All in Teams

We Are The Character We Have Played In Our Stories

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember ourselves as we grow older and when we eventually leave. This is Day 5.

"It Was Only Necessary To Sacrifice Everything"

This week, I’m sharing my favorite ideas from “A Million Miles In A Thousand Years”, an amazing book by Donald Miller. It’s a non-fiction book that speaks to how we should think of our lives as stories to be lived, making them more meaningful in terms of how we live it, and how we (and others) will remember ourselves as we grow older and when we eventually leave. This is Day 4.

When Our Best And Brightest Stop Speaking Up...

Every organization has that person. The one who raises issues, flags problems, talks about solutions and fixes to move the ball forward.

I’m not talking about the complainers - folks who have nothing better to do, and don’t have any real intent to solve the problem. I’m talking about those who want to get things done and are vocal about it. Very vocal, in fact. Sometimes, they’re in your face. Many times, they’re irritating. Many times, it feels like they’re too much.

"This Will Only Take A Minute..."

Expectations management is everything in business.

If you’re going to do something, do it. If you have no intention of doing it, don’t say you will. That’s pretty clear cut and I think we’ll all agree with that.

The problem arises when we get comfortable in the grey areas, at the edges of “well, this isn’t really a big deal”. We brush off - consciously or otherwise - these little things.

When Capable People Need To Go

The biggest challenge that any organization - small or large - faces is finding and keeping good people. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a start-up team of 3 or if you’re Google, the core challenge remains the same: employ the best people possible.

And getting the best people is a complex goal with multiple aspects to it, each as important as the other.

How do I find the best people to do what is needed? How do I incent them to do their best work? How do I make sure they stay?

The Importance of Valorization

One of the things that I love about the Montessori education system is its focus on developing independence and confidence and instilling self-esteem in children.

In fact, one of the central tenets of that system is Valorization. I was reminded of this in a recent video from the RPMS school (which is where my kids went). Valorization is about:

If You Do Know, Then Say So

I’ve talked about situations where leaders and managers struggle to say “I don’t know” because of their fear of seeming incompetent or not being “in the know”. It’s an approach that rarely works and, more often than not, breeds frustration and angst, because it goes against the reality that real leaders are human, open and willing to be vulnerable.

On the flip side, we also see situations where perfectly competent individuals - individuals who know their stuff and know the situation at hand - are unwilling to say what they think. They remain quiet even when they know better, even when their expertise, experience and gut are telling them otherwise.

Why does this happen?

Get Used To Criticism

If you’re going to do anything different, you’re going to get criticized.

There’s no shortage of folks willing to offer you advice if you’re thinking about a new venture, a new project or a new position. They’ll range from friends, family as well as business colleagues - well intentioned or otherwise. Some of it you might actively ask for, but a lot of it will be offered to you, at no extra cost.

Take Your Power Back

We all like the idea of getting along.

In business relationships specifically, harmony is an essential ingredient in successful, long term relationships. If we have harmony, we have alignment, we have consensus (at least in terms of direction), we have the grounds for collective momentum.

The trick is in making sure that the basis for that harmony is real. Harmony isn’t about happiness, hugs and kisses. It’s often hard to get to, many times requiring debate, disagreement and (periodic) discontent. Achieving real harmony is almost always hard work.

Do The (Next) Right Thing

“There's a concept in Hinduism called "dharma," which means "duty." Your dharma is to always do *the next right thing*, without attachment to the consequences (karma). When you follow your dharma, good karma naturally flows from it. When you don't, it doesn't.“

I’m not a religious person, nor would I call myself overly spiritual, but I do believe in the old saying, “what comes around, goes around”. Which is probably why the above tweet from Asha Rangappa resonated so strongly with me the other day.

Don't Send Me An Email (Sort Of)

I’m old enough to remember a time when we didn’t have email at work.

If I wanted to communicate something, I’d pick up the phone and call that person, or I’d write them a letter, or I’d set up a meeting (by phone) and head over to their office to chat.

Since then, the advent of email has led to more streamlined and more versatile communications. You can not only share a thought or an idea, but you can have entire streams of back and forth, all fully documented for future reference. For example…

When We Rush To Judgement

The more time you spend on social media, the more you see examples of it.

Someone posts a video excerpt of an altercation, or footage of someone acting a way we don’t agree with, or an article about someone making statements that don’t resonate with what we believe in.

And our tendency, our natural instinct, is to react. To make our judgement. And then to share that judgement with someone else, and someone else, and someone else. Because the emotion of the moment is hard to get past, hard to get over.

If You Have To Brag About How Busy You Are...

I’m so busy. I’ve got a ton going on. I don’t have the time. We hear (and say) these phrases regularly, and to little surprise, given all that we might have on our plate at any given time.

In most ways, of course, it’s good to be busy. To experience the buzz you get when things at work are humming along, when you’re in full flow and driving towards whatever goals you’re working towards.

The flip side, though, is when we feel as if we have to be this way all the time - and worse, to show it, and constantly say it.

I’m Not Him

A small portion of the folks who follow me on Twitter think I’m Omar Abdullah, the former Chief Minister of Jammu and Kashmir. I know this because every so often they’ll Direct Message me with news about developments in Kashmir (usually holding me accountable for it), or they’ll post an article about some Kashmir related issue and tag me along with the Prime Minister of India and other senior South Asian politicians.

It doesn’t happen a lot but it’s happened enough that I posted a PSA in Twitter that I wasn’t him and if you were following me for my views on Kashmir, you’d be sorely disappointed.

You're Not Perfect. That's OK.

“We love seeing raw truth and openness in other people, but we’re afraid to let them see it in us.” (Brene Brown)

There’s an illusion in the business world that we cannot expose our flaws to anyone around us - not our colleagues, our clients and certainly not our bosses. The fear is, of course, that we will be judged, perceived as someone who is fundamentally flawed and, accordingly, cast off to career obscurity.

It’s an illusion that becomes all the more exacerbated at the management level. I can’t afford to show any weakness. I have to always impress that I know everything. I can never say ‘I don’t know’.