The Paradox of Becoming Both Full and Empty

Abundance Contribution Purpose

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Story: On a cold, misty morning in late Oct. 2017, after 11 previous attempts, Brad Gobright and Jim Reynolds broke the standing speed record for climbing the Nose of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park – with an unbelievable new time of two hours, 19 minutes, and 44 seconds. According to Wikipedia, The Nose is one of the original technical climbing routes up El Capitan. Once considered impossible to climb, El Capitan is now the standard for big-wall climbing. In 1958, it took a team more than 15 days to climb it the first time. Then, three guys who looked like a hippy rock-n-roll band, were the first to climb it in one day in 1975. Today, for the fittest of climbers, the ascent still takes two to four days. Could you imagine in 1958, telling the first group (who were treated with much fanfare for their feat), “well, 60 years from now, two guys will do it in a couple of hours.” WOW!

Key Point: I’m writing this while lying in my hammock, under the shade of a motherly maple tree. It is about 34 degrees Celsius (93 F), with a soft breeze. Emotional yum! I am feeling totally full of gratitude after wrapping up a wonderful climb of my own over the last few years, and also surprisingly empty. It’s a rather satisfying kind of “empty” though, as in: Spent, depleted, and ready to be rinsed out too. Perhaps for a refuel? Refill?

What I wonder about, drifting aimlessly during my lazy afternoon hammock swish, is what it would be like to live in a world where one billion people truly loved their work. The prevailing data is that most people hate or are ambivalent about their jobs. Could thousands of organizations adopt a common set of powerful guiding principles, and still uniquely apply them to create phenomenal organization cultures everywhere? Why not? Someone had to ask: “How can you climb El Capitan in less than 2.5 hours?” and then did it! So, I guess that’s why we need to get to empty? So we can ask ourselves what the refill or refuel could be? Right now, I’m just enjoying snoozing, dreaming and letting “wouldn’t it be cool if?” questions drift into that warm lake breeze. Hmm.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. We know that people cannot stay in the performance zone continuously. One has to intentionally rest, refuel, and perhaps even refill differently. Getting to full and empty is important. Staying at empty for too long is unhealthy. Recognize that with us humans, feeling totally full might also mean we may be close to empty. A peculiar paradox. Where are you?
  2. I’ve had this hammock for years. I’ve put it up every summer, and never once laid in it for more than 10 minutes. Now, I’m wondering why? This weekend, promise yourself you will put up a hammock or do something similar. Maybe it’s as simple as an afternoon snooze. Everything will be ok without you for 30 minutes. Refuel. Refill. Even a little. You’re worth it! You might even dream BIG!

Full and Empty in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

One Millennial View: My initial thought is that I truly don’t know anyone who sincerely “hates” what they do for a living. But, maybe that’s me being naive. After all, it’s a common enough study, and perpetuated by mainstream music and media. In real life though, who would want to admit that? It is worth some reflection, and perhaps some refueling and refilling on a Saturday to ask yourself why what you do on Monday is truly what you want to get out of your metaphorical hammock for. It couldn’t possibly be harder to answer than climbing The Nose, and if it is, maybe that should hit you on the nose. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

My Company. Want to Join?

Accountability Organizational culture Purpose

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Story: So how are we doing in terms of creating great places to work? The following are stats for the U.S. as of 2017. (Let’s assume for the purpose of this blog, that the numbers for Canada and Europe are in the same ballpark).

51 percent of the U.S. workforce is not engaged (Gallup).

Disengaged employees cost organizations between $450 and $550 billion dollars annually (The Engagement Institute).

16 percent of employees said they felt “connected and engaged” by employers (EmployeeChannel).

There’s a lot more data, and little of it is sterling in terms of really positive trends. We don’t seem to be making much progress creating great workplaces.

Key Point: Most organizations are still struggling to create workplaces where participants are treated as fully functional, self-accountable, highly capable, trustworthy, well-intended adults. When one stand backs and looks at most institutional structures and processes, you realize they were built for an industrial era rather than modern one. How would you like to work for an organization that had the following attributes? 

  1. Purpose matters most. You join because you want to make the purpose more true everyday. Not just for a job. WHY the company exists, is clear, inspirational, and advances humankind. 
  2. Three values drive every part of the company; Self Accountability, Respect and Abundance. Every day starts for all with a quick reflection on the purpose and values.
  3. The business model constantly evolves to achieve the purpose. People are always first AND focused totally on how everything they do impacts the customer experience.
  4. Jobs and roles are fluid. Expectations are clear at both the individual and team level. Work constantly pivots to get the right stuff done for the customer.
  5. Every development conversation is aimed at helping people do what they’re good at, passionate about, and how value is created.
  6. Each leader is publicly rated by all, daily. The results are transparent and there for everyone to see. The same goes for each team member. There are NO stupid annual performance reviews. Results and behaviors are transparent, respectful, candid and deeply appreciated. When trends are negative, people are expected to reach out for help. All team members need to help and move the trend in a positive direction. Peer coaching in the context of work, is an everyday practice.
  7. Anyone can leave the company with a fair, pre-determined severance package at any time. Every team member has total control. The organization can also remove anyone at anytime with the same formula. No any one person can hire or fire (unless an egregious act of disrespect requires an immediate firing). Both hiring and firing is done after careful data-driven assessments by a small panel of team members.
  8. Pay and compensation benefits are fully transparent, and on a platform designed for a person of one, based on individual changing needs. 10 percent of all compensation is added for personal learning investment determined by each employee at their discretion. 
  9. Personal Time Off and vacation is determined by each person. Take what you need, when. Of course, the company values are thoughtfully applied. Employees are considerate and keep the impact to team members, customers and results in mind.
  10. Health care is aimed totally at keeping people healthy in every way. No designated sick time off. Take what’s needed. Stay as healthy as possible.
  11. Work where, when, and how you need to for the best results. Dress code is what helps you get stuff done.
  12. There is an annual profit share open and transparent to all. The more profit, the more everyone wins.
  13. Don’t be an ass.
  14. Ensure the customer becomes your best advertiser. 

