Monday, August 27, 2012

Judge less

A noble sentiment. Certainly, we all hope folks will view us kindly and with an open mind.

It's not so easy in practice. We all apply conscious or unconscious filters to people we meet. Supposedly we have made up our minds about each other in 3-10 seconds (depending on your source material): appraised; judged; filed.

I'm not suggesting we change the way the human mind is wired. However, now that we know we judge and are judged in turn, that we make an effort to allow folks to change the initial impressions they may have left that unwitting triggered a "don't go there" filter.

I'm not including the actions and folks who are deliberately setting out to get under my skin, just those who should be allowed a second chance if I have no concrete reason to file them as "outside the circle".

The next time a damp handshake or ill-timed joke cuts a potential conversation short, remember it could just be nerves or a bad day. Relationships are started with a quick judgment but built through long-term, consistent behaviours.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Ability to embrace change

When I was a kid, teachers used to talk about "A-type and B-type" personalities. A-type had to overachieve and get everything perfect. B-type was willing to go with the flow.  Generally, it was assumed that A would be more successful than B because of their innate drive. But this didn't go far enough for our workplace quest for self-awareness and understanding the dynamic in change adoption.

Now there's a broader array of tools to understand how folks think and work together - MBTI, HBDI, DiSC, etc. And yet nothing I've been able to find that looks at a person's ability to assimilate/adopt/accept change.

I'm not sure if that's because change is constant and the scale of change fluctuates; thus our ability to deal with change fluctuates with it. Or if it's all in the timing? Or the specific workplace/team atmosphere? Or if it really just comes down to a person's philosophy and awareness around embracing change in all its forms (personal to professional)?

Certainly, folks persuing mentoring appear to be more open to change. (And yet we've all had friends and/or mentorees who just wanted validation of where they were vs. exploring where they might want to go.)

There are tons of online forums that approach change as a mix of behaviour and process to be mastered. Checklists, books, diagrams and decision trees abound. Talk of leadership, change management, followership, champions and resistors, etc. becomes noise when we see how we have each played all those roles at different points for different reasons.

What if there is no checklist? No magic bullet? No one theory or approach fits all? What if embracing change is like the elusive "motivation" discussion: we can't force change; only lay out the choices. Carrots and sticks only build surface adoption.

What if openness to change comes down to a person's willingness to participate or not and the rapport held with the person/ team proposing the change? ...which aligns the success of a change with networks/networking, relationships and connections.

I don't know the answer; I just know there is not one.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Favourite sites

For everything, there is a top ten list. Like all those lists, one list can't possibly capture everyone's tastes.

The Mentorguru chose 18 mentoring sites and/or blogs on his list regarding mentoring and is asking for folks to help define the discussion /selection. I wish I'd made his list but, given that Google produces about 11,800,000 results in 0.25 seconds, he may not have noticed my blog <grin>.

The sites I reference weekly are not necessarily about mentoring but often inform my ideas around which I either mentor or am mentored:  Exploring "creative leadership capabilities"  Harvard Business Review eclectic collection of topics Creating "bite-sized" research about people–relationships, human behavior and personal development" Asking how people & computers can be connected to collectively be more intelligent as a group than as individual contributors  A thoughtful collection of interviews and posts around mentoring

Monday, August 6, 2012

Give to receive

I recently met a group of mentors and mentorees at the Toronto Sick Kids Foundation. We had an hour to talk about the twists and turns of mentoring.

I left there inspired. These men and women - already working hard to make a difference - are going the extra mile to both push themselves to develop and to support others in a similar journey.

I don't believe that we can truly do much without finding some form of reward in it (thus does altruism really exist?). I do believe that finding reward doesn't make our contributions less valuable or less giving in spirit.

I am a big fan of Sick Kids Hospital (the ghastly incident when my son was three still gives me nightmares and Sick Kids was wonderful!) and was only too happy to 'give back' in this small way. But I'm not fooling myself; I got more out of the hour with these folks than possibly they did. The chance to exchange ideas, share enthusiasm, answer tough questions with practical approaches left me energized. Given how full the summer has been so far, an extra push of energy was worth more than gold.

We all give in the ways we can - donating time or money or expertise. And often we make back even more than we give.