John Paul Kotter and Psychological Contract

The celebrated leadership authority and educator John Paul Kotter argued in opposition to the anthropomorphizing of the organization, insisting that it was not organizations which embraced perceptions but rather individuals within those organizations.

'Leading Change' by John Kotter (ISBN 1422186431) Kotter discussed the psychological contract as a coordinating of expectations, where matched expectations lead to higher employee contentment and less turnover. He explained misaligned expectations in terms of a “psychological contract.” He described this as “an implicit contract between an individual and the organization which specifies what each expects to give and receive from each other in a relationship.”

The notion of the psychological contract refers to the perceptions of reciprocal obligations to each other held by the two parties in the employment relationship—the organization and the employee. Such discernments may be the result of proper contracts, or they may be suggested by the hopes and beliefs which each holds of the other and which are communicated in a variety of subtle or not-so-subtle ways.

Allstate Insurance’s Written ‘Psychological Contract’

Allstate Insurance's Psychological Contract for Employment Relationship Some employers, such as Allstate Insurance have created official statements delineating what employee and employer can expect from each other. They believe employee loyalty develops when the company and employees unambiguously know what is expected.

Terms of from Allstate’s Psychological Contract to the Employee

  • Offer work that is meaningful and challenging.
  • Promote an environment that encourages open and constructive dialogue.
  • Advise the employee of performance through regular feedback.
  • Create learning opportunities through education and job assignments.

Terms of from the Employee’s Psychological Contract to Allstate

  • Perform at levels that significantly increase the company’s ability to outperform the competition.
  • Take on assignments critical to meeting business objectives.
  • Willingly listen to and act upon feedback.
  • Take personal responsibility for each transaction with customers and for fostering their trust.

Psychological Contract and Open Communication

The psychological contract changes over time as the expectations of the employee and the organization change. With each change in expectations, open communication assists to keep both parties in alignment, or may lead to a common concurrence to renegotiate or break the contract.

The concept of the psychological contract has lately achieved significant notoriety in popular managerial texts in human resources discourse. This is for the reason that it offers an narrative of the reasons for the difficulties in the employment relationship presently being experienced by many organizations.

Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership

Zen Koan #5: Parable of If You Love, Love Openly – Buddhist Teaching on New Beginnings

Zen Koan #5: Parable of If You Love, Love Openly - Buddhist Teaching on New Beginnings Nirvana is not a place, where one can expect facilities. We are deeply enmeshed in a world where materialistic postulations dominate, and it is not so facile to contravene the momentum of that paradigm. There is a way of checking through the answers of the old Zen Masters. You come to a recede with the desire to transform yourself.

In respect to its social and moral code, the German philosopher, Prof. Max Muller has said, “The Zen Buddhist moral code taken by it is one of the most perfect which the world has ever known.” This is why you should not look for something here you can take home with you. In fact, as you get into ever-deeper levels, you may be aware of the movement of your mind in the previous level, even if you are not aware of the movement at the present level. These are the highest states that can be attained from the practice of worldly dharma. It is not natural to tighten your stomach muscles or to straighten your back by protruding your chest. It is doubtful whether anyone really achieves health that does not responsibly choose to be healthy.

A person who has experienced oneness is different from a mundane person. Just do not have any doubts about the method or whether you have the “right stuff” to practice.

Zen Koan: “If You Love, Love Openly” Parable

Twenty monks and one nun, who was named Eshun, were practicing meditation with a certain Zen master.

Eshun was very pretty even though her head was shaved and her dress plain. Several monks secretly fell in love with her. One of them wrote her a love letter, insisting upon a private meeting.

Eshun did not reply. The following day the master gave a lecture to the group, and when it was over, Eshun arose. Addressing the one who had written to her, she said: “If you really love me so much, come and embrace me now.”

Buddhist Insight on New Beginnings

All men have their fragilities and new beginnings. And when you look at how authoritative our habits are, and how much we go to sleep, and how much the world really needs somebody to have the audacity to say “no” or “stop” or “wake up” or “live differently,” it becomes very compelling. The phenomenal world is the supported destructible inhabitants, sentient beings, within the destructible environment. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

Cultivating the beginner’s mind involves a leap of faith, a willingness to dive deeply into “not knowing.” The alternative is to be chained to a past we know too well and to perpetuate history in each moment of our lives. In each new beginning we learn the art of letting things be. The concepts, images, assumptions, conclusions, and judgments; we let them be. They are received, listened to, and embraced in a vastness of heart that invests no absolute truth in them. It is a great challenge, undertaken only one moment at a time. Who is more free, the person who travels through their life carrying their raft upon their head, or the person who can lay it down and walk on unencumbered? The lessons of joy and sorrow, contraction and vastness, imprisonment and freedom are learned in each moment we are willing to begin anew and be changed by those lessons. They are simple and profound. To begin anew, to see anew, is to discover joy and freedom.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

How to Build Trust in a New Job

How to Build Trust in a New Job

Many leaders in transition often do things that damage their career success. Leaders are most vulnerable during this time because they are developing new relationships, trying to affect change, and feeling pressure to meet the high expectations of others.

