Monthly Archives: October 2018

Glimpses of History #7: Neolithic Expansion and Indo-European Migration

Neolithic expansion and Indo-European Migration

At the end of the last ice age, humanity entered a epoch of increasing technological sophistication. For reasons that are still debated, many of the large mammals hunted by humans became extinct, driving the development of new food sources: breadmaking considerably predates this period, but people in Mesopotamia now began cultivating wild cereal and pulses. Dogs had been domesticated over thousands of years; nomadic shepherding became possible through domestication of goats, sheep, horses, camels and, above all, cows.

In the Neolithic period farm animals were first domesticated and agriculture was introduced: it began in the Near East by the 8th millennium BC and spread to northern Europe by the 4th millennium BC. Neolithic societies in NW Europe left such monuments as causewayed camps, henges, long barrows, and chambered tombs

By 5000 BCE, livestock herding was sufficiently established to allow a widespread abandonment of hunter-gathering in favor of settled lifestyles. Pottery was increasingly useful, and permanent buildings, constructed from mudbrick, appeared. These technologies spread out of the Middle East through the Old World (the Americas developed agriculture independently, with only the llama available for domestication). With the arrival of bronze, stone was used less for tools and more for buildings.

The majority of the peoples of Europe and a substantial portion of the present and ancient peoples of western Asia speak closely related languages that all belong to the Indo-European language family. European colonial expansions and the spread of Euro-American culture have been so successful that nearly half the population of the planet now speaks an Indo-European language. Yet the place where this language family originated and the course of its earliest migrations have been topics of heated and inconclusive debate for more than two centuries.

The problem of Indo-European origins and migrations has been a major challenge to prehistorians, and the failure to develop a single fully convincing model is a salutary caution to anyone interested in tracing the path of migrations in the archaeological record. If increased doubt is the result of the type of intense discussion that tracing the roots of the Indo-Europeans has occasioned, then this does not bode well for many other hypothesized migrations that have seen far less scrutiny.

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Reflect on Why You Lead

Reflect on Why You Lead - Personal Leadership Journey

My Personal Leadership Journey

For the past 30 years, I have worked in business, primarily in energy, but here I share a few aspects of my personal leadership journey over the past six years and how that journey has changed my outlook on life.

You are leaders with your own roles and responsibilities. Your journey will be unique; however, I believe that we share many concerns in common. At times leadership can feel overwhelming. There are so many practical issues-how to communicate, coach, and develop strategy. But there are other, more fundamental questions-like “why lead?” or “why continue leading?” or “Am I doing the right thing?” or “How do I find meaning, purpose, and joy in my leadership?” These are the questions we all have to answer for ourselves.

'The Leadership Journey' by Gary Burnison (ISBN 1119234859) Leadership can be very rewarding-personally, professionally, and financially-but it can also be very challenging. Nothing is ever quite right. There are many setbacks and sacrifices. We often get caught up in the struggle without reflecting on the greater meaning of our journey.

Even after becoming a successful entrepreneur, I wrestled with “why?” questions. In fact, they seemed even more pressing. When you don’t have to work anymore, you can get very honest with yourself. The questions are still there-no matter how far along the leadership path you go. But the further you go, the better the answers have to get. Beyond words that sound right, the answers have to be deeply meaningful to sustain you.

I set many business goals, and am proud of what I helped to create. I experienced much satisfaction from our achievements. But “more of the same” didn’t seem like enough. I was seeking more important insights. Our lives and businesses are very complex. But I came to feel that the real answers should be simple. Truth, I believe, is simple, and the messages of great leaders are simple and clear.

Four Leadership Lessons

One catalyst in this process was my attendance at the Global Institute of Leadership Development conference five years ago. Warren Bennis was a cohost, and I was impressed with his wonderful example of leadership and inspired by his ideas. The theme that had the greatest impact on me was “find your leadership voice and passion.” His message spoke to me. I asked myself, “Have I really done that?” It seemed to require using more parts of myself. The more aligned we are with our unique abilities and talents, the better everything seems to work. And fully expressing ourselves suggests values and beliefs-even spiritual qualities.

At that time, another story line developed that became the source of many new insights that helped change my life and my leadership. It started with plans for the new Millennium in 1999.1 initially had a fun idea to charter a yacht in the Caribbean, but it became something much more meaningful. My family planned to contribute to the building of a 150-bed hospital in southern India. Over the last six years, this has led to involvement in building a school, a seva hall to feed the poor, and a spiritual park to nourish peoples’ souls-among other projects. Despite all the project activity, visiting this area of India is very rejuvenating for me. In fact, a one-week trip around the world to India is more restful for me than a week in Hawaii.

Through my experience in India, I learned four leadership lessons:

Lesson 1 in Purposeful Leadership: Joy

'The Twelve Absolutes of Leadership' by Gary Burnison (ISBN 0071787127) As the locals, as well as people from around the world, came to help us with our projects in India, they worked long and hard, but with joy and passion. Now, I’m familiar with “24/7” work from the investment banking world; however, these people also seemed to find meaning and joy. Their mode of operating seemed to be not only a more enlightened way to live, and pointed to a more effective form of leadership.

