Archive for April, 2011

In the last post we identified five common types of stressful behaviors:  Day Dreaming, Comparing, Time Traveling, Gut Reacting and Grade Schooling.  Before we get into details about how we will change these people’s aggravating behaviors, we want to encourage you to first use some common sense about deciding if you should undertake the task at all.  You are not the behavior police and some people deserve a WIDE berth.  You should only intervene when you are not risking your personal safety and the person’s behavior is so aggravating that you cannot just let it pass and when you think by confronting the person you might actually have some reasonable chance of getting them to change their behavior.

So in every case, for any type of stress-causing behavior other people exhibit, the three questions you must ask yourself (in this order) before you intervene are

  1. Is it safe to confront this person about their behavior?
  2. Is it worth my effort to confront this person? and
  3. Do I have any real chance of changing their behavior?”

The answer to all three should be “YES” before you intervene.  So let’s look at a few scenarios and see if they get past the first of our three criteria for intervention – – – our personal safety.

Scenario #1

On your way to work in Los Angeles, a car full of men in their early 20s, with shaved heads and their bodies covered in tattoos, stops beside you at a traffic light with their music blaring.  The music is deafening and they appear not to even notice the discomfort it is causing in people nearby.  Do you get involved?

Answer: Are you serious?  Just asking them to turn it down could get you shot.  And you have ZERO chance of changing their future behavior.  So control your testosterone boys (women are smart enough to not even CONSIDER intervening here), keep your eyes forward and drive on.  That was an easy example.  Now for one that is not-so-easy.

Scenario #2

You and your office colleagues are standing in line to order at a fast food restaurant.  A guy near you is acting odd— standing too close to you, fidgeting a lot, looking around nervously and mumbling to himself.  He seems to be in a hurry to get his food but his behavior is annoying.  Do you ask him in a stern voice to step back a bit?

Answer:  No.  This guy is possibly mentally unstable or on drugs or both.  Very odd people should trigger a “flee” response in you. I would just walk out of the restaurant, to my car, and wait for him to leave.  Do not confront someone who may be on drugs and/or mentally on a different planet.  Asking him to “give me a little room, please” might trigger a bizarre response.  Don’t become a statistic.

In our next post we will see an all-too-common scenario, the corporate lay-off, and a disgruntled coworker whose behavior  stresses his colleagues.  Would you ask him to stop?  You may be surprised at the correct answer.

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

The 6th Century BC Chinese General and military strategist Sun Tzu, best known today as the author and genius behind the classic text on strategy, The Art of War, penned a gem of a statement that has gained the status of proverbial wisdom.

“Hence to fight and conquer in all your battles is not supreme excellence; supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting.”

This book held profound influence over Asian military thinking and the Way of the Samurai. It was translated into French as early as 1772. Ultimately the book had an influence on leaders and generals from Napoleon, to General Douglas MacArthur, to Mao Zedong. It is studied at West Point Military Academy, and has been applied metaphorically in business and management strategy.

What is this powerful and apparently universal appeal behind Winning without Fighting, and more to the point, why is it that so few people throughout history have been able to master its lessons?

The Fisherman’s Quarrel

There are many variations on this wisdom in traditional Chinese culture, often told through profoundly simple and often humorous stories. One is that of The Fisherman’s Quarrel, in which two fisherman quarrel over their catch, during which time a bird makes off with the fish.

There is an inherent sense of the folly of fighting, and the wider perspective which seeks a way to win without fighting. There are many ways in fact of winning the battle but losing the war. We might say as well that the operation was a success, but the patient died. There are many ways of expressing the folly of the short-sighted solution.

We see it played out in our economy, where greed is good produces a massive win/lose scenario, eventually pitting Wall Street against Main Street. We see it in the nasty deception of going to war for the sake of peace. We see it in gross energy consumption that is altering the very climate of the planet we live on.

Sometimes we learn the hard way that fighting is not a way that works. Many conflicts erupt because someone had to talk back, stare back, fight back, rather than letting it go before it escalates. Even while studying the martial art of Aikido, which is fundamentally based on the art of winning without fighting, I have found myself drawn into conflicts that didn’t need to happen. Read Scene Three of my Manga Story, and see how easily this can happen. To have no enemies means to make no enemies.

