Zen is you – Be.

Is hyperconnectedness still a thing?

Posted in development, ideas, stress relief, values by dave225 on March 12, 2011

Someone passed this article to me today: http://www.scribd.com/doc/6910385/Abuse-of-technology-can-reduce-UK-workers-intelligence . This is how I know I’m out of touch. People are still email junkies?

Think about how you sometimes get really interesting ideas in the middle of the night. Why is that? Because your brain has begun to turn off. It’s flushing out thoughts, clearing out the junk. Well, okay, that’s not science – but my point is that if we’re always turned on, we don’t stop long enough to have new thoughts. Clarity and insight can’t be forced and can’t come without stepping away from the hyper-connectedness.

Some of the most productive, most innovative work I’ve done has come from taking walks with a colleague, sitting alone quietly on an airplane, chopping wood, digging holes, etc.

Allow time for your brain to work for itself, rather than being fed more information.

Shutting down now. Going to bend some wire around a pencil or something …


Anesthetized by Pleasantness

Posted in development, satisfaction, values by dave225 on October 9, 2009

It’s difficult to write a blog post about complacency.  Because to understand complacency, you have to put yourself into that mode of thinking.  And who the hell wants to be there?

(guess the relevance)

But complacency is such a paradox to me anyway – if you live in chaos, you are motivated to find normalcy.  If you find normalcy, it’s sooo easy to want to stay there – but you need to create chaos to escape.

(guess the relevance) –>

This is something I have to remind myself of frequently.  Professionally – implementing processes and measurements to get us to a state of optimization – there is a peace of mind in knowing that you can leave the office for a few days and the cogs will continue to turn.  But that allows me to disengage, which is both a blessing and a curse.  A curse because  I don’t get the daily fuel from innovation and problem solving.  A blessing because we’re doing greater things, more efficiently.   (Look at Thomas Edison.  His life’s work was inventing technology to make our lives easier.  That’s a reward unto itself, but in employing those inventions we achieve even more greatness with less effort. It wouldn’t make sense to reinvent the same things just for the sake of creating innovation energy.)

So how do you keep moving? One way is to scrap it all and start over.  Do what you did to get where you are, but do it someplace else.  You made your fortune perfecting the electric nose blower; now figure out how to harness energy from mosquitoes.

But maybe there’s another plateau to be reached that’s still out of sight.  Innovation and problem solving are great for the soul, great for business.  But only if they are addressing real problems.  As I write this, thinking about where I go from here (not that my work is finished or that I’ve perfected anything yet), it occurs to me that this quandry is a metaphor for my career.  I have always grown and succeeded by finding a need and filling it, as a logical extension of my official role.

So I guess my answer is in there.  Cycles of innovation & motivation ebb and flow, but if we’re looking for opportunities, we can organically keep growing, keep moving without drastic actions.

.. Which brings me around to Jim Collins’  How the Mighty Fall.  Collins makes the point, in a much more subtle way, that slow and steady wins the race.  Collins cites five stages of an organization’s decline:

  1. Hubris born of success
  2. Undisciplined pursuit of more
  3. Denial and risk of peril
  4. Grasping for salvation
  5. Capitulation to irrelevance

So, in terms of personal growth and motivation, the corresponding stages of marginalization and desperation:

  1. Not following a path of continuous learning and improvement
  2. Innovation for innovation’s sake, without adding value, without fitting a larger context
  3. Devaluing collaboration, succumbing to disengagement.
  4. Hasty decisions, get rich (or made)  quick ideas.
  5. Retirement, new career, etc.

Another personal point to grow on that Collins mentions – Individuals, like organizations need to examine why they are successful (defined as you like) rather than how they became successful.  Focus not on what things you’ve done to be successful (your deeds), but what about YOU has meant success (your character.)

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Learn Something New …..

Posted in development, satisfaction by dave225 on January 26, 2009

“If you’re done learning, you’re done.”  I think it was Ben Franklin.  Maybe it was someone else who originally said that… But it’s true, nonetheless.

