Leading From Within

An Exploration of 4 Years Inside A Non Credit Department at the Local Community College

Linn-Benton Community College, Albany, Oregon

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.

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

2016-17

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.

2017-18

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.

  • Breakdown central.
  • Remembering who I am.
  • Development outside of the college.
  • Life coach.
  • 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.

Photo by Mimi Thian on Unsplash

2018-19

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.
  • Developing priorities.
  • Metrics and measurement.
  • Internal advocacy.
  • External relationships.

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.

2019-20

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.

  • Team alignment.
  • Gaining traction.
  • Filled classes, growth, sustainability.
  • Pandemic?
  • Reprioritizing.
  • Creating 5 new business models.
  • Community response.

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.

Photo by Ian Schneider on Unsplash

2020-21

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.

What’s Next?

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.

#alignment, #business, #coaching, #development, #engagement, #grwoth, #humandevelopment, #leadership, #leadingfromwithin, #ledaershipdevelopment, #metrics, #pandemic, #relationships, #strategicthinking, #systems, #teamdevelopment

A Letter

Image credit; Simona Sergi @ Unsplash

You’ve written
Before, and yet
No more,

Now,
I dangle a letter
To lure you back,

Though,
Unsure I am,
About the portended
Future

Will our existence
Be reminiscent
Of the letter
In hand?

Now a grandstand

An audience to
Itself, suspended
Mid air

A trifle, and flare,
Of opportunity
Encased in
Red

Just like the roses,
I gave you
When
We

Wed,
And you shook your
Head, in favour of a

Nod instead

And, though
I bled with anticipation

There really is
No mysterious
Cause
For my withdrawal

Only the wonder
Which I see
While in
Bed

As thoughts of
You
Give way to dreams,
Which are sometimes

Pleasant, and
At other times not
So, so,
Dear, give way to

My hearts present

Which is adorned, and
Ready to give way
While you stay
Away,

Only know I’m here

Which is where
I’ll remain
Until that day,

When you return,

And walk through that door,
Taking the note, now
Dangling no more,

And read about
The love that’s flourished
While you were gone,

Now holding hands, like
Time never elapsed,
As we await the dawn.

In response to the WDYS #65 prompt from Keep it Alive, by Sadje.

#poetry, #letter, #life, #love, #poem, #poems, #relationships, #wdys65, #wonder, #writing

A Developmental Moment #4: What Does Influence Mean and Why Does it Matter?

The Differences Between Internal and External Influence and Their Relationship to Service

Photo by Blake Wisz on Unsplash

As I was pondering the next developmental moment, and was considering influence as a topic, I had to stop, and reflect upon the past three years. What to say about influence?

Well, as with most things in my life today, an insight did occur, which will now come out through me and to you. Fun.

Alright, so influence is an important topic when you are leading teams; and, well, I do believe it is an important topic in everyone’s development, regardless of their iteration of self-development, or their interest in leadership. Why?

Because, we all will, at some point, apply for a job, need to grow our network, and, or, seek new areas of self-expression. And, to be fully self-expressed, or, rather, to self-express yourself fully, it is nice to understand the concept of influence. Let’s do just that then. Take a look at how I interpret the concept of influence.

Ready? Good. Here we go.

influence

verb /ˈɪnfluəns/ 

to have an effect on the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially by giving them an example to follow.

influence something, influence how, where, etc. to have an effect on a particular situation and the way that it develops.

Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries

There we go.

Alright, so here’s what we have for influence; to have an effect on a particular situation and the way it develops, or the way that someone behaves or thinks, especially in regard to providing them an example to follow.

Now let’s discuss influence in two different ways. Let’s take a look at internal influence, and external influence. Both are important, and both are needed. Here we go.

Photo by Christina @ wocintechchat.com on Unsplash

Internal Influence

When I write the phrase internal influence, I am referring to your influence within the business, organization, or institution in which you work.

Understanding influence as an opportunity to build cultural capital inside of the business, organization, or institution in which you work is important for a leader to consider. If your influence wanes, it may be hard, for example, to garner political support on a project your team is working on.

However, if your influence is strong, or even adequate, garnering support will be easier. Pretty simple.

What I’ve found to be most true about internal influence is that being who you really are is of utmost importance. Meaning, to be the authentic leader you know yourself to be.

Yes, we all have to make concessions at times, and, yet, we all have the creative power to effect change. And, this is true, even when our influence is bourgeoning.

A quick aside. Influence, like most things in life, lives along a spectrum. Meaning, that influence is not binary. You gain influence over time; and, it takes time.

Maybe you’re asking yourself, okay, well, how do we create influence, and effect change. Here are a few important considerations for those interested in increasing their internal influence.

