Boring Freedom

I have always liked the 4th of July for what it is.  A day of celebration of family, good food and a reflection on how we have been blessed as a nation.  A day at the beach or the pool is usually in order.  Relax and watch the waves or spend some time on the boat enjoying family and friends.  Nothing really spectacular or unique or cool.  Some fireworks and good food.

The 4th is the celebration of freedom, right?  We all enjoy the gift of living in the United States and probably take freedom for granted.  Freedom is an amazing gift but like any other good thing it can be abused.

I feel like we are losing our grip on the simple and boring.  We do not celebrate this kind of thinking as a country anymore.  If you have simple and wholesome values, you can actually be ridiculed now for being boring and normal.  The fringe is what we celebrate.  The unique and sometimes even outrageous.  If you are a quiet and average American you are not cool.  So what is so wrong with normal?

We have become a nation that is obsessed with freedom for the edges and the fringe.  And what we have lost along the way is innocence and a respect for the simple and good.  This obsession over cool and edgy has been the breeding ground for a generation to grow up too quickly. The self-indulged “right” to express yourself however you want. The change of a complete generation’s life goals from “raise a nice family” to power and money.

We have transformed as a nation into one giant, never ending, self-centered argument. We have lost the ability to communicate.  We only yell at each other.  We’ve completely lost any vision to see the other side.  In this noise, there is no celebration for the boring people who go to work each day and try hard to raise a family and maintain some semblance of normalcy and reality for life.  Trying to shield our children from the nonsense.  This celebration of the outrageous.  The “big show” going on around us.

I think we need to get back to our roots.  Review our values.  Be frank about what we have created.  Review our commitment to the next generation.   Can we do it?  Or is the genie out of the bottle?

This 4th of July, I celebrate freedom for everyone including the boring people.  They want the opportunity to live without being cool or edgy.  Just have a great day with family and friends and be thankful for the blessings.  Nothing spectacular.  Nothing epic.  Just another boring 4th of July!

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Community Doesn’t Just Happen

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Photo Credit- Josh Jackson- CC Public Domain

One-on-one communication is on life support…

We have reached to age where we will e-mail or text someone who is just a few feet away.  We avoid the phone call because it takes longer than a quick text.  Skip the pleasantries.  Get to the point.  Get your answer.  Move on the next issue.  Right?

This is certainly great for efficiency.  You can get more done if you can quickly get the information that you need and move on.

Yes, I am guilty.  My phone message suggests you e-mail me as I am often on the road or in meetings and can’t take calls.  The phone conversation takes a commitment to set aside some time to chat.  Some time to catch up.  Some time to see how someone is doing.

We are so programmed for efficiency and our workloads have increased to a point that the conversation comes at a cost.  You will loose some time connecting with others.  You may not get as much accomplished if you take the personal route.  You may have to work harder to accomplish things if you choose to be personal instead of impersonal.  Communicating personally is a choice.  You can choose to pick up the phone or walk to their office and get your answers along with an update of how they are doing or what’s going on in their lives.

Building Community Takes Work

In order to build community you have to communicate one-on-one.  You have to engage others.  You have to share and be vulnerable.  You have to be real.  This doesn’t just happen.  It takes work.  You have to be intentional.  Here are some ways to help develop stronger community:

Be Available.  In order to connect with someone you must be available.  Leave your door open.  Make it easy to find you.  Answer your phone.  Be available for meetings or questions.  This seems simple yet our fast paced work can make this simple thing quite difficult.

Ask Questions.  Show interest in others.  Find out interests, hobbies, passions, and gifts.  At the appropriate time, ask deep questions.  Find out their story and the issues that they are struggling with.  Share things that you have in common or your struggles.  Forget what you need.  Get to what they need.

Be authentic.  Let them see who you really are.  Don’t try to impress or be cool or be the know it all.  Don’t spend your life as an actor.  You can’t connect with a phony.  You’ll be connecting with air.

Take the time.  You won’t connect with the folks around you until you commit to putting down the work and make the effort to make the connection.  Don’t make excuses.  If you are introverted, it will take effort to do this.  Yet, you must make the effort and spend your valuable time connecting with others.  You have no excuse.

Building community takes effort and a commitment.  If you are in a leadership role, you must model this for others to see.  You must schedule opportunities to connect.  You must make it mandatory to do things in a personal way.  It won’t happen unless you make it happen.  We are social beings.  We need community.  Make the effort.  You will be glad you did!

