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Golden Oldie: When Execution is an Anagram of the Act

Monday, May 1st, 2017

It’s amazing to me, but looking back over more than a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written.

Golden Oldies is a collection of some of the best posts during that time.

Often the most important stuff we need to learn doesn’t require multiple videos, books, and coaching. Sometimes a simple memory aid that’s easy to remember will do it, although execution still requires effort and self discipline, as in this case.

Read other Golden Oldies here.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebeccabarray/8985496669/An executive once asked me what the single most import thing he should do and how best to do it.
I told him the answer was simple and the key to execution was found in an anagram of the act.
Can you guess the action and anagram?
The action is to LISTEN.
The anagram is SILENT.
The first is impossible without doing the second.
Flickr image credit: RebeccaBarray

Ducks in a Row: Millennials (and Everybody) Need Quiet

Tuesday, June 21st, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/izzie_whizzie/2146972746/

If you’re old enough, like me, you remember when open offices for knowledge workers/professionals, i.e., cubicles, happened.

I dodged that bullet in 1980 when my company moved into new space and I got a private office, but only because of my hearing.

In those days, recruiters spent the day on the phone and, even with an amplifier, I needed quiet to hear my clients and candidates.

Everybody complained; nobody liked the bullpen/open office concept. It did not increase productivity.

Originally, the idea that noise equals energy was sold by restaurant designers.

Trendy places started using smaller tables and packing them more closely together. They eliminated sound absorbing items, such as carpeting, and adding more hard surfaces and louder music, which forced customers to talk louder, thus upping the decibel level even more.

The myth that eliminating walls boosted collaboration and creativity was sold by consultants, architects and office designers and eagerly bought into by management, primarily because it saved money — it’s a lot cheaper to build out no-wall office space.

And it became almost holy writ when discussing Millennials.

But a new survey from Oxford Economics, an analysis firm spun out of Oxford University’s business college, proves that’s not the case. Rather than fancy perks and giveaways, most respondents want quiet.

More than half of the employees complained about noise. The researchers found that Millennials were especially likely to voice concern about rising decibels, and to wear headphones to drown out the sound or leave their desks in search of quieter corners. Among the supervisors, 69 percent reported that their spaces had been laid out with noise reduction in mind; 64 percent had engineered the workplace to mute noise intruding from outside of the office, too.

It takes quite to think, to create, to dream.

Neither today’s world nor workplace lend themselves to quiet.

That may change if workers become vocal enough with their demands.

And vocal is something at which Millennials excel.

Flickr image credit: Elizabeth Ellis

Ducks in a Row: The Reward of Personal Deep Time

Tuesday, May 17th, 2016

https://www.flickr.com/photos/juditk/3426651261/

I read a wonderful essay by artist Rachel Sussman and two paragraphs especially resonated.

After all, meaning is not made of lone facts, lone people, or lone disciplines, nor is it found in the valuing of the objective over the subjective. Rather, meaning comes by way of knitting together a bigger picture, filled with color and texture, and meant to be felt and understood. We most fully understand what we can internalize—that which becomes part of us. The importance of specializing can’t be discarded, but working only within one discipline and strictly adhering to its rules is likely only to generate one kind of work, one kind of result. (…)

Deep time is like deep water: We are constantly brought back to the surface, pulled by the wants and needs of the moment. But like exercising any sort of muscle, the more we access deep time, the more easily accessible it becomes, and the more likely we are to engage in long-term thinking. The more we embrace long-term thinking, the more ethical our decision-making becomes.

Her concept of deep time connected in my mind to HBS’ Jim Heskett’s discussion of deep thinking years ago — especially the comments. (Both are well worth reading.)

Do you notice the connection?

Both embrace silence sans distractions.

What happens when you shut off and shut out the noise of the modern world?

First comes fear; fear of the unknown that is yourself.

The fear fades as self-knowledge grows.

As it fades you see a spark; a spark that grows until it is a steady fire fueled by your own creativity.

A fire that warms you and from which you draw inspiration and ideas.

And, over the course of your life’s short version of deep time, wisdom.

