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Wednesday, May 28, 2008

My Humility Inventory - Do I Embrace Humility?...What is Humility?

To avoid being preachy, I have decided to direct today’s post to myself. You may direct it to yourself if you choose, but my humility prohibits me from prescribing my questions to you.

Am I humble? Do I embrace humility? I will establish, for the sake of this post, the definition of humility.

I have taken the definition of humility from the often criticized, but more often relied upon Wikipedia website:

The term "humility" is derived from the word "humilis", which is translated not only as humble but also alternatively as "low", or "from the earth". Humility is defined as, "A quality by which a person considering his own defects has a humble opinion of himself and willingly submits himself to God and to others for God's sake ". Humility comprises the following behaviors and attitudes:

  1. submission to God and legitimate authority;
  2. recognition of the virtues and talents that others possess, particularly those which surpass one's own, and giving due honor and, when required, obeisance;
  3. recognition of the limits of one's talents, ability, or authority; and, not reaching for that which is beyond one's grasp.

Given the list above, I ask myself:

  1. Do I submit to God?
  2. Do I submit to legitimate authority?
  3. Do I recognize the virtues and talents of others, especially those who are more advanced than I?
  4. Do I give due honor?
  5. Do I obey their decisions, direction and conclusions?
  6. Do I recognize my strengths and limitations?
  7. Do I know my circle of authority and when I am outside that circle?

1. Do I submit to God?

I would like to offer a resounding “yes”, but for fear of getting hit by lightning or kicking off the first firestorm ever to hit Northeast Ohio, or the entire earth for that matter, I would have to say sometimes “yes” and sometimes “no” through ignorance - conscious and otherwise.

Suffice it to say this is totally a personal matter and if you select to not answer this one, you can say you were humble enough not to tackle this question.

2. Do I submit to legitimate authority?

Tough one. There are so many authorities it is hard to know which is legitimate or not. I don’t run from the police when they are following me with flashing lights while I am driving my car, nor do I argue their observation that I was perhaps going over the speed limit. But do I always listen to my doctor even though I recognize his or her authority? Maybe carrying a gun has something to do with it. And do I sometime listen to questionable authority based on fame or popularity? Have you ever heard of Dr. Phil?

  1. Do I recognize the virtues and talents of others, especially those who are more advanced than I?

Oh sure! And may I have another? Somehow, my ego has the relentless ability to find something I am better at. “Sure he is a world famous physicist, but do his kid’s think he’s great?”… “Oh, and he was voted Dad of the Year by the Council of Galactic Affairs?” Alright, but no one is perfect…

  1. Do I give due honor?

What will it get me? A promotion? More work? And by the way, aren’t there enough people fawning over her or him?

  1. Do I obey their decisions, direction and conclusions?

See #2

  1. Do I recognize my strengths and limitations?

Yes. They have many limitations and the strength of family ties and slimy suck up tactics. Oh, MY strengths and limitations – why Yes! I am honest, sensitive to others needs, caring (my great grandmother thought I would be the priest in the family), giving, and thoroughly egoless. I am also humorous and never hold a person and their capabilities in judgment – including me and my own capability to conduct an honest self appraisal! My weaknesses are minimal, but constantly magnified by poor managers, colleagues and clients.

  1. Do I know my circle of authority and when I am outside that circle?

My circle would be bigger if it wasn’t a case of tons of responsibility and no authority!

So, how did I do?

I soon realized, somewhere around the third question, I had run out of sunshine to pipe and had to reference my darker side to answer the questions. The conclusion of this exercise for me is that I firmly believe in humility as a principle…to be practiced by others (kidding). But perhaps more true is for a multitude of reasons; I am further from humble in reality than I am in concept. Well, if you can’t do it, write about it (kidding again)! Actually I am hoping that my study will be a positive influence. Do they give prizes for the most humble?

Did you answer any of the questions? How did you do? Did any surprise you? I welcome your comments.

So how did you do? What other questions would you ask? I welcome your comments.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

They Can't Take That Away from ME!

I was thinking the other day, after one of my daily personal setbacks, that there is one thing no one can take away from me or anybody else…HUMILITY. It seems as the trappings of the past, our ways of work, competition, organization, etc. change , the more opportunity we have to uncover our humility. And while humility may seem like the stuff at the bottom of the barrel, once uncovered, may be what has been covering it is more baggage than it is useful.

We are converging on new realities, as we move from a product to a knowledge to creative economy. Originally, the focus was on a tangible object where all our separate efforts, in lock step order, competed against other groups doing the same and all trying to get to the finish line first. Competition, besting your opponent, to the winner goes the spoils were noble slogans and efforts when the target of such efforts was to produce the tangible. Feelings and emotions, a sense of self and self leadership were all worthily sacrificed and frustration expressed through the back breaking toil of production when the product ensured our livelihood and long-term well being. Appearing educated, groomed and informed AND POWERFUL were the tools of an economy slowly draining away.

All that is different in today’s economy. The product is often the unseen or seen only in the experience. Try to take a good customer experience home. Try to put viral marketing effort in a Plexiglas box on your office desk (if you still have one) and you can see that success and productivity goes by a different reality. And while tangible product is still very much a part of our reality, it is not king. Building a better mouse trap won’t have people beating a path to your door to buy one, but it might have them flooding your website to find out how you did it.