Leadership Moves:

  1. Seriously consider the framework and rules behind the way you work. Do they make sense? Would you work for a company with the above framework? Why? Why not?

Loving and advancing humans everyday,

Lorne

One Millennial View: I think everyone can be extremely attracted to the autonomy, freedoms, and values that this company offers. We Millennials, especially, would need to keep in mind that this also requires a ton of discipline, transparency and honesty. Perhaps at a more extreme level than we’re used to. How long till answering No. 6 above just turns into a “yeah yeah, everyone’s performing great,” when maybe they’re not? How long till that negatively affects No. 12? This is an inspiring system, but is human nature ready for it? If not, let’s individually ask ourselves what we need to do so we can be. 

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

50 Years New!

Growth mindset Purpose Respect

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Story: She started with our company in 1968 when she was 17-years-old, and will soon be celebrating a 50 year anniversary, our longest tenured employee. Her parents literally wanted her to stay on the family farm. Instead, she applied one of the most important principles that thriving people do; she respectfully chose to live the life she desired rather than what others wanted for her.

Key Point: Out of consideration for her privacy, I will not share personal details. However, I would like to outline some of her (let’s call her Gloria) lessons from a journey of 50 years:  

  1. Be totally positive, and honestly realistic. Most situations, and almost every day has a bright side if you learn to frame it that way. Who wants to work with negative, cynical people?
  2. Embrace change and learn to love it. Actively seek it out. When you reflect on what change most often involves, it is much better than the status quo. Individuals and organizations have a responsibility to continuously move forward.
  3. Be an intentional, constant learner, continuously adding to your expertise, social/emotional skills, and be fearless in trying new things. This is tied to No. 2 above. Do NOT be complacent and think you’ve “gone as far” as you need to. If you stop, you will be left behind.
  4. Have fun every day. If you’re not laughing, you’re not living. Live the life you want in the present, rather than just hoping for a better state in the future.
  5. Whatever you do, when you put others first, things usually turn out for the best. Learn to keep your ego in check.
  6. If you’re a leader, commit to developing others first and do not make it all about yourself. Gloria’s best leaders have behaved this way.
  7. Have enough room in your life for that “convertible hot car” or something that makes life more fun.
  8. Be humble enough to do what needs to be done to move the organization, or the team forward. During her career Gloria has done everything from janitorial work to sophisticated financial advising. Roll up one’s sleeves and make things happen by taking on tough problems, and keeping the customer first .
  9. Failing at something does not mean one is a failure. Moving forward includes having the courage to get things done, with the understanding that one is going to goof up along the way. Get up, jump in the convertible, and accelerate to the next destination.
  10. When you do the above, 50 years zip by… Like 1968 was just yesterday. And more importantly, you will be driving down a highway that is always going forward. More often than not, the road is one worth taking.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. It is unlikely any of our readers will spend 50 years at one company. Nevertheless, Gloria’s lessons apply to us all. They are retro and modern at the same time. You have likely heard all of Gloria’s advice before. The question to ask yourself is, do you really live/work this way?

Riding with Gloria in Personal Leadership,

– Lorne

One Millennial View: There’s a reason Millennials seek guidance and advice from people like Gloria. It’s true wisdom that can’t really be achieved from a newage textbook, podcast, or YouTube video. Thanks to her great service and willingness to share valuable insight, we’re lucky enough to get a true education 50 years in the making.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

 

Leaders: Connect the Friggin’ Dots

Accountability Purpose Transformation

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Key Point: Leaders, stop whining there is too much to do, and start translating and connecting the dots. Most often, it’s NOT that organizations are asking too much. The challenge is that leaders can be better at explaining and linking the initiatives so that they are accessible to all. And team members, get over yourselves and learn this stuff.

Organizations are like layered cakes, and activities flow at every level. Is it possible to have the people in an organization focus on the following elements at the same time?

  • Purpose.
  • Values.
  • Exponential.
  • 10x.
  • Customer obsessed.
  • Growth mindset.
  • Digital competence.
  • Agile.
  • Lean.
  • Engagement.
  • Collaboration.
  • Flow.
  • Transformation.
  • System thinking.
  • Minimal viable products.
  • 85/10/5 consumption.
  • Big data/data science.
  • Silo busting.
  • Cult brands.
  • AI/Machine learning.
  • Cloud.
  • Massive Transformative Purpose.
  • Etc.