To put these principles into action, leaders need a six-point agenda:

  • Get an early start. Before starting a new position, learn about the company’s history, culture, strategy, competitors, and learn the names and responsibilities of colleagues.
  • Meet and greet. Meet as many people as possible, especially the informal leaders or influencers. Tools such as email, voice mail, or the company newsletter are helpful, but should not replace face-to-face meetings. Many leaders get too caught up in pleasing the boss, or in solving problems, at the expense of those who will execute the changes. Making time to listen to even the most disgruntled employees will pay off in more trust and connection.
  • Learn the critical success factors. Identify areas where the most impact or improvement can be made. Focus on one or two, ask a lot of questions, get input from key opinion-makers, and when make recommendations, back them up. Also learn what is going well, and how to leverage those areas by building continuity from the old to the new.

Learn the critical success factors.

  • Set clear priorities. At the start of any new role, you need to decipher what is important, and what is not. And then constantly reassess the message. In developing your top priorities and vision, you will gain a dear focus, demonstrate credibility, and establish a clear cause for people below to rally behind. Make sure to involve key people, as they will offer more support for what they helped create.
  • Secure early wins. During the first 100 days, a leader wants people to feel that something is different, something good is happening. Celebrate some early successes to gain the confidence of followers. To secure early wins, first identify problems that can be tackled and solved quickly, and whose solutions will yield highly visible results. These few small wins will also demonstrate competence and consistency that provides the trust for larger initiatives.
  • Plant seeds for the future. The momentum that began with small wins must be leveraged to support your longer-range vision of the future. Small change is easy, but transformational change will require coalitions of support. By including a few key individuals in your planning, you will build “referent trust” that will cascade to a broader audience as you move forward.

Sure distrust is high, leaders need to build trust early in their tenure.

Tagged
Posted in Education and Career

The Influence of Confucius

The Influence of Confucius

Confucianism in general is borne out by the regression that took place over the centuries. It may be characterized as follows:

  1. The idea of the unknowable One is transformed into metaphysical indifference. When Confucius declines to think about the absolute or to pray for help, it is because a certainty rooted in the Encompassing enjoins him to turn to mankind in the actual world. By living in serene acceptance of death, not asking to know what we cannot know, he leaves everything open. But once Confucius’ certainty is lacking, skepticism runs rampant and with it an uncontrolled superstition. Agnosticism becomes a vacuum, which Confucianism seeks to fill with material magic and illusionary expectations.
  2. Confucius’ simple but passionate drive toward humanity is transformed into utilitarian thinking. The result is a pedantic pragmatism shorn of any feeling for man’s independent worth.
  3. The free ethos, implied by the polarity between the li and the power that guides them, is transformed into a dogmatization of the li. Without their ground in the jen and in the One, the li become mere rules of external behavior.
  4. Openness of thought degenerates into dogmatic theory. For example, a controversy arises as to whether man is good or evil by nature, whether training in the li makes man good or only restores him to his true nature.
  5. The knowledge that was inner action degenerates into rote learning. There arose the class of scribes who distinguished themselves not by personality but by formal learning and maintained their prestige by a system of examinations. For Confucius antiquity was a norm which each man must acquire for himself. As transformed in Confucianism, this came to mean the study of ancient works, the pre-eminence of the scholar; instead of making antiquity his own, the student learned to imitate it. School learning produced an orthodoxy which lost its bond with life as a whole.
Tagged
Posted in Philosophy and Wisdom

Why You Need a Mentor & How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience

Mentorship Experience: Bill Gates and Warren Buffett A mentor can be an important catalyst for career development. It’s important, therefore, to take the initiative and seek a mentor, either within or outside one’s workplace. Mentoring refers to a developmental relationship between two people where the more experienced person, or the mentor, acts as a teacher, coach and guide to the mentee, who is seeking to move ahead in education, career or life in general. Let’s take a look at what can be gained from having a mentor at this stage in your career:

  1. Perspective and Experience. A mentor can give you the benefit of his or her perspective and experience. He or she can help you assimilate to a new position and give you an insider’s view on how to get things done.
  2. Think Outside the Box. A mentor can help you look at situations in new ways. He or she can ask hard questions and help you solve problems.
  3. Define and Reach Long-Term Goals. A mentor can help you define your career path and ensure that you don’t lose focus and continue down that road even when you become distracted by day-to-day pressures.
  4. Accountability. When you know you are meeting with your mentor, you ensure that all the tasks you discussed in your last meeting are completed.
  5. Set Realistic Expectations. Idealism can be very detrimental to teachers. Think of a mentor whom you consider great. Seasoned professionals can share their failings and consequent learnings with their mentees. This will provide a foundation for accepting failures as inevitable and recoverable. Growth and learning are uncomfortable. Feeling that way is normal and expected. If you let them know it is going to happen, then it reduces fear.
  6. Trusted Colleague to Discuss Issues. A mentor can be a great sounding board for all issues—whether you are having difficulty with your immediate supervisor, an ethical dilemma, or need advice on how to tackle a new project or ask for a raise.
  7. Champion and Ally. A mentor who knows you well can be a strong champion of your positive attributes and an ally during any bumpy spots in your career. You get the insights and hindsight perspective that comes with first-hand knowledge.
  8. Expand Your Contacts and Network. A mentor can help expand your network of contacts and business acquaintances.
  9. Open Doors. A mentor can open doors within your company, in other companies, or onto a board.
  10. Inspire. A mentor whose work you admire can be a strong inspiration. A good mentor will positively impact your morale and engagement, leading to increased effectiveness in your current role.
  11. Work Better. With the help of a good mentor, you can work more efficiently with a clearer view of the future you are trying to achieve. This helps you feel more confident in your job, which leads to better job performance and more success along your chosen road.

Making the Most of the Mentorship Experience

How to Make the Most of a Mentorship Experience

  • Don’t just settle down for instructional mentoring. Instead, work on building fuller developmental relationships with mentors who help you build confidence and credibility within the workplace.
  • Don’t mistake mentoring and coaching with friendship. When selecting a mentor, choose someone you really respect and has the respect of the company you’re in.
  • When investigating new job options, talk to current employees and look at the company’s record of accomplishment in mentoring. Critically important is choosing the right environment.
  • Don’t be afraid to discuss race, ethnicity, and gender issues with your mentor, as these may significantly impact assignments, promotions, and perceptions about you within the workplace. Engaging your mentor in honest discussions can strengthen your lines of communication over the long-term.
  • Signal to the mentor that you’re willing to work around your weaknesses, that you don’t want to just be acceptable but exceptional.
  • Challenge your mentor to challenge you. If you’re stuck in a professional rut, seek your mentor’s guidance on opportunities that stretch your current talents and skills.

Realize that your development is ultimately your responsibility, whether or not your company offers formalized mentoring programs. But mentors will help you stretch yourself in ways that you might not have tried without their encouragement.

Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership Uncategorized

Robert Frost’s Favorite Poem: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening”

Robert Frost

Robert Frost is a captivating poet and public figure whose approachability and mystique will assuredly engross many generations of scholars, whether their approach is biographical, cultural, or theoretical. Frost’s portions, inscriptions, and random poems will continue to surface until nearly all of the items in small, private collections find their way into shared annals. They in fact add enormously to our interpretation of how Frost worked through his ideas. Paired with poems or excerpts from Frost’s works, these repeatedly sumptuously and lavishly created greetings raise captivating questions about the interaction between the visual and the verbal in Frost’s work.

Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening is a poem by Robert Frost, published in the collection New Hampshire (1923). One of the most famous, as well as one of the most anthologized, of Frost’s poems. It portrays a lone traveler in a horse-drawn carriage who is both driven by the business at hand and mesmerized by a frosty woodland setting. The poem is written of four iambic tetrameter quatrains, and the contemplative lyric derives its incantatory tone from an interlocking rhyme scheme of aaba bbcb ccdc dddd:

Whose woods these are I think I know.
His house is in the village though;
He will not see me stopping here
To watch his woods fill up with snow.
 
My little horse must think it queer
To stop without a farmhouse near
Between the woods and frozen lake
The darkest evening of the year.
 
He gives his harness bells a shake
To ask if there is some mistake.
The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and downy flake.
 
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

No American poet has been more prosaic than Robert Frost—prosaic because many readers like to believe most of his poems are narrative in nature, not just the lyrical representation of an image or a feeling.

Eternity Looking through Time

'The Poetry of Robert Frost: The Collected Poems' by Robert Frost (ISBN 0805069860) Frost’s poem has the back drop of a late dark wintry sundown, a harsh and bitter winter (“The darkest evening of the year”). The physical setting of the work is the deserted woods far off from the village. The significance along with physical landscapes of the poem is dreadfully isolated, bare of any living flowers or leafy trees. The narrator of “Stopping by Woods” is compelled to make a significant ethical choice, which his cherished horse does not seem to concur with. The preference that the narrator must grapple with is whether to return to the cordiality and safety of the village (where the owner of the woods lives) and his home or to stay and watch the beautiful woods filling up with fluffy snowflakes on a wintry evening. The narrator does seem to have trouble making his decision, torn between two equally enticing and delightful possibilities. This kind of persistence upon human choice is distinctive of most of Frost’s poetical works. The narrator eventually chooses to return to the village even though it seems to take his great self-control or willpower. He understands that he has some social or civic duty or responsibility to achieve before he dies.

