Archive for Humor

Oct
21

The View From Where You Are…

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The differences in individuals’ unique viewpoints have been driven into my head several times recently – literally.  My literal “knocking on the noggin” made me pause to think about a more metaphorical view.  How differences in our viewpoint can lead us to different actions.

We have recently moved and things are in that “normal” state of total chaos.  Part of the chaos is working from makeshift furniture as you wait for the “real” furniture to arrive.  I’ve discovered that this wait has come with a bonus, and not a positive one.  What’s my bonus?  I keep knocking my head on a light fixture. 

This experience made me stop to think about why interventions sometimes work but sometimes don’t.

I’ve tried three interventions…but they aren’t working. 

1 – Several times I have placed a chair right under the light.  The intent is a physical barrier I must walk around.  It works for a bit, but the chair keeps moving…

2 – I’ve moved a table under the light.  Somehow the table keeps getting moved too…

3 – I remind myself that I need to remember the light is hanging down.  Hum, brain must be full or the information getting knocked back out because just reminding myself to watch out for the light fixture hasn’t stopped the knots from accumulating on my head.

This doesn’t seem to be a problem for anyone but me… 

Hum, what is their viewpoint I wonder?  How might it differ from mine?

  • For Skyler and Sydney, it’s above their head.  They never think twice about it. 
  • For Bruce, it’s in his line of sight.  He simply walks around. 
  • For myself, it seems to be just out of my visual line of sight, but clearly not out of the physical realm.   I’m the only one experiencing the problem.

During my analysis, I determined two root causes for failure.

1 – I didn’t involve others in my intervention…

It’s not that the chair moved itself, a person moved it.  Bruce had no idea why there being a lone chair in the middle of the room, so he kept moving it where he percieved it to be “out of the way”. 

How often do we institute an intervention but forget to communicate with key individuals that impact our intervention?  In this case, I sure did.  Why didn’t I?  I thought it would be obvious why the chair kept being placed under the light fixture.  Clearly it wasn’t.

2 – I wasn’t solving the problem in the right way…

My third intervention, reminding myself about the light fixture hanging down clearly isn’t working.  The lumps on my head are proof of that.  The multiple mental reminders clearly aren’t enough to fix the problem.  I don’t think about this at the point of need – before I run into the lamp.

Do we need to change our viewpoint more often?

The 5th time I whacked my head I finally stopped to assess the situation a bit deeper.  One of the outcomes of that analysis is this article.

I asked myself how often do we just look at situations from our own viewpoint.  Might we feel that the problem is so obvious that we don’t need to communicate the issue to others?  Then we wonder why others aren’t lining up to agree “yes, that’s a problem”. 

The answer is clear.  They aren’t lining up with our solutions and interventions because the issue/problem is not an issue/problem for them!  It certainly was the case in my example of the light fixture meets the “noggin”. 

Others may naturally go under, around, or above what we keep running into (physically and/or metaphorically).  Why would they see a need to fix or change something if it isn’t a problem for them?  It’s not that they wouldn’t support our needs, they simply may not be aware of what support we need (aka leave the chair in the middle of the room please).  The problem is we haven’t communicated with them – sharing our needs and intentions.

The Lessons Learned…

  • Remember to check the viewpoint from multiple angles.
  • Don’t make assumptions – others may not see or experience what you are.
  • Check to make sure you are solving the right problem.
  • Understand both short-term and long-term solutions. 
  • Communicate.
  • Duck, when walking near that darn chandelier.  It’s heavy and I have enough lumps on my head!
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The Backstory

I have been thinking a lot this past month about the fact that I am a bit out of whack as it relates to Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs.  Ok, so how many of you are thinking “what’s that?” 

Maslow’s hierarchy is something I learned about back in college.  Something that has stuck with me and has demonstrated the power of a good model and/or metaphor.  For those unfamiliar with this model, Maslow’s hierarchy falls within the domain of psychology and was first proposed by Abraham Maslow in 1943.  He explains this model in his 1954 book on Motivation and Personality. 

