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THE SILENT AND THE LURKERS
Do you know that you can enjoy being in a community despite being an introvert?
Yes, I'm basically an introvert, although a lot of people will not believe when I say that. I have to get over the introversion because my work dictates that I should be outgoing, energetic, and open.
But introvert leaders must be able to be respected for who they are. In my community that I'm building, The Provocateurs' Nexus, this online community could be something different to different people.
To the overachievers and action-oriented leaders, a space to run their ideas and expand their professional network;
To the dreamer and visionaries, a space to experiment on different models of operating and different knowledge bases they can tap on;
To the change-makers and catalysts, a space to learn, laugh, and build the next systems change tools and techniques;
To the young and inexperience, your Kuyas and Ates (older brothers and older sisters in Filipino) can guide your way so you can avoid the mistakes they made;
To the silent and introverts, you can be lurkers, observers, and quiet support but your presence and impact is felt nevertheless.
To the empaths, you engagement this community by volunteering and leading with your thoughts and prompt and ensuring that everyone is feeling safe and valued will be appreciated.
You bring your whole being here and we respect and value that here.
Of course, if you're not part of this, how would you know the difference?
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My friend and publisher is a certified Global Nomad. He's travelling now for two years all over Europe and apparently now in Mongolia with his partner while working on his businesses. He writes for Medium and will get his book published soon on the same topic.
He's not rootless as what it seems like. Global nomadism is not place-centric but lifestyle and values-aligned life design. Designing this kind of life requires an intentional and deep way of honoring your truest desires and bringing them to life in a way that supports yourself and your needs, the environment, for long term.
Who is this for? For those who are not adhering into 'living and dying in one place' where there are choices that lie open wide and are taking it. Cyber work propels and invigorates this culture shift. Globalization in ICT power charges it. Culture shift in this area is taking place. The exodus has just begun. More and more people are moving not just for greener pastures but to elect a different life.
For sure this is not for everyone. But some people are not troubled by lack of security, lack of social ties in one place, or lack of family supports and other familial things when they're life is in flux. Some people flourish in that kind of mobility and dislocation. They take the road as their offices and cubicles and learn the ways of the people they meet and share coffee with on a train, bus, tuk-tuk, or tourist tram.
My friend is living the life that he desires and not flinching about it. We can be nomads in your town as well. We can exist in one area but totally isolated from the rest of its current realities. This is not about travelling and moving but deciding to not participate with life in all of its dynamism.
Nomadism is a choice, by far a choice that creates its own limits as well as possibilities. If you elect to be so, where would you go and what would you like to learn in the process.
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I had a great time decluttering these past few weeks. First, I tackled that big box when I moved here in the province in 2015 containing all my files, Knick knacks, and mementos stored from my previous job and life for five years and more.
It was amazing to see that some of those stuff I have brought from the Philippines. Clearly, I'd like to keep a lot of stuff that for "some day" I might find useful. But that 'some day' didn't come. The old toothpaste, bottle of medicines, and broken eye glasses were never useful at all. The old files since 2010 didn't prove to be worth for anything except my files from old clients that I kept to document the work that I have done before. There were old books and magazines in French language that I thought I would be able to revisit when I had the time. That time didn't come even.
Decluttering frees up the space but also the mental space for which most precious real estate resides. If you focus and emphasize on the past, you will end up in a divided and distracted perspective. We can win some but we can also lose some. That's part of the trade-off. We leave behind what's to be left there so we have the energy for today, which is a gift in itself. Tomorrow has its own worries to be bothered by it now.
What's eating up your office space and organizational mental space? old politics and enmities that do not die down, grudges and personality clashes, petty squabbles and vain competition for recognition, one-upmanship, or perfectionism? As a leader, decide now to abandon these silly and toxic culture and just focus on getting things done well and pulling everyone together as a team.
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For the past few weeks, I have been busy preparing my community for its first beta program. I know I have a few interests but as I looked at their profiles in their application, I noticed a few things.
These are the people that are undermarketed, under-reached, and would be unable to respond to any North American programs unless, these programs are totally free or heavily subsidized.
