Fishing for Ideas: The Value of Reflection

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fishing-for-ideasDo you make time to stop for reflection?  Do you ponder information for more than a moment or two or do you quickly process and move on?

No, I’m not talking about the negative spirals where we deconstruct things done wrong, but rather that the deep, thought filled introspection on something meaningful.  The place you go mentally to ask yourself “I wonder” and “what if”, considering something from multiple viewpoints.

I’ve observed that we are busy, busy, busy these days.  We tell ourselves “have to keep up”, “I’ll get passed by”, “have to get this done now, no choice”, or “I don’t want to drop the ball and look bad”.  We all rationalize the need to keep moving.  It can often feel like if we slow down we will miss out.

What if you could actually do more by doing a bit less now and then?

In my experience, deep analysis and real strategic thinking has been getting short changed in our quest for speed.  Many do not see the value of pausing and have lost the art of reflection.

I believe we need to stop and make more time to reflect.  To give our busy minds down time to process the host of information we have collected, allowing our conscious and unconscious mind to connect.  By giving our minds a break from the constant pressure, we can often find new insights and creative ideas.

I remember reading that Thomas Edison was known for taking his fishing rod and sitting on the end of a pier, casting away.  However, he would never put any bait on his hook.  He would simply sit there for hours.  What is interesting is that he didn’t really want to catch any fish.  What he wanted to do was to sit there uninterrupted, allowing him to reflect.  Edison knew that if he looked as if he were fishing, no one would bother him – he could reflect uninterrupted.   What Edison was really after, what he wanted to catch, was ideas.

One might say that reflection is the root of my Ponderings and Insights blogs.  Have you noticed that my blog articles contain embedded questions?  That I don’t typically write about:

  • 7 insights for marketing success
  • 3 critical pieces of advice for change
  • 12 steps to getting attention
  • How I succeeded, and you can too

I provide information, sometimes a story, and ask you to consider some questions.  I want you to do some internal analysis and think for yourself.  For me, writing these blogs is a way to stop and reflect on a concept, and then share with others.  Each of my blogs is my own reflection of sorts – where I share items that have been ruminating in my mind.

So here are several important (well, important to me) questions for you to ponder and reflect, to gather your own personal insights:

  • How do you spend your time?  Are you allocating it to the right things?  Things that are strategic, not just tactical and have longer term value?
  • Are you perhaps rushing along so fast, working, working, working?  Do you need to lift your head and mind, to allow your conscious and unconscious to connect?
  • What comes to mind when you observe someone looking out a window or perhaps sitting on a park bench “doing nothing”?  Do you know for sure that they are doing nothing?  Might they, perchance, be thinking and reflecting?  Perhaps they are like Thomas Edison, taking time to consider their creations and fishing for ideas.

My wish for you today is to find time to stop, pause, and to reflect.  To make the time for critical, strategic, inside work that is sorely needed these days.

So let’s go fishing together, reminding ourselves that the next time we see someone “doing nothing”, that they might just be fishing for insights and ideas instead.  Here’s to catching more!

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Today I was pFear graphicondering the concept of Hope.

What does it mean to be hopeful?  How do we build hope in ourselves?  How do we build hope in others?

Why Hope on a blog about Change?

Because Hope can be a is a critical part of Change.  Both personally and professionally.  We must Hope for a different outcome, Hope for a different experience, Hope for a different result.  In order to Believe that Change is possible, we must have Hope.

As I pondered Hope further, I recalled a definition I once heard of Fear.

Fear = False Evidence Appearing Real

This made me think that it’s time we come up with a definition for Hope.  What came to mind was the following.

Hope = Having Optimistic Periods Everyday

To me the critical part of Hope was that we do not have to be optimistic all the time to have Hope.  After all, few of us are truly Pollyannas who continually exude Happy Happy Joy Joy.

This definition simply means that we need to find a bit of time each day to focus on the positive.  To look at the glass as half full rather than half empty at least once a day.  To have just a bit of belief that things can be better than they are.  If we have that belief, even if just for a few minutes at a time, then we have Hope.

