I’m writing today to explain why I wrote the book and to ask for your help. So here goes:
I wrote the book for people (most all of us) who are living much of their lives at work. You know much of my journey, so it’s probably not a surprise to read that. I want the book to be a tool to help, encourage, reflect, and even disrupt.
I need your help to spread the word. If the book resonates with you, then I need help in getting others to “get what you got.” The tools to do the spreading range from social media to a direct conversation with a friend needing some direction.
My main goal, is to get employers (small to large) to buy the book for their employees. I can provide a decision-maker with a copy of the book and the organization can buy the book direct for volume pricing.
Reach out to me directly (comments section of the blog, email or phone) with questions or to discuss how you can help.
It’s clear we like to know where we’re going. The idea of mystery, question marks and pure unknowns disturbs us.
The statement of “I don’t know” can be liberating.
Many won’t go there. We’ve been duped into believing that we have control, can master anything we set our minds to, or there is a solution for every problem. Terry Walling once wrote that the best leaders know how to live with the questions. As tough as that is to swallow and live, I agree, from my own experience. There’s something about moving forward without an answer. There’s something inspiring about moving forward without knowing (exactly) where you’re going. I’ve had so many twists and turns over the last ten years, I’ve come to a peace about the dance. It is life.
In America and other parts of the world, we’re trying to keep the status quo and be innovative at the same time. It doesn’t work. We want to find talent, but we don’t want to get too close to our gut instincts. We want to give advice on employee wellbeing, but don’t want change the structure. Many organizations turn to data and technology to replace what only a human can do. It’s almost like a throwing up the hands approach. When the robots take over, then I’ll bow down to the alter of data. It’s really just a mask anyway, for those who can’t look into your soul, or their own. Data and technology is mostly a spice or flavoring. The human is the main ingredient. Always has, always will be.
Am I advocating dumping research into the cures for cancer or diabetes? Am I saying data won’t help the talent recruiter make better decisions? In no way do I believe that. However, anything used to make up for our intellectual laziness and discipline will only be a band-aid on a gunshot wound. I think we need more of doing what we know we need to do, instead of analyzing endless data/excuses.
Here’s how to start embracing your “I don’t know:”
Understand that being in a place where you don’t have an answer is not an indictment of your intelligence. Anyone who condemns you for your I don’t know is an insecure…you know the right words
Understand we live in the age of titles, certifications, etc., the truth is found in the pursuit and not an outcome with a label
I don’t know leads to knowing. It’s a sad irony how we miss the boat here. By the way, companies like Google are looking for this in the people they hire
A full and vibrant life is found in those able to embrace the unknown.
Surround yourself with people who are on a similar journey. It will keep you strong in a faux world
Arrogance produces blind spots. Think of the farmer here, he/she plants the seed, and in the not so distant future there is a crop. The only difference is blind spots are nearly invisible to the human being possessing arrogance.
This is one dangerous game.
Often those who are arrogant pride themselves in having much figured out. There’s no room for not being right. To be wrong is to be less than. Each interaction is fueled by this drive, not to mention the deep insecurities that plagues.
I am a former member of the above tribe. I endeavor everyday to see things as they really are, even if I can’t figure it all out. Some days are misses, and somedays I live out the truth. No matter the outcomes, I know I can’t allow the seed of arrogance to take root. If I don’t stay committed, the blind spots will look like this:
I will believe that I have a right to justice. Not the justice from a civic point of view, but from a human relationship perspective
I will believe that I am untouchable, even though rationally I know this can never be
I will believe my possessions, accomplishments and titles are validations of my point of view
I will believe people are a means to an end
I will awaken one day and find I am truly alone, and no remedy will be near.
The above is a scene from one of my favorite films, Dead Poet's Society. The clip lasts for about 2 !/2 minutes and is well worth the watch on many levels.
There are two lines from this scene that are a part of me:
"Forget them" and "Don't forget this."
Each of those lines create a powerful dichotomy. We must forget some things and some people. And yet we must never forget some things and some people. Knowing the difference means everything.
Our media addicted culture thrives on forgetting what's important. Like the firefly driven and enslaved to the light. We just can't remember because we fail to choose what's worth our time. We fail to know and understand what's most valuable. By the way, our culture rarely supports this approach.
Ladies and gentlemen, I've pissed off more than a few people due to my indifference to what I believe to be not worth my attention. It was never via harsh words or actions, just a quiet stance for what I know is worthy.
Now, who's worthy of forgetting? The critics, the naysayers and the dead (those who still breathe and yet show no real life). People or things that always find a way to find what's wrong can be dangerous. Many have given up because of the voices who laugh and chide. Don't let them win.
Until organizations realize that people are the essential elements of what make things work, we will forever have a win-lose proposition. Meaning, the organization thinks they've won and people are always on the losing end of the stick. Paying lip-service to this will only further deepen the hole.
I admire any leader that has the courage to speak up and act. These types of leaders are willing to pay a steep price, in-order to fight for something worth fighting for. This is rare. Far too many people of influence are looking the other way.
The absence of leaders willing to raise their hands is the rot we have on our hands.
If there is any statement I would want a manager/leader to understand, it would be the following:
"Your people are smarter than you think."
I feel sorry for those organizations that promote, deify, and plain flatter the pants off of management candidates and new hires (including senior management). I feel even sorrier for those individuals because most of the time they are not prepared to lead. It's often a case of letting words on a resume or some performance metric around revenue generation that leads to this ride to hell.
On face of it, you might say congratulations are in order for the recently hired or promoted. I wouldn't want to stop the celebration and I certainly applaud those who desire to lead people. The problem rests in not taking time to explain some key and essential truths. And one of those is:
"Your People Are Smarter Than You Think."
So You may be wondering why the emphasis on that statement? Here are the reasons why:
People are tired of corporatese (a language that many organizations use to unknowingly frustrate) and false pretense.
People are tired of managers who feel compelled to remind the world that they are the smartest guy or gal in the room.
People often want to do their jobs with excellence, but they now know that Wall Street is often the prettiest girl in the room. And leaves them feeling the need to watch their back while the CEO gushes over the past quarters numbers. I think you get my point here.
People know the world has changed, but often their leaders are vague on the subject and how it impacts them as an employee.
People know that a title and position do not equal leadership. Thus, they won't really follow if they since an embrace of those two.
I've never been able to change one person in my entire life.
I've been told by men and women greater than me, that trying to change people is a road to futility. You might be able to create conditions where someone might want to change. Life could make an impromptu appearance and crush someone to a point where they see no other way but to change. In the end change resides inside each and every one of us. Inside is the keyword here.
So what's with organizations trying to change people?
Organizations can become enamored with their own marketing and brand appearance, not to mention their profit engine. Just like someone who is told repeatedly how great they are. Here that often enough and some will think greatness is theirs. The next-door neighbor to arrogance is power and both work to will over people. It's really a facade, but these types of groups force and intimidate. Like walking a dog that doesn't want to go, they just pull them anyway and can't see the folly of dragging.
So are you in the business of changing people?
Maybe we'd get more if we just started looking at our people as they truly are and then realign, remove, restructure so that the band is playing together and in-tune. This is a courage-based endeavor that few leaders have a stomach for.