+ Saturday. Sunday morning.
On. Always On.
Not sustainable he says.
It’s been sustained.
OK. Maybe Not.
But, I’m in fine company.
Edison. Rogoff. Lombardi. Waters. King.
Who? What? Need more.
New leadership books pour over the dam each day claiming to share a secret sauce. A cow rhythmically chewing and regurgitating its cud. But far less effective. It largely comes down to these eight lines from James Autry. Period.
In every office
you hear the threads
of love and joy and fear and guilt,
the cries for celebration and reassurance,
and somehow you know that connecting those threads
is what you are supposed to do
and business takes care of itself.
~ James A. Autry
Source: 800CEORead - Bring Your Emotional Self to Work. The words above were written by James A. Autry and are included in Love and Profit: The Art of Caring Leadership (p.32). And all of this reminds me of the John Maxwell quote: “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.”
Image Credit: Cory Smith – Ix.com
I read this NY Times article a week ago: Is Giving The Secret to Getting Ahead. And synchronicity has been working it’s magic ever since. I’m seeing giving everywhere. Yesterday alone with three examples: My post and One Good Deed. Entering a bone chilling cabin, a flight attendant see an elderly woman shivering and gives her a cardigan. Last night a quote by Sam Levenson: “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, it’s at the end of your arm, as you get older, remember you have another hand: The first is to help yourself, the second is to help others.”
Adam Grant, 31, is the youngest-tenured and highest rated professor at Wharton. He has published more papers in his field than colleagues who have won lifetime-acheivement awards. He is the author of a new book titled “Give and Take – A Revolutionary Approach to Success” which will be released later this month. The man lives his personal and professional life as a GIVER. (Miraculously so.) The story (long) is worth the time to understand what he does and why he does it. Grant’s research divides us into three categories: [Read more...]
“I can also be stubborn,” he went on. “I’m an idealist. I used to say to Sidney, ‘Pop, your movies are always about people fighting against something, the system or corruption,’ and he said, ‘That’s what life is about.’ I loved that. I’m fighting complacency. Most people think good enough is good enough. I go to the theater a lot, and communion doesn’t always happen, but when it does, it’s indescribable.” He met my eye. “I don’t come from anywhere, man, but I am always on the search for excellence.”
~ Bobby Cannavale, Actor
Robert M. “Bobby” Cannavale (43) “is an American actor known for his leading role as Bobby Caffey in the first two seasons of the television series Third Watch. He also had a recurring role on the comedy series Will & Grace as Officer Vince D’Angelo, Will’s long-term boyfriend. He portrayed Gyp Rosetti on the third season of the HBO drama Boardwalk Empire. Bobby Cannavale was born in Union City, New Jersey, to an Italian American father and a Cuban mother, and grew up in Margate, Florida. He was raised Catholic and attended St. Michael’s Catholic School, where he participated in a number of extracurricular activities, including being an altar boy and member of the chorus. When he was eight, Cannavale secured the plum role of the lisping boy, Winthrop, in his school’s production of The Music Man, and later as a gangster in Guys and Dolls, which cemented his love for performing. Cannavale’s parents divorced when he was 13 and his mother moved the family to Puerto Rico. After two years in Latin America, they settled in Margate. Cannavale returned to New Jersey after barely eking out a high school diploma in the late 1980s, in order to be closer to New York to launch his acting career. Cannavale began his acting career in the theater – with no acting training.”
“I remember reading a review that Pauline Kael wrote about some director’s big epic, and she said: Now, look, it might seem unfair to judge a talented man more harshly when he tries to do something big than a less talented person who’s doing something easier. But when you try big things, you take big risks, and if you’re trying to do something that is maybe above you and you can’t quite pull off, then whereas before we only saw your gifts, now we see your failings.
I’ve always been pushing that envelope. I want to risk hitting my head on the ceiling of my talent. I want to really test it out and say: O.K., you’re not that good. You just reached the level here. I don’t ever want to fail, but I want to risk failure every time out of the gate.”
