January 3, 2011
Back in August my blogging waned and by October it was gone. No real reason except that I was stuck.
Although usually quite reselient, I got stuck when I lost my illustion of victory against osteoporosis. What did I have to say after I had already declared victory in Moved the Needle by achieving one full standard deviation (from -2.6 to -1.6) of improvement after my first year and then regressing a half a standard deviation (-1.6 to -2.1)?
My battle with osteoporosis had helped me to create this blog, but my too early victory declaration reduced my commitment to my long-view premise and credibility. It was just easy to get involved in other important pursuits…
Yet, I have continued to feel the pull of the long-view, so I am declaring myself unstuck.
My long-view advice to self:
- Stay confident when faced with a setback.
- Persist when investing in the future (the long-view).
For the record, I regressed a half a standard deviation after one year of drug holiday (Boniva) but fully compliant load-bearing exercise (increased mineralization) and calcium supplements (increased mineral availability).
In late summer, I will know whether I can achieve -1.1 in 2011 with the assistance of drug therapy (Boniva).
Drip, Drip, Drip!
February 10, 2010
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.
- 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
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 2, 2010
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?!
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!
November 10, 2009
It 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!
In 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.
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…
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?!
August 20, 2009
Although she had been struggling with allergies and pancreatitis weakening her body with constant digestive upset, no one anticipated that additional congestion and lack of sleep from a bad cold would render her lifeless when she finally fell asleep reading a book while my father tended to ranch chores.
My parents’ lives were so entwined it is hard to imagine one without the other. I am grateful that they were able to celebrate their 50th anniversary this past June. Befitting their life journey, they prepared a photomontage capturing their life essence together: joy of young love, stunning scenery across enduring love, and amazing accomplishment as partners in life. As I watched the collection again and again this past week, it reinforced for me just how beautiful, accomplished, brilliant, and quietly adventurous my mother was.
My earliest memories of her were of her books and music. She loved to read and her breadth of knowledge was extensive as a result. She read to us when we were little, cultivating more avid readers. By her own admission, “…I did stretch the rules a bit – reading you the Chinese history that I was currently reading rather than a child’s book…” In addition, she practiced the piano and organ regularly. When I had fallen in love with the music from Man from La Mancha (Impossible Dream), she granted me private mini-concerts when she arrived home from work – she played the selected pieces on the piano for me. Whenever I hear that music, I still hear in my own head the way she played it on the piano.
She taught me the basics of life: be proficient (not extraordinary) domestically and master how to be selective in which tasks you actually commit to doing – work on high leverage projects. I learned to sew, cook, and be selective. It took me a while to realize how unique she really was. I remember when a new girl in the middle school needed a choir dress made, but her mother did not sew. She asked me if my mother could help, so I volunteered her. My mother explained that she didn’t really have the time, but if I would do most of the work, she would do the trickiest steps. Together we made the dress quickly and efficiently. When the other girl’s mother came by with a bouquet of flowers to give to my mother for the help, she was surprised that my mother was at work. The other girl’s mother was so surprised that it was at that moment that I realized how different (and special) my own mother truly was.
My later memories were of her many professional accomplishments and what lessons that she taught me from her own experience. She was mathematically gifted, having received two degrees in Mathematics. She worked professionally as a computer programmer in the early years of programming (I remember her carrying home huge stacks of computer cards and sorting them on the kitchen table in the evenings!). Later, she received her MBA and worked professionally in Operations and Project Management. Although it seemed dicey to me at the time, I benefited from our shared University time. My last year of engineering school was her first MBA year. During that time, she wrote essays on the challenges of being a professional woman in a male-dominated workforce and shared them with me (I still have them). She quietly provided unsolicited advice, suggestions, and observations. One of the most important lessons that she taught me is that “You catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.” As such, she taught me to cultivate positivity, kindness, respectfulness, and to always have a good strategy – think before you act.
In some ways, it was hard having a Mom who was so accomplished and successful, but it definitely made it easier to believe that I could do it too. Even though we share many traits, we differed drastically in one domain: she was a musician and I am an athlete. This difference strengthened us because I admired her musical ability as much as she took pride in my athleticism. I never felt that I had to be accomplished in music and she accepted that athleticism was not her strength. Mom skied, canoed, fished, hiked, and tolerated the family adventures knowing that the stunning scenery of mountains, streams, lakes, and valleys visited were worth the effort, but many were often a challenge for her. I was always glad to be able to help her – take a little extra weight in my pack to lighten her load. It helped me to build the confidence that I too could someday be as accomplished as her, but with my own strengths. This experience helped me to truly value diversity and observe and channel the strengths of others.