Now you might be thinking “that’s a very old model – 60 years! – does it really apply today”.  While there are those out there that argue with specifics – typically other psychology theoreticians – his model really is very solid overall.  If you want to read details of the model and the criticisms, you can find them on wikipedia.   

I have personally found Maslow’s hierarchy useful in:

  • Understanding where I am
  • Understanding where others are
  • Understanding where I want to or should focus time and energy
  • Identifying what is most needed and how to best help 
  • Answering the question “are you solving the right problem?” 

I’ve observed that some business interventions (and social too) are geared towards higher levels when the people who are in the midst of the change really need help with feeling that the lower levels are stable.  Something for you to think about during your next Change Program…   How might this affect how you craft Communications?

Maslow’s hierarchy is often seen as a pyramid.  The idea being that you are climbing to the top.  At the top of the pyramid is this concept of self-actualization. 

Self-actualization (in my terms, not necessarily Maslow’s) is when you reach that place of full potential.  You are becoming the person you want to be, what you are capable of, and expressing yourself and your beliefs.  You are truly living who you are.  However, to reach this level, all the other levels must be in place and stable.  In order to self-actualize, you must first master the four levels of needs found below:  physiological, safety, love, and esteem.  

Recently I’ve been feeling like I’m sliding backwards.  I also know that I am not alone in that feeling these days.  With all the chaos in the world these days – layoffs, business challenges, foreclosures – it can be hard to find time and/or energy to focus on yourself.  Where you truly are and who you truly want to be. 

I’ve been thinking about the fact that I want to be working on level 5, but that I seem to be living in the chaos of level 2, safety.  Safety you say?  Well in Maslow’s hierarchy, safety includes the roof over one’s head.  I find it hard to write, share, and support others the way I truly want to when faced with the on-going stress of keeping the house over our family’s head.  Sound like anyone you might know?  Yourself maybe?

The Story

If you have been reading my recent posts you will know that I have been talking (and thinking alot) about Elephants.  Today I realized that I have the big, hairy, ugly Elephant sitting on my shoulder with his trunk shoved into my ear repeating these phrases (or something similar):

  • “you are not good enough”
  • “you can’t keep up”
  • “you are letting other people down”
  • “who are you to think that you can write those books”

Mighty Mouse as envisioned by Sydney Purvis, age 8 upon hearing this story. ~~~@o:>

Guilt, guilt, guilt.  I’m sure you’ve been there, felt that.  Anyone saying “been there, done that”?

Ah ha, I went.  There’s an Elephant.  It’s hitting on my Maslow’s level 4.  I can name it.  It’s the Insecurity Elephant.  I can own it.  I can change it. 

So I decided to take action.  To get out my Mighty Mouse to fight that Elephant.  I’m going to own that Elephant and then kick it off my shoulder – metaphorically that is.

So here’s my Mighty Mouse  ~~~@:> (who I designed earlier today when emailing a friend).  Mighty Mouse, go to work my friend.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Whew. 

In addition to helping myself mentally, when that metaphorical squeak resounded earlier today I thought hey, something to share.  Something to send out to the readers with hope that it helps, even if just a bit.  Bonanza, something that I can do related to Maslow’s level 5!  So here I am tonight, writing. 

Mighty Mouse might be small and often overlooked, but small things can have big impacts.  (Just ask the lady who gets a small box with an engagement ring in it)  Biggest isn’t always best.  Our self-dialog isn’t always helpful.  If nothing else I hope that my Mighty Mouse makes you laugh, even if only inside.  Laughter truly is good for you…in more ways that we often realize.   

I ask you to join me.  Let’s take some control back.  Maybe it will last for just a day, maybe for a week.  But that’s better than before. 

