Don’t sacrifice great possibility on the altar of immediate pragmatism.

not everyone will get you

You have an inspired vision to create an amazing world. You have a pretty good idea what needs to be done in order to get there, and you are looking for people to help you make your dream a reality.

Maybe you are part of an organisation already. Maybe you have a group you already connect with. Maybe you have a large an supportive family. Maybe you have all these things (or a combination of something else) and you hope to get them on board.

But what if they don’t?

What if they won’t?

What if your organisation will never catch the same vision you have? What if your family will never really understand what you are doing? What if the group you already connect with doesn’t see any value in doing what you think needs to be done?

Then what?

Do you compromise your vision to get these people on board, or do you look for others who are inspired by your vision?

Todd Henry, in his book Louder than Words relays something he heard from Seth Godin at a conference.

“‘As soon as you’re willing to say ‘It’s not for you,’ you’re freed up to make art.”

Translation: not everything you make will be for everybody, nor should it be. Even more to the point, if you are trying to make something that’s for everybody, then you are probably compromising your art, which means you are sacrificing great possibility on the altar of immediate pragmatism.”

There are times when we need to listen to those around us, because we can miss things which are important. There are also times when we need to be willing to move on.

Not everyone will “get” you, and that is perfectly fine.

Do it anyway.

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Two questions to help you find your purpose.

Inspiring Change

Quite a few change programs assert the need for some kind of “burning platform” before change will happen. They argue a change agent needs to expose or create some kind of crisis before others will listen to them.

I don’t think that is always necessary. One of the most overlooked ways to create real, lasting change, is to paint a compelling picture of a future that others will long for. Once they begin to long for it, they will naturally work to make it happen.

Over the next little while I will be looking at some practical ways you can do this, but the first thing you need to do is figure out what your vision or purpose is. What is the difference you want to make in the world?

Here are two questions which may help.

1. If you could change one thing about the way the world works, what would it be? 

You may think a question like this leads to wishful thinking, but that’s kinda the point. It can help you tap into something you long for, so try to answer it in big picture terms.

The first thing that came to my mind? Have more kids deliver newspapers.

Not exactly big picture thinking, I know. But as I thought about why something like that jumped to mind, I started to think about my son starting his paper route and not really knowing how to do a good job. I thought about all the ways we try to prepare our children for jobs; ways we try to teach perseverance, grit, dependability as they grow up. See its not just about the papers. Its about helping people grow in their ability to serve and make a difference in the world. If I could change anything about this world, I would change the way we think about preparing ourselves for the “real world.”

A good exercise for this is to start with a simple answers, then keep asking yourself, “Why do I want to see that changed?”

2. What sort of legacy do you want to leave behind?

This question is a bit different. It places you in the future (hopefully the distant future) after you have lived your life and are looking back at the things you were able to accomplish. What sort of mark do you want to leave behind.

A practice that may help with this, even though it is a bit morbid, is to write your own obituary (you know, that thing that gets printed in the paper by the family after you die).

These two questions can help you focus on the big picture of your life, and help you clarify what drives you.

adapt like a chameleon, respond to your environment

In the last couple posts (Is your team allowed to adapt? and You often don’t know better.) I talked about the dangers of seeing ourselves as the adaptable leaders, rather than creating an adaptable team.

A team that can adapt to its environment like a chameleon does.

A chameleon changes its colour because it is aware of its environment.

This, I think, is key.

Too often our teams are not able to have good discussions about what is really happening. Having a good dashboard which keeps track of your key performance indicators is helpful, but when things start to go backwards are you able to have open conversations about why they are going that way?

These conversations are going to lead to fights, because some of the blame will lie with some of the things your team is doing.

“The system you have in place is perfectly suited to produce the results you are getting.” – Mark L. Blazey

If you help your team accurately picture their environment, you will help them adapt. 

So, how do you have open, honest conversations about the environment in which your team works in healthy and helpful ways.

Todd Henry gives three rules which may help teams fight fair.

1. Fight over ideas, not over personality.

I understand that you don’t always like the people you work with, but attacking his sense of style while trying to figure out what is going sideways in the company is not a good idea. Try to keep the argument over causes and actions, not personality.

2. Never dismiss an idea without first seeking its merits.

No matter how crazy an idea is, there is probably some truth in it. Don’t forget one of your team members thinks there is truth to it. They may have been thinking about it for some time. They may even have done some research into it, and have a really good reason for throwing out the idea you think is crazy.

Take the time to give it a shot, at least.

3. Commit to having each other’s back, even when you disagree.

This one is key. When things are beginning to go sideways in an organisation it is really easy to blame others. There may even be a temptation in your team to scapegoat one particular individual on the team.

Just maybe. 🙂

Push back against this temptation and work hard to great an atmosphere of value and appreciation. This will help lower the temperature of the argument, so that a helpful AND healthy conversation can be had.

When we are able to help each other see the environment more clearly, we will be able to help each other adapt more quickly as well. 

How amazing would your organisation be if were able to pivot in healthy and creative ways BECAUSE the leaders have taken the time to equip everyone to be adaptable?

If your organisation adapted to the changing environment, like a chameleon does?

How do you help your team see their environment more clearly?