February 27, 2009

True Responsibility

Regardless of who you are, what your job title or pay grade is, or where you live, the fact of the matter is, people need you to be responsible. Most people realize and accept this. They want to be responsible, and they want to do the right thing.

However, most people have a misunderstanding about what it really means to be truly responsible.

You have been given the gift of a creative mind. Some may argue that they cannot paint, or create great works of prose, or develop really cool applications that are going to revolutionize the world. I'll agree, some people cannot paint or do any of the things that were mentioned, however, anyone can be creative. And everyone has a responsibility to exercise the creative muscles.

People have bought into the misconception that responsibility means accepting things the way that they are. People somehow believe that the way things are now is how they will always be. Accepting this mindset will ensure that things will not be the same as they are now. Why? Because this supports and maintain the system of the status quo. The system of the status quo is crumbling. Continuing to do things the way that they have always done, simply because that is always the way that they have been done, is not indicative of accepting responsibility.

Be creative with the challenges and issues that are preventing you, your organization, or even your family from embodying the image of the design that they have been creatively built with. You have a responsibility and obligation to creatively make use of the strengths and talents that you have been wired with every single day.

If you need any help unwrapping this more, let me know. I am passionate about helping individuals and organizations to identify creative ways that they can make full use of the opportunities, resources, strengths, and talents that are uniquely their own!

February 26, 2009

Heretics Wanted

Are you working hard, putting everything that you have into moving forward your action plan to make a positive impact on the world? Or, do you more often find yourself in protection mode, playing it safe, and carefully weighing your actions based on politics?

Heretics cannot afford to be political people.

If you are going to make a difference that matters, if you want to be a leader that inspires people, if you want to build and provide the best products and services possible, you have to be a heretic. Armed with the mission that you have been designed with, you cannot fail, even in failure. Heretics know that the failures that they endure today are the table settings for something extraordinary tomorrow.

If you live for maintaining your job, you are not a heretic. If you are afraid of making waves, and being looked upon with disdain, you are not a heretic. If you are not willing to sacrifice your own comfort for something far greater than yourself, you are not a heretic.

Heretics do what is right for the advancement of the mission that they have been designed with, even when it makes no sense to do so. It's time to define why it is that you are here, and then passionately get out in front of your team and lead. It is time to label yourself as a heretic, and then behave like one.

February 24, 2009

Creative Emergency!

We take things way to seriously!

Sure, there are serious problems all around us. That pile of debt that we are facing as a country is pretty audacious. Those credit card, car loan, and student loan balances that you have are definitely quite significant. Your health isn't doing so great, you are faced with challenges with your children and your family.

Truly, there is a lot to be concerned about.

However, what if we approached these concerns like a child might? What if we were able to look at these issues, and even all of the things that are around us, and use them as the fodder for achieving some of the greatest things that anyone could ever dream possible. Imagine the stories that you would be able to tell!

When we tell our story the way that it needs to be told. We can sing, even if we have no voice. We can climb, even when we have no strength. We can ride the range, correcting the wrongs that we see. Yes, we do need to face our problems eventually, but wrapping them in a story can help us to identify innovative ways to overcome challenges that appear to be bigger than we could possibly overcome.

Have some fun again! It is really okay to do this! Paint, write, talk with your friends about what could be! Become an artist again! If we could all just be 1% more imaginative and less concerned about reality, we might find that a great deal of our problems kind of get resolved as a result.

User or Leader?

Who are the people that are on your team? Do you realize that each of them has a personal mission? Why are they on your team? Why do they come to work each day and support the mission that you have established (you have done this, right)?

Using the gifts and talents of the people that are on your team is not what is necessary for your goals to be achieved. However, allow each person to see how the time that they spend actively working towards your mission is helping them to achieve their own mission or story, and you will find that you have people that are passionately bought in to delivering the best that they possibly can. They will give you everything.