~ Quentin Tarantino
“Quentin Tarantino was born in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1963. In junior high he attended drama classes and he actually dropped out of High School at age 15 to attend acting classes full-time at the James Best theater company. After he left the acting school he became an employee at the Video Archives, a now-defunct movie rental store in Manhattan. It was there that he began to truly think about and discuss cinema as he worked with customers to find the best movie for them. He actually credits that store as providing the inspiration for him to become a director by saying that ‘When people ask me if I went to film school, I tell them, ‘no, I went to films.’ Tarantino is the famed director of classics ‘Pulp Fiction’, ‘Kill Bill’ and ‘Inglorious Basterds.’” (Source: ID Poster)
Yet, another remarkable post from Brainpickings titled 9 Rules for Success where Maria Popova shares excerpts from an essay by British novelist Amelia E. Barr (1831-1919). Barr, despite a devastating loss of her husband and three of their six children to yellow fever in 1867, went on to become a dedicated and diligent writer, eventually reaching critical success at the age of fifty-two. I’d encourage you to read the entire post at this link as it is that good. Here are a few of my favorite excerpts:
1) Men and women succeed because they take pains to succeed. Industry and patience are almost genius; and successful people are often more distinguished for resolution and perseverance than for unusual gifts. They make determination and unity of purpose supply the place of ability.
2) Success is the reward of those who “spurn delights and live laborious days.” We learn to do things by doing them. One of the great secrets of success is “pegging away.” No disappointment must discourage, and a run back must often be allowed, in order to take a longer leap forward.
5) We have been told, for centuries, to watch for opportunities, and to strike while the iron is hot. Very good; but I think better of Oliver Cromwell’s amendment — “make the iron hot by striking it.” [Read more...]
“All great masters are chiefly distinguished by the power of adding a second, a third, and perhaps a fourth step in a continuous line. Many a man has taken the first step. With every additional step you enhance immensely the value of your first.”
Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882)
Six days back at work…after a two week vacation.
Tension. Decompression. Recharge. Ramp-up. Escalation. Full engagement. Tension.
Full loop restored.
And, cycle time is compressing year over year.
Meetings. Emails. 2013 Planning. Events. Phone calls. Problems. Opportunities. Running. Faster.
In a momentary gap in my schedule…a mental image of this photo flickers by…a photo tripped into during the recharging phase of vacation. Image darts in and out for days. Pulling me back to a time when life was simpler. When picking sweet, juicy Bing cherries and filling the bucket was the task of the day.
I am here on purpose... [Read more...]
We’re back to work after a wonderful two week siesta with the family. No travel. No stress. Just watching movies, eating and napping sprinkled with a well intentioned but woefully under-executed exercise regimen. Time to shift gears to work-mode. A post I came across during my vacation by Eric Barker @ “Barking Up The Wrong Tree” reminded me of an earlier conversation with a bright (very), ivy league educated, younger colleague. He posed these following questions:
You have achieved modest success in your career, what key learnings can you share? (Modest? Do I ooze underachievement?)
I’m sure you have made mistakes along the way? Would you mind sharing? (Why not start with the wins? Is it that obvious that this captain has weathered too many rough seas?)
Have you made repeated mistakes in the same area and why? (Cringing. How does he know? Do all ex-collegiate hockey players have a reputation of diving into the same scrum and looking for trouble?)
What tips would you share with someone just starting their career? (In contrast to me, that is, one who is just finishing or finished?)
The path to excellence. Study the best in the field. Develop lifelong habits. Continuously revise and improve. (Kaizen.) Practice. Have a critical eye with your own work. Be sure to focus on the process as it is as important as the output. Pursue your field of passion despite the views of your critics. There are no shortcuts to excellence – it takes incredible focus and effort. Same old, same old? Yes. It worked for Matisse. And it will work for you and me.
Henri Matisse (1869-1954), along with Picasso and Duchamp, was regarded as one of three artists who helped define art and sculpture in the 20th century. There is a Matisse show on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art until March 17th, 2013. There is an exceptional review of the show in wsj.com titled The Relentless Reviser. Below I share excerpts from the review that are applicable to many of us in our fields: [Read more...]