The night, as well as the winter, is closely related to old age, pain, loneliness, and death. As stunning as snow looks, it implies the cold wintry weather, which is in turn connected with despair, disintegration, and death. Just as the woods are “lovely, dark and deep” to him, so does death look to him. Death seems not to be so unnerving, grim, or even scary—but rather fascinating, welcoming, almost a feeling of relief. The narrator is reminded of the final destination of his journey—probably to the village where his home is. The narrator’s “little horse” is perplexed by his master’s conduct —stopping by the woods located far away from any farmhouse—and thus jiggles his harness bells in impulsiveness. Impatient, the horse prompts him to resume his homeward journey.

Robert Frost Narrating and Speaking

“My Best Bid for Remembrance”

In a message to American poet, anthologist, and literary critic Louis Untermeyer, American poet Robert Frost called his famous poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” as “my best bid for remembrance.”

According to an essay by N. Arthur Bleau, Robert Frost described the poem’s back-story during a reading at Bowdoin College in 1947:

Robert Frost revealed his favorite poem to me. Furthermore, he gave me a glimpse into his personal life that exposed the mettle of the man. I cherish the memory of that conversation, and vividly recall his description of the circumstances leading to the composition of his favorite work.

'The Road Not Taken and Other Poems' by Robert Frost (ISBN 0486275507) We were in my hometown—Brunswick, Maine. It was the fall of 1947, and Bowdoin College was presenting its annual literary institute” for students and the public. Mr. Frost had lectured there the previous season; and being well received, he was invited for a return engagement.

I attended the great poet’s prior lecture and wasn’t about to miss his encore—even though I was quartered 110 miles north at the University of Maine. At the appointed time, I was seated and eagerly awaiting his entrance—armed with a book of his poems and unaware of what was about to occur.

He came on strong with a simple eloquence that blended with his stature, bushy white hair, matching eyebrows, and well-seasoned features. His topics ranged from meter to the meticulous selection of a word and its varying interpretations. He then read a few of his poems to accentuate his message.

At the conclusion of the presentation, Mr. Frost asked if anyone had questions. I promptly raised my hand. There were three other questioners, and their inquiries were answered before he acknowledged me. I asked, “Mr. Frost, what is your favorite poem?” He quickly replied, “They’re all my favorites. It’s difficult to single out one over another!”

“But, Mr. Frost,” I persisted, “surely there must be one or two of your poems which have a special meaning to you—that recall some incident perhaps.” He then astonished me by declaring the session concluded; whereupon, he turned to me and said, “Young man, you may come up to the podium if you like.” I was there in an instant.

We were alone except for one man who was serving as Mr. Frost’s host. He remained in the background shadows of the stage. The poet leaned casually against the lectern—beckoning me to come closer. We were side by side leaning on the lectern as he leafed the pages of the book.

“You know—in answer to your question—there is one poem which comes readily to mind; and I guess I’d have to call it my favorite,” he droned” in a pensive manner. “I’d have to say ‘Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening’ is that poem. Do you recall in the lecture I pointed out the importance of the line “The darkest evening of the year’?” I acknowledged that I did, and he continued his thoughtful recollection of a time many years before. “Well—the darkest evening of the year is on December twenty-second—which is the shortest day of the year—just before Christmas.”

'Robert Frost's Poems' by Robert Frost (ISBN 0312983328) I wish I could have recorded the words as he reflectively meted out his story, but this is essentially what he said.

The family was living on a farm. It was a bleak time both weatherwise and financially. Times were hard, and Christmas was coming. It wasn’t going to be a very good Christmas unless he did something. So—he hitched up the wagon filled with produce from the farm and started the long trek into town.

When he finally arrived, there was no market for his goods. Times were hard for everybody. After exhausting every possibility, he finally accepted the fact that there would be no sale. There would be no exchange for him to get a few simple presents for his children’s Christmas.

As he headed home, evening descended. It had started to snow, and his heart grew heavier with each step of the horse in the gradually increasing accumulation. He had dropped the reins and given the horse its head. It knew the way. The horse was going more slowly as they approached home. It was sensing his despair. There is an unspoken communication between a man and his horse, you know.

