Saturday, May 9, 2020

Where is Reverse?

"Chris, I'm stoked you want the Van at your house by the beach.  It makes a lot more sense than having it bake in the desert.  I'm going to miss it."

"Absolutely.  What all do I need to know about it?" he asked.

"Well, the rebuilt engine is perfect.  Everything works on the interior.  The A/C blows cold which is a treat with these old Vanagons.  But Chris, I have to tell you, there is no reverse."

"No reverse?  What do you mean?"

"Just that.  There is no reverse.  You can only go forward, so be careful where you park and think first before going anywhere that you might need to back up, because you can't.  There is no going back."

"Well, isn't that interesting..."

Is there a metaphor for life in there?  Can we ever go back?   I'm reminded of the quote that is attributed equally to Emerson, Holmes, and Einstein... "A mind that is stretched by a new experience can never go back to its old dimensions."  How will your life move forward from this worldwide shared experience?



Saturday, May 2, 2020

Can I Commit without Certainty?

Find me anyone who could have predicted this current reality four months ago.  Go ahead.  And yet, here we are. It matters not whether you are a front line worker, an executive, an urban dweller or a rural rancher. I defy you to find anyone who would have said this was the way 2020 was going to play.  Okay, so what can we learn?

The future is uncertain.  In fact, it is always uncertain.  There is no such thing as certainty when we are predicting a future.  And, at this stage of life, I tend to go the other direction when anyone comes at me with certainty.  After this year, even Annie singing "the sun will come up, tomorrow..." has a very small question mark built in!  So, how then shall we live?

In 2019, when I was writing "Waking Up:  8 Questions That Will Shift Your Life (Or Help You Do Nothing)" I was not contemplating the sort of plate scraping that was going to come this year.  If you've read the intro to the book, you'll know that much of what had driven my adult life came to a screeching halt in 2006.  What I thought was a fairly predictable trajectory became a minefield of confusion and uncertainty.  So, back in the day, I started asking myself some good questions, lived through all kinds of transitions, and took about 13 years to put pen to paper.  And then 2020 hit.  And my plate is scraped clean in a whole new way.

The details at this point are less important to me than recognizing the difference between what I can do today versus what I cannot do.  There is a lot I can do.  And there is much that I cannot do.  This is true for most of us.  So, while my commitment to Good Self-Care remains, I'm not doing yoga classes at the gym or swimming laps at the pool.  I'm walking (a lot!) and getting on my mountain bike.  I tried video yoga classes but soon realized that a big draw to yoga for me was the social interaction with the familiar faces that go to my gym.  So, my commitment remains, but the actions change.  And, that's the beauty of commitments!  When I commit to a path, or a way of living, or a certain strategy, I don't need to know exactly how the action steps are going to line up.  I can trust that the answers will arrive as I stay true to the commitment.

Do Good Work is a commitment that falls under "Good Self Care" in my life.  Instead of creating flashy websites, podcasts, or selling products in my field, I've chosen to follow the path of good work.  Show up.  Do the gig.  Give clients the best I've got.  Move on.   I've believed that when I do good work, more work shows up.  And it's worked.  And then, the world paused.  All of my work went virtual.  I'm living in front of a Zoom screen supporting folks I've worked with over the past four decades.  Paid gigs have come to a virtual halt.  While not the ideal for me, it's not bad, and I'm giving it the best I've got.

One of the questions I've been asking a lot lately is, "What is the decision to be made today?"  Because, for many of us, there are precious few decisions that can be made in this moment.  We're on pause.  We've "eddied out" to use a rafting term.  We're in a Neutral Zone, to use William Bridge's "Managing Transitions" language.

The idle time might be a perfect time to become curious about my commitments.  New information (a worldwide pandemic!) has shown up.  How might my commitments change?  What commitments remain?  It's an opportunity to update the picture of myself and try out some new things without making big sweeping long-term decisions.  The world will evolve forward.  It always does.  There is no "Reverse".

So, even in this time of uncertainty, I am finding that I remain committed to be a man of curiosity, with a spirit of adventure and creativity.  I remain committed to a life of good self care and authentic connection with myself and others.  I don't need to know how it will all play out (But, damn, I wish I did sometimes!) and I do know that I will continue to choose my next steps in alignment with those commitments.  How about you?



Friday, April 17, 2020

Are We People First?

My good friend Dave Gilbert asked if we could talk about maximizing the way we meet in virtual space, so he turned on the camera and this is what you get!  A Big Idea right now is to remember that we are all in a shit show.  And, importantly, we are people first and then leaders, parents, or whatever.  We're human.  When I'm wanting to react to someone in a critical or judgmental way, I can stop and ask myself, "What would a more generous response be?" 

Another Big Idea that flows from a "People First" commitment is to shift my focus to not just the content of what we're working on, but the context, or how we're working on it.  Let's be kind.

Onward!  V

(This was my first ever podcast and I've since improved my lighting and camera angles. 😀 )

Friday, March 13, 2020

Is it time to go virtual?

Did my first virtual offsite yesterday with everyone on screen in their own homes . Everyone gave a quick visual walk around their space and I drew a circle with everyone's names on a sheet and held it up to my screen so they could "see" who was on their left and right. Did a breakout session in pairs and was in jammies the whole time. 

I’ve done plenty of virtual meetings but this was unique because it was focused on the connecting conversations as opposed to business content.  It's one thing to talk about spreadsheets and strategies, but another thing to create a safe space to clear the air, get to know one another as people first, and share courageous truths.  I'm very open to hearing thoughts, ideas, and stories about how you are maximizing virtual space.  Here are some thoughts compiled from friends and colleagues who work in this area:  Ten Tips for Awesome Virtual Meetings

Not ready to call it the new normal but it just might be that for a while.



Saturday, February 15, 2020

How are You Showing up Right Now?

My goal as a facilitator is to meet the group where they are at and create a space for them to get what they want. Simple. And, I like simple.

There is a subtle complexity though which is interesting and challenging. How much structure should I bring? Should I bring a “hard edge” style or a softer, more welcoming and accepting edge? I can do the hard edge… short abbreviated sentences, clear instructions, little story or emotion, just the facts. And, I can do the soft edge… let the stories unfold a bit, embrace emotion, lead from a step behind yet still lead, keep a light grip on what is coming up and where the group wants to go.

I am noticing that many groups today are desiring the softer edge. In a rapidly changing and unsettled world environment, the soft edge seems to provide a refuge, a place of comfort, a sense of support. Not a free-for-all touchy feely love fest, yet a space that says “come inside for a time… it’s pretty tough out there right now.”

It makes me wonder about how this might translate to leadership in the workplace. Is it time for the kick-ass hard edge… or is it time to take a breath and recognize that we are people first and we all have fears about what’s lurking just over the horizon?

How are you showing up with your people right now? What would support look like… for them? Have you asked recently?