Key point: Meditation is becoming a mainstream practice among business leaders. What happens in meditation is that the speedy mind begins to slow down and things begin to settle, like the mud sinking to the bottom of a puddle of water when it is left undisturbed. When this settling has occurred, a clear understanding of the way things work in the mind takes place. Make time to meditate. It is a proven and vital aspect for personal development.
My web site manager, John King at Highwaters Media, emphasized the importance of meditation in his life and he tipped me to the muddy water metaphor. I think it’s a very powerful way of describing the benefits of meditation. Some of the world’s most successful entrepreneurs/public figures, like Richard Branson, Oprah Winfrey, the late Steve Jobs, have publicly discussed the importance of meditation in their daily routine. The Huffington Post recently reported that 32 percent of entrepreneurs are now meditating for introspection and goal seeking to set up personal and business improvement.
In 2007, Fortune magazine reported about a crowd of Harvard Business School alums gathered at their reunion to hear networking expert Keith Ferrazzi speak about the importance of meditation. It was rather avant-garde for mainstream, western business leaders to focus on the value of meditation. The irony of that presentation was the man whose book is Never Eat Alone credited much of his success to alone time. He spends ten days every year at a silent meditation retreat. Nowadays every executive seems to have a career coach and my understanding is that many of the most successful coaches insist on their clients making some form of meditation a daily ritual.
Where are you on applying the principle of stillness to allow the muddy water to settle?
If you like the idea of it but aren’t enacting some form of daily meditation, even for a few minutes, you are missing the benefits that have been widely used in many cultures for thousands of years. I know that I have much room for improvement here. Not having time is an unacceptable excuse.
Explore what mediation principles and techniques are used by people you admire. Try what would work for you.
Like most things we practice regarding The Character Triangle, start slowly and bit by bit it becomes a habit and part of our development process. (I have been using Dr. Wayne Dyer’sWishes Fulfilled meditation CD and I like it). It is pretty elementary by zen master standards but it works for me at this point in my meditation practice.
Key point: I have done about 20 radio interviews related to my new book and I’m pleased that there has been wide spread interest in the subject of “character” and the unique elements of The Character Triangle. The radio shows have been with stations in urban and rural markets, in literally every region of America and across all spectrums of listening audiences (age, ethnicity, race, religious affiliation, political leanings, etc). Every group feels that The Character Triangle applies to them. It is perceived as practical and inclusive. That is very gratifying. Thank you for being part of The Character Triangle tribe and being committed to your own character development. And thank you for inspiring others by applying The Character Triangle (CT) in your life.
Radio show hosts tell me that audience response has been overwhelmingly positive and the message is received with enthusiasm. The conversation that seems to spark the most reaction is the idea that we as humans are “verbs” and our purpose in life is to constantly develop our character and ourselves. It takes increased understanding, improved presence and observation, skill practice, and eventually habit development. The use of the CT as a playbook is a useful metaphor.
The following radio show is one of my recent ones with a very experienced and long-time successful radio personality, Trevor Crow. She has a Harvard MBA, and is very accomplished in all matters related to relationships. She has been on CNN and a variety of other top-notch media channels. I hope you can find the time to listen to it.
Remember that we are verbs and that conscious personal development is a purpose in its own right.
You are not alone; we all need to work on character development. None of us can say we have “arrived” and need no further improvement.
Remember that our character is bounded by the darkest secrets we hold. We need to build from there and that takes constant renewal. Easter, Passover and Spring all remind us that it is a good time for self-forgiveness, redemption and accepting our right to blossom again.
Key point: Each of us must determine the benefit and desire to reinvent ourselves through a process of creative destruction. We benefit and thrive from being relentless at finding ways of providing more value and evolving as personal contributors at work. This does not mean we can’t be content. However I believe we must be content by having a mind set of continuous individual growth and improvement. I personally believe our purpose in life is to evolve and make a positive contribution. This involves creatively destructing and reconstructing what we do and who we are becoming. Where are you on this challenge? Do you embrace the idea or does it scare you?
