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There is a family member I know that walked into an equipment store and asked the store clerk, "Do you have a diarrhea? Sorry a screw instead. He was having one apparently and had to quickly check if he had the urge to go when the calamity strikes. But since, the word "D" is top of mind, that's the one that just got blurted out of the blue.
That hurt my stomach laughing at this silliest and most honest mistake. How come we can't seem to control our tongue in moments when we should be more polite or proper? Amazing, how this censorship out of our socialization gets thrown out of the window with a slip of a tongue, or in a form of a half-joke, or a sarcasm hidden behind good flattery.
Our expression is what we all have and how we use language, control it, contort it and conceal its real meaning is a trait that requires its own perfection. A sage person remarked, that "the one that can control his mouth, is the one that can control his destiny."
Except in a dire situation such as this when nature wants a release, it pays to have a complete rein in on our mouths. Less talk, less trouble.
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There is a level of entitlement that has totally gone berserk.
The radicals are demanding that you change your beliefs and values so that the world will be better.
Some people are demanding that you forsake any reason, logic, or common sense for a practice that is not rationale, logical, or based on humanity's sense.
Some are demanding that they get your attention because they believe that their story is better than yours, hence, the attention.
Students are demanding that they get into the honor roll just for showing up.
Parents are demanding that their kids get to enrol in prestigious institutions and will readily bribe officials just to get entry.
Politicians are seeking the truth when they themselves are complicit of using science, research, and global consensus to mask what's going on with the pandemic for example.
Non-profits are feeling entitled to use their volunteers in order to skimp on organizational support and development and avoid getting the funding for the latter.
The social media is full of hypocritical beings who are posers but not real doers, advocates of something that when push comes to shove, not very willing to forgo their convenience, lifestyle, ways of life, and the status quo.
How to deal with and navigate around these entitled individuals, organizations, and entities:
1. Reverse their argument. How they would feel if the other person or target group or beneficiaries or constituencies would demand the same?
2. Who benefits from these demands? What actors and groups and causes they are promoting and against? What are the stakes here?
3. Think systemically. How this course of action can lead to more negative impacts down the line? Is this going to be another palliative or flavor-of-the-month solution? Where is that movement is this leading to? Is this resolving an issue or using another group or issue to cover-up or devalue the persistent long-term ones?
4. Some demands and suppositions are downright illegal, unethical, and pie-in-the-sky. Learn to discern and debate well.
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The explosion in publishing has been noted to be the one of the most significant breakthroughs in recent years. Nearly practically anyone can self-publish his work and sell it online to his communities. The marketplace is very saturated with new books and materials entering every year, bumping the previous ones in terms of competition for the consumers.
To get an edge over this saturation, service-providers and purpose-aligned organization must provide more than their annual reports and publications, it's the experience with you that counts. Experiencing your capabilities, wealth of experience, and analysis is the way forward to break out from the commodification in the sector.
Purpose-driven organizations that are struggling to get the attention of your constituencies and stakeholders, here are the top four strategies to publish successfully and earn their donations, loyalty, and support.
1. Publish in areas where your target stakeholders learn, mingle, and network. That will keep your brand front-and-centre.
2. Repurpose your analysis and studies in variety of creative ways. The latest stats on digital consumption reveals an uptake on audio and video content. Make it accessible anytime, anywhere.
3. Design an experience that they will never forget. Unforgettable, relevant, and peer-to-peer exclusive atmosphere will increase your credibility in the field. You become the go-to for anything authoritative in your domain.
4. Build your defenders for the long game. In my book Provocateurs, I discussed the evolution of community, from fans to acolytes to defenders. Defenders will not only support your work, but will sponsor, evangelize, and take action for your benefit that aligns with their interests and values as well. Adapt your events, publications, and communications to build up your community.
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THE TRUTH IS SOMEWHERE IN THE MIDDLE
You want an honest feedback so that you can improve your work.
The first group will tell you what you want to hear, all the good things sans the not-so-good ones for fear of discouraging you.
The second group will tell you all the worst things that you have done and how it negatively impacted them. Fine, if that is the truth.
Yet, we live with this two polar opposites all the time without the real benefit of honest constructive feedback, in our workplace, in organizations, and sometimes in our own families.