So what do you think?  Have we reached a tipping point in communication?  Do you see the connection in personal communication and community?  Click on “Leave and Comment” and tell me what you think!

 

The Mad Scientist

I used to work for a boss who liked to do experiments. He wasn’t a scientist and the field that he was experimenting in was management. He would actually conduct experiments with people. He would do things without their knowledge and then see how they reacted to it. One of his self proclaimed tests was to load up an employee with work until they said “uncle”. Keep piling it on until they came back frustrated or beaten. The experiment was designed to see how much they could handle and determine their breaking point. All the while the unsuspecting employee was killing themselves to keep up with the workload in order to try to measure up.

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Little did they know that the ultimate goal was to overload them.

The effort was designed to frustrate them.

They could never measure up because he would just add more work.

I couldn’t do it. I thought that this strategy was cruel and stupid. I thought that it was not fair for the employee. I knew that by putting that much pressure on the person they could make a big mistake. They could also get really angry or they could burn out and quit. Why would anyone do this?

Through the years, I have seen others do these experiments. Let’s see if they can figure it out. Let’s give them less resources and see if they can get through it. Let’s push and see what happens. Let’s double things up and see if they crumble.  This just seems crazy to me.

I believe that honest communication is a better way. Rather than experiment, ask them what they think. Ask them how much can they handle? Ask them if they can work through the problem. Ask them if they are ready to come up with a strategy to do more with less resources? Give them more work when they want it. Give them a clear vision of what you are trying to accomplish. Give them the help they need to be successful.

Experiment with things, not with people. Don’t play games with their heads. Don’t be the mad scientist.  Ask them for help. Ask them what they can handle. It’s better that way.

So what do your think?  Should we experiment with people?  Have you experienced this before? Click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me your story!

Me First

I hate to wait in lines. I don’t know why, but long lines just really irritate me. If I walk into a restaurant at lunch and the line is long, I’ll go back to work hungry and just skip lunch!

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Except for the line thing, I am generally very patient. I understand that sometimes to get quality it just takes time. There is no way around it. I wish everyone else felt that same way. Unfortunately, our instant everything, super fast, efficiency driven, want it yesterday world feeds this impatience. We want it now. We don’t want to wait.

A very wise woman once told me that the root of impatience is really self-centeredness and pride. You want everyone to drop everything they are doing and serve you. It’s like taking cuts in that lunch line. You don’t want to wait your turn. You want them to rearrange their schedules to make you first. So impatience is more that just a characteristic or just “my thing”. It’s much deeper.

After she shared this with me I could see the connection. When I get frustrated with the long line, I am saying that I should not have to wait in the line. It’s OK for everyone else, but not for me.

How do you avoid being that impatient person? How can you manage people without being “me first” all the time? Here are some ideas:

Clearly define the time constraints. If you need something done quickly then communicate the reasons for the rush. If you can’t really describe significant reasons to reorder priorities then it may just be a me first situation.

Consider the workload. Ask your report what they currently have on their plate. Don’t assume that they are in a position to drop everything they are doing to address your needs. Work together to help prioritize the item so that you are both comfortable with the schedule.

Quality takes time. Let’s face it. If you want quality work, it will take time. A rushed job will always show it. Give the person ample time to produce quality work. It’s a win win situation. You will get better work and they will feel better about what they produced.

Provide resources. As you are delegating tasks make sure they have sufficient resources to do the work. if they are are short on resources, then it will always take more time than it should. Ask your report if they need anything to get the job done efficiently and according to your schedule.

Consider the costs. There are always trade-offs in time management. If you are busy taking care of a special project for your boss, you cannot be doing your regular work at the same time. When you delegate, make sure that you are targeting the right person who has the time to be pulled from their regular work without serious damage to your operation. Fight the urge to further load up your workhorse employee who never says no. You will likely be overloading your best employee!

Yes, you are the boss and you can make them drop everything to take care of your special task. But is this really the right thing to do? Or is it just your pride and ego driving the boat. Next time your “me first” kicks in, remember that your stuff may not be the most important thing on their to-do list. Your reports are paid to think and prioritize. There are obviously other tasks and assignments that they are working on and they must also be completed! Maybe it’s time that you take a number and get in line!

Have you worked for a “me first” boss before? Do you struggle with waiting for your tasks to be completed? is patience your weakness? Hit “Like” if you can relate or click on “Leave a Comment” and tell me what you think!