Happiness is good, but it’s fleeting. It may be the feeling you get from buying a new car, or house, or getting a new job or promotion. The feeling lasts for awhile, and then passes. You then need a new acquisition or achievement. It’s externally bound.

Joy is deeper, fuller, more sustaining. It’s a feeling you would have about your children, something special you did for someone, or something you received. It’s a feeling you can always revisit with joy. It’s internally connected.

How do you move from happiness to joy, and how can you create more joy in your life regularly? Joy isn’t something you can buy (a thing), or something you can do for yourself. You can’t create joy for yourself directly-it is only through others. You can’t operate in that joyful realm in a sustained way until you get outside yourself, because it’s not about you. Churchill said, “You make a living by what you earn, but you make a life by what you give.” Serving others is what great leaders do.

In his book The Spirit of Leadership, Bob Sptizer describes four levels of happiness: physical gratification, ego gratification, service to others, and service to others in pursuit of a greater cause. The last two are in the realm of joy, as they take you from selfish to selfless, from conditional to unconditional.

Lesson 2 in Purposeful Leadership: Enough

Early in my career, I set some ambitious goals for myself, including financial ones. People suggested that once I achieved these goals, I would keep moving the goal posts. I didn’t believe them then, but they were right. What I achieved went far beyond my expectations, but I still found myself reframing my goals.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, except for one aspect. It wasn’t making me any happier; in fact, it started to take a toll on my life-stress, pressure, obligations. When is enough, enough? There is no absolute point. Deciding is difficult. We are naturally attracted to more. Most people think if they reach their next destination or goal, they will finally have enough. But once they arrive, they inevitably discover another level of desire.

“More of the same” will not help us attain what we ultimately seek. In fact, “more” implies we’re incomplete. We think that we’ll finally arrive when we achieve the next goal. Of course, the horizon moves out. After a certain level, it’s a choice. “That’s it – I have enough right now.” When you reach that point, something remarkable happens because it’s no longer just about you. It’s a transformational awareness. It moves you from your own self-interest to otherinterest, from conditional to unconditional, and from happiness to joy.

So what about work? What about those goals that are so motivating? They are still there, but they take on more importance-because now they’re for a greater purpose.

I continue as Co-Chairman at ARC Financial Corporation, but I contribute all the growth in value to others. It’s turned my work into something with more purpose-and it’s more sustaining. How you share your talents and gifts will be unique. But I can attest that when you start operating on this basis, more incredible things happen to you and for you than ever could have happened when your own needs were paramount. That’s the paradox of opening yourself to joy.

Lesson 3 in Purposeful Leadership: Wealth

This is an interesting topic for someone like me who has devoted much of his career to finance, investment, and wealth. I could talk all day about maximizing shareholder value or about making investments in energy markets. Instead I want to talk about wealth in a different way and offer a new perspective.

Wealth is generally thought of as assets, and if you were truly wealthy then you would think that your financial wealth would provide “enough.” But if you ask many people with wealth, you find that they generally have both a need and a plan for more.

In India, we see a lot of poverty and hardship, but we also see a lot of joy. What we all need to realize is that real wealth is in the heart, and it is experienced when you have peace and joy-that is when you finally have “enough.”

As I struggled to integrate my future business life with my philanthropy, I asked Linkage founder Phil Harkins to work with me-on the condition that he come to India. He was skeptical, but he joined our family there in 2004. We talked about the challenges facing leaders. One morning, he said he had been up all night writing the outline for a book. “We need to explore some key insights here that could be important to leaders,” he said. “But there’s one condition-you need to help me write it.”

A major part of the book involved interviewing 25 successful leaders to understand how they answered those questions. What qualities, intentions and aspirations did they have that made them so successful? To what extent did those insights from India about wealth and joy play out? That brings me to my fourth lesson.

Lesson 4 in Purposeful Leadership: Unconditional Leadership

What draws us to leadership will not sustain us. For us to grow and evolve so must our leadership. If we are aligned with our purpose and what we find meaningful, then our leadership is more successful and sustainable.

Each leader in our study found meaning and created more impact through an orientation towards serving others. Here are two representative quotes: “Personal reasons will only take you so far” and “In building a company, ultimately you are serving others.” Another said “Leadership will challenge you in ways you couldn’t imagine.”

'Unlocking Potential' by Michael Simpson (ISBN 1477824006) Warren Bennis describes the process of becoming a leader as much the same as the process of becoming an integrated human being. Leaders evolve through both failures and successes to their mature style. What is that style in its ultimate form? One important aspect if that style is moving from leading for oneself, to leading with others, to leading for others. This last stage, unconditional leadership, is the soul of leadership.

When I visited an orphanage with over 100 children in India last year with my family, the experience evoked many emotions and much anxiety. These children have so little. When we arrived, the kids came out to greet us, and our anxiety disappeared as we were swept up in the experience of being with them. We brought ice cream and cookies, but the kids wouldn’t eat any until we had some of their treat for us first. They performed songs and dances, and they embraced us. Even though they had so little, they still had joy and laughter and shared it with us. My children saw abundance in a whole new way-a way that did not relate to the material world but to the heart. Despite their hardships, we felt that abundance and love, which is more meaningful and joyful.

Reflect on Why You Lead

You can make a difference. If you want to change the world, first you have to change yourself. If you change – yourself, if you change your heart, it will change the world.

