What if the we spend time thing about the world in thirds. The third that is uniquely us. The third that is fundamentally others. And the third where we overlap. At this moment, the us and other third are lighting up narratives across the world. Mask wearers vs freedom breathers. BLM vs All Live Matter. Open vs shut communities. Democrats vs Republicans. Science vs personal freedoms. Rights vs responsibilities.
What if we committed to looking at the middle third. The third that connects us and creates combinations. The reasons Simon Sinek’s Start With Why approach is so powerful, is when know a person’s purpose, we can connect with them at the headwaters of their existence. We can share a journey down the mountain stream that becomes a creek and then transforms into a river. If we only encounter the river at A major rapid, we might dismiss their ideas as dangerous, loud, and volatile. However, if we understand where the journey started, we have a greater perspective about why the rapid exists. It does not mean we let the current takes us blindly downstream. We look for points of confluence. We seek connections, not diversion.
What if the middle third is our focus? How might our work be amplified by seeking the middle third, instead of populating the outer thirds? US vs others is dates back to antiquity. US and other is challening and runs into historical barriers but it is the work that matters now.
*** Jud Abumrad came to our commuity for a speaking engagement. My wife remarked that numerous audience members were looking for something they could purchase (a book) that he could sign. He did not have books for sale but rather just his presentation and ideas. Perhaps the legacy of his visit is a transformative idea, one that we cannot read and store on a bookshelf. Rather it is now a way of being that we must decide to embrace or say ‘not yet.’
Sometimes a trail requires an alteration. A re-route is necessary to keep the journey going. There is a liminal period between the moment the change is made and once GPS, maps, word-of-mouth, and experience make the transition final. It is a transformation of habit, exchanging a known for an unknown. Disruption occurs all the time, but not as frequently as we might notice. How we adapt to the change says a lot about our mindset. If we approach our journey in a fixed mindset, then the flight cancellation, followed by the subway strike, and finally bad weather will be highly disruptive. However, if we have an open mindset, the opportunity to navigate through a new airport, take the bus in place of the subway, and use the umbrella that has travel with us for numerous trips might create a memorable experience.
How we respond. How others respond. It might be the start of an epic journey or a catastrophe. If we leave room for serendipity we may find the road less taken has made a difference.
We do not need more trouble. Walking into a trap after ignoring warning signs is a problem of our creation. Learning from others’ mistakes is a far more valuable use of our time. The value of an affinity group is to share successes and failures. To be a voyeur, not the voyager who paddles over the known waterfall after numerous parties navigated the same waterway. If we come to collect you because you got caught in the bear trap, it is a waste of everyone’s resources. If you got caught in a sticky situation because you were the first person down the trail, then we are ready to assist. If we share what we learned, the benefit is not only better decision-making, but it allows all of us to focus on the work that matters.
If the sequence is right, the impact of our work increases dramatically. If we deliver a new idea to those in charge of packaging and shipping, there might be resistance. However, if we find the moment an organization is expanding its culture of inquiry the new concept might be quickly adopted. The same was true for old western mining operations. If hard rock and placer deposits were delivered to the uphill staging area, then gravity aids in processing the ore. If our innovation does not resonate, perhaps we should consider if we have found the right point of entry.
What barriers keep us from sharing our mistakes and helping others be better at their work? It is remarkable that a pilot posts multiple close calls to emphasize the benefits of learning from each other. Youtube has many how-to videos, and some of the most memorable are the failures and not just the perfect process.
What mistakes and failures would you be willing to share? What scenario has set the conditions for you to share your successes and failures?
The force of our work may not be easily evident. As a former urban-rural interface firefighter, we trained to stop, drop, and align ourselves in a specific orientation if caught in an aerial water or retardant drop. The simulated training is as close as we got to reality since the danger of impact is evident in the video.
It is challenging to describe the consequences of our work, and often, an image or a viewing in real-time leaves a far greater impression.What service do you perform that is hard to describe but can fundamentally shift your mindset when witnessed in-person?
A 200-mile cycling competition might start as a large pack until the peloton encounters an obstacle. The selection might be forced by a significant climb, strong crosswind, change in riding surfaces, a team employing tactics, or a crash. The race splits into smaller groups, or even individuals riding solo. Ultimately, the race may finish in multiple groups, or it may come back together for a sprint. Competitors must assess if an event represents the critical moment. Do they need to accelerate to remain at the front, or do they believe the group will come back together further down the road?
How we assemble ourselves and prepare for the competition will ultimately be impacted by our assessment of the critical moment. If we believe the race will end in a sprint, then it will change our preparation compared to a competition that will be decided by several long climbs.
The same approach holds for our organizations. Are we preparing ourselves for the critical moment? Even if we do not know what it might be, how it will unfold, and when it will happen? Are we building an organization that can adapt, pivot, or stays the course? Are we discussing other iterations and disruptions? Assuming that we will continue forward at the same pace, cadence, power, and tactics will leave us behind.
Even if the route is set out before us on a map, we still have to wayfind when we encounter the terrain. Research and advance scouting helps but it does not get is to the summit, it just informs our journey. Be prepared to do the work that matters.