Action – Achievement = ??

This picture was floating around on Facebook last week:

It triggered an interesting conversation with Juan. I interpreted this picture as making a statement for people who talk about their complaints or talk about things they wish they would do and never take action to make it happen. But is action the answer? Action of course matters, but can become quickly pointless and energy draining if you aren’t gathering data on the impact of your action (= results) and if there is no purpose behind your action (= achievement). I’ve experienced a lot of people and organisations taking lots of action, and sometimes taking the same action over and over again, and not having any idea about the impact their action is having because they don’t track and measure their impact. Furthermore, their action starts to become meaningless because they have no objective or purpose so they can achieve.

What are your thoughts: Action – Achievement = ???

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“Don’t burn your bra, get the matching panty”

I was recently introduced to strategist Chin-Ning Chu via a discussion forum on Linkedin on the topic of the shortage of authentic women leaders. After watching a 40 minute speech she gave in San Francisco to a group of women, I am so disappointed to find out she recently passed away and I had not known of her amazing work earlier.

In this speech she is sharing from her book, The Art of War for Women. I’ve now watched it three times as I find what she is saying so insightful for women and men. The few observations which stuck with me are:

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Spending time in ‘La La Land’

Yesterday I was watching Jill Bolte Taylor’s TED talk about her experience having a stroke. There is a moment when she described how she could feel herself losing connection to her left brain and being lost in the right side of her brain. When her left brain became silent, she suddenly felt euphoric, all of her ‘emotional baggage’ from the last 37 years disappeared, she felt bigger then herself, completed connected and part of everything around her. She called this ‘la la land’.

This morning in cycling class I was reminded again of that feeling of being completely present and part of the moment you are experiencing, when you do not feel a separation between you and the bike; you are just one being. Another way I can describe my personal experience is having a moment when I felt so powerful and so much bigger than the individual that I am in my own body; and when I’ve felt that way I’ve had a hugely positive impact on others lives (so they’ve told me…).

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Do you set others up for success?

The recent Olympic men’s gold hockey final game got me thinking about this question. It was triggered when I watched Jarome Iginla make an amazing pass to team Canada’s captain Sidney Crosby, after which he shot the puck and scored winning Canada’s 14th gold medal.

How often do we spend time trying to take the glory for ourselves, rather than considering what we can contribute to a common shared goal/success? Working with management teams, I notice a lot more fighting for attention and recognition rather than cooperation; people looking out for themselves but not for the team. Teams require a few conditions to perform well together – I think this game definitely illustrated at least two of these.

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Reflections on Dutch leadership

I’m attending an event on Dutch leadership organized by De Baak and Amsterdam Bright City. It got me thinking of what reflections I’d want to share about Dutch leadership.

The characteristics of Dutch leadership I’ve noticed are sometimes useful and sometimes not – though the utility depends highly on the context, though some might not be useful irrespective of the context.

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Happy Canada Day!

This is one of the first Canada Day’s that I’ve spent at home in quite some time. I suppose like many Canadians I represent those that are the curious world travelers. But not being home for some time has made me realize just how much I miss this country.

If you’re not a Canadian and have no idea what Canada Day is all about, you can read more about it here: Courtesy of the Canadian Government.

Some of the things I love about Canada:

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The problem with employee engagement

Several of the companies I work with do an annual employee engagement survey. This is a company wide survey that essentially asks employees questions about their manager such as, do you think your manager communicates what is expected of you, do you regularly receive recognition when you do a good job, does your manager provide you with timely and helpful feedback etc.

Not a single one of these questions asks employees what they have done to ask for feedback, to recognize their teammates, to ask questions about what is expected of them. I believe these types of surveys just reinforce the parent-child like relationship between managers and employees. As a team member, I need to take responsibility over managing my own work and ensuring I build the right kind of relationships with my teammates, clients, and boss so I can achieve what I want to achieve.

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Growth is Good

I’m continuously perplexed when I meet people who talk about growth like it’s a bad thing. I’m referring to those individuals/groups I’ve met that are always talking about boundaries and limits to growth.

To me it seems that we are asking the question, how do we stop growing? I don’t see that it is growth itself that is a problem. Nature itself is in constant evolution. Animals, plants, natural life is continuously experiencing change and growth. As humanity the question we should be asking is what are we growing towards? What is our goal as mankind? And then we should be looking at how we are achieving that goal and what indicators we are using to measure our progress towards our goal.

The fact that we talk about sustainable development is an indication that the system we have built is not the right one. Growth and development should be inherently sustainable. We can see this in nature; nature is constantly growing and developing and if it had not been sustainable then we wouldn’t have a planet to live on right now!

So instead of looking at growth and saying it’s bad; let’s instead examine the problem a bit closer to see what the real problem is.

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Why we should learn improv

For a number of years I attended classes for improvisational theatre. At the time, from my scientifically and mathematically inclined family I generally got the feedback that, ‘oh you’re doing that fluffy stuff’. Back then I couldn’t clearly articulate what I saw as the many benefits of taking these classes gave to my life in a way I am able to now.

I believe improv can teach skills that improve leadership and management abilities in at least three key ways:

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Being in Flow

This evening during my spinning class I was again reminded of the amazing feeling I get whenever I’m in flow. We were in a moment where we’d already been cycling for 40 minutes and the teacher put on a hardcore electronic track and made us stand while cycling at breakneck speed. In that moment as I hit and surpassed 130rpm it felt as if I was one with the bike; it was a feeling of complete flow where I was going so fast and with perfect technique.

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