Showing posts from April, 2006

Influence and Ideas

Did you ever know anyone who was "influential" without having any ideas? While people of influence do not always have good ideas, they always have ideas that they believe are good. Their belief is so compelling that it comes to influence other people, to convince them to believe and participate in making the idea real.

People who know what they want are rarely short of ideas. Ideas come as naturally as breathing to them. The more they know what they want, the more ideas they have. Test this theory wherever you go this week. Notice that people who know what they want generate ideas and people who are uncertain about what they want are influenced by ideas.

This is a good thing: the influence of people with ideas can inspire us to reach beyond our own limits. It can give us faith when we need faith and motivation when we need to get moving. The influence of people who know what they want teaches us to know what we want.

What do you want? If you know the answer, what ideas are p…

The life cycle of a working group

We know that groups have personalities: we know it through research in sociology, organizational psychology and business. We know it through experience. We are all part of groups that have recognizably different ways of perceiving and interacting with the world. What does group personality mean for the individual personalities that comprise a group?

We could begin with a theory. Instead, begin with your own experience. Think of a working group of which you are part - a collection of individuals engaged in work that has a common structure and purpose. Allow your attention to engage in a moment that is characteristic of that group, a moment in which you have experienced that group's personality. Notice the attitudes and actions of the group in that moment. Then allow your attention to move into your own experience and notice how you see, hear, and feel the world as part of this group.

What did you notice about the relationship between your own experience and that of the group? We …

Simple steps to significant difference

Recently, I watched a speaker patiently gather and connect with a group of disheartened and skeptical managers. His influence was a combination of a strongly formed outcome to connect and energize, and some very simple tools for effecting change. He asked people to move, and he gave them the opportunity to laugh at themselves and one another.

Studies show that more people fear public speaking than fear death or taxes. As much as human beings are designed to pay attention to one another, they are terrified of being conspicuous. They are afraid of being misunderstood or ridiculed or left frozen in the glare of the headlights. Public speaking accentuates those fears; it's not the only situation where they change attitudes and actions.

When we move, we displace the fear of being frozen in the headlights. As soon as we stand up, our spirits rise with our bodies. As soon as we change positions, we change perspectives. As soon as we move forward, we think forward. We give ourselves t…

Significant influence

As you look back over your life, you linger over a few people who had a significant influence on how you shaped your life. Some of these will be obvious: parents, teachers, mentors. You will need sharper perceptions to notice people who were part of your life only briefly, people you met at a crossroads who made the slight difference that made all the difference.

Now look through the other side of the lens, and notice that you have had a significant influence in the lives of other people. Which of those influences means the most to you? Which would you change if you could?

Think about tomorrow and next week and next year. Think about the people who will have a significant influence on you, and the people you will influence. Make choices about the opportunities that are coming your way.


Have you ever said, "I was just wondering. . ." as if wonder were somehow vague and ineffectual.

Consider this defintion:


n 1: the feeling aroused by something strange and surprising [syn: wonderment, admiration] 2: something that causes feelings of wonder; "the wonders of modern science" [syn: marvel] 3: a state in which you want to learn more about something [syn: curiosity] v 1: have a wish or desire to know something; "He wondered who had built this beautiful church" [syn: inquire, enquire] 2: place in doubt or express doubtful speculation; "I wonder whether this was the right thing to do"; "she wondered whether it would snow tonight" [syn: question] 3: be amazed at; "We marvelled at the child's linguistic abilities" [syn: marvel]

Source: WordNet ® 2.0, © 2003 Princeton University

Wonder is a feeling that takes us outside our normal model of the world: we wonder at things that are bigger or better or more beautif…

Springing up from half-forgotten goals

It's Easter weekend, the days are longer and warmer, and the first flowers of spring are appearing in gardens. Spring flowers seem to pop miraculously into being. It's easy to forget that the flowers that bloom in April were planted in the fall . . . or maybe they were planted many years ago. All year, they rest underground, waiting for this time and this weather to bring them out of the earth and into blossom.

In a world where it is often difficult to remember what we did last week, it's a great reminder to think about what we planted last fall. Let your mind go back to before the snow began, before the long darkness of winter, and notice what you were hoping and planning then. Notice what is coming to achievement now that started then. Notice and enjoy the achievements that have been growing naturally while you thought about something else.

Not all goals come into being after a long period of apparent inactivity. Some are more like the annuals that can't be planted…

collaboration and creating together

Collaboration is a slippery sort of concept. Weren't collaborators the people who protected themselves by siding with the bad guys during WWII? We have a way of turning things inside out so that only the dark side is showing. Have you noticed that if you say "it's a great day today," people are likely to reply "yeah. It sucks that I have to be inside all day." Collaboration is like that: a sunny day that people notice in terms of what they can't do.

Despite the language, we all want to co-create our reality with other people - sometimes the people in our personal lives and sometimes people whose talents and abilities complement our own and allow us to achieve more together than separately. We want to know that we are working toward the same thing, and even to enjoy the process. We want to influence and to be open to influence, simultaneously.

It's easier said than done. What does it mean to want the best for someone else? We use words like 'best…

Watching the lights come on

It's the time of year when (finally!) it is 8:00 pm and only beginning to get dark. If you were sitting at a window overlooking a busy road or a panorama of apartment buildings, you could watch the lights coming on. Some of them would be switched on as people enter rooms, and some would have been on for some time. You would only notice them as it grew dark outside.

Today I was coaching young people in an office without windows. And I was watching the lights come on - as realizations made their way from deep within to their eyes and their smiles.

Later, I spoke with a busy entrepreneur who is very, very good at what he considers important. He burns with a steady intensity, but the lights don't go on very often. His model is so tight that he can negotiate it in the dark.

I wonder if he ever sits in an airplane or a highrise hotel. And watches the lights come on.

The mysterious moment of choice

How do you make choices? You will notice, as you think about it now, that any choice is an edge: we can analyze how we collect information and we can analyze how we act on the choices we make. The moment of choice itself remains as mysterious as all of life’s absolutes. At one instant you are still choosing; at the next you have chosen. And like all of absolutes, the moment of choice demands that we use more than logic if we are to engage it and learn from it. We need to step into our experience of choice and use every element in the neurological web that represents that experience to glean the patterns that will allow us to choose more effectively. We need to allow the information we encode in our bodies, the connotations woven into our language, and our complex system of touchstones and guideposts to become part of a single, unified experience of what it means to choose.

Tell yourself that you will catch yourself in the act of making a choice tomorrow.