Baker vs Taker

Guy Kawasaki tells of how he has found that by collaborating with what might have been his competition, both win and the pie gets bigger. He sums it up by saying that there is a fundamental difference in the mentality of the baker vs the taker. The baker makes pies and provides plenty to go around, whereas the taker gets his and leaves nothing for anyone else. The baker is creative and has an abundance mentality, whereas the take is destructive and has a scarcity mentality.

The Mandala Chart can help you develop an abundance mentality because it frees you from the one track mentality, and gives you 8 ways in which to view any particular situation. The power of the creative mind derives from flexible focus. If more people applied this in business, we would have the ability to generate solutions and preventions to problems, instead of constantly fighting to put out fires.

The Principle of Non-Dissension

There are many ways to think about winning without fighting. You can win by escaping, getting out of the fray in the first place. If you have a good understanding of all points of view, you can find a Win/Win solution, in which all sides benefit. You can win by passive resistance, the way of Mahatma Gandhi, in which you win by not fueling the conflict. Sun Tzu’s way is to win at the outset, through superior insight and perspective.

Instead of butting headlong into people and problems, develop a sense of pliancy and flexibility in your approach to life. Once you realize the folly of trying to enter the highway through the exit ramp in the face of oncoming traffic, you feel much better about following the good sense in the traffic signs that say, Yield or Merge.

An excellent way to cultivate this sense is to learn it with your body, by studying Asian martial arts which are based upon the principle of non-dissension, such as Aikido or Tai Chi Chuan. Learn to diffuse conflict by redirecting it, rather than fuel it by forcing the situation. You will avoid many of the problems that plague people, problems partly of their own making, and enjoy life more as you find the path of least resistance.

We are rarely 100% committed to what we say we want.

I’m assuming that because you are reading this that to some degree you are committed to the concept of bringing spirituality into business. On a scale of 1-100, where would you put yourself in relation to the degree to which you are committed? If you were 100% committed there would be nothing to stop you and you’d be fulfilled in having reached your desired outcome. However, generally speaking, there are underlying or conflicting commitments that create obstacles to us moving forward towards our stated desires.

These conflicting commitments are in alignment to a desire to remain invulnerable and avoid what we consider undesirable. In essence we want to remain secure and stable within our comfort zones. The degree to which we are committed to our conflicting commitment is the degree to which we use avoidance, distraction, procrastination and denial as strategies; this keeps us doing the same thing over and over, expecting different results. What occurs is a dilemma, the consequence of which is a feeling of being stuck, confused, doubtful and lost. The bottom line is that we are confounded by the dilemma with which we find ourselves.

Dilemma

I’m prematurely slipping in a D word here, because this is where life gets sticky. How one chooses to be with dilemmas will contribute to the inevitable outcome.

When we distinguish what we are committed to from our conflicting commitment we can see that we are at a choice-point. So, on the one hand we want change; on the other hand we want to avoid the undesirable consequences that accompany change. Hence, we have a dilemma. How do we choose? How do we choose to choose what we choose?

What most of us do, because we are unaware of our choice-making process that has brought about this dilemma, is to compromise our stand for what we say we want, at the same time compromising our stand for what we don’t want. We become professional fence-sitters. If you are interested in creating transformation or a paradigm shift within yourself or your organization it won’t happen by using compromise as a strategy.

What becomes clear as you sit with this dilemma, at this choice-point, perhaps with a thinking partner who can see the bigger picture for you, is a couple of things:

  • First, either choice will require surrendering or relinquishing your attachment to the outcome.
  • Second, the consequence of either choice will mean being confronted by vulnerability and loss of whatever you are attempting to hold onto. This is the nature of cultivating spiritual practices within the workplace. It is an allowing of the unfolding of the natural course of things to occur in service to what you say you want. This is also when the practice of faith kicks in, as you begin to consider the possibility of crossing the threshold, anticipating that first step required of you in order to begin this journey.

What’s at Stake?