MIT economist Daron Acemoglu and Harvard political scientist James Robinson have a fascinating new book out entitled Why Nations Fail. In it they highlight the value of creative destruction in thriving nations. One element that has historically allowed America, Canada and other nations to excel is an environment where new models of providing better value are encouraged. That concept made me think about creative destruction at an individual and personal level. If I get lazy or pedestrian about my personal growth and value, then I should not be surprised when I’m replaced. Frankly, I’m amazed when I hear people talk about permitting technology to pass them by, (“Twitter is stupid,” “Who cares about Social Media?”). I’m also struck by comments like “why read any new business books? There is nothing new anyway.” To me these views are signals inviting replacement and likely not in a self-driven, creative or even desirable way. And if that’s what you want, ok… As long as you accept the consequences.
What are you doing to creatively destruct and reconstruct yourself in your career (life)? Are you proactive or just hoping everything turns out well? Are you hoping somebody or group will protect you or are you challenged and excited about continuous creative reconstruction?
How will you be able to provide more value to your organization? Family? Self? At the end of 2012 from where you are today?
Are you invigorated by or scared of change? Recognize when you are consciously stepping off the value track at work, versus unceremoniously being replaced by a better way. To me that is the definition of retirement, whether you are 25 or 65 years of age.
Key point: I have written a number of blogs regarding the disabling impact of fear, perhaps best captured by the acronym; False Expectations Appearing Real. However, I have not given enough attention to the positive counterbalance of applying constructive paranoia. Jim Collins and Morten T. Hansen describe three key dimensions of productive paranoia in their recently published, best selling book Great by Choice. The research in this book applies to companies, but I believe the same lessons learned apply to us individually. Each of us benefit from having a framework to be constructively paranoid. What is your strategy for positive paranoia?
Leading Above the Death Line
Collins and team’s research pointed out that the most sustainable, successful companies know that they cannot reliably and consistently predict future events. They prepare obsessively - ahead of time, all the time – for what they cannot possibly predict. They assume that a series of bad events can wallop them in quick succession, unexpectedly and at any time. I think the same research implications apply to us in our personal careers. It’s the decisions and disciplines and shock absorbers we have in place, that matters most in determining whether we move ahead or falter when a storm hits…And one (or more) surely will. The authors contend that we need to be prudent in how we approach and manage risk, paying special attention to three categories of risk:
Death Line risk (which can kill or severely damage the enterprise).
Asymmetric risk (in which the downside dwarfs the upside).
Uncontrollable risk (which cannot be controlled or managed).
They also suggest the following 3-pronged approach to prepare for a wallop:
Build cash reserves and buffers to prepare for unexpected events and bad luck before they happen.
Bound risk – Death Line risk, asymmetric risk, and uncontrollable risk – and manage time-based risk.
Zoom out, then zoom in, remaining hyper-vigilant to sense changing conditions and respond effectively.
I really like the “zoom out, zoom in” analogy. Great companies and individuals, by choice, focus on their objectives and sense changes in their environment. They push for perfect execution and adjust to changing conditions. When they sense danger, they immediately zoom out to consider how quickly a threat is approaching and whether it calls for a change in plans. Then they zoom in, refocusing their energies into executing objectives.
Asses your readiness for an unexpected “storm” in your work life
What are your reserves? (Not just cash reserves but skill reserves). What are the risks? How will you bound them?
Think about how you would “zoom out” and then “zoom in” when hit by that personal tornado.
Have your antennae up ALL the TIME! Build skill equity into yourself every day to make yourself more valuable. Work your network NOW. Waiting until you need help is too late. Have some cash AND skill reserves. (DO NOT FORGET to get long term disability insurance).
The constant in Lorne’s diverse career is his ability to successfully lead organizations through significant change. At US West, where he served as a Vice President / Company Officer, Lorne was one of only seven direct reports ... Read more about Lorne Rubis
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Our character is exclusively ours. We define it by how we think and what we do. I believe that acting with Character is driven by what I call the Character Triangle.
What, exactly, is the Character Triangle (CT)?
The CT describes and emphasizes three distinct but interdependent values:
Be Accountable: first person action to make things better, avoiding blame. Be Respectful: being present, listening, looking again, focusing on the process. Be Abundant: generous in spirit, moving forward, minimizing the lack of.