Showing posts from February, 2009

Imagining new possibilities

There is something very appealing about new ideas. New is associated with fresh, with shiny, with clever. New feels like the sun coming up, or the grass turning green.

Well, the sun came up yesterday, too. And this is not the first spring for anyone capable of reading the blog post. New feels good even when it's old. New feels good even when we know - mostly - what to expect from it.

I just came back from a student production at McMaster. All the jokes about sex and death and dysfunctional families were new in the same sense that sunrises and spring flowers are new. Exactly the same sense. They were funny and energizing and silly and hopeful. Even though they were generally the same ideas that every generation of undergraduates discovers and calls their own.

To discover something entirely new would be a real adventure. Real adventures are frequently quite uncomfortable. They involve not knowing what to expect, and not being able to recognize exactly what we have gotten ourselves i…

When you can't do one more thing

I suspect I am not alone in this feeling that my dance card is now entirely full. Possibly double-booked in places, but certainly full. My to-do list is beginning to scare me. It's been that kind of a winter.

Today, I read Seth Godin's 3000 blog post (I'm only just over 400) in which he encouraged readers to celebrate by posting something interesting on their own blogs. This is my response.

When you can't do one more thing, you can do the one more thing you really want to do.

Like taking a few minutes to connect with blog readers.

When you can't do one more thing, you are doing too many things that are draining you and not enough that are generating a wonderful buzz of energy and life.

Thanks for being my buzz this morning.

If your cell phone rings during my class

One certainty in teaching a college class is that at least 85% of the students will be carrying cell phones (the percentage is sometimes higher). Another certainty is that - from time to time at least - someone's cell phone will ring during the class. There are a few ways of dealing with this.

Mine is to tell the class from the very beginning: if your cell phone rings during class, it should have an entertaining ring tone.

This changes a lot of dynamics in ways that might not be immediately obvious.

First, it changes the rules for students. If their cell phone rings, everyone will listen to hear how good their ringtone is. That poses much different risks than having people notice that they are getting a call during class.

It changes my relationship with the students because I am going to be interested enough to notice their ringtone. It's a fairly non-threatening way of acknowledging shared ground without threatening the us/them line between teachers and students.

And most impo…

Check this out

I woke up today slightly agitated. My back was sore, I was tired. It was a big day. Have you ever had the feeling that you were about to find out something that had already happened? The only thing left was the act of finding out.

I have had friends, executives, who went to work with an abstract sense of something. When they got there, the only act for them was to find out they had been packaged off or that as a result of a merger they have to re-apply for their own jobs back.

I am curious, though, about some of you who have had that abstract sense that something had already happened and the only act was to find out it was something amazing.

For those of you who don't know, my dad was diagnosed with Cancer last summer and has been fighting it since then. He is 75 years old, spent ten hours in the operating room, ten days recovering and then back on his feet only to find out he had two tumours that represented two different kinds of cancer. One kind, the doctor referred to as …

Where to go from here

Way back in the beginning of NLP, there used to be a belief that in order to spring board forward one had to resolve the past. Linda and I have been playing with the idea of how far back do people go to spring forward. Especially in tough times.

Are these tough times?

They say history repeats itself, so I figured that maybe we should go back and find out how to repeat what works.

It's amazing how time can change things, forward and back. Take the word 'Art': in the year 1225, Art meant - skill as a result of learning or practice. What did you think Art was? Because when we go back to 1225, we are all artists then. Think about all the things you have learned and practiced.

Yeats said this about Supreme Art - "Supreme art is a traditional statement of certain heroic and religious truths, passed on from age to age, modified by individual genius, but never abandoned. The revolt of individualism came because the tradition had become degraded, or rather because a spur…

A very powerful question

How would practice change the way you handle this?

Say, for instance, that you are managing someone who is declaring that the sky is falling because the market has changed. Ask that sales rep: "What would be different if you already had lots of practice in handling these conditions?"

Say, for instance, a new parent is frantic because s/he had no idea a baby would be. . . a baby. Ask that parent, "What would be different if this was your third baby?"

Say, for instance, someone close to you has just been laid off, someone who has never before lost a job. Ask that person, "What would be different if you had been laid off in the last recession? What would you know or do that is different now?"

Here's how the question works. First, it normalizes the situation as something that one could expect to have 'practice' handling. We practice things that occur regularly and are therefore not entirely unpredictable. Second, it is a tricky way to ask someon…

3 Questions for Moving Past Worry

Lots of people will suggest that you deal with worry by asking yourself "what's the worst thing that could happen?"

Unfortunately, the worst thing that is likely to happen is that you will choose a bad moment to ask the question and use it to generate dozens - maybe hundreds - more things to worry you.

Here are three other questions you could ask instead. Each will lead to a different perspective and a renewed sense of control.

Ask yourself:

• Exactly how bad will it be if this doesn't work out the way I want? The word "exactly" does a remarkable thing: it asks you put limits around the experience you are describing. Since most of our worry is generated by the way worries snowball, it's really helpful to put boundaries up.

• How close am I to turning this around? This one works by forcing you to imagine things turning out better than you expect, and then moving back to the current situation. It doesn't make any promises; it just opens a door.

• …