What I like about working in corporations is that there is far more at stake for individuals, departments and the organization itself to actually walk its talk. The risk is greater and so is the reward. Not unlike any other institution and group of individuals, there is a culture and that culture has rules – some are spoken and some are not. Always – always we are walking the line between cultivating an environment that supports us and one that protects us. Again, if we are looking for a paradigm shift we have to surrender our attachment to this walking-on-a-fence approach to change and really challenge ourselves to practice acting in alignment with our speaking. What’s at stake will be different for each individual and organization. Generally though, we are afraid of losing what we have.

The distinction between business coaching and transformational coaching is that transformational coaching requires you to step into your commitments; to expand your comfort zone; to confront beliefs, interpretations, expectations and assumption that may not serve you or your organization; and to create a practice within which you exercise muscles that support cultivating consciousness and compassion for yourself and all beings impacted by the current paradigm shift. Transformational coaching requires you to be with the BIG-FAT-BE-WITHS that challenge current interpretations regarding personal gain and loss, as well as death of a way of being that no longer serves the highest good of all. It also requires a different way of choice-making in support of your commitment.

To choose to shift the degree to which you are committed by even one degree is enough to allow even baby steps to be taken towards your desired outcome; it’s enough to empower you to be with the anxiety and discomfort that comes with letting go and letting a higher power provide support, the consequence being that the process unfolds effortlessly. This is where the spiritual rubber meets the three dimensional world.

If Nothing Else

If nothing else, cultivating awareness through the practice of noticing will inevitably create profound shifts. Consciousness generates a greater capacity to change, to create and to generate from an empowered stand. This stand is grounded in a conviction to follow through with intent. It is far more powerful than just wishing and hoping for change to occur. A fascinating phenomenon that is challenging to grasp from a logical/rational perspective is that by intentionally increasing your awareness of what you are wanting, and bringing yourself – your being into alignment with your intention creates a vibrational modification in yourself and your environment. This in itself generates profound shifts beyond your wildest imagination. What isn’t in alignment with that vibrational state will either shift or it will disappear. Transformation at its finest!

Consciousness results in self-realization that we hope will translate into self-actualization. Without acting in alignment with our realization – well, all things will remain the same except for the fact that we know more then we use to. As I said above, if you shift how you are being to be more in alignment with your highest knowing, this in itself is transformational. You don’t have to overtly attempt to change your world or your organization. Just notice, shift and allow. This in itself is bringing spirituality into business.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Rosie Kuhn will be speaking on the topic of “Spiritual Wounding in the Workplace” at the San Francisco New Living Expo, Concourse Exhibition Center, Room #7, San Francisco, April 29th, 2011 at 7:00PM.

Project Reality Check #19: Focus on Success

by Gary Monti on April 26, 2011

As different as they appear to be Success and Failure can have a lot in common! They both can bring about a fair degree of misery unless a proper focus is maintained. That focus comprises a subtle but important distinction. Let’s explore.

Plan Without Consequence

The trick with success is to plan without consequence. It sounds paradoxical so some explanation may help. The idea is to avoid getting attached to the success. Or said another way:

“Attach to success to the same extent you would attach to failure.”

Now what does that mean? Simple. It means if someone chooses to define himself solely in terms of what happens to him then he should prepare for a life of misery. If he has lots of money, fame, or what ever else he craves then he thinks he is good. If he loses what he craves he thinks he is bad. It is similar to how some people view disease, i.e., if they get it, they must be bad and God is punishing them. “Plan Without Consequence” means strive to achieve by remembering:

“I am more than what life does to me.”

Looking at it from another direction can help. “I was successful” and “My plan was successful” are two very different statements. With the former statement there is the risk of identifying with my project plan and losing my personal boundary. With the latter statement detachment is present which brings something very powerful to the table. It is the ability to maintain options. It is this capability that makes for a high-quality project manager. This subtle difference can be seen when contrasting two words easily confused.

Awareness vs. Vigilance

What I am trying to say is expressed in a more entertaining manner in the book, Who Moved My Cheese. The book fundamentally gets down to the distinction between two words, awareness and vigilance. With awareness one simply looks at life as it is and makes decisions. “No more cheese here. Okay, I’ll move on and search somewhere else.”

“No more cheese here!!! Who moved my cheese?!” is more in line with vigilance. It’s the attachment mentioned above. It’s the poison of expectations. Expectations that confuse getting something good with being intrinsically good and deserving of more.