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Egocentric Space and Sympathies

Egocentric People are Troubled with a Deep Inner Unrest

Egocentric People are Troubled with a Deep Inner Unrest Those who find themselves cloistered in too narrow a space often suffer from an affliction known as claustrophobia. It is the morbid dread of being shut in.

There is another kind of claustrophobia, which occasionally afflicts people—a claustrophobia not of space but of sympathies. It is just as pernicious. Some people live only for themselves, all their thoughts, all their emotions are centered on their own egos. The house they live in may be a mansion of immense size, yet these people will suffer from the shut-in feeling.

A person expands or contracts the world to the dimensions of his own spirit. He whose sympathies reach out to other people finds his world enlarged to the measure of those sympathies. Through our broadened interests, we can make ourselves part of all humankind, and rejoice in its past triumphs, struggle in its present dilemmas, and anticipate its future hopes. People who do this are blessed; they live in the vast open spaces of the spirit.

Egocentric people are invariably troubled with a deep inner unrest. They feel that their lives are empty, as indeed they are. For they do not take enough of life into the circle of their interests. No one ego is sufficient to fill life with the meaning and purpose which is required to keep it going.

Egocentric people usually think they are being kind to themselves. They refuse to bestow themselves on others so that they may have more with which to serve themselves. However, this is one of life’s great illusions. For too much concentration on the self-begets a shadow that obscures the rest of the world, and when we live with the image of that shadow constantly in our eyes, our spirit rises in revolt against its confinement.

When you estimate the odds of being harmed by the flu shot and compare them to the odds of needing it and being helped by it, there’s no question that just about everyone should get it. Being unable to find your mind when you look for it might be thought of as a moment of massive incertitude, yet this is precisely what frees you. How much greater felicitousness must we enjoy, upon whom the sun of science shines so bright as at this day?

The Need to Be Loved

The Need to Be Loved Psychologists have called attention to a person’s need to be loved. This is a valid need. However, there is another truth, which is occasionally overlooked. A person must not only receive love, he must also give it A person who is concerned with himself alone will be truly miserable. Our interests must turn in both directions, out as well as in. Spoiled people are unhappy even though they are the recipients of love, because not enough of their love flows back into the world. A gift carries more blessing for the giver than for the recipient.

Our world is as big as our outlook. We crave to live in the larger world, not only of space but also of sympathies.

Open-mindedness, which is the fruit of mindfulness, forms the basis for the disciplines of insight. This open-mindedness produces the space in which our apprehension, our discriminating awareness, operates and can be active. The ten kinds of wholesome actions lead to the higher realms. The American social psychologist Jonathan Haidt wrote in The Happiness Hypothesis,

Our life is the creation of our minds, and we do much of that creating with metaphor. We see new things in terms of things we already understand: Life is a journey, an argument is a war, the mind is a rider on an elephant. With the wrong metaphor we are deluded; with no metaphor we are blind.

Since sun-sensitive people are at a higher jeopardy of developing skin cancer and are prone to sunburn, they are more likely to weary sunscreen. The helplessness of their circulation makes them cold, and their faint and sluggish pulse knows this. Interesting thought process on optimizing for dissimilar things during dissimilar life stages. Were art to redeem man, it could do so only by saving him from the earnestness of life and restoring him to an unexpected boyishness. At the postsecondary degree, the student alone is responsible for self-identification as someone with a disablement, presenting documentation to support that arrogate and requesting post school accommodations from employers or education personnel.

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How to Create a Culture of Appreciation

How to Create a Culture of Appreciation

Through Appreciation, Your Human Resources Will Increase in Value and Worth

Most of us think we appreciate our employees. We say “good job” for work well done, we give out Employee of the Month awards, and we honor our top producers. Yet, two out of three workers say they didn’t receive a single word of praise or simple recognition in the past year. Well, you think, “That’s the other guy—I appreciate, I’m grateful.” Yet, the number one reason people leave jobs is lack of appreciation—not low pay, not too many hours, or too few benefits. People quit first because they don’t feel appreciated!

'Making Feedback Work' by Elaine Holland (ISBN 1496103041) How much does turnover cost you? How much do you spend in recruiting, hiring, and training new hires? How much time-productivity is lost in the process? In addition, what about absenteeism and lack of motivation and enthusiasm? Because those who aren’t quitting, but who feel unappreciated, are coming to work less often, with less zeal and less commitment. And who incurs the cost? You. Your business. Your company.

And the cost is considerable. Appreciation has a real and measurable impact on your bottom line. Studies reveal that the degree to which people feel their company recognizes employee excellence results in dramatic differences to the company’s bottom line. Businesses effectively valuing their employees enjoy triple the returns on equity, returns on assets, and higher operating margins.

And that’s just when employee excellence is appreciated. What do you think can happen—what does happen—when you have an entire culture of appreciation? When an obsession with value, with the worth of people and situations, becomes your way of doing business?

Companies such as Southwest Airlines and See’s Candies have embraced the appreciation approach. The result? Southwest Airlines is making money while its competitors are filing for bankruptcy. See’s Candies has tremendous customer loyalty, longevity, and profitability in an industry fraught with competition. When I interviewed the leaders of these companies, I discovered that they have a culture of appreciation.