In later years, I continued to admire her ability to be organized, to be thorough, and to take on new ventures (run a farm/ranch) without prior experience.
Finally, as I rifled through her files and her Quicken entries this past week on my Dad’s behalf, I realized just how lucky my Dad was to have had someone so amazing with which to share his life. It didn’t take a ton of effort to figure out the finances (which she took care of for their 50 years together) and get Dad moving forward without her. Her systems were clear, effective, and well documented. I only hope to leave a long view legacy like hers…
Your memory is a blessing to me. I love and miss you Mom, rest in peace.
July 29, 2009
A few years ago, I found Purple Cow by Seth Godin when I was browsing the local bookstore. Purple Cow started me on a journey of reading other Seth books and then becoming a daily reader of Seth’s blog, I was immediately addicted to Seth’s daily pithy, yet succinct observations, advice, insights, and admonitions. His blog posts start my day.
In July of 2008, Seth invited his blog readers (me) to buy Tribes (a terrific leadership book by Seth) and to join an online tribe called Triiibes. I joined! Today is the anniversary of Triiibes and we are celebrating it with an interconnected blog ring.
The community of similar-minded professionals that emerged in Triiibes, with whom I converse, learn, and occasionally teach, is amazing. What I love most is that Triiibes is interactive and asynchronous – I can participate day or night and spend as little or as much time as I have available. Simply perfect! I have made many enriching friendships.
Most importantly, over this past year as I participated in Triiibes, I achieved a new perspective, gained confidence, and realized that I was in a cul-de-sac. Although I had achieved significant professional success over many years, I finally realized that I had already achieved my personal goals where I was and that my efforts were no longer leading to important gains – it was time to do something different and/or set out on a new adventure. So…
I initiated a rebuild of my personal long view:
- I resigned from my full-time professional position and am now achieving proficiency (mastery?) in the non-technical art of nurture.
- I am nurturing myself, my family, and my community through care-taking, volunteering, and just helping where I can. By doing this, I have met many interesting and amazing people that I would not have had time for previously.
- I created this blog to share – here I coalesce my long view insights and publish them.
- I am defining my next adventure. I have steadfast confidence that an opportunity to nurture technical innovation will emerge from this investment in nurturing. ☺
Happy Anniversary Triiibes! Thanks for everything, I look forward to many more insightful years!
Next on the Anniversary Blog Ring: Being Tribal
June 19, 2009
I was raised to be very self-sufficient and to (mostly) avoid debt, so it is difficult for me to ask.
Recently, I joined my son in “picking a fight against cancer.” We are both participating in the 2009 LiveStrong Challenge. We will each fundraise and run a 5k. My son is the LiveStrong veteran. He raised >$1000 as part of his 7th grade charity project. No matter the confidence that I have with the cause, fundraising feels to me like asking for a favor.
To overcome my discomfort with fundraising, I started slowly. I selected ten (10) friends to solicit. I prepared a “base email” and customized salutations appropriate to each friend. I sent these requests out over several days, burying the requests for support amongst a brief personal update, shameless promotion of my blog, and photos of my son. Was it the right balance?….
I did not get many quick responses. My confidence waned! After several days, I received a response indicating that my email had been caught in a spam folder (apparently, having several links causes susceptibility to spam filters). After follow-up emails to the remaining nine (9), I discovered that six (6) of the messages had been caught in spam filters. Whew! My confidence was restored.
The asking tension is in give vs. take of reciprocal behaviors. We give to preserve/nurture relationships (long view). We take (make requests of others) to meet goals. Although this is true both professionally and personally, the medium of exchange makes these transactions quite different. Professional exchanges have market norms; PAY fulfills the transaction. Personal/civic exchanges have social norms; RECIPROCITY fulfills the transaction. Boundaries and expectations are well defined for professional exchanges and I have tons of experience, so it is much easier to conduct those transactions. My instincts tell me that for personal/civic exchange, creating personal boundaries consistent with my principles and behaviors is the right direction. For me, this means nurturing personal connection with each solicitation for LiveStrong.