The answer is YES, and effective leadership has to TRANSLATE and CONNECT so people at all levels understand the relationships, along with helping people make personal, emotional connections to each concept or initiative, while they do their jobs. It is much more of an inclusive than additive exercise.

The above is hardly an exhaustive list, and my explanation in the appendix below (if you care to read it), is cursory at best. However, understanding and decisively applying each element is VITAL to people in organizations, regardless of industry, location or size.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Leaders: Stop being big babies and complaining about capacity and the challenge of translating/connecting. If it’s too much, go somewhere off the grid and grow cabbage.
  2. Team members: Stop whining about consumption. Be self-accountable enough to absorb and relish ALL (and more). If not, join your pal above in the cabbage patch

Connecting the dots in Personal Leadership,

Lorne

Appendix – Lorne Rubis brief translation/connection to the list:

In ATB Financial’s case, our purpose is labelled as our Story. Its 94 words outline every single person’s WHY. Our values are described in 10 ATBs. These guide our behaviors and commitment to each other. Everything else translates into and connects to the Story and ATBs. Having a growth mindset, exponentiality and 10x, is a way of thinking and working that addresses personal and organizational behavior as it applies to both innovation and transformation. Exponentiality is defined mathematically, while an MTP outlines a very big idea often tied to exponential technology. Agile and Lean involve both prescriptive methodologies and philosophical mindsets. One needs to be clear whether applying an approach and/or the literal tools (where agile words like sprint/scrums, etc. take on literal meaning). MVP is a very fast product or service that can be rapidly customer tested prior to full production. Being customer obsessed is a strategic intention and can also involve very distinct actions based on customer experience science (like customer journey mapping). Big data and data science involves the application of algorithms and predictive data search. Collaboration includes teaming in advanced ways using visual and connective tools residing in modern productivity/communication platforms like Google’s G Suite or Microsoft’s 365. Digital competence includes a digital technology understanding that enables leveraging of advanced digital technology. Flow, systems thinking and silo busting is a way of looking at how an organization works as a connected system rather than disconnected functions (silos). Engagement can be a way of describing how much people feel they can trust and contribute. It can also have a literal meaning like in ATB where it specifically refers to 5,000 people responding to six consistent survey questions. Cloud computing, of course, refers to all data being stored in multiple locations and servers somewhere outside the organization firewall. Machine learning and artificial intelligence are related but different applications of bot technology. 85/10/5 refers to our ability to do daily work and consume new learning expressed in percentage terms. A company becomes a cult brand when its customers feel indispensable loyalty. 

Please add this to the above list to make it more complete and/or accurate.

One Millennial View: No new player has ever been drafted to a sports team and then refused to learn the playbook. This has to be a similar mindset. First of all, you should be going into an interview for the position with an understanding and appreciation for an organization’s mission statement. Incase you squeak through the hiring process without this step, then connecting the dots for yourself is day one stuff. Yeah, it would be helpful if leaders assist with this process, but make a point of doing it yourself. You shouldn’t just do it, you should like it. Or else, I guess people still buy cabbage.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis

My Message to Students (And You)

Accountability Contribution Purpose

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Key Point: Live the life you want, NOT the life you think others expect you to live. This advice is based on research from the wishes of the dying. The biggest regret or “do over” mentioned by those in palliative care is that they spent too much time looking for approval from others, rather than being fully intentional. This is easier said than done. Parents, teachers, family, friends, all play a big role on what we could and should do with our lives.

If you examine the slide at the top of this blog, you can see the intersection and sweet spot that most often results in the most happiness. Doing what you’re good at, love to do, give and receive value for – is a great spot be in. My argument is to also work on the very core of that intersection. Work hard to discover your purpose or “why.” What is your life’s mission? (I’m not specifically talking about a job, or even career). What are your core values? These beliefs guide your daily behavior. What are yours? Who are your others – the positive impact people that you hang with? Who cares about your well being? Who are your loving critics? This includes organizations you invest your time in. All this is never ending personal discovery, and constant work. Your purpose, values and others evolve. We are never done.

Personal Leadership Moves:

  1. Write out what you’re good at and love to do.
  2. Outline how you give and receive value (including a pay check or monetary gain).
  3. Outline your purpose and values.
  4. Specifically name five others who help you thrive, and how organizations you involve your time at are contributing to you.
  5. Stand back and give yourself some reflective time. What ah-ha did you get from putting this down on paper?

Finding the sweet spot in Personal Leadership

Lorne

One Millennial View: This is outstanding advice. While we may not still spend time in a classroom, I think the point is that we never stop being students when it comes to personal leadership development. We might internally voice what our values are, know who our others are, and spend time reflecting. But physically creating a cheat sheet for yourself, and outlining this on paper may truly deliver that ah-ha moment you’re looking for. This seems to be a homework assignment with no due date, because the final draft can always be updated.

– Garrett

Edited and published by Garrett Rubis