Can You See The Possibilities?

Can You See The Possibilities?

I remember, way back in the day, I was working for a software company, selling scheduling technology to colleges and universities. At one point, I was talking to a prospect whose entire team was, unfortunately, attached to an incredibly obsolete, home grown program. If it weren’t for ancient hardware being replaced, I’m not sure they ever would have looked at new software at all. But their change came with pain and resistance — because everyone loved what they had. It was theirs, they built it, they knew it, it was comfortable, familiar and personal. And while it was true that our technology could replace what they had and upgrade it in amazing ways, that didn’t seem to matter. They didn’t want to lose what they had; they didn’t want to give up the comfort of the familiar. Last week, we talked about how easy it is to get caught up in the sorrow of what we’re losing and completely miss the joy and possibility of what we can gain. Humans have tendency to look at anything different as bad. As I spoke with the school, they were so focused on what they were losing, they were unable to see what they could have gained. So, I took a different approach. I asked them about everything they loved and were afraid of losing. They were able to tell me what their beloved software did and everything they loved about it. Truth be told, it was amazing on so many levels — especially when you consider the platform it was built upon and its age. From there, it was all too natural for me to shift...
Sitting In Celebration

Sitting In Celebration

It’s officially summer, and I’m still shocked by the fact that my youngest daughter just finished the fifth grade. She finished elementary school! At times like this Ferris Bueller keeps playing in my head: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.”  I try to pay attention, really I do — and yet here we are, and it feels like the years are blowing by. She’s eleven. We have seven years left with her, only three with our oldest, before they’re off to college. It’s a mind-blowing and joyful dichotomy, isn’t it? On the one hand, it’s exciting! My amazing daughters are growing up and are going to do amazing things with their lives. On the other hand, bittersweet — because they’ll never be children again. Here’s the lesson I’m working on: we don’t want to miss the joy of it all by wallowing in the sorrow of it all. When I think about my daughters, I know that I don’t want to miss the adventures that are going to happen tomorrow because I’m mourning what ended yesterday. My daughters are growing up, and there are moments for the bittersweet nostalgia, but not at the expense of what they’re doing right now. Dr. Seuss wrote, “Don’t cry that it’s over, celebrate that it happened.” Instead of being upset that something is ending — let’s celebrate what’s wonderful. Let’s celebrate the joy we just experienced. When you focus on what you’re losing, you stay in the negative state. When you sit in a place of celebration — you start to seek more celebration. When it comes to leading your daily self, I encourage you to remember the wisdoms of those...
What’s Your Independence?

What’s Your Independence?

How was your fourth of July? The day we celebrate our Independence. So here’s a powerful question: What are you declaring independence from? What are you breaking away from this Fourth of July? Fear of risk? The naysayers in your life? The status quo of mediocrity and repetition? What are you declaring independence from? The wonderful irony of Independence is that by stating such a declaration, you step wholly into interdependence. And that’s a good thing. Think about it: The founding fathers could not have built this nation alone. They separated from tyranny to build possibility! But the thirteen colonies needed each other to survive; in order to build a more perfect union, they had to work together. The Continental Congress couldn’t do it by themselves. It took community, people of all types, and a collective commitment to work together for a common goal. It’s taking us a long time, and we still haven’t mastered it, of course, but it is interconnected, interdependence that supports our independence. We tend to celebrate independence in this rugged, bootstraps, I-don’t-need-anyone American mindset. But NO ONE does it alone. No one! We use collective resources, services and roads; we eat food others have grown, and drive cars others have built. In all aspects of our independence we are working with a team, a community, a neighborhood, a family…it is this very interdependence that is powerful. If we’re celebrating independence as some kind of isolated lone wolf, then we’re missing the point. So, by all (safe) means, celebrate Independence. And, while you’re at it, honor also the truth and value of interdependence: Great leaders...
Leaders Embrace Difficult Conversations

Leaders Embrace Difficult Conversations

… Not because they’re fun, but because those conversations are the incubator of change and growth.   Lately, I’ve noticed a theme among my coaching clients. I’m not sure if there’s something in the water or it’s just a strange coincidence (or perhaps it has something to do with our political climate), but everyone I’m talking to these days is learning how to embrace and engage in difficult conversations. You know the ones: When you have to confront your boss because they’re sending you contradictory messages. When you have an employee you have to let go. When you have a teammate who’s spreading negativity behind your back.  A loved one with a diametrically opposed view than yours. You know you want to engage, but how does one engage in those conversations productively? Remember this lesson: Everything we see hides something else. When we see sadness, anger, frustration, confusion, learn to ask — what’s that hiding? What’s underneath it? What is their anger covering up? Seek that sense of understanding, to know what’s really going on under the surface. As is wisely pointed out in one of my favorite books, Getting to Yes, the key to being able to engage productively in difficult conversations is the ability to state your opponent’s position better than your opponent. That doesn’t mean you’ll change them overnight; nothing happens overnight except sleep. But when you can state their position, and its underlying catalyst, your ‘opponent’ will feel understood by you — and that’s the real tipping point, isn’t it? That’s where there’s room for change, that’s where they begin to really feel heard and seen, and no longer can they say “you...
Independence Leads To Interdependence

Independence Leads To Interdependence

Happy Fourth of July Everyone! Today, we celebrate our Independence. So here’s a powerful question: What are you declaring independence from? What are you breaking away from this Fourth of July? Fear of risk? The naysayers in your life? The status quo of mediocrity and repetition? What are you declaring independence from? The wonderful irony of Independence is that by stating such a declaration, you step wholly into interdependence. And that’s a good thing. Think about it: The founding fathers could not have built this nation alone. They separated from tyranny to build possibility! But the thirteen colonies needed each other to survive; in order to build a more perfect union, they had to work together. The Continental Congress couldn’t do it by themselves. It took community, people of all types, and a collective commitment to work together for a common goal. It’s taking us a long time, and we still haven’t mastered it, of course, but it is interconnected, interdependence that supports our independence. We tend to celebrate independence in this rugged, bootstraps, I-don’t-need-anyone American mindset. But NO ONE does it alone. No one! We use collective resources, services and roads; we eat food others have grown, and drive cars others have built. In all aspects of our independence we are working with a team, a community, a neighborhood, a family…it is this very interdependence that is powerful. If we’re celebrating independence as some kind of isolated lone wolf, then we’re missing the point. So this Fourth of July, by all (safe) means, celebrate Independence. And, while you’re at it, honor also the truth and value of interdependence: Great leaders don’t go it alone....