  1. Relationships – as I’ve written many times, everything starts with relationships. The one we have with ourselves, yes, and then with everyone else. Being in a relationship means having easy and difficult conversations. Remembering this truth is important in leadership.
  2. Questions – asking questions is always an important step in creating influence. Often, people shy away from asking the tough questions. Ask them. It is important to your own development, and that of your teams.
  3. Creativity – being open, flexible, and innovative, is an important aspect of influencing the future. Without creativity, the past is the future, a stamped reproduction. Thus, being open to new ideas, those from your peers, and your team is essential.
  4. Integrity – doing what we say we are going to do is important to all aspects of our lives, and there is no exception in creating influence. If we are unable to make it to a meeting, or are going to be late, communicate. Open communication ensures that we are always keeping everyone in the conversation, and keeping our integrity intact.
  5. Authenticity – be who you are. You are just as you are supposed to be, so embrace your unique-self, and let that shine. There is only one you, which means there’s not another person on the planet that can create influence, or anything else for that matter, just like you. When we are authentic, people know, and respect our truth. And, if they don’t? Remember, that’s their issue. Not yours. Be who you are.

Alright, there are five examples, and considerations for you, on how to create influence within a business, organization, or institution. Remember, influence takes time to cultivate. It’s kind of like gardening. You must water your relationships, questions, creativity, integrity, and authenticity, and, when you do, you will see your influence grow.

Photo by Macau Photo Agency on Unsplash

External Influence

External influence is similar to internal influence, and yet, also different. You can use the five considerations aforementioned with those clients, students, or customers, that are external to your business, organization, or institution. And?

There are a couple more strategies for you to consider. Here we go.

  1. Engagement – being fully engaged at all times with those you serve is important. Meaning, that it is important to create an engagement system that you can rely upon, which will ensure your engagement is, well, like a drum beat. Your clients, students, or customers need to rely upon your engagement pattern. I write about developing my LinkedIn engagement system in the post, A Blogger’s Diary 12/27/20: On Writing, Goal-Setting, Systems, and the Holidays, which can serve as one of many examples to draw upon.
  2. Consistency – a drum beat, or pattern, on which your clients, students, or customers can rely. Important. There are lots of ways to ensure you stay on track with your engagement. You can calendar your engagements, enter them into a project management software system, or keep them in a planner. The tool matters far less, than the output of making sure to engage regularly and consistently.
  3. Reciprocity – relationships are built upon many things, and reciprocity is one. Being in relationships means sharing yourself with your clients, students, or customers. And doing so in a genuine way. Remember, people know when we are inauthentic. They can see, hear, and feel it. Just be who you are, and reciprocate.
  4. Value – our clients, students, or customers want to know they are valued. They would like value, and to know they are valued. Both. Providing value comes in many forms, and it’s not always, actually rarely, monetary. It’s about being there for your clients, students, or customers. Taking care of them, treating them with kindness, and valuing their needs.
  5. Service – in the end, it’s all about service. All of it. The service we give ourselves, and the service we give out to our clients, students, or customers. When we value our service, we are always looking for, and creating, new ways to serve. Whether that is through a new business model, a new product, or a new service. Really. Ultimately, it’s about understanding the need, reflecting on that need, and creating a bridge for that need.

Internal and external influence matter. It’s not about ego. We are leaving ego at the door. It’s about service. About taking care of people. Finding out what they need, and working with them to fill that need.

When we are in relationship with people, we are in a unique position to serve.

And, as we continue to serve, our influence grows. Influence grows as we grow and deepen our relationships. The relationships we have with those we serve. Ultimately, it’s our peers, teams, clients, students, and customers that let us know about our influence.

When we have movement in our relationships, we can see it and feel it; and, when we have traction, we know, because reciprocity flourishes as we enter into new relationships each day. And, as we enter into more relationships, our service grows; and, yes, we also grow. Fun.

#authenticity, #consistency, #creativity, #development, #developmentalmoment, #engagement, #externalinfluence, #influence, #integrity, #internalinfluence, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #questions, #reciprocity, #relationships, #self-development, #service, #value

The Sunshine Blogger Award

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Corvallis, Oregon Summer 2020

Well, I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a recent nomination for the Sunshine Blogger Award, and, well, I’m quite honored. I would like to thank Krishna, of LIGHT+LOVE 🙂, for the lovely nomination. If you’ve not done so, please visit Krishna’s sight. It is truly of light and love. Thank you again, dear, Krishna.

Alright, so how about some questions. Ready? Good. Here we go.

Photo by Roberto Nickson on Unsplash

1. What are your thoughts about Christmas?

As many of you know, I grew up in Los Angeles, and am from a family that did celebrate Christmas every year. It was quite a magical time, the fall season as it moved into Autumn, and then into winter. Which, of course, is always mild in LA. As a matter of fact, last year on Christmas day it was supposed to be over 90 degrees. Very warm indeed for December.

