Telling Lies

A re-post from 2010.

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I read once that if you want to get comfortable with telling lies to others, you need to get comfortable with telling lies to yourself.  Kind of chilling when you think about it. I agree with the analogy.

Now what are these self-lies we tell ourselves?  In my case, during my days in the corporate world, it was performance.  For example, if I hit this number I will get an applause at the weekly staff meeting.  I would sit and find myself perspiring and feeling so much adrenaline at the thought of telling my peers how well my group was doing.  The lie I embraced was that age old dysfunction of; “if I do this or that, I will be liked/loved.”  Did my peers like/love me because of my great feats?  No, and if some were of the flattering variety, it never lasted very long.

Telling, and believing, self-lies is a dangerous habit.  Like an awful addiction to any opiate.  You can never find the strength to stop. It can cripple you from finding and leading an Epic Life.  One scary part is found in how many people/messages are out there to fuel the habit. It ends when the habit births regret.

In the end, lies are lies, no way around it.

Lying to oneself is not only confined to the individual.  But creeps into the organizational world too.  Take the large corporation that proclaims, via marketing, that it values the client.  Ironically, though, its client service department can’t even return phone calls in a reasonable fashion.  The organization continues to print materials, hold town hall meetings, format focus groups, but the truth is still the same; valuing a client is more of a fantasy.  And by the way, most loyal clients know this.

So what happens if we start embracing the truth versus the lie?  Here are some outcomes to consider:

  1. We can get down to the business of change-for the better.
  2. We’ll stop blaming the competition, our dads, the economy or some other phantasm for our poor results.
  3. Focus and happiness.
  4. A legacy colored in the brush strokes of love and action.
  5. Freedom!

I’m sure there are more outcomes to list, but the point remains for un to stop the lies.  Our Epic Life/Venture depends on it.

5 Questions with Lois Kelly and Carmen Medina, Authors of Rebels at Work

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I’ve been looking forward to this interview for some time. Lois and Carmen are two thought leaders I admire and respect a great deal. Rebels at Work: A Handbook for Leading Change from Within is a great read, and their insights here are powerful. Enjoy!

What or who inspired you to take on the challenge of helping rebels in the workplace?

Lois: A giant light bulb popped for me when I was at an innovation conference and heard Carmen talking about being a heretic within the CIA, and how hard it was to create change inside the “belly of the beast.” I realized that day that I had throughout my career I had either been helping clients create change inside their big organizations or had been shaking things up in my own organizations. I also realized that I had been winging it my entire career, and felt kind of sad about that.. What else might I have been able to do if someone had coached me on what it takes to move new ideas through the politics of any organization? Could I have enjoyed work more? Could I have been kinder and more empathetic? This melancholy motivated me to help others.

Carmen: Well, as Lois said when I retired from the CIA the first significant public speech I gave was about being a heretic at the CIA. I not only connected with Lois, but also with many other people trying to make innovation occur inside big organizations. We too often talk about entrepreneurs and startups, but as hard as that is, I think making change inside existing organizations is harder. Like living in your house while you’re doing a big remodel. When I was at CIA, I was always reflecting on what I was doing. A lot of those reflections evolved into better practices for Rebels at Work.

What keeps you up at night regarding this mission? Are there any storm clouds we should be looking out for?

Lois: how do we reach BOTH the rebels and the executives to whom rebels report? We can teach, mentor and inspire rebels. But for organizations to adapt and grow executives have to create an environment where new ideas are welcomed and they have to know how to coach their rebels. Maybe even more fundamentally, they have to want rebels on their teams, not just tolerate them. The storm cloud I see is that as changing market contexts upend business as usual, most people get scared. And when they get scared they double down and try to make what’s worked before keep on working, shunning the people with the new ideas. Related is that people stop raising new ideas because they know business is not good and they are afraid of losing their jobs.

Carmen: What keeps me up a lot is the worldwide conspiracy for the preservation of mediocrity. For the most part, it’s not an explicit conspiracy, although people who believe things like “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” are suggesting that we should just settle. All of us, at one time or another, are unwitting members of this conspiracy. I also worry a lot about how hard it is to get people to accept diversity of thinking. This is something I had to deal with during my career. And sometimes I worry it isn’t really improving.