Value Your Employees and Attract Value from Them

Value Your Employees and Attract Value from Them

Appreciation is not just another word for gratitude. Appreciation is about recognizing and caring about the value of things. This is the way the word appreciation is used in the marketplace: we say that land appreciates, gold appreciates, art appreciates,—and they all increase in value and in worth. When you are genuinely concerned with the value and worth of your people, and decide to make valuing your number-one priority, the value of your business skyrockets.

'1501 Ways to Reward Employees' by Bob Nelson (ISBN 0761168788) The reason appreciation works so spectacularly is scientific: Appreciation is an energy that attracts like energy. Therefore, by valuing your employees, you attract value from them. Like attracts like. It’s not just a catchy phrase—it’s a scientific reality you can use to your direct benefit.

How? It all starts with you—whether you’re the owner, department head, manager, or supervisor—what you think and what you feel affects every person involved with your company. You set the tone, you set the pace, and you determine what is going to matter and what isn’t. You have enormous impact.

If you see your products and services as having tremendous value, those you manage will appreciate them in the same way. If you see the people who work for you as having tremendous value, those people will want to step up to the plate for you. Your business cannot help but prosper. It’s scientific. Like attracts like.

Five Ways to Appreciate Your Employees

Five Ways to Appreciate Your Employees … Your Human Resources

Here are five ways you can appreciate beyond Employee of the Month:

  • Adopt an appreciative focus. Appreciation is an active, purposeful search for the value or worth of whatever or whomever you meets. Many times, your focus is on everything that’s going wrong as you come to work: all the problems that you must somehow solve or delegate to be solved. In the process, you ignore, and most emphatically fail to value, everything that’s going right. Look at your business with new eyes. Search for what you can appreciate and find of value in every person, every moment of the day. Ask your managers to report what’s working right, where the greatest progress is being made, who’s going the extra mile. Take time to acknowledge the positive reports from your managers, ask for more details, and be enthusiastic about what they have to say.
  • Problem-solve with appreciation. When problems inevitably arise, ask employees what they think might resolve the issue. When valued this way, most workers will try to produce good solutions, especially since they often know the workings of their particular job or department better than anyone does. By using this approach, you are acknowledging your employees’ value before usurping it with yours. Of course, others will not always solve problems for you, but by valuing your workers’ ability to do so, you increase the chances that they will. In addition, by acknowledging their value, you increase the possibility that employees will become proactive and eagerly seek solutions to future problems. When you see value in people, you free them to be more creative, more innovative, and more valuable to your business. In addition, when employees are part of the solution-making process, they own the solution and are therefore more willing to do what it takes to see it through.
  • 'The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace' by Gary Chapman and Paul White (ISBN 080246176X) Catch employees in the act of doing something right. So often, we focus on only catching employees doing something wrong. In truth, catching people doing something right, something of value, is far more beneficial to your business. Make a habit of walking around the business spontaneously. Using the appreciation reports gleaned from your department heads, let workers know that you appreciate a specific aspect of their effort. Tell them how their “good act” was noticed and what it means to you and to the company. Know enough about what workers are doing in different departments so you can make meaningful comments about their contributions. Specific comments are much more appreciated. Saying “You’re doing a great job” isn’t as meaningful as saying, “The specs you wrote up on Project X really made a difference to our customer.”Ask employees what they’re working on now. Engage them in conversation about their work. Wanting to know their thoughts lets employees know that what they think and say is valuable. Look workers in the eye, use their name, and be genuinely interested in their comments.
  • Create a culture of appreciation. Collect stories of work done well. Make heroes of the men and women who work for and with you. We are all starved for recognition, for genuine applauding of our talents and skills. The success of TV reality shows is predicated on our need to be valued and to be seen as valuable. We want to be appreciated for who we are and want the opportunity to be winners. Celebrate the value of those who deserve, regardless of position or department. Celebrate workers’ good acts outside of work as well. By fostering a culture that acknowledges good acts within your community, your company will reap the benefits. Discourage negative talk and gossip about anyone or anything. Don’t indulge in “the economy is terrible,” “stockholders are a nuisance,” or “meetings are a waste of time” conversations. Don’t trash or bash others.
  • Lead by example. Appreciation is not a fad or technique. It is a paradigm shift, a new approach. It is even more critical today when employees often have a variety of career choices and move on when they feel unappreciated. If you want to see the tremendous advantage an appreciative approach can make, infuse your business with appreciative thoughts and practices.

It all starts with you. From you, appreciation can spread to the great benefit of your performance, productivity, and profitability.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

How Dell Created a Great Place to Work

How Dell Created a Great Place to Work

Dell has been known for its productivity; however, behind productivity are people, and Dell is learning what it means to be a great company and a great place to work.

Dell has been a results-driven company for a long time—almost to the exclusion of everything else! In many ways, that has accounted for Dell’s success. One thing I discovered is that when your stock is going up 300 percent a year, no one pays much attention to issues like “effective management” or “creating career tracks for your people.” People willingly work very hard for long periods because the payoff is so huge.

