Monday, December 27, 2010

Spirit of the holiday

It's togetherness season. May you have friends, peers and family who celebrate with you. May your neighbours and even the stranger you pass have a smile to share.

With great joy and peace,


Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Proving to be (in)competent

Why is it that some folks approach others in the spirit of "you can do the task until/unless you prove yourself incompetent" ...and yet others take the approach of "you're incompetent until you prove otherwise"?

The first approach gives everyone a fair shake at pushing their boundaries. However, it can also give rise to promoting someone to their level of incompetence - which is not fun for those who follow.

The second approach is a catch-22 situation that rarely resolves well unless heroic measures are demonstrated. I don't know about you but I get tired of doing the 'heroic' thing for each new job.

Someone today remarked that men are given chance #1 and women seen in the context of #2. Is this a gender issue? Or is this yet another example of those - male or female -  who are fearful and manage while being afraid things will go wrong while others are willing to take more risks with people and tasks?

Monday, December 20, 2010

Spirit of togetherness

It's the holiday month - whatever your belief, tradition or habit. It's a month filled with messages urging 'togetherness' and 'celebration'.

While I do say a bit of "bah, humbug" when the carols begin on November 1... I especially love the last two weeks of December. Co-workers gently decline meetings and negotiate deadlines that may interfere with time away, time better spent on priorities closer to home.

A mentor once remarked that if everyone was as kind to each other as they are during the second half of December, a lot more projects would be that much more successful.

Thank you for another year debating and pondering how best to build community. May the Spirit of Togetherness show you nothing but great moment past, present and future!

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Check in with yourself

If you're like me, you sit through many meetings a week, on top of the coffees and the daily interactions that fill a normal day. Add the events you attend for pleasure or business, the obligations of family and friends and the moments you snatch for 'me' time and some weeks are overwhelming!

We're constantly being shown tools - books, technology or process - that are supposed to help us prioritize and organize. Some of them are very effective... some...not.

Lately I've noticed that folks are hoping there's a solution-in-a-box; something that will both organize, simplify as well as prioritize.  We get focused on completing the task or putting a checkmark in the box. Who can blame us? We're busy and for good reason!

But I try to remember that the only person who can prioritize is me. And I should prioritize against my vision, my goals and my prime needs. No tool can create my vision (or my corporate culture); a tool can support, enhance or build on my vision but first it starts with me.

So the next time you snatch a moment - ask yourself what's important to you and if you're selecting the tasks and calendar items to support it? Ask your mentorees to do the same. Ask your mentor to challenge your choices. Even if the final answer is 'yes' - we all need a check in with ourselves in the middle of the mayhem.

Monday, December 13, 2010

I've been using the Carl Jung quote lately:
"The meeting of two personalities is like the contact of two chemical substances; if there is any reaction, both are transformed."

Often when networking or mentoring, we are attempting to create transformation in someone else. However, it's far more powerful to be open to transformation in ourselves.

If it's better to lead by example, to teach with action, to listen and adapt with new information - then surely it's most compelling to allow ourselves the chance to do all of this when connecting with another person?

Lately, I have found that I am changing and learning each time I let someone offer me an idea or opinion. I may not agree with them but the interaction opens new horizons and deepens my relationship with that person regardless. I am becoming transformed by allowing others to create reaction within me. Incrementally or in big leaps, my community is my collective mind!

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Today I'm giving a 'motivational' chat around the concept of teamwork.

Define "team"... go on; I dare you. :-)  It is a fluid concept. We often put boundaries to either limit someone's power over our efforts or to expand the reach of our own. But really, like the concept of community, the circles extend and overlap and change with need. 

My son and I are a team. Does that include his grandparents? Including the parents of my ex? My best friend? My brothers? His teachers? Neighbours? Crossing guard? How about the guy who gives me a free latte in sympathy every time he sees me because he also has a teenager?

I think, like everything else that requires a common vision in order to understand what success may look like, one needs to define 'team' when asking for team work and collaboration. Then, one should also define the behaviours of that 'team'.

And, like all things, we'll really get stuff done through influence and relationships... so keep building community for yourself as it's still the best team to have when you want to be effective.

Wednesday, December 8, 2010


Seems that, during the holiday month of December, everyone is making a list.  Card list, gift list, year-end@work list, food list... I even was shown a Holiday concert list!

Of course, the most dreaded list of all - the New Year's resolution list - is also due this month.

I say ... Tear up your lists! (not really - just fold them neatly and put them away for a minute...)

We get caught up in our lists to the point where we forget why we're doing all the things listed. We forget that lists are about more than order or a prompt for an overly busy mind. Lists are the steps towards a purpose, a goal.

What three things (no more than three and no cheating with large vague items) would you like see at the end of December?
  • I'd like my kid to feel rested. 
  • I'd like my work pile to be a few unfiled papers and no more.
  • I'd like to have had at least 3 days with nothing to do and no appointments to keep.
So anything on my list that doesn't help me achieve the above is getting crossed off now.

Process is only useful if it supports the vision. Re-evaluate, refine and maybe re-list? There's still time before December 31 :-)

Monday, December 6, 2010

What is 'leadership"

Have you ever said a word over and over until it becomes a jumble of meaningless sound?

I think that's where I am with the word "leadership". 

Maybe, in this world of sound bytes and acronyms, we use the word to simply represent the shorthand of our goals?

My goal is to model the values to which I entrust my growth and my awareness - across all situations and aspects of my life. Some days that makes me more of an outsider than a leader :-)

Friday, December 3, 2010

The “N” & “O” lists

Exploring the different kinds of mentors there are... We either do these things for others or we seek them for ourselves.

Continuing with "N":

Nourishment-or: Feeds your passion
Nutriment-or: Supplements your growth and development

Continuing with "O":

Obtainment-or: Plans with you towards a goal
Oddment-or: Examines the loose ends
Ointment-or: Soothing and safe place to bring your hurts
Ornament-or: Puts polish on the brand
Ordainment-or: Helps you find your calling
Outplacement-or: For when you really need to transition elsewhere

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Holiday season is upon us

If your calendar is like mine, you've got coffees/lunches/dinners/celebrations already piling up. I haven't been able to squeeze in a jog in two weeks!...but I did get the gifts sorted last night.

Holiday season is a whirl of year-end activity at home and at work. Today, December 1, this is what I do:
  1. Make a list of everyone I'd like to thank/re-thank for their support this year.
  2. Decide if an email, card, e-card, phone call or gift is best. (Default is a card)
  3. Block 30 min ea. day to create the "thanks". More than that I get tired and curt in my writing.
  4. Get it all distributed by mid-Dec. latest.
I know I'll miss some folks. I know everyone else is busy sending out similar cards etc. 

But why waste an opportunity to say thank you? For those of you who find it awkward, December helps create the expectation!
It's step #1 that's the most important for me. We forget how large a community supports us without taking a minute to reflect. You'll discover your list may grow - as you remember one individual, 2-3 others will pop up along side of them. Growing your network is not as important as maintaining it, otherwise it's nothing but a ripple that will slowly diminish the farther out it spreads.
Thank you to all of you who read Similar Circles. If December had time, I'd buy you all a drink!