FOCUS: Is It Destiny or Just a Feeling…or WHAT?

Decisions and Discernment

Decisions and Discernment

How do you arrive at the thing or things to focus on every day?
There are innumerable items that float through my brain every day, usually just at the time the alarm goes off (if I’m lucky and don’t wake up early…). Living in a particularly woodsy area of the Pacific Northwest, I liken them to looking out my window and seeing all of the trees and such swaying in the wind. I can’t count them all, but they all attract some bit of attention and, at the same time, join in a constantly moving vista that can leave me a bit awestruck and frozen first thing in the morning. They are pretty as trees, but when translated into the metaphor of all the items and actions vying for my attention and prioritization, it’s overwhelming.

Some things are easy. Morning routine (everything to the point where I’m ready to “go to work”, whatever that looks like today…), followed by checking my calendar AGAIN (I’ve already looked at it a couple of times to triple check when my first meeting is, if there is one…). Like you, some days have more than others. The days that have one or no meetings are more difficult, really. Relatively “open” days require me to inspect the pile of things to do and, minding my own best times for productivity and creative work, prioritize and dig in accordingly. Not always easy.

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What is the Truth about Now for You?

“Well, that happened.”

That’s still one of my favorite movies quotes. It’s uttered (actually more “admitted”) by Bob Berrenger (Alec Baldwin) upon crawling out of an upside down car accident in the movie State and Main. He seems a bit dazed, but not very concerned, despite suffering from a bad cut on his head and, subsequently, walking away from the scene of the accident.  He’s not worried about his past actions and mistakes…..he just moves on. That comes back to get him, but I will let you check out the movie….it’s excellent.
Taking the context of that quote a different way, I’ve spent some time thinking about how this kind of detached view of my past and future can affect me and my business.

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Is Your Tribe Remarkable, Unfocused or Mainstream?

Which Tribe do you belong to?

That seems to be an over-riding, occasionally unsaid, concern in our society. Conservative or Liberal? Religious or Agnostic? One percent or ninety-nine percent? Blue collar or white-collar? Introvert or extrovert? College Graduate? Technical? Gender? Race? We have innumerable ways of identifying, classifying and limiting the understanding of ourselves and those around us.  Labels and categories carry assumptions and expectations, whether they’re true or not. And how much of this relies upon context? It’s something that has challenged our species for all time and it doesn’t seem to be getting better….

That’s a pretty broad brush with which to start a conversation.

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Business Plans, Products and the Horse Race

I recently revisited my business plan (something I do about every 4 months…). My goal is to see (a) how/what I’m doing regarding how/what I THOUGHT I’d be doing, (b) note any changes, and (c) update the plan accordingly. This combined backward- and forward-cast of consideration reminded me of a post I made awhile back about the parallels of enterprise performance review processes and horse races. While that post focused on the willingness to engage in developing and enriching team members that are forced into a strictly hierarchical and ‘winner-takes-most’ structure, it made me consider the dynamism of the processes, products and services that entrepreneurs work with. We work in the middle of a whirlwind every day.

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Fail and Win

Wattenberg chess visualization 050421

Image via Wikipedia

I have been thinking about a post by Tac Anderson on his NewCommBiz blog about making mistakes, crisis-based decision making and how we learn.  It specifically got me thinking about organizations that learn and those that don’t really, or at least not very well (or easily).

Things move terribly fast in today’s marketplace and the halls of business. We blame it on the Internet, on the 24-hour news cycle, on our growing propensity for being “always on and connected” and on “everyone else.”  There have been countless barrels of ink spilled on the importance of failure for learning, both as individuals and organizations.  Even just thinking about how you learn personally will confront you with the first attempt at doing something, assessing how well that went, tweaking, trying again, etc.

So why do we not get it?  I’m not saying we drive for failure (although that seems to be the direction of some I’ve noticed….), but, short of life-and-death, why do we not accept that failing is at least as important as not failing?

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I love it when a plan comes together….

Swooshable Planning

Image by Bohman via Flickr

Earlier this week I was fortunate enough to sit in on a quarterly meeting of some of the hardest working folks I know. My company calls them Product Planners.  The difficulty of what they do is hidden by the simplicity of their title…if you’ve never worked in an enterprise that is tracking released products, fixing them as needed, and then planning new ones with the added uncertainty of forecasting their popularity, then you aren’t aware of the tricky dance these folks do.  Years ago while watching one of my favorite Mystery Science Theater 3000 movies, I remember Crow T. Robot remarking, upon seeing a credit for someone tasked with Planning, “Oh, that’s what I want to do….I’ve always wanted to Plaaaaaan!”

I thought it was a bit odd too, at the time.  Now I know better.

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The horse race

Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. P...

Animated sequence of a race horse galloping. Photos taken by Eadweard Muybridge (died 1904), first published in 1887 at Philadelphia (Animal Locomotion). (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I was recently discussing the pros and cons of various personnel review and commitment systems/styles with a close colleague of mine. She was saying something like, “It’s just like a horse race.  One year you put your all into the race and win.  The next year you put just as much effort and work into the race as the year before, if not more, and nine others finish ahead of you.”  The implication is that this gives the folks putting on the race the impetus to……what? Give last year’s horse sugar for running a great race? Trying the horse at different races? Retiring the horse to pasture?

It seems that the climate in many organizations implies a future involving a glue factory.  Why is this?

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