With vigilance misery results since there is an attempt to force life to conform to expectations. With awareness freedom is present; the freedom to choose other options and move on to different forms of success. Last time I checked, that freedom and the ability to explore options is at the heart of project management, i.e., a temporary endeavor providing a unique product or service.

I recently attended Adtech in San Francisco, a digital marketing conference in US.  And some of the insights I got from speaking to industry experts and thought leaders validated my initial perception that mobile marketing and M-commerce is at the onset of taking off here in the US and in Asia with Japan being the only leader in this space. It reminded me of my days when I was getting out of Engineering school back in 1996.

As an Electronics and Communication Engineering graduate, I landed in the emerging wireless industry at the time. I was probably the only one who even had a wireless phone based on GSM technology (thanks to the wireless service provider company I was working for at that time). It was clear to me that I was at the intersection of the biggest mobile revolution that would change the world. And it did.

From feature phones to iPhones to Andriod Phones, the world of mobile communication has come a long way. And just like we were at the helm of wireless communication over fifteen years ago, I believe that we are now at the intersection of the biggest revolution at the intersection of  M-commerce and Mobile marketing.

Here are some of my observations:

The New Media renaissance: When SMS marketing was experimented with, it took a lot of heat from the mobile users.But with guidelines that were put in place by the mobile operators; mobile marketing via SMS has expanded rapidly in Europe and Asia as a new channel to reach the consumer. Now the industry is looking at mobile as not only a way of “Targeting” users but to become “Business solutions”. I love that I can use location based services by some cell phone networks as a way to send custom advertising and other information to cell-phone subscribers based on their current location.

The Mobile web : We all know that FB gives marketers access to over 200M users growing exponentially. But another statistics that is mind boggling is that 65M users are accessing FB through mobile devices.  Infact mobile FB users are 50% more active on FB than the rest of the users. And the 80 mobile operators in over 60 countries are to deploy FB mobile products in the coming future. Advertisers are increasingly using the mobile Web as platform to reach consumers. The total value of advertising on mobile was 2.2 billion dollars in 2007. A recent study by the Online Publishers Association reports that about one-in-ten mobile Web users said they have made a purchase based on a mobile Web ad, while 23% said they have visited a Web site, 13% said they have requested more information about a product or service and 11% said they have gone to a store to check out a product.

M-commerce: Gives the ability to conduct commerce using a mobile device, such as a mobile phone, a Personal digital assistantPDA, a smartphone, or other emerging mobile equipment such as dashtop mobile devices. Everything that you ever got from your AppStore on iPhone falls in this category. But this is reaching new heights when game developers bring out games like we city where you are required to get ZAP from Zap store within the game or in Angry birds, get frustrated in clearing a session and get power to get through it.

What will be the next big thing? Ever wondered about a mobile social network…keep a watch…its coming soon.

Week In Review : Apr 17 – Apr 23, 2011

by Magesh Tarala on April 24, 2011

The Origin of Leaders #6: Focus. Eliminating Distractions

by Conor Neill, Apr 18, 2011

The truly scarce resource of humanity is Attention. Distractions are overwhelming in the current Web 2.0 world. Context switching is an expensive operation and had detrimental effect on productivity. Great leaders posses the ability to focus. Read this article to learn some great tips on how to eliminate distractions and improve your focus. more…

Project Reality Check #18: Humility

by Gary Monti, Apr 19, 2011

Francis of Assisi had some excellent advice on what it means to lead a good life. He stated “First do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and you will awaken to doing the impossible.” In order to put this to practice in project management today, you need to posses humility. If you stick to this moral and consistently deliver on your promise, your reputation will spread. Your trustworthiness increases and leads to an environment of abundance. more…

As the Paradigm Shifts #B: Business, Breakdowns and Breakthroughs

by Rosie Kuhn, Apr 20, 2011

Common assessments that business is ruthless, unethical, etc are incorrect. Big Businesses have contributed incredibly to the society and the world is a much better place. But the practice of bad business is still a challenge. Breakdowns in business like daily life are inevitable and we are in a huge global economic turmoil now. While breakdowns are not looked forward to they bring out new thinking and invariably a lot of good comes out. The breakthroughs they engender are things we will rejoice. more…

