People First.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Actuality or Reality?

I doodled this week on the thought of reality. A shared reality is core to achieving great things in small groups. These arrive by agreements, boundaries, team rules, company culture, some perspective of right/wrong, and/or my personal favorite, "it's the way we've always done it around here." We even have cliches for "getting real" or "Really?"

I spoke last year at PMI Chicagoland's Professional Development Day. My talk was about the agile application of the Bruce Tuckman's model; Forming, Storming, Norming, Performing. When I'm coaching a team, regardless of it's functional purpose, I challenge REALITY understnading. We know that realy.

I started thinking about the speech patterns around me and I noticed something. We look at life as a range of time, but our memory is based on fixed points in time. I'll keep looking for more, but a perfect example emerged today while celebrating Thanksgiving in America.

The conversations seem to have the following pattern:
Family: "Remember that time back in the day when........."
Me: I remember that day when we were at the __________ and did ___________.
Family: Yeah, that's it! (random laughter as events were recalled.)

Recognizing this pattern helped me make distinctions when working with teams.  This gives me a framework for reinforcing that past events are subject to filters, bias, and poor memory in humans. While we are working together on teams, we are suffering from ambiguity that we are clear in what we say and share our assumptions we have not spoken.

Looking at the image shown here, you can see the fixed points in time that I refer to as remembered. We are creatures of habit. That is one way of saying we are subjected to conditioning on many levels in our lifetime.

Putting these things together with the power of choice, I see the following:

conditioning+memory+choice = Perception

Secondly I've put actuality or truth below the line as the events are taking place.  Whether or not we are fully aware of what's true isn't the point.  The point is that there is a fundamental truth in everything. We are constantly surrounded by truth. Air is true. Water is true. We accept these things as they are familiar to us and it's been proven our entire lives over and over.  We believe in water.

Whether small town, big city, east coast, west coast, military, college, and even the "normal" people.....we are conditioned. This conditioning maybe religious in nature, self destructive, self-loathing, or even powerful and driven to succeed.  With this truth, we can accept that conditioning is not negative or positive.  It is also true or false.  As is the case with humans, true.

When I am discussing reality with someone else, I want to remember to account for all that went into arriving at this reality. Other people may very much want to understand what we mean when we talk about something, but without their opportunity to walk the walk, they may just not understand.

This is valuable to us because it gives us a place to have patience with another person for not knowing what we know. Allowing them to be where they are in their understanding. A mentor of mine reminded me after discussing this observation the following:  If we are not heard or understood, the message wasn't clear enough. Owning our contribution to communication is responsibility. In a subsequent conversation I was reminded the research of Dr. Hubbard on memory engrams and how we process the past.



Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Communication is a By-product; not a skill

Is your organization one that prides itself in risk management and predictable outcomes?  Is your leadership comfortable with performance below your own aspirations? Can you accept you got here through a series of logical and well-thought out planning? Are you finding yourself in blame of the people around you for your frustration?

I asked the questions above as I've recently had conversations surrounding the desire to change and grow in an environment that seems to care less about these things. Blame is easy to fall into as it puts all of the problem on someone else in our minds.  In the long run, this projection isn't actually helping solve the problem. The organization spent years gradually adding complexity in it's entrenched management processes. Measurable improvement has served as the indication the choices were 'right'. Now we have a subjective difference. The right outcomes are no longer aligned to your personal goals. To see this objectively and avoid blame - You have changed, the company has not changed. The problem has begun to resolve itself at this perception shift - not because we agree it's wrong, but because we no longer evaluate it as right or wrong. Only different. We have a basis to proceed with our peers, management, and/or leadership.

The next steps are up to all of you. Aligning our goals through understanding everyone's goals creates an opportunity for innovation (a new idea, device, or process). The ability to face a perceived problem begins with self-awareness then shared goals. I offer that communication or the ability to communicate effectively is a by-product of our awareness and integrated relationships; not a skill to be taught.

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.