February 21, 2010

Zealot Advice

Posted in Life, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by lindaslongview

I connected more than usual to Seth’s post from yesterday, Moving the line (the power of a zealot).  He taps into the conundrum of the community that I exist within, where there is angry division over standards of behavior.  Seth correctly observes, “It’s not the principle, in fact, it’s just the degree of compromise we’re comfortable with and content to argue over.” He’s absolutely right!

One of the real challenges is that communities have changed over time and do not respond to the same stimulus and admonitions they used to.  We now live in the world of the long tail (many niches), having shifted more and more toward autonomy.  As such, individuals expect more fidelity and tolerance for their personal needs/desires than ever before.  This requires that communities be more articulate and transparent about what they represent.

I addressed the shift from community to autonomy in my post One Book, Two Months, discussing Putnam’s seminal book, Bowling Alone, and noted that our ability to choose our affiliations is very positive and welcome — we are no longer forced/trapped by ‘tradition’ and/or whatever you were raised.  This has meant that community organizations must create compelling reasons for affiliation. And with greater choices, people change affiliations based on whether their needs (autonomy) are being met.

It is no longer sufficient to be an organization that met the needs of past customers to be successful in the future. Every organization must become customer-centric to the currently affiliated (and those they desire to attract). Customer-centric means that when people talk about their experiences they RAVE about how well they were treated, how much they liked the staff and community, and how easy it was to accomplish the ‘why’ of their affiliation.

Organizations must therefore solicit feedback, measure performance, and adapt accordingly (compromise, coexist, and tolerate diversity for mutual benefit). Per Putnam, this must be part of building mechanisms with the tools of our technological age. To survive, organizations need to rise above where they have been, creating accessible guidance and embracing scalable personalization.

Lastly, the shift toward autonomy has intensified long view imperatives for zealots (and the leadership managing the zealots) within diverse communities:

  • Zealots need to understand that they are successful when they “move the goalposts” (and not expect to hold out for their ideal if they are a minority).
  • Zealots must legitimate the needs of the non-zealots enabling a customer-centric environment (tolerate diversity) to create (more and more) reciprocity, trust, and mutual aid (if they desire to participate within a given community).

Without acknowledging and adjusting to the realities of the shift toward autonomy, some communities are likely to sustain more and more disaffiliation leading to extinction.

Is your community harnessing the tools of the technological age to create coexistence, accessible guidance, and scalable personalization?

February 10, 2010

EDGE

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , at 11:45 pm by lindaslongview

I learned a new Hebrew phrase this week, “Shev VeAl Taaseh,” which means “Sit and Do Not Act.”   It is a rabbinic (leadership) tactic that is the moral equivalent of “If I cannot have my way, I’m going to take my basketball and go home.”  Although it doesn’t surprise me that such a tactic exists (or has a name), it does surprise me that anyone would consider it an appropriate leadership tactic in a modern community.

Our world is fluid and complex; full of choices, opportunities, and negotiations.  As individuals, we find and align ourselves with communities that meet our needs recognizing that aggregations large enough to share costs of community transactions (services) may not be perfectly aligned with each of our personal worldviews.  We tolerate and accept those differences for mutual benefit.

Thus, in aggegrated diverse communities leaders must be positive, proactive, and effectively connecting to ALL members by:

  • Being sensitive to the needs/desires of every community member,
  • Striving to create tolerance, coexistence, and compromise for mutual benefit, and
  • Seeking novel solutions for challenges not yet resolved.

“Shev VeAl Tasseh,” a primal command and control tactic that might have been useful in ancient society, has been outgrown by modernity and should be relegated to the dustbin of history along with animal sacrifice.  Channeling the proverb:  If you are not part of the solution, you are part of the problem, leaders must lead in times of difficulty — it is never acceptable for leaders to opt out.

My long view advice to community leaders is to EDGE:

  • Exert effort on OTHERS first,
  • Determine the needs of each constituency beyond your own (What’s in it for them?),
  • Gracefully concede that others have legitimate needs,
  • Engage, participate, and create innovative solutions to enable diversity,

We are fortunate to live in a society that tolerates a richness of many communities, each with different leaders, norms, and conduct.  Yet in order for any specific community to flourish, leaders must participate inclusively and exercise good judgement lest their community pick up and leave due to no confidence.

Are you EDGE-ing?

January 21, 2010

Over Deliver

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 10:58 pm by lindaslongview

As a regular Seth Godin blog reader and Triiibes member (a closed social networking site for his blog and reader community), I had an opportunity to read Seth’s newest book, Linchpin, before it was generally available.

Over the past several years, Seth’s ideas, blog-posts, and books pushed me toward mattering and away from settling.  I have absorbed Seth’s ideas in the same way I have absorbed engineering ideas (Dorian Shainin) and business ideas (Eliyahu M. Goldratt) from other geniuses.  I am grateful to have been able to improve my own professional performance through learning from those that have taken time to teach their art.