“I’ve seen people waiting, watching and hoping someone else would step up, take ownership and make things happen. I’ve seen people stuck in blame-gear while others are doing the work and solving the problems. And I’ve seen people hesitating while others are committing. No surprise these were the same people complaining in my office when others received bigger increases, better assignments, or more interesting projects. But, people who are winning at working become the someone else that others are waiting for. They step up and do something. They know when to act, and they feel better about themselves when they do. That’s because action feels better than inaction and commitment feels better than non-commitment. Both build your self-esteem. Here’s the bottom-line: you can’t be winning at working if you’re waiting for someone else to be the someone you could be. In my way of thinking, winning at working means you commit to offering the best you there is. Sometimes that means you have to dig a little deeper for your courage or push yourself outside your comfort zone. But it’s like Shakespeare said, “Nothing comes from doing nothing.”
~ Nan Russell
If there were one guiding principle that encapsulated all pragmatic optimists, it would simply be: “judge your worth not by what you own, but by what you create”…In my travels documenting and working with a number of these individuals I’ve observed number of core principles they all seem to share, and they’re principles any of us can adopt:
- Have an unashamed optimism of ambition. (Don’t feel embarrassed to say that things can be better. Have no qualms about imagining an improved world and advocating for it, no matter how much derision you may receive at the hands of the cynical.)
- Engage in projects that are bigger than you are. (“Find something more important than you are and dedicate your life to it.”)
- Your ideas are for sharing, not protecting. (Pragmatic optimists happily let their ideas go out dating.)
- Making mistakes is OK, but not trying is irresponsible.
- You’re defined by what you do, not by what you intend to do. (Pragmatic optimists aren’t interested in what you might do if you had more time, or if your manager was more understanding, or if you were the manager, or if it was next week. You are what you do. That’s it. Get on with it.) [Read more...]
“Do not believe those who try to persuade you that composition is only a cold exercise of the intellect. The only music capable of moving and touching us is that which flows from the depths of a composer’s soul when he is stirred by inspiration. There is no doubt that even the greatest musical geniuses have sometimes worked without inspiration. This guest does not always respond to the first invitation. We must always work, and a self-respecting artist must not fold his hands on the pretext that he is not in the mood. If we wait for the mood, without endeavouring to meet it half-way, we easily become indolent and apathetic. We must be patient, and believe that inspiration will come to those who can master their disinclination.
A few days ago I told you I was working every day without any real inspiration. Had I given way to my disinclination, undoubtedly I should have drifted into a long period of idleness. But my patience and faith did not fail me, and to-day I felt that inexplicable glow of inspiration of which I told you; thanks to which I know beforehand that whatever I write to-day will have power to make an impression, and to touch the hearts of those who hear it. I hope you will not think I am indulging in self-laudation, if I tell you that I very seldom suffer from this disinclination to work. I believe the reason for this is that I am naturally patient. I have learnt to master myself, and I am glad I have not followed in the steps of some of my Russian colleagues, who have no self-confidence and are so impatient that at the least difficulty they are ready to throw up the sponge. This is why, in spite of great gifts, they accomplish so little, and that in an amateur way.”
Source: Brainpickings. Tchaikovsky, the legendary composer, wrote this in a letter to his benefactress, Nadezhda von Meck, dated March 17th, 1878. It can be found in the 1905 volumeThe Life & Letters of Pete Ilich Tchaikovsky.
It’s dark because you are trying too hard. Lightly child, lightly. Learn to do everything lightly. Yes, feel lightly even though you’re feeling deeply. Just lightly let things happen and lightly cope with them. I was so preposterously serious in those days, such a humorless little prig. Lightly, lightly – it’s the best advice ever given me…So throw away your baggage and go forward. There are quicksands all about you, sucking at your feet, trying to suck you down into fear and self-pity and despair. That’s why you must walk so lightly. Lightly my darling, on tiptoes and no luggage, not even a sponge bag, completely unencumbered.
