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What are your choices when you're at the edge of the map?

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It might be hard to remember the last time you looked at a physical map.  Maybe you were on vacation, and you pulled a map out of a guide book or you picked up one of the tourist maps you get at hotel desks or information centres. The thing about a paper map is that it has edges. Your map program on your phone will just move the edges and re-centre so you are back in the centre of the picture.

Life is more like the paper map. Sometimes we get to the edge, and we have to make choices about what to do next. Essentially we have only 3 choices: turn around and go back; go forward without a map or go looking for another map.

Sometime between 40 and 60, maybe several times, you will come to the edge of your map. It can happen earlier or later, but it will certainly happen that in the middle of your life, you will run out of map. Your plans will or will not have worked out, and you'll find that there is no clear route from where you are to where you are going. You probably don't eve…

Why You Need A Compass More Than You Need a Map

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January ended, and now you can look back at your plans for 2019 and notice where you are on track and where the track is under 4 feet of snow.

Maps work as long as the roads are clear and you know where you are and where you want to go. Most of the time, it's a good idea to get your bearings before you try to use a map (much less make one). But people are naturally impatient, especially as a new year begins. We think we need a plan. What we need is a compass.

A compass can only do one thing: it can show you where true north is in relation to where you are now. With that one piece of information, you can move in any direction with confidence. You just need to know where you are in relation to one defining landmark.

What's your true north? I think it's something like wellness, or a life well-lived. If you don't know where you are in relation to that, it's hard to make good choices about how to get there or about the price of going somewhere else. You won't know …

Tell a story to lead someone safely through the point you want to make

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Most people don't like to think about how they communicate because it's both scary and awkward. On the one hand, they feel unclear and not effective. On the other, they feel like they are pitching all the time in an effort to manipulate people into thinking or doing something. What they want is to be authentic and collaborative and also clear and compelling. And they'd like it all to be effortless, because evaluating one's communication is like staring too long at the mirror.

Of course, all this concern with being authentic instead of thinking through how we want to communicate comes with a price. When we are authentic, we are more likely to say something that stops our message from reaching the people we want to reach. We let ourselves get away with being unclear; we make it hard to imagine the things we describe; and when it goes wrong, we say, "I did my best."

Your best communication is not authentic; it doesn't just happen. It happens because instead …

Here's to hope and peace and a quiet cup of tea

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This is a wish for you as the year ends and everyone is happy and crazy and angry and sad, all at the same time.

This is a wish that you are happy even when the people you care about are absent or angry or distracted or depressed.

This is a wish that you look ahead and see good things, even if you are not sure you know what resolutions to make or goals to set or plans to hope for --beyond just one really good night's sleep.

This is a wish that no matter what other people are doing, or who they are electing or protesting, you find some joy - if not in a stocking, then in something that you choose or make.

This is a wish that you find yourself sitting with things that have troubled you for years and be surprised that now you can own what you have done or said or felt - or what you did not do or say or feel - and you're okay.

This is a wish for a tiny, nurturing breeze over that spark of a dream that you hardly ever let yourself think about.

This is a wish that whether things ar…

How do you feel about holiday parties and networking events?

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How many people do you think genuinely look forward to the season of endless small talk with people they haven't arranged to meet for months? If you would rather Netflix 'n chill than meet new people, you're not alone. It's really hard to have a good conversation with someone who is as uncomfortable as you are.
Here are three ways you can do better and feel better, whether your holiday includes parties with extended family and friends or endless work socials. If you wouldn't want to meet someone who feels the way you do, change the way you feel. You can't become a different person but you can be a person in a different state. Listen to music, go for a walk or take a moment to remember just one time you met someone and it worked out beautifully. Repeat as often as necessary to find the self that people will look forward to meeting.Think about why you've shown up. If you're at a social you don't want to attend, there must be a pretty good reason. Play…

Personal Development is Professional Development

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We like to put up barriers between our lives and our working lives as if we somehow become someone different when we are at work. We hope this is true when we become someone we don't like very much at work, someone who is unsafe and unhappy and unable to believe that the work they are doing matters. At the end of the day, we think, our real life begins.

Now turn it around. Do you want to work with people who are unsafe and unhappy and unable to believe that the work they are doing matters? Do you expect those people to rise to the top of your organization and keep your job safe during rapid change in the world and the competition?
I recently had the opportunity to do some work with people who work for an organization that does really important work. They told me that they liked working there. But when I asked them what they wanted to improve in their own skills, they drew a blank.

They looked to me like people who were insecure about what they were doing and the results they were …

A simple approach to defining what you want

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There are lots of experts who will tell you what to do once you know what you want. They will give you motivational tips (which means they are not based on emotion, not evidence) and they will give you evidence-based tips (often the result of social science research). What they don't do is tell you what to do when you don't know what you want.

After all, if you don't know what you want, what's the point? People think that you must know what you want. And that's probably accurate on some level, but your conscious awareness might be out of the loop.

I spent a large part of this week asking people to grow their influence by knowing what they want other people to do. I kept asking people what they wanted. The answer that no one wanted to give out loud was something like "I would like people to be impressed by me just as I am, and I'd like them to figure how to use the information I give them. I don't want to have to think it through, because I'm not re…