A number of years ago, I was doing some work in Washington D.C. I hadn’t had much of an opportunity to see some of the sights around town, so as soon as my work was over, I did a quick tour in the early evening. I went and listened to an open session of the Senate, attended a concert of the Marine Band on the steps of Congress, walked up the Washington Monument, and finally made my way over to the Vietnam War Memorial.
In one of the first cultural change projects that I worked on, I was tasked with teaching company members process improvement and critical thinking skills. The organization was committed to involving everyone in improving their processes and making a difference in the way they served customers with increased efficiency.
When I first started working in the field of organizational development, my mentors told me three things that I always needed to remember about change: people don’t like it; people don’t understand it; and people won’t like you for trying to implement it. For the most part, I believe that is the case. Why?
A number of years ago, I was asked to coach an individual who had pretty much alienated everyone with whom he worked. When I was asked to work with him, I asked why his rehabilitation was so important. His senior leader indicated that he was extremely competent, but that he was interpersonally challenged.
Exploring the assumptions or stories behind people’s behavior is a fascinating pursuit. Recently a friend told me a wild story about his mother that gave me cause to think about how our stories keep us stuck--from improving and creating the results that we really want.
Recently in my community, a respected professional took his life. His wife and children were heart-broken at the passing of their father. This event caused me to ask myself, “What voices am I listening to?”
Chris Argyris and his colleague Donald Schon introduced the notion that all of us have an internal voice that is constantly editorializing, analyzing, criticizing, and judging what others say and do. These mental exercises lead us to what they called our “undiscussables”, things we think and feel but don’t share.
This past week, I had the opportunity to watch one of my favorite college basketball teams win their quarterfinal contest in the NIT. What was so memorable about this game was that one of the team’s long-time stars played even though he was very sick. He contracted the flu before the game and was not expected to play.
Nothing can be more frustrating than trying to talk to someone who engages in some form of fake talk. Because there are so many opportunities to talk about what matters most both at home and at work, learning to recognize the communication strategies that don’t yield the desired results is critical to improving the quality of your conversations.
I had an opportunity to speak at a conference late last year. The weather was wonderful, the people were receptive and engaging, and the conference was excellently run and sponsored. Everything went really well until the plane ride home.
After running the river for a number of years, my curiosity finally got the best of me. I wondered what it would be like to swim one of the major rapids. With some hesitation, I put on an extra life jacket for extra buoyancy and jumped into Hermit Creek Rapid.
Late last year I had the opportunity to work with a wonderful writer on an article dealing with how to engage with people who are shy. During the editing process, much of the original information was omitted due to space constraints, so I thought the subject merited some additional attention.
While I was in college, I worked during the summers as a whitewater guide running the rapids in Grand Canyon, Arizona. One of the first things that you learn as a guide is to follow the current of the river downstream.
Many years ago, I was assigned a business coach as part of my professional development plan. At first I didn’t really think that I needed a coach to help me grow and develop in my career aspirations. Then one day when things were not going particularly well, she asked me, “If you could paint a picture for me of how you are feeling at this moment, how would it look?”
At the beginning of a new year, we often begin new projects and set goals for ourselves. Many times our attempts at improvement are not as successful or don’t deliver the results that we expected. When this happens, it is easy to become discouraged.