Linchpin is a culmination of Seth’s genius and is his most inspiring to date.  Seth’s premise is that on any given day, it is easy to do the bare minimum, not take responsibility, and keep from being noticed — it is what our “lizard brain” wants us to do.  He counsels each of us to overcome the resistance (to the lizard brain) and tap into the linchpin quadrant of discernment (long view thinking!) and passion (see graph pg. 181) to create positive traction, speak truth to power, and over-deliver. 

The book exhibits Seth’s vignette style of writing, which connects personally to his readers.  Seth made me laugh out loud on pg. 59, when he wonders, “Why is there writer’s block but no chemical engineering block?”  Is he sure that there is no chemical engineering block?!

My long view advice: read Linchpin (available in five more days).

Achieving linchpin status is the integration under the curve (over time) of staying positive and being committed.   It’s about always getting better…

Are you choosing to Over Deliver?

If you are interested, other Linchpin book reviews can be found here.

January 11, 2010

Love Story

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , at 9:38 pm by lindaslongview

First, I have been married a LONG time (in a few more months, a wonderful 20 years LONG) so this will not be all gushy…

The setting was post-breakfast.  Everyone at the house was moving toward jobs and school (two teens, two parents).  I mention to my wonderful husband that I just got off the phone about a quote for some insurance that I thought we should consider.  His immediate response was to tell me that it was unnecessary and I shouldn’t spend any time on it.  I became upset because I thought I was doing something good for us and he was not being duly appreciative.

Even though we both hate to part mad at each other, there was no time to get everything back to better before we all had to depart (he was leaving for three days).

When I was done being upset, I wrote him a quick email with the following long view advice:  Support first, then Criticize.

I wrote:

  • I know that we both hate parting mad, so I apologize for not being able to get past my upset this morning.  I know that you mean well when you criticize my efforts.  I even value the criticisms, but not when I don’t feel supported.
  • I need from you:  Support first, then criticism. Okay?!

He writes back:

  • You beat me to the punch.  I was chomping at the bit all morning to get a moment to write you and say “sorry” for the bad parting this morning. Yes, you are right.  I meant to say and do exactly as you suggest – “good idea to investigate, let’s make sure we understand if it is really needed.”  Please accept my apology.

So I write back:

  • Apology accepted.
  • XXXXXX
  • OOOOOO

All better!  🙂

Are you supporting first and then criticizing (when needed)?

P.S.  Support first then criticize (if needed) applies to business too….

January 2, 2010

Open Doors and New Roads

Posted in Business, Life tagged , , , , , , , at 9:55 pm by lindaslongview

I am always grateful to welcome new opportunities. Yet recently, my blog has suffered while I’ve been opening doors and building new roads for myself…

As I reflected on what long view advice I might give on the departure of 2009 and arrival of 2010, I realized that my siblings are professionals in door opening and new road building, respectively.

My sister is responsible for writing software to open the door on NASA’s specialized jumbo jet that hauls an infrared telescope above the lower atmosphere (Stratospheric Observatory For Infrared Astronomy, SOFIA). More pics here…how cool is that?!

My brother is in road construction, he supervises the work teams, manages the projects, and ensures that new roads get built.

On account of the new year, I offer some amateur long view advice on opening doors and creating new roads that I think the pros would agree:

  • Be deliberate, act with intention.
  • Be aware, observe, listen, and assess more often than you advise.
  • Be dedicated to quality, don’t settle for less.
  • Be committed to improvement, get better at what you do.

Wishing you new roads and many open doors. Happy 2010!

December 17, 2009

Heat

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , at 7:04 pm by lindaslongview

Last week, I visited my Dad at his rural ranch for a holiday visit and it was really COLD!  The temperatures had dropped to -15 F during the day!

While there we visited Dad’s nearest neighbor Todd, who lives in a woodstove heated mobile home down the road. The conversation was largely about the weather, how many water lines had frozen, how to use heat tracing to keep them from freezing in the future, and how to ensure that the livestock get adequate feed, water, and shelter during the extreme cold. Todd and his family have spent many years in that area and he summarized the conversation, “Heat is Life.”

Because I live in a temperate climate, staying warm for me is mostly inconsequential. I just don’t think about the importance of heat for daily life or survival; I never face bitter-biting cold or frozen pipes. As I listened to Todd talk, his perspective put my own into stark contrast. I was reminded that Scarcity and Abundance differ for each person, each organization, each community, and changes with time (heat, food, shelter, money, time, privilege, opportunity…). Different operating assumptions exist based upon what is Scarce and what is Abundant at any given time. For example, when summer comes and heat becomes abundant, there will be little discussion of frozen pipes and heat tracing among cowboys; something else will have become scarce. Yet, the installation of heat tracing is best done in the summer as part of a plan to prepare for the cold when winter arrives…

This observation became a clear and present long-view reminder:

  • Consider the ebb and flow of abundance and scarcity – what matters and when?
  • Mitigate the intensity of scarcity by planning for the expected and unexpected – what can be done to limit the impact?