So I’m sending out my Mighty Mouse to visit you.  When in need call to Mighty Mouse.  Feel free to ask Mighty Mouse to help you with any of the Elephant(s) on your shoulder.  Don’t be afraid to send them to visit a friend too, Mighty Mouse travels well over email after all.

Here’s a Mighty Mouse for you.  ~~~@:>  SQUEEAAKEEEEE!!!

Which one are you?

Which one are you?

One for me, one for you, more for me, none for you...
One for me, one for you, more for me, none for you…

If you have seen Forrest Gump, you are likely to remember the line in the movie where he states that life is like a box of chocolates.  You never know what you get.  It’s a memorable statement.  On one hand, it sounds like you need to get started before you know what you have.  On another, it sounds like maybe you should try as many as you can.  At least to a chocoholic like me…   What made this line in the movie so powerful?  The analogy.  Almost everyone could relate to it and could understand the point that Forrest was getting to very quickly. 

I’ve found analogies to be quite useful – at least when your analogy makes sense and your audience “gets it.”   An analogy, as defined by Wikipedia, is a “… cognitive process of transferring information from a particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target), and a linguistic expression corresponding to such a process. … They can play a significant role in problem solving, decision making, perception, memory, creativity, emotion, explanation and communication.”  Whoa, too many big words.  Let’s try that again, in my language.  To me, analogies convey a wealth of information in a short amount of time by allowing you to relate one thing to another.  You apply the properties of one item to another to draw an inference or conclusion.  On a more serious note, for the information junkie and lifelong learners out there, I did find reading and thinking about the Wikipedia definition useful.  I had not processed how many different ways that we use analogies.  I actually use a variation of an analogy for my pictures and underlying text within these ponderings.

The analogy that I have found myself using a great deal lately is people are like rubber bands. 

What, a rubber band you say?  I’m not a little piece of rubber…  No, you are not.  But bear with me and think for a moment about a rubber band.  What comes to mind?  Material?  Uses for the rubber band?  The fact that they wear out?  That they can become brittle?  That they can snap?  That rubber bands come in different sizes?  In different thicknesses?  That some are easier to stretch than others?  Have you thought about how hot and cold can affect their properties?  That children (and some adults who behave like children) like to shoot them at each other? 

What all rubber bands have in common is their ability to expand and contract.  For a rubber band, a few might call it “resilience,” but most simply talk about how stretchy it is. 

People come in different shapes, sizes, colors and strengths.  At times we have more “capacity” to deal with change, we are more resilient.  Other times we have been pulled in six different directions at once and simply have no capacity left.  In “Change Management lanuage,” we often talk of resilience, of resistance to change, or change fatigue.  We often focus on all the outside factors and influences without thinking too much about the inside.  I like to think about both, the inside and the outside view.  Sometimes, the best way that we may be able to help people is to simply help them strengthen their own internal rubber band. 

The question I have for you today is how might the analogy of a rubber band help you not only better understand an individual’s current state, but think differently about how you might help drive effective and more sustainable change?  Changing the factors outside the rubber band are frequently temporary.  Strengthening the rubber band itself can more permanent.

Here’s to hoping that you “get” my rubber band analogy and find a way to build some strength and resiliance within yourself and others.  Find more “stretchiness”  – or find a way to get back some that you use to have.  Cheers!

P.S.  Now go shoot a rubber band and see how it makes you feel.

Are you trying to juggle the world in your hands?

Do you feel like you are trying to juggle the world in your hands?

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about what it takes to be a Change Agent. 

  • What does it really mean to be a Change Agent? 
  • What does it take to drive lasting change?
  • How much physical, mental, and emotional energy does it take to make changes and truly make them stick?

Let’s be honest, it takes a lot of energy to change.  It can be an enormous amount of energy, especially when you are trying to project positive energy into a group.  The more places in your life you are working to make changes, the more people you are trying to impact, the more energy it takes.  I’ve recently determined that I’ve been trying to be a Change Agent in too many places at once – juggling too many balls at once.  I had hit my personal “change fatigue” wall.  I had lost my energy and was feeling like a Zero (O).  (For more information about what I mean by a Zero, refer to my first blog, The Revolution of One).  I was concerned about my ability to remain upbeat and positive.  How had this happened?  I didn’t want to be a O.  Yikes!