That’s what Hope is.  A belief.  As long as we can grasp that flicker of light in that sometimes dark tunnel, we have Hope.

My wish for you today is that you let go of Fear, recognizing that is is often based on false evidence.  Look for that glimmer of light.  Find the bright spot and focus on it for a change rather than the dark.  Bring a bit of Hope to your day.

A bit of Hope can make the Happy Happy Joy Joy a bit easier to both feel internally and exude externally.

Here’s to Hope, Joy, and a bit of Happiness.  What do you think?




Driving Successful Change by Engaging the Entire Person

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Most change programs use tools and tactics which focus on building knowledge and skills.  Telling people what they need to do and providing resources and training to execute those activities.  While this is a great start, focusing on only those two elements (what I call the Head and the Hands) misses a crucial element of total engagement and long-term support, the Heart. 

How might your project soar if you focused on more ways to get to the heart of the matter?

How might your project soar if you focused on more ways to get to the heart of the matter?

In business settings we are often uncomfortable (a feeling) discussing emotions and how they are affecting the employees.  But they are part of every human being.  They drive both decision making and behaviors, whether we are conscious of this or not.  To truly drive effective change, you need to engage the Heart, where our motivation comes from.  Simply knowing something isn’t enough to drive people to make lasting behavior changes; they need to be emotionally engaged.  

I call this the Head-Heart-Hands model. 

Individuals need to be:

  • Ready … to take on the changes and accept the new way of thinking and / or behaving
  • Willing … to visibly sponsor and promote changes as the right thing to do
  • Able … to perform in the new manner, with the new processes, tools, and applications

It is critical to recognize the importance each of these components and build change programs and activities to support all aspects.  A change effort is most successful when you engage the entire person, their Head, Heart, and Hands.

I’ll close with a few items for you to ponder:

  • When was the last time you had a conversation at work about emotions?
  • How do you factor emotions into planning your change programs?
  • For change programs which were less successful was something left out? 
  • For change programs that were highly successful, were all elements included?
  • What actions can you take to actively engage the Heart, the emotions?  
  • When you as an individual believe you have been “heard”, how do you feel?  How motivated are you? 

I like to be treated like a whole person.  Don’t you?

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Nuts and Bolts of Change: A Few Simple Rules and Reminders

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You can build something with a few nuts and bolts…

Recently a colleague of mine made a comment that with all the changes going on in her organization she needed to learn more about Change Management.  In an effort to help, I dashed off a quick note with a few things to bear in mind when dealing with change.  To me, while there are many theories, approaches, methods, and tools, for every day needs we can really boil things down to a few “nuts and bolts.”  Rules and Reminders that if we all kept these in mind, would make things run a bit smoother.

  1. We all have only so much capacity
  2. Inform, don’t overwhelm
  3. Engage, don’t dictate
  4. Focus on the right problems
  5. Provide support
  6. Listen
  7. Less can be more
  8. Treat people with respect, as we would want to be treated
  9. Sh** happens (deal with it as best you can and then move on/let it go)

These really are the fundamental nuts and bolts.  Each can be unpacked in detail and explored in depth with theories, psychological profiles and all the rest.  But does the “every day person” really have time and mental capacity?  Do they need to know the details (see rule #7)?  Yes, there are times to employ a Change Professional but there are also fundamentals that it would benefit the whole if each and every person in an organization could bear in mind.

As I pondered some more on this topic, I realized that I have touched upon these themes before:

I’m sure if I looked further in my Archieves I would find these themes time and time again. 

Hope this short list helps.  What other Nuts and Bolts can you share?

My thanks to Nancy, for getting my brain going. 

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The Benefits of Simplification

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Today I read an article by a colleague, Patti Johnson, titled “Why Stepping Back and Making It Simple Solves Everything.”  While I do not completely agree with the title, I absolutely do agree with the premise.  We need to step back and simplify.  While I don’t believe it will solve everything, I do believe it will help – in many ways.

