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Entries for the 'Keeping It Real' Category

Unexpected Change: The Hidden Opportunity

Wednesday, September 26th, 2012

Change can be unexpected, disruptive, and beyond our control.

Change can be difficult to cope with, experienced as loss, or trigger disappointment.

I‘d like to suggest—without dismissing or minimizing any of the above—that unexpected, disruptive, disappointing change can also present an opportunity.

Change presents the opportunity to rethink, reorient, and reinvent ourselves.

It’s a silent presentation, though.

No bells and whistles. No announcements. No embossed invitation.

Easy to overlook. We find it easier to focus on the loss of what we had before.

While the road ahead looks at first blush like a dead end, a closed door, or an insurmountable series of obstacles, it might also be a fortuitous detour, an unanticipated change of address, or a free training course that prepares you for a future challenge. 

The key lies in how we choose to react to the change.

If we focus on what we have lost, we will react differently than if we focus on what opportunity might now present itself.

We can choose a loss experience, or we can choose an adjusting experience.

Stay tuned for the next installment on Unexpected Change: The Hidden Opportunity, where we will unpack what it means to “rethink, reorient, and reinvent” ourselves.

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

Complicit In My Own Diminishment?

Friday, July 8th, 2011

Bold Question MarkTo what extent might I be selling out my own dreams, ideals and unique capabilities in order to impress prospective employers?

“Part of the price of becoming a transaction is that we allow our value to be defined by others: an organization, a boss, a recruiter, a partner, a lover.” Peter Block

Loving Monday: The Bigger Truth About You

Monday, May 2nd, 2011

loving_mondayIt’s true, your boss should have noticed your initiative and responded with a promotion or a raise. It’s true.

It’s true, your client should have noticed that your project came in on time and under budget and paid you promptly and given you promising referrals as well. It’s true.

It’s true that your co-workers should have noticed how you help out and responded by returning the favor. It’s true that your spouse should have noticed your hard work and responded with more affirmation and confidence.

It’s true.

While it is true that others often get it wrong about you, it is not true that they need to get it right about you before you can move forward, find your way, or achieve success.

The bigger truth about you is that you have to step to the plate again even if you aren’t being noticed, appreciated, rewarded or supported.

The bigger truth about you is that no one can either be you or fully grasp what having you on the team means.

Therefore, if in your discouragement you pull out of the team, withdraw from the game, or withhold what you have to contribute while everyone will miss out, only (more…)

Keeping It Real: Dying to Live Up to Expectations

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010

Up to whose expectations am I trying to live?

The too-easy answer for a person with a Christian spirituality like myself is God’s.

That’s the “right” answer. The textbook answer. In light of the goodness and power and perfection of God, how could any other set of expectations be considered?

image credit to Unnikrishna Menon DamodaranThe problem with the “right” answer is that truncates our thinking about the issue before it even begins. We know that God never expects humans to be less than human. So free and responsible thinkers we must continue to be.

The “good boy/good girl” answer is to cooperate with those under whose authority we work. Our job is to meet the expectations of our boss. This option seems reasonable at first blush… that is until we experience our first supervisor whose expectations are not so reasonable.

The problem with the “good boy/good girl” answer is that, again, we find ourselves checking our brains, our skills and our experience at the door in deference, in this case, to the brain, skills and experience sitting higher on the organizational chart.

This is a child’s response to expectations. “You’ll do it because I said so.” The rationale is simply a passive submission to authority. No (more…)

Keeping It Real: Attending to Details

Friday, October 8th, 2010

I am not a detail person. Fact.

Sometimes, though, I need to attend to details. Patiently and painstakingly work my way through every last jot and tittle. Systematically, thoroughly, exhaustively, completely, accurately, timely… you get the idea.

I’m exhausted just thinking about it.

Details, for us concept-people, represent a challenge of focus, discipline and perseverance.

Focus. The sort of attentiveness required to spot and recognize necessary distinctions among the blur and whirl of facts, events and personalities is a capacity we can only dream of. (And we usually call those dreams, “nightmares.”)

It’s like that children’s game, “Which of these pictures is different than the rest?” Detail-oriented people spot the distinction instantly, while the rest of us look and look and look. Not until we compare each and every feature of each drawing do we discover the difference.

Discipline. The sort of patience required to look at something from every imaginable angle, follow through on every clue, look under every stone, is both a skill and a character quality that takes years for the uninitiated of us to develop.

Like a chess game where one is thinking about all the possible future moves. (more…)

Keeping It Real: Hearing an Unexpected Truth #1

Wednesday, July 14th, 2010

Have you ever had someone make an observation that strikes you—however unexpected or novel—as absolutely true?

Has that observation ever been something about you?

It can be difficult to hear information about ourselves that does not jive with our self-perception. Whether positive or negative, such new data can catch us off guard. So off guard, in fact, that we either simply do not hear anything or quickly dismiss everything.

It can also be difficult because many observations are, in fact, inaccurate. They may arise out of the other person’s unmet needs, skewed perspective, and/or unrelated frame of reference. We need to be discerning about how much weight we give to the voices that would seek to influence us.

Every once in a while, though… On the rare and exceptional day… will intrude a word of truth so profoundly insightful that it slips past our defenses… overcomes our deeply entrenched self-perceptions… and outmaneuvers our ever-shifting and ever-shortening attention spans.

And we pause.

We stop dead in our tracks as I did the other day and exclaim to ourselves, “Oh my God.”

Helpful insights don’t spell out for you what you need to do with the information. They simply share the information.

That leaves us (me) with the task of personal reflection, discerning research and creative experimentation. A task I welcome even as I welcome—however tentatively—this unexpected new information about myself.

Check back here for updates on my process and what I mean by personal reflection, discerning research and creative experimentation.

Keeping It Real is a column where I put what I am learning out on the table. No faking. No posturing. No pretending. Just learning. Always learning. 
Beware of the teacher or leader who is not always learning themselves.

Keeping it Real: It’s Easier to be Yourself

Friday, May 21st, 2010

I am the world’s foremost expert on being me.

I am a novice at being someone else. Anyone else. Even someone else from whom I might have a lot to learn.

Yet so many consultants, coaches and career counselors are advising us that we need to be someone other than ourselves.

“If you want the job.” “If you’re serious about the promotion.” “If you want to negotiate well.”

I find myself over-thinking interview and sales situations. I am managing both a conversation with the person I am with as well as a conversation with myself about how I am going about the conversation with the other person.

How can I possible be fully present with someone when I am preoccupied with talking to myself?

I’m not! is the answer I pretty consistently receive from those willing to tell me.

Key for me has been realizing that I am an incredible expert on being myself. The task doesn’t require any more thinking. I can give my full attention to the issue on the table and the people I am with.

When I let go of the need to impress, to appear unrealistically competent, or to artificially mirror the qualifications of an attractive job description, I am free to come alive in the skin within which I am most comfortable—my own.

I make a very attractive “me.” Even if I’m not a fit or match for every client, job or interview, I will come across infinitely better as myself than any image of competence I might be tempted to put on.

It’s simply much easier to be oneself.

On your side,

- Karl Edwards

Keeping It Real is the column where I share what I myself am learning. Beware of the leader who is not always learning themselves!