- Aldous Huxley, Island
“…New research this month finds that the more time someone spends sitting, the shorter and less robust his or her life may be. The findings were sobering: Every single hour of television watched after the age of 25 reduces the viewer’s life expectancy by 21.8 minutes. By comparison, smoking a single cigarette reduces life expectancy by about 11 minutes. Looking more broadly, they concluded that an adult who spends an average of six hours a day watching TV over the course of a lifetime can expect to live 4.8 years fewer than a person who does not watch TV. Those results hold true even for people who exercise regularly. It appears a person who does a lot of exercise but watches six hours of TV every night might have a similar mortality risk as someone who does not exercise and watches no TV…” [Read more...]
“I have come to the frightening conclusion that I am the decisive element. It is my personal approach that creates the climate. It is my daily mood that makes the weather. I possess tremendous power to make life miserable or joyous. I can be a tool of torture or an instrument of inspiration, I can humiliate or humor, hurt or heal. In all situations, it is my response that decides whether a crisis is escalated or de-escalated, and a person is humanized or de-humanized. If we treat people as they are, we make them worse. If we treat people as they ought to be, we help them become what they are capable of becoming.”
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832)
I’ve been slacking on the “Lead” part of “Lead.Learn.Live.” I’ve been distracted with “Premium” Hot Chocolate, Grilled Cheese sandwiches and painted pumpkins inspired by Jackson Pollock. Here’s one of two leadership primers to kick off the coming week.
The Harvard Business Review authors of Does Management Really Work? conducted research over a 10-year period involving thousands of organizations to determine whether companies adhere to three practices that are considered essential elements of good management. Before we get to the 3 basic elements, two of the key findings of this research were:
1) Many organizations throughout the world are very badly managed…
2) Effective Management execution on the basic practices is strongly correlated with better results
Take a pause before hitting the “read more” link. (I’ve already done it…so play along.) What exactly are these 3 essential management practices?
I’ve been watching the debates and the bad actors in government. I’ve concluded that I’m a master compromiser when compared to this crowd. Then the mirror swings around and hits me on the forehead. See the chart below. Here’s Michael Brown’s 4-box on Compromise. I have no idea what “TKI” and “MBTI” stand for. Check out his full post on the theory behind it – I’ll let you hash that out with Michael and his high brow intellectual friends. I just wanted (needed) to get to the bottom line – how do I score? (Yes, it is always about the score. Yes, it is.) See the arrow pointing to my position. (And no one was looking when I nudged the star over to the right with some elbow grease. Hey, at least I’m not in the bottom right, right?. Poets/Artists, save your breath. I’m immune to the beatings on my lack of sensitivity on this topic.)
Then coincidently (by now you know there are no coincidences on my ride), I trip into the answer…
Source: Certified Copy
I’m productive. Efficient. I’ve been told by many – obsessively productive and efficient. I chew up tasks and spit them out. Yet, one can always be more productive, right? I’ve been in a life long search for the Holy Grail of a Zero Email Box solution at the end of each day. A search for the best To-Do program. A hunt for a better way to manage projects. A race to squeeze more into each day. I believe being more productive is possible. Within reach. Just within the ends of my fingertips.
So, when I came across Robin Sharma’s post titled “Become The Most Productive Person You Know”, I was like Zeke on his bone – on it. When Sharma opened his post by stating: “I want to help you create explosive productivity so you get big things done (and make your life matter)…”, I was giddy. I was delirious with anticipation. Imagine that – I WILL ACHIEVE “EXPLOSIVE” PRODUCTIVITY.
I’ve graded myself from “A” to “F” on each of his 21 Productivity tips and self-categorized my competency into three buckets: “Utter Failure”, “Journeyman” and “Master.”
My initial reaction to Robin Sharma’s tips was that I could be more productive if I stopped reading these “How-to” posts. Then after I settled in…I saw that there was some value in the exercise. And he did manage to highlight some nagging areas of personal concern (more consistent exercise, email addiction, extreme multitasking, need to take breaks to refuel.)
My Overall Score:
- Master: 9 out of 21 (43%)
- Journeyman: 3 out of 21 (14%)
- Utter Failure: 9 out of 21 (43%) – Wow! Shocking. So, my search for the Holy Grail will continue.
- You’ll find each tip below (or an excerpt) along with my grade/reaction.