Not so in the Pacific Northwestern part of the United States where I currently live. Nope. Rainy, cold, and, yep, sometimes snow. Like when I was a child, I still do love the holiday season, of which Christmas is one.

2. What are your stress busters?

I have three.

  • Meditation
  • Walking
  • Cardio

As I’ve written about before, meditation is, well, has been for me, transformational in my life. I started three years ago, which at that time was simply called breathing, because I could not sit still long enough to meditate proper. And, you know, like everything, it’s about the practice. Setting your intention to do something, and sticking with it. 5 minutes became 10, and so on to today.

I don’t walk as much in the winter as it is so cold and rainy, yet do try and get out as often as possible. Cardio as often as needed. Simply meaning maybe once or twice a week.

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash

3. How is your relationship with God?

It is excellent. The Divine shows up everywhere today. As I wrote about in one of my recent poems, it is really about connection.

4. How many languages do you understand, and which are they?

English, and I can understand and speak some Spanish. Alas, I have much work to do in this area, and am actually continuing my study of Spanish now.

Photo by Rampal Singh on Unsplash

5. Name your 3 favorite films.

Hm. This one is harder. Alright, I’m going to name three films I enjoy, though I cannot really say if they are my favorites, per say.

  1. On the Basis of Sex
  2. Toy Story
  3. Dangal

6. How have you spent your leisure time?

Most of my leisure time is spent writing. I also work a lot, so with work and writing, there is not a lot of time leftover. However when time is created, I do enjoy walking, playing golf, seeing my two boys, talking with my friends and family, reading, of course, and watching television a little each day.

Photo by Ravi Pinisetti on Unsplash

7. Do you enjoy solitude or do you always need someone to be with you?

I once always needed someone to be with me. Went hand-in-hand with not being able to sit still for more than a few minutes. Not so today. Though on the bell curve, I would place myself on the downslope towards extroversion, I love my introverted self, and have a large inner-life.

8. What do you hold most important in life?

My connection with the Divine and with my community, colleagues, coworkers, family, and friends. Yes, including all of you!

Photo by Chandan Chaurasia on Unsplash

9. What will you do when you feel sad or clueless in life?

I spent a lot of years, most of my adulthood, really, running from my feelings. Not so today. When I am sad, I let the sadness come. If I’m not in a location where that is appropriate, I take the time needed to be with that sadness, or hold it only until I am in a space where I can cry as needed. Feels so much better to cry as needed, than to hold all of that sadness inside.

When I am clueless? Hm. I don’t ever really feel clueless. I am often unsure. I think feeling unsure is very normal. When we are comfortable being unsure, which can be uncomfortable, we are more open to all that life can bring our way. I work on a highly innovative team, and in highly creative spaces, there is a lot of unknown. I find the unknown, yes, at times, uncomfortable, and also quite exquisite

10. Do you believe in miracles? Briefly explain one please.

Oh, yes, for sure. I believe everything I see and feel is a miracle. The world is quite wondrous, beautiful, and amazing. I love all of it. It is a miracle to me as I sit here typing responses to these lovely questions, listening to some wonderful classical music, and the sun, just a moment ago, was shining right on my keyboard and monitor as I continue to write about the Sunshine Blogger Award. Pretty miraculous.

Photo by Rampal Singh on Unsplash

11. Do you love cartoons? Which is your favorite?

I once loved cartoons. I don’t know that I love them today. Not sure I’ve given it much thought. What I can say is that I’m old enough to remember very old cartoons, like the Flintstones and the Jetsons, and when Pixar started making the most amazing 3D cartoons ever. Was astonishing to me at the time. I still find the technology involved in cartoon-making extraordinary.

Alright, there we go. 11 questions, 11 answers. That was fun. Thanks again, Krishna for the lovely nomination.

Now for my nominations. Instead of 11 more, well, I’m going to nominate all of you. Why? Because I truly find you all inspiring. Seriously. As I’ve mentioned many times, I have as much fun reading your blog’s as I do writing mine.

And now? How about a sunshine poem to end this post? Okay, good. Here we go.

Sunshine

Does envelop me
In a cloud of heavenly
Delight, growing up in your
Embrace

Was, and still is,
One of my favorite sights

Dawn breaking with
Such anticipation, of
Your reception to my
Hallowed participation

In your majestic creation,

And, each day
You come again,
Showing me the resilience
Of your aurora

Which casts life-giving
Sustenance
To all of the fauna,
And flora

I greet thee with my thanks,
And welcome you back
Again and again, friend,

For you’re the sun,
Shining bright, and are
Absolutely one of the best
Parts of my life

Have a very sunshiny holiday, everyone.

