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Are They Acting On Your Priorities?

DSC00328I recently heard of a school district with five hundred initiatives underway right now. They’re proud of it–they’re reaching out to students at risk for dropping out, targeting STEM enrichment, working on literacy, increasing coaching capacity, and so on.

The problem? No change effort can be focused in 500 different directions. Right now, things are falling by the wayside–and the district leadership probably doesn’t know what is and isn’t being done. Somewhere down in the ranks, people are deciding, whether consciously or unconsciously, what they will actually accomplish.

It may be what seems most urgent to them. Or what best fits their current skills. Or what is easiest. Or what the person above them is screaming for.

Chances are, though, it isn’t what the leaders at the top consider most important. Why?

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Mastery: Are You Doing All You Can?

masteryLast year, I read a book that challenged me at a personal level, Robert Greene’s Mastery. In it, Greene asks, given that so many high-IQ people are pretty much failures at life, what separates the da Vincis and Mozarts–and modern-day examples such as musician John Coltrane, animal behaviorist Temple Grandin, and boxing trainer Freddie Roach–from the pack?

Greene came up with six common factors, all of which should give each one of us to ponder, “Where am I selling my own talents short? What next step would help me make more of the potential I’ve been given? How should I be working harder? Have I searched hard enough to identify the idea/cause/goal that would motivate me to pursue thousands of hours of deliberate practice to reach mastery?” Here are the common factors.

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What’s Your Part of the Problem?

3855181622_292d0f13d4_zRecently I learned that an organization for which I’d made possible a large (and successful) marketing event hadn’t bothered to follow through with a requested reciprocal effort.

My first reaction? Frustration that threatened to quickly move toward anger. Lucky for me, I didn’t run into the responsible parties while I was discovering what hadn’t been done. If I had, I might have resorted to the kind of blaming tactics that I hope I left behind on the grade school playground!

But something reminded me to ask myself, “What was your part in this problem?” What had I done, or not done, that resulted in their lack of follow-through? As I reflected, I had to admit that I probably hadn’d specifically outlined how a couple of simple actions on their part would not only support my goals but probably improves results for them and for us.

As an old Irish saying puts it,

[quote align=”center” color=”#247ca4″]Why do we judge others by their actions and ourselves by our good intentions?[/quote] Before being sure that blame rests with the other party, consider

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Get Creative? Why Not!

P1040304This month’s Scientific American Mind has a quick article on being a better artist (January/February 2014, p. 200) with four easy ways to make sure it’s easy for you to be more creative. How might you

Get outside more. In one measure of creativity, those who went backpacking did 50% better than those who didn’t. It turns out that nature makes us more aware of patterns, forms, and other elements that add to creativity. Oh, and it’s a stress-reducer. Stop telling yourself you don’t have time and get outside to spark better ideas!

Embrace your own weirdness. People who aren’t ashamed of their quirks–who talk to themselves or admit to knowing the name of every Star Trek episode or who have to win a game of Spider Solitaire before opening their research files–come up with more creative ideas.

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3 Moves for Moving from SMART Goals to Intentional Results

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA[quote align=”center” color=”#247ca4″]Management is efficiency in climbing the ladder of success; leadership determines whether the ladder is leaning against the right wall.

(Covey, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, p. 101)[/quote] How about substituting  “SMART goals” for management and “being intentional” for leadership in the above quote? Why?

Too often, a goal is SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Time-bound) but still not the right goal. If you’re setting goals for yourself, or if you’re coaching others, here are three key questions that aid in ensuring that goals intentionally target what is most important, not what your or your client might assume is most important.

  1. Is this the right goal right now? Leadership is situational. While there are core competencies all leaders need, different ones are more important in some situations than in others. Unfortunately, those new to leadership—or to a given role—may be unaware of priorities they’ve never needed to attend to in the past.
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Are You a Wild Reader? If Not, Read This!

RIW

Do you worry about reading emergencies–getting caught waiting somewhere without a good book in hand?

Do you have to-read lists, piles, shelves, and/or book cases?

Do you have a reading plan–what you’ll be reading next, what title you’re saving for vacation, how you’ll proceed when your favorite list of award winners is announced?

You do? Oh, can we share title recommendations? Please???

[quote align=”center” color=”#1f9876″]You don’t? You think you don’t have time to read? Or that reading simply shouldn’t be a priority right now?[/quote]

Then Reading in the Wild by Donalyn Miller and Susan Kelly is for you. Really. Yes it was written for educators, but its message is for all of us: Reading opens doors. Reading improves our brain power. Learning to love reading means cultivating key habits. It’s never too late.

Chances are your local library has a copy of this brand-new book that most members of my professional learning network devoured the instant it came out this month. If any of the following reasons are keeping you from going wild over reading, know that its pages contain solid advice,

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A Mirror for Leadership Blind Spots

INFJ KiseA long time ago in a galaxy far, far away (or so it seems), I took on a volunteer leadership role in a rather large organization. Given the issues we were facing, and my own strengths, one of my key priorities was to stay friends with the leaders of all of our different constituencies.

This was not a wishy-washy “let’s be kind” sort of goal, but rather an acknowledgment that certain market trends and changes in how we were allowed to conduct business meant that partnerships, mutual support, and flow of information were vital to our future. I’m good at collaboration and building trust, but with those strengths–especially if I overuse them–comes an inherent blind spot. I tend to assume everyone is on the same team, working toward the same goals.

[quote align=”center” color=”#bf682e”]You could say that being politically savvy is not one of my key strengths. Considering potential competing motivations of other players isn’t generally on my radar screen. [/quote]

SO…in that leadership role, I very intentionally sought out two politically savvy members of the board and told them, “Call me when I’m being too trusting. Tell me to my face when I forget to ask, ‘What’s in it for them?'” And they did. Very effectively. Thanks, Chuck and Ray–you know who you are!!

Fast forward to my being in a very informal leadership role. As always, I considered what the right priorities would be for the situation. Again, relationships were key, and I though I had the relationships in place that allowed for working toward mutual goals.

[quote align=”center” color=”#bf682e”]I forgot that I still had the same blind spots…[/quote]

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