Tuesday, January 31, 2012

i-TFTD #353: Award o'Scar

#353-1. The art of life is to know how to enjoy a little and to endure much.
-William Hazlitt, essayist (1778-1830)

#353-2. When mind is WEAK, situation is a PROBLEM.
When mind is BALANCED, situation is a CHALLENGE.
When mind is STRONG, situation becomes OPPORTUNITY.

(Thanks to Ambarish Kulkarni for sharing this.)

#353-3. There is something beautiful about all scars of whatever nature. A scar means the hurt is over, the wound is closed and healed, done with.
-Harry Crews, novelist and playwright (b. 1935)

The perspective shift involved in changing a scar from ugly reminder to a symbol of closure and hope requires a plasticity of thought that is different from fickle-mindedness. Rigidity is often confused as a sign of strength but in a fast-changing world with unlimited information, the strongest are those who know how to dynamically balance confidence with openness to opportunity, and how to alternate between input-gathering and synthesis.

Endurance of the inevitable need not be the opposite of enjoyment if one can abstract oneself to a meta level. Endurance also connotes exertion of effort, without which true enjoyment is unattainable.

A scar, then, may be an award for past endurance?

Now sing along with me (same seven syllable structure as the nursery rhyme):

Twinkle, twinkle, little scar
What a sign of hope you are
Strong minds can shift perspective
Simple thoughts to gaily live!

Friday, January 20, 2012

i-TFTD #352: Leadership Speaks

#352-1. When Cicero spoke, people marveled. When Caesar spoke, people marched.
-Cato the younger, Roman politician

#352-2. Leadership is not simply speech, it is speech that makes people march. Good judgment without action is worthless.
-Noel Tichy and Warren Bennis in their 2007 book, "Judgment: How Winning Leaders Make Great Calls"

#352-3. We've already moved from management to leadership--and we're about to go beyond leadership to inspiration.
-Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide
Most of us either underrate or overrate the importance of speaking ability. Leadership is influence and what we say, how we say, when we say and what we do not say influences those around us including our subordinates. Inspiration can also occur through one's action (without speech), often in the context of "leading from the front".

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

i-TFTD #351: Flow with Talent

#351-1. The kind of leadership my dad learned in World War II—where the leader makes all the decisions and tells everybody else what to do—that's the flaw in organizations.
-Scott Cook, founder and chairman of financial software maker Intuit (1952-)

#351-2. We can build organizations that are far more adaptable, far more inspiring places to work, far more innovative than anything we've seen so far. But there's a huge ideological challenge in doing that, because inside most huge organizations is a bureaucratic caste that believes it's their role to make decisions.
-Gary Hamel, management thinker and author

#351-3. Today, talented people need organizations less than organizations need talented people.
-Daniel Pink, author of many books including "A Whole New Mind" and "Drive"

Leaders at all levels are struggling with a dilemma on how they should approach their role: should they base it on what they have observed leaders do in the past, or, should they go with what they intuitively sense is today's expectation? Should they go the whole hog on participative, inclusive, diversity-celebrating, empowering decision-making or are there decisions they need to weigh in on with their knowledge, experience, judgment and vantage point in the organization?

And amidst the agonies of making and fine-tuning such stylistic choices, leaders know that the talent pool they have is the critical foundation on which business success is achieved. Talented people today have multiple and overlapping options for their careers. Have you noticed how many full-time employees leave their jobs in large corporations with its associated perks and then come back to do more or less the same job as a contractor? I know many women who have taken a break in their careers, started their own ventures, went back to jobs and interspersed with freelancing stints.

The biggest challenge to help leaders perform effectively in such an environment is for HR decision makers. Some textbook-throwing is called for, methinks.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

i-TFTD #350: Rules About Rules

#350-1. Pedantry and mastery are opposite attitudes toward rules. To apply a rule to the letter, rigidly, unquestioningly, in cases where it fits and in cases where it does not fit, is pedantry. To apply a rule with natural ease, with judgment, noticing the cases where it fits, and without ever letting the words of the rule obscure the purpose of the action or the opportunities of the situation, is mastery.
-George Polya, mathematician (1887-1985)

#350-2. Sure, we need rules, but remember that every rule removes a choice, and choice is the fuel for learning.
-@mwbuckingham (Marcus Buckingham, strengths guru on Twitter)

#350-3. Rules without relationship equals rebellion.
-attributed to many authors but mostly to Andy Stanley, pastor (1958-) and Joslin McDowell, Christian evangelist and writer (1939-)

Rules such as those codified in law are the foundation of civilization and society but it is more interesting to think about some other types of rules: assumed rules, outdated rules whose intent has become irrelevant and self-imposed rules. When our behavior is guided by unexamined rules, we find it difficult to adopt innovation and change. When we impose rules on others without building a platform of relationship and trust, we encounter resistance. Explaining the objective behind setting a rule is a necessary first step but logic alone does not suffice to convince others.

Breaking rules is a natural and essential part of growing up, of innovating, of bringing out the best of human potential. Ignorance about rules can occasionally help in generating original ideas but it is more often used as an excuse—and rarely accepted. Consistently successful rule-breakers first endeavor to know and understand rules before deciding which ones to break in which situation. When done well, this leads to new, better rules that achieve common good. Some have formulated this as a rule: Know the rules before breaking them!