If you are just using the gifts, talents, strengths, and abilities of the members of your team, for the actualization of your mission, you are a user. People will become tired of your rhetoric, and will become restless as they will feel as though they are not achieving what it is that they are here to complete (and they would be right for feeling this way).

If you can truly identify the individual mission that each member of your team comes to the table with, and then provide them a platform to deliver on the mission that they have been designed for, you are a leader. People will be engaged, and will passionately deliver on the goals that are necessary for your mission to reach fruition. And sometimes, you surprisingly may find someone who has the exact same mission that you have been created with.

Knowing the mission that your team members (and even customers) are designed for, and showing them how helping you achieve the mission that you have will help them to complete the mission that they have been created for, will lead to far greater impact and loyalty than if you simply use them for what they have.

February 23, 2009

Kill Realism

When tough times start showing up, we start thinking realistically. Ironically, these are the times when creative genius and inspiration are needed the most, yet, rather than simply thinking beyond the current set of circumstances or perceived limitations, we limit our potential to respond to the issues that are in front of us.

Tactical decisions will not be so dramatically impacted by these decisions. Our limited vision and implementations will, for the most part, fail quickly.

The danger comes when we are planning strategically based on a mindset of realism. Executive management needs to think creatively when it comes to strategy. Where do we want to be in five years? What is going to define our business in the next seven years? What do we stand for?

A lot of organizations can't even answer the question that asks why they exist in the first place. Why are you here? To make a profit for your shareholders? That's not good enough. That's not creative. That just says that you are willing to compromise whatever it is that you are doing currently when times get tough and jump onto the thing at the time that has the potential of gaining a financial return. To be completely honest, that just makes you nothing more than a zombie. Go with whatever the big money maker is, and follow the crowd. That's what zombies do.

Not very inspiring, is it? Yet, this is exactly the playbook that so many organizations use.

If you are going to make it through these tough economic times, you need to be prepared to think of some pretty creative ways to keep on track. And, if you haven't defined why you are even here, then you know where to start. If you need some help either defining why you're here, or how you are going to move forward, let me know. I am more than willing to help individuals and organizations become everything that they have been designed to be.

Please, stop killing creativity and innovation in our organizations and lives. Instead, attack realism with zeal, and let's do something great!

February 20, 2009

Do You Need More?

If we had more money, then we could provide products that our customers would really find useful. If finances were unlimited, we could reach out to people with our ministry like never before. If we had more people available to complete list of projects we have before us, then we would be able to get a lot more done.

The misconception seems to be that if we had more, we would be able to do more.

The question really is what are you doing with what little you already have? Are you putting the resources that you have to work everyday, making use of everything that you have available? Are you digging deep despite adversity, creatively approaching the challenges that you face, or are you simply thinking about what could be if you had more?

Make no mistake, if you aren't providing the best products that you can with what you already have, if you are not out in front of your tribe leading them passionately with what you have been entrusted with, you certainly are not going to be able to do it any better with more. More money, time, or power is not going to equate to better products, or reaching more people, or even getting more done.

Those that are able to provide the best, most imaginative, and incredibly crazy innovations with what they already have will find that they gain more, and they will be faced with abundance. However, those that are sitting idly by waiting for more to be given before they are ready to make a difference will find themselves always coming up short, frustrated, angry, and eventually, completely bankrupt.

Stop whining and waiting for someone to give you more before you can begin to make a difference. Instead, make use of what you have been given today, and you will find that you will be entrusted with more tomorrow.

February 19, 2009

Scapegoat Named Fear

Fear is the new scapegoat that we use as our excuse for not accepting our obligation of being the best that we can be.

Fear of failure. Fear of success. Fear of falling. Fear of flying. Fear of death. Fear of fear. Fear of complacency. Fear of knowledge. Fear of the unknown. Fear of commitment. Fear of disappointment.

Why do we allow fear to play such a pivotal role in who we are, but of greater concern, who we are becoming?

I fear that too many of us, myself included, are missing out on the great things we have been designed for as a result of giving fear more credit than it deserves.

