Month: December 2013

A Sweet Goodbye to 2013

Burning Bowl 3002013 was good to us – and we were good to it. We committed to developing space for grace, and we did. We comitted to increasing balance, and we did. We narrowly escaped fire in 2012 and floods in 2013, and we were changed for the better by the experiences. 

I’m going to a burnng bowl ceremony tonight – where we write what we want to let go of going in to 2014, and burn it. My letting go has changed. It’s not about abruptly ending a behavoir. It’s about giving myself the option not to do those things.

In 2014, I don’t have to wear clothes that are uncomfortable or keep the itchy labels on them. I don’t have to craft my words to impress anyone. I don’t have to remake Bob or anyone into my own image. I don’t have to keep working when my spirit cries out for movement and play. I don’t have to be as random and approximate in how I do things. I don’t have to follow every creative impulse. I don’t have to be understood. I don’t have to be able to explain what I know in order to trust it. I don’t have to share budding thoughts before they take root. I don’t have to hide my heart behind cold objectivity.

All wonderful things not to have to do. I have a whole year to practice choosing not to. Tomorrow I will tell you my theme for next year. Lean2Life and Space for Grace were fabulous guiding lights in 2013. 2014 will have its own lights. 

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The Magic of Synergy

The Magic of Synergy

I have to think that people who downplay the importance of synergy haven’t experienced its magic. I hope that’s not you.

Synergy says everyone is smarter than any one. It makes sense. You know things I don’t. I know things you don’t. Together we cover more bases. Likewise, you know things your exec doesn’t. Your exec knows things you don’t. You have different perceptions, skills and focal points. That can be a recipe for synergy.

In The Marshmallow Challenge, Ted Wujek explains that CEOs did much better on the exercise when their admins were on their teams. He suggests the characteristic admin focus on process augments the CEO planning bias. The combined styles create synergy.

From Gridlock to Grace

Sleepy in Seattle

It was rush hour, but I made great time driving from Bellingham to Seattle anyway. I was ready, oh so ready, to sink into sleep. My hotel was visible from the exit ramp. I allowed myself to feel my weariness and anticipated surrendering to my fatigue after what had been a very long day. My hotel was a short block away.

But it took me 45 minutes, literally, to get there. By then, I was beyond sleepy. I was exhausted in Seattle.

The 65% Standard

I’m sure, like me, you know from experience that too many cars in too small a space lead to gridlock. And, according to Personal Kanban author Jim Benson, the same is true of too many tasks crammed in to too little time.

Balance Your Bigness

Is your exec or manager a brilliant shining star? Do you ever feel small or invisible next to him or her? What if you sometimes seem smaller than you are, because actually you’re bigger than people can see?

An Impressive, Imbalanced Executive

On a recent hike to catch the last fall leaves, my friend and I chatted about a celebrity entrepreneur who sold his company and lived and taught personal development in our area. You’d know him if I named him. But this article isn’t really about him – it’s about you and your boss. So I’ll call our celebrity friend “Rich,” which fits (but not as well as it once did).

Dare to Intrude

I set my computer to open to the desktop when it wakes. Clicking the locked button only took a moment, but it was an unnecessary step that I took several times a day. This is what Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers calls a two-second improvement. You probably need your computer password protected, so that’s likely not an improvement you would make. But I suspect there are a thousand things like that that you could do that would eliminate unnecessary steps in your work.

The Power of Being at Home With Yourself

Persona and Personhood

I love to hear feedback after I speak. This recent comment really struck me:

“During your talk, I turned to the gal sitting next to me and told her: ‘Meryl just said the opposite of what the speaker before her said.'”

“Thanks for noticing!” I replied smiling. “From the moment I heard the title of the keynote that I would follow, I expected we would say different things.” The keynote I followed was called “Cultivating a Leadership Persona.”

“I’ve spent most of my adult years working to drop persona and be the real deal,” I explained. My new friends nodded approvingly and knowingly.

It used to bother me that my perspective often is very different from others’. It doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve become more at home with myself. I see things differently without needing to discredit how others view then. The speaker before me made some important points and offered useful tools. I offered some alterative views.

A Good Plan Hiding in Front of Your Nose

A Radical Purge

“Please, just take it all!” Caroline implored. I walked away from her yard sale with hundreds of dollars’ worth of fine items, and she wouldn’t take a dime. But it wasn’t just me. It was an extravaganza for the entire neighborhood. Caroline and Wally were lightening their load for a move. Their driveway and yard and garage contained box after box of unsorted tawdry trash mixed with thrilling treasure. They took great pleasure in essentially giving it all away to come who may.

“How does it feel to watch us all walk away with your stuff?” I asked.

“Like barnacles off a ship,” Caroline replied. 

They got the job done. Caroline and Wally’s decluttering plan was a good plan for them. 

Lean In To Grace

A Work in Progress Toward Excellence

Selective Transparency

Linda’s home looked like you would expect during a DIY (do-it-yourself) kitchen remodel. The contents of her kitchen were strewn asunder. But the cabinet stain showed great promise. I OOOHED and I AWWWWED with sincere admiration.

However, Linda’s earnest sharing of her cabinet WIP (work-in-progress) did not extend to my husband. She wanted him to wait to see it until it was showroom-ready.

I get it. I love to share my unfinished work with some people, and I prefer to wait for completion with others. I’m sure you can relate. Some people see the beauty in a process where others just see chaos. Inviting the wrong person into your process can feel like a bucket of cold water.

Small Improvements Make Big Differences

Lessons from elder care that can increase your productivity

A Two-Second Improvement

Yay me! I set my computer to bypass the welcome screen open to the desktop when it wakes. Sure, clicking the picture of the cute kitten on the locked button to get to my desktop only took a moment, but it was an unnecessary step that I performed several times a day. Those moments add up.

That change is what Lean Manufacturer Paul Akers calls a two-second improvement. He advocates making an improvement each day that saves you two seconds. Saving two seconds doesn’t sound like much, but the time savings adds up. You probably need your computer to be password protected, so my improvement isn’t one you’re likely to copy. But there are a thousand things like that that you can do that will eliminate unnecessary steps in your work.

Stop Doing Everything and Start Getting Things Done

The Power of Good, Yet Flexible, Boundaries

The real purpose

I am blessed with a devoted and competent sister in Cincinnati, where my parents live. For years, she sandwiched caring for their needs between being a mother to her five kids and a wife. When mom recently had a medical crisis, that role suddenly became undoable. I flew in to help them transition into assisted-living.

Since I live a thousand miles away, I can’t do everything for them in the way my sister did. Instead, during my visit, I did a lot, but I mainly got a lot done.