After talking with a colleague the phrase “coming from a place of hope” suddenly ran through my mind.  What the heck?  I realized that I was feeling more optimistic than I had the last several days.  I started to analyze (what, me analyze something?):

  • How did I feel mentally, emotionally, and physically at that moment in time?
  • What did this phrase mean to me?
  • Why had it come to mind?

I realized that I had unexpectedly had a “state change”.  While I was still feeling tired and overwhelmed I was now a bit more optimistic.  Not the “light at the end of the tunnel”, rather from a glass half-full rather than half-empty perspective.  It’s the place I want to be.  I believe that we can add or subtract energy from others around us individually and in groups.  That how we feel and the emotions we project affect others.   As I talked with my colleague, I’d been talking about the business environment, my views on change, and my sincere desire to have a positive impact on those around me and on business at large.  There have been huge amounts of stress in the work environment this past year (and at home too) for almost everyone. 

I wasn’t trying to execute anything, just talk about my perspectives and beliefs.  I explained that if I have a personal mission to have a positive impact on others.  That I believe in cascading impacts.  That if I could positively impact one person, they could have a positive impact on someone else, so on and so forth.  That we could together have a large, positive impact on the business environment.  Our own Revolution of sorts.  I think we need it in the business world.

In describing my fundamental beliefs, I had found some new energy.  I remembered the “root reasons” (vs. root cause) that I am a Change Agent.  By simply talking with me and validating my thoughts and work, my friend had been a Change Agent for me – providing some much needed positive reinforcement and new energy. 

It can be hard being the person that rattles cages, raises red flags, and points out the elephants in the room.  Candidly, it’s stressful and exhausting.  I don’t enjoy raising the flags or talking about the elephants, but someone needs to in order to drive long-term, sustainable change.  

Talking about problems, challenges, and pink elephants often raises fear and worry in others.  This can take excessive amounts of emotional energy to help manage effectively.  It’s something that most people are afraid to do, but something that must be done to make real and lasting changes.  You can’t drive successful change if you aren’t willing to discuss problems and history.  If you are not honest and “real” about situations, there will simply be some head nodding in the room when you discuss new or desired behaviors.  When people leave, they will go back to their old behaviors – quicker than you might think.

What my friend had done for me was to validate that while I can’t please everyone and might feel personal stress about acting the “troublemaker,” what I was doing was important.  I had left the conversation with a renewed sense of purpose and personal hope.  “Coming from a place of hope” described how I was feeling at the moment.  It struck me that this too was a powerful thought.  That where there is hope, there are possibilities.  Where there are possibilities, change can happen.  That having a feeling of hope had actually helped counter my feeling of exhaustion (no, not all of it, but some). 

I stepped back from myself to acknowledge that I can’t be “on” all the time as I had been trying to do.  That it’s not realistic to think you can always be a One (1).  While I do want to drive a Revolution, (see The Revolution of One), there are times I might need to be a O, at least for a little while, so that I can go back to being a 1 later on.  That in the real world, unlike my technological metaphor, there are in-between states – ½, ¾, 5/6.  Those are also ok places to be. 

So I decided that for the next several days I’ll focus on the idea of hope, recognize the bumps in the road, acknowledge that there are day’s I might need to be less than a 1.  I’ll remind myself, work on feeling, and believe that I am coming from a place of hope and that’s good enough for now.  I’ll accept that it’s ok to be a ½, neither a O or a 1 for the time being.  I’ll be a ½ with hope for a better tomorrow and the belief that with some rest and sleep (not always the same thing) that I could go back to being the 1 that I want to be. 