February 16, 2009

Are You Still Dancing?

This afternoon as I was walking through the mall with my daughter, my son, and my wife, I saw a young child dancing joyfully. Typically, I would think nothing of this. As a father of three, I too have seen my children break out into random song and dance in public. For me, seeing kids doing "crazy" things is as common and ordinary as eating is to others.

However, as we walked by, I overheard the child's mother tell her daughter to stop dancing. For whatever reason, I actually began to think about the message that the mother was delivering to her daughter. I too have told my daughter and son to stop dancing in public, or to stop singing, or to stop bothering people. However, they are living out what is in their heart.

This started me to thinking; are we doing what is flowing from the depths of our heart, or are we repressing it? Are we teaching our children that in order to function and live in this society they need to push down the joy and hide it under a veil of propriety?

At some point, adults have bought into the lie that it is unacceptable to dance in public. Or to sing. Or to do stuff that is completely crazy.

Are you willing to dance again? Are you willing to allow the joy in your heart to bubble out into your work, and into the lives of those that are around you? It is time to join the dance again. It is time to sing again. It is time to be fully alive!

The world is desperately in need of people and organizations that are willing to drop the facade and embrace the joy that they have in their hearts! Answer the call of your heart and let your creativity and innovation flow for the world to see.

February 10, 2009

Correct it, or it will be corrected for you

People want to have a chance to be a part of something creative, fun, and innovative. They want to be able to contribute to things that are bigger than what we know today, and genuinely want to have the opportunity to use the talents and strengths that they have been inherently gifted with.

That being said, why do we so often allow tight controls and systems to override this core of who we are? Let's face it, we have done a great job of organizing our work into silos that constantly oppose creativity and innovation.

Someone mentioned the other day that all of the processes of the 1950s have been automated already. The point that this individual was making is that now, we need innovation. Unfortunately, we have done such a great job of quieting and discouraging innovation that we cannot see past what has already been built.

What you see in the economy now is not about the economy. It is about recapturing our human spirit again, and breathing real substance and life into what it is that we do every single day. We can give lip service to encouraging and rewarding innovation and creativity, but in the end, it does not benefit us unless we really mean it.

Unfortunately, there have been a lot of walls and barriers established that will take some knocking down. If we don't do it, the economy will certainly correct our mistakes on our behalf.

Time to get innovative and start making some real change. Let's do something big! Let's do something great!

February 09, 2009

The Reality of Constraints

Often, when we are given a project to work on, we are also given a list of constraints.

Constraints are often used to define what we must do, how we must do what we must do, and the amount of time that we have to get them done. We find ourselves constrained by the budget, by available resources, and even current understanding. They can be self implied or mandated. Explicitly dictated or implicitly assumed.

Constraints can be useful in helping us to understand the problem better. They can be a great asset in helping us to understand reality. For those of us that prefer to live life thinking about what could be, what can be, and what should be, they can be imperative in keeping us from making poor decisions that could adversely impact our customers, our coworkers, or even ourselves.

However, it is very easy for people to get so tied down to the constraints that they forget to dream altogether. If people in history had allowed the constraints of the day, such as the world being flat, to prevent them from doing things, then no one would have discovered that there was a beautiful round world full of excitement and discovery.

Before simply accepting the constraints that are given, or limiting your creative and personal potential by creating constraints for yourself based on assumptions, take some time to weigh each of the constraints. Find out if they are real constraints or if they are simply a product of the system of the status quo, created to keep you in line.

At the end of the day, you will be held accountable for seeing that the mission that you have been designed to complete is achieved. You can try as much as you like to blame failure on the constraints, you can whine about how the deck is completely stacked against you, and try to shrug off achieving your audacious goals because of obstacles. However, in the end, you are responsible for seeing to it that you are successful. Everything that you need has already been given, or will be given.

The only thing standing in your way is you and the perceived constraints that you have have given undeserved weight.

