Embodying Captain America: Resilience In The Face Of Adversity

Embodying Captain America: Resilience In The Face Of Adversity

  Photo by Limor Zellermayer on Unsplash “Who are you without that suit?!” It was a fabulous question Captain America asked of Iron Man. Sorry, my family recently embarked on a full 23 Marvel movie marathon as a way to pass time through the quarantine, so now everything reminds me of the Avengers. It’s fascinating to me how much these fantastic stories of superheroes pertain to our current historical moment. It seems, however, most people I ask, who’s your favorite Marvel hero? Will name Tony Stark. Perhaps it’s his bad-boy persona or the quintessential hero’s journey he finds himself on. Or maybe it’s just because he’s the most flawed and it’s easy to see ourselves in him. Well, that and who doesn’t want to be a billionaire philanthropist genius? But then there’s Captain America. I think I could write a book on the analysis of this near Christ-like figure. Despite being the quintessential ‘good guy’ (or perhaps because of that), Captain America always seems to be one of the more divisive characters of the series. He is extremely strong-willed which leads him into a lot of arguments with Tony Stark and others. He’s got a handful of catch-phrases, including my favorite: “I can do this all day.” I think it encapsulates what makes Captain Rogers, Captain Rogers. He’s incorruptible. You can beat him up all day. It doesn’t change him. He becomes no more cynical, no less pure. Once I was discussing “Turning the other cheek” with a group of friends, and one of them had an incredible insight that stuck with me some 30 years later: “The Bible verse doesn’t say ‘you can’t protect yourself,'” she...
How To Have A Better Meeting

How To Have A Better Meeting

Photo by Drew Beamer on Unsplash Last week, we discussed this era’s overreliance on Zoom, and when we need to step away from the video call — or from a meeting altogether. It’s just not always necessary! Remember: a meeting exists for one reason only: to solve a problem that can’t be solved any other way. Passing along information doesn’t require a meeting; it can be accomplished with a report. Having a discussion or solving a problem is what meetings are for. Most meetings are a waste of time — and this is coming from someone who goes to meetings for a living. But for the times you really, truly do need a meeting, how can you make sure it’s as effective as possible? How can you grow as a team to make your meetings powerful and efficient? I always recommend a process of growth. Every meeting you have, take time to review and see how you could have done it better. A great question for the end of a meeting (when they don’t run over and need to end abruptly) is how well did the meeting go, on a scale of 1-10? Go around the room. Everyone answers. No debate, just a number. After the team answers that, then ask: what could make that number a 10? Again, everyone answers. The whole process takes a minute or two. No debate. Most people view most meetings as a waste of time; this simple process asks people not just to quantify the value, but to help improve it to a 10. The questions help the team to look inward and see what they could do differently, and provide a space for...
Video Conferencing and When to Avoid It

Video Conferencing and When to Avoid It

Photo by Chris Montgomery on Unsplash Personally, I avoid video conferencing whenever I can. My wife does Zoom calls all day and is exhausted from it. I do one or two a week and hate them. Zoom has replaced meetings, but these digital replacements are not the same as meeting in the boardroom. You feel like you have to constantly look at your screen, maybe just making sure you don’t look weird. When you are looking at the faces on the screen you aren’t looking at the camera, so you don’t have eye contact. It becomes a false image of truth. It keeps people from really being themselves because they are unable to make quality eye contact and establish that real connection. As The Gambler taught us, “Know when to hold’em, know when to fold‘em.” Sometimes you need a Zoom call, but most of the time you probably don’t. An old school phone conference call, Slack message, chat, email, or text may be more appropriate; there are so many methods to communicate these days, but for some reason we’ve depended too much on Zoom in this season of COVID. Part of this is because we want to see peoples’ faces; we want to read their expressions, because we think we’ll connect more from it. Often that’s true, but with Zoom? It’s often not. First of all, there is a mistaken perception that we are gifted at reading expressions. We all think we’re better than we actually are! Malcolm Gladwell wrote a whole book about how bad we are at reading other people’s faces, titled Talking with Strangers. The book explains that we have a way of reading...
Taking a Moment to Review Your Relationships

Taking a Moment to Review Your Relationships

Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash “Books are meant to be read from beginning to end, but they are best understood from end to beginning.” – from the 2016 film Mr. Church.  Like books, situations can be better understood when looking at them in reverse. Some divisions or organizations are masterful at debriefing important events with their teams to dissect the learning and improve the processes and results; most, however, are not. Most are afraid to have an honest critique for fear of being wrong, or “held accountable” in a negative way. Critiques are taken personally and protectionism kicks in creating defensiveness. What if more teams were able to have constructive, empowering, and engaging assessments of their successes and failures, courageously asking what worked, what didn’t work, and what did they not do that they could have to have helped? Imagine taking time to learn from their mistakes, to better work together as a team during ordinary moments as well as high-stress moments. This kind of learning can only be done in reverse. We can only assess high-stress situations with our team when we go back and look from the end back to the beginning and seek to understand our own failings and work to get better. This sort of review works for all teams in all kinds of industries from firefighters and SWAT teams to production and manufacturing floors to sales organizations, health providers, significant others, and families. It is an act of love to look upon your relationships, personal, professional, or otherwise, and make sure you have tended it well. Such love is worth bestowing upon anyone you engage with on a...
A Shift In Perspective

A Shift In Perspective

I know I reference my coaching clients a lot in these blog posts, but for those of you who haven’t experienced it, you might be feeling a little skeptical. And I get it.  When I first explored coaching it felt very incestuous – coaches always coaching coaches and coach wanna-bees. I wondered, can coaching really make a difference in the real world, or is it just a lot of feel-good hooey? After 15 years in the profession, however, I’ve seen enough results to know it is real. Take a recent client of mine. For her, the choices she was making got in the way of how she was showing up, and the impact was profound. Throughout her career, she’d kind of lost touch with the person she always saw herself to be. Then, she got wrapped up and spun around with other people’s stories of who she was; she got a little high on her horse because of her position and title. Then, one day, someone triggered her in a really bad way, and created the issue that brought me in. Our work wasn’t exactly required by her job, but when it started, it was seen by many as a last ditch effort. Some weren’t sure they even wanted to keep her on. But they committed to six months, and so did she. Together in those six months, we worked on getting her back to her core self, to who she really was, and how she lost her way and why she was triggered in the first place. Now, this is exactly the kind of stuff that can sound sort of new-agey, woo-woo, and leaves people feeling skeptical — but it’s exactly this kind of...

With All Due Respect To NIKE

Are you running from something? Or towards something? Too often we’re running away, trying to escape — but our problems keep following us!  Like that person who goes from one bad relationship to another with no loss of emotion, or those that seem to have terrible job after terrible job. But what are the chances that they could have that many bad jobs (or relationships)? There’s got to be a common theme, a common denominator. If you’re in this situation, I hate to break it to you: the common denominator is YOU. We tend to take our problems with us. So if you want a different result, you have to take a different action. But how can you change your perspective? How can you build a habit of considering new ideas and making more powerful decisions? Well, take a lesson from Socrates. There are three elements to how we engage with and show up in our life; there’s what we think, how we feel and what we do. Pick one, change some aspect of it and see what you get. Then change another part and explore again. Not every change will yield the desired result, but some will.Otherwise, if you just keep thinking, feeling and doing the same things over and over again, nothing will ever change, right?  Here’s the full Socrates quote: If you always do what you’ve always done, You will always get what you always got. If you always get what you always got, You will always think what you’ve always thought. If you always think what you’ve always thought, You will always feel what you’ve always felt. If...