Work, life, business and even relationships have all become increasingly complex.  Often times significantly more than they need to be.  We work to “manage” life, rather than simply living it.

I believe that there are many drivers for this – some intentional, many unintentional.  Most of us do not create complexity “just because,” but as a result of other drivers, including:  thoroughness, lack of analysis, focus on the wrong issues, disconnects in strategy, fear of failure, desire to “get it right”, and concern about perceptions, to name just a few.

I could write a bunch of additional words here but in an effort to simplify, I’ll simply leave you with some questions to ask yourself (yes, pun intended).  Over the next week ask (possibly repeatedly):

  • Why are you doing that task?
  • What are you trying to achieve?
  • Are you seeking to “hear” and understand or are you busy talking?
  • What would happen if you didn’t do it (process, task, activity)?
  • Is that REALLY what would happen…?
  • What can you do to simplify not just your work, but your life?
  • Have you sat outside in nature lately, just being present in the world?
  • Have you walked barefoot in the grass or on a sandy beach, grounding yourself?
  • Do you really need that suit, dress, piece of furniture, car, or is it actually a want?
  • How come we often teach children about the differences between want and need but forget it ourselves?
  • What does reduce, reuse, recycle really mean to you? 
  • Could it mean more than that?
  • Can you get by with less “stuff”, rather than more?
  • What might you get back if you simplified your life?

Simplification isn’t always easy.  In fact, it can be darn hard.  It can take guts, sweat, a few tears, and facing our own fears.  But in the end you might find that you have given yourself something very important.  Perhaps a closer connection with yourself, your family or friends, more free time, more money back in your pocket, less stress at work, or even a new respect for nature and the circle of life.  You might find a bit more peace in the midst of the chaos we call life.

May you find ways this week, month, and year to simplify your life.  I think it’s time to go work on simplifying mine.  Peace my friends.

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All I Really Need to Know…

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There is a book I was reminded of today, called “All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarden”.  It was a reminder that sometimes it really is the basics that are important.  

Most (albiet not all) kindergarteners are taught similar basic rules.  They are key “rules” and “lessons” that are important for working together at school and caring for ourselves.  

My pondering today is why does it seem that so many individuals have either forgotten or feel these “rules” no longer apply to them? 

Below is a summary.  

  • Share everything
  • Play fair
  • Don’t hit people
  • Put things back where you found them
  • Clean up your own mess
  • Don’t take things that aren’t yours
  • Say you’re sorry when you hurt somebody
  • Wash your hands before you eat
  • Flush
  • Warm cookies and cold milk are good for you
  • Live a balanced life – learn some and think some and draw and paint and sing and dance and play and work every day some
  • Take a nap every afternoon
  • When you go out in the world, watch out for traffic, hold hands and stick together
  • Be aware of wonder
  • Remember the little seed in the Styrofoam cup: the roots go down and the plant goes up and nobody really knows how or why, but we are all like that
  • Goldfish and hamsters and white mice and even the little seed in the Styrofoam cup – they all die.  So do we
  • And then remember the Dick-and-Jane books and the first word you learned – the biggest word of all – LOOK

They are so basic, yet so true, in so many areas of life.  Just think what might happen if we all worked a little bit harder to remember and follow these “rules.” 

It’s about love and caring, equality, taking care of yourself and others.  So basic, so true.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

The book is by Robert Fulghum  You can visit his website at

Categories : Perspectives
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5 Key Questions to Gain Insights

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Use these 5 Key Questions as a compass to direct you on the best way to expend your energy.

Today, it’s short a sweet.  5 Key Questions to ask:

  • Are we doing the right things?
  • Are we doing them the right way?
  • Are we getting them done well?
  • Are we getting the benefits?

When the answer to any of these questions is No, the next Key Question is

  • WHY

Sometimes, Why needs to be Why, Why, Why.  You need to dig to get to the root problems, issues, and causes, not just the surface symptoms.

Answering each of these questions will take a bit of time and analysis, but the insights can be invaluable.

