We Need the Real Problem Solvers

The need for solving problems seems so obvious in our current environment.  But I'm amazed how far away that concept is for many.  Whether it's the job hunter or the board member of a non-profit, it seems like the idea of solving problems is rather foreign.  Now, I know we talk a lot about solving problems, but I'm referring to the talking and the doing.  I know this is hard to do in my country.  We've gotten a little soft on real problem solving.  Many are still operating as if we were still in the industrial age.

There needs to be a changing of the lens we use.  So put on a different pair of glasses and build the habit of being a problem solver.  You'll be glad you did, and so will the people and organizations waiting for your solutions.

How Meaningful Work Can Create Havoc


Some would say that meaningful work stands in direct opposition to the structure of many organizations-specifically large organizations.  I would say it can create havoc.  And that might be a good thing.

I know you might be thinking havoc brings destruction and loss.  Correct. But the main point is found in how humans are wired versus the often insane motivations of the organization or business model.  It seems to me we're seeing the unraveling that is inevitable when the goals of the company run counter to basic human wiring. 

We're talking the desire for meaning and meaningful work. Not dreaming with no action, but the core of who we are.

I've talked to many a pragmatists who've told me to be realistic and not get lost in all of the soft stuff.  Most of the time these folks are just not willing to see what is very difficult to face. In other words, the train wreck we're grappling with in so many parts of the world.  The damage is so evident and many are not quite sure what to do. 

I saw this coming over ten years ago, some of you even further back.  Now we have a hunger to get life right.  In many ways, we want a place where well-being is balanced and intact.  Though we're struggling with the aftermath of years of neglect-individually and corporately.  It's as if we got drunk on profit, competition and the desire to succeed.  And in-turn, we wounded (sometimes mortally) the very group that makes all of the right form of the latter possible.



How Do You Know When The World Has Changed?

Do you know the signs of a changed world?  Apply this to your personal sphere and the larger world too.  Are there certain events or thoughts that trigger this for you?  Maybe it was conversation with a friend or a book from a visionary.  Each of us should remember the where, when and how.  But what if you've got the notice, but decided to ignore it?

Now we're talking about being weighed in the scales of life.

Our lives will be measured by what we are willing to see and what we're willing to act on.  My experience tells me this is not a favorite place for many to be.  Ironic, since it's where the better life, the better future and the better work is found.


Aspiring To What’s Not Really There

Very easy these days to want success, fame and fortune.  I mean who wouldn't want that?  When the economy is not performing like we want or we're knocking on the door of landing a prized client, it kind of justifies our pursuit.  An understandable discontent to be sure.

But it's an illusion.  Think of it like a golden carrot that's always one step out of our reach.  And just like a drug, we keep coming back for more.  We always find an excuse for what we know deep down is true. 

In my experience what we aspire to should be Real and within our reach.  That implies that we can aspire to the wrong things.  And the wrong things create a question of trustworthiness.

Can you be trusted with the vision given to you?  Can you be trusted with the aspiration that comes along with?

The following are some tough questions to ask as you consider:

  1. Are you involved in things bigger than yourself?
  2. Can you be content even when nothing seems to break your way?
  3. Do you have a desire to find your limits?
  4. If you died today, what and how big would the void be?
  5. Do you have to "take" in-order to win?
  6. What charms you?
  7. Is there anyone besides God who knows all of your secrets?
  8. If you have attained some level of success, fame and fortune, could you walk away from it?
  9. If everyone you knew, and loved, recommended you give up, could you continue the journey anyway?
  10. Have you rejected comfort?

It’s Called Falling In Love, Tiger

First, no judgement from me on Tiger Woods.  I'm made of the same stuff.  Temptation and mistakes are a one-out-of-one statistic.

I couldn't help but scratch my head when I heard a sports personality comment on Tiger Woods' situation.  He basically stated that Tiger should have kept himself single because the temptations would be too great for him to handle…considering his fame and fortune.

It's called falling in love.  And everybody wants that whether they know it, want it, hate it, deny it, or find themselves with a broken heart over it.

Unfortunately, most of media is focusing on endorsements, who the women were, website statements, and pure gossip.  A broken heart didn't make the headlines.  This says much about where we're at.

I'm confident only the broken hearted can understand what if means to be…

Advice for Barack Obama

This is not a political/2008 American election post.  This is some friendly/honest advice for Barack Obama.

For consistency, I’ll focus on things relating to leading.  So here goes:

  1. Embrace candor and don’t tell us what we want to hear.  I know political pundits and spin doctors would say that’s crazy, but its what most Americans want.
  2. Don’t assume that you’ve arrived or have been anointed.  Leadership is a responsibility and not a privilege.
  3. Surround yourself with people who are interested in doing the right thing, and not polling numbers.
  4. Since history will judge you by what you did and not what you said, make your decisions and carry them out.
  5. Tough roads are what make us great, so don’t shy from them.
  6. Be careful with people who are impressed by you.  Those types will tell you only what is in their best interest.
  7. Tell America what you’re for.  Anyone can say what their against.  Courage is found in the "for."
  8. Be specific, even if it costs you.
  9. Like all of us, we only get one shot at this thing called life, so make it count.
  10. There are no inside secrets.  So don’t assume anything.