It cannot be that worst but it can't be that too great either. For improvement's sake, it is better to be honest than to be lying about someone's performance. However, how you deliver this is very critical to the outcome you're seeking.
What does it take to create an atmosphere where honest feedback is taken and given constructively?
For some situations, you will never know where you actually sit, having two of these polar opposites received from different quarters. Perhaps, the truth is somewhere in the middle. It is up to you to weigh both things. What matters is that you're improving everyday while others are busy taking successful people down.
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When I last saw my 11-year old niece in 2019, she was singing the 1960s hit, the Sound Silence. That was one of the best folk songs in my book. I remembered in the 90s, when I got to know some of the best classical folk and rock songs and started to learn the guitar for the first time. The Sound of Silence was one of the beats that was unbeatable. I gave up on the guitar after trying for a few months recovering from blisters all over my fingers, but not on the song.
The Sound of Silence is eternally relevant and powerful with its hunting melodic harmony that remains supreme against the auto-tone, music trashing modern bands we have today. I can say that I grew up learning to play these songs, interpret these songs during my high school life, and appreciate a different era of my parents and grandparents where some of these songs have been birthed.
Silence in today's world is a rarified survival tool. Everyone wants it but it takes courage to find and keep a silent life. If you think about it, silence is a blessing.
As I grow in years, I would lean more to the quiet, calm, and assured days and moments as opposed to the big, boisterous, and larger-than-life events that take our breath away from time to time. The sound of silence is the heart beating, bird chirping at outside, snow falling from the sky, staring at a newborn baby (which I did today!), snoring sound in another room, electric fan swirling, moments that no words can be enough. I'd rather be drowned in silence than to fill up the space with meaningless chatter and fake words.
There is power in silence and using this power responsibly and positively honors the One that gives us the power to listen. We can hear more when we listen on non-verbal cues that are rich, textured, and layered of meanings. I am coaching one professional and I told her that there is no problem with silence. Don't avoid it like a plaque but understand the meaning of silence in every encounter or situation with the people in the room. Being a leader means being aware of the underlying context that most of the time, is hidden from verbal expression. Emotions make us human, respecting the positive benefits of silence is truly a gift. Take notice, be interested, and listen discerningly.
People talking without speaking
People hearing without listening
People writing songs that voices never heard
No one dared, disturb the sound of silence...
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THE PHILOSOPHY OF PROVOCATION
Provocation, as I heard from a Rotary Club member after my presentation, was something very negative to him. He was fed up by the polarization in our politics and culture, those that always demanding something and always looking for ways to tell someone should reform or else global destruction is at hand, instead of just aiming for common good.
While I recognize the current woke and cancel culture climate which we operate, I digress that positive provocation is more about not pushing, but encouraging, not forcing someone to change their views even with the word Provocateur or Provocation. Provocation means you're not settled with the status quo, however long it has served your purpose. It's always for positive growth, more relevance for the upliftment of all. It's about challenging norms that are no longer useful, thus, we can take some lessons learned from others, and adapt accordingly.
The woke culture of today denigrates everyone who is not in conformity, kills dissension and creative expression, and polices everyone's thoughts and feelings, making one feel ashamed and guilty of one's roots and privileges. Hitler's campaign was successful because it tackled the identity of German culture and ascribed a higher sense of importance over other races, ethnicities, and identities and loyalties of the German people.
Positive provocation is an antidote to the complacency in many organized systems around the world. Innovation, as Schumpeter defined is about 'creative destruction.' Taken in extreme literal way robs it of its substance. Innovation is doing and making things differently, whether it's a product, service, system, network, or process.
Positive provocation in the world of charity, development, humanitarian, and philanthropy requires a healthy dose of passion, purpose, provision, practice, and the right paradigm (5Ps). That to me is the philosophy of being a provocateur or a positive instigator.
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DEFINE SUCCESS, ETC.
I have always tried to champion taking a closer look at many definitions we find our ourselves and our organizations in constant encounter. As a rule, as a leader, define this very well internally, because the danger lies in the unexamined, ill-suited paradigms like oversized coats that do not fit well with perceived reality.