When looking at personal issues, not business issues, all you need to do is replace the we with I…

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How Do YOU Define Success?

Today I read a blog today by a colleague of mine Marta Steele about Successful vs. Unsuccessful People.  It got my brain going for a bit and I wanted to share.

My initial reaction was that I really liked the list.  The actions on the left, Successful People, seemed to be the “right” actions.  It’s how I like to operate.  Actions that I would also like to see others take.  I’ve included a table below that combines the original list, Marta’s enhancements, and a few others I added.

A few minutes later I noticed something.  These are all ways to THINK or BEHAVE.  They didn’t really explain WHAT success is.  Hum, is that a problem, I wondered?

I also realized that I’ve seen a number of “commercially” successful people – in fact many executives – that constantly demonstrate the behaviors on the right. I started to ask myself the following questions:

  • How does success look from the inside?
    • How does a successful person perceive their actions?
    • How they feel about themselves?
  • How might success look from the outside? The tangibles such as job title, house, car and appearance… What about the “intangibles” from the outside? Charisma?
  • Does the difference (inside/outside) matter that much?
  • Can one be in conflict, feeling internally successful but not externally and vice versa?
  • Might those on opposite sides of this list view each other differently?
  • How would people who demonstrate behaviors on opposite sides of the list view each other?
  • Are individuals on the left more “content” and “happier” than those on the right? My hypothesis is that there is likely a high correlation…

Personally, I try to live on the left side.   It “feels” right to me.  I believe that operating on the left leads to greater success not only personally but for the broader groups and organizations.  I think it also leads to greater personal satisfaction. 

Living on the right can bring short-term success, but I’m not sure it is sustainable long-term.  When you don’t “play nice” and aren’t “above board,” others will eventually opt not to play with you.  Additionally, while it might bring individual success, it will not bring success to the larger group or organization if everyone behaved this way. 

What do you think?  How do you define success?  What actions do you believe lead to success?  Might businesses and organizations operate a bit differently if individuals (especially at the top of the organization) operated on the left rather than the right?

Want to stoke your brain a bit more on the topic of success?  You can read more in a prior article, What Does Success Look Like.  It might just give you a new perspective.

Successful People

Unsuccessful People

Have a sense of gratitude Have a sense of entitlement
Forgive others Hold a grudge
Give other people credit for their victories Take all the credit of their victories
Accept responsibility for their failures Blame others for their failures
Compliment Criticize
Embrace change Fear change
Challenge the norms Want to keep the sacred cows
Operate from a transformational perspective Operate from a transactional perspective
Read everyday Watch TV everyday
Keep a journal Say they keep a journal but really don’t
Talk about ideas Talk about people
Share information and data Horde information and data
Keep an abundance mentality Hold a scarcity mentality
Talk straight Spin the truth
Seek the opinions of those who think differently Surround themselves with like-mindedness
Take the first step to mend a broken relationship Wait for someone else to apologize first
Keep a “to-do/project” list Fly by the seat of their pants
Know when to say no Are addicted to busyness
Keep a “to be” list Don’t know what they want to be
Continuously learn Think they know it all
Evolve Stay stuck where they are
Want others to succeed Secretly hope others fail
Think WE Think ME
Exude joy Exude anger

What is “Change Management”?

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Last year wrote two articles about what Change Management is to me.  Click here for a link back to my initial article and here for follow up article where I detailed the the breakdown of my definition.  As a refresher, here’s my definition:

Change Management (CM) is:

Moving individuals from where they currently are to where the business needs them to be.

Yep, just fifteen words.

If you are a “Change Management Practitioner,” you are likely aware that there are two emerging international associations representing change management.  The Association of Change Management Professionals (ACMP) and the Change Management Institute (CMI).

The ACMP recently released this definition:

  • “ACMP defines change management to be the application of knowledge, skills, abilities, methodologies, processes, tools, and techniques to transition an individual or group from a current state to a desired future state, such that the desired outcomes and/or business objectives are achieved. Change management processes, when properly applied, ensure individuals within an organization efficiently and effectively transition through change such that the organization’s goals are realized. Change management is an integral part of the overall change process and ideally begins at the onset of change. ACMP’s definition assumes that the organization has agreed upon the need for change and has identified the nature of the change.”

