Outsmart Your Instincts – book summary

You really have to respect a book that covers topics as modern as tomorrow with a Foreword that starts out. “I was born in Minnesota in 1928 …”. My curiosity was revved and I had to read this book. Besides, when there are three authors creating content for ten chapters in one book, most of them with the word ‘bias’ in the title, what would you do? Read it, of course. To give you just a little insight here, these are partial titles of each chapter. Negativity Bias, Availability Bias, The Curse of Knowledge, Status Quo Bias, Conformity Bias, Confirmation Bias, Framing – Like a Fish in Water, then my favorite chapter is titled, Confabulation – Of Course That’s Why I Did That! I guess it could be the word itself, confabulation, but more likely it’s the hint that there is an explanation for how stories from our history grow imaginary facts when processed through our memories. Are you curious yet?outsmart-your-instincts-book-cover

Since there are only 10 chapters with pretty cool titles, you, as the reader, could dive into the chapters that interest you most, or you could start at page one and systematically read through the entire book. You could – but I bet you won’t. I didn’t because some of the chapters were just too interesting to wait to read.

Outsmart Your Instincts. That’s how you move from what is into the potential of what can be. To sum up, you will be able to apply what you learn in this book as a tool for using the Behavioral Innovation™ approach to drive your company forward. In it there is a solid instruction like this statement straight out of the book. “Combat the tenacity of Cognitive Biases. Stay humble, keep curious, and never lose the sense of play.”

Read more about this lively, penetrating, and resourceful book here on the Biz Catalyst 360 network: https://www.bizcatalyst360.com/outsmart-your-instincts-how-the-behavioral-innovation-approach-drives-your-company-forward/ 

Truths Told by the Garden of Leadership

I can’t believe a year has passed since a friend posted a photo of his greenhouse in progress. Absent of philosophical comment to prompt my thinking it instantly occurred to me that this visualCarey Green - Greenhouse image for blog post could be a metaphor for life – at least for mine. The compartments, the vegetation, the curled hose, the tractor, the bicycles, even the walkway dusted with mulch and dirt, everything a picture of life under a glass shield.

It was the tractor that caught my attention first. It seemed out of place. What could a huge piece of machinery do inside the small space of a greenhouse? The tractor, motorized and bulky, was incompatible in its current surroundings and certainly couldn’t work effectively with such boundaries. Beyond the walls, however, it was a qualified, worthy tool of the gardener.  How many times in life do we find we’ve outgrown our surroundings, not in a prideful sense, but simply because we’ve expanded our horizons or discovered knew interests outside the familiar.

It seems a lifetime ago now, but there was a time when my family planted gardens that covered 2 full acres of land. I never mastered the detection of vegetable or fruit by the shape or size of the seed, nor could I identify them by their foliage. The plants had to reach near maturity before I recognized their purpose. Inside me are grains of talent, seeds of interests, roots of abilities, and developing shoots of aspirations. As depicted in the photo, each compartment illustrates the unique traits that grow into mature plants, distinct in stature, design, color, and purpose. I’ve come to realize that I am often late to recognize opportunity and am still coming to realize what I am meant for.

The gardener plans the space, nurtures the soil, plants the seeds, and prepares to work hard to see the garden proliferate and thrive. If planted, left alone and unattended, weeds will encroach and choke out even the heartiest of plants.  Much like a mentor, coach or leader, the master gardener tends the neophyte plants using tools, and his own hands to remove the pests and irritants from among the healthy plants. Things like rumors, gossip, bad attitudes, and demoralizing character cannot be allowed to fester. As debris is discovered from this scavenge, it’s cut, swept, and tossed into the trash can awaiting permanent extermination. This is also a portrayal of leadership and followship. The good leader prepares the space, provides the nutrients, and removes the obstacles, creating an environment for professional growth where followers can thrive. What can happen given the right conditions? Isaiah 32:15 “…the spirit is poured from on high and the desert becomes a fertile field.”

The gardener brings water because without it, the plants will turn back to dust. Isaiah 58:11 “The Lord will guide you always; you will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose water never fails.” The hose strung along the path is like the whole of life, isn’t it? Think of how free flowing our activities are at times. Life goes along smoothly when suddenly there’s a crimp in the flow and devastated we turn back until we regain our resolve. Then we’re off again in tenacious pursuit of our dream that compels us forward. Notice how in the photo, the hose has many curls and returns? Notice too, the solid nozzle at the end – the ornament that, when pressed by force, releases life giving water. Inside the hose, water lays dormant until the gardener grasps the hose, nozzle in hand and squeezes with just the right pressure to lightly sprinkle the plants or sufficiently soak them all the way to the roots. Leaders are like this gardener who scans conditions, matching talent with opportunity to grow team members to excellent harvest.

