Let me start the New Year with a message that you can share with those who appreciate stories with positive living principles:
Three young men sat in the sand, surrounded by their father’s camels. An old man approached, and even from a distance, he could see and hear the sorrow and distress from the three young men.
“What is it that troubles you so?” asked the old man.
The oldest raised his head and said, “We have lost our father, he has passed on and we miss him deeply. He left us his 17 camels and said upon his death we should divide the camels; half going to me, a third going to middle brother and one ninth of father’s flock for the youngest. He was a great man, with much wealth, but we cannot divide 17 camels according to his last wishes.”
“Allow me to help you, so that you can fulfill your father’s final wishes,” the old man urged.
“You are very thoughtful, the oldest son responded, “but your kindness will not help us, for we can do no harm or try to divide one of father’s camels.”
“Please,” the old man said, “let me offer you my camel so you can fulfill your father’s wishes and then you can be on your way.”
“To take your only camel, here in the desert, is something we cannot consider. It would leave you alone and vulnerable,” protested the oldest son.
The old man insisted, and brought his camel into the fold with the other 17 camels, and now the young men’s flock totaled 18 camels.
The oldest boy was able to take half, that being nine camels.
The second boy was able to take his third, or six camels.
Finally, the youngest son was able to take one ninth of the flock, or two camels.
The old man took his camel and walked into the setting desert sun, leaving the boys puzzled, yet deeply grateful for the old man’s help.
This story reminds us that helping others, by offering “our camel”, may be less effort than we think. We can apply the insights of the 17 camels to many situations where we think something cannot be done, or it is too much for us to handle. Maybe it is, but often it is not.
Enjoy your January news2use and I wish you all the best for a peaceful, purposeful and profitable 2020!
“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”
If you would like to improve something about yourself, try using silence.
Silence is one of life’s greatest teachers. It enables us to sit with an issue and get a deeper awareness and better understanding of what is happening rather than rushing to action. Action without thinking leads to disorganization and stress, but seldom self-improvement.
The man of action has the present, Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote, but the thinker commands the future from his study.
Personal improvement and growth come through change, which starts after meaningful reflection. Creating personal returns from reflection does not come when it is noisy or hectic, but when we quiet our mind.
Consider silence to support your self-improvement initiatives in the New Year.
For You & Your Team
If you have not yet taken a deep dive into your 2019 team experiences, it is not too late. In fact, you are often able to draw more from these experiences if you let some time pass, (like the holidays) before reflecting on the business year behind you.
All too often, teams (and organizations) go through their year-end results too quickly. End of the year reviews are often only numbers driven, followed by a brief conversation before quickly turning the page to start the New Year.
You and your team deserve to get more “return on reflection” (RoR), because weak team reflection leads to minimal or no learning which leads to little or no changes for the New Year.
Here are two structured experience exchanges to help you and your team get more RoR from last year’s efforts:
If your team is large enough (eight or more members), break them into two groups. Group 1 can look at 2019 through these three frames:
- What were our key initiatives in 2019?
- How was the effort, or resources invested into these initiatives? (Too much, about right, too little).
- How would we rate the impact or results of these initiatives? (Overachieved, achieved or under achieved).
Group 2 can reflect on 2019 through a slightly different lens, namely:
- What were our high impact initiatives in 2019?
- What initiatives did we invest in that came back with low returns?
- What were our missed opportunities in 2019?
After the group work (45 minutes to one hour is more than enough time), each group shares their results and together, the team discusses the key learnings. The team then shares their takeaways with the larger organization.
Your reflections can lead to significant returns for you – but you have to work them first!
For You, Your Team & Your Business
“I wish our people would be more open to change,” a CEO said recently, with a trace of frustration in his voice.
“Who are you speaking about and what specifically are you looking for?” I asked.
“Well, he said unevenly, “You know what I mean; people should just show more initiative and do things differently!”
Does this sound familiar?
When frustrated executives complain that people in their organization are not changing fast enough, it is often because their messages are “lost in translation” and they fail to take ownership for muddy messaging.
Don’t lecture people about change, instead create, through the leadership team, a clear and compelling picture of what your future success looks like and what the consequences of not changing mean to your customer relationships. Help people understand how they can participate and contribute to this future.
Ask the direct reports to your executive team to share their view of what future success looks like, one, two and three years from now, the strategic priorities that will take you there and the initiatives that should stop because they no longer contribute to that picture.
If the executive team direct reports struggle to provide an aligned picture of the future, (and they often do) thank them for their efforts and take this back into the executive team for review.
If the water is not clear at the source of the stream, do not be surprised if it is cloudy downstream. Concentrate your efforts at the source.
Keep in mind that strategic discussions about future direction and strategic priorities should be full of debate and disagreement. If discussions about the future are simply about getting to yes, without ruffling anyone’s feathers, you will struggle later.
People, Places & Technology
If you want to stay on top of technology trends, innovative breakthroughs and make sense of the future for your personal well-being and business success, look at Abundance Digital, led by Dr. Peter H. Diamandis.
He is the Executive Chairman of Singularity University, a graduate-level Silicon Valley institution that studies exponentially growing technologies, their ability to transform industries and solve humanity’s grand challenges. Fortune Magazine named him one of “The World’s 50 Greatest Leaders” (2014).
Thought for the Day
I think 99 times and find nothing.
I stop thinking, swim in silence,
and the truth comes to me.