When I was travelling and out for a run after work to dissipate the  meetings and the necessity to "be on" all day, I stopped to catch my breath by the window of a business that was closed for the evening. 

As I stood before the window sill crowded with figurines, I wondered about them.  It became a bit of a game for me to try to decipher the theme of the collection, what each little object meant to the collector, the order they were displayed. The significance of what they were lined up to show the viewer looking in from outside. I was intrigued enough to snap a pic with my phone to look back on later. 

And is it so important to make sense of why the collection, the motivation behind it? Or to accept the mystery, smile and keep running to find my own endorphins.  I wonder. 


Taking my laptop into the self described computer nerd to talk about my dead battery and the popups. 

The battery, easy...don't leave the thing plugged in continually like it's a desktop. A lesson about batteries.  Fair enough. I knew that but forgot.

The he asks me, "so do you read anything before you download it? Like the fine print or do you jump to it and accept and push the black "next, accept, continue"  button?"  Fair enough, got me again.  Thus the popups aka viruses. 

A lesson, a timely reminder that in amongst the blah, blah, blah of every day there is the opportunity and the responsibility to take the time to read and learn the fine print words, the conditions, the deal, before we rush to push the black next button and set wheels in motion that may just be the ones with a virus that ultimately destroys what we have built. And in case I forget, he wrote it out for me. 

Thanks, friendly computer nerd.

How often we hire a gem.  A new employee we talk about as a diamond in the rough. Oh, the wonders!  We are so darned excited about the potential and the future that the light reflecting off the offer letter and acceptance signature is blinding. 
Then reality hits and we put that sparkling new hire out to work to help plug the hole in the dam. Put your thumb in here for just a little while, one foot in front of the other in an attempt to meet operational requirements. The little while becomes longer and longer and your sparkling new hire becomes dulled with both of you ending up in a holding pattern. Today it's working. Tomorrow? Oh yeah, tomorrow.   

As leaders, and as an organization, we have the responsibility to make a plan. Not simply to fill up our shelf to get us through in times of need, but to sustain us through and build for the future. To build our people for our future.   

Freeze dried food is potential.  Add our life giving water in the form of training, empowerment and growth to our employees and it becomes nourishment.  Nourishment to the organization in the form of succession planning and building a future. Even freeze dried food has an expiry date.  Don't waste it. 

It's our intrinsic nature to hang on to things - after all, we work hard for our things. Things we acquire, things we have worked for and things that have happened to us. 
 This can be a a good thing; after all our survival depends on building our safe secure world and clutching our swords to our chests in an effort to protect ourselves. 

The problem is when we become so overloaded with the things we are hanging on to that we can barely trudge forward  putting one step in front of the other.

Hanging on to jobs that you hate, grievances that have long since been settled (not always to your liking), things that drain the life out of you but have become your cause celebre and the manifest you show to the world. 

The parking meter is empty.  You have a couple choices here; plug more money into the meter and keep working on your grievances, your job, your cause, or recognize that this is done and it's time to move on.  Change involves choice.  It's yours to make. 

We've all seen the picures of dogs wearing signs around their necks " I ate all the crayons and now I am pooping rainbows, I bark at socks, I ate the pie off the counter."  The thing is, we don't need to shame the dogs, they know they have done "bad". We are shaming them in this way for our entertainment. 

When I received some negative feedback from an assignment I worked on I felt like I had a dog shaming sign tied around my neck with a piece of grocery string. It took me some time to come to terms with the fact that sometimes feedback just isn't fair, it can be very subjectively based on a whole lot of things we don't have control over that the feedback giver is dealing with.  When there is no dialogue, no explanation, no followup it's a recipe for disengagement and broken trust. 

What I learned from this experience is to stop straining against the imaginary sign tied around my neck and build some positive steps moving foward, and to ensure that when I am a giver of feedback, I keep it real.  And of course, to anticipate the outcome if I do eat all the crayons.

  1.  Be specific about your feedback. Remembering that feedback is a very personal form of criticism, constructive or otherwise. 
  2.  Don't make the feedback be about the person, it is about the behavior. Focus on the behavior. Explain what you are talking about. Vagueness is good for misty photos, not feedback sessions.
  3.  Don't use the feedback sandwich. Telling the receiver the good, the bad and then finishing off with the good.  This is a strategy to make the giver feel good, but leaves the receiver with bad taste from the sandwich like a piece of expired luncheon meat. (Also known as the sh*t sandwich.)
  4.  Feedback does not need to be positive, but truthful. Trust is the most essential part of the feedback giver and reciever dance. 
  5.  Leave the shaming to paper signs that dogs can't read anyway, and use feedback as an opportunity for growth and development as it's meant to be. Then follow up to ensure positive steps are taken and don't resort to signs scrawled and tied around the necks of  resources too valuable for the organization to lose. 

Just me and my rental car in a lazy journey through eastern Oregon.  Stopping to wade in the Dechutes river to cool off, then on my way thankful for the car's cool air blasting through the vents. 

My team is feeling the heat  - the pressure of being on the forefront of building a new business.  New service levels to meet, new process, new performance management paramenters to work within. A lot of heat! 

My role as leader is to provide the cool air by way of clear expectations and process to empower them to succeed.  To provide the cool wading pools and rivers of support in working through the heat.  To watch for signs of heatstroke and make sure my team is well hydrated with all the knowledge and skills they need. 

As a team we can check the weather forecast and make it through the heat waves and into the next season of working towards a sustainable operation.  But first - need to make it through this heat without a meltdown.