So my personal lesson for today was to hold tight to hope and possibilities.  To accept that when you can’t be a whole (1) it’s ok to be a ½.  Give yourself partial credit. 

Change is hard.  Being the Change Agent can be even harder.  Change is tiring and never happens all at once. 

So my wish and hope for all of you is that you too find a piece of hope today and each day forward.  That you give yourself credit for what you have accomplished, rather than focusing on how far you still have to go.  That you find your own place of hope, piece of inspiration, and some renewed belief.  This can come from the smile of a colleague or a child, taking time to stop to look out a window at the flowers and trees (or the snow if it’s winter).  Find something in your environment around you that you can draw inspiration and hope from.  Stop, Look, and Listen not to understand others better, but to pause for yourself.  To give yourself a break and some personal recognition. 

I ask that you can continue to join me as we make our own Revolution at whatever level you can, one day at a time, one person at a time, one situation at a time.  For today, I’ll continue to focus on being a Change Agent-at-Large, even only at half-strength.  I’ll keep my hope for better tomorrow.  I absolutely believe that together we can change many things.  A little bit at a time isn’t simply good, it’s GREAT.

So here is my “true confession.”  I actually drafted this article several months ago.  Life (and all the winter flu varieties) simply got out of control and I never finalized this post.  Some days I felt a bit guilty, but I worked to remind myself that any forward progress was good and 1/2 was ok.  I asked myself if it really mattered if the story went up in October or in January.  You, the reader don’t really care do you?  As I start the New Year and seek to post articles and stories more actively, I pulled the draft of this article out and made the final edit.   

So what are the key messages I hope you take from this article?

  • Being a Change Agent is hard work.  It can be stressful and exhausting.  But if you don’t do it, who will?
  • It’s critical to rattle the cages, raise flags, and point out the elephants.  If you don’t talk about them and address them, it is unlikely that change with “stick”.  Again, if you don’t do it, who will?
  • There is a great level of stress that comes with always being “on”?  A simply analogy is a light bulb.  It gets hot and burns out quicker if it is always on.  When natural light is available or no one is around, shutting it off prolongs the life of the light bulb.  We need to do the same for ourselves.
  • Have you thought how “change fatigue” applies not just to change programs, but to yourself also? 
    • Are you planning appropriate breaks for yourself and within your change program? 
    • Are you taking care of yourself physically, recognizing how your health impacts your ability to create change?
    • Are you giving yourself appropriate mental breaks?
    • Are you giving yourself the credit that you should?
  • Are you recognizing that any forward progress is good, even if it took longer than you had initially planned or scheduled?
  • Are you familiar with the concept of diminishing returns? 
    • Can you recognize when you have reached that point? 
    • Can you tell yourself it is ok to step back and not work on something for a while?  Regain your energy and start again.  You will likely get farther.

A huge THANKS and virtual hug to my friend Ron for providing positive feedback in a time of need.  A shout out of THANKS to my spouse, Bruce, for his on-going support of my efforts big and small, including providing feedback on this blog.  He rocks.

474514_post-it_notesI had a great deal of fun this week in the midst of working, networking, and learning.  Yes, all four can be accomplished in a synergetic manner.  I’m part of a great group on Linked In, Organization Change Practitioners.  While I belong to multiple groups, this is the one I really like.  To me it epitomizes the best of Social Networking.  I have great dialogs with this group and have made new friends through it.  I’ve also found people I want to work with.  Why you ask, is the group so great?  Because they openly discuss ideas, share experiences, offers insights, and are not afraid to debate.  Individual personalities frequently shine through the discussions as they do in real life.

For a recent question posted by one member, 50+ people from all over the world had responded with their thoughts.  We heard from some individuals once, others multiple times.  The question was only 16 words long, but was a powerful one for the group.  “What is the single most important trait of a successful Organizational Change Consultant in today’s economy?”  If you are interested, Jim Markowsky, who put forth the question, created a summary for the group.  You can see it on his blog.

