How do you leave your mark? Is it visible? Would everyone know it, if they saw it? So much of our influence is not visible.
An Episcopal priest once suggested that half his congregation showed up on Sunday mornings out of a sense obligation/inspiration. There was an older couple who passed the offering plate every Sunday, walking slowly but deliberately down the aisle of the church. He dressed as if a six-shooter on his hip would not be out of place, and she wore western dress worthy of a good square dance. The congregation knew they would be in attendance, and if the older couple could make it church the rest of us should probably find the motivation. It was an invisible mark but one that created a web of connections.
Our impact is embedded in the questions we ask, the small nod as we make eye-contact across the room, the quick wave as we pass an outdoor enthusiast on the trail, or the applause we give to a job well done. None of these acts can be carried beyond the moment, but they leave a mark. Invisible and remarkable.
Worst flight ever? It could be. Let us get curious before we write a letter of disappointment to the airline’s customer care department. It is a flight over France, in July, between two cities at the edge of the Alps. The plane is used to relay live video feeds from sporting events. The flight path indicates the event moved about 200 kilometers? It appears to be following a route over secondary roads and moving forward at an average speed of 45 kph.
Of course, you got the answer now, right? The event’s nickname is La Grande Boucle. It last three weeks and finishes in Paris…
The answer as you have discerned is the Tour de France. The plane provides ariel support for the motorcycle camera operators and the helicopters that hover just above the peloton. Without context, this flight path looks illogical. Apply generative thinking and options start coming to mind. Perhaps we should remember to ask, ‘what else could this be?’ Considering alternatives might be our greatest asset before acting.
Entering Grand Teton National Park, the park ranger at the gate told me that many people think the entrance sign states “$35 entry fee or a flimsy excuse.” How often do we have encounter people trying to avoid requirements by offering a flimsy excuse? Do we accept the excuse of hold firm?
The boulder is going to fall off the cliff. The question is when? It is easy to think of the boulder as the greatest threat to our future. Perhaps we can design an app with 24-hour monitoring to alert us of any movement, build bracing and a cable retention system, or move our operations. Or, we can assess the probability of failure and then move forward with the work that matters. Too often the boulder consumes our attention, when in all reality it may stay perched for another decade. What would a decade’s worth of distraction cost us?
Beachside buoys bobbing in the gentle swell. Generic white versions spotted most frequently, random versions marked with colorful bands interspersed, and then the bust of a cowboy smoking a cigar. Those walking along the shore stop to point and for a photo. Alone this buoy is woth a glance. Surrounded by a myriad of unremarkable buoys it is worth a picture and a remark. Seth Godin amplified the value of surrounded by our competitors.
World Domination Summit 2019 in Portland, Oregon delivered remarkable insights. Speaker highlights included:
“Time is elastic and will stretch to accommodate what we need and want. When we say we do not have the time, we are acknowledging that the opportunity is not a priority.” –Laura Vanderkam
“Prove people right” – Humble the Poet
“Ignore individual suggestions in feedback. Focus instead on the consistency of the comments. Look for the signals.” – Scott Young
“Change your financial plan when your life changes, not when the market moves.” Jill Schlesinger
Teaching is a selfish profession. If you do it right, you learn more about yourself than you teach other people” – James Victore
“Suspend disbelief and leap into the unknown.” – Tania Katan
“Sometimes you need to sword fight the beast into the other room in order to make space for your work.” – Marsha Shandur
To my friends who attended the Strategic Wayfinding Meetup on Saturday. Here is a link to the meetup handout page and more information about Generative Thinking and Governance As Leadership. Thank you for attending and sharing your insights!
“Michael, you’ve had two ideas today. And one of them was great. And the other one was terrible.” – Pam Beesley, The Office
The challenge for all of us is to understand which of our collective ideas are great and which ones are terrible. It may seem obvious when Michael Scott is standing in a parking lot spelling out ‘Marry Me’ with a canister of gasoline and asking Pam, “Hey you know what? I’ve got gas all over my hands and my shoes. Would you light it? Would you do the honors please?.”
The work that matters is when two ideas are indistinguishable at a glance. The one that makes the organization better may cause more uncertainty than the idea that feels safer. That is why we assemble a board, to make sense of the terrain that sits in front of us.
What is your great idea? Which idea did you pass on that turned out to be a major liability? What is your Kodak Films passing on digital images moment?