Key Point: The indescribable hurt we feel from the horrific shooting at the Newtown, Conn. school this week is palpable. Sometimes “enough” really becomes “enough.” Americans, and to various degrees, the rest of the world, must have a crucial conversation about the devastating relationship between mental illness and assault weapons. We cannot close our eyes and hope “it” goes away. We know this is going to happen again and again if we do not allow ourselves to discuss the situation, with a meaningful path of action towards a more acceptable future state.
What can you and I do? What is in our control? At the most basic level, the one thing we can do is set an example by learning and practicing the skills required to participate in conversations when the stakes are high. We have the tools and knowledge, but it also means possessing the will and respect to be open to the possibility that it’s not just “my way or the highway.” We have to be open to the prospect of other views and paths suggesting a better way.
Recognize your worldview is only one. We consciously or subconsciously filter what we see based on our deeply held beliefs. At best, this anchors us. At worst, it closes our minds to possibilities and promotes intellectual dishonesty. This kind of ignorance has contributed to much of our inhumanity. As an example, a movie like Spielberg’s Lincoln, gives us a window into how much we gave to change views on slavery.
Commit yourself to learning and practicing how to manage crucial conversations. There are numerous very good models for doing this. Check this out as an example. This is not about how you can learn to convince another person that your view is right, it is about mutually finding a better way to a more desirable state.
Learn how to apply this at home and work first. If we can all get better on a “local” level, perhaps we can increase our ability to effectively have crucial conversations on a broader scale. The alternative is to allow the unacceptable to repeat. If we allow that to happen, it’s because we do not have the will, focus and competence to change it for the best. And that is definitely living without character.
Key Point: If you have a growth mindset, you see change as an inevitable part of life. While change doesn’t exist for its own sake, success is only possible if leaders, employees and organizations embrace new ideas and new ways of doing business. It bugs me when people cry out for “change management,” like an inoculation against whooping cough. It’s like if some one can just magically come up with seven steps, change will be seamless and all good. Often times I hear people actually asking for things NOT to change and impact them personally when they’re seeking out change management. They seem to be saying, “I liked the other way better. I know it is going to be different but why does it have to involve me doing anything differently?” Is this thinking just a bunch of manure? I think so.
I do believe there are key elements that when applied help us navigate changing circumstances. Harvard’s John Kotter is arguably one of the most well regarded change experts and his eight steps include:
1. Create urgency.
2. Form a powerful coalition.
3. Create a vision for change.
4. Communicate the vision.
5. Remove obstacles.
6. Create short-term wins.
7. Build on the change.
8. Anchor the change in the corporate culture.
Ok… These are all solid considerations and from a top down approach, they make perfect sense. My argument is that in the world we live in, change is a continuous process and NOT an event. Customers, technology, markets, competition, are so tornado-like that the above model may be too pedestrian, top down, and event based. And it misses they key ingredients for change… You, me and how we think. The key to ongoing successful change is the mindset of all people involved in the eco system impacted by changes AND NOT the mythical “center of change management.” Let me work with people who have a propensity for continuous growth and a commitment to creating value and we will work as a system of continuous, proactive change… Not an old, top down, lazy organization, hoping to compel people that change is needed. By the time organizations look to embrace “change” they are likely spiraling towards less relevance and even dissolution.
Define yourself as a never-ending value creating human, adding worth for everyone (including yourself) on an ongoing basis and you will be constantly evolving. You will more prepared when events around you rock your world… And they surely will!
Do not resist. Determine how to navigate and make changes work for you, regardless of how much it shakes up your routine. Sometimes this means leaving the “system” and starting something else.
Recognize that everything ends some time. Celebrate the best of what you enjoyed about the past and move on. Stop whining, asking, “why is this happening?” Or wishing “they would have done IT better.” If you look closely there is an opportunity waiting. The longer you resist accepting that things have or are changing, the more you will cloud the opportunity.
Enjoy the present but do not stand still. Presence and being static are different.
Greg Brown, the current President and CEO of Motorola Solutions, was speaking to about 1500 channel partners at a recent conference. He was extremely engaging and personable as he recounted the personal pain he experienced shortly after taking over as CEO of Motorola Inc. effective January 1, 2008. The position was something he deeply aspired to but shortly after assuming the top job, the company began to fall apart. The combination of market pressures on the cell phone business and the deep recession left the company reeling and spiraling downward. The stock was at an all time low and everyone one was upset: investors, customers, suppliers, and of course employees. Brown talks of losing 35 pounds in 45 days and staggered under extreme personal stress. One late night, another sleepless endeavor, found Brown pacing his living room. Eventually his wife, whom he’d been with since high school, came to his side and firmly but constructively confronted him. To paraphrase his wife, “Greg, you are pacing around here carrying the world on your shoulders and making yourself the center of all that’s wrong. The people of Motorola don’t know what’s what. What the 60,000 employees want out there is for you to lead!” Greg Brown goes on to describe that as “the moment” – that inflection point where he chose to start acting differently. The story of a turn around and splitting of the company into two thriving entities concludes the tale.
In the world of being more self accountable, sometimes we need “that moment.” It is usually a time where we say to ourselves …enough! I am going to start now. One step at a time but I am resolved to make things better. It is me. I’m the one who can and will do it. There are going to be no more excuses. No one else including me is to blame. But, I’m in charge of myself. You may recall one of my earlier blogs where Jamie Bruner, the current CEO of Kinetix Living, left the world of being over 300 pounds to become a fitness champ and leading purveyor of nutrition and wellness. He bent over in a restaurant and slit his pants from stem to stern …enough …that moment. Literally, that night the change began. That moment.
Character Move: look for that moment. It’s looking for us. Decide that today or this hour or this minute is going to be the time to start that change. Be accountable. Be honest. Start now.
“A colostomy reroutes the colon so that waste products leave the body through a hole in the abdomen, and it isn’t anyone’s idea of a picnic. A University of Michigan-led research team studied patients whose colostomies were permanent and patients who had a chance of someday having their colostomies reversed. Six months after their operations, patients who knew they would be permanently disabled were happier than those who thought they might someday be returned to normal.”
“Why would we prefer to know the worst than to suspect it? Because when we get bad news we weep for a while, and then get busy making the best of it. We change our behavior, we change our attitudes. We raise our consciousness and lower our standards. We find our bootstraps and tug. But we can’t come to terms with circumstances whose terms we don’t yet know. An uncertain future leaves us stranded in an unhappy present with nothing to do but wait.”
In the current work environment for most of us, regardless of position or tenure, there is very little certainty. In fact I believe uncertainty is the new normal so although Gilbert’s point is valid, we have to accept uncertainty as certainty or we will struggle to find a reasonable level of happiness at work. The antidote is acceptance and understanding that whatever you and I have at work is temporary. We need to savor the moment and continuously prepare for the inevitable change that is around the corner. Connecting back to Gilbert’s earlier point, this means always being in a bootstrap mode regarding our personal development. A backup plan by its existence then gives each of us a little more certainty.
When people come to me in my role as CEO looking for assurance, the only real certainty I can give them is to confirm their belief in the likelihood of material future change is warranted, and to prepare as best as they can. So rather than getting nervous and becoming mesmerized by inevitable change, we all need to get going on our personal development plans to become more sought after and skilled contributors.
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.