Zen is you – Be.

don’t read this

Posted in Uncategorized by dave225 on October 7, 2011

If you’re reading this, you don’t follow directions well. Good for you.

This is hasty – because it’s 4am and because details don’t matter …

I’m looking for a few people – around 5 of them, maybe more, to form a group. For lack of a better term, I call it “Innovation Calisthenics.”

Every other week (or maybe more|less often) we get together to expand our thinking. How we do that will evolve. Not important how, and if this is something you dig, then you get why.

But what might that be? Maybe it’s word association games, field trips, table topics, collaborative art projects, .. there are lots of ways to practice innovation – let’s not get hung up on that.

What it won’t be:
-Talking about why innovation is important or how great it is to be innovative
-Talking about how to be innovative or who’s really good at it
-Other meta topics

The point is not to *be* innovative – it’s to stretch and exercise. Consider this part of your personal “forget the task list, sort things out” time. .. or a social muse.(?) And that feeds your everyday work|creativity|problems|opportunities. ….Nor is the intention to find ways to save the world, but it’s not off limits.

Here are your questions:
-Do you see it? / Do you want to?
-Can you commit to it regularly?


What do you do?

Posted in Uncategorized by dave225 on July 28, 2011

Tell me about yourself.

Have you ever been to a gathering where someone asks, “and what do you do?”

How do you answer? If you’re like me and everyone else I seem to meet, you describe your job or who you work for.

But you’re much more than that. Aren’t you? Maybe we describe ourselves through our vocations because it’s easy to identify. And maybe that’s OK if we’re not really serious about answering the question, especially if the person who asked it was not serious about knowing the answer.

But *can* you answer it seriously? Who are you? Suppose you don’t have a job. Now tell me about yourself.

You might start by answering with what you do for fun. Or how many kids you have. Or where you volunteer. All of those things tell us how you spend your time .. So we can assume that means those are the things that you value. But are we right?

Strip away everything from your day-to-day life. Your job. Your house. Your family. And especially the way that other people perceive you.

Think about what you value – what is important to you, for your own well-being. And don’t kid yourself. Don’t try to give the answer that the world wants you to give. Helping others, saving the planet. Maybe you do value those things – but it’s OK if you don’t. Because values are about what YOU believe – not what you think the world expects from you. Maybe it’s money and possessions – Just think hard about whether it’s really those things that you value, or if they’re just ways to affect people’s perceptions about you.
The important thing is that you dig deep and discover: What is really important to make you feel whole?

Once you have a list of what’s really important – look at what you do. How well do they match?

How much time do you spend watching television? How much time do you spend working overtime? How much time do you spend shoveling snow in the winter? How much time do you spend shopping? How much time do you spend talking about other people?

.. And how much time do you spend learning? How often are you challenging yourself? Do you wake up energized or dreading the day?

If what you value and what you do don’t line up – something is wrong. Either you’re not being true to yourself in what you value, or you’re not being good to yourself with what you do.

Once they DO line up, keep evaluating yourself. Not only do your values align with your actions, but are your values still the same? (They’re not likely to change often.)

… and what do you do?

Why Why Why

Posted in impact, objectives, satisfaction, Uncategorized by dave225 on December 24, 2008

Perhaps you’re familiar with this parable about stone masons and purpose (text that I lifted from here, but it could have been anywhere):

I’m reminded of a story about a traveler in the Middle Ages, who visited a city where many stone cutters were working. Approaching several, he asked the same question:

“What are you doing?”

The first stonecutter he met replied, “I’m cutting stone. It’s dull work, but it pays the bills.”

A second stonecutter responded, “I’m the best stone cutter in the land. Look at the smoothness of this stone, how perfect the edges are.”

A third pointed to a foundation several yards away, and said, “I’m building a cathedral.”

One lacked purpose altogether. The second was proud of the work he did. But the third clearly had a sense of purpose, of the greater reason for his work. It’s safe to assume that the third stone cutter never got lost in the boredom of the work or became obsessed with being the best. The third stone cutter knew that his work was critical to the successful completion of a larger project the construction of a cathedral.

Well it occurred to me this morning that this parable is incomplete.  “I’m building a cathedral!”  Well why in god’s name* are you doing that?  The vision for this cathedral isn’t to have a giant, unoccupied building plopped down where there used to be farmland.  And it wasn’t built just to give people something to do.  What’s the bigger WHY?!

It must have a bigger purpose than “build it.”  Is it to glorify God*?  To establish a place of community, a civic center? And why would you want either of those?  To raise the standard of living for all citizens or to make the king richer?  What is the real vision? And what are the real benefits?

Execution (i.e. building stuff) comes from people working.  Vision and strategy come from the top.  Every bit of work at every level should have that vision behind it.  So whether you’re building a cathedral or a website:  ask yourself about the real why.

