Friday, September 29, 2006

LNB #022: Great Wizard, I Just Want C-c-c-courage!

Funny how we're told to show courage and innovation, but we're not rewarded for having the kinds of key failures it takes to succeed like mad? Ever notice how, starting in elementary school, the teacher asks who knows the answer rather than asking who doesn't? The kids who know the answer don't provide much, when you come to think about it, but asking a kid who doesn't know the answer to come up to the board for help with by the teaching in figuring things out can provide much to the others -- including those who knew the answer, but, perhaps, couldn't tell you how they came up with answer if you held a snake to their heads.

I've been pondering several kinds of courage, trying to understand why we (that includes me, here) tend to show such bravado but balk when it comes to turning talk into action. Here's what I've come up with so far. Adrian Furnham talks about the courage to fail. He hints at the courage to innovate. I don't see being "fearless" here, though some might see if differently. Fearlessness, like color blindness, is evidence of a disability in a key adaptive area. People who claim to be fearless scare me, frankly. They pretend not to see threats, but seem to let others take the hits when things go awry. Color blindness, well, isn't something you can have and get a job printing 4-color materials.

Innovation comes when people can fail. Now, by failing, I mean flat-out didn't work, screwed the pooch, f-ing it up. There's nothing like trying to dry your travel mug by holding it out the window at 55 miles/hour and dropping that rascal that will teach you something very valuable. I figured out some really important things about who the right clients are by having worked with the wrong ones (slow pay, slow thinking, low risk tolerance, high fear, lots of excuses -- get it?). Now, I can spot the wrong ones, Name That Tune style, after just a couple of notes. That also means that I can find the right ones almost as quickly.

Furnham talks about interpersonal courage -- the kind of of state where you can be with a customer or employee's strong emotions and not get upset just because they are. This is the skill of the manager who doesn't try to shut up a crying woman employee who's complaining of harassment -- just because he can't stand seeing someone cry -- and risk landing the company in court when it goes to the hounds.

The last kind of courage here is interpersonal courage. When Furnham talked about this as the courage it takes to resist temptation, I thought of President Bill Clinton. No wonder he's considered the First Black President: Like so many brothers I know, he can't seem to pass by a sweet, available young thing. As much as the Republicans challenged his policies, they despised him for his moral failings. African and Russian business dealings dealings are long-storied quagmires of bribes and payola, choking much-neede economic development.

Question: Where in your business dealings are you having trouble showing courage? (If you're feeling a little timid, you can answer anonymously). It might be in sales, telling the plain unvarnished truth to your partners about the financial State of your Union, dealing with an employee or resisting the temptation of a delicious-looking married staffer.

Here's a treat: the audio of Bert Lahr (the Cowardly Lion's) Address: Audio mp3 of Address delivered by Bert Lahr where he declares

Cowardly Lion:
Courage. What makes a King out of a slave? Courage.
What makes the flag on the mast to wave? Courage.
What makes the elephant charge his tusk in the misty mist or the dusky dusk?
What makes the muskrat guard his musk? Courage.
What makes the Sphinx the 7th Wonder? Courage.
What makes the dawn come up like THUNDER?! Courage.
What makes the Hottentot so hot?
What puts the "ape" in ape-ricot?
Whatta they got that I ain't got?

All answer: Courage!

Lion: You can say that again!

At One Company, Email Gets Fridays Off

I sat at a coffee shop, trying to get some work done in a different location (you know, the geographical project relocation cure). It wasn't working -- too warm and sunny. I found my attention drawn to the other business types with their Treo-Berries.

Certainly, I was jealous. You know me: Inspector Gadget.

Then, I really started to watch. None of the people was alone; however, each of them put a finger up "hold on" style while they checked to see what the little buzzer what signifying. I wondered how important each of those messages was, whether they could have waited and what the impact was on the relationship with the person across the latte from them.

Listening to NPR (I'm a junkie, listening to NPR, the Daily Show, the Colbert Report...and Bill O'Reilly -- no clue on that last one), I head an article about a company, PBD Worldwide Fulfillment Services who, by edict of Scott Docktor, the CEO, has banned internal emails on Fridays. He spoke of the many unnecessary emails (the CYA's), the manners-zapping ones (a manager emailing during a meeting) and the silly ones (he and his assistant the building...just steps from each other.