In Chapter 8, you write about the importance of Rebel Self-Care. From a wellbeing perspective, can you expand on that?

Lois: We rebels tend to be passionate and that passion can morph into obsession. Obsession can eat you alive, causing all kinds of bad behavior and blinding us from being able to rationally see what’s what. Taking care of ourselves is the only way to not fall into an obsessive dark hole. It’s the only way to keep a positive perspective and sense of humor. When we lose those, we’re losing our ability to be effective. Maybe we’re just plain losing ourselves. The more committed we are about excelling at our work, the more we need to look after our mental, spiritual and physical well-being. That’s our fuel and our safety net. It’s also what gives meaning to our life and work. (And meaning is a much more satisfying outcome than money or status.)

Carmen: I flunked Rebel Self-Care in my career, so I’m excited that we discuss this in the book and that so many people respond so positively to the message. I lost some of my best friends at the Agency during my time there because I didn’t pay attention to my emotions, that I was approaching a breaking point. All rebels need to avoid that breaking point. When we become cynical and negative, it takes a lot of effort to recover. And sometimes we never do.

Can the strategies found in the book apply to multiple areas of a rebel’s life?

Lois: Ha! Anyone who has teenagers knows what it’s like to be the “boss” of rebels. You love their fresh thinking, their creativity, their intolerance for school and societal rules that just don’t make sense. And yet they make you crazy when they break the rules, do stupid things without understanding the bigger context, and let their emotions run wild. When we coach our teenagers and help them learn how to navigate, they develop capacities for being effective, meaningful citizens of the world. If we simply insist they follow the rules, they just get angrier and more frustrated. Same with rebels and their bosses. As for rebels, the strategies in the book apply to many areas of our lives where we’re trying to get groups of people or organizations to consider new and better approaches than what exists. Parent-Teacher Organizations, church councils, school committees, condo associations, boards of non-profits. It’s about people influencing people.

Carmen: I use my “lizard brain” mantra to control my emotions ALL THE TIME. It really works. One recommendation we make is for rebels to not dominate conversations. In everything we do, we need to listen more.

When you think back on your career, can you recall a manager who once looked negatively at rebels, and then changed their mind? What brought the change on?

Lois: As a lifelong rebel, I pissed off more than a couple of my bosses and most of them came around because of two reasons, and sometimes a third. They realized how much I cared for the organization and wanted all of us to succeed. Second, they often couldn’t believe how many risks I took to make new ideas work. I didn’t just have skin in the game, I had a whole body commitment. From my observations, no manager needs to give rebels the “you have to be accountable” talk. Because I spent my career working for ad agencies and consulting firms, the third thing that turned my bosses into believers was revenue. When my ideas produced new revenue, there was only happiness and support.

Carmen: It’s always surprised me how well I get along with gruff, no-nonsense people. I think I had a couple of managers in my career who first thought I was nuts and then came to believe in what I was doing. This is going to sound arrogant, perhaps, but I think what changed their mind was that they began to appreciate that I had been right all along. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve been wrong many, many times. But in the late 1990s, I appreciated what the internet was going to do to “knowledge work” sooner than many people in my organization. I had so many arguments with people about applications such as Wikipedia and Social Media. Years later, some of them now ask me how I saw it coming. Well, I can’t explain that at all. Really, I don’t understand why they didn’t see it.

 

Carmen

 

 

 

 

 

Carmen Medina 

Carmen spent 32 years as a heretic at the Central Intelligence Agency. Despite this, she held several senior positions at the Agency, including serving on the executive team that led the CIA’s analytic directorate. She thinks most organizations don’t have a good way of determining when it’s time to transform and/or “sell” their current business model. Heretics, mavericks, and rebels at work can provide organizations with the important early warning system they so desperately need.