Flexible Focus #50: The Art of Idea Capture

by William Reed, Apr 21, 2011

Capturing your ideas on paper is the first step to capturing your dreams. While there may be many methods of capturing ideas, the age old pen and paper is the most effective. You can draw inspiration from Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book, The Wish List, which contains close to 6,000 wishes as an inspiration, a virtual to do list for life. Capture your ideas on paper in a notebook or wish list, organize them on a Mandala Chart, and share your dreams with those who can help you, and whom you can help in return. Don’t simply admire the Dreamcatcher, become one. more…

Leader driven Harmony #21: Five Stressful Behaviors and How to STOP them – Part 1

by Mack McKinney, Apr 22, 2011

The actions of some people often cause you stress and frustration. Interacting with certain colleagues, bosses and/or direct-reports in the workplace cause your blood pressure to sky rocket. We have identified at least five distinct types of stress-producing behavior:  Day Dreaming, Comparing, Time Traveling, Gut Reacting and Grade Schooling. Mack illustrates examples of each and in upcoming posts will provide ways to deal with these behaviors. more…

Have you noticed that the actions of some people often cause you stress and frustration? Does interacting with certain colleagues, bosses and/or direct-reports in the workplace cause your blood pressure to sky rocket?  Have you ever wished you could do something about it?  Well, you can!  You can get those behaviors changed.

(Note that in this series we’ll be talking about changing a behavior, not a person. Understanding that a person’s behavior is separate from the person himself [or herself, we use the masculine form to represent both or either] is fundamental to changing our or anyone else’s behavior.  Later posts will explain this in more detail.)

We have identified at least five distinct types of stress-producing behavior:  Day Dreaming, Comparing, Time Traveling, Gut Reacting and Grade Schooling.  Let’s look at examples of each.  (Warning: you will think of people you know when you read these descriptions and you may see yourself here!)

  1. Day Dreaming:  We sometimes say a person must be day dreaming when they seem unaware of their surroundings.  Such people can cause serious stress in others without realizing it.  If confronted they may be genuinely surprised. One glaring example is the order-taker at the restaurant drive-through speaker who mumbles or stringsallthewordstogether.  He causes stress for customers who must repeatedly ask “what?”, for the kitchen staff who keeps getting incorrect orders returned and for the manager who must apologize to frustrated customers. Another common example is the person talking very loudly into a cell phone, disrupting the peace and quiet for everyone within hearing distance – – –  usually the person is completely unaware that there ARE people around, not to mention the effect his loud voice is having on them.  At work, this can be the boss who provides poor direction and blames others for the resulting confusion (expects employees to read her mind) or routinely and cavalierly says hurtful things about others in public. It can also be the colleague who embarrasses himself and others with inappropriate jokes or sexual innuendos, totally unaware of the pained looks on the faces of onlookers. People who are Day Dreaming are often oblivious to the stress they cause in the lives of others.
  2. Comparing:  This is the often-subconscious act of looking at the happiness of another person and comparing it to your own mental state.  Some people are only happy when they come out on top in such a comparison.  They are happiest when others are miserable.  When they act on these comparisons they can cause lots of stress in others.  People who think this way will disrupt a pleasant conversation by interjecting a piece of bad news that instantly changes the feel of the gathering from happy to sad.  Or they will use a “yes, but” maneuver:  “Yes, winning the office’s sales contest would be great for our team but we are short two people and we have never been able to do it before.”
  3. Time Traveling:  This behavior is generation-driven; the Baby Boomer who cannot stop herself from asking everyone who gets to a meeting even a minute late “What time does the 9:30 meeting start?”; or the Gen Yer who cannot resist asking the Baby Boomer having cell phone problems “That advanced technology giving you problems there, Grandpa?”  The result is always more stress.
  4. Gut Reacting: People who routinely use this behavior are seen as the quick-draws at work, the people who always have a fast come-back to any comment.  But they also often omit the think step that should always occur before the speak step.  Their fast, knee-jerk response leaves no time for thoughts of “should I say this?” OR “will it hurt someone’s feelings?” OR “how could this comment be taken?” The result is often wounded pride and stress in others.
  5. Grade Schooling: This behavior is usually motivated by revenge, jealousy, power-trips or other markers of immaturity.  Examples include sabotaging an initiative at work so the originator fails; calling attention to yourself (even negatively) because you need the constant reinforcement of being noticed (poor self- image); or doing something just because you can even if it causes stress in others, for example driving continuously in the left lane of a superhighway so you can keep other people from driving 56 mph in a 55 mph zone.  People who do these things seem to be stuck with only the emotional maturity they had in grade school – – – they just never grew up.

