What Do You Want to Be Known For?

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Life is complex. Making simplicity out of the complexity is the primary ability of the leaders and we all are the leaders of our own lives.

To proceed better towards our purpose, we ought to also tell others what we are up to.

Personally I’ve struggled with this communication and simplification aspect of my writing for example. It has been hard to say “what I am writing about.” This doesn’t make any sense, shouldn’t I be able to easily tell in one or few words tell what I am writing about? Conclusion is that yes this is exactly how it is.

Same simplicity rule of 1 – 3 words applies to whatever we want to do and achieve in life.

How well what you want to achieve matches with what you are known for?

For longer time and even still sometimes my extended family knows me as the guy who to call when something goes wrong with the IT. I see these people rarely, that they still connect me with an idea and identity that perhaps did better describe me about 10 – 12 years ago. And all the way to the this point I haven’t updated them with what is important to me at the moment and what I am up to in a simple way.

In professional life this is even more important, because meetings are short and memory is short. We need to simplify hard and get the right association. Therefore to be known for one thing that best describes you is the way to go.

What do you want to be known for?

Making a Difference

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 Do you want to matter? I bet you do, many of would like to. Only few of us are willing to challenge ourselves to do it.

Our energy saving programming drives us to do this.

Yet our conscious desire and ambition should every day do something to challenge this status quo of energy saving. We should push ourselves consciously, in order to make sure we are getting most of our lives and that we are making the life better for generations to come.

Yesterday I was under the tutelage of Jari Sarasvuo again in the form of coaching session. Well a good teacher makes all the topics worthwhile going through again. He asked me why do we need to grow?

Spontaneously I answered something, yet missed the core and that’s okay. What was wonderful is that my mind continues to work with that thought “why do we need to grow.” Actually I’ve written about it in February (Why to Grow?) last time. Yet the mark of the master is everyday start to ask the same questions and furthermore drill deeper in to the nature of things.

So this is as always, a kind of continuation to the last thing, every time getting slightly deeper.

Jari said that growth is what separates us from animals, we are the conscious animal and I agree on that.

Yet at the same time, I gotta same time remind that we are an animal. We may have 40 bits per second of conscious bandwidth, but most of us are not using much of it all during day. Adults are mostly operating by our routines and habits.

Here comes the important point: CHALLENGE YOURSELF.

I’ve written about this too. Last time during summer when I was traveling: Challenge Yourself and Survive. Without the challenge, pattern and routine breakers we gravitate to the center of our comfort zones.

Actually the ability to break patterns is at the moment in my mind the most important skill in leadership, no matter are you leading yourself or others. Even in basic things such as conversations, the ability to break the common patterns is the sign of leadership.

With pattern breakers, the common becomes uncommon, it becomes meaningful and that makes all the difference.

Also real difference and progress is made only when we grow. When we grow to handle our emotional responses; made peace and traveled through the vastness of space. Then have made a difference.

Janne

P.s. Because life is so limited, we also should ask regularly what does matter? Are these results meaningful? In the core of the triple loop learning is not only asking are we doing the things right, or are we doing the right things, but to contemplate on what is right as well. Staying humble and asking questions, because humility unlocks the next level (Model for Long Lasting Happiness).

Freedom From and Responsibility To

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With increased power, comes increased responsibility. The moment we forget this, our good deeds start to decay and growth halts.

Victor Frankl said it well that freedom and responsibility go hand in hand. Responsibility is a topic that is too little talked and pondered about.

Once we understand our responsibility and are willing to exert ourselves for it, we gain actual freedom. Freedom to organize the necessary resources to attain a particular goal in life.

There is no freedom, when there is no responsibility.

Leader is willing to accept responsibility of things that they are not directly responsible.

We are all leaders. If we want to be great leaders we need to strive for more responsibilities. Then at times, when everything is alright going as it should we may enjoy our freedom. Usually this does not last very long thought or if it does, then you’ve masterfully trained more leaders.

Attention Makes Us Thrive

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Attention is the currency of love and power.

As humans we literally crave for attention. Lack of attention is worse than negative attention.

Attention to people doesn’t cost any money, yet this is one of the most easily overlooked sides of leadership. Attention does take time and caring effort.

It’s not money, luxuries or drugs we care, it’s attention and caring.

It’s hard for us to admit it, however it is so.

I think the way to give the attention is the caring way. It’s at least better than the denying angry or upset way. Because in the end all of us crave for the attention at least the caring way is a  very nice to give the attention.

Everyone is Better Off With Increased Sense of Security

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 Fear is deeply motivating force. We are either safe or we are in danger. And for danger there is danger and then there is life threatening danger.