(*no specific religious affiliation, promotion or denigration intended.)

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The Boss is Always Right

Posted in objectives, Uncategorized by dave225 on November 14, 2008

Oh, it hurts to even write it. The boss is always right? Well, yes. Yes, boss.

Even when the boss is wrong.

Caveat 1 – The boss is not right when the boss is ethically wrong.  Don’t do anything you have a moral problem with. But if you have a moral problem with it, either talk it out or take it to H.R.

No one likes a sycophant.

Caveat 2 – Don’t be a “Yes” man. If you disagree with your boss, speak up. There is nothing wrong with questioning your boss’s position if you are genuinely questioning for the purpose of enlightenment. “Explain it again, I still don’t see your point of view” is different from “You’re wrong. I want to do things my way.” You have one, maybe two opportunities to disagree outright and explain why your opinion is right. But if you can’t sell it, it’s time to toe the line. And here’s why ….

  1. Strategy. You may not be able to see everything that is influencing decisions at the levels above you.  Moving a company forward is done through vision and leadership, which may bubble up from the bottom, but needs to be driven from the top.  Staffing and decisions are based on reaching those goals.  Even when the decisions are bad, they need to be in alignment.
  2. Trust. You build trust with your boss by supporting his objectives. The more trust you build and the more your boss believes that you are there help him to be successful, the more he will listen to you when you do have a dissenting opinion.
  3. Paycheck. Remember who does your review and approves your paycheck.  Your place within the organization depends on whether you’re helping to achieve its goals.  And it’s your boss who decides how well you’re doing that.

Even if you have the worst, most unreasonable boss in the world, figure out what motivates him.  Be a part of his team.  You’ll not only feel more productive, but you’ll gain some social capital.   (OK, fine line between that and being a toady – decide for yourself where that line is.)

Question authority.  Innovate.  Improve the process.  But make it align with the big picture.  And make sure you understand the big picture – and the littler pictures underneath.

Damn!  Missed Bosses Day.

9/11, world peace, inner peace.

Posted in Uncategorized by dave225 on September 11, 2008

Three unrelated items today that are tied together by the attack in 2001:

Daniel Schorr, eloquent as always, speaks about our society’s slow recovery. 


My friend Ben Blanquera posted today a video about Peace One Day – September 21.  As he passed it on, I pass it on.  http://columbustech.blogspot.com/2008/09/peace-one-day.html .  Pass it on.

In a meeting today, the facilitator started with a minute of silence to remember 9/11.  What you do with a minute of silence is up to you, but I was amazed at how long a minute of total silence feels.  We are (or maybe just I am) so used to stimulation that a minute of silence is almost uncomfortable.

Take a minute and stop everything.  And in the example of Peace One Day, take a day and stop everything.

Tsk Tsk Task

Posted in Uncategorized by dave225 on September 4, 2008

This may seem ridiculously obvious, but it took me a long time to learn, and I have to remind myself of it every week…. Work is not life.

Now, countless people before me have spoken about not putting all of your energy into your job, and I agree with them. But not because you may be missing out on life. Good golly, life is about experiences – so if you are getting a life’s worth of experiences through your work – good for you! I’m not trying to tell anyone where they should get their kicks.

But I am trying to tell people where not to get validation.  Or rather, from where not to derive too much validation.  You can put all the hours you want into your job, and you may well enjoy every minute of it. But you can’t make that your identity. Unless you outright own your business (and even then, you don’t own it – the market does.) – your livelihood can be taken from you at any time. Not to sound pessimistic – I just mean that tying your identity and self-validation to something that isn’t yours is a bad idea. No matter how important you are or how secure you are in your position, when it comes to your job, not everything is under your control.  More things in your life that you control = good.  Limit your dependence on things you don’t control.

So find additional places where you can feel good about yourself. Get a hobby. Volunteer. Challenge yourself!

Great Minds, part 1 …..

Posted in ideas, Uncategorized by dave225 on August 29, 2008

“Great minds discuss ideas; Average minds discuss events; Small minds discuss people.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.

It’s so basic that it may be too vague to start with, but I think this quote sums up a lot about being satisfied – in your job, in life, in general. The cornerstone to being happy is being positive; and ideas are naturally positive thoughts. Ideas are about creativity, dreaming big, collaboration and impact.

Become a visionary. And if you can’t directly affect your company’s strategy, go out of your way to understand it, adopt it, live it. The more engaged you become with the big picture – the vision, the ideas – the more you are helping to execute it and, in the long run, you will affect the vision.

And if you are a visionary – how well are communicating your vision? How well are you engaging and orienting your staff toward that vision?

I’m reminded of an obscure lyric: “It’s an ordinary day, I’m not getting paid to think. But thoughts still come from time to time.” No matter what your role is in an organization, you own your thoughts.

Be a great mind. every day.

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