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I post to LinkedIn's Pulse regularly on lessons about life, leadership, innovation and sustainability. Please follow me on LinkedIn for more fresh-baked bread from the oven of my mind...
My heart stopped beating six years ago, I died, and it changed my life. I call life after that experience "Life 2.0". In my TEDx talk about it, I give voice to the power of twenty seconds of insane courage and feeling the hard things (and the good things) and taking time to reflect in the sunrises and sunsets, and the power of Team Us.
So right now, we’re the scariest thing in America. By “we”, I mean government.
Chapman University does a study every year looking into the fears of average Americans using a random sampling of 1,200 adults across the country. And, corruption of government officials is the top fear…for the third year in a row. In fact, 75% of Americans are afraid of government corruption, topping the list by far.
This powerful metaphor and real-life example is a disgusting guidepost on the truth of where to begin when dealing with changing any large, monolithic system like government.
Many people aren't aware that today we add one second to the clocks. This isn't a leap year. It's a leap second. And it only happens once every ten years. And there is a lot to learn from one second...
No workplace is devoid of politics. As much as we lament the political maneuvering, we can't deny it exists. The politics lead to a variety of strategies that make some of us more effective in our jobs. And some of us less. That makes chess the perfect analogy for personalities in the work place. The only question is which piece are you?
n the innovation space, piloting, experimenting, trying and finagling are all critical to learning about what is possible. For me, innovation is creativity implemented, and piloting is a great way to test out theories, always be successful and learn valuable lessons. If an idea works on a small-scale pilot, you can learn lessons and deliver better 2.0 services. If an idea doesn't, well, you tried. And pilots are about trying, even if the concept proves to be a flop.
Transforming Local Government is hosting its annual conference and government innovators have flocked to Phoenix to talk about the best ways to serve citizens, support innovative cultures and transform the experience. Yes, I said government innovators and no, it’s not an oxymoron. It's a moral imperative.
Aristotle is generally credited with identifying the categories of our five "traditional" senses: sight, hearing, touch, taste and smell. But many scientists agree there may be upwards of 20 senses. Some of these are less obvious-and some more, but it begs the question of how many of your senses you use--and how many more you should be using.
You read that right. It's Earth Month and we should look to words of wisdom from controversial rapper Eminem as a lightning rod of great quotes designed to change how you think about environmentalism. Let's face it, he is no stranger to controversy, and neither is the concept of the environment and environmental justice. As Earth Month approaches, I want to tickle your brain, ignite your fire, and ask the real Slim Shady to please stand up.
The key to improving our connection to the environment is to think bigger, listen closer, fight smarter and act faster. And here's how...
Yes, it's the title of a book. But it's also a brilliant adage for effective communication. This is critical to having a commanding and engaging presence in any room. And it's the key to great written communication as well.
I have so many friends and colleagues who are passionate about the planet. I am too. Then I have a few that are zealous. It's an important difference. And this is where sustainability (or anything for that matter) goes wrong.
A "Sniglet" is any word that should be in the dictionary, but isn't. For example: Bovilexia--the uncontrollable urge to lean out the car window and yell "moo" as you pass a herd of cows (you know who you are). This concept was introduced by Rich Hall in the 1980's, and I've always loved the idea. Just make up your own words--because words have power. This is especially true in our daily professional lives, and sniglets hold the key to new successes.
First, it's not your fault. Innovation is an oft-discussed, but misunderstood idea. As someone who has spent much of his career working in the innovation space, I used to wonder why this was so difficult for most of us. But then I realized we spend our entire lives being trained to not innovate.
I get it: you're right. You know what needs to happen. You're opinion should be the only one that matters. You are sooo right, that the rest of us should just know it before you even speak...we would save time. Unfortunately, you're not happy. In all the moments of absolute certainty and winning people over (read: wearing people down) to your way of view, you just find happiness to be elusive.
Three years ago, my heart stopped. For 20 seconds. Thirty-five years old and no longer beating. It was a wake-up call. I wasn't where I wanted to be in life, and wasn't doing what I wanted to do, and it was all over.
I'm taking this title from my mother who has accused me more than once of what she terms "drive-by humanity." It's a compliment. It's the ability to affect someone else's life in a meaningful or transformational way--as you pass by. Insightful comments meant as honest observations, imparted in quick, but passing conversations can change and transform someone else's entire life. It's a powerful thing that we need more of.
Yes, you can measure the value of innovation. Three years ago, the concept woke me out of a dead sleep. I sat bolt upright, ran downstairs for a pen and paper and scratched it out. And it has been the basis for demonstrating the value of what I do as a civic innovator ever since.
Can you imagine working for an organization that started every conversation with "yes" and asked how can we get there? Wouldn't that be amazing? The default condition for any forward-thinking organization could be and should be guided by one word: "Yes". Believe it or not, yes can be a default. It can be the place where we start conversations instead of end them. It signals an attitude about problem solving and finding win-win opportunities. It is the beginning of something great.
Why So Serious?
Do you think that being the most "serious" person in the room means you should be in charge? Are you seriously serious? Seriously? But chances are you know someone who thinks and acts like this. You know who I'm talking about. Since we all know this person, I offer these thoughts in response in the hopes that we can collectively end this false fascination with the forlorn...
I have had the great privilege of working as a civic innovator and sustainability champion for both a conservative city and a liberal county. I have also consulted and worked with a number of municipalities, schools and large bureaucracies to help improve the overall innovation evolution and I've come to several, inevitable conclusions about the nature of effective and sustainable innovation programs. Here are a few of the keys to being sure that your innovation efforts don't suck:
How many times has this happened to you? You are asked to research and present an idea for consideration. On the surface it seems like a great idea, but as you start to dig in and present the details of how to get it accomplished, or the challenges it presents, someone utters "well, I'm looking at things from 30,000 feet" to describe their desired grasp on the situation. Usually it is a self-important manager, project lead or executive in an organization describing their interest in not understanding the nuances of a problem. It is then followed up with another comment describing how "you are in the weeds".
Chances are it was frustrating and insulting. If you feel that way, its okay, because you just heard two of the dumbest phrases in all of business. It's not you. It's them. And if you are guilty of using these words: Stop. Now. You sound ridiculous. And here's why....
I had trouble being present in the moment. Sound familiar? The constant vibrating, buzzing, beeping, drop-ins, interruptions and distractions keep us from focusing on the only thing that matters: The present.