Some of them do not have a credit card system or functional online payment system in their countries.
Some have no means whatsoever to afford any continuing education or coaching support.
Some have a variety of outstanding responsibilities and will not have the time.
Some will have it for later and for next year.
This is the reality of the market. I am continuously listening and reiterating to determine what seemed to be the best course of action, the best product, and the best market and for the right value.
If you're not listening to your market, you're listening more to yourself, which is the default position.
There is no first-time got-it-right kind of way. Everybody's adjusting and reframing.
What are you reiterating today? What is this reiteration based from?
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There is a counterculture against ambition I know.
I have been told indirectly that I am ambitious.
I have no problem with ambition. The world needs ambitious lawyers, engineers, scientists, surgeons, and humanitarians to make it a better and safer place.
Well, for one, if you're an entrepreneur, you need that to keep going against all odds.
Second, when it not for ambition, I wouldn't be where I am right now given the cause-effect logic of how things emanate from something.
I cannot place this kind of remark, although I maybe too slow sometimes too.
It's okay to be ambitious but don't show it too much, meaning enthusiasm, energy, optimism, high level of resilience, and spartan confidence.
Well, that for me are dead give-aways. I exude them, capture, and claim them because these are good stuff you need to survive and thrive, in big doses the better.
Therefore, I am completely helplessly ambitious. I don't trample on people, have sharp elbows, and do all kinds of sleazy, unethical methods to get business. I just do the way a soldier, a tactician, a master planner, and a faithful one will do.
Are you ambitious? Do you take this comment negatively or do you take the meaning back?
Do you lack ambition or do you lack the courage to be ambitious?
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Like the Black See Grain initiative powered by the UN between Ukraine, Russia and Turkey to free up the grains to address the growing food insecurity in many parts of the world, this deal is highly contentious.
While currently warring, the two factions managed to put aside their strife to think about how the grains from Ukraine could solve another world problem. Albeit, for very selfish reasons, they came together, debated endlessly, sought side deals and concessions, and almost broke down the negotiations. So much for what UN calls 'restricted diplomacy.'
While highly volatile and unpredictable, when pulled together, enemies can be brought to the table with very clear political or economic objective, facilitated by multilateral actors who are perceived as neutral or non-partial to the central conflict. It seemed that limited trust can be fostered on a very narrow set of targets with disincentive for non-cooperation and rewards for its maintenance.
The world is fraught with conflicts and war-mongering. The stances of governments and politicians are more towards creating division and polarization rather than creating a pathway towards reconciliation and unity within a diverse framework. Negotiations seldom accomplish their purpose because of the insistence that all wrongs and disagreements on all fronts had to be taken down first which is not the way to go.
This initiative proves that with a strong political will, enemies can sign the same accord separately without the face-to-face interaction but still agree on the document. Even though the terms are fairly slim, that could be start of more talks and less fighting on the ground. This is possible but very hard to put together and maintain, but do we have a choice?
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We know for a fact that not everyone will like what you do and will believe what you say and stand for. That's very obvious.
But there's a class of people who will never believe and will not be persuaded even in the face of great supporting evidence or contrarian evidence.
We call these people unpersuadable. They will dig on their heels but will never capitulate maybe because of ego, apathy, lack of trust with the other person or their leaders, or merely because they want to play that way.
What is insidious is the fact that this attitude is totally annoying and a barrier to engagement. Organizations dealing with these kinds of people are reluctant to confront the unpersuadable for fear that they could be more entrenched with an extreme position or lack thereof.
Change management analytics will determine that a different strategy should be employed for the unpersuadable such as keeping them at arm's length and providing information that they need without the urge to win them over.
Realistically, let them know that it's not okay to be unpersuadable. It's a character flaw and by acting that way, shows you their real worth. If it's someone you have no relations or context with, walk away.
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You can't fake this.
I have been in an non-profit Board where the Executive Director meets us every month with some flavor-of-the-month issue that we should be very excited about and yet failed to give us some progress on the most important thing.
For example, the bus that the donor is giving for free, the new technology software for payroll and client management, a new sexual harassment policy, the new grant we should be applying, an enrollment to a certification program and a membership to a municipal social planning committee. Well, these are all great additions but what's happening to the first 5 priority areas where she needed to focus on and deliver.