I just met Jim – through this dialog.  Based on my comments and questions to him off-line, he asked that I provide a summary of my thoughts and observations.  My commentary took a decidedly different spin from his.  It included some insight into how my brain works (if you were paying attention) as well as having some fun.  While the you might think the discussion was done, several of us proceeded to comment back and forth with humor and poked fun at each other.  After all was said and done I thought “what a great on-line experience”. 

What made is so – it was real.  It was like the conversations after work at the bar or at the 19th hole.  It had observations, analysis, and humor.  Too often I think we are afraid to put ourselves out there, to make fun of ourselves, and be a little quirky.  You hear about the “rules” for networking but part of real networking is to be the real you.  To let others get an insight into who you are and better understand you.  You want to work with people you are comfortable with don’t you?  Are you comfortable with people who are always careful of every word they say?

So I’m taking a leap-of-faith so to speak.  I’m continuing my own personal revolution by sharing a little of my personality oddities.  My hope is that you laugh.  You can laugh with me or at me, maybe about me.  Maybe you will shake your head.  In the end my objective is to add a little humor and life into what can otherwise be a “flat” communication media.   So here it is, my Ode to a Post-it Note. 

No, I have no idea why my brain started writing stanzas of rhymes about post-its this week, really I don’t.  I woke up today and it started up again.  So, I decided to write them down.  If I had to guess, it’s because I do so much musical rhyming for my kids and that I had been thinking about how handy post-its are.  Here it is.

Ode to a Post-it Note (c)   

A little pack of paper, it costs about a dime.
It sits upon my desk, it looks at me – patiently waiting for its time.
It leaps and jumps into my hand, its long waiting now is done.
My time of use is here it shouts, my turn it says has come.

What will she use me for it wonders, an idea great or small.
Will I be placed upon some paper or there upon her wall.
Ideas and tasks she collects you see, and leaves them all about.
The post-its know they’re important to her and gives a great big shout.

I’m ready, I’m ready, it says with joy, I’ll lend you my space to write.
Ideas, insights, reminders, and tasks – I’ll help you keep them right.
The post-it knows her brain gets full, that she can’t remember all.
The thoughts, ideas, and things to-do that wind upon her wall. 

I’ve found my place, I have my use, I’m happy to oblige.
I know she’s thankful for my help, I’m happy to provide.
Glad she is for that small pad, for which she has such use.
She sometimes wonders what would life be like if all her notes were loose.

Imagine the mess, the great big pile, if there was not a sticky back.
She might have had to use a board with a million different tacks.
So much easier with post-its you see, they come in all shapes and sizes.
Sometimes she’ll find them lost about, they give her some surprises.

Like the one that says “I love you mom” her daughter chose to leave.
Upon her desk, now on her wall, her eyes it does now please.
She thinks, I’m glad that someone thought to commercialize their use.
There were first created, not for production, but for a team to use. 

It makes her wonder what we would learn, what might we find, if post-it notes could but talk.
Messages, ideas, and thoughts they’ve gathered and never did they balk.
They’re happy to find their place with us, in each of our little worlds.
If you say you haven’t tried them yet, then take them for a whirl.

To be used as each person sees fit, to be of some great use.
Post-its are here to help us out, with them you cannot lose.

A shout out of THANKS to my new friend Jim for reviewing the start of my rhyme and letting me know it did make him laugh.  I’m following his advice to copyright this so no stealing this original, quirky, creative, and a little bit off-beat poem.  However, do feel free to share and laugh amongst yourselves.  Live a little, laugh a lot.  May you have some fun today and every day from here on out.

Categories : Humor

Guiding Principles

- Think Holistically
- Seek the Root Causes
- Respect the Individual
- Demonstrate Accountability
- Collaborate with Clients
- Work with Integrity, Always
- Relate to the Business Strategy
- Ensure Alignment
- Demonstrate Responsibility
- Transfer Skills

Thoughts and Quotes