Is It the Economy?

With all of the talk about the economy one could get lost in the maze and forget where great opportunity can be found.  I don’t write this to diminish any pain you may be experiencing, but to remind you of what could be ahead of you.

In that spirit, look at the below post from a couple of weeks ago:

Having trouble in life and/or career? 

Think about the following:

  • Trouble is like fire in the furnace that removes impurities from gold-your gold.
  • Trouble is like a plow to soil being prepared for seed planting-seeds of a great life.
  • Trouble is like an inconvenient truth haunting you to move out of what’s familiar and comfortable.
  • Trouble and pain are relatives, and they both are megaphones for a deaf world (thanks to C.S. Lewis for that analogy).
  • Trouble is like a laser in a master surgeon’s hands that focuses exactly where the need is.
  • Trouble should move you to ask for help.
  • Trouble is like the rainstorm that precedes the sun and rainbow.

Why We Follow the Leader

In America we are in the midst of an election cycle that’s interesting to say the least.  The following is from an article I wrote last November.  I believe sets an appropriate tone.

I’m always fascinated by how leaders (good and bad) use words to get people to follow. It’s a very powerful reality when you think about it. What’s critical is why a leader wants you to follow. Often it is not the subject (global warming, quarterly profits, keeping a relationship going, etc.) at hand. Sometimes the leader will use certain words to connect with what motivates you. Sometimes the leader will only use words that they think you want to hear. Bad news is never far behind words used to please your itching ears. For example; “The plant is still viable and no shut-down is in the foreseeable future.”

Leaders and followers have one thing in common; both tend to wear masks. No where is this more prevalent than in the corporate landscape. When you have that much power and money floating around, you might as well call it a Greek Tragedy.  Some masks are used to hide scars that have been inside for years, while others are used to deceive. Regardless of the intent, masks are not a good thing.

Consider former Vice President Al Gore. Why does he want you to follow him on his crusade to save the planet? He has stated that it’s about the spiritual and the moral. Maybe it is…maybe it is something completely different. In a recent article on CNN/Money.com, Mr. Gore said it’s the single most important thing we (citizens of planet earth I guess) should be focusing on. You may agree or disagree, but you can’t deny the power behind the words he uses.

One of the greatest hungers plaguing us today is our desire for authenticity. We’ve become suspicious because we’ve been sold the bill of goods more times than we care to remember. Some have followed the road of cynicism, while others are still looking for this elusive bird.
No human becoming can know for sure what sits inside of another person’s heart (good reason not to be in the judgment business). So why not do some deeper looking before you decide to follow.

Here are some tips to act on:

• Ask the leader/leaders a lot of why questions. For example; "Why do you want this event/outcome to occur?" Then follow up with a why question to their answer. If the leader seems put off or disturbed (watch their eyes on this one), it might be a sign of insincerity.
• Don’t follow someone/something for fame and fortune. Those who do things for those two reasons are dwelling in the Land of Fake.
• Make sure your values/motives line up with the cause or leader.
• Look at the company the leader keeps. If they hang with devil, they normally will act like him.
• Seek the advice of someone who isn’t afraid to tell you the truth. What they say may hurt, but it could keep you from going over a cliff.
• Watch the body language. For example, observe the blinking of the eyes. If the leader blinks at a high rate, he or she might not be fully committed to what their speaking of.

Figuring It Out

Caught this post from Jim Logan on “Making Sense of What, Why and How.”  He’s right and I think there is one additional point to me made; how does experience factor in on learning.

Much instruction today comes from our belief that a “discipline” can be dispensed in one swoop (classroom, seminar, etc.).  Reality says, as humans, we’ve all come to learning with a great deal of baggage…good and bad.  This baggage weighs heavy, but we’d never admit that.  For example, a childhood full of criticism renders many ineffective…even for those who have outward signs of success.  We humans are good at wearing masks and playing the game of “I’m OK, you’re OK.”  Ever wonder why many organizations have a leadership vacuum?

Experience will allow the learner to figure out much on their own.  Simply because experience is a very giving teacher.  Sort of like some organizations incenting people when they make mistakes.  Experience will teach you, if you let it, like no other form of education.  Experience is REAL!

Some years ago when my wife shouldered the majority of responsibility in raising our kids, I could be found telling many people how tough a job she had.  I did this out of respect, love and encouragement.  But it wasn’t until I had to take her role (primary caregiver) on that I truly understood what she did and experienced.  It was only through experience that I learned.

What say you?