In upcoming posts we’ll show you how to deal with each of these behaviors.  You’ll see how to first decide whether to intervene, then how to get the person’s attention, and establish some rapport (if possible), and lastly how to request a change in the person’s stress-inducing behavior.  We’ll show you how to do these things in the workplace but the techniques will also work well when shopping, in restaurants, with the family at home and in lots of other situations.

And if you think there are other categories of stress-inducing behavior, beyond the five we mentioned above, we’d like to hear from you.  Email me at Mack@SolidThinking.org

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

Flexible Focus #50: The Art of Idea Capture

by William Reed on April 21, 2011

Capture Your Ideas, Capture Your Dreams

The quest to capture ideas is ancient and universal to all cultures. It is part of our DNA. The Native American Dreamcatcher bears a synchronistic resemblance to the Mandala in this illustration even down to the 8 sections. In Asian cultures the Mandala is often rendered in circular form. It’s meaning and beauty are evident to us in the physical form, and in the name, Dreamcatcher. We may need to be reminded that to capture your ideas is also to capture your dreams.

Until you start capturing your ideas on paper, or rendering them in some physical form, you may never realize what an astonishing amount of your experience floats by and is lost in the disconnected drift of time.

We need to notice, and to help others become aware of the significance of our insights, because each of us can offer another perspective on life, another degree of flexible focus. Artists, writers, and teachers cultivate the sills to take the raw material of experience and shape it into forms which enchant, entertain, and enlighten the people who engage with their works.

This is nourishment for the mind and food for the senses. Yet you need not be entirely a passive consumer of other people’s creations. You can cultivate the habit of creating your own forms of expression, if you just capture your ideas, dreams, and experiences.

Make a Wish and Write it Down

The best way to do this is to write down your ideas as they occur. We have introduced various tools for capturing your ideas, both digital and analog methods for capturing and organizing your ideas in a Mandala Chart. But even if you know how, you may not be motivated to start until you understand why.

If you start with your dreams it is easier to kindle your motivation to capture them and make them come true. Why not start with a Wish list?

You can organize it into 8 categories, as Takezawa Nobuyuki has done in a Japanese publication called the Mandala Chart Wish List, designed as an insert for the Mandala Chart Day Planner. It contains sample Wish ideas in each of the 8 categories of life, as well as space to write down up to 300 wishes of your own. This was inspired by the Barbara Ann Kipfer’s book, The Wish List, which contains close to 6,000 wishes as an inspiration, a virtual to do list for life.

The very process of keeping track of wishes is valuable, both our own and those of the people we care about. Reading a list of this length can stimulate your own imagination, but ultimately it is the process of creating and cultivating your own Wish List which will set your dreams in motion. The process of adding to and reviewing your Wish List has power.

All too often we succumb to inertia, shorten our sights and our insights, and compromise our dreams by giving up too easily on that which calls to us, that which could be had with a little imaginative effort. As Charlie Chaplin said in his classic film LIMELIGHT (1952), “Life can be wonderful if you’re not afraid of it. All it takes is courage, imagination, and a little dough.”

Revive an Old Tradition

The idea of capturing your ideas into a notebook is a old tradition which seemed to fall out of favor as published books of other people’s ideas became commonly available. I wrote about this tradition, the custom of keeping a Commonplace Book, begun in the Italian Renaissance, in an article called Make Your Mark, and how we can revive it today. Notebooks have been kept by the great geniuses in the arts, sciences, and invention, and it is no coincidence that those who kept the most copious illustrated notes were also those who were most prolific in their chosen field of endeavor.

Ideas in their early stages are like shapeless lumps of clay. They do not take shape until you knead them, stretch them, mold them into shapes that you see in your imagination, and bring them to life.

