Do Your Passions Make You More Human?

Signature of Richard P. Feynman

Signature of Richard P. Feynman (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It is much too easy to burrow into your business and go deeper into the knowledge, building more depth and expertise in that area so you can be an even better resource for your customers. But doesn’t this turn you into a “one-trick pony”? For example, in my social media consulting business, does it truly broaden my mind and stretch my intellect to become more facile in the inner workings of Facebook and Content Marketing…or is it kind of “more of the same”?

I have other interests. You do, too. How do I indulge them, push the boundaries of my interests, and maybe even develop new ones? I need to consciously expose myself to knowledge I probably wouldn’t otherwise, and I have to set aside the time to do it. This is a challenge as an entrepreneur, but to not do it means that I’m less likely to keep growing intellectually, emotionally and spiritually. There is also a much higher probability that, in exploring some of these new landscapes, I might come across a couple of new ideas that inform and impact my business in ways I have no way of anticipating now.

So, where do I start?

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Now What?!

Every business hits this wall at some time.

Whether your just starting out, ALMOST to profitability, have a “going concern” or are well-established, sooner or later something either organic (like growth of your customer base) or externally realized (your top salesperson and top delivery person get married and move out of the state), “Now What?!” happens to you.

How do you respond?

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Get out of your way

Ego suspension. There it is.  What does it mean?

listening

listening (Photo credit: Leonard John Matthews)

I have been doing quite a bit of research and consideration of the skills required to be a truly effective listener, collaborator, influencer (more on that later) and generally a better human being. It turns out that ego suspension is critical to this direction of growth and one of the hardest things to do. Ever.

The Change of the Moment

mindfulness 1.0

mindfulness 1.0 (Photo credit: Mrs Janet R)

Like it or not, most of the passing moments bring something a bit different than what I am expecting.  That’s really just a fact, an observation. Whatever I plan, even in the midst of doing something that I feel like I have complete control over (like writing this post…), moments seem to move in a slightly different way than I thought they might.  Most of the time the changes are so small, so quantum-sized that they are virtually unnoticeable. That doesn’t change the fact of their existence.  What does change is my perception and acceptance of them.

Listening is Visual

Recently I had the privilege of spending several hours with some new members of the community I work with.  The scenario was a bit backwards, as

Listening

Listening (Photo credit: elycefeliz)

their particular community is a couple of decades old and I’ve only really known them for several months, but we are “new to each other”, so to speak.  It was a LOT of fun and extremely educational.

The first part of the meeting consisted of time set aside for me to make a presentation that I had worked on for a couple of weeks and spent some time rehearsing. I went over it again on the plane to the meeting and once more for good measure a half hour before the meeting began.  Upon entering the meeting room, I noticed no projector….um…..OK. The lead at the meeting told me that, since I was the only person with an actual presentation, they had decided not to have a projector.

Disruption, recovery and space

While completing my Masters degree I was vicariously introduced to Clayton Christensen of the Harvard Business School and his many works (a sample) concerning disruptive innovation.   Greatly interesting stuff and

Disruption

Disruption (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

required reading for anyone in business or those who are creative and wish to understand the business world’s take on how this is perceived and understood, as well as the potential effects thereof.

That said, disruption and innovation as buzzwords have become less exciting through overuse and misunderstanding by some technologists and businesses, particularly as they apply to their organizations.  While, as Bill Gates has said, today’s business goes “at the speed of thought”, and agility is critical, there seems to be a lack of understanding concerning the fragility of organizations consisting of people executing on previous editions of goals, commitments, hierarchies and business models.  There are degrees of change that can be accomplished that help alter the direction of a business, a ‘mid-course correction’ on company strategy, if you will.  There are also methods and timings of rolling out these changes, or more radical degrees or types of change that will break an organization.
When considering disruptive change within a company, several areas should be considered. Along side the change, whether to strategy, execution or model, leadership should realistically assess:
(A) How long has it been since the last disruptive change to the organization?
(B) How long it will take to affect the change completely?
(C) How long will the ‘after change stabilization’ take?
(D) How much lost productivity can the organization withstand while the stabilization takes place and the company can begin executing effectively on the new direction?
(E) How clearly do the members of the organization understand the reasoning driving the disruption and can they clearly see the value of the strategy?
(F) What is the degree of ambiguity this will create for all interested parties – customers, partners, shareholders, communities…..everyone….and what is required to manage it through the disruption?

The Shower of Inspiration

water stream from shower in close-up, showing ...

water stream from shower in close-up, showing droplets (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I read an interesting interview in the New York Times last weekend with Brian Halligan, CEO and Founder of Hubspot. While a fairly standard interview for the Business section, I was caught by something he said about himself….he told the interviewer that he is “a huge nap guy.” By this, he says that he has found that when he comes up with good ideas, they tend to happen when he is either falling into or coming out of a nap. With the goal of thinking more and working less, he is working to engineer more opportunities like this (yes, naps…) into his life, and is encouraging others to do so as well.

I think that’s cool. The awareness to know when you have moments of inspiration is something few people have. Also, I could use a nap most of the time….

This got me thinking along several lines.

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Comfortable with Ambiguity?

English: Diagram of Schrodinger's cat theory. ...

English: Diagram of Schrodinger’s cat theory. Roughly based on Image:Schroedingerscat3.jpg (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Acceptance of ambiguity is a by-word in corporate America today, if job descriptions are any indication. Not just acceptance but whole-hearted embrace seems to be the price of admission.  I find this call interesting, if only because of its own ambiguous nature.

A bit of research into the history of the word yields the Latin ambiguus, meaning “moving from side to side” or “of doubtful nature”. Yet, while demanding a comfort level with uncertainty, we are also asked to drive clarity, provide forecasts, deliver cohesive plans, and prove ROI on all the above.  No small task if the very nature of life, let alone business, is unstable.

It occurred to me that there is a dual view to take in considering ambiguity. One is by science and the other by faith.

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Who’s driving?

English: Alarm clock

English: Alarm clock (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Like every other breathing human being, my life is a churning dynamo of ups, downs, and decided neutrals (better known as the mundane).  As I slowly gain greater sense of awareness of the moment and the fleeting aspect of each of these moments, I am also becoming more aware of the “I” that can look at the “me” that is going through all of the changes taking places and, frankly, getting its chain yanked regularly and, usually, suddenly.  The challenge is to reside ever more in the observer “I” and not let the roller coaster of “me’s” experience drive me.

How does this manifest itself in everyday?  Consider this short episode:

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