Flickr image credit: Judit Klein

Golden Oldies: When Execution is an Anagram of the Act

Monday, November 30th, 2015

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebeccabarray/8985496669/It’s amazing to me, but looking back over nearly a decade of writing I find posts that still impress, with information that is as useful now as when it was written. Golden Oldies is a collection of what I consider some of the best posts during that time. Read other Golden Oldies here

When Execution is an Anagram of the Act

An executive once asked me what the single most import thing he should do and how best to do it.

I told him the answer was simple and the key to execution was found in an anagram of the act.

Can you guess the action and anagram?

The action is to LISTEN.

The anagram is SILENT.

The first is impossible without doing the second.

Flickr image credit: RebeccaBarray

Ducks in a Row: is Solitude a Lost Art?

Tuesday, July 15th, 2014

https://www.flickr.com/photos/alicepopkorn/3994131468

A month after I started this blog in 2006 I focused on the magic found in silence; magic that allows you to think, dream and innovate.

Silence is a requirement to get to know oneself. In 2007 I wrote, “My own anecdotal evidence shows that while most people are uncomfortable with silence, others are actually terrified by it.”

Two years ago I cited Edward do Bono, a giant in the world of creative thinking, who believes that boredom is the springboard of creativity.

Last year research found that the constant time spent with today’s ubiquitous screens not only affects the brain, but also reduces capacity for connection, friendship and empathy.

Now, eight years later, people’s need for distraction and abhorrence of silence have been proved.

A recent article in Bloomberg Businessweek details an experiment just how far people will go to escape solitude.

Being alone with no distractions was so distasteful to two-thirds of men and a quarter of women that they elected to give themselves mild electric shocks rather than sit quietly in a room with nothing but the thoughts in their heads.

Is this you?

Flickr image credit: Alice Popkorn

When Execution is an Anagram of the Act

Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

http://www.flickr.com/photos/rebeccabarray/8985496669/An executive once asked me what the single most import thing he should do and how best to do it.
I told him the answer was simple and the key to execution was found in an anagram of the act.
Can you guess the action and anagram?
The action is to LISTEN.
The anagram is SILENT.
The first is impossible without doing the second.
Flickr image credit: RebeccaBarray

Silence IS Golden

Friday, October 26th, 2007

In his comments regarding a truly depressing article on the dumbing down of American kids, Glen over at Life Dev said, “Personally, I think a major problem with our entire society is that it doesn’t allow for reflection. … We’ve grown the mentality that it’s better to listen to someone else than it is to think for ourselves.”

Before you get too depressed by the article check out The Primal Teen by Barbara Strauch,

“In unprecedented work, scientists are discovering exactly how the teenage brain works. Using powerful new brain-scanning machines, peering for the first time into living, working teenage brains, coordinating work across countries and across continents, drawing on pioneering work with adolescent primates and even rats, the neuroscientists are finding that the teenage brain, far from being an innocent bystander to hormonal hijinks, is undergoing a dramatic transformation.
The teenage brain, it’s now becoming clear, is still very much a work in progress, a giant construction project. Millions of connections are being hooked up; millions more are swept away. Neurochemicals wash over the teenage brain, giving it a new paint job, a new look, a new chance at life. The teenage brain is raw, vulnerable. It’s a brain that’s still becoming what it will be.”

But I couldn’t agree more about the lack of quiet time.

My own anecdotal evidence shows that while most people are uncomfortable with silence, others are actually terrified by it. I don’t mean the silence of a sensory deprivation tank, just natural silence; the silence that come from turning off and unplugging from our wired world. No iPod, cell phone, TV, radio, etc.

It’s in silence that

  • your mind can wander unfocused;
  • unconnected scraps can coalesce to form new ideas;
  • you can dig around and learn what actually comprises your MAP (mindset, attitude, philosophy)™;
  • really get to know yourself; and hopefully
  • become best friends with yourself.

Unscientifically speaking, perhaps it was silence that fostered the great philosophers of bygone times. First, they were forced to know themselves and knowing gave them the ability to formulate their great ideas. Did the enforced silence of prison nurture Nelson Mandela’s ability to conceive his vision and eventually articulate it to the world?

No matter your age, try it. Unplug and get comfortable—with silence and with yourself.

Make silence your friend and watch your happiness, satisfaction and creativity soar.

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