Friday, January 9, 2009

The Rubber Band Effect

Today I was wondering why sustained change is so difficult. What does it take to change, and how do you know the change occurred? And if we are able to stay in the sustained change for a while, what is the time frame that qualifies as "a while" and when does sustained change stop being change, and start being the state of being? How do you know you are not just in a change state, instead of the new state that was the object of the change process?

The answer, I believe, is that the state of being is the point when you can no longer remember the pre-change state. Our minds and memories are actually a collection of thoughts, words, emotions and expectations that have been passed down for generations. Some have been passed down for hundreds and thousands of years through the stories that we tell ourselves, the values that we say we believe in, and even through our senses of sight, smell, sound and touch.

When I hear a crow cawing in the distance, I think of our farm, and my grandmother. I place myself in that time and place, and I am, for a moment, that little girl. Full of ideas about what women do, what men do, even the images of what I thought the ideal form was at that time, as defined by the pictures around me.

In fact, world wars are still raging today because of the storage of memory in the minds of people who were not even a glimmer in someone's eye when the conflict began. Think about it. Why would you fight for a piece of land, to the point of actually hurting another person, if you didn't have a deeper reason for believing the fight was more important than the person affected? If we could step back and understand the path of the memory contained in that rubber band, maybe we could affect world peace.

OK, so world peace is lofty. But what about personal peace? What about being OK with who we are? What if we understand the memory that we contain and act on without even knowing it. What if we understand the culture of our mothers, who came from the Victorians, and their mothers, and their mothers before them? What would we take forward, and what would be leave behind. What new stories would we tell to create new memories for our children, so that they could take the good forward and leave the bad behind

We are guided by memories that translate into practices, habits, and reactions. I find that the change process is really about stretching the rubber band, attempting to change its "memory" by shifting its environment. The longer you stretch the elastic, the more time it has to build a new memory. And when you let go of that elastic the memory is still there, but it is slightly distorted.

The good news is, even if you let go of the rubber band, you can still stretch it again, starting where you left off. Over time, the change becomes sustained by sheer energy and effort. At some point, the memory in the rubber band will be gone, and its course will have spent. And a new reality has occurred.

Monday, January 5, 2009

In search of a reason

People work for many reasons. Some people work for money, others work for prestige, others work for purpose. Some people work because they like to talk to people all day, like a gas station attendant at my local gas bar, and some people work out of duty and responsibility to others.

Regardless of the reason for work though, the process is the same. Those seeking employment make application to the potential employer, usually after they have posted an ad in the local newspaper, or professional trade journal. In this process, the applicant auditions for the part by first making sure the resume matches the description of the job, and then to make sure that the resume is appropriate to the nature of the job.

But what if the tables were turned? What if we, the workers, were to post our requirements, and potential employers worked to shape the job to the people they are hoping to attract. If this were the case, what would your ad say.

Here is what mine would say:

I work for purpose, with purpose. I am a person who is passionate about what I do, taking great satisfaction in getting results, and making things happen.

I am in search of a firm that has a fearless desire to move forward, and understands the value of having excellent people, adequate systems, and the ability to create value for the stakeholder groups. I am in search of a organization where, no matter what kind of day I had, I will leave at the end of the day, and say to myself, that was time well spent.

More importantly, I am in search of a leader who is able to inspire others with a vision, and who can engage even the most distant and uninterested person in the importance of this vision. My leader must be courageous when it comes to making decisions, filling gaps, dealing with poor performers, managing the boss, and yes, telling me when I could be doing more. He knows that success only comes when others are successful, so he or she invests time, energy and resources in making sure his staff are learning and developing to their utmost potential. When he or she makes mistakes, immediate corrective action is taken.

My leader inspires me to do better and holds me accountable so that I continue to develop and expand my potential. My leader listens when I talk, looks me in eye when we have conversations, and is focused on the matter at hand. Above all, my leader treats me and others with the utmost respect and dignity at every opportunity and interaction.
If you would like the opportunity to work with a person who is intelligent, accomplished, innovative and creative, please submit your application as well as a cover letter that explains how you have contributed to the company's success over the past 5 years. Moreover, please provide a copy of your organization's employee satisfaction results, customer satisfaction, financial results, as well as a profile of the management team and board of directors. All applications will be reviewed, and only those who demonstrate these qualities as outlined will be contacted.

Thank you.