A few years ago, I absolutely hated my job.  Although I worked for a great company, I didn’t feel as though I was being used to my full potential.  Until that happened, I guess I had been fortunate in my career that I’d always been able to find the niche that kept me growing (or knew when to leave before things got stale.)  I was beginning to strategize my exit plan.  I needed a career boost.  Let me back up;  I had tried to get help with career counseling in my company and wasn’t satisfied with the options.  So I began to study.  I invested my own time and my own money (a considerable amount of each) to elevate my skill levels in preparation for a job search.  And I had some offers.  Some really good offers.

Maybe it was just luck, but as offers were coming in, possibilities opened up at my current job too.  But I believe you can make your own luck.  I never had to give my boss an ultimatum or hope for a counter offer.  An offer to advance from my current job came to me – or rather, it came near me and I grabbed it.

Oh, I think I’ve read the “invest in yourself” advice plenty of times before, so I won’t make a point of that as if it’s a new idea.  And it’s probably not a new idea that continuous learning keeps you sharp and on top of your game.  And yet, I continue to come across people who don’t seem to be interested in development – for professional reasons or self-development reasons.  Or else they’re waiting and wondering why their employers won’t develop them.  So I just want to reiterate that you can make your own luck sometimes.  Because luck isn’t luck.  Luck is options.

Last week, at Ignite! Columbus, Joshua Scott talked about knowing when to move on.  I wish I had his slides at the moment – and his content.. scurve2but if I can paraphrase, he said you have to have the courage to leave something that’s going well so that you can continue in an upward direction.  This picture is the closest I could find to describe what that means:

The idea is that you leave thing #1 before it reaches the decline and move on to thing #2.  That can be a business, a career, a job, a skillset.

You never know when your luck will change – when your curve will start to decline.  I watched a disheartening story this evening about DHL leaving Wilmington, OH and leaving 10,000 people without jobs.  I don’t mean to imply that those 10,000 people should have moved on before DHL pulled out of the community.  It’s just a devastating example of how quickly things can change.  So what I’m trying to say is, be ready.  Learn something new.

Learn something new to get ahead.  Learn something new to be better at what you do.  Learn something new to feel better about the things you do.

Learn something new to be ready.

Or learn something new just ‘cuz.  And then do it again.  Don’t stop.  Luck isn’t luck.  Luck is options.


Posted in development by dave225 on January 7, 2009

Knowledge is power.

Have you ever heard that?  Do you think knowledge is power?

You’re wrong. ……

You. Are. Wrong.  Now before you become offended and tune me out – no , you’re not wrong.  But I heard a presenter tell me that once.  He went on to say that money and political position were power.  I didn’t pay attention to what else he said because I was dwelling on his statement that knowledge is not power.

And it all came down to one little letter, one little word:  “A”.  Knowledge is A power.

¨ Language is a power

¨ Money is a power

¨ Political position is a power

¨ Standing behind the lectern is a power

¨ Violence – is a power.

Power exists in different concentrations for all of us – those without a lot of money may rely on wit, some may use their spirituality to overcome a lack of political clout, some who have few options in life may turn to the power of a gun.

  1. Find your powers.  You may not be a superhero, but you have powers.  Figure out what they are.  What has led to your successes in life?  When people say “Nice job” or when you feel that you’ve done a great thing, what skills and resources did you use?
  2. Decide how/where to use it.  What can you do?  Learn how you can use your powers.  Now that you’ve discovered that you have knowledge in a certain area, what are the possibilities?
  3. Decide why to use it.  What is the gain?  My friend Andrew Pace says, “There’s no honor in being right.”  (Although I think the entire quote is from Mickey Kaus and it’s “There’s no honor in being right too soon.” But I suppose there’s no honor in pointing that out!)  You don’t gain anything by being correct if you’re not bringing people along with you.  Exercising power just to prove that you possess it is of little value to you or anyone else.  And it’s a sign of insecurity of your weakness in other aspects.
  4. Use it effectively.  Do something.  Don’t let your power go to waste.  There is no succeed or fail, there is only act.
  5. Develop and strengthen other powers.  As sure as you know what you’re good at, you also know your weaknesses.  Tapping into your natural abilities is a great place to start  – but work on everything.  If you’re like me, you’ll find that you develop fastest in areas that need the most work.

    If anyone tells you that something you value is not a power – you can prove them wrong!  Find your powers.  Use them.  Show results.

    This is also my next Toastmasters speech (spoiler alert.  oops, too late.)