Have you considered the ebb and flow of abundance and scarcity in your world and created plans to mitigate scarcity?

December 6, 2009

Size Disadvantage?

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 4:09 pm by lindaslongview

It’s easy to benchmark size when rating performance – it is visible and typically easy to measure.  Yet other less accessible attributes can contribute importantly to success:  agility, competence, experience, focus, knowledge, patience, skill, strategy, etc.  Because these other attributes are less visible and are harder to assess, we often choose to measure on the basis of a simple benchmark like size.

In June, I got agitated about “how much playing time?” my son received at a tournament (see Applied to Soccer).  Although my long view leadership advice in that post has merit, I now realize that on a systemic basis, I oversimplified my son’s soccer situation.  There was more to learn and assess…

In the case of sports, bigger players benefit from their size on two counts:  1) they are physically more powerful and 2) youth coaches often select larger players over their smaller teammates on the reasoning “you cannot coach size,” and give them more opportunity early (for example, more playing time on game day).

However, having more diligently watched the dynamics of my son’s development as a soccer player a few more months, I now realize that being small (for a longer duration) is only a near-term disadvantage in terms of opportunity (passed over for the boys who have grown bigger earlier).  In subtle ways, smaller boys, like my son, benefit from their size disadvantage over the long-term because they cultivate their game differently.  For example, my son has impressive knowledge of the tactics and strategy of the game.  His skill, agility, and speed are his primary tools for success (different emphasis than his larger teammates).  When he finally achieves improved size parity within the next few years (he has more growth left than those who have grown early), perhaps like Lionel Messi, he will still be reasonably competitive due to his quiet mastery of the less visible attributes of the game?!

Today’s observation is simply a personal reminder to engage in long-view thinking everywhere when learning:

  • Expand observations,
  • Increase knowledge, and
  • Cultivate more complex thinking for improved accuracy (include more attributes in mental models).

As a result of my agitation, I paid greater attention to the team dynamics, learned much, and now realize that it is all part of the beautiful game.

Nevertheless, I wish my son increased joy (and playing time) as he auditions for a different team in a slightly less competitive league. 🙂

Are you constantly expanding observations, increasing knowledge, and cultivating more complex thinking everywhere?

November 23, 2009

Avert Your Eyes

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , , , , , at 7:49 pm by lindaslongview

At what point is stuff on the net (public domain) none of our business?  When should we avert our eyes and not read a little more?  What is the threshold from curious to stalking?

Recently, I met an interesting fellow at an alumni-networking event.  After an engaging conversation of shared interests, we exchanged email addresses. Later, I wanted to suggest an appropriate meeting place but could not recall where he had said that he lived, so I turned to the Internet to do a quick address search.

In about 10 minutes of searching, I did not find his address, but I learned more than I expected.  I found his age, his faith, his cousin’s family tree, and his wife’s blog.

Intrigued by my new friend’s wife’s blog, I read on.  It turns out, the stories (blog posts) were every bit as interesting and engaging as his conversation had been.  However, immediately following this confirmation, I felt unsettled.  Just how would I let on what I knew and how I knew it?  Had I usurped his privilege of introducing me to his wife’s blog?  Had I devalued the connection by barging in myself? Is this part and parcel of 21st century networking that I am not yet used to?

My experience was confirmed in Wired Magazine’s headline article this month, Vanish: “…ordinary people – really can gather an incredible dossier of facts about you.”  It is because of the combination of powerful search engines and extensive amounts of publicly available information.  It behooves us be aware of what information is defining us and to be thoughtful about what is defining others.

In old cultures where privacy was hard to come by, people learned to avert their eyes to allow for privacy and were admonished to mind their own business.  In addition, we were encouraged to live an honorable life because of public scrutiny.  Those old (long view) rules are evolving to deal with the connectivity and information richness of our lives today, yet still apply:

  • Live your life impeccably.  Doing so, will mean never having to be ashamed, embarrassed, or held accountable for wrongdoing.
  • Out of respect and kindness, engage the positive and disregard the negative.

Embracing the new:

  • Take what you learn on the Internet with a grain of salt.
  • Be judicious in how you apply Internet “knowledge.”
  • Follow your instincts, yet pay attention to the evolution – norms are changing.

Bloggers expect that others will be informed, transformed, and educated through connection to our blogs.  Participating constructively is welcome and my new friend was fine with it. 🙂

Are you living life impeccably and engaging the positive?