Since retiring from CIA in 2010, Carmen has continued to write and speak about Rebels at Work, analysis and strategic warning, the emergence of new global norms in the 21st century, the future culture of work, and cognitive diversity. She is Puerto Rican by birth and Texan by nationality.  She tweets under @milouness and @RebelsatWork

 

 Lois

Lois Kelly

Lois Kelly has been a creative rebel throughout her career, helping some of the most respected companies in the world create new ways to launch products, communicate complicated issues, influence public opinion, deal with crises, go public, adopt innovative business practices, and occasionally try to move mountains.

During this journey, Lois has become a student of change, learning what it takes to get people to embrace new ideas. Her obsession is creating clarity from complexity. Her most meaningful work is leading workshops where people create the future they want for their organizations and companies.

Lois lives in Rhode Island, the smallest and most creative state in the United States, and tweets under @LoisKelly and @RebelsatWork.

 

Dehumanizing the Employee

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In my last post, I rang the bell about the gap between human development and the advancements of technology. The disharmony is evident to many. Within the large and mid-market organizations, there is another disturbing trend afoot. We are witnessing the dehumanization of the employee.

Dehumanizing the employee occurs as many employers are looking to advance efficiency and innovation. It’s a false belief that those twins can move human development the way technology does with automation or research.

One area worth looking at is the process many organizations use to hire talent. Keep in mind that the talent is made up of flesh and blood. I realize this can also be a source of real frustration for those in talent recruitment. Technology has convinced many senior leaders that vast problems are solved in the hands of inventive software.

The idea of using screening software has a place. However, it’s proven, the folly of hiring based on keywords. The old saying, “we hired your resume, but what we got was you” is on mark here. More critical thinking in this spot is what we need. Seems like that would remedy the incongruent state of the talent recruitment processes.

So the dehumanizing continues. What do we do now that the horses are out of the gate?

  • Put on your big boy pants or big girl skirt, and be a leader with integrity and vigor
  • Change the culture. This is not for the faint of heart, but if you do the first bullet it will increase the odds in your favor
  • Stop listening to the marketing
  • Trust only those who’ve been hurt deeply. They will be honest and real
  • Close it down, quit, move on, if that’s what it takes. Better to live to fight another, than die while still breathing

Old Leaders, Old Ideas

Decided to take a look back and found this post from June of 2005. Ever experienced old leaders and their old ideas? Maybe you’ve approached your life this way. It’s a dangerous place, either way.

 

Isn’t it tragic how old leaders bring old ideas?  Here are some reasons for this dysfunction:

  •     Old leaders look through the lens of the past.  A place that “once was”
  •     Old leaders believe (foolishly) that what worked in the past will work again
  •     Old leaders grow old gradually…over time, and die before they are buried
  •     Old leaders are insecure and need an organization that will grow old with them
  •     Old leaders think change applies to others

I was at a holiday get-together this past weekend.  One individual gave me some interesting insights.  She worked for a company where many of the key leaders had moved onto another competitor.  This was the result of a management shake-up some years ago.  These leaders were now trying to implement a structure like the one they had some ten years ago.  She hauntingly noted; “it didn’t work at our place ten years ago, and it won’t work at their new place.”

One of the common mistakes of management is the dysfunction of justifying the old by glorying in the “moments in the sun.”  They experienced the success, and believed that is was a one-way ticket to everlasting success.  Again, old leaders with old ideas.

There’s One in Every Crowd

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Picture yourself going along and things are flowing as you like. You might even feel genuinely successful. And behold, out of nowhere (feels like that) comes the one. The one who wants to point out where you’re off or what you’ve missed.

There’s one in every crowd.

It’s not fair to have someone come in and point out the latest rumor regarding your project, or point out all of the terrible dangers ahead if you proceed. Alas, life is not…

I now look for these folks. Yep, that’s right, I look for them. I see them as a barometer of what I may be onto. Does my idea make anyone feel threatened or uncomfortable., Remember, Martin Luther King, Je. had folks tell him that forming boycotts was too risky. There are numerous examples of people who the status quo felt were dangerous. You might call them an annoyance, which they are, we just need to see the bigger picture. You don’t want your movie dominated by a jealous bit player. These types have often given up and given in. They don’t want to see you rise. The mission is too important to crumble under the weight.

