Continuous learning is essential for economic survival in this increasingly technological world. However, I believe it is also essential for growth as a human. Sometimes we get so wrapped up in technology and organizational success that we forget that our first duty is to improve ourselves.
Drawing as Thinking
When you take notes or think about a project, what do you write? Do you use pen and paper? Or some sort of notes app or outliner on your computing device?
How about drawing mind maps or sketching ideas? On listening to a recent podcast I jotted this note
Drawing is not an artistic process; it is a thinking process.
Math as Thinking
Reading Peter Diamondis’s newsletter recently, he once again talked about how worthless math was in school—“I have never expanded a polynomial in my life.” I bet he used the logical thinking instilled by working math problems his entire life!
Wishing for Certainty
When I was young I knew old guys who had worked for the same company for many years. There was a certainty about life. I, on the other hand, have never really known that certainty. Here is a thought that once again draws out that idea of clear, logical thinking
The antidote to uncertainty is not certainty—which is impossible—but clarity.
It’s all about passion
Henry Cloud—The fruitfulness of our lives will come from our hearts. Developing our inner selves helps us prioritize our lives. Our hearts will determine the “issues” of our lives.
Your most important resources are time and energy.
Andy Stanley—Leaders who don’t listen will eventually be surrounded by people who have nothing to say.
Browsing LinkedIn, something I seldom do, I saw this image from a company called Seebo. “Where IoT Projects Fail.” Interesting, but can’t these be summed up in a word or two?
Try “management” or “leadership”.
The recurring theme I’ve found in my consulting and qualification process for a client concerns not really understanding what Internet of Things (IoT) means. Nor do they always understand realistically what benefits could accrue. Or what technologies fit.
A client one time hired me to justify a decision already made—in their minds at least—about acquisitions that would enter them into the IoT market. Another looked for use cases and settled on one not understanding the complexity of that use case.
On the other hand, a wise CTO once explained to me about themes for the company’s annual conference. One year might be IoT and another digitalization. He said they looked at the current themes in the market and then figured how their products fit, and presto—a theme.
If you are in an IoT project or contemplating one as a user or looking at a product and service plan as a supplier, step back and try using good basic management first. Organizing, defining, staffing.
Here is the list from the image:
- Failure to capture business opportunities
- Unclear and incomplete use cases
- Systems are too complex to communicate
- Missing critical data
- Unable to extract actionable insights
- Unable to identify root cause of product malfunctions
- Ensuring market-fit and early buy-in
- High cost of mistakes
- Prototyping products not technically or financially feasible
- Skills or capacity gap
- Aligning and syncing teams
- Detailed and complete spec docs and keeping them up-to-date
“If you have to ask, you don’t have it.” — Popular response to people asking what is soul during the rise of “soul music” in the late 60s.
OK, where is this going, you may be asking. The last book I read is, “Awakening A Leader‘s Soul: Learnings through Immortal Poems,” by Gaurav Bhalla, published by Motivational Press. This is less a management how-to than a plea for enhanced leadership.
“In today‘s volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous world (VUCA), leadership success is a function of something deeper, something more enduring than technical knowhow and leadership skills. It’s a function of the leader’s humanity—who they are, what they stand for, what they are willing to fight for, and what they are willing to accept and endure. Because what’s in the leader’s head may be smart and potent, but what’s within the leader that guides what’s in the leader’s head is even more potent, because it is wiser. Accordingly, the most important asset of leaders is not the smartness of their minds, it’s the wisdom of their souls.”
This book is for leaders who want to take the next step up the ladder of effectiveness and fulfillment. A new humanity—consider not only yourself, but also employees, customers, community, suppliers, planet. Reminds of reading AP Martin some 30 years ago—Proactive Management. He introduced me to the idea of “stakeholders.” When constructing vision and goals and making decisions, consider all the stakeholders affected. Bahlla continues the thread of thought.
Try out these ideas. Leadership success is a function of the leader’s humanity—what’s within the leader that guides what’s in the leader’s head. The most important asset of leaders is not the smartness of minds, it’s the wisdom of their souls. Egotistical leaders suck the oxygen from the organization.
1. Who the leader is
2. How the leader thinks
3. How the leader acts
4. Beyond the leader’s world
employees & customers
5. Faring Forward
TS Eliot-Dry Salvages from Four Quartets
Sampling from poems
Walt Whitman’s Song of Myself—shifts from How I am the center of the universe to How I am centered in the universe.
TS Eliot—We are the hollow men; we are the stuffed men…
Albert Camus—But above all, in order to be, never try to seem.
Alexander Pope, A Little Learning (I think this is especially important to ponder today, especially in church circles)
A little learning is a dangerous thing
Drink deep or taste not the Pierian Spring;
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain
And drinking largely sobers us again.
Fired at first sight with what the Muse imparts,
In fearless youth we tempt the heights of Arts;
While from the bounded level of our mind
Short views we take nor see the length behind,
But, more advanced, behold with strange surprise
new distant scenes of endless science rise.
Rumi, Transcending blame, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Confucius, Asking, “The person who asks a question is ignorant for a few moments, The person who doesn’t remains ignorant for life.”
Herman Hesse, “Siddhartha listened…completely absorbed, quite empty, taking in everything…he had often heard all this before, all the numerous voices in the river, but today they sounded different.”
From the Bhagavad Gita, “Work for the sake of work not for the sake of rewards or material gains.”
Leonardo daVinci—every now and then go away and have some relaxation.