November 10, 2009

More and More Alike

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , at 12:57 pm by lindaslongview

GayleLinda2009It has been a long, hard road, but my best friend, Gayle, last week exceeded one of her lifetime goals! One year post-bariatric surgery, she weighs 146 lbs. having shed more weight than one Linda, exceeding her goal weight of 150 lbs! She is no longer a superb athlete trapped in an obese person’s body, just a superb athlete. 🙂

We have been friends for eons (before kids), having met and nurtured our friendship at our mutual workplace. I was the new kid on the block and she was a veteran that took me under her wing, teaching me the ropes and providing me professional opportunity. As time passed, we continued to work side-by-side professionally and to share the joy and heartache of raising babies/kids/teens, the love of needlework, and a commitment to athletics non-professionally. Although our fitness levels differed, she was my usual lunchtime buddy to hit the pool, spin class, or step aerobics. There were so many things that we could do together that the fitness difference simply did not matter. Apparently we were similar enough (hair color, shoe size, demeanor, …), many of the regulars thought we were sisters!

Bike Transition 1998In 1996, eight weeks after her “big” birthday and six weeks after the birth of my youngest child, we accomplished her first sprint triathlon. It was a challenge for both of us since I was only cleared for the water (post-partum) on the day of the race, but I kept telling her that neither of us could be last, because Sally Edwards, the sweep athlete, always finishes last. We raced together in 1996, 1997, 1998, and 2000.Danskin Finish 2000Post Finish 2000

We both departed our mutual workplace (Ray…) just prior to 2000 to new respective workplaces (…Logic), becoming the X-RayLogic Girls.  Although apart professionally and retired from triathlons, we were still committed to workout whenever we could get together. We sweated together in the gym and pool, caught-up, and got a small snack as often as our schedules would allow.

As time passed, it was clear that the mainstream strategies of diet and exercise just did not allow Gayle to move the needle against obesity. When her knees became too painful for her to continue to play her beloved softball, she decided it was time to try something radical – bariatric surgery.

Her long view advice: If something truly matters and mainstream strategies fail, try something radical!

A year ago, I was there with balloons and flowers at her bedside following her surgery, holding her gown closed as she did laps in the hospital hallway. Today I taught her the ropes as she made her first rock climb in her new body (conquering her fear of heights). With this latest success, we are now more and more alike. Our hair color is still the same even though it is different than before. I think she needs is a skort…IMG_0191

If Gayle can stare down obesity and then conquer her fear of heights, what can we do if we shift to a radical strategy for something important?!

November 1, 2009

Skorts Work

Posted in Life tagged , , , , , at 6:14 pm by lindaslongview

To celebrate my blogging success thus far (today’s post is my 50th), I am creating a tribute to the long view advice “if you like something and it works for you, stick with it.”

skort defintionThere are many things that fall into the works-for-me category: my husband, my friends, this blog, yet I choose to celebrate this milestone with a post about my long-term love affair with my Terry Bicycle Pro Racer Skorts.

I bought my first Terry skort about ten years ago. I loved the fact that I could act pretty unladylike yet still look ladylike! I have been collecting them ever since at a rate of about one per year.  At this point, I have a terrific collection of brightly colored prints that are fun, uplifting, and playful.  To date, I have eleven skorts (including a plain black one, not shown in the photo whirl).   I share this whimsy, not because I need to have them validated by others, but rather it just happens to be a great example of something that works so well for me that I am planning to continue.IMG_8791

RideSkortSkorts are versatile.  They provide more coverage than just shorts, a zest of femininity, have great flexibility during spring/summer/fall, and they wash and wear like iron (my oldest one still looks great!).  I wear them to work at my computer, ride my bike, rock climb, weight lift, run errands, and/or blog. I do avoid them for professional venues (except themed events such as a beach party). At the high end, I even wear the black one with a nice sweater, bling and heels – violà – dinner wear!  😉

ClimbSkortThe combined knowledge that I receive many compliments and that my teenage daughter tells me regularly that skorts are ugly and horribly out-of-style, ever encourages me to carry on with my non- mainstream skorts.  Could it be any other way?! Although, I’m the only one at my rock climbing gym to wear skorts, everyone can readily identify me from the others:  I am “Skort Linda.” Have you seen me?

After I purchased my first few (those early years), the fact that I did not really need any more (they last forever!) caused me to decide to wait for the post-season sale to purchase.  I abandoned that strategy the year that Terry ran out of my size in the color I wanted most.  Although I purchased the next size up that year, I don’t wear it because it is too big.  Thus, I now buy immediately (at full price) when Terry Bicycles releases their new spring colors.  Afterall, I have a collection and I can always work in a new color.  🙂

While I await the 2010 collection of Pro Racer Skorts…Are you keeping what works for you?

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