#cartoons, #christmas, #emotionalintelligence, #films, #languages, #leisuretime, #relationships, #solitude, #stress-busters, #sunshinebloggeraward, #thedivine

A Blogger’s Diary 12/5/20: On Writing, Books, 300 Followers, and Connection and Communication

Photo by hannah grace on Unsplash

Well, like many places around the globe, cases in Oregon are approaching an all-time high. Difficult. Yet, it is the current reality. For now.

And, as I wrote about in a previous entry, the time I have to write is less today than it once was. Partly due to work, which continues to expand as we serve more and more people with remote education. Lovely.

Though there was less time, I did write quite a bit of poetry this past week. Even submitted a couple to two other national publications, just for fun! Right, so here’s what that looked like.

Writing

  1. Hand-in-Hand
  2. A Dream
  3. Sorrow
  4. Becoming
  5. Sensitive
  6. A Developmental Moment #1: Inspiration
  7. Run

Wow, that was fun. Fun to think about, reflect upon, and write. So much Fun. And this coming week?

Well, I am currently working on three more poems, a new entry for the reflection series, the second installment in the leadership series, and a new developmental moment article. And, you all know that as new insights occur, well, those will also be considered and written about. Happens every week.

Photo by John-Mark Smith on Unsplash

Books

Be As You Are: The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, by Sri Ramana Maharshi

What a powerful book. In fact, it is so powerful, I’ve purchased my own copy, which has arrived, so I can read it again. I also watched a great documentary about Ramana last week, called Arunachala Shiva, The Teachings of Ramana Maharshi, which I highly recommend. And, along the way?

Well, I fell in love with a mountain. Arunachala. My life coach spent 5 years at the Ashram at Arunachala, which I had no idea about until yesterday; and when we talked, we talked about how drawn I am to that mountain. I will find myself there in the future. That is known. The book?

I may have more on that in the future. Now? I am taking it all in, reflecting, and meditating upon it. That’s about it for now.

Anxious People, by Fredrik Backman

An excellent read. About? Yep. I believe the book is about compassion, and humanity’s resiliency. Meaning, whether we are aware of it or not, we know far less than is knowable, and, well, quite frankly, that can be painful.

Yet, inside an awareness that there is much more to know about, than we know, there is also beauty, and a joy that comes from this gift. Both pain and joy are possible. It really depends on which one we choose.

Photo by Howie R on Unsplash

300 Followers

Wait, what?! Yep! WOW. I would just like to say two things. Ready? Good. Here we go.

I appreciate you. I appreciate you liking my work, commenting on posts, and supporting me on a regular basis. We’ve had some excellent engagements and conversations. Know that you are always appreciated. Always.

I also want to thank each of you for the lovely community that has developed, and that I have so graciously been welcomed into. Absolutely wonderful. I am so grateful for all of you. I love reading your work. You are all so inspirational and talented.

Photo by K8 on Unsplash

Connection and Communication

This past week, I’ve been very present to connection and communication. Yep, first with the connection and communication I have with myself, and then with everyone else. and then? Yep. The connection and communication I see that everyone else has with everyone else. Does that make sense? Good.

We can in fact call this the connection and communication system, which I’ve also called the relationship system. They are one and the same. It looks like this.

Why am I present to connection and communication this week? Good question.

Mainly because connecting and communicating is harder today. Yet, it is a paradox though. Watch.

Though you may be thinking, well, that doesn’t make sense because technology bridges connection and communication. Yes, this is true. However, what’s often missing is the feeling part.

Let us say that we are also a system made up of the following. Thinking, feeling, speaking, and acting. Well, when you are connecting and communicating almost exclusively through technology, not in-person, the feeling part of connecting and communicating is much harder to manage. It just is. And?

Well, if we are unaware, the connection you have with that person, or people, may become disconnected. Or, rather, less connected. Meaning that connection and communication live along a spectrum, so it’s not connected or disconnected, there are subtle variations.

And, knowing about these variations is important. Sensing them, knowing about them, and then creating contexts to talk about them. Important for our friendships, familial relationships, work relationships, and, well, all relationships. Important.

Alright, before I go, one question.

  • What are some things you’ve done to remain connected and communicative with those you are in relationship with?

I wish you a lovely coming week. Please stay healthy and well.

#300followers, #bloggersdiary, #communication, #connection, #onblogging, #onwriting, #pandemic, #poems, #relationships

3 Things Everyone Needs to Know About Building Relationships

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Photo by Liz Weddon on Unsplash

I originally conceived of this topic and the associated article as one for business. An article about how to create deep connections with the people we work with, and the people we’d like to work with.

However, after reflecting upon it throughout the day, it occurred to me that this topic is applicable to everyone. Why?