Dell’s crisis of conscience came in 2001 when, for the first time, Dell had to lay people off. In late 2001, Dell went through a self-discovery process where Dell started to ask, “If we aren’t going to be a company where you can come in and be rich by noon tomorrow, what are we? What do we aspire to? What kind of company do we want to be?” Dell’s president, Kevin Rollins, and CEO Michael Dell began a dialogue about what it really means to be a great company and a great place to work.

Creating a Winning Culture at Dell

In the end, Dell came up with what probably looks to outsiders like a beliefs-and-values statement. Dell called it “The Soul of Dell.” It is a statement of Dell’s aspirations as a company. There are five aspects: the Dell team, customers, direct relationships, global citizenship, and winning. Dell shared early drafts of the documents with all of Dell’s vice presidents, and had some great dialogue about what Dell leaders and employees together aspired to become.

The biggest gap was between where Dell were and where Dell wanted to be with the Dell team. So leaders and employees started to talk about what it would mean to be a winning culture. Leaders soon realized that they would have to broaden the definition of what they cared about, beyond financial results. They continue to care very much about what they accomplish, but also how they accomplish it. After focusing more on performance for 15 years, when they came out with a beliefs-and-values statement Dell’s employees were a bit skeptical. In the first year, Dell had a series of programs, town-hall meetings, brown-bag sessions, and other discussions to talk about what Dell aspired to do—all of which were met with great enthusiasm and great skepticism at the same time. The enthusiasm was driven by the view that Dell needed to do more to become a great place to work over time. The skepticism was driven by a concern about whether or not Dell believed and were committed to what it’s leaders were saying.

Dell's Improvements to Management Quality and Organizational Culture

Dell’s Improvements to Management Quality and Organizational Culture

Last year, Dell’s leaders put some teeth in Dell’s effort to improve the quality of management and improve the culture. We decided to administer Dell’s employee opinion survey, “Tell Dell,” twice a year, and they asked every vice president, director, and manager to get 20 percent better results than the year before. We wanted to send a signal: The results are important, but how you get results is also important. At first people said, “That’s nice, but will they really pay attention?” The major change they made was to identify metrics, based on responses by employees, that measured how well Dell’s managers managed and how well leaders led. In short, they decided employees would vote on whether or not they had made any progress.

The results were interesting. First, they got 90 percent participation worldwide, which is amazing itself, and over 90 percent the second time they did it. When they first did the survey, they didn’t show much progress from earlier years, which was to be expected. But Michael and Kevin talk about it every time they get together as a senior management team. They direct the senior team to share the results, in front of their peers. And they discuss their own scores. That’s what caught people’s attention. Slowly but surely, we’re getting better—as are Dell’s managers throughout the company.

There are about 30 statements on the survey, and they use five of them as core metrics for measurements: My manager is effective at managing people. My manager gives effective feedback. If you had an opportunity to work some place other than Dell, would you take it? I feel like I can be successful and retain my individuality at Dell. My manager helps me manage my work/life balance.

When they did the second survey, it was fun. We did get 20 percent better! I think they were all surprised at how much progress they had made. What was even more amazing is mat this happened across the board—they got better everywhere.

This has been a very positive experience for everyone. Dell’s leaders are reminded that if they put Dell’s minds to it, they can get better at a lot of things—even things that seem intangible. For Dell’s employees, it has been positive because it has driven far more conversations about issues between managers and their people. We’re using simple metrics to measure change, but are broadening Dell’s definition of what it means to be a great company.

Dell's Leadership Development

Dell’s Leadership Development

For three years they have had a company-wide leadership program. It’s one-day long, and all leader-led (they never use consultants). Each year, they focus on a different facet of leadership at Dell. Each year, they advance what it means to be an effective leader at Dell. And every year it starts with Michael and Kevin. They devote one day to teach Dell’s strategy committee—Dell’s senior-most decision-making group—about what it means to be a good leader. Then each of us repeats that leadership training with Dell’s direct reports, and on down the company. We all share Dell’s expectations with Dell’s teams about leadership. It is a powerful change mechanism—to stand in front of your team and discuss what you expect them to do differently, and then have them tell you what you need to do to improve.

'Direct from Dell' by Michael Dell (ISBN 0060845724) First, it’s powerful that Dell’s chairman and president are willing to spend a day to talk about this because it is a very revealing process. They talk about things that they did well and poorly. It’s powerful to stand in front of your own team and lead a discussion about leadership. Personally, I feel very exposed during those conversations. I know that they know what the leadership issues are with me, and so I have to fess up and say, “Well, here’s what I think I need to work on.”

We have also used 360 assessments more with Dell’s VPs and directors. We have put together a consistent worldwide management-development curriculum that defines expectations as well as builds skills. We also have short tutorial workshops for anyone who scores below 50 percent on any of the five items.

So, where do they go from here? We will do the survey again this year, and this time everyone will be expected to get at least 50 percent favorable responses on each question. If you’ve got an approval rate of higher than 75 percent, we’ll ask you to stay at that level; it’s hard to ask those people to get a 20 percent improvement when they are already doing so well.

Dell’s European team, in addition to doing what we’ve done, asked their entire management team, “If you were going to teach one lesson in leadership to the people on the Dell Europe team, what would that be?” Then they were asked to develop a 45-minute approach to teach that lesson. Every time they meet with a new group or visit a new country, they take an hour and teach their lesson in leadership. It puts Dell’s leaders up in front of Dell’s employees more consistently.

