Tuesday, December 31, 2013

13 Learnings from 2013

Very interesting… before writing this I went back and read last years post 2+10, 12 Big Learnings of 2012, I found it very interesting how different the learnings between the two years were. The good news is I didn’t feel like any of the learnings from last year had diminished any… in fact, I found myself shaking my head “yes” while reading them. :D This year’s learnings seem considerably deeper and more original… but not as spirited as last years. (I might write a follow-up when I figure out what happened here).

Similar to last years learnings, which had two big hits followed by two handfuls of one-offs, this years learning has a single big conclusion and then 12 other independent insights. …I hope you enjoy them, and I always welcome clarifications and feedback. :D

1.     It’s All About Energy – I am not talking about oil and gas or even being green. Work, life, people are all about human energy. The energy that won’t let you sleep at night, wakes you up at 4:30 am. The energy you feel in your heart and gut, that makes you smile even though you are all alone. We often discount it completely (unless you are a yoga instructor and certainly in business) due to not being able to define it clearly and having no clear methodology to working with it, not to mention the scary fact that is can’t be measured. Yet, we all know it exists, feel it personally within and love being around people with it. Human energy is the single most important things in people’s lives, yet most of us are stuck in junked up systems and subsystems (mostly maintained by personal decisions) that we don’t take ownership of it. Human energy is managed through a personalalignment exercise and discipline (maybe even stubbornness) but is absolutely the key to almost everything else (within reasonable control).  The really cool thing about energy is, it is the only thing that can create time! …yes, time!

2.     You Have to Train it - Despite what people should have been taught by schooling and society most of us are on different pages. If you want to create something unique like awesome customer experience or a great corporate culture, you have to train people how to meet those expectations.

3.     Blue Ocean Strategy = Education - Blue Ocean strategy is when you create completely new markets as opposed to competing in existing ones. For most of my career, I have been seeking to create Blue Ocean ideas. One thing I didn't understand was how much effort was needed to educate a market to a truly novel idea... its a bunch! :D

4.     The Leadership Equation - Leadership is tough almost magical when you read the stories of the past. I believe that's a good chunk of the leadership problem. Today's leaders are trying to be all leaders to everyone... which would be a super human feat. Truly though people don't expect that, they expect leaders to be really good at just a few things and find others to help with the rest.       Leadership = Authentic (true self) + Consistent

5.     I Can Run - In 2013, I learned how to be a distance runner. I completed a marathon and a few other big runs. I can't tell you how many people told me I couldn't do this ...at times even myself. Even to this day saying that I going to run 26 miles seems insane. What it taught me was that anything can be achieve broken down and with energy.

6.     Create Around Obstacles  - I was exposed to a heavy dose of entrepreneurism this year and in so was exposed to the many obstacles this role faces. As an entrepreneur, your biggest job is to “create” (construct another way) around the "no", "can't have" and the "impossible".

7.     People Change - There is a school of thought that says people (personality) don't change after the age of 30. This is on of my beefs with Strength Finders... People can and do change, sometimes drastically and even after the age of 30. ...btw the change isn't always for the better.

8.     Needed Conflict - I interviewed a person this year and asked how he dealt with conflict... "I avoid it", was his response. At the time,  I thought this was a reasonable answer. It was Pat Lincioni that enlightened me though ...without conflict you destroy teams from the inside out. People still need to give their thoughts on ideas/topics, and when avoid it real-time, people will undermine each other behind the scenes... ultimately destroying trust... and the ability to innovate and work as a team. Without healthy conflict teamwork becomes simple listening.

9.     Culture & Process Accountability - Great cultures are hard to control and are beyond the confront zone of traditional leaders, even as they create amazing amounts of value. I get the question all the time of how do you add process to culture; we want to make sure things don't get out of hand. It's not Culture & Process it's Culture & Accountability. Process says “do it this way”... Accountability says “do what we agreed we would do”. When the fear of loosing control of culture becomes a topic, focus on accountability not process. Oh and the accountability needs to start at the very top. A great quote from Pat Lincioni “If I love somebody, I owe it to them to enter the danger and hold them accountable.”

10.  Mobile First - I don't mean this in just writing applications for phones. When you get people really engaged value starts coming from everywhere all the time... least while sitting at a desk. The ability to capture that value is key. Without a mobile mindset and a supportive infrastructure two things can happen. 1. You loose the value, 2. You loose the person. Organizations of the future must overwhelming embrace mobile.

11.  Everything is Relative – We are all in our own worlds and no matter how aware/self aware you are, its still your starting point to get to reality. In order to work with people you need to first move into their reality (and out of yours). Ya, its great to help people move beyond their reality and see the bigger picture, but the starting point needs to their reality and dealing with that first.

12.  Self Preservation - I am still not sure I understand this one.  I have learned through several direct experiences that there are few people that will put others before themselves. Now, I fully understand putting on your own oxygen mask first, but that not what I am talking about. I'm talking about people who are more committed to the "existing" system and themselves over what makes long term sense or is reasonable fair. I am getting better at reading these people, but just admitting they exist as the majority was a big learning me.

13.  Long Talks - In today’s world everything has been reduced down to the being most “optimized”. I find myself in a state if fear if I am taking up someone time and not getting to the point as soon as humanly possible. Yet, what I have learned is that the breakthroughs exist at the end of long, boring, drawn out conversation. Make time and schedule long, long discussion...   you will miss some emails, but you'll make progress in life.

My own intuition tells me 13 learnings (of this magnitude) in one year are actually too much, and 2013 must have been a turbulent time for me …which it was. The funny thing is I had to cut the list down from 23 and a few others that just never made it on. Nonetheless, I hope you can learn something from these and that you have enjoyed some of the journey with me.

So I’ll ask you… in 2014 will you stay focused on what’s asked of you or will you find a way to do create time …and make 2014 a little longer? :D