Well, relationships are the cornerstone of life. Really. Think about all of the people in your life. You have people that are very close to you, friends and family, work associates and colleagues, and, maybe a little further from you, aquantinaces, clients, and neighbors, to name a few.

And, connecting, really connecting with these people, all of them, requires understanding ourselves.

Understanding why we do the things we do, why we feel the way we do, and think the way we think. Knowing ourselves. Why?

Because in order to connect deeply with another human being we must know ourselves first. Then, we can know them; and, know them as deeply as we know ourselves. If, however, we only know ourselves on the surface, we will only ever know them in the same way. Not a deep connection then.

Alright, let’s take a look at three things you can do to build deeper connections with the people that are currently in your life, and the ones that will show up in the future. Ready? Let’s go.

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Photo by Mike Clark on Unsplash

1. Know Your Why

Remember being little where everything we saw, thought, and felt was done with a sense of wonder and amazement? Yep, me too. Well, does life still feel that way to you? If not, don’t worry, it’s not a demerit; and, you are not alone.

As we grow older, we lose some of that wonder and amazement. Yet, we can intentionally create opportunities to get it back. How?

First, we must get back in touch with the things that drive us. You know, the reasons that get us up in the morning. And, I’m not talking about intellectual reasons. Nope.

I’m talking about those things deep within us that make us the person we are today. Can you feel them? If not, don’t worry. They are there, and you can get back in touch with them.

In the post, 3 Reasons Why Creating Alignment With Your Why Is Important; And, 3 Simple Steps to Create Your Why, I walk through three simple steps you can take to create your why. If you’ve not created one, create one; if you have one, maybe take a look at it again. Why?

It’s important to connect deeply with that why, or to reconnect with it if it’s been a while. When we reconnect with the why of why we do what we do, we are actually reconnecting with the vision we have of ourselves as human beings. And, in that moment, we create new possibilities. Really.

Photo by Danica Tanjutco on Unsplash

When we know who we are, what we are up to in life, we can share that with others. We can touch someone else with the passion we have for life. Just like when we were little.

The reason people connect with children, watch them, smile at them, want to be around them, is that, to them, everything is a wonder.

They are a wonder. Everything is amazing. And, reconnecting with your why can move you in that direction.

Further, when you reconnect with yourself on that level, you can now connect with someone else at that level. Sharing something of yourself that, in some cases, as it was for me for a long time, was buried underneath other intellectual ideas, concepts, and pursuits.

Remember one thing. People are not moved by their intellect, or by their head, they are moved by their emotional-center, or ther heart.

Now, you may be wondering, alright, I’ve got my why, then what? Well, now you can create a statement about your why. Something that you can share with those close to you and those that are further removed from you. Anyone really.

Photo by Clay Banks on Unsplash

2. Create Your Personal Mission Statement

A personal mission statement is something you can create, which declares why you are doing what you are doing; it will also give the people you are connecting with a sense of who you are as a human being. Example? Sure.

Here is my why.

To increase access to higher education for everyone.

Right, yet there is more to it. Yep. Here, then, is also part of my why.

Develop leaders, inspire creativity, and assist with personal transformation.

Okay, so now lets fashion a personal mission statement. Ready? Okay, here we go.

To increase access to higher education for everyone, and to develop leaders, inspire creativity, and assist with personal transformation.

Hm, that’s not quite right. It has the components, yet is not really getting at the crux of the why. Let’s try again. Here we go.

To increase access to higher education for everyone, while also working with students and clients to develop their leadership skills, expand their creative potential, and assist in their personal transformation.

Closer. The point? That there is no one way to create a why, or a personal mission statement. They are yours, and should be created by you for you to share with others when you choose, and how you choose. Simple.

You must simply create from within you. Important. If you don’t, and it is something that you don’t really believe in, well, you will know, and so will everyone else. Believe me. They will know if it is not sincere.

And, really, the point is to deepen your connection with yourself, first, and then with other people. You want it to be real. Real from your heat to the hearts of others.

Alright, you’ve got your why and you’ve created a personal mission statement, now what? A reminder.

Photo by William White on Unsplash

3. Understand that Relationships are Everything

In the post, Creating and Maintaining Relationships: What else is there?, I write about understanding that every relationship in our life is important. All of them. That, in fact, everything we do, everything, is about the relationship we have with ourselves, first, and then with everyone else.

Remember the relationships system? Looks like this.

Pinterest

There we go. Alright, so as you can see from the above system, everything we do starts with us. Everything. And, then as you move from the center circle, out to each corresponding circle, all that we do, goes out to those closest to us, first, and then to those that are further from us.

And, what do they get from you? From me for a time, they got cynicism. Yep. Not a judgement, just the reality as it was, not as it is today. Today?

They get everything I can give them, just as I do for myself, including the why of what I do each and every day.

