People First.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Getting Out of My Bubble...It's a Big World Out There

It was 4 am on a Thursday and I found myself driving to the airport, it is early in the morning like this that my brain is the least conditioned. Deep thought comes easy when the rest of the world is still quite or asleep.

As I entered the airport expecting to see a ghost town, I was surprised to find a line of at least 25 people deep waiting to get to the same airline counter I was attempting to reach.
Naturally, I went to denial – how could so many people be aiming for the same goal I was so early in the morning on a Thursday? It didn’t seem like a realistic possibility.
This thought process stuck with me as I got through security, found my gate, and boarded my plane. I couldn’t stop looking around counting up the hundreds, maybe even thousands of people that were all at the airport trying to go to a new destination.

If this many people were in this one location I couldn’t even begin to imagine how many hundreds of thousands were still in bed, going to work, or finishing their night shift. It seemed almost unreal.
 It was up in the air that I started to expand my accepted reality. I glanced over at the window half asleep to find a majestic, gigantic, white, puffy cloud set in front of a rose colored sunrise.
In comparison to the cloud the massive jet engine looked more like a toy than a elegant piece of machinery. My first thought was how many millions of billions of particles it took to make up that one cloud and then the one next to it.

I began to realize just how small I am. This isn’t a reference or boast about weight it is an awareness event of the size of my reality compared to the incomparable size of the planet we call home, let alone the solar system it calls home.

I get so consumed with my own world and my belief that I am at the center of it. When in reality I am a speck on a rock flying through the universe.

The correlation I am starting to make is that the more narrow focused I am the more my leadership style relies on command and control tendencies. Basically the more self-centered I am the more I turn into a control freak.

Hello my name is Jessica Soroky and I am a recovering control freak.

The more wide I allow my brain to get, the bigger my thoughts get. It is here in this place of surreal freedom that innovation lays for me. It sparks inspiration and typically a blog post or two.
In a world where our every want, demand, and desire sits at our finger tips it is easy to fall victim of our narrow minded thinking. My boss talks a lot about this idea of expanding your thinking and even your practice and understanding of integration. He calls it “Live Wide™.”

To me “Live Wide” is much love, something that is natural and at our core but still requires works to unleash. It is similar to the idea of “love” and continues being difficult to truly define and articulate – it is a little different for everyone.

Up in the clouds, watching the sun rise, I allowed myself to accept how petty I can get. Coaching teams can often lead to becoming the complaint post for team members and the center of all the gossip.
 I choose to get sucked in from time to time ignoring everything I’ve been taught, and it takes moments of overwhelming big thought to break me of the constraints I put on myself.
I was going to challenge you – but instead I am challenging myself to raise my awareness when I am in a narrow minded place and finding that “cloud” to remind me how big my little world is and start looking at that picture.


It is only in a place of extreme wonder and imagination that we will uncover the innovation that we’ve been looking for.

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Success: Put It In Your Face

So you've chosen to put you first. Congrats! You may begin to see the power in your thinking when you are at cause in your own events.  A strong intention emerges and you turn to celebrate it with your friends and family, but no one knows what you're talking about. Falling into traps and emotional circles is difficult when you are the only one exploring new ideas. In this space, we find ourselves responding to other people and blaming them for their impact on our process. Not helpful. We also spend a great deal of time responding and not thinking about the bigger picture.

Consider this:
"There are so many confusing 'default' behaviors that are contributory to the outcomes of our lives that managing them is near impossible." - Me

If this is true, what can we do? First and foremost, the key word above is default. Default for me habit based, second nature, or insert word of choice hereThe point here is that it IS a choice, and being the choice over and over for so long that it is hard to catch before it gets out. This is an opportunity for an awareness event.

Changing Default Behavior Starts @ AWARENESS

An awareness event is an intentional behavior or communication that is specific to me that stops my default process in it's tracks.  I say "Put It In My Face." How do you tailor something to you, for you, and by you?

Identifying unconscious behavior and using it to your advantage. We all have unconscious responses and they aren't wrong or bad. We can use them!

Some are hand gestures, other are facial expressions, and sometimes it's just a direction we look when something goes wrong. To best understand ourselves, we can get feedback from those closest to us (the experts). "You may be thinking that is also a difficult thing for me to do." I would challenge that it's difficult because they know what you don't; and you know it. After all that IS the information we want and resistance is the sign that something is shifting. 