I love that all this takes place under a crystal dome where glorious sun shines in and all the varmints stay out. Our environment is never fully protected, there are chaotic times, optimism wanes and the economy fails us. The greenhouse, like our organizations are built to provide for livelihood and growth, but even with premium care and planning, not all things will grow. Some will stagnate, some will leave, some will turn to dust – but many will thrive in the environment. Be thankful in all circumstances. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 “Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances.”

What about the bicycles? Well – what about them? What is their meaning in this allegory? All work and no play … and now you create the rest of the story.

 

Photo credit: Carey Green

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dy9nwe9_xzw  –  My feet may fail, but I know God will never fail me.

Beyond Books: BKPedia digital subscription

What’s your favorite part of going to a Chinese restaurant? Right. The fortune cookie that sort of ties up the meal when the tiny paper message is pulled from its cracked shell. Whoever is gathered around the table reads their fortune and everyone gets to decide if it fits or if that cookie belonged on someone else’s table. Recently, my fortune was tailor made for me. “Treat yourself to a good book for a needed rest and escape.” I have the perfect solution, instant gratification, because I have a BKPedia subscription.  This means I have hundreds or books available to read anytime, anyplace.  Berrett-Koehler publishers has collections of their own publications as well as content from The Center for Creative Leadership and AMACOM available to read electronically or as a printable PDF. BKPedia is the mecca for avid readers.

The very first thing I noticed when I scrolled down the page on the website [http://bkconnection.bkpedia.com/] was the collection of authors I have already come to admire through their books. Here are just a few whose books I can rave about honestly because I read their book and liked it enough to write a book report. See if any of these names stand out: Ken Blanchard, Jesse Lyn Stoner, Peter Block, Cheryl Bachelder, Jennifer Kahnweiler, Marshall Goldsmith, Devora Zack, Fred Miller Chip Bell, and too many others to list. Believe me – this digital subscription is valuable.Capture

Besides books there are also articles and case studies written by experts in the business, economics, and leadership communities. Here’s something you don’t see often. Along with each book, there are observations and thoughts to apply more of what the author is teaching. Many of the authors can be contacted by email to discuss subjects from their book in more detail. I’ve read books where the author provides contact information in their book and have taken advantage of that offer many times in the past. The advantages of dialog with an expert in a field I’m passionate about is something I appreciate.

If you visit BKPedia at http://bkconnection.bkpedia.com/ you can sign up for a trial subscription and if you love top selling books on leadership, organizational development, team building, and management this is an opportunity to try risk free. That’s what I did. I have access to two collections adding up to over 300 titles, Advances in Leadership and Management and Organizational Change and Innovation, so there is no way I’ll run out of excellent books to fill my quiver. The first book I laid eyes on in the very long list of titles was A Peacock in the Land of Penguins. That has been on my reading list for over a year and I was able to access the book in a matter of seconds.

Start with a free trial to see how easy it is to find books, read on your computer, tablet, or phone. I don’t know if all books are downloadable as PDFs but the ones I looked at have that feature. BKPedia is a valuable resource with instant access to feed my addiction to lifelong learning. Something for everyone who leads or follows in organizations or at home.

Here’s the link to the BKPedia website to sign up for your free trial. http://bkconnection.bkpedia.com/

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict – Book Review

The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict by The Arbinger Institute June 2015 – Conflict in high places, conflict in low places. There is no escape from intolerance within that becomes battles without. The world needs to practice what is conveyed in this book. Fostering peace is a heart level strategy. When a friend gave me a copy of this book she told me it was life changing. share_04I wondered what was in it that impressed her with such cogency. Through the pages of this book, I came to understand why she said with unwavering conviction that this book had undeniable truths that could make a difference in whether relationships were built or destroyed because of how conflicts were handled. Written in almost the style of a novel, this volume is packed with realism and authentic wisdom. Early in the book I caught this quote, “The secret to war is to have a heart at peace.”  Read the full review of the book here. http://bizcatalyst360.com/the-anatomy-of-peace-resolving-the-heart-of-conflict/

Reflections – David J. Greer shares thoughts on growing your business

I have have been a fan of David Greer for over a year since I started following his blog during one of his sailing adventures. I couldn’t wait for his next post. Now he has applied his passion for sailing to principles of leadership in his new book Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success. I can’t wait to read it!  In the meantime, I am honored to share this guest post from David that so closely aligns with values and attitudes that I have adopted as my own. I know you will find inspiration and encouragement as you read.

In recent posts, Jane has reflected on faith, attitude, self-belief, successes, and truth. These are all great topics that impact all of us, especially entrepreneurs. In my new book Wind In Your Sails: Vital Strategies That Accelerate Your Entrepreneurial Success these topics come up over and over again for entrepreneurs who manage and grow their businesses.

