Be it an innie or an outie, I’m sure you have a perfectly lovely bellybutton. I had mine pierced for a time in my twenties. It was fun to look at. Maybe yours is too. The thing about navel gazing though, is that it’s a great way to fall flat on your face.
So, heads up! Your bellybutton isn’t that great after all.
Failure to let go of what’s ending is one of the most common reasons that people get stuck. When we look to the past, we turn our backs on our future, on potential and on possibilities. And in these times of complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity, heaven knows we all need to focus on possibilities.
In the field of Systems Leadership theory, it’s often mentioned that the Indo-European root of “to lead” is “leith”. It means “go forth”, to “cross a threshold” or “to die”. It’s the death part that scares us so much. But, if we’re going to survive in these times, we must let old ideas, old processes and old ways of being die. Because without their death, there can be no rebirth.
And yet, endings are hard.
Letting things end messes with our sense of certainty...
When faced with complexity, uncertainty and ambiguity as we are in the current health, economic and political climate, it can be tempting to double down on structure, rules, policies and regulations, because these things give us a sense of power. And through that power, control.
The problem is, these forms of power and control aren’t real. They’re an illusion and clinging to them is a recipe for disaster over time.
I'm not saying there should be no org charts, or hierarchy. In fact, organizational hierarchies are a good thing because in theory, they allow people at each level to do their jobs better. Rather than worrying about what everyone else is doing, each individual can focus on their specific area and their specific results. In other words, hierarchy allows for s...
Last week, we talked about the maladaptive system trap known as Success to the Successful. If you haven’t read it, take a peek at it before proceeding with this post.
In the Success to the Successful trap, those who are successful are granted additional advantages that give them the ability to compete more effectively and therefore win more easily in the future. It causes us to double down on what we think has worked for us in the past. The result is the same ideas, the same people, the same tech, the same measurements and the same tools as we’ve always had.
It’s a recipe for long-term lackluster performance.
Here’s what to do about it.
Step 1: Focus on the environment that created the success
Where might there be an unfair advantage? Does your executive team hire people who are exactly like th...
Let’s say Bill and Janet are equally qualified product managers who are each given a critical product development project.
Bill is a good guy, a smart guy and a solid guy. You’ve known guys like Bill your whole life. You know you can count on him. You’re very confident in his abilities.
Maybe Janet is a person of colour. Maybe she’s a recent immigrant. Maybe they’re non-binary. Maybe she didn’t go to the same school as you. Maybe she came from a different socio-economic background than you did. Maybe she practices a different religion than you do. Maybe she’s an atheist and you are not. And maybe, deep down, you have some ideas about what those things represent. And maybe, this leaves you less confident in her abilities.
Janet’s team is solid, but their product is breaking new ground for the...
The world as we knew it came to a screeching stop a few months ago. Some of us were flung into crisis mode, focused on putting out fire after fire. Some of us were left hanging, not quite certain of what to do with our time.
Either way, we were in a state of limbo. Plans were placed on hold. Job searches became even more arduous. Deep uncertainty prevented us from making decisions or even from thinking more than a week or two into the future.
A client of mine recently called these times The Great Pause.
I think she nailed it.
But now, we’re emerging. We’re not quite certain what we’re emerging into, but we know it will be different from what was.
I call these next times The Great Reboot.
In the Great Reboot, we will have to rethink everything we assumed to be true, even just three months ago. Wh...
You may or not have been aware of it, but in the pre-pandemic world, there was a certain rhythm to your life. You got up at a particular time. You had a morning routine. You had a commute. You had an “arrive at the office” routine. There were coffee meetings and elevator chit chats. And of course, there was the endless barrage of meetings and calls and emails and decisions and conflict and celebration and boredom and excitement.
For many of us, the rhythm of the old world was a gallop. Baddadump. Baddadump. Baddadump. Baddadump. We galloped from one thing to the next. Fast and furious. Forward, forward, forward, as fast as we could go.
And then, the pandemic.
My client Caroline is a super star product manager. And in the old world, she loved everything about the gallop. She loved her commute...
First of all, let’s get one thing straight. You’re not a terrible person.
I know this because I’ve been in your shoes. I once had to spend a day laying off 27 people one at a time from a magazine that I created, and that had failed. It was an awful day. I had nightmares about it for weeks, and even now, more than a decade later, despite the fact that each of those 27 people landed somewhere else, I feel the burden of it.
More than half of the people and clients I talk to these days have been forced to let staff go. And each and every one of them is heartbroken. And in pain. None of them wanted this. All of them tried to find a better solution. But, it had to be done.
I feel terribly for those who have lost their jobs in the past few weeks. But I also have enormous compassion for those wh...
There was the initial frenzy of terrible, painful decisions, crisis management and figuring out new ways of working. And, then there were discoveries of the small delights. The dog has never been happier. More time with the family. It’s nice to see more of the kids. Movie nights, fun and games. Getting up to speed on the whole home-schooling thing. Evening Zoom cocktail hour. And of course… sour dough baking.
It was all new. And new is better than not new.
Or as Voltaire put it:
“If we do not find anything very pleasant, at least we shall find something new.”
But now… it’s a slog.
I bet you can feel it already. My first pang was when I had writer’s block last week, I thought I’d just pop over to my local coffee shop to work. A change of scenery has unblocked me before. And then I remembered – o...