Monthly Archives: February 2012

A Model is Worth 1000 Words

“All models are wrong, some are useful” –George E.P. Box

Models are simplified representations of complex things. They consist of parts, elements of parts, relationships between parts, and a logic based on those relationships.

Building models is both a science and an art. Before you start building models of complex processes at work, try creating a model of something simple like brushing your teeth or doing laundry.

What are the parts? What elements of those parts influence the process? What are the relationships between the parts? What is the logic of the model (i.e., what are the assumptions that make the model work?)

I’ll be writing more about models as it relates to positive work in the upcoming weeks. I’m currently taking a free online course called Model Thinking  with other 45,000 students. The course is taught by Scott Page, Professor of Complex Systems at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor.



Fortitude: Try that on for a ‘word of the day’

Fortitude: Mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously.

What would help you build fortitude?

How to Find Your Voice (and Why it Matters)

Voice is a theme that is near and dear to my heart. As a musician, writer, and life-long student of human communication, I’m continually amazed at how much people take for granted the value of finding one’s voice.

If you consume any national news today, you’ll notice political pundits commenting on the topic of voice in relation to Mitt Romney’s, “My father used to sell paint because he believed in America,” speech following the Colorado caucuses. This speech is being heralded as a defining moment of voice for this republican hopeful.

So, what is the value of finding one’s voice? 

The value in the Romney case, could mean the perception of presidential electability and, ultimately, the difference between being on the ballot in November or not.

For you and me, finding voice means knowing what we stand for. Understanding our deepest passions and personal vision. Building deeper, more trusting relationships. Discovering these desires helps us devise a plan for achieving our personal and professional goals.

Voice is characterized by a sense of authenticity, congruence, and genuine caring. Finding our voice allows us to live a life that is consistent with our true desires and values.

How do you find your voice?

Your voice isn’t hidden. Although some of us try to disguise our voice with what we think people want to hear from us. Some of us even do a good job of convincing ourselves that what (we think) others want to hear is actually what we want.

If you’ve been looking for your voice (or are considering a positive change in your voice) try the following exercise on for size:

1. Start by making a list: What do you want out of your job? Your relationships? Your community?

2. How would you share these desires with your most trusted friend, if they gave you their complete undivided attention?

3. Practice expressing your voice by saying what you really want out loud. Go ahead. While you’re driving. While you’re getting ready in the morning. Practice expressing who you are, what you stand for, and what you want.

4. Now “Go Live.” Share your voice. Speak up. Ask for help. Take action. See what happens.

How Positive Work Can Make You Rich

I use the phrase positive work as shorthand to refer to a system of thinking, being, and doing. This system or philosophy can be easily be misconstrued as “feel good” medicine to improve relationships and the workplace. For some it is just that (and is much-needed at that).

Let me challenge this notion about positivity being simply a feel good ethos for leaders, consultants, and coaches. At it’s core positive work is about creating results, which translate into riches. It’s up to you, as well as your clients, customers, team, and/or patients, to decide what those riches are (e.g., better health, higher performance, increased revenue, improve relationships, “Wow experiences,” etc.). Positive work characterizes the journey one makes in becoming rich in mind, body, spirit, and material wealth.

This morning I read an article by Grant Cardone entitled, The Seven Secrets of Self-Made Millionaires. The “secrets” aren’t really secrets at all, they are subtle shifts in habit of mind, heart, and personal behavior. The shift involves a positive turn in thinking, from poverty to abundance, and from negative language (spending) to positive language (investing), etc.

Practicing positive work on your self, first, is the first step toward reaping the riches you desire.

These so-called secrets echo the work of Napoleon Hill, another positive thinker, who spent 25 years studying the behaviors of more than 500 wealthy people. He came to the same conclusions: Desire, emotion, motivation, hoping, dreaming, self-confidence, affirmation, habit, visualization, and, yes, LOVE are the essential elements of growing rich. This IS also the STUFF of positive work, and mastering these activities are the journey!

Mastering these habits is at the core of positive work. Very few who grow rich embark on this journey alone. They have partners, coaches, mentors, “master minds,” circles of influence, and so on. Who are your partners on this journey? How far into your positive work are you? How might your results change if you invested in mastering positive work–for yourself? your team? your organization? What riches would you be reaping if you had no barriers in front of you?

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When People Steal from You, Try Gratitude

I got a late start today because as I left for work, I discovered that during the night someone had broken into my car (okay, I left the door unlocked) and stole some change and my bluetooth earpiece.

This made me angry, really angry. I didn’t feel positive at all. I felt genuinely pissed.

Throughout the day I found myself returning to the same questions: Why didn’t I lock my car? Why I didn’t I take my bluetooth inside after getting home from the gym (I had a funny feeling about leaving it in my car)? How could someone have the nerve to walk up my driveway and open my car door while it was sitting in my garage? What would I have liked to have done to those punks if I could have caught them in the act?

These questions didn’t seem to get me anywhere.

So, as the day progressed, I consciously tried using gratitude as a means of moving on. Guess what? It worked. Instead of blaming myself and the punks who broke into my car, I made statements of appreciation:

–Thank God I didn’t leave my computer in the car;

–I’m lucky that it wasn’t my house that got broken into;

–I’m thankful that I don’t have to steal to get by;

–I’m grateful that I can easily go buy a new bluetooth (and a better one at that…my BlueAnt model was a piece);

–I’m thankful that my wife’s car was locked (I learned that that’s enough to deter these punks);

–Hey, this will give me an opportunity to install a sweet motion detector lighting system on the garage  (I have money for that too!)

…And on it went.

The result: My anger began to fade. I started to get excited about new projects to secure our home.  And I even felt a little sorry for the punks.

When you’ve been wronged, an “eye for an eye” might satisfy immediate impulses. However, gratitude has the power to help you discover more productive and more effective long-term solutions.