February 05, 2009

Our Greatest Consumable Resource

I've heard that it is important to treat the time of your customer as though it is sacred.

Why don't we simply treat time in general as though it is sacred?

We spend time worrying about how much oil will be left in 10 years. We worry about the latest technology that is coming, hoping that we will be able to maintain a competitive edge in the new economy.

Does that really matter?

Time is one of our greatest resources. However, it is spent quickly, and once it has been spent, you don't get it back. You can take things back to the store and get your money back. You can recycle paper, and use it again in a new form. But time is consumable.

Once it is gone, it is gone forever.

Value your time, the time of others, and the time of your loved ones.

Live boldly, passionately, and with intensity making use of every moment that you have been given.

February 03, 2009

The Low Hanging Fruit Debate of 2009

Today in a training session that I was attending, the facilitator brought up the phrase "low hanging fruit."

Immediately, all heads snapped around to the back of the room, eyes fixed on one individual in particular. Almost in perfect synchronicity, this one person very vocally began to exclaim how great his dislike of this phrase actually is. Of course, we already know that he hates that phrase, which is exactly why we so eagerly anticipated his response.

He makes the argument that low hanging fruit implies that we are going for the easy solutions first, without tackling the issues that are of real substance. It takes more effort to climb a tree to get to the fruit at the top, but if you can figure out how to make your way up there, the fruit has a better chance of not being impacted by insects and other elements. I can see his thought process here, and don't totally disagree. Sometimes we tend to solve the easy stuff first, which makes things better, at least temporarily. The thought is that we will eventually get all of the low hanging fruit out of the way, and then we will be in a better position to go after the stuff that is still out of reach. Unfortunately, there seems to be an unending supply of low hanging fruit.

However, the facilitator made a great point as well. Getting a few early successes out of the way can substantially increase morale. Also, low hanging fruit tends to imply that we already have what we need to address the issues. Less energy, time, and resources are expended to get a result, even if the gain is minimal.

As I listened to this debate continue, I started to think about something. Going after the fruit at the top of the tree requires energy. If you wanted to get to the top of the tree, you had better be prepared to climb. Part of being prepared includes being well nourished, especially for an activity such as climbing a tree. So, why not eat the low hanging fruit to prepare yourself for the climb?

There might be some merit to this, even as it pertains to our personal development and growth as well.

Then again, maybe I am just hungry and want to take the easy way out.

February 02, 2009

Action is Requisite

People all over the place are doing some pretty awesome and audacious things right now. In spite of the downturn of the economy, they are deciding to keep moving forward. Some are even looking at this as an opportunity to do something that they have always wanted to do.

The cost to start a business has never been lower. Of course, the risk of failing is more substantial now too.

I've always heard that with great risk, there can come great reward. With minimal risk, there is minimal reward. I tend to think of it this way.

With great risk comes great responsibility and tremendous levels of action, which can result in great reward. When you take the path of minimal risk, you are typically taking the path that is less responsible even though it may require tremendous levels of action, and the rewards are for the most part minimal. That is, if you want to live and breath the mission that you have been designed to complete.

You have an obligation and responsibility to take risk, meet fear head on, and do the work that you have been custom cut for.

The people that are doing great things right now have something in common.

They know the burden that they have. They have endured the fatigue that comes from sleepless nights where all you can do is lie there staring at the ceiling with the knowledge that there are people hurting as a result of their inaction. They have become frustrated with that idea that seems to come back to them again and again, regardless of what they try to do to extinguish it. Even the crazy ideas seem to prevail against their attempts to thwart them. So they have decided to own up to the responsibility that they have, and have started to put feet to the mission that belongs to them.

They are doing. Doing implies action. If your simply thinking, your not doing. If your restless, your not doing. If your repressing ideas because they are too big, or too crazy, or too difficult, your not doing.

Anything that you feel compelled to do and cannot push away, you must do. You must begin. Stop coming up with excuses. Stop pushing away that which keeps coming back to you.

There might just be something in it that you need to act on.