Around the next bend in the road, near the woods, they would come into view of the house. He knew the family was anxiously awaiting him. How could he face them? What could he possibly say or do to spare them the disappointment he felt?

They entered the sweep of the bend. The horse slowed down and then stopped. It knew what he had to do. He had to cry, and he did. I recall the very words he spoke. “I just sat there and bawled like a baby”—until there were no more tears.

'Robert Frost Poet as Philosopher' by Peter Stanlis (ISBN 1933859814) The horse shook its harness. The bells jingled. They sounded cheerier. He was ready to face his family. It would be a poor Christmas, but Christmas is a time of love. They had an abundance of love, and it would see them through that Christmas and the rest of those hard times. Not a word was spoken, but the horse knew he was ready and resumed the journey homeward.

The poem was composed some time later, he related. How much later I do not know, but he confided that these were the circumstances which eventually inspired what he acknowledged to be his favorite poem.

I was completely enthralled and, with youthful audacity, asked him to tell me about his next favorite poem. He smiled relaxedly and readily replied, “That would have to be ‘Mending Wall.’ Good fences do make good neighbors, you know! We always looked forward to getting together and walking the lines—each on his own side replacing the stones the winter frost had tumbled. As we moved along, we’d discuss the things each had experienced during the winter—and also what was ahead of us. It was a sign of spring!”

The enchantment was broken at that moment by Mr. Frost’s host, who had materialized behind us to remind him of his schedule. He nodded agreement that it was time to depart, turned to me and with a smile extended his hand. I grasped it, and returned his firm grip as I expressed my gratitude. He then strode off to join his host, who had already reached the door at the back of the stage. I stood there watching him disappear from sight.

I’ve often wondered why he suddenly changed his mind and decided to answer my initial question by confiding his memoir in such detail. Perhaps no one had ever asked him; or perhaps I happened to pose it at the opportune time. Then again—perhaps the story was meant to be related, remembered and revealed sometime in the future. I don’t know, but I’m glad he did—so that I can share it with you.

Two Minds About It

'Robert Frost A Life' by Jay Parini (ISBN 0805063412) Frost’s daughter Lesley later validated the narrative and quoted her father reminiscing his weeping, “A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again. The snow gave me shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time.”

For many years I have assumed that my father’s explanation to me, given sometime in the forties, I think, of the circumstances round and about his writing “Stopping by Woods” was the only one he gave (of course, excepting to my mother), and since he expressed the hope that it need not be repeated fearing pity (pity, he said, was the last thing he wanted or needed), I have left it at that. Now, in 1977, I find there was at least one other to whom he vouchsafed the honor of hearing the truth of how it all was that Xmas eve when “the little horse” (Eunice) slows the sleigh at a point between woods, a hundred yards or so north of our farm on the Wyndham Road. And since Authur Bleau’s moving account is closely, word for word, as I heard it, it would give me particular reason to hope it might be published. I would like to add my own remembrance of words used in the telling to me: “A man has as much right as a woman to a good cry now and again. The snow gave me its shelter; the horse understood and gave me the time.” (Incidentally, my father had a liking for certain Old English words. Bawl was one of them. Instead of “Stop crying,” it was “Oh, come now, quit bawling.” Mr. Bleau is right to say my father bawled like a baby.)

Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Thinking Outside the Box Frustrates Leaders

Innovate with Less

Do you want to innovate with less, to see and play with patterns to achieve extraordinary results? Then stop thinking outside the box and get back into the box of your discipline, organization, and life. Rearrange what you have.

No one is going to give you more resources until you prove yourself. And the greatest outside-the-box (OTB) thinking will get you fired, discredited, and maybe killed if you can’t solve an immediate problem-now.

Everyone wants to think outside the box. But where’s the practical side of OTB problem-solving? It creates tension between innovative “outside” learning and the everyday constraints of a real job. Thinking OTB frustrates leaders who have to solve problems back inside the box of their work. OTB thinking denies our vital problem-solving capacity.

So I start in the toybox. I adapt lessons from how kids play to help adults at work. Play unleashes our performance innovation potential.

Unfortunately, our workplaces and our world also isolate innovators. So, thinking OTB doesn’t work for what many people need. When people return after an off-site retreat, they encounter unfinished work and resentful colleagues. Result: increased dissatisfaction with themselves, their work, and the innovation process.

We must innovate with less at work in order to see and play with patterns across multiple arenas of our lives, to achieve goals with what we have now, within the day-to-day realities.