As a species we have persisted mostly because of this advanced fear motivator. We are risk mitigating pack animals. Sticking to the groups is a way to mitigate the risk.

When the basic security is achieved, then other needs to tend to pop up and through which we start to want to influence through the group and even control the group. That’s when the other motivators come in like having a social status and power.

Because of pack mentality, some kind of hierarchy always exists. A good question to ask is how high the hierarchy needs to be? The higher the hierarchy is, the more likely it is to be used wrongly and unethically. The more involved all the members of the group are, the healthier it is.

Also the lower the group hierarchy is, the better we can use our individual and collective wisdom. Even physically and biologically in a secure environment we can use our higher cognitive functions better and if we can think better and can communicate better the results are going to be better as well.

Humans are risk mitigating pack animals, always creating hierarchies. However in those groups everyone is in the end better with increased security.

How to Succeed with Your Most Important Dreams or Goals

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Strategy, is the ability to lead the strengths so that the decisive battle will not be lost. Strategy is therefore and verb: the act of leading.

So if in your life you are dreaming of something; in fact anything you want to do or achieve for example, you start putting your strategy to action.

Now put your dream or goal into context: what are the priorities at present in your life? List values such as: health, career, family, activities, hobbies,  friends, lovers… Think about all these priorities in relation to your goals and dreams.

What values you do not want to fail at? Do not accept the failure at these tasks. Prioritize the most important things in your life: i.e. if you value your health as you should, then you should ensure that the health will be taken care of no matter what. That’s why many people prefer to take morning for their exercise, they are serving first and foremost themselves with this, so that they may nourish the growth of others.

I repeat: do not fail to do that which matters most to you.

To see what matters most to you, break down your big dream or goal first to a concrete five year goal, then to a yearlong goal, then to month, week and a day goal. Remember strategy is a verb, what are you going to do today to progress at your most important dreams or goals?

Sustainable Happiness is Based on Production Capability

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In all leadership including self-leadership or leading others, it is often one thing to get results or to see long term flourishing.

Execution ability and ability to deliver results under time pressure is a crucial skill in professional business life for example, where the time constraints can determine whatever business goes bankrupt or not.

If we are to operate in sustainable manner, of course we would have the amount of proactivity that we could push the immediate threat of bankruptcy far enough so that we do not have to react to these critical events that require immediate attention so much in the present. So that we could focus being proactive.

Proactivity in this case means also building the production capability, means preparing and training ourselves to meet the future challenges.

External motivators such as rewards can be harmful for the production capability yet they are used all the time to get the result. This results in just golden eggs, while we could focus having more golden gooses.

If we want to have more apples, well harvesting them this year certainly gives us X amount of apples. However, in the long term we do not get more, we get less unless we plant more apple trees.

Same is with the people. Unless nurture ourselves and others, we do not produce more, we produce less.

CFO asks CEO, “What happens if we invest in developing our people and then they leave us?”

CEO: “What happens if we don’t, and they stay?” – Peter Baeklund

In leading ourselves, we need to remember to develop our production capability. Doing more is only helpful until to a point, where our work starts to exhaust us in the long run. We need to work smarter and to build our capacity to produce in limited time.

With people this means training and nurturing each individuals belief in what they have potential to become. If you treat people as what they have potential to become, they just might respond to that. Nurture their internal drive and remember the autonomy, meaning and mastery.


If you are interested in further about this topic see Daniel Pink’s ted talk, his book Drive and Stephen Covey’s The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People for starters.

Story Telling is a Fun Way to Repeat

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 Story telling makes all learning more meaningful, fun and memorable. Only in a leadership role, I’ve understood the significance of this skill in work, learning and well it could be applied to almost anything!

When I was coming home today, I noticed a school kid studying some plant picture apparently for a test of some kind. To me it seemed rather uninspiring way to study plants.

Why not take a classful of people to the nature, assign a plant to each of them and make them find out something about that plant. At the end of the lesson you’ve classful of stories about different plants. I bet even after that kind of story session you retain more useful knowledge over your lifetime than over memorizing plant names by their pictures.

We learn through repetition (or should I say we don’t forget). Story telling is a fun way to be repetitive so that we may learn. It’s a skill we all can improve through our lifetime and through it we grow and help others grow as well.

Summary of Seth Godin’s Linchpin

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Today I decided to revisit my highlights of the Linchpin. It is the book that literally made me to write every day again and I hold it in high regard. Although I had tried with my previous blog writing everyday for month, I didn’t stick with it. And even this time I had from different sources and different reasons to stick with this (Steve Pavlina and Neil Pasricha), Linchpin despite was the book that convinced me to start again.

“Stop asking what’s in it for you and start giving gifts that change people.”

