An artist I know loves to show me a blank canvas and describe, in detail, the painting. To her, it’s so clear. Where I see only a blank canvas, she sees an entire landscape full of vibrant colors.
An entrepreneur I know once took his family on a tour of a remote piece of property. He shared his vision for where buildings would go and all the customers who would be mingling in various parts of the land. The family couldn’t imagine it, but he saw it all vividly. And, today, it looks exactly like that. It’s a thriving business.
An author friend of mine creates characters in her mind. Month after month, she dreams about them, talks with them, listens to them. They become so real to her that, when she finally starts writing, it’s as if she is merely recording what happens instead of inventing it.
“I dream my painting and I paint my dream.” –Vincent van Gogh
On a recent vacation, my wife was relaxing on a deck with a view of a mountain. As she often does, she was bringing people into her mind and praying for them one by one. Mesmerized by the beautiful scene in front of her, she decided to take a quick picture with her phone.
When we returned home, she was looking at her pictures and shared this one with a few close friends. Immediately, the responses started coming back. There’s something in the clouds!
“The trick to forgetting the big picture is to look at everything close up.” –Chuck Palahniuk
Starting a new job is one of life’s big stressors. You want to make a good impression, hit the ground running, and have an immediate impact. Today employers have little room for someone who doesn’t. Honeymoon periods seem to last all of thirty seconds.
“To improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often.” –Winston Churchill
No matter how savvy you are or how many jobs you’ve had, you should think carefully about your onboarding process into a new company. Learning the culture, understanding what success looks like and building key relationships are unique to each organization.
Studies show that a great onboarding process can increase productivity and dramatically improve executive retention.
Onboarding can cut time to productivity by a third.
Every day, you are performing. You step onto stage whether you are in the lead role or whether you are supporting others. Before the curtain goes up on today’s performance, study these 5 performance fundamentals so that you can perform at your peak.
You talk about growing instead of knowing. What’s the difference? And why is that important?
We live in a culture where knowing — having all the data, getting the right answer, knowing how to do things as a precondition for doing them — reigns supreme. I call this the “Knowing Paradigm,” and it’s commonly accepted as crucial to success in school, at work, and for life in general. And in moderation, there’s nothing wrong with knowing — it’s critically important when you want to cross the street in traffic, calculate a tip, perform brain surgery, etc.
But to the extent that the Knowing Paradigm crowds out everything else we can do — the growing and developing that comes not from knowing an answer or being right, but from the interplay of our creativity, emotions, perceptions, relationships, and environments — we’re missing out.
This wasn’t a problem when we were little kids (a time of enormous growth and transformation), when we were free to experiment, play, pretend, imagine, and perform. That kind of learning — sometimes called “developmental learning” — is how we learned to walk, talk, ride a bike and about a million other things that weren’t based in facts and we never studied for. And we got a ton of support from the adults in our lives to experiment, explore, and grow in this way.
But it doesn’t last. For most of us there comes a point when we go from being praised for trying something new (even when we didn’t get it right) to being told we didn’t get it right (even though we were trying something new). Now it’s time to color inside the lines, stop playing around and get serious.
And by the time we get into the job market, the support we got to learn developmentally as children is long gone. As an adult, it can be embarrassing to not know. There are repercussions if we don’t get it right. We feel stupid, and we make others feel stupid if they don’t “have it together.”
“All the world’s a stage and most of us are desperately unrehearsed.” –Sean O’Casey
That’s one of the downsides of the Knowing Paradigm, and I think we need to challenge it. Being “smart” in this way is making us not so smart in other ways. We get stuck in our roles and our “scripts.” We narrow our interests and forget how to see and act in new ways.
Fortunately, we can start growing again — by reintroducing play, pretending, performing and improvising into our work and lives. We’re not just limited to what we already know and who we already are. We can be who we are and who we’re not…yet. We can be who we’re becoming. This is called the Becoming Principle, and it underlies everything we do and teach.
“Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of becoming.” –John Wooden
We shun the unknown and the ambiguous, but you say that embracing it is often the best path toward growth. Why is that, and what can help us to embrace it?
Oh, yes. Don’t we all wish we could know how things are going to turn out! Should I take this job? Get married? Come out? Move to another city? Have a kid? If only I knew for sure!
But we can’t know it all, and embracing the unknown and the ambiguous is a way to get in tune with that basic fact of life. As I’ve said, data and information are important, but they’re not all there is. For many of life’s opportunities, instead of “look before you leap,” I think you should “leap before you look.” Perform that new job, that move to a new city, that new relationship — and in the process live life, learn, grow, stretch, and go places and do things that can enrich you. And that goes for things that ultimately fail, as well as succeed.