Almost every culture change has a back-to-basics emphasis because people tend to lose their focus on the business. We came at this from an opposite position. Dell’s business continues to do very well. Two years ago, they set a goal to double the size of the company in five years—and we’re already ahead of pace to do that. So, I’m proud to say that for a company on top of its game, they still want to be better—not just on Dell’s business results, but also in the way they manage Dell’s people.

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Glimpses of History #6: Migration Into Oceania

Glimpses of History #6: Migration Into Oceania

Oceania is usually considered to include the central and southern Pacific, but excludes the North Pacific and Australia. It consists of three principal areas: Polynesia, Micronesia, and Melanesia.

The Pacific Islands were unsettled by any of the early hominid species, but with assistance from ice-age land bridges, modern humans settled the Philippines, Australasia and elsewhere by no later than 40,000 years ago (long after the earliest known boats). Eastern Polynesia may have been settled by South American sailors following the Humboldt Current. Sophisticated agriculture developed to supplement fishing.

Human migrations from Southeast Asia to the South Pacific Islands of Oceania began as early as 40,000 BCE. A concentrated wave of migration about 2000 BCE produced profound environmental changes as humans introduced domesticated animals, depleted species of native fauna, and practiced agriculture resulting in deforestation and erosion. Although subsequent settlements achieved ecological balance, few who saw the region as a paradise in the 1600s realized just how fragile that balance was.

Plaster cast of an Arawi Maori: Migration Into Oceania The thousands of islands and huge ocean gulfs between them meant that settlement was uneven; some—such as Hawaii and Easter Island—remained unsettled until well into the first millennium AD. Isolation helped create significant linguistic diversity; there are not only hundreds of different languages, but several different language families (in civilizations without writing, oral histories were greatly developed). Philologists can chart the linguistic changes, dating the settlement of each island and tracking the rise and fall of loose-knit empires, with religiously potent chieftains and various class systems.

  • A plaster cast of an Arawi Maori shows detailed tribal tattoos—New Zealand was one of the last parts of Oceania to be settled by humans, about 800 years ago.
  • For the European voyagers, who began visiting the South Pacific in larger numbers between 1600 and 1800, many of the Oceania islands assumed mythical status as tropical paradises.
  • Today, few islands are truly remote, peripheral, or insular. Islands certainly do not exist in stasis. It no longer makes sense to distinguish islands and continents or to stereotype them or their inhabitants.
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Posted in Hobbies and Pursuits

Zen Koan #35: Parable of Every-Minute Zen – Buddhist Teaching on Compassion

Zen Koan #35: Parable of Every-Minute Zen - Buddhist Teaching on Compassion Meditation gives us the opportunity to have an open, compassionate attentiveness to whatever is going on. The meditative space is like the big sky— spacious, vast enough to accommodate anything that arises. Nothing much has really transpired in that period of time. In the actual human world, we can’t avoid the choice between good and bad, for the reason that there is no absolute level apart from the relative and compassionate levels.

Relative, compassionate, and absolute are ways of talking about the moral choices we make with these human bodies and minds, in an actual, lived, physical world. Having an equal mind means that there is no conception of relativity between things. To illustrate this, suppose you are walking along a road and it starts bearing to the right. What is the best approach?

Pay close attention to the method. Love inductively authorized as a payment is not love at all. They tell themselves that they could be doing so many other things at home, or furthering their career. Thoroughly enlightened people spontaneously help sentient beings in accordance with causes and conditions. The secret of all the teachings of Zen Buddhism is how to live in each moment, how to obtain absolute freedom moment after moment.

Zen Koan: “Every-Minute Zen” Parable

Zen students are with their masters at least ten years before they presume to teach others, after all learning all one can isn’t as easy as learning how to ask a girl out or how to ride ones bicycle. These are lessons that take the span of a decade to master. Nan-in was visited by Tenno, who, having passed his apprenticeship, had become a teacher. The day happened to be rainy, so Tenno wore wooden clogs and carried an umbrella. After greeting him Nan-in remarked: “I suppose you left your wodden clogs in the vestibule. I want to know if your umbrella is on the right or left side of the clogs.”

Tenno, confused, had no instant answer. He realized that he was unable to carry his Zen every minute. He became Nan-in’s pupil, and he studied six more years to accomplish his every-minute Zen.

Buddhist Insight on Compassion

In Zen Buddhism, everybody is trying to work out his or her artistic self-expression and compassion. In addition, after they had lived together for some time in married cheerfulness, the Queen became aware that the day was drawing near when she should bring forth a child. However, compassion also exterminates delusions. The intermediate Zen meditative state can last from a moment to seven days, depending on whether or not an appropriate compassion is found. It means learning skillful means not to be so caught up in things, not to be so attached. The British meditation teacher Christina Feldman writes in The Buddhist Path to Simplicity,

Compassion is not a quality to romanticize, idealize, or project into a future moment. Nurturing compassion does not depend upon personal perfection. We meet suffering, pain, and confusion every day of our lives. The homeless person on the street, the frail parent, the hurt child, the stressed executive, the alienated teenager. It is not easy to open our hearts to the bottomless depths of pain in the world. We hold in our hearts our own mortality and the mortality of others. All life is fragile; we live in a fragile world. health turns to illness, well-being to pain, safety to uncertainty, life to death; none of us can control the countless supports upon which our well-being rests. The moments of sorrow and confusion we meet are moments that invite us to cultivate a listening heart, to let go of separation, and to be present with every cell of our being. The difficult moments and encounters in our lives are the gateways of compassion. Our enemies are angels of compassion in disguise, inviting us to be present, to attend, and to receive. Here we discover for ourselves the healing, balancing power of compassion.

