Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Do you have vision, or a craving for cheese cake?

There are times when I actually see a flash of brilliance in an entrepreneur's vision that goes beyond mere money and material growth to making the world a better place. When this happens, I know exactly why I love helping bring great ideas to life.  

I get excited about vision because quite often it is desire that shows up to the meeting.  So how do you know if you have a desire, or a vision?  Here are some indicators. 

Vision perseveres.
Desire cuts in and out, like a love / hate relationship with chocolate and cheesecake. 
Vision finds a way. 
Desire wants to know the way. 
Vision is the inspiration from which everything flows. 
Desire needs to be justified, manufactured, defined and aligned. 
Vision is about making a difference in the world. 
Desire is often defined as something material, earthly and in some way individually cathartic. 

In the past 20 years of working with organizations who are either in search of the light, defining the light or following the light, I have found that good thinkers, good thinking and good intentions almost always leads to great visions. 

Leadership is about having vision, and visionaries are not necessarily the promoted. It is also not true that all leaders via position on the org chart are leaders. Organizational performance structures and top - down leadership styles tends to exclude real visionaries from coming forward. Top down hierarchical structures can foster an environment of control. Control leads back to desire, and desire wants what desire wants, hence we begin to feel a sense of entitlement. And so the story goes. Companies inject employee satisfaction tactics when all they really need to do is lead and inspire with vision. 

'Finding visionaries is not that easy.  But when I do come face to face with a true visionary who has a desire to make a difference in people's lives, that's the sweet spot where the sun shines the brightest. When I have experienced this, I know that I have seen a rare light, and everything else thereafter dims in comparison.

Mama always told me not to look into the eye's of the sun.

But mama, that's where the fun is.

 - Manfred Mann's Earth Band. 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Thumper's Rule for On-Line Etiquette

When I am researching a topic, or helping a client with a communication plan, I often research the on-line chatter to discern what the issues might be that are not often communicated in formal communications, like news releases. Reading some of these comments can be akin to watching a train wreck.

These days, there are thousands of ways to get an opinion out there in the blink of an eye. I am often taken aback by what people will say without understanding the impact their words might be having.

Expletives are not the worst of it. I have read comments that people should be fired or publicly humilated in some way.  The comments that make me wince are those that demand we end a person's life, or assume people are lazy and deserving of suffering.

In the world wide web of never ending access to information and communication, it is important to remember that what we say on-line lives on forever, and chances are, the commenter does not have the full picture at hand to make an intelligent, helpful comment.

Regardless of the fact that we may be interacting with the world in a room by ourselves with a computer and keyboard or a 1 x 2 square inch screen on a smart phone, it is important to remember that we are all connected as people and what we say may be personal and hurtful to someone. I wonder if the people who leave these comments would say the same thing if the person they were affecting was sitting in front of them.

There is a rule of thumb in communication that I learned when I was about five years old.  It precedes the Internet and it goes like this:

"If you can't say something nice, don't say nothin' at all".  - Thumper

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Virtues of a rock and a rolling stone

Ponder the virtues of a rock. It is an inanimate, non living thing that seems to just sit there. Not so, says the rock. Rocks erode, crack, crumble and wash away. They become mountains, and then filter streams. Rocks are the sands upon which we walk. Rock causes quakes. They destroy and they protect. There is no such thing as a good rock or a bad rock; a rock does not decide. It just is. And we accept that and respect its power.

People are made of flesh, bones, hearts and souls. Our existence is both fragile and powerful. Unlike the rock, we can take some control over our change. We can decide what we want to change to and from. We can decide what we want to accept or not. We can decide what to put into our mouths. When to exercise. What to read. What to think. Who to like and who to ignore. We have the power to walk away from a bad situation, and the power to stay.

People have the power to alter another person by the things that are said and done, and we each have the power to choose how it affects us. The only thing we cannot control is time and the fact that every day we get older. But we are powerful, more powerful than the rock.

The thing about people, however, is that we seem to lack knowledge of ourselves. We all know someone with untapped potential. We all know that we ourselves feel that way. Unlike the rock, we are capable of feeling fear. Some philosophers refer to this as ego. As mere mortals, we are flawed, imperfect and fraught with the free will, such that we can create havoc or heaven for our self and others.

I like to think that most people aspire to be good people who act with the best intentions. I like to believe that we are all in this together. But sometimes things happen that can weaken us and test our resolve. That's when we demonstrate our the virtue of a rock.