aspect of my being, not my whole being, began to shift my thinking. Additionally, as I’ve mentioned in other posts, I began to start seeing a life coach once a week, and did two powerful leadership development programs.
The ability to question my thinking, even then at a very minimal level, seeing someone once a week, and developing myself, created a space for me to start creating new thinking patterns.
During that first year, I also worked on my diet, and began, what I called then, breathing. This breathing was my first foray into meditation, which I continue to practice today.
All of these choices helped me be more open, flexible, adaptable, and resilient. These choices also gave me more clarity, which, when working on a dynamic team, in an ever changing and fast paced environment is very important.
Being more open, flexible, adaptable, and resilient, allowed me to take, and give, feedback in a more constructive and healthy way. And, letting go of the notion that I should know the answers to every issue that would arise, opened me up to learn more about myself, and to learn more from all of the people around me.
When you begin to truly understand yourself, and begin to take in all that people have to offer, you find that inspiration is everywhere, and in all things. Again, it is the inspiration you find within yourself, that then translates into “finding” inspiration in all things.
Finding inspiration is a matter of how you think about who you are, what you do, and how you relate to everything in your environment. If you believe that you matter, that your relationships to those in your environment matter, and that ultimately your impact matters, you are doing inspiration. You will also find that inspiration goes out from you and affects others. We can call this reciprocal inspiration. It is infectious, and wonderful.
Unlocking your Creative Potential
When you are inspired, your imagination will become more active, which will, if you are open to it, translate into more innovation or creativity. It is also important to understand that this renewed, or new, creativity comes with a requirement to continually be open to all new experiences, even if they feel uncomfortable. Meaning, that it is in the unknown where the most creative and innovative works can be realized.
There is so much freedom that comes from this kind of thinking. Freedom from the constraints and limits that humans typically put on themselves, which, of course, constrict inspiration, and the corresponding imagination and innovation.
When you are ready to live a life full of inspiration, you can take the necessary steps to live that life. Living this kind of life does not come without difficulty, yet it is inside those things that are difficult that personal growth, and transformation can take place.
You can only realize your fullest potential by going outside of your comfort zone, finding your own inspiration, and then letting that inspiration fire your creative potential. You are a creative being. We all are. You simply have to be open to being all that you know, deep down, you are capable of being, and trusting that inner knowing.
Inspiration, imagination, and innovation, live within each of us. These qualities are everyone’s, not just a select few. They are, after all, human qualities, and you are a human, so you have them, and only you can unlock them and realize them for yourself.