Dream well. You may find yourself there.

Jim Loehr on Stress Management from G. Shawn Hunter on Vimeo.
I had a mentor once who said to me, “Dream well. You may find yourself there one day.” According to Jim Loehr, the stories we tell ourselves become our realities and to ensure you build a story of fulfillment, engagement, passion and joy, your story needs to have three distinct elements: truth, purpose and action. The truth part is really important. For example, are you telling yourself you need to check your email at 11pm or you will fall behind in your work? Or that you had no time to exercise or call your grandmother. Or that you need to hide your work from other departments because they’ll just steal it and take the credit? The story you tell yourself over and over becomes your truth so be careful what you mumble to yourself on your commute.

Next your story needs purpose. This is the part where you DO something to get to what you are trying to accomplish. And finally your story needs passion, because without it you’ll never get to the action part. Is your story compelling to yourself? Enough to make you jump into action?

A final thought on this – Dan Gilbert reminds us in Stumbling on Happiness that we are frequently a poor judge of what will actually make us happy, and often don’t even remember accurately what did make us happy in the past. He also advises it’s important to keep the happy end in mind – the dramatic change – as you are more likely take action.  Dan reminds that we respond very little to incremental change, but respond abruptly to drastic change. Toward the end of the book he offers solutions but cautions you aren’t likely to follow his advice. Ultimately you derive the greatest happiness in the present. Enjoy!

Act Sooner, Reach Higher

michael_hammer1.jpgThe first fifty times you say something people won’t hear you. The second fifty times you say it, they won’t understand. And the third fifty times they won’t believe you. If you want to affect real systemic change you need to repeat your message over and over and over. That’s just the first part. If you want the change to stick, you need to remove the ‘blockers’ – those naysayers, cynics and the coalition of the unwilling. John Kotter says the same thing – if you think you can co-opt the unwilling, you’re wrong. If you think you just need to get them “vested in the process,” you’re wrong. Get them out of the way instead. And finally it takes passion. Passion like you read about – the kind that is fun, enduring, serious, committed, connected, intense!

Michael Hammer’s group interviewed a group of highly successful companies that had undergone successful massive change initiatives and they said two things that may surprise you. That they should have been even more ambitious and they should have acted sooner. That is, knowing what they know having been through the process, they could have reached and achieved even higher goals.

Building a change initiative

john_kotter.jpgMany managers spend considerable amounts of time and energy to co-opt whole populations across teams to build consensus for a change initiative. We can spend enormous amounts of energy trying to pull all parties into the tent, working to ensure that as many people at all levels of the organization are on board. Of course there will be detractors – those who nay say, or object in either public or passive manners. So you think you just need to spend a little extra time and energy explaining the benefits, or appealing to their ego, or sense of power acquisition and you believe you simply need to get them vested in the process. You think by offering a key position on the steering committee, you’ll finally gain their buy-in.

According to John Kotter, if the person has enough conviction in their opposition to the change initiative, it’s not worth it. Get them out of the way through distraction or dis-involvement. Because ultimately these saboteurs can do more damage inside a change initiative and are highly unlikely to turn-around their thinking and support. Good luck!

Are you a Bottle Rocket?

obeng.jpgI ripped through Vince Poscente‘s The Age of Speed in probably about the time it was intended to be read – an airplane ride. He had a fun chapter on those kinetic new-age knowledge working noise-makers, or what he calls “bottle rockets.” You know them – these are people who embrace speed over substance. Bottle Rockets toss off emails as quickly as they come in, lob ideas during conversations without listening clearly or having strong understandings of the issues involved, and generally pursue speed to the point of explosive uncontrollability. Their trajectories are always errant and inevitably terminate nose first into the ground.

Shortly after this book we had the opportunity to film Eddie Obeng at London Business School, who made a similar analogy and suggested that people recognize this behavior and in fact prey on it. People recognize Bottle Rockets and constantly ping them knowing they are readily willing to shoot off in tangents. His philosophy is to turn the equation upside down. Eddie says the way to stay focused is to start with the end in mind. Clearly articulate the end goal and work neatly backward removing extraneous activities and collaborations. By starting with the end, you and your team can collaborate with intent and focus.