The coolest thing about sharing your why, your passion, purpose, whatever you want to call it, with others is that they then get to know you on a level that will inspire them. Really.

Think about the people in your life that inspire you. What do they do? I bet they are up to all kinds of cool things, creating change, transforming themselves, working at changing the world. One step at a time.

And, you know the second coolest thing about sharing your why with someone else? You get to learn about their why. Yep. You get to know them on a level that might not have been previously available.

These deep connections are what drive people together. Actually the more appropriate language here, would be that they pull people together. Pulled by inspiring ideas, yes, and by inspiring actions.

Inspiring people to be all they can be is a pretty cool thing; and, guess what? You can be a part of that kind of connection anytime. You can create it. Yep. How? Well, as I’ve mentioned it all starts with you.

Why do you do what you do?

#buildingrelationships, #creatingapersonalmissionstatement, #creatingconnection, #creatingdeeperconnectionswithothers, #creatingdeeperconnectionswithourselves, #creatingrelationships, #creatingyourwhy, #developinghighqualityrelationships, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #emotionalintelligence, #growth, #highly-effective-relationships, #highqualityrelationships, #huamndevelopment, #personalmissionstatement, #relationship-conversations, #relationship-development, #relationships, #relationshipsystems, #selfdevelopment, #transformational-relationships, #understandingrelationships, #workrelationships

10 Reasons Why Asking Questions is Important to Your Development

Photo by Artem Maltsev on Unsplash

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

Goal Cast

And this one.

The only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” -Socrates

Goal Cast

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.

Photo by NASA on Unsplash

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.

  1. Learning
    1. 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.
  2. Knowledge
    1. 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.
  3. Clarity
    1. 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.
  4. Collaboration
    1. 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.
  5. Strategy
    1. 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.
  6. Innovation
    1. 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.
  7. Vulnerability
    1. 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.
  8. Leadership
    1. 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.
  9. Trust
    1. 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.
  10. Relationships
    1. 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.
Photo by bantersnaps on Unsplash

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.

Photo by qinghill on Unsplash

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.

#clarity, #collaboration, #development, #developmentandgrowth, #growth, #growthanddevelopment, #growthmindset, #innovation, #knowing, #knowledge, #known, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #learning, #questionsandstrategy, #questionsarestrategy, #relationships, #socrates, #socratesandknowledge, #strategy, #trust, #unknown, #vulnerability

An Insight: Creating Alignment in Your Why

September 8, 2020

The ability to share why you do what you do, is much more important than sharing what you do, or how you do it. Simon Sinek talks about this at length in his famous Ted Talk. In this video, we explore an insight I had last week, about the importance of aligning your why with your team, business, organization, and community. They are all related.

#creatingalignmentinyourwhy, #leadership, #leadershipdevelopment, #leadershipinaction, #leadershipmindset, #relationships, #simonsinec, #systemstheory, #youroriginstroy, #youtwhy

Leadership in Practice Series Part 1: Getting into Action, Keeping Relationships Strong, and Iterating Your Business Model to Stay Relevant During COVID-19

This image has an empty alt attribute; its file name is ambitious-creative-co-rick-barrett-ltiywsbbhei-unsplash.jpg
Photo by Ambitious Creative Co. – Rick Barrett on Unsplash

I’ve written about leadership on this site a few times, so I’m doing something new over the next few days. I’ll be posting some articles I’ve written on leadership. New content on this site, and a conversation that is relevant and important right now. Enjoy. 🙂

Leadership in Practice Series Part 1

What do leaders do when everything they’ve prepared themselves and their teams for is suddenly, within hours, less relevant than ever before? Less relevant as a massive health pandemic, COVID-19, crosses the Atlantic Ocean and shows up in the United States. Not sure? Though I’ve lived it for these past three months, I’m not sure either. So, let’s take a look at what happened, and some of what I’ve learned these past three months.

COVID-19 Takes Root Locally

In early March I received an ominous email from by boss, which read something like this: if the College suddenly needs to close with little to no notice, what is your plan to continue service? Wait, what? At the time, I was admittedly ignorant about the scope of the COVID-19 health crisis in the United States, and the speed at which the virus was making its way towards the West Coast. What to do?

Well, I acted as I would have under any other circumstance. I sent the team the query, gave them a due date for feedback, which was extremely short, and gathered the information. I then rolled the information up into a document to share with my boss. We did this all within 48 hours.

I’ll be the first to admit that the plan was extremely basic, as our business model is one that requires, at least I thought so then, an in-person experience. Within two weeks of creating that plan, we found out that the College was going completely online to finish the Winter Term. Because, at the time, we did not have online or remote classes or training, we cancelled the last week of Winter Term to ensure the safety of our students and clients.