Michelangelo (1475~1564) described the process in this way: “In every block of marble I see a statue as plain as though it stood before me, shaped and perfect in attitude and action. I have only to hew away the rough walls that imprison the lovely apparition to reveal it to other eyes as mine see it.” It is hard to imagine a more perfect description of dream capture.

So capture your ideas on paper in a notebook or wish list, organize them on a Mandala Chart, and share your dreams with those who can help you, and whom you can help in return. In our highly connected world, in a world where we can literally collaborate in the clouds, where we can cross barriers of language, culture, and geography in an instant, this should be easier than ever before.

Don’t simply admire the Dreamcatcher, become one/

Business, as a context, can look and act as if it could be at the furthest possible reach from spirituality. When I began exploring a career in business coaching I was initially turned off by all of the thoughts, interpretations and judgments I’d been carrying regarding business. Eventually I realized that what’s true about business is based on one’s interpretation – Business is in the eye of the beholder. By shifting my interpretations I was able to allow a greater potentiality for change – well, I’ll go out on a limb and say transformation.

Initially, business meant ruthless, unethical, immoral practices. It meant power hungry individuals sucking the life-blood out of anyone and everything for profit and gain; it meant status, money, dominance; it meant people don’t matter except for what they can do, compensated with the lowest salary possible. Not a pretty picture.

Not every organization looked like this to me but my projections of the worst of the worst were thrusted upon all businesses, which quite often included governments and political organizations.

My original interpretation has shifted from: if it weren’t for Big Businesses our world would be a much better place to live in, to, Big Businesses contribute in incredible ways to social causes and humanitarian efforts. They’ve created miraculous technologies and innovation, which contribute to a much better world. Business is not bad; it’s the practice of bad business that’s challenging all of us today.

There’s Beauty in the Breakdown

Things are not looking up for the world economy and business in general. We, the people, are demanding more of our businesses, whether local, corporate or global, requiring them to be accountable for the practices that on the one hand are literally killing us, while on the other they provide monies that fund projects that generate so much good on the planet. We value the good they are doing but are no longer turning a blind eye to the bad. The old paradigm can no longer sustain the pressure, and to paraphrase Einstein, we won’t be able to fix it with the same thinking that created it.

Inevitably there will be a breakdown, and it won’t be pretty. Heck, we are in the breakdown now, with few brave souls competent enough to take us through this turbulent course, understanding the currents, the rifts and perils of what’s unfolding before us.

Breakdowns are required in the process of all growth and development. Ask anyone who has lost their job, their health, their families, their business or livelihood. They will tell you that tremendous good came out of it. They didn’t ask for it but inevitably were glad it came. These are brave individuals who willingly faced the dismantling of their reality, not knowing if a breakthrough would occur; they only hoped it would occur in their favor.

Breakdowns are messy, full of angst, agony, horror, loss, humiliation, anger and resentment – humanities toughest be-withs. A be-with is something – an event, a circumstance or situation that you can’t control or change; you can only be-with it. A Big Fat Be-With occurs when facing what we’ve been avoiding, denying or distracting ourselves from far too long; there’s nowhere to go and nowhere to hide.

Breakdowns allow for a release of what no longer serves, is completed and finished. What follows is a void of activity, something that drives most of us humans, bonkers. Much like Winter, when things are dark, bleak and cold, we’re powerless to make things be different. We feel helpless and powerless, and often begin to lose hope. All we can do is take leaps of faith, which may mean just staying in this moment until the next moment arrives.

Bleakness is inevitable in any paradigm shift. Even thinking outside the box doesn’t get us out far enough to gain the perspective we need. Sometimes, awareness alone of the Big Fat Be-with is enough, and again the F word – Faith that something will shift.

One very interesting facet of the breakdown process is that blame begins to take center stage. Individuals begin taking inventory for their part in the breakdown – whether personal or organizational. They begin to see how their personal choices impact on the company, the family or community. Blame is a fascinating strategy, which serves our desire to avoid condemnation, rejection, and humiliation. It’s not my fault allows us to ignore my own responsibility and allows me to supposedly get off scot free from any accountability. Over time though, all of us will have to meet ourselves, take inventory and willingly acknowledge our responsibility for things being the way they are. Not one of us is blameless.