Faith

While there are hundreds of thousands of entrepreneurs in the US, they are only a small percentage of the whole population of the US. It takes a special person to sense a market need, come up with a solution, and then to ask for and get money to solve the problem they see. All entrepreneurs take an enormous leap of faith when they start their business, launch a new product, or move in a new direction. One whole chapter of Wind In Your Sales is about the entrepreneur him or herself and what they need to do to keep faith in themselves and their business.

 

Attitude

Entrepreneurs set the tone. Every day. How they show up at work is magnified 100-fold. Their every action, tone of voice, and the words they use are scrutinized for meaning. Living in a fish bowl is an entrepreneur’s lot in life. If you show up feeling down or negative, people will assume that the company is having a bad day, not just you.

 

We choose the attitude we come to work with. As an entrepreneur, I know that I have to choose to show up with positive energy, a smile on my face, and an attitude that no challenge is too big. Neuroscience has proven that we can rewire our brain to focus more on the positive aspects. Learn more in Jesse Lyn Stoner’s post 7 Ways to ReWire Your Brain and Become a Better Leader.

 

Belief

To have faith, show up with the right attitude, and have belief in yourself requires that we actively keep things in balance. I journal every morning when I first get up and every evening just before going to bed. I use my journal to note my insights during the day and to note when I am having a lot of negative thoughts. At night, I make sure that I write at least five things in my journal that I am grateful for that day.

Creating self-belief can start in one area of your life and then extend into another. As I wrote in Keeping My Edge, I challenge myself by skiing. While I sometimes fall, picking myself up and trying again on the ski hill is a great way to create the belief I’ll need to do the same in my business.

 

Truth

Kevin Lawrence writes in Expel the Elephants about our need to face the truth in our businesses. It is amazing how people will tip toe around the elephant in the room. It is often the entrepreneur who is unwilling to face up to the reality of the situation.

 

The kicker is that until the elephant gets on the table and you start talking about him it will do nothing but hold you and your business back. We fear the brutal truth, yet it is only by admitting to the reality of the situation do we have the opportunity to do something about it. Your fears are never as bad as the truth. Get you and your employees past those fears so that you can talk about the real problems that are holding everyone back.

 

While Jane writes about faith, attitude, self-belief, successes, and truth in the context of her life, she is a fabulous example of where we all need to focus our attention, as people and as entrepreneurs. My goal with Wind In Your Sails is to help all of us do just that.

 

 

And some were made to be followers

Maybe it’s the occupation I’m in or possibly the fact that I’m an incurable information junkie, but does it seem to you that we are overrun by media for managers, books, seminars and multi-day programs for leadership training. Conferences and seminars beckon aspiring leaders. Success Ideas Teamwork Plans Signpost Showing Business Plans And OrganizationLast week my copy of Inc Magazine came and here’s what took up the whole cover. “Become a better leader in just two days.” Not impossible, but doubtful. Through books and blogs, volumes are written on the topic of leadership.  There is no lack of training for leaders.  But what about training for followers? Is there a demand for training in how to be a better follower?  We could call it followship!

Many years ago, and I say that because it was early in my working career, I had trouble with the concept of following. Not that I wouldn’t follow, thought I was too good to follow, or allowed obstacles to prevent me from following. When I entered the workforce of the serious career minded, it was with the  mindset to aspire, advance, achieve, then retire. Advancement meant stepping up to the plate, with each plate moving me higher on the ladder. It took about 2 years for me to recognize my gift was to be a follower, not a leader; the word ‘Manager’ would never be inscribed on my nameplate and my name would never show up on an org chart. Manager of others does not describe me, but manager of myself does. God wired me to be a leader of my own thoughts and actions –  I aspire to advance and achieve my calling, followship.

I once went to talk to a trusted manager about my role on the team. I didn’t have the experience or the technical knowledge of the other members of my team. This was at a time when layoffs were occurring, and for whatever reason, I wasn’t laid off but was ‘traded’ to another area of the organization. I knew nothing – literally – and didn’t see how I would fit into my new role.  He said to me “Anderson, you need to go home tonight and read Romans 12.”  I was surprised and pleased at the same time.  I read this first, Romans 12: 4-6 “We are like the various parts of a human body. Each part gets its meaning from the body as a whole, not the other way around….. we find ourselves fashioned into all these excellently formed and marvelously functioning parts in Christ’s body, let’s just go ahead and be what we were made to be, without enviously or pridefully comparing ourselves with each other, or trying to be something we aren’t.”