Inside the Box: A System of Creativity

Inside the Box: A System of Creativity

To think inside the box, choose the right box and start playing your best game. Try taking these seven steps:

  1. See Mud, Find Grid. We work in mess. And the mess holds the key to improving our performance. If we can see and play with patterns we uncover in the mess of work, we can make decisions that will provide solid business value. No more indecision. We have to wade in the mud to grab the grid within. We have to find new ways to see and dig into our workplace mess. We must unearth powerful patterns that we can change. And we have to do it cheaply, quickly, and safely. But how? You guessed it: Think inside the box.
  2. Accept Your Messy Box. Welcome to work in our supposedly sparkly clean and tidy “knowledge economy.” Don’t spill on your computer. Print that spreadsheet. Get your feet off the desk! Work hasn’t always been so orderly. Our modern workplaces hide our messes behind reports, delicately presented in slick slide-shows by fashionable professionals. Thus, we miss the mess. Deal with the fact that you have to work inside a messy box filled to the brim with the murky politics, limited resources, pain, and pressure that come with earning a living and making a life through work. Now use your skills, talents, expertise, and creativity within the constraints of your workplace-your box-to innovate and excel.
  3. 'Inside the Box' by Drew Boyd (ISBN 1451659296) Name Your Mess. Mess is unfamiliar complexity. Today, leaders face more complex and unfamiliar challenges. Mess fills the gap between where we are and where we want to be. Define your stakeholders’ environment, resources, barriers, and opportunities into patterns for change, and you simplify their mess and maximize your effectiveness. Mess is unfamiliar, so fear it, right? Try again. We can’t think right when we sense fear. Innovative problemsolving inside the box defuses fear. You manage mess in a safe, familiar, dynamic, and respectful environment. Mess can be found and managed in three areas of performance: 1) internal dynamics-team-building, office politics, workplace communications, language, and culture; 2) external trends and influences-market forces, social norms, popular media; and 3) constant environmental change-restructuring, disintermediation, cultural diversity. Inbox thinking helps people change complex messes into defined barriers to excellence. With less stress, leaders identify next steps to solve messes just in time.
  4. Find Your Crystal Question. Want some change? You gotta ask. Define a critical question (related to issues, value, urgency, and meaning) to answer for your innovation springboard. Sometimes it’s easy to do; sometimes you’ll need help. I call this the “crystal question.” Find it. Here’s how: Summarize critical needs. Prioritize. Identify a change objective in language that has meaning for you. Reframe as a question. No off-site retreat necessary. Grab some paper. Start writing it down now.
  5. Use Only Four Words. You don’t have a lot of time. Find four key words that will crack open your box, unleash the mud, and reveal the grid. Use these four words to frame positive change in the first seven seconds of your call to action with your staff, boss, spouse, or others. An example: For one session, I wanted participants to see their creative power. The four words? “I am a poet.” The word POET then became an acronym for four activities. Whether the four words are a full sentence or four categories of change, you can use this to clarify your strategic innovation plan. The four words also help you make your message consistent when using different media (handouts, spoken word, slides, activities).
  6. 'The Art of Invention' by Steven Paley (ISBN 1616142235) Play More. You’re in the box. You’re in the mess. You have some tools to clear things up. Now you get to work.. .right? Wrong. Now you play. Before you go cleaning up the grid, first play with the mess. If you ignore the mess, the fear remains, more mess will build, and no change will stick. But people hate mess! No one wants to talk about it, much less play. Be creative. Defuse the fear. Find a safe harbor that can stand in for the mess-as simple as a cartoon you use to “hook” your audience or as complex as a structured series of activities around a relevant metaphor. Remember the key: Ground what you use in your crystal question. Above all, practice! You must play with the mess yourself, and then try it with trusted others. Make mistakes and learn from them. Many baskets, many eggs. Find many patterns for change, and activities to purse, since some workers may not respond. Trust your gut instincts and watch your audience. If it isn’t working, do something different. Also, be aware of your own patterns and habits-they can be part of the mess.
  7. Share Your Mess. See learning shift as your participants explore and manage the mess. In-box thinking allows people to use cognitive skills they may not use to solve problemsskills we use when we play.

Model Enthusiasm for Creativity, Support Success

Model Enthusiasm for Creativity, Support Success

Model learning through appreciation. Create respect. Openly express new insights. Praise ideas and new ways to think. Build excitement and commitment. Discover another way to interpret mess: “Model Enthusiasm, Support Success!” Process your mess. Devote time to debrief. Get people to apply their new clarity and ideas at work. Document and prioritize tasks, then act. Co-create responsibility. Hold each other accountable to make the patterns change after you in-box think. Here are some tips for playing in the box:

  • Participants will change your mess.
  • Be open. You can’t predict results.
  • Allow yourself to learn together.
  • Use simple, cheap, accessible stuff-pads and paper, markers, and toys.
  • Your passion can make it work.

Evaluate, celebrate, improve. Get feedback-formal (evaluation forms) and informal (hearsay)-on the change process. Reward yourself and your team for effort.