Diversions could be used to cover some underlying business problems that are not being addressed for many reasons. One of them is that because some people are part of the problem. First, the timing is suspect. The fact that the Board had clearly outlined some pressing issues that needed to be resolved and completely addressed is the order of the day. Adding new but non-pressing agenda does not create that level of trust. Second, the new additions will completely use up all the time, resources, and energy for which that could have been taken in at a later time. Third, the staff seemed to be deliberately treating these diversions as substitutes or proxies for priorities, for whatever reason.
Which led me to the point, the best result- the Board terminated the Executive Director in a matter of few months on a very different reason. But the writing was on the wall with this behavior. You can't dance around important issues and pretend that non-performance and lack of due diligence is perfectly alright. The Board loses its grip when the Executive Director controls them rather that they control the conditions for which the Director should be accountable with.
The part of the problem is that this could be a seemingly innocent mistake until it becomes a behavioral pattern. You have to see it for what it is, diversionary tactics are meant to erode the focus and commitment of leadership.
Be ruthless with your meeting agenda and keep an eagle eye on your musts. Overachieving is not a problem in the purpose sector, it's the underachieving that seems to be tricky.
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Beware, comparisons could be dangerous, misleading and disempowering.
It's no longer the case that you compare apples to apples but what grade, variety, source, and other properties that make this exercise completely useful at all.
We come to the point where comparing past result to future result will give us a good indication of progress, or lack thereof. But times are a-changing. Comparisons now are what it seemed to be decades ago. We compare our achievements or lack thereof with our neighbor next door, or circle of friends and see how we rate. With a new car, house, appliances, their kids going to better schools, new hobby gadgets, professional designations, etc.
Now with social media, we get to see the best looking, brightest, smartest, richest, and most loved professional in our field, and we think that's the standard of everything great. If you're a business, to the fastest growing, VC-loved startup raking in millions in less than 5 years. If you're a purpose-driven organization, to the well-respected, well-oiled organization in your sector that's getting all the accolades all the time and getting it right most of the time.
This unbelievable, impossible idea of standard is ubiquitous but seldom rejected. It presents an illusion that could never be satisfied. Yet, the picture of success or nirvana is just that. We have that picture in our minds.
What comparisons do you use to gauge your performance? your organizational health and vitality? your relevance to your community? your competencies as against life's challenges? Do you really know the person and organization you are trying to emulate? What standard or measure do you subscribe to and how they came to be? By acclaim, by rigorous system, by a multilateral consensus? By politics? self-promotion?
Internal comparisons are the best. Internal best practice as against trade/industry practice could be profitable. The people that are in deep trenches know more than what the annual reports say. They get to build and develop the measures, the measurement, the methods, and the theory of what and how change can happen.
As a rule, it's best to construct your own metrics.
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The whole Christendom is celebrating one of its most sacred observance, the Holy Week starting on Maundy Thursday and ending on Easter Sunday.
I don't know about you but as practicing Christian, it marks a high note in my spiritual walk every year by observing this on a reflective way. I grew up as a Christian and carried that faith through and through all throughout my adult life. This one I am passing to my daughter, not just as a legacy but a way of life. Everyday, consistent practice is what gives its sharpness as I see myself donning many roles and responsibilities.
The resurrection of Jesus Christ brings me to the realization that no matter how difficult or challenging the situation is, there is hope in the Risen One. There is the ultimate guarantee, above all other earthly guarantees that we can ever have. which is found in the Savior. This fundamental belief guides me and point my actions heavenward, focusing on what is eternal versus temporal. This is not an easy task to do yet the call is there to heed.
Another outstanding gift of the resurrection is the anticipation for the great things yet to come. Failures are never final. Struggles are meant to make us stronger, resilient, and resource-efficient. We can't take things for granted especially when we are troubled. There are many blessings received every waking day. Each of these blessings require their own meditation.
For the devote, this week is a time for reflection and anticipation. A time for fellowship and grateful gatherings. What do you make of this time?