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Posted in Faith and Religion

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

At the dawn of the new millennium, two powerful factions are arrayed against each other. Each faction advocates an extensive list of reforms.

  1. those influenced to support the principle of equality of condition and to extend their progressive program of reforms
  2. those equally determined to reinstate equality of opportunity as the reigning principle.

Now, we need to tackle such concerns as the struggle for self-realization, the desire to find a deep-seated meaning in life than the endless accumulation of consumer durables and the pursuit of pleasure, education not only for careers but for spiritual values, methods of bankrolling an early and rewarding retirement, and increasing the quality time available for family activities.

The changing nature and distribution of work and leisure and changes in the structure of consumer demand are creating overabundance in some areas (such as the excessive consumption of calories and fat) and severe shortages in others (such as health services at all ages).

How to Address the Struggle for Self-Realization in Your Organization

To accomplish self-realization, we need to understand life’s opportunities and sense which ones are most attractive to us at each stage, and the requisite educational, material, and spiritual resources to pursue these opportunities. Currently fair access to spiritual resources is as much a benchmark as access to material resources was in the past.

  • Spiritual resources include a sense of purpose, a sense of opportunity, a sense of community, a strong family ethic, a strong work ethic, and high self-esteem.
  • Developments in physiology have contributed to the growth of the elderly population, giving rise to the problem of in, intergenerational equity—the assurance that one generation will not suffer a lop-sided share of the burden of financing a lifetime of self-realization.
  • Also pressing is the need to develop arrangements that permit prime-aged workers greater flexibility so that they can attend to their own and their family’s spiritual needs.
  • Lifelong learning is another new equity issue. It involves offering opportunities not only to upgrade skills to earn a living but also to extend knowledge in the arts and humanities.

For women, self-realization requires an end to glass ceilings and the creation of conditions that make careers and families fully compatible.

The new agenda is shaped by changes in structure that have reversed the trend toward economic concentration and the separation of work and home.

Today, 60 percent of our discretionary time is spent doing what we like (volwork). The abundance of leisure time promotes the search for a deeper understanding of the meaning of life.

Why this deep desire for volwork? Why do so many people want to forgo earnwork, which would allow them to buy more food, clothing, housing, and other goods? The answer turns partly on the extraordinary technological changes.

Food, housing, clothing, and other consumer durables have become so inexpensive in real terms that the totality of material consumption requires far fewer hours of labor today.

Indeed, we are approaching saturation in the consumption not only of necessities but also of goods that were in the recent past thought to be luxuries. The era of the household accumulation of consumer durables, which sparked the growth of manufacturing industries, is largely over. Most future purchases of consumer durables will be by those replacing items or establishing new households.

Quality of Life and Self-Realization

Today, ordinary people wish to use their liberated time to buy those amenities of life that only the rich could afford in abundance a century ago. These amenities broaden the mind, enrich the soul, and relieve the monotony of earnwork. They include travel, athletics, the performing arts, education, and shared time with family. The principal cost of these activities is often measured, not by cash outlays, but outlays of time.

Soon, the issue of life’s meaning, and other matters of self-realization, will take up the bulk of discretionary time.

'Rising Strong' by Brene Brown (ISBN 081298580X) New flexible work modes—such as a regular part-time work, blocks of work interrupted by blocks of released time, job sharing, flextime, telecommuting, hoteling, compressed work, early retirement, and postretirement earnwork arrangements—are desired by men and women who want a life that is not overwhelmed by earnwork. They do not measure success by income or position. They are content with a simpler lifestyle that places greater emphasis on family life, shared relationships, spiritual growth, religious faith, and good health.

Today, many corporations view alternative working arrangements as part of an inventory of personnel policies that increase corporate productivity and reduce absenteeism, labor turnover, and the cost of office space.

Today ordinary people must decide: What it the nature of the good life? Our world may be materially richer and contain fewer environmental risks, but its spiritual struggles are more complex.

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Posted in Management and Leadership

Freedom is the Opportunity for Self-realization

“No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself.”

“It’s a free world!” our seven-year-old son cried out in a final effort to rationalize his tantrum. He did not want to go to sleep, and he cried out against his enforced bedtime as an invasion of his rights. His illusion is not uncommon even among grown-ups. We often define freedom as the right to do as we please, but this is an erroneous conception. Freedom is not the right to do as we please. No one can do just as he pleases, since we are all subject to pressure from sources beyond ourselves, which we cannot defy. If freedom consists of the right to that defiance under all circumstances, then none of us can be free. The laws of gravity, biology, geography; the laws of the road and of our home routines; die laws of the natural world and the laws of the man-made world—all these and countless other regulations limit our right to do as we please.