That made sense.  I would never be like the others on my team, but I could use my strengths to fill a role that was uniquely mine.  I kept on reading.  Romans 12:12 “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.”  Pray through it, be patient, and be faithful. I had the easy part while God took care of the tough stuff.

I still read a lot on leadership.  I wish there were just as many resources available for followers as there are for leaders. How would the marketing look for a seminar for followers?  Become a better follower in just two days doesn’t have the audacious drive and stir the same emotion as ‘Become a better leader’ does.  Where are the books and blogs that reveal the significance of filling the role of an expert follower?  When I say 80% of my job is making my boss and my team look good, I say it with conviction.  When I say, “I want to help you,” that statement is authentic.

In my past I have been called a servant leader, the eternal cheerleader, and sunshine.  I have never been called boss or manager.  My constant prayer is that I continually have on my heart, only to be what God wants me to be every moment of every day. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-28 “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will in Christ Jesus.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=doWUop_OQ-k

The Truth About Investing

I miss blogging. There I said it. I don’t count my followers. I don’t analyze the geographic locations of my readers. I have the smallest degree of popularity.God has a purpose for you  I love that people sometimes read and comment on what I have to say, but what I really miss about blogging is spilling out the contents of my heart because it’s part of who I am. I met up with a friend yesterday whom I had not seen in over 2 years. She needed a guest to join her on her radio show, so I helped her out – then we spent the next 4 hours in eye level communication, soul sharing, revealing life as we have experienced it since 2012.  “I miss blogging,” I told her. And instantly felt her response. “Why do you feel like you can’t spend time doing something you really enjoy?” That’s it! The enigma uncovered, deciphered with a few well-placed words.

Spending time. Or investing time? Is it just me, or does spending seem different from investing?

Investing is paying into something, expecting a profit in return. Investing is more purposeful, intentional, a personal commitment with promise of reward. Investing builds. Investing creates. Investing is discernment – applied to time, that means making choices which have discernible benefits.

Spending is often frivolous, impetuous, and done without thinking. The damage done by a mindless spending spree can be financially devastating. Spending money or spending time, expends energy and depletes resources without regard to replenishing. I’m a little slow on the uptake and sometimes God has to grab ahold of my head and point my face in the right direction. I couldn’t sleep all night so I started praying then I started web surfing and that always brings me to BibleGateway.com.  I read 1Peter 4:10 “Each of you should use whatever gift you have received to serve others, as faithful stewards of God’s grace in its various forms.”  I may not be a gifted writer, but God has given me a love for writing and that is the gift. It’s OK to invest time in writing; in fact God says each of us should use whatever gift we have. Why do I tell myself blogging is spending time frivolously? God says I’m not spending my time, I’m investing it. He gave me the love of writing. It’s a gift.

This tiny lesson was a revelation in other ways too. In January, I decided to join the one-word-to-live-by club. I call it a club because it was hot for a few weeks and, well, it’s a club that evaporated quickly like 3 week old resolutions. Take a trip over to Twitter and look for hashtag #word365 . . . Point proven.  My word though, which I adopted and still invest in is ‘discernment’.  What should I be doing right now invades my thoughts so often I recognize that I am spending too much time deciding and too little time investing in what I should be doing right then. Things like organizing only to reorganize.  Reading too many books simultaneously leads to spending time, instead of investing quality time in one or two books.  Spending countless hours online reading and following blogs to learn from the masters and absorb their knowledge. All GOOD, but am I intentional and investing wisely?  I see some flaws in my investment strategy.

Whether spending or investing, being human automatically qualifies us to experience disillusionment with our choices. Humans are the only species with cognitive abilities and minds capable of reason. We are practically licensed to feel exhausted from the myriad of choices we must make! Here’s a little hope for those overwhelming responsibilities. Bring on Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

God comes along and promises that our efforts will be rewarded if we invest our time wisely. We might have to be stubborn toward our wandering minds to be staunchly disciplined in constructing our days.  And those of us who are certain we’ve been touched with ADD need a significantly stronger behavior pattern to assure we are investing in our gifts that will reap rewards. 2 Chronicle 15:7 says “But as for you, be strong and do not give up, for your work will be rewarded.”

How about you? Are you spending or investing time for a profitable outcome?  Deciding what to do with the hours in our day is like a roller coaster running inside a maze. Sometimes couldn’t we yell, “Stop the world and let me off. Just for a little while.”?  Instead God gives us gifts that bring us pleasure and he says, use them. Spending/Investing. Make wise choices.  Isaiah 65:22 comforts us when God says, “For as the days of a tree, so will be the days of my people; my chosen ones will long enjoy the work of their hands.”

Treat yourself to joy today!

Changed – Becoming who I was meant to be.  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lk1bstD4nY8