Congrats. You’re out of the box. Now get back in. Take the lessons you learn to make a better mess next time! The patterns you see, the ways you play, and the successes you stimulate may differ from one change effort to another. The principle remains the same: Use play to think inside your box to see patterns and options in new ways.

Our workplaces, our world, and our future depend on our ability to see and play with patterns in new ways. Luckily, we’re all experts. And, while it’s hard work, it can be a lot of fun.

Tagged
Posted in Management and Leadership Mental Models and Psychology

Aesop’s Fables

A bronze statue from between 330 and 100 BCE, that is believed to depict Aesop holding a papyrus scroll. Fables refer to the idea of presenting criticism or advice indirectly in a simplified, fictional setting.

A fable is a narrative, in prose or verse but usually simple and brief, that is intended to convey a moral lesson.

Fables frequently involve non-human characters-animals (real or mythic), plants, artifacts, forces of nature, and so on-that are represented as having human attributes. Fables are a common form of folk literature; the best-known fables of the Western world are credited to the legendary figure Aesop, who is supposed to have been a slave in ancient Greece sometime between 620 and 560 BCE.

Hellenistic statue claimed to depict Aesop from Rome's Art Collection of Villa Albani In the ancient classical world, fables were not considered as fare for children nor as works of literature in their own right. Rather, they were used as vehicles for indirect—and thus carefully polite—criticism and persuasion. For example, Xenophon (c. 430–354 BCE), in his Memorabilia (c. 371 BCE), describes Socrates advising a citizen named Aristarchus to tel l his ungrateful relatives—to whom he had provided capital for a business and who are now accusing him of idlenessthe fable of the dog and the sheep, concluding, “Tell your flock yonder that like the dog in the fable you are their guardian and overseer.”

Interest in fables remained high through classical antiquity, the Middle Ages, and the Renaissance, with collections of fables—typically ascribed to Aesop—serving as the basisfor rhetorical textbooks and literary works. Jean de La Fontaine (1621–95) produced Fables (1668–1694), which are perhaps the most best-known original fables in modern times.

'The Classic Treasury of Aesop's Fables' by Don Daily (ISBN 0762428767) The English author and philosopher G. K. Chesterton wrote in his Alfred the Great (1908), “Fable is more historical than fact, because fact tells usabout one man and fabletells us about a million men.”

As literary tastes developed in sophistication, fables increasingly became the province of humorists such as George Ade and children’s writers such as Dr. Seuss—although the defamiliarizing effect of fables, with the artistic form being used to stimulate fresh perception of a familiar subject, is still deployed in books such as George Orwell’s criticism of Stalinism, Animal Farm (1945).

Tagged
Posted in Music, Arts, and Culture

Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #8: Jude Thaddeus

Get to Know the 12 Disciples of Jesus Christ: Apostle #8: Jude Thaddeus

The Gospels mention Jude Thaddaeus in the list of the holy Twelve. Sometimes he is called “Lebbaeus;” however the Aramaic meaning of Thaddaeus and Lebbaeus is the same, “beloved” or “dear to the heart.”

The Fourth Gospel tells us that Thaddaeus asked Jesus, “How is it that you will reveal yourself to us and not to the world?” And Jesus answered, “If a man loves me and obeys my teachings, my father and I will love him and we will come to him and abide with him” (see John I 4:22–23.) Many scholars believe it was the last question Jesus answered before he began his prayer vigil in the Garden of Gethsemane prior to his arrest.

Thaddaeus’s esteemed reputation as a miracle-worker may be due to a legend concerning Abgar of Oseoene—the twenty-eight-year-old king of a small, prosperous domain located some 400 miles from Jerusalem. Shortly before Jesus’ arrest, the young king wrote to Jesus asking to be cured of a painful disease. Though Abgar never met Jesus, he accepted him as the Savior, and warned that in Jerusalem there were plots against Jesus’ life. Abgar offered his own kingdom as sanctuary, saying, “I have a very small yet noble city which is big enough for us both.”

Jude Thaddeus - Holy Days - Eastern and Western Churches

He is titled Jude in the lists of Luke 6.16 and Acts 1.13. Certain scholars believe that Thaddeus is an alternative of the Greek name Theudas. According to a very early tradition in the Church the James referred to in “Jude of James” is JAMES, son of Alphaeus, and James and Jude are to be recognized with the BROTHERS OF JESUS (i.e., His relatives) mentioned in Mt 13.55 and Mk 6.3. Furthermore, since Jude was probably less known, to recognize him better his name was associated with that of his brother. This has persisted the principal view among Catholic commentators.