Resistance Can Be as Simple as Friction.

Poker players call this a 'tell'. You can discover these things about yourself in a playful environment from the people who know you best. Ask a family member or close friend about your behaviors. Actively give them permission to point it out and set boundaries to avoid hurt. You may also find hidden breakthroughs while discovering yourself.  As coaches and mentors, we specifically use personal breakthroughs to solve problems everyday. This is one opportunity for you to begin addressing them for yourself.

  • Get a friend to give you feedback in a safe environment
  • Give Permission
  • Set Boundaries
  • Look for Hidden Breakthroughs and emergent patterns
Here's a personal example from my own experience. 
I know that when I'm frustrated, I tend to pick up my iPad or my drawing notebook and I escape. While I could argue I get a lot of personal work done in that space, I probably didn't address the actual problem I walked away from and the result was always compounded issues/problems.

I also knew that a mental picture I had drawn was the trigger I needed when I was ineffective or feeling 'off' about some situation. This (picture) for me is a picture of thinking, a mental process of questions I ask. By changing my iPad lock screen to this image and printing  copy to keep as a bookmark in my drawing pads, I reduced my aversion on purpose. And here's the magic; Eventually the thought of picking up my iPad to escape triggers the mental image immediately and I can choose to confront the current problem.

I Reduced My Aversion 'On Purpose'

In about two months, I re-conditioned my default response. Since that day this mental model I prefer to work from as a person is second nature. I have, in fact, changed this default response and fundamentally changed what it means to be 'ME'. Wasn't that the point in the first place? So I'll say it again, "So you've chosen to put you first? Congrats!"

The more we are successful, the better we get at being successful. On this path I'm certain that my fast thinking default response will emerge to be the one of choice and THAT'S A WIN.


Monday, November 25, 2013

Leaders Value Intention

What does "valuing intention" look like? How do I behave different and what results are in it for me?

In my past, I was taught to evaluate a person as a management skill. Information based on a set of criteria and providing a number. First it was a condition of employment and minimum requirement for the employee to achieve 'high marks'. As I evolved new patterns emerged and new tools emerged. Some tools intended to accelerate this process of evaluation and others taught us to put the burden onto the employee's peers by having them submit opinions about their co-workers. And yet, I didn't meet my goals as a result.

Something need to be done.

Later I was taught to help people align to their "deficiencies" for the sake of growth and overcoming them. This publication and evaluation got described as professional development, growth opportunity, or even mandatory corrective action. Still teams failed more than half of their projects and while they spoke of their respect for the company, I suspect it wasn't true.  Eventually I heard enough and I began seeking all of the opinions on the subject of being a better manager. I learned more and more tools to more efficiently and quickly judge someone else, but I still didn't see results in the work products of the teams. Improving the results of teams was the purpose behind evaluating our teams in the first place. 

...I learned that I am the cause or 'at cause'...

It wasn't until I began studying leadership, years later, did I realize it was more about the values of leaders and the values of managers that made them different in my mind and not just their definitions. Here are just a few of each, but I think you'll see the patterns:

Manger's values I've observed:
  • Results
  • Time
  • Budgets
  • Who
  • When
  • Where
  • Control

Leader's values I've observed
  • Thinking - Intention
  • People 
  • Behavior
  • Environment
  • Flow
  • Service
Measuring goals is a behavior. As with all behaviors, it is indicative of the value system behind it. I learned that every time I valued working with someone, it wasn't because they achieved their goals, but because they met their intentions in pursuit of goals. The results associated with these types of people are always exceeding expectations set by others. At this point, I acknowledged that measuring the teams against other's expectations was not actually valuable to me or my company's goals. And this was based on my own results.

"As an Integrated Manager I am most effective when I'm positively contributing to clear intentions."

So what's an immediate behavioral change? It is celebrating shorter cycles and working with your teams in their stated intentions. In doing so, you become more aware of their context and work.  In that space, you can now respond very quickly to the environmental impediments that contribute to any problem.

...celebrate intentions in shorter cycles and remain aware of the changing goals...

In wanting to change your mind-set from default management thinking to leadership thinking, you get to start today with this one behavioral change as your contribution to growth.

Ultimate outcomes are the result of behaviors, relationships, and communications over a period of time and cannot be changed simply by desire alone. Start now, as Ron Jeffries, says, Start before you're ready...