Some people say that stress is the gap between expectation and reality. This seems like an overly simplistic definition, but I think it gets at something true about the challenges associated with being continuously disappointed.
Consider it in the context of popular discourse about HR, leadership, and organizations. If aliens landed on Earth and studied what to expect from working in an organization by attending conferences and reading social media posts from HR and organizational thought leaders, they would probably be really fucking disappointed on their first day at work: Read more
I’m relearning how to breathe. Which is odd, since the fact that I’m typing this suggests I already know how to do that. And since I’ve also just returned to school to do a masters degree it would be fair to expect that I’d be into more advanced material, generally speaking. But here I am. Breathing.
Well, it looks like we made it. 2018 is moving into our rearview mirror and I’ll bet I’m not the only one with mixed feelings about that. This year was turbulent, both generally and personally. I left a beloved team, made the leap into independent consulting (and managed to pack all the usual rookie mistakes into a very short time-frame #overachiever), did a bunch of public speaking, and jumped back into a fascinating new role in an interesting organization, all while grappling with defining a side project related to sexual harassment, complexity, and power. Oh, and the world seemed determined to drift into dystopia.
I felt uncertain and unbalanced the entire year. The upside was that I was especially receptive to learning from others. This year I questioned everything, and was comforted to find others who had already been asking the same (and better) questions; people who didn’t rush to fill the air with simple answers and singular solutions, but inspired me to sit with my uncertainty and try to learn from it. I’m grateful for that, and for them.
I leave for Whistler, British Columbia first thing tomorrow morning for Actionable’s annual Consulting Partner Summit, and while I generally pride myself on packing light, I had to level up this time since I’m bringing a bunch of print materials for the event, as well as planning for both warm days and cold nights.
I learned a lot this year, even if you don’t count all the things I learned for a second or even third time (sigh). I’d been vaguely thinking that I should write something about these lessons, when I had a flash of inspiration. Instead of sharing what I learned this year I realized that it would be much, much more interesting to ask the people I learned from this year what they learned in 2017.
I didn’t expect all of them to answer my request. When they all did, I didn’t expect them all to take time to share a thoughtful contribution. When they all did, I got a teeny bit emotional. I’m very grateful for the generosity of the people on this list and many others who I learned from this year. I invite you to immerse yourself in their thoughts, shared below in no particular order. Best wishes to all for a learning-filled 2018.
It wouldn’t have occured to me to write about technology this week, even after attending Adam Alter’s talk about addictive tech at Rotman on Monday, which made such a big impression on me. Then Austin Kleon’s weekly newsletter landed in my inbox headed by this image, and it felt like a sign.
“Leaders are made not born”.
We must believe this, since our organizations spend a staggering amount of money every year to improve the managerial and leadership skills of their employees.
We also place a high value on leadership as individuals, treating those recognized as great leaders with a kind of cultish reverence. Inspiring quotes about leadership abound on social platforms, often in the same intense language used to describe CrossFit.
Adaptive. Agile. Responsive.
Whether you believe that the world is changing faster than ever or not, I suspect there is near-universal agreement among leaders that organizations must become more nimble to succeed.
However, as is often the case, the desire for an organization to be something different seems to be strangely disconnected from the doing it will entail at the individual level. That is to say, adaptive and agile sound like fantastic destinations when considered in isolation from the daily practices required to get us there.
If you had to choose between two employees for your organization, both solid performers, one deeply passionate about their work and profession but who will leave within 3 years, and the other who is looking for a long-term career with your company but sees this work as “just a job”, who would you pick? .
If you chose the passionate employee who’s likely to move on soon, why? I’m not suggesting that this choice is wrong. But I am curious about the reasons behind it.
A weekly post in which I share thoughts provoked by (some of) the great content I read this week(ish).