Improvisation innovator Keith Johnstone said, “Those who say ‘yes’ are rewarded by the adventures they have. Those who say ‘no’ are rewarded by the safety they attain.” If you perform in a more adventurous way, you will have more adventures! If we are only who we already are — then we can’t grow. That’s why I write about the Becoming Principle, which is about being who you are and who you’re not…yet, at the same time.
“Those who say yes are rewarded by the adventures they have.” -Keith Johnstone
In a practical guidebook, authors Karin Hurt and David Dye share solutions for managers who want both a meaningful work experience and results. Karin is the founder of Let’s Grow Leaders and David of Trailblaze, Inc. Both Karin and David are focused on helping leaders improve their productivity and effectiveness. Their new book, Winning Well: A Manager’s Guide to Getting Results—Without Losing Your Soul is chock full of advice for managers looking to take their game to a higher level.
After reading their new book, I asked them to share their research and experience.
“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.” –Helen Keller
You share a few different management styles and then discuss the “winning well manager.” What distinguishes this type of person? Is it possible for anyone to become that type of manager?
Used by permission.
Managers who win well bring confidence and humility in equal measure and focus on both results and relationships.
Where the other three manager types tend to focus on short-term goals, managers who win well have a longer time horizon. They build teams that will produce results today as well as next year.
Managers who win well build healthy professional relationships with their employees. They maintain high expectations for results in a supportive environment where people can grow and take healthy risks.
They master the art of productive meetings, delegation, and problem solving. They run meetings that people consider a good use of time. These managers practice steady, calm accountability along with celebration.
As a result, their employees tend to stick around (often until they get promoted), and there is a steady line of people wanting to work for them.
“If you’ve communicated something once, you haven’t communicated.” –Hurt/Dye
If a new manager takes over a team and sees that it is a low-energy environment where people barely get through the day, how does she turn them into an energetic, sustainable team?
We offer a lot of tools and techniques in our book, but it all starts with creating a genuine connection with your people. Start with building relationships and get to know them as human beings. Then help them see why the work they are doing is so meaningful and vital to the larger mission of the organization.
Building a foundation of real trust and genuine connection makes all the difference. Take time to understand and cultivate their intrinsic motivation.
Use Confidence Bursts to Build Momentum
How do the best managers set expectations in that perfect zone, setting a goal that’s not impossible, causing demotivation, but also not a layup, causing the team to stretch?
Winning Well managers do set aggressive goals but they also work to make those goals feel achievable. One of our favorite techniques is the use of “confidence bursts” or breaking down expectations by focusing on a single behavior during a finite period of time to build confidence and momentum.
The idea is to create a full-court press of the given behavior to prove what is possible at individual and organizational levels.
Build a temporary scaffold of support around employees with lots of extra attention, skill-building, fun, recognition, and celebration. The risk is low—it’s just one day and it doesn’t feel like a big commitment to change. Once people experience success with the behavior, their confidence improves, and the ceiling of what they perceive as possible moves a little higher.
Every time we’ve done this, the results have been head-turning and remarkable. The best part comes in the afterglow discussion: If you (and we) can make this much magic on this day, why not every day?
We find that a few sets of these intervals spaced one month apart can lead to remarkable and lasting results.
You’ll know the behavior has sunk in when the impact of these “burst days” begins to dwindle but the overall results stay high. The behaviors have become so frequent that the extrinsic motivation is no longer necessary. The value in the behaviors has become an intrinsic choice.
We’ve all seen managers struggle with either too much empathy (and thus accepting excuses or not removing a team member) or not enough empathy (cold, uncaring). What tactics have you seen work to coach in this area?
Ever experience social anxiety or been nervous about an upcoming meeting or job interview? Social psychologist, Amy Cuddy has outlined some simple practices that can help anyone in stressful situations.
Her research indicates that body language can signal power or weakness:
“Don’t fake it ‘til you make it; fake it ‘til you become it.” -Amy Cuddy
According to Cuddy’s research, the answer is a resounding yes.
Force yourself to smile for five minutes straight and you will begin to feel happy.
Our bodies can change our minds. There are definite physiological differences depending on your body pose. In one study, Curry had a group of people adopt low power poses and the other group high power poses.
Research: Powerful body language can cause hormonal changes in the body.
Afterwards, their saliva was tested and the people with the high power poses had testosterone increase by 20% versus a decrease in testosterone by 10% in the other group. Actual hormonal changes take place in the body.
The group that practiced the positive body pose were much more passionate, authentic and captivating as compared to the negative group. But here’s the kicker, it wasn’t that these individuals were putting on false airs, they were simply comfortable enough to be themselves.