Quitting Forward

Lance Discipline, Ideas Leave a Comment

Quitting leaves such a bad taste in one’s mouth. It’s supposed to: without it, nothing worth doing would’ve ever gotten done. Quitting is associated with —

  • Failure
  • Weakness
  • Immaturity
  • Laziness
  • Mediocrity
  • Cowardice

These are all correct, of course. Too often, though, we only contemplate quitting as a two dimensional question: “Did you quit or not?” If yes, welcome to the weakness of failure, you mediocre coward. If that’s all there is to quitting, then it is certainly better to never be a quitter than to always be one.

But successful people know there’s more to it than that. For all the truth about being a negative choice, sometimes it is the necessary one. There is a third dimension to quitting beyond “quit / didn’t quit” and that is WHY. Elevating growth and success come when quitting can also be associated with —

  • No more throwing good money after bad
  • Ending toxic relationships
  • Letting go of an obsolete way of doing things
  • Achieving focus by curating away distractions
  • Leaving the security of a known comfort zone to seize an opportunity
  • Conceding a fight that really isn’t worth winning
  • Breaking the chains of past decisions in order to adapt to a new reality

If you’re in a rut, there is no valor in dutifully pressing onward. If what you really need to do is quit, this book is a great place to start:

Pure Simplicity

Lance Creativity, Simplicity Leave a Comment

The passion that captured the heart of the man who defined the modern understanding of physics wasn’t mathematics (he actually wasn’t a fan) — it was Mozart:

Mozart’s music is so pure and beautiful that I see it as a reflection of the inner beauty of the universe itself. Of course, like all great beauty, his music was pure simplicity.

There were lots of smart thinkers in Einstein’s day trying to unlock the mystery of the forces at play in the Universe. The genius that separated Einstein from the rest was in the creative imagination and the appreciation of the beauty of simplicity that he brought to the most complex questions science had to offer.

Far too many leaders and organizations tackle the daily challenges they face with one half of their brain tied behind their back. The beauty of Simplicity is often ignored or even derided in comparison to the over-engineered complexity that is typical of modern life.

Ask yourself:

  1. what interest or activity do I invest time in that stimulates creativity?
  2. and (more importantly) how do I fold that side of me into my work?

 

To Think or Not To Think

Lance Accountability, Ideas, Leadership Leave a Comment

From Simon Sinek’s latest book, Leaders Eat Last:

 It is strange indeed how traditional, top-down organizational management aims to train people to follow procedures and not think for themselves even as the quest for computer AI (artificial intelligence) strives to teach machines to do the opposite – think for itself and not follow scripted programming.

People can’t be accountable for the decisions they didn’t make. When everyone is simply “following orders,” no one is responsible for the consequences of those orders being followed … until they are.

Once upon a time, information was scarce and travelled slowly. The only people in an organization who could get access to enough of it to make sound decisions were those at the top. But we don’t live in that world anymore. Because information is now ubiquitous and instantaneous, no CEO, VP, or Director can hope to know as much as fast as the people who populate the organization beneath them.

Instead of consolidating authority, decision-making should be dispersed down and as close to the real knowledge of what’s going on as possible. Instead of unifying decision making authority as a means for keeping everyone moving in the same direction, the modern leader uses a unifying vision and consistent culture. Instead of robotic people and thinking machines, this new age demands thinking people … and maybe some thinking machines too.

Believing Is Seeing

Lance Ideas, Leadership Leave a Comment

Flying high in the sky, looking out the window reveals patterns:

  

What do you see? The answer to that can come from a number of levels of detailed observation, abstraction and deductive reasoning:

  • The ground
  • Circles, squares, and rectangles
  • Geometry
  • Farming
  • Civilization
  • Human life

Imagine turning on the news and seeing images like that being sent back from a probe circling Mars? Because perfectly symmetrical circles and squares don’t naturally occur in Nature, seeing them on Mars would conclusively answer the question of the existence of intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Our belief about the unnaturalness of seeing well-defined shapes in natural environments overrides our belief that Mars is uninhabited, and so the data becomes proof of what was previously deemed not so because “someone put those circles there.”

(This same dynamic underlies how people who see patterns in Nature can see them as prima facie evidence of a Designer … or not.)

Leaders and organizations are not immune to this same phenomenon. If you believe it is your people that make the difference, your data (whether positive or negative) will tend to support that. If you believe it is strategy that matters, the answers will tend to come from there.

The danger for leaders isn’t in being unable to see that data without looking through the lenses of your own deep-seated beliefs. The danger is in believing you already have accomplished that feat.