A bird does not sing because it has an answer.  It sings because it has a song.

31 August 2009

No Extra Charge

I get periodic e-mails from Michael Port, the author of "The Think Big Manifesto." He ends each e-mail with a cute postscript: "P.S. I don't charge for typos, they're just my gift to you :) " This got me thinking this morning about how attitude impacts everything we do, large and small.

This postscript accomplishes three things:

First, it acknowledges, and even celebrates, the little imperfections that are inevitable in life because we are all human. In so doing, it lets Michael worry less about spelling and more about content, which is a perfectly reasonable approach for a quick e-mail update.

Second, it shuts down the trolls -- the people who feel compelled to pick things apart and send mountains of critiques and corrections. When this happens to me, it tells me the reader was paying more attention to the spelling than the content. And while I myself am a stickler for such things, and find errors terribly distracting in written work, I work hard to strike a balance between appreciating the intent and helping refine quality only when that help is appropriate. Criticizing is a lot easier than creating, which is why there are a lot more complainers than there are creators.

Third, it emphasizes the positive. Michael seeks to be a giver and a sharer of good stuff. He brings the attitude to his work that it is a gift to those who care to receive it. The message is, "everything I create - even the small mistakes - is a unique gift I am giving to the universe." With that approach, he's bound to be inspired by what he's doing, and strive to make it the absolute best it can be. And by focusing on the positive, the rest is seen for what it is: a minor distraction in the periphery of the critical path.

Incidentally, I've never seen a typo in any of those messages. :)

What are you doing today that is a unique, creative gift to the universe? How does your present task, no matter how small, make a positive impact? If you don't feel like you're doing good in the world, what needs to change - the task, or your attitude about it? What specific, concrete thing can you do about it right now?

28 August 2009

What does it mean to "win"?

Political struggles are common in most work environments, and they sometimes seem to get particularly fierce in academia. I'm aware of one such struggle happening right now. It involves the heads of two departments within the same college. One of the department heads is a collaborator who believes resources should be generously shared for the benefit of students. The other is a competitor who believes in departmental "territory" and self-aggrandizement at the expense of others.

Each of the two departments fielded a student team in a national competition over the summer. The collaborator's team had the resources they needed to do well, and shared their ideas and their tools with the competitor's team. In turn, the competitor's team stole parts, broke tools, and actually sabotaged aspects of the collaborator's project. And sadly, it worked -- the competitor's team performed much better in the competition, and brought home prize money, which was secreted away into the competitor's departmental budget instead of being allocated for future team efforts (as was done with the prize money won by the collaborator's team).

But here's the question: who really won? Many of the students on the competitor's team were horrified to learn of the sabotage efforts, and equally horrified to learn that portions of their entry were plagiarized from the other team's work without due credit. The competitor's existing team members are asking to join the collaborator's team, and at the same time fearing the consequences to their degree programs. The competitor is forcing students to work on his team in order to receive necessary credit for graduation, rather than recruiting interested and willing team members. The resources that used to be openly shared are being carefully inventoried and locked up. The culture of the collaborator's department has, by necessity, changed from one of generosity to one of suspicion. Should we wonder why these kinds of shenanigans happen in the workplace when role models at school enable, and even encourage, this kind of behavior?

Climbing to a "win" by stepping on other people's heads may work for a short time, but it's not responsible, sustainable, or even very satisfying. A friend of mine used to say, "the cream rises to the top, but so does the scum." Well, both get skimmed off, too -- and taken to very different destinations.

Is there a competitor in your organization? Are there any collaborators? Who is winning, and what are you losing?

13 August 2009

Smile and Move

Take a look at this fun little video. Some inspiration for your Thursday morning.

Edit: I can't seem to get the "embed video" code from their website to work in my blog post, so here's a link to the page:

04 August 2009

Selling for Geniuses

Masterminds Unleashed:Selling for Geniuses has been released and is now available for sale on my website.

I am so excited to hold the book in my hand after all the months of writing, re-writing, and collaborative editing we all did together to make it happen. Now it's here, and I'm looking for opportunities to share it with businesspeople who can benefit from the great ideas it contains.

If you know of a business networking organization, trade group, or club that needs a guest presenter, please invite their speaker coordinator to contact me. If you refer me to a group and they book me as a speaker, I'll send you a complimentary copy of Selling for Geniuses!