Interestingly, he's found that Monday's inbox isn't as full as one would have thought, finding little to no impact. His verdict: more banned email days.

Listen to the NPR audio article.

Friday, September 15, 2006

LNB #021 - When Good Habits Go Bad

Change in your organization is made up of more than discussions of character or morals. Change requires shifting to new habits -- repeatable behaviors that become "automatic" and produce the same results over time.

Lewin's model
: Unfreezing the old habit, moving of transforming behavior, re-freezing an altered or new habit.

Prochaska & DiClemente's Model of Change
: Pre-contemplation (not now), Contemplation (someday, but not today), Preparation (someday soon), Action (now), Maintenance (locking it in).

Get some help. Your organizational and individual habits have staying power. The "buddy system", an advisory council, a Mastermind Group or individual coaching should help you to make the necessary shifts -- and keep you on track when your old systems and habits call

Email to discuss how coaching can help
you win.

Interested in the power of a facilitated Mastermind Group? Click here for more info and to register for an informational session.

Listen Now:

Friday, September 08, 2006

Victory from Defeat!

This was really good. A jilted bride who found out that her man was cheating only after the invites had been sent and the money was spent, turned what could have been a very sad and expensive day into an opportunity to make a difference. Get this: she turned her wedding reception into a charity event and took her mother on her "honeymoon" trip!

Sweet! I love that this woman, at such an upsetting time, had the presence of mind to find another way to think about her situation.

LNB #020 - Make it Simple, Cancel Complexity

Happy 40th Birthday, Star Trek! No one could ever predict that a cancelled television show could spawn 6 series, 10 moves, hundreds of books and an entire language. This ground-breaking program (featuring, among other things, the first televised interracial kiss) was considered a failure after only three seasons. It just didn't fit the mold.

Some Simple Ways to Cancel Complexity in Your Business:

Duration: 29:16 File Size: 7.03 MB

Listen Now:

Friday, September 01, 2006

LNB #019: What Were You THINKING!

One of the biggest challenge for business owners is what we think we know. It gets in the way of our being able to see things in new ways or explore new options.

When asked why an action was taken, most people can't come up with a really well thought-out reason: "Why is your business plan written this way?" Because someone else said to do it. "Why are you at that location?" Because other people who seem to be successful are there.

But, do you understand how you arrived at that decision? Many times our own thinking is a mystery to us.

Please visit my website for books and other materials to challenge your thinking.

Listen Now: 27:01

MP3 File

This is the End of Civilization as We Know It!

I love Shani, my husband's daughter. When I met her, we struck up a conversation in the ladies room at a restaurant. We were chatting very happily together for quite a while before we realized we were there to meet each otherl. We walked out of that ladies room like we'd known each other forever.

It's that a family comes together -- not how it comes together -- that matters.

So, when she called to ask us to watch her on the MTV Video Music Awards, of course I said "yes!". I promised to record it for her and, at 8 last night, settled down to watch (she was going to be one of about 20 dancers painted pink or yellow -- piece of cake).

I cut class to watch MTV's birth. I remember the first two videos -- "Video Killed the Radio Star" (huh?) and Pat Benetar (who I could listen to sing the names in the phone book). MTV has been just like that for me: a collection of hits and misses. Last night was no exception. Jack Black (who is famous for what exactly?) did his best "look-at-me-being arch" routine and was about as funny as tooth extraction with string and a slamming door.

So I waited for Shani's dance number with Busta Rhymes (whose stuff I generally like quite a bit). While I waited, I endured almost 3 hours of inconsistent performances (Justin - yay, OK Go - fine, Beyonce -nice, the Jackass guys - kill me, Al Gore talking about glaciers - what?...really, I mean WHAT!). The statuettes kept falling apart and so did the show.

Finally, there was Busta -- for about a minute. I'm going to have to scan frame by frame to find Shani, but it's worth it. She's perfectly wonderful.

In the end, I turned off the tv and stared at Garland. It was like having watched a traffic pile-up...from inside the pile.

At least I got to see my girl...kind of. Shani's been on SNL dancing with Nelly Furtado and on an Elephant Man video among others.

Keep calling, Shani. I'll be watching -- no matter what!