The Big Payoff by Steven Pressfield
“…The Big Payoff is central to the American dream…it might be the dream job, the fantasy spouse, the smash hit that puts us over the top. American Idol is built on the fascination of the Big Payoff. So is Celebrity Apprentice…The dream of the Big Payoff is that it will change our lives. I’ve succumbed to this dream. Have you? In my life, I’ve had moments that could qualify as Big Payoffs…The truth is there is no Big Payoff…
“It sounds simple, I know. But it’s not. Listen, there are a million worlds you could make for yourself. Everyone you know has a completely different one — the woman in 5G, that cab driver over there, you. Sure, there are overlaps, but only in the details. Some people make their worlds around what they think reality is like. They convince themselves that they had nothing to do with their worlds’ creations or continuations. Some make their worlds without knowing it. Their universes are just sesame seeds and three-day weekends and dial tones and skinned knees and physics and driftwood and emerald earrings and books dropped in bathtubs and holes in guitars and plastic and empathy and hardwood and heavy water and high black stockings and the history of the Vikings and brass and obsolescence and burnt hair and collapsed soufflés and the impossibility of not falling in love in an art museum with the person standing next to you looking at the same painting and all the other things that just happen and are. But you want to make for yourself a world that is deliberately and meticulously personalized. A theater for your life, if I could put it like that. Don’t live an accident. Don’t call a knife a knife. Live a life that has never been lived before, in which everything you experience is yours and only yours. Make accidents on purpose. Call a knife a name by which only you will recognize it. Now I’m not a very smart man, but I’m not a dumb one, either. So listen: If you can manage what I’ve told you, as `i was never able to, you will give your life meaning.”
~ Jonathon Safran Foer: “If the Aging Magician Should Begin to Believe.”
“I don’t believe in optimism. I believe in optimal behavior. That’s a different thing. If you behave every day of your life to the top of your genetics, what can you do? Test it. Find out. You don’t know—you haven’t done it yet. You must live life at the top of your voice! At the top of your lungs shout and listen to the echoes. I learned a lesson years ago…Action is hope. At the end of each day, when you’ve done your work, you lie there and think, Well, I’ll be damned, I did this today. It doesn’t matter how good it is, or how bad—you did it. At the end of the week you’ll have a certain amount of accumulation. At the end of a year, you look back and say, I’ll be damned, it’s been a good year.”
~Ray Bradbury (answering an interviewer’s question on how important optimism has been in his career)
Related Post: I’ve never worked a day in my life… (Ray Bradbury)
Author: Nicholas Bate
More Excellent posts from Nicholas Bate:
- Which Monday Will You Choose…
- Rule 1: You Can Do Anything, But You Can’t Do Everything
- One day at a time, one person at a time, one action at a time (davidkanigan.com)
- Makes Me Think Deeply (davidkanigan.com)
- Don’t Wait for a Salary Increase (davidkanigan.com)
- Be bold 101 (davidairey.com)
“I am seeking, I am striving, I am in it with all of my heart.”
~ Vincent Van Gogh
“Vincent Willem van Gogh (30 March 1853 – 29 July 1890) was a Dutch post-Impressionist painter whose work, notable for its rough beauty, emotional honesty and bold color, had a far-reaching influence on 20th-century art. After years of painful anxiety and frequent bouts of mental illness, he died at the age of 37 from a gunshot wound, generally accepted to be self-inflicted (although no gun was ever found). His work was then known to only a handful of people and appreciated by fewer still. Van Gogh began to draw as a child, and he continued to draw throughout the years that led up to his decision to become an artist. He did not begin painting until his late twenties, completing many of his best-known works during the last two years of his life. In just over a decade, he produced more than 2,100 artworks, consisting of 860 oil paintings, 1300 watercolors, drawings, sketches and prints.”
When I read the title of this book, my head snapped back. I believe that “doing what you love” (or pursuing your passion) leads to you being effective and satisfied in your job and leading a satisfying life. Newport suggests that “following your passion is terrible advice” and that “skills trump passion in the quest for work you love.” I’ve bought the book and I’m starting to dig in.