Get this. You are in your third term of the academic year, you just cancelled the last week of the term, and you are actively registering for spring, which is typically the strongest term of the year. And, your sales volume is up about 30% over the previous year. Now what do you do?

Get Into Action and Start Creating

In the next two weeks, it became very clear that the College would also be completely online and remote for Spring Term. What did we do? We started creating.

Here are some of the things we did.

  • We emailed all 200 instructors and asked if they would teach their in-person class remotely – note, at the time we had no systems or processes in place to offer these classes.
  • We moved all of our Professional Development on-campus training to Fall Term.
  • We communicated with all of our instructors, clients, partners, and students, letting them know about the College’s direction. We also inquired with other Colleges as to their plans, which was a very helpful decision. It gave us sight that other Colleges were also going remote, if they had the capability and financing.
  • We created an operations plan out of thin air. Here are a few examples of that plan.
    • Daily remote operations check-in’s.
    • Remote one-with-one’s as needed.
    • Twice-a-week remote registration staff meetings.
    • Weekly remote all-staff department meetings.
    • Bi-weekly program meetings.
    • Each staff member identified their top three remote work priorities.
  • We created many new processes, which included new ways to:
    • Register students and clients
    • Interact with all of our instructors, and clients
    • Track student enrollment
    • Process payment
    • Engage and market our products and services to the community

The point is, we did not sit back and wait for someone to explain the “how to” of the COVID-19 health crisis. There is no such thing. There never was, and never will be. You create on the fly, you do the best you can, and you serve.

You create possibilities where none ever existed before. You listen to your team, and to every idea they have. And, you take action on the best ones – the ones with the most impact.

You also continue to foster, and grow the team, which ensures you are continuing to grow the relationships with your instructors, students, and clients – those relationships are everything.

Keeping Relationships Strong

I’ve always said that relationships are everything. Really, they are. Nothing happens without high-quality relationships. Nothing. Everything is predicated on the strength of the relationships you have with those around you. However, working and living inside of the COVID-19 health crisis has taken my thinking and belief that relationships are everything to another level entirely.

Let’s take a look at a couple of the things we did to ensure that our relationships stayed strong during this most uncertain time.

  • Continue Creating Safety
    • Your team must feel safe to pursue the unknown with you. I believe this is true all the time, yet when your entire business model gets thrown out the window by a pandemic, and everyone is also concerned about their own physical safety, it is even more true. Having and continuing to create safety for your team is of utmost importance.
  • Create Even More Consistency and Structure
    • Another thing that was/is important, is the ability to create structure and consistency. When you are living in a highly unstable time, where change happens sometimes on a daily basis (hourly even), creating a consistent operations communication plan is critical. People must be able to depend on regularity, especially with so much uncertainty.
  • Create New Ways to Engage With Your Clients and Students
    • When we learned that the print schedule, which lists all of our experiential classes, was irrelevant, as all the in-person classes advertised were now in the process of being converted to remote classes, or were being cancelled, we pivoted and created a new digital schedule format. We then created processes to ensure we were collecting information needed, to digitally communicate with our students.

Now, let’s take a look at a couple of things you can do when your current business model, which was functioning well, is no longer relevant.

Recreating and Iterating Your Business Model

As was aforementioned, when COVID-19 began locally, our business model was functioning well, yet would become irrelevant if we did not act quickly. Here are a couple of the things we did to stay relevant.

  • Let Go of What Worked in the Past
    • One of the things we recognized very early on, was that we would have to create several entirely new business models – and, that work continues today. It can be hard to let go of a business model that is profitable. You must, however, when you are faced with a situation where that business model is no longer relevant or sustainable. If you don’t, your competition will pass right by you, and you will be out of business.
  • Create New Business Models that Fit the Current Reality
    • When we began to pivot our business models, we created on the fly, and, as was aforementioned, got all of our instructors into the conversation very early. Having strong relationships with our more than 200 instructors created the possibility that we could begin to deliver remote classes, something we had never done before.
  • Continue to Iterate the Business Models as Needed
    • We continued to iterate the business models as needed, and have continued to add new components, and take out others, as we’ve learned what has worked best. As humans, we have a desire to want to implement something that will be effective, and then stand back and watch it work. However, it’s not always that simple. Often it is not, in fact. Especially during such an uncertain time. So, when something is not working, get rid of it, and try something new. We’ve done that, are doing it now, and will continue to do it as often as needed.

All of the aforementioned sounds simple, and it was not. There was also a ton of uncertainty, fear, and anxiety that went with the plans and actions we’ve created and taken these past three months. Within myself, and within the team. However, we did not let that fear and anxiety stop the work that needed to get done.

Additionally, we have wonderful instructors. They are the main reason why we were able to offer 43 remote classes in Community Education spring term, and 73 for summer. The College was also extremely supportive, allowing us the space we needed to innovate.

