Smaller tribes

Johnny Carson had ten times the audience of Jay Leno. Now Jimmy Fallon has even a smaller audience.

Carson wasn’t necessary better; he just had more attention when there were only four stations to choose from.

Tribes are smaller now. Back then you had a bigger audience but with only a few microphones. Now everyone has a microphone (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs). Now we can communicate, assemble the tribe, and share a connection. Now we have choices which puts pressure on those that produce the work to level up.

Stop signs

Ever notice the amount of road signs out there: where to go, where to turn, when to start, when to slow down, bumpy roads, uneven paths, stay to the right, stay to the left, people at work, one way, no bicycles, no parking, reserved, handicap only, wrong way, two-hour limit, stay in your lane, u-turns only, stop.

I know you think they are there to keep us safe. But there are too many of us following road signs in our lives (school, work, debt, retirement) and then wonder, “Well, this is where I was told I would find success.”

Success is not on the map. There are no signs to follow. You have to find your own way of getting there.

Is it worth memorizing?

It’s not about memorizing more information than the person next to you.

Nowadays, anything worth memorizing can be easily found in seconds.

It’s about how to solve interesting problems: the things you can’t look up.

The define and decide formula

Define what perfect looks like. Then decide what good enough is to ship it.

Too many of us are caught up in polishing the edges before we have made the product or service good enough. This is a form of hiding from the hard work. As a result, we miss our ship date.

Do the work. Ship it. Repeat.

For those stepping in the arena

What would you do today if you didn’t have any fear?

Would you speak up at that staff meeting? Would you make that phone call to potentially find a new client? How about that proposal that you have been working on? Is it still sitting in your drawer?

If we weren’t afraid, everyone would step into the arena. But we are ALL afraid so we settle for the sidelines. The cheap seats.

Here is the thing about fear; it is most of the time connected to what others might say about us.

There is this voice in the back of our heads that screams, “How dare you! Who do you think you are?”

It is because we all want to fit in. Fitting in means following the rules. Don’t stand out. There is no need to be brave.

Brene Brown sums it up perfectly, “I don’t want your feedback if you’re not in the arena.”

You don’t need to worry about the critics.  They are too afraid to step in the arena. You are going in knowing you are going to get bruised and beaten up.

So what are we waiting for?

Controlling your words

In Dead Poet Society, Robin Williams said, “Avoid using the word ‘very’ because it is lazy. A man is not very tired, he is exhausted. Don’t use very sad, use morose. Language was invented for one reason, boys – to woo women – and, in that endeavor, laziness will not do.”

If you want to become a more effective communicator, a better spouse, parent, friend, leader, co-worker you have to control the words you use. You can start learning to control your words by choosing not to swear.

Be wary of those who particularly swear a lot. They have a harder time controlling their emotions. If you have a harder time controlling you emotions, you have a harder time controlling your actions.

Have you ever noticed those who are quick-tempered tend to swear on every occasion whether he is excited or upset?

It is because swearing can numb us from how we express ourselves. You can’t communicate peace using the same tool to express violence. People that tend to swear on a regular basis have a harder expressing in words how they are feeling. So the cycle moves from demeaning words to abusive actions.

Try going a day without swearing. Then a week. See if it makes a difference.

The rest step

The rest step is a mountaineering technique to keep moving in the mountains when you are tired. It is particularly effective in resting your muscles and putting the stress over your skeletal system. Here is how to perform the rest step:

  1. Inhale while taking a step forward.
  2. Exhale while extending your back leg into a locked knee position.
  3. Repeat.

The rest step will help you find rhythm. It is not the fastest way to the top of the mountain but it will likely be your best chance getting to the the summit.

No more talking. Just climb the mountain one step at a time. This is your moment. When you are tired and don’t feel like you can move, take a rest step, and then another, and another. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat. Find your rhythm.

No one said it was going to be easy but it will be worth it.

The superior way of communication

Jesus knew all the answers to any question and yet in the four Gospels, Jesus asked over 150 questions. Why would someone who knows all ask us questions?

It is because asking questions (even if you already know the answer) is the superior way of communication.

Four questions that can help anyone get started in becoming a superior communicator is to ask:

  1. What is going well?
  2. What is not going well?
  3. Where are you stuck?
  4. Where do you need to change?