The Change Management Institute (CMI) does not currently have a formal definition of Change Management, but instead offers a definition of a Change Management Practitioner:

  • “A Change Management Practitioner has mastery of the change principles, processes, behaviours and skills necessary to effectively identify, manage, initiate and influence change, and manage and support others through it.”

I don’t know about you, but I get a bit lost in the ACMP definition.  While useful, it isn’t something that you could easily state during a conversation with a client, potential client, or during a conversation.  I got lost in the details…

For myself, I’ll stick with my 15 word definition for now.  I’ve concluded that for me it is really that simple.  In part, it’s because I’ve been doing this work for over 20 years.  I don’t need the details embedded in my definition of WHAT it is.  

To recap, here’s my definition…

Change Management (CM) is:

Moving individuals from where they currently are to where the business needs them to be.

As a refresher for how my definition breaks down…

  • Moving – implies a state change.  It does not talk about the activities or the pace at which the change is done.  To me, those are decisions that are made during the architecting and designing stages of the program(s).
  • Individuals – implies that the program(s) are focused on individuals and their specific needs.  I believe that it is critical to think about the individual’s needs, not just about groups.  That does not mean that you cannot group similar people together. That each individual needs their own unique program.  What I mean is that you need to conduct your analysis at the individual level.  You must ask questions and consider issues from the individual’s viewpoint. Looking at their experiences, not your own or the sponsors.
  • Where they currently are – this is the current state.  As part of that current state, you need to understand the historical situation. Why do people think and behave as they currently do?  What past experiences and situations are the drivers for their behaviors? What are the barriers? What conclusions have they reached and why?  What are the underlying reasons that the current state exists – the ones that no one wants to talk about?  If you don’t understand the drivers, you may overlook critical factors such as social and cultural pressures that may cause the individuals to “norm” back to their current state after a program is executed.  I often think about the who, what, what if, when, where, why, why not, how, and how much questions.
  • Where the business needs them to be – this is the future state. In the end, it really is about what the business needs.  In my view, if the focus isn’t on the business needs, the program will miss the mark.  Yes, as part of the business needs, you do look at the groups and the individual actions and behaviors.  However, you need to look at them within the context of the end goal, the results needed by the business.  I like to ask why, why, why at this stage. Drilling down three levels using why can help uncover interesting and pertinent information.

The HOW of Change Management can be complex, exciting, and frustrating, all at once.  That’s what makes it so interesting for me.  It’s not about just following a formula, process, or checklist, it’s about really understanding at a deep level what the business is trying to accomplish, where the employees are, and how I can help them.

Categories : Change Management
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What Hand Are You Holding?

There is an old song that goes like this:

  • You’ve got to know when to hold them.
  • Know when to fold them.
  • Know when to walk away.
  • Know when to run.

Sometimes, no matter the metaphorical cards and literal money on the table, the right thing to do is to fold. 

If accountability and responsibility do not align with authority and control you will not be able to do what you were hired to do.  In this case, you should fold your hand and walk away. 

Sometimes you run. 

Don’t under estimate how challenging it can be to do this.  Expecially when the anticipated income you walk away from is significant.

What does it take? 

Trust, Faith, Belief.  Trust in yourself, that you are doing the right thing.  Faith that there is a better opportunity awaiting you.  Belief that the opportunity will find you.  You just need to be there to see it. 

You won’t be able to play in that new sandbox of opportunity, where authority and accountability are in alignment and you can make a difference, if you are still sitting at the table, playing the old game.

I’ve put my cards down and walked away, can you?

If you find yourself in this situation, remember you have a choice.  Find your courage and the Lionheart Inside Yourself, to know when it is the right time to leave that game and find another.  I dare you.  I double dare you.  I double dog dare you.

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