No Man is Free Who is Not Master of Himself The separation of time elapsing between the pronouncing of the stimulation word and the response is precisely measured. It is needless to say that this would not only be an object of human race, but a great monetary saving, considering how expensive it is to support invalids, and to interchange men; not to mention that it is upon the health and lives of men that all public exertions fundamentally depend.

Freedom is the opportunity for self-realization. In each of us lie dormant all kinds of powers which were meant to be developed in the course of our maturing. Moreover, once developed, they were meant to be employed in the give and take of life. We are free if our powers can develop to the fullness of their promise and if we are unimpeded in their use.

A rock that rests on the seed planted in the ground will prevent its growth, thereby denying its freedom. However, tying the tender plant to a garden stake—while limiting it from too much movement, rather than restricting—enlarges its freedom, because it is an aid to its growth. And a world in which little boys have to retire at a reasonable hour is indeed a world which holds the conditions of freedom, because it is in such a world that little boys can grow up to become wholesome and healthy adults.

Let us not fret because there are traffic laws by which we must travel on the highway of life. The laws of the road, if they make for safer driving, are a contribution to our freedom, not an infringement of it.

Becoming Afraid of Peace and Happiness

Becoming Afraid of Peace and Happiness As for the greater variety, having become afraid of peace and happiness, one goes to asylum for the welfare of others.

The flux seems indeed often to be a kind of alternate for fevers, as it prevails most in those ships that have brought from Europe an infective fever. While it is better to have no idea than have a false idea, it is also better to have a genuine idea than having a pretended idea or no idea. In addition, this being so, I think it a great erroneous belief to persist in attempting to ascertain in the Christian doctrine that thoroughgoing rule for our counsel which its author intended it to sanction and impose, but only partially to offer. Stoic Philosopher and Roman emperor Marcus Aurelius wrote in Meditations,

Be not perturbed, for all things are according to the nature of the universal; and in a little time thou wilt be nobody and nowhere, like Hadrian and Augustus. In the next place having fixed thy eyes steadily on thy business look at it, and at the same time remembering that it is thy duty to be a good man, and what man’s nature demands, do that without turning aside; and speak as it seems to thee most just, only let it be with a good disposition and with modesty and without hypocrisy.

Nothing contributes more to wellness and long life than pure and good air: but by pure we are not to interpret bleak; nor are old men at any time to choose it. Conversely, representatives of scientific discipline have often attempted to arrive at all-important judgments with respect to values and ends based on scientific method, and in this way have set themselves in opposition to religion. It is well known, some who have reached a rare date of life, have perished at last by a sudden change in their food: and the air is scarcely of less effect.

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Posted in Faith and Religion Philosophy and Wisdom

Four Mistakes That Cause Most Failures in Organizational Change

Change Leadership: Many Start but Few Finish Well

No organization is invulnerable to change. To cope with new technological, competitive, and demographic forces, leaders often try to adjust the way they do business—evaluate few of these efforts meet the goals. Few companies successfully transform themselves.

Here are four mistakes that cause most failures in organizational change:

  1. Mistake #1: Writing a memo instead of lighting a fire. Most leaders mismanage the first step—establishing a sense of urgency. Too often leaders launch their initiatives by calling a meeting or circulating a report, then expect people to rally to the cause. It doesn’t happen that way. To increase urgency, gather a key group of people for a day. Identify 25 factors that contribute to complacency and then devise ways to counter each factor. Develop an action plan to implement your ideas. Your chances of creating a sense of urgency and building impetus improve inestimably.
  2. Mistake #2: Talking too much and saying too little. Most leaders under-communicate their change vision by a factor of 10. Moreover, the efforts they make to convey their message in speeches and memos are not convincing. An effective change vision must embrace not just new strategies and structures but also new, aligned behaviors. Leading by example means spending more time with customers, cutting wasteful spending at the top, or pulling the plug on a pet project that don’t match up. People watch their bosses meticulously. It doesn’t take much inconsistent behavior to fuel cynicism and frustration.
  3. 'Change Leader Learning to Do What Matters Most' by Michael Fullan (ISBN 0470582138)Mistake #3: Declaring victory before the war is over. When a project is completed or an initial goal met, it is tempting to pat on the back all involved and proclaim the advent of a new era. While it is important to celebrate results, kidding yourself or others about the difficulty and duration of transformation can be catastrophic. Once you see encouraging results in a difficult scheme, you still have a long way to go. Talking about “wrapping this thing up in a few months” is nonsense. If you settle for too little too soon, you will probably lose it all. Celebrating incremental improvements is a great way to mark progress and maintain commitment—but note how much work is still to come.
  4. Mistake #4: Looking for villains in all the wrong places. The opinion that large organizations are filled with recalcitrant middle managers who resist all change is unfair and untrue. Often it’s the middle level that brings issues to the attention of senior executives. In fact, the biggest obstacles to change are often those who work just below the CEO—vice presidents, directors, and general managers, who have the most to lose in a change. You need to build a guiding coalition that represents all employees. People often hear the CEO cheerleading a change and promising exciting new opportunities. Most people want to believe that; too often their managers give them reasons not to.
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Posted in Management and Leadership