Quite simply and shortly put the Linchpin is a book about being you, and stop hitting your head to the wall. It’s about creating the art (what ever you want to do) that is meaningful.

I’ve found my most meaningful time of the day to be thinking and clarifying my thinking as a text. While the medium might and change from person to person, you should put the effort there. Seth’s advice is to put the hour to your art no matter what. Do not mind the defects, as art is never defect free anyway.

The lesson is to commit to an hour a day to the art and then deliver.

“In everything you do, it’s possible to be an artist, at least a little bit.”

Life is not about the dull work, it’s about the wonderful art. Seth spends quite a lot of time and space in the book to talk about what are the common causes that people do not follow this advice: fear and resistance rise up, which I can totally relate. He had inspirational lines like “I realized that my lizard brain was afraid of this book, which is the best reason I can think of to write it.”

Creating art does require courage and less resistance.

“You become a winner because you’re good at losing.”

To conclude, the key is about creative action that is not just any action, but work that brings meaning to the peoples’ lives. Such action is called art, and almost any action can be art if it’s done with creativity and sense of purpose, not with just the bored everyday routines. What does prevent us from doing to ordinary extraordinarily well is our lizard brain that is afraid of failure. The way to overcome this is through the practice of delivering and doing it because it is meaningful and it deserves to be done and delivered.

Summary of Everybody Matters: The Extraordinary Power of Caring for Your People Like Family

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About the company and the author Bob Chapman:

Chapman is Chairman and CEO of Barry-Wehmiller Companies, a capital equipment and engineering consulting firm with more than 8,000 team members worldwide. After seeing the positive impact of Barry-Wehmiller’s people-centric culture on the lives of his employees, Chapman felt compelled to raise awareness about business enterprise’s opportunity to become the most powerful positive influence on our society.1

Chapman took over the reins of the privately-owned Barry-Wehmiller upon his father’s death in 1975, when it was a struggling bottle washer business. Since then, the single-market company has grown into a corrugating, packaging, and paper converting equipment and consulting conglomerate through strategic acquisition, operational expertise and commitment to, as Chapman likes to say, “the lives within my care.” Today, $2 billion Barry-Wehmiller is a combination of more than 75 acquired companies spread across 100 locations around the globe. Since 1987, it has continued a pattern of 15 percent compound growth in revenue and share value. 1

 

Everybody Matters Summary

Like the book title suggests Everybody Matters is a book about human centric leadership culture, and the beginning describes the uneasy situation where Bob Chapman was put when his father suddenly had a heart attack and he had to take over the company. Also it describes the many challenges that came after that.

In midst of the survival he and his colleagues also had several insights, for example “why can’t business be fun” or “there is no such thing as an underperforming team, only underperforming leaders.”

First they had to find a successful way to stay alive, not to go bankrupt in the near future. Barry-Wehmiller company was still back then in (around 1970’s) in distillery equipment business, which wasn’t so profitable. In short they judged that they need to grow both organically and through acquisitions. Or as Bob put it “We need to start making acquisitions so we can access markets and technology that can give us a better future.”

Once the immediate risk of bankruptcy was dealt with, still getting financing for acquisitions wasn’t an easy task. They recognized that could only afford business that no-one else wanted to buy.  Instead of giving up, they decided to work with this risk position and be creative. With work and creativity they had turned Barry-Wehmiller profitable. Why they couldn’t do this elsewhere too?

At Barry-Wehmiller, they believed that the business growth and people growth are not separate ideas, but complementing each other in a virtuous cycle.

“People were showing us that they were capable of things we hadn’t imagined. All it took was a different way of leading in which people knew their goals and the score at all times and were inspired as individuals and teams to achieve them.”

Take away for any company is to make truly fun and rewarding. Not so that just somebody wins, but the whole team wins. As an example: “Let’s create a game. Whoever sells the most parts each week wins. If the team makes the team goal, the team also wins.”

One red flag, is not truly celebrating peoples’ achievements by this I mean for example exaggerating people’s accomplishments when the whole recognition becomes meaningless. I’ve witnessed and felt what exaggeration can create, it destroys the positive and sends a signal that your accomplishment wasn’t good enough after all.

Bob Chapman also recognized the way bigger picture and responsibilities that the companies have. It is that of the responsibility and how does the leadership affect the emotional lives of the employees. And the families of those employees. Good or bad leadership does affect, how people who go home treat each other after the work day.

One line to get applied to everyday leadership is this:  “Look for the goodness in people and recognize and celebrate it daily.”

This conscious capitalism and responsibility of the world at large, is what I found very inspiring the book. I certainly recommend you to read the whole book as this was, but a rather small dip in the lake.