Although Jesus graciously declined the invitation, Abgar was promised that an apostle would be sent to cure him. After the Ascension, Thaddaeus was chosen to travel to Oseoene. He healed the king and many others as well. The legend ends with the grateful Abgar offering Thaddaeus a large sum of gold and silver. But Thaddaeus refused, saying, “If we have forsaken that which is our own, how shall we take that which is another’s?”

The traditional material about Jude Thaddeus’s later ministry and martyrdom is completely unreliable. Eusebius (Ecclesiastical History 2.40) relates various assumed areas of his preaching, while the Roman Breviary mentions only Mesopotamia and Persia. He is said to have died a martyr, and in art he is represented with a halberd, the means of his martyrdom.

Jude Thaddeus - Saint of Lost Causes for Christians in France and Germany

  • Since the eighteenth century, Christians in France and Germany have prayed to Jude Thaddaeus as the Saint of Lost Causes; today he continues to be petitioned by many Christians throughout the world. His symbol is a gold sailing ship with silver sails before a red horizon.
  • Holy days: Eastern churches celebrate Thaddaeus on June l9; in the West; with the apostle Simon on October 28.
Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion

Zen Koan #4: Parable of Obedience – Buddhist Teaching on the Art of Living

Zen Koan #4: Parable of Obedience - Buddhist Teaching on the Art of Living Zen is an interesting method of communicating enlightenment; however, enlightenment does not differ between the many varieties of faiths or religions. Anyhow, yes, there are enlightened people who use Zen nowadays, but none who are enlightened in Zen. For instance, this incense board is just a piece of wood. A sick person may absorb this energy and this may avail them to practice preponderant. Practicing this goodness will avail the process of their rejuvenating. However, because of incognizance and delusion, we keep following this cycle. We carry out many activities, and develop many affixments to this life.

We endeavor many incipient things in order to gratify ourselves. We chase after pleasure and we endeavor to evade or discard those things we do not relish. From this concentrated state, we can enter the mind of unity. Tibetan Zen Buddhism as we know it today was shaped in part by arguments over how best to present Zen Buddhist teachings. Great space does not refer to nothingness, but rather to a totality. No ghosts or deities would be able to find you. Some people become so overwhelmed by troubles in their practice, they end up without any discrimination, letting go of their hopes as well as their despair.

Zen Koan: “Obedience” Parable

The master Bankei’s talks were attended not only by Zen students but by persons of all ranks and sects. He never quoted sutras not indulged in scholastic dissertations. Instead, his words were spoken directly from his heart to the hearts of his listeners.

His large audience angered a priest of the Nichiren sect because the adherents had left to hear about Zen. The self-centered Nichiren priest came to the temple, determined to have a debate with Bankei.

“Hey, Zen teacher!” he called out. “Wait a minute. Whoever respects you will obey what you say, but a man like myself does not respect you. Can you make me obey you?”

“Come up beside me and I will show you,” said Bankei.

Proudly the priest pushed his way through the crowd to the teacher.

Bankei smiled. “Come over to my left side.”

The priest obeyed.

“No,” said Bankei, “we may talk better if you are on the right side. Step over here.”

The priest proudly stepped over to the right.

“You see,” observed Bankei, “you are obeying me and I think you are a very gentle person. Now sit down and listen.”

Buddhist Insight on An Art of Living

The art of Zen living requires, if you come to something that’s in the middle of the road, even if it’s not your lane, it’s a nice thing to pick it up, move it aside, because you care for the earth; not because you’re intended to, but because it brings joy. At first, it’s difficult, but if you work with it for a while, it actually starts to become interesting. The Burmese-Indian teacher of Vipassana meditation S. N. Goenka writes in The Art of Living,

By learning to remain balanced in the face of everything experienced inside, one develops detachment towards all that one encounters in external situations as well. However, this detachment is not escapism or indifference to the problems of the world. Those who regularly practice Vipassana become more sensitive to the sufferings of others and do their utmost to relieve suffering in whatever way they can – not with any agitation, but with a mind full of love, compassion and equanimity. They learn holy indifference – how to be fully committed, fully involved in helping others, while at the same time maintaining balance of mind. In this way they remain peaceful and happy while working for the peace and happiness of others.

This is what the Buddha taught: an art of living. He never established or taught any religion, any “ism.” He never instructed those who came to him to practice any rites or rituals, any empty formalities. Instead, he taught them just to observe nature as it is by observing the reality inside. Out of ignorance, we keep reacting in ways which harm ourselves and others. But when wisdom arises – the wisdom of observing reality as it is – this habit of reacting falls away. When we cease to react blindly, then we are capable of real action – action proceeding from a balanced mind, a mind which sees and understands the truth. Such action can only be positive, creative, helpful to ourselves and others.

Tagged
Posted in Faith and Religion