So what does this all have to do with humility? Our efforts today are stuff of the mind, whereas the past was funneled down to things of the body. Engineering, assembly lines, time studies, all centered the physical act of turning screws, bolting bolts and welding joints. While one can have doubts and questions in a physical world and still perform, doubts and questions, being of the mind can severely hamper today’s knowledge based creative professional just as the hero of Kurt Vonnegut’s Harrison Bergeron was hampered by body weights and thick glasses.

Unhealthy competition, office politics, command and control, lock step measures fail horribly for the mind of today’s professional where the major muscle at work is the brain. While you can put your back into a hard physical job, putting your brain into it doesn’t fare as well. What’s needed is an open and unconstrained field, a place where things can come in and out without inventory being involved. Where time is not as important as results and potential is not managed but nurtured and emergent.

And humility is a natural practice in an environment that stresses an unconstrained reality. Lacking an overwhelming set of cumbersome standards, people are not judged by whether they are smart, but how they are smart. We all are. None of us ultimately stands above the rest. In essence: humility.

  • How do you see our future?
  • What are the prevailing attitudes and approaches we need to be successful in this new economy?

I welcome your comments?

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Corporate College East - e Marketing Techniques

It has been almost a week since I attended this conference and I am still digesting its information. This is the second annual e Marketing Techniques conference and my second time attending it. It's affordable and the value eclipses the price. Two nationally known authors and speakers on the subject: John Jantsch (Duct Tape Marketing) and David Meerman Scott (the New Rules of Marketing and PR) who linked to a packed luncheon via the web (talk about "e"). The remaining speakers were local professionals who have developed a high level of expertise in their respective fields around e marketing. In addition, all attendants received a book by one of the keynote authors.

The takeaway, in summary of the day, was this:

  • It's not about me (or you!) it's about serving the community
  • Its about raising all ships
  • It's about mutually beneficial giving for free (say goodbye to your intellectual hording)

And to answer the one question that must plague everyone's entrepreneurial mind - "How on God's green earth do I make money?". The question posed by one and only brave participant at lunch was answered in three steps by David Meerman Scott:

  1. Step One - Give away your knowledge for the good of the community (it takes up a lot of space, has psychic weight, AND let's face it - there really is nothing new under the sun).
  2. Step Two - Write a book by pulling your stuff together around YOUR approach (which is more of a marketing tool than it is a money-maker).
  3. Step Three - Sell to clients who can use your services and like your approach ($$$$$$$).
To see my visual notes from the day click here.

BTW, if this seems like a "no-brainer", I have have been in countless meetings and even one since last week where the concept of letting go and giving away was met vehemently with traditional market thinking and warnings of "BE CAREFUL". What do you think: No-brainer or can you poke an eye out? I welcome your comments.

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Awakening the Entrepreneur Within

I spent yesterday at a seminar hosted by Michael Gerber and Sheila Stewart at Cuyahoga Community’s Corporate College East. Michael is the author of the E Myth Revisited, a book I mulled over two summers ago that changed the way I looked at my business. In E myth, Michael reveals the hard truth about what got most of us into our own business and why businesses fail– the belief we could do our “stuff” better on our own, but the lack of structure and rigor to do the rest of what makes a business. In his most recent book, Awakening the Entrepreneur Within, he delves into what it takes to make a business successful – connecting to the deeper sense of commitment that goes beyond the personal into the impersonal – not about me, but what I have to offer my customers to improve their lives.

Michael, who is in his seventies, presented in a fashion resembling the coaches and elder relatives of my childhood, commanded yesterday’s audience to “write this down”, “write this down”, “write this down”. And he meant business, AND he was watching to see that we did “write it down”. Unlike the like more “enlightened” presentations of today, he lacked any visuals and basically delivered a lecture, which was very refreshing. I sensed a “passing of the torch” in his message and I valued the information.

What I liked most was his use of questions in his presentation. I have found questions to be some of the most valuable information one individual can pass to another. Questions, especially if open and positive can coaches, especially if they have been created by one who “has been there” – they are packed with knowledge potential. Among the questions Michael told us to “write down” are the following ones I will use as I continuously seek my livelihood in this business:

  • · What’s missing in my business picture?
  • · Do I wish my life to be different?
  • · What’s it mean to be the McDonald’s of consulting and how can I leverage a successful business model too?
  • · If it were possible to be the best, how would I do it?
  • · Do I want to be the best at what I do? Do I want to be the best in the world?
  • · What do I know that made me what I am?
  • · What are my greatest results and for who were they intended?
  • · How do I relieve my customer’s pain and where is the opportunity?

· The essence of Michael’s message is this: Why would you spend a half-hearted life building a half-hearted business?

If you would like to view my graphic notes from this seminar please click on this link.

I welcome your comments.

He Speaks Again! The Power of the Visual!

I am catching up a little, but back in Feb 26, 2008. I was asked to add my thoughts around creating team in a discussion about strategic growth. Of course, I am kind of visual, so I created a single frame around a new communication model to encourage innovation and make the best use of the flattened organization. Because I didn't have a projector, I made black and white copies for everyone in the audience. It provided a useful tool. During the question portion of the luncheon, the people who attended referred back to the model providing a rich discussion. Click on the image above for a larger view of the single frame. This video link is my contribution to that discussion.

Contact me if you have any questions about the model. I welcome your comments.