Amazon’s book summary states that “Newport debunks the long-held belief that “follow your passion” is good advice. Not only is the cliché flawed-preexisting passions are rare and have little to do with how most people end up loving their work-but it can also be dangerous, leading to anxiety and chronic job hopping…Matching your job to a preexisting passion does not matter, he reveals. Passion comes after you put in the hard work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. In other words, what you do for a living is much less important than how you do it.”
There is a worthy start-of-the-week message in the excerpts from 800ceoread’s book review:
Yes! This is so me…(Hopefully, perceived with the constructive element.)
Credit: Hugh McLeod @ Gapingvoid.com
John E. Smith @ strategiclearner is a frequent inspiration stop for me. Here’s another one of John’s great shares. Henry Rollins speaks to college students in this clip however I believe his remarks are inspirational to all of us. He shares an important message that needs to be heard, shared and passed along. It’s worth 5 minutes of your time. You’ll find the transcript below.
Transcript of Henry Rollins’ remarks:
Young person, you’ll find in your life that sometimes your great ambitions will be momentarily stymied, thwarted, marginalized by those who were perhaps luckier, come from money, where more doors opened, where college was a given–it was not a student loan; it was something that Dad paid for–to where an ease and confidence in life was almost a birthright, where for you it was a very hard climb.
You cannot let these people make you feel that you have in any way been dwarfed or out-classed. You must really go for your own and realize how short life is. You got what you got, so you have to make the most of it. You really can’t spend a whole lot of time worrying about his. You really have to go for your own. If you have an idea of what you want to do in your future, you must go at it with almost monastic obsession, be it music, the ballet or just a basic degree. You have to go at it single-mindedly and let nothing get in your way. You’re young. That’s why you can survive on no sleep, Top Ramen noodles and dental floss and still look good.
All the people you admire, from Mohamed Ali to any politician, they work and work and work. Your president right now is a man who got where he is through very hard work and scholarships, mainly hard work and application and discipline. If these people can do it, why not you? [Read more...]
I’m not the great mind or the brilliance that surrounds me. I’m an Electrolux. A Cuisinart. A rough chop.
I’m not an Olympic sculler. I don’t slice through the water with grace, with ease, with yeomanlike efficiency. My boat lurches left and right. I’m not first but I’m in the race.
I’m not a woodchopper. Yet I chop. When I miss, the vibration shudders – rattles my teeth, my bones and that of others. Yet, the tree will come down.
If you haven’t checked out Eclecticity, it is worth a frequent stop. Interesting, odd, cool, where-did-he-find-that posts.
“We spend great energy in mental processes wishing things were different than they are. Wishing the traffic jam didn’t exist. Wishing the boss were a little nicer, wishing our children would take our advice, wishing, wishing, wishing. Acceptance is a key to a happier life. If we can just try to accept what is, and that wanting otherwise is often wasted energy, we will be happier. We would be better able to experience the moment more fully with this state of mind.”
Image Source: vicforprez via teachingliteracy. Quote Source: Pyschology Today. “Every moment in our lives has the potential to be (and generally is) a completely unique experience. Absorb every bit of the moment. Treasure it by completely experiencing it. Congratulations, you are Zen.”
Andy Roddick is retiring this season after being “the face of men’s tennis in the U.S. for more than a decade.” What wasn’t obvious to me until reading this article from the NY Times, was the depth of his character, his integrity and his drive. With so many bad actors in professional sports, this story was inspiring. Here’s a few excerpts:
“He’s a study in contradictions: a born entertainer who doesn’t like to leave home; a team player in an individual sport; a deep feeler who is quick to give you a piece of his mind or the shirt off his back; a lunch-pail prodigy.”
“He was precocious, yes, but his defining characteristic has been his persistence. Roddick never had the luxury of coasting, of taking his gifts for granted. How else but through grit and guts does a player with a balky backhand and a butcher’s touch at the net finish in the top 10 in the world for eight consecutive years?”
“Roddick’s serve is such a blur, people have a hard time discerning where his talent ends and his work ethic begins. He’s a classic overachiever who was cast as the suave leading man of American men’s tennis, a role that, true to his nature, he worked earnestly and endlessly to wholly inhabit.” [Read more...]