I have a warning for you. The people who take on these roles in your story can be deceptive. Look at them as old hands who know how to upset the cart. They come to you subtly and in a caring manner. Don’t get sucked in. I would even advise you do something  daring. In your next encounter, ask a probing question for motive and then embrace silence. Don’t say a word no matter how uncomfortable it feels. Count 10 breaths in your head, stare into space, but do not speak. The uncomfortable silence is designed to bring out motive. Best that you know who and what you’re dealing with.

It’s not a question of if you’ll meet the “one in every crowd,” but when. The encounter after is what makes all the difference.

Recognizing Talent.

The below video clip was shot a couple of years ago.  The relevance continues, especially in these upside-down times we find ourselves in.  We're in a place where recognizing talent is essential.  And by the way, it starts with your soul and the art of searching people. 

I could write further on this, but check-out the video clip for more.

 

5 Easy Ways for Small Businesses to Cut Costs

Every penny counts, so get lean and mean. 

Every small business owner knows that costs are easier to
control than revenue—and that’s especially important for startups, who can run
up quite a bill while they’re waiting for things to take off. Here are a few
ways you can boost profits and power through lean times, no matter what niche
you serve.

1. Think used

Depending on the type of business you operate, you might be
able to incorporate used items into your office or store to save money. Light
fixtures, furniture, art, desks, computers and more can all be had for
significantly less than retail if you do some Craigslist hunting. Don’t be
afraid to repurpose industrial equipment that local companies might want to throw
away, as it comes cheap and you get that cool ‘industrial’ design
to your business. Be sure to test used electronics before purchasing—but a
little extra time can save you a lot of money, particularly in the beginning
when it matters most.

2. Move to the
cloud

How much are you spending on printing out and distributing
office memos? How often do you upgrade your version of Office or the Adobe
Master Collection
? Google offers great ways for companies to share ideas and
create documents for free with their Google Docs collection. Adobe and many of
software distributors offer low cost cloud-based services that require a very
low monthly fee which can save you from having to spend hundreds on upgrades
every year. Cloud storage solutions are also becoming more affordable and
reliable; Google Drive, Drop Box and Microsoft all have
great solutions which are all cheaper than buying multiple hard drives.

3. Be energy efficient

You don’t need to be moving into a new space to enjoy the
savings from implementing energy efficient devices into your office. Start by
considering new lighting solutions like CFL’s LED’s or even energy efficient
tungsten bulbs. Unblock windows and utilize skylights if available. Not only do
windows help save on lighting costs all that natural light can help make your
employees happier. Instead of turning on the heater for the whole office,
invest in some energy efficient electric heaters
for the areas where it gets coldest. Hook up all electronics to smart power
strips that automatically shut off all power once the day is over and everyone
is gone.

4. Shop around

Let your office supply vendors know that you will be
shopping around to find the best deals and prices on the products you use the
most. Then do it. Online retailers like Amazon and Wal-Mart
offer great prices on bulk items and often will ship free to your store or
office. If you really like your vendors, offer them the option to price match or
to offer you other services to make up the difference in cost. Do this with
your internet, cable/satellite, and phone services yearly to ensure you’re
receiving the best rates available in your area.

5. Rethink your location

Are you absolutely sure your location is best suited to your
needs? Restaurants and some stores might be hard-pressed to move elsewhere, but
you should still consider the cost benefits especially if you have a loyal
clientele willing to go to another location. While you’re at it, you should
consider allowing as many of your employees as possible to telecommute. By
doing this and utilizing free Google services like Google Voice/Talk, Docs and
Drive you can reduce the amount of space you need in an office, how much energy
you have to pay for, and how much you have to spend on electronics.

Aimee Watts is a staff
writer for
Mobile Moo. She has spent
ten years telecommuting full-time, and loves spreading tips and advice for
fellow work-at-home parents. She loves gadgets, new ideas, and skiing with her
two favorite people: her husband and teenage son. They live in Evergreen,
Colorado