To date, I have raised $70 out of $200 goal for LiveStrong. Leave me a comment if you want to donate to my effort and I’ll send you the link. ☺
In the meantime, I will continue to gain experience through practice, practice, practice (does that mean that I’ll “get to the Carnegie Hall” of fundraising?!)
Do you have advice for me to strengthen my ability to ask?
April 13, 2009
Weekends do not get much better than the combination of snow, sun, fresh air, mountains, and family. Although there are always many enjoyable moments in a ski weekend, the ones that are most memorable are hearty laughs after being flung into the snow from catching an edge or while collecting scattered poles and skis, after missing a turn in the moguls. It might seem counterintuitive to glorify the negative, but I know that if I am not occasionally coming unglued, I am not pushing myself to get better. After each fall, I get a few laughs and a little more practiced being at my edge.
It is simply not possible to push yourself to be more, better, and/or stronger, without making errors, mistakes, and/or stumbles. The key to successful growth is willingness to laugh at imperfection and error – recognize the positive in the negative and not take everything too seriously.
The same advice applies to the business of technology development. When trying new things, running challenging experiments, and testing uncertain outcomes, it would be rare indeed to always have things go flawlessly. So, take the long view and laugh a little. Stay positive and be willing to try again – chances are “round two” will benefit significantly from what was learned on “attempt one.”
One of my best laughs in the lab occurred when I worked closely with a colleague to test prototype equipment for mixing viruses and cells for an infection process. Our goal was to demonstrate that the new equipment functioned comparably to a manual process. It was a demanding randomized experiment that took hours to set-up and execute. On that day, after a long morning of set-up, my colleague and I shared a hood all afternoon, working in tandem to complete all of the infections efficiently. As we neared the end of the experiment, all of a sudden my colleague looked at me slightly panicked and announced that we had forgotten to properly attach the cells to the equipment – we had just added alcohol (instead of cells) to all the viruses of the prototype test conditions. At that moment we looked at each other and just started to laugh really hard. The laughter broke the anxiety, recognizing the reality of new terrain. When we redid the experiment, we were more fluid in our execution and more confident in our abilities. Overall, the project was extremely successful and we gained from our ability to be positive. To celebrate our accomplishments, I awarded my colleague the “Littlest Bartender Award” for helping those viruses party that afternoon (to this day we still laugh about it!).
If you cannot laugh at yourself, then your friends and colleagues cannot laugh with you. 😉
On the ski hill, I may only occasionally have a tight, fast, clean mogul run, but I will forever keep pushing myself to achieve it and will keep laughing each time I come unglued! Although the smiling “wipeout” photo could be me, it is my son – I had the iPhone!
March 31, 2009
When I was running with my friends Sunday morning, the headwind at the outset was strong. Our progress slowed to a crawl along the trail. As we chatted, inquiries as to the condition of my ankle (six weeks post-sprain) heard reports of recovery – even a wobble on Friday’s run “righted” perfectly as pre-injury. And then, as we continued to chat about the economy and technology, I realized that the P’s of overcoming obstacles for running apply to technology business too.
- Keep Perspective: When there is a headwind out, there will be a tailwind on return (and sure enough, we flew back).
- Be Patient: My friends continue to commend me for taking the long view and being patient with my ankle. I did not run for 4 weeks, I rehabilitated through swimming and targeted exercise, and when I returned to running, I slowly increased distance with time.
- Maintain Persistence: I worked hard to regain proprioception by strengthening my ankle with balance (wobble) boards.
- Create Positivity: My friends enjoy and encourage a positive attitude; we see the glass as half-full.
On Technology Business:
- Keep Perspective: When there are technical challenges, it is important to recognize that they are competitive opportunities. Each solution becomes a barrier-to-entry for competitors.
- Be Patient: In a desperate economy, there will always be significant pressure to attempt to do too much too quickly. However, doing too much is foolish because it dilutes resources and increases the risk for success in any single effort. The long view encourages prioritization and sequencing of effort to achieve the greatest productivity and opportunity for success.
- Maintain Persistence: Key insights are achieved by diligence, being mentally prepared to recognize when key insights have been realized, and acceptance of breadth (be open to “not invented here” – look to other technologies for similar problems and generalize solutions).
- Create Positivity: Staff, customers, investors, and the media are human and thereby obey the law of attraction (subject of ch. 2, How to Be Useful: A Beginner’s Guide to Not Hating Work by Hustad). Authentically projecting positivity and confidence about your technology will encourage others to do the same!