The lessons I’ve learned in leadership these past three months are just now starting to surface. I feel very lucky to have had the opportunity to learn more about myself, and our team these past three months. I knew they were a resilient bunch, yet their level of resilience surpassed even my expectations.

Now as businesses start to reopen, we are continuing to consider what our next steps will be. No one can ever know the future, and, sometimes, as the COVID-19 health crisis proved, the best laid plans can go asunder. However, if you are up to the task, you can thrive in an environment that is completely unknown to you. You take one step at a time. You continue to foster your relationships, be who you are, and create anew over and over again; and, you watch and learn from all of the wonderful people around you.

Questions for you

  • What have you done to stay in action in your business (or life) during the past 6 months?
  • How have you kept relationships strong through all of the recent changes?
  • How have you iterated your business (or life) model to stay relevant and grow during COVID-19?

Look forward to hearing your stories!

Originally posted on servantleadershipcoaching.com

#buildingreslience, #covid-19andleadership, #creatingchange, #iteratingyourbusinessmodel, #keepingrelationshipsstrong, #leadership, #leadershipcahange, #leadershippractice, #relationships, #servantleadership

Creating and Maintaining Relationships 5: An Important Distinction About Attachment and Healthy Relationships

Photo by Markus Spiske on Unsplash

What’s the difference between an attachment and a healthy relationship? And, why does it matter? Well, it’s only been in the past year, really, that I can really make this distinction. What does that mean?

Well, I hold a degree, actually two of them, that stipulate that I know about this distinction. Yep. And, while those pieces of paper are in frames, and the person writing this article does have intellectual information about the theoretical differences between attachment and healthy relationships, that is not knowing.

Alright, you are doing very well, stay with me. One more distinction.

Holding intellectual information means that you have a grasp, even expertise, in understanding a particular topic or subject. This is a true statement. Does it then follow that because you have intellectual information about a subject or topic that you also know about that topic or subject? No. Why?

Because to know something, really know it, in your head and your heart, you must have lived through it. It is the only way. It must be experienced.

While many people can theorize about the difference between attachment and healthy relationships, they only really know the difference if they have lived through something that has shown them that difference. Which is why I have only recently learned, and now know, about this distinction. And, it is an important one.

Here is a good example.

intellectual
The adjective intellectual describes something related to or using the mind or intellect. Your creative pursuit of singing in a rock band is different from your intellectual interest in 16th-century drama.

Vocabulary.com

In the above example, singing in the rock bank is known because it is being done, lived, it is real. While the intellectual interest in 16-century drama is purely theoretical, made up of ideas. The person that has intellectual information of 16-century drama can never know what being in a 16-century drama is like. Phew. Okay, I think that covers it.

Now let’s create the distinction between attachment and healthy relationships. The distinction between the two is important because many people believe they are in a healthy relationship with someone, when they are actually only attached. They are not really in a healthy relationship.

Photo by Anne Nygård on Unsplash

Attachment and Healthy Relationships

It is important to understand that we are all attached to people, things, and objects. Attachment is a deep feeling we have for someone or something. These attachments will correspondingly drive our behavior, whether we are aware of it or not.

Because our attachments will drive our behavior and reciprocally our emotional state, they can often be destructive, especially in adulthood.

And, especially in relationships that don’t work so well. Why?

Because when we have a deep emotional attachment to someone, we will continue to stay close to that person even when it is unhealthy for us to do so. Think about the relationships you’ve had, or may have right now.

Do you have any that don’t work so well, yet you continue to stay in relationship with that person? We’ve all been there. That is attachment at work.

Of course, you can love someone, also be attached, and still not be in a healthy relationship. Also important to understand. Often people also confound love, and the attachment that comes with that love, with a healthy relationship.

It is particularly difficult the longer you are with the person; and, can be extremely painful when you finally make the choice to leave the relationship.

In effect, attachment can cloud our decision and choice-making process on leaving relationships that we are better off leaving. Difficult.

Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

What Can We Do?

You can notice how you feel, how you think. Do you have an inner knowing that your relationship is not working, yet you stay?

Remember, if your inner-knowing acknowledges the relationship as not working, it is not a demerit. It happens to everyone at some point in their life.

When you know, you have a choice. You can stay, and continue to feel and think one way, yet act in a different way. However, know that when we feel and think one way, and act out of accordance with this knowing, we will be out of balance. Leading us to have more anxiety and frustration.

And, of course, when we have more anxiety and frustration, we are not being healthy to ourselves, or our partner. Really.

Know also that you can love someone completely, and still know that leaving is needed.

#anxious, #attachment, #frustrated, #headandheart, #healthyrelationships, #inner-knowing, #inuition, #relationships, #toughchoices, #toughdecisions, #unhealthyrelationships