Breakthrough

I planted some wisteria seeds a couple of months ago. They’ve undergone a hard transition. I did the best I could to give them an environment rich with nutrients, plenty of water and sunshine. I watch with anticipation for signs of a breakthrough. Little by little their essential nature to burst beyond the hard protection of the seed pod unfolds. Tiny little shoots show themselves. They have endured incredible hazards, not of their own choosing. We rejoice in the breakthrough!

For individuals curious about spirituality in business this inevitable paradigm shift will require of them and their organization to bravely go into these breakdowns in service to what they know to be in service to something greater – a greater good for all.

Each business or business practice has emerged because of a calling a knowing, a vision, a dream: innovation comes out of these dark nights of the soul. Few of us are brave enough to follow our dreams and visions; few are bold enough be a stand for what they believe in.

Being a stand is a phrase used in personal and leadership forums. It means that who you be and how you be is in alignment with what you say is important to you. Though the phrasing sounds incorrect it’s important to understand that who you be and how you be is at the core of every choice you make; it is at the core of every choice your organization makes.

The major dilemma facing every business is the recognition of the humanity running the business. It’s balancing the elements of the people and the bottom line. Are the individuals just a resource, treated as such in service to the product, service and investors, or are people valued for their humanity, for their gifts, for their unique talents and perspective. How does an organization shift the balance? How do they allow a breakdown in service to the breakthrough?

Those of us in support of healthier business models and business practices; what’s our role? How do we empower people to empower themselves and others to facilitate this paradigm shift? It isn’t a maybe; it isn’t a perhaps. As the paradigm shifts we are readying ourselves for a global meltdown. Don’t panic, for it will be an amazing opportunity of greatest magnitude in cultivating awareness and actualization of a more spiritual orientation to every aspect of life.

Editor’s Note: Dr. Rosie Kuhn will be speaking on the topic of “Spiritual Wounding in the Workplace” at the San Francisco New Living Expo, Concourse Exhibition Center, Room #7, San Francisco, April 29th, 2011 at 7:00PM

Project Reality Check #18: Humility

by Gary Monti on April 19, 2011

All the responsibility and none of the authority,” is the motto of project management, or so it seems. Can anything be done to improve the situation? Yes. If one goes back to 12th century Italy, sound advice was given by Francis of Assisi. The purpose of looking at Francis is to see what wisdom is present rather than espousing a particular religious view. With that disclaimer, let’s move on!

How Much CAN You Do?

I had a client once who demanded all sorts of things. He was pretty much over the top at the time. In exasperation I responded to his demands by simply asking, “If I could do all you are asking would we be sitting here having this conversation? No, I’d be so rich I wouldn’t know what to do with myself!” We had a good laugh.

Inside that tense, humorous situation is a core truth project manager’s need to address.  It has to do with humility, limits, and the generation of abundance.

How Are You With The Basics?

Francis of Assisi wondered what it meant to live a good life. Specifically, he was concerned about how it reflected in community. What he stated rings true to this day:

“First do what is necessary, then do what is possible, and you will awaken to doing the impossible.”

In project management terms he would be saying, “Stick with the nine areas of project management. Learn them well and practice them repeatedly in all project work. Beware of shortcuts. Keep things as simple as possible. By doing that something will be created which can be built upon.” He was talking about being humble and avoiding over-reaching.

Build a Mosaic

It goes further, though. When one gets the reputation of sticking to the knitting, being respectful and doing a good job consistently others who want to build are attracted to that person because they see something of substance being done. This is the payoff and the paradox of working humbly and staying within one’s limits. What do I mean?

A sense of being trustworthy develops. This leads to building a team. The positive energy present pushes the team to leverage its capabilities. The team can’t sit still! At this point a synergy sets in which leads to calculated risk taking. This is a foundation from which abundance develops. It is much like a mosaic. With a few basic shapes and colors plus the flow of ideas from the team awe-inspiring works can be created.

It is important to close with pointing out that being humble is different than being a wallflower or having false modesty. On the contrary, a humble person simply moves based on the principles present and really isn’t looking for approval nor trying to be rebellious. There is strength of character present adding to the attractiveness of the person. People want what they have. If they are willing to work on the team they have a shot at getting it. And the abundance continues to grow!