John Donne, “No man is an island, entire of itself.”
I guess I’m on an entrepreneurial kick this week. Maybe I’m getting psyched for next week’s ARC Forum in Orlando where I will be interviewing many new companies inhabiting the cybersecurity space.
I’m not much on “infographics” and I downloaded this one without noting its source. Note that nowhere on it does this graphic cite its source. However, I read many books, blog posts, and listen to podcasts on the subject of daily habits. This one reflects most of what I’ve learned.
However number one–create a routine–actually needs an entire infographic devoted just to it. Maybe that will be my next attempt at looking at the personal and people side of this business.
I’ve been involved in several start ups. These all make sense. Although these look pretty drawn out. Usually life happens that screws the thing up. But returning to the pattern is key.
Many entrepreneurs or people with entrepreneurial thinking within companies read this blog. Many more of you should be–entrepreneurs, that is.
I picked up this bit of wisdom of Elon Musk from the Abundance Newsletter of Peter Diamandis (Singularity University). Check out “Deconstructing Elon Musk.” Diamandis distilled three key parts of Musk’s genius. I recommend going to the Website and checking out the article in its entirety as well as subscribing to the newsletter. I hope this stirs some passion.
The three parts are
- Deep-rooted passion
- A crystal-clear massively transformative purpose
- First-principles thinking
A brief description of each to whet your appetite.
Deep-rooted passion: “I didn’t go into the rocket business, the car business, or the solar business thinking, ‘This is a great opportunity.’ I just thought, in order to make a difference, something needed to be done. I wanted to create something substantially better than what came before.” – Elon Musk
After selling PayPal, with $165M in his pocket, Musk set out to pursue three Moonshots, and subsequently built three multibillion-dollar companies: SolarCity, Tesla and SpaceX. Ultimately, it was his passion, refusal to give up, and grit/drive that allowed him to ultimately succeed and begin to impact the world at a significant scale.
A Crystal-clear massively transformative purpose: Musk’s MTP for Tesla and SolarCity is to accelerate the world’s transition to sustainable energy. To this end, every product Tesla brings to market is focused on this vision and backed by a Master Plan Musk wrote over 10 years ago. Elon’s MTP for SpaceX is to backup the biosphere by making humanity a multiplanet species.
“I think fundamentally the future is vastly more exciting and interesting if we’re a spacefaring civilization and a multiplanet species than if we’re or not. You want to be inspired by things. You want to wake up in the morning and think the future is going to be great. And that’s what being a spacefaring civilization is all about.” – Elon Musk
First-principles thinking: (from an interview with Kevin Rose–who has a podcast you should subscribe to) “First principles is kind of a physics way of looking at the world. You boil things down to the most fundamental truths and say, “What are we sure is true?” … and then reason up from there. Somebody could say, “Battery packs are really expensive and that’s just the way they will always be… Historically, it has cost $600 per kilowatt hour. It’s not going to be much better than that in the future.” With first principles, you say, “What are the material constituents of the batteries? What is the stock market value of the material constituents?”
It’s got cobalt, nickel, aluminum, carbon, some polymers for separation and a sealed can. Break that down on a material basis and say, “If we bought that on the London Metal Exchange what would each of those things cost?” It’s like $80 per kilowatt hour. So clearly you just need to think of clever ways to take those materials and combine them into the shape of a battery cell and you can have batteries that are much, much cheaper than anyone realizes.”
How about you? Do you feel like you know everything you need to know? Do you hate asking people for directions?
Whether you are in business or ministry or family–do you have all the answers?
While I usually write about technology, I’ve learned the hard way that people are as important as the technology. I’ve seen my technology implementations fail because of the failure to get people on board. And how often have we seen people in critical situations fail to communicate at the cost of people’s lives? All through failure of asking appropriate questions.
Edgar H. Schein writes in his book, “Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling,” that many people would rather fail than admit their dependency on another person. That is, by asking them a question and admitting that someone else has an answer.
How about succeeding together?
Try Humble Inquiry. Asking questions implies that someone knows something I don’t–even if they are a subordinate, or younger than I, or from a different background. I must humble myself to ask someone placing myself in a position of learner to someone superior to me in this situation. It is the opposite of what we are taught in our culture which places emphasis on telling.
I’ve talked often about the skills of listening. Often we need to ask questions to elicit something to listen to.
Schein says, “The kind of inquiry I am talking about derives from an attitude of interest and curiosity. It implies a desire to build a relationship.”
We must slow down to ask and then listen.
Again Schein says, “I find that the biggest mistakes I make and the biggest risks I run all result from a mindless hurrying. If I hurry, I do not pay enough attention to what is going on, and that makes mistakes more likely. More importantly, if I hurry, I do not observe new possibilities.”
Let’s think about this comment in the context of hazardous situations
He points out in our “Do and Tell” culture, the most important thing we need to learn is to reflect. Before doing something, apply Humble Inquiry to yourself. “Ask ourselves: What is going on here? What would be the appropriate thing to do (Wow, there are hundreds of men right now who wish they had asked themselves that question)? On whom am I dependent? Who is dependent upon me?”
In other words, become more mindful.
“The toughest relearning, or new learning, is for leaders to discover their dependence on their subordinates, to embrace Here-and-now Humility, and to build relationships of high trust and valid communication with their subordinates.”
Schein was an MIT professor and business consultant. You can substitute parent for leader and use the ideas in family.
Read and digest the book. It’s short and not technical. Good read.