Disruption- what does disruption mean to your social business, on-purpose organization, or cause-based advocacy?
Innovation- what does innovation look like, feel like at your level of operation?
Effectiveness- what drives effectiveness? is this a long-term purposive aim or an operational value?
Impact- whose impact are we talking about here? do they know that you're contributing to that pie? is this measured across the organization?
Sustainability- what sustainability lens do you subscribe to? are your actions guided by global, local, and community goals?
Success- what success brings about? is this a desirable path or a mini-breakthroughs would be enough?
Seek out clarity and intentional discussion on these issues on a regular basis. Meanings change as people change and institutions grow. Your past reviews may not hold more weight now than 5 years ago. It could look very different as you move forward with your short-term plans.
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WINNER AND LOSERS
You must have heard this from somewhere, that in any change initiatives, there will always be losers and winners. But this is not as clear-cut as we think this to be. With varying degrees of complexity, everyone can be in the same page on issues but with different positions approaching solutions.
Problem-centric people try to diagnose the problem and beat it until it's blue in the face.
Solutions-centric people deny the magnitude of the problem and want to jump straight to solutions.
Radical change leaders want to overthrow the whole organization from bottom to top.
While the incrementalists are taking their sweet time to effect changes.
These are stereotypes and the binary of losers and winners, if you still have that perspective in your organization is very 60s. Champion a win-win approach to any substantial changes in the organization. Yes, there will be groups that will be mostly affected and mitigation should be front-and-centre and not an afterthought.
I just recently observed a massive transformation in a large organization. When asked, middle managers don't know what's actually going on. The top executives will gladly do a rodeo on each unit/department, taking the most expensive, yet direct route to engagement. What about these middle managers who can act as natural bridge between those at the top and those at the bottom? What about these natural spokespersons and representatives of specific groups, are they engaged in a way that ensures change outcomes are retained in the best way?
People will believe in the change based on what they see, not on what your Townhall proclaims.
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REFRAME AS YOU TALK
I was in a conversation a few weeks ago for about 15 minutes, the quickest business call I had on Zoom.
When the conversation started to veer away from the unstated and unspoken main agenda, I tried to put it back to where the 'meat' is so both our needs are met by reframing and reorganizing the discussion.
After 15 minutes, with bluntness allowed, we got through a common understanding and with some laughter. We didn't get to determining a follow-up, but a positive rapport created a desire to talk again. A stranger became a friendly acquaintance.
The biggest lesson is to reframe a scenario right where you are, when you know it can quickly deteriorate and leave you thinking what just happened.
Do you know that we can frame everything based on our perception of value? We talked differently with bosses, our peers, our stakeholders, our partners, and investors. The frame becomes the shape that controls the kind of relationship and transaction that comes after, as in building a house or a ship.
Re-framing is essential for busy executives with enough work but limited time for the mundane. Seize the moment, identify your musts, and never feel that you need to subordinate your need. That way, you don't have to repeat the scene in your mind post-mortem.
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I was in the physical therapist' office a few weeks ago. I was feeling something in the wrist. He said that it might be connected with the neck. Aha! I never thought about that connection. Same happens while in the doctor's office, some tingling in my toe, had a connection in other parts of the body.
The body is one big connected organ. I never thought that it could be as latent as that. But your organization, whether it's a two-person or a large enterprise with subdivisions operating beyond borders, is also interconnected and must work synergistically.
A corporate strategy has to trickle down to individual departments, staff, and even to the janitor. How and why things are moving in a 'certain' direction should be and can be answered by any staff you meet in the corridor. Failure to communicate this very important piece leaves room for ambiguity and frustration.
I was in a phone call a few years ago, talking to a Program Administrator. I inquired about the program advertised in their website. She told me that the program has been rescinded. The new strategy provides the opportunity for them to review what their offering versus what exactly they should doing. A case of 'good to have' versus 'our musts/our unique value.' If I were her boss, I will be very proud of such employee. She cares so much to know and to communicate her knowledge to all the stakeholders concerned. She owns her role.
Are you taking the time to really communicate your grand vision and overall direction to all the people in your organization? Are your employees being a part of your communication strategy?
When everything is well-coordinated, your toes and fingers can do their best job too!