Friday, September 23, 2016

Change: A Moving Experience

My wife and I moved recently, after living in our prior place for 30 years. Trust me when I say, it was truly a moving experience.

Change guru William Bridges was right about the phases that one goes through during a major life change such as moving.

After 30 years, in a home where we raised our two sons, the Ending phase of change was swift but the Letting Go was hard. Even though we chose this path, the sense of loss was deeply felt. My wife really went through the famous cycle of emotions first described by Elizabeth Kubler Ross in her classic work "On Death and Dying."

After we sold our house, we entered the Neutral Zone, a period of transition that lasted for months, as we waited for the owners of our home-to-be to move out and go on with their next chapter in life.

We moved in with one of our sons, in a small rental property, and disturbed his equilibrium in every way.

Being in-between put us in internet limbo for quite some time. My smart phone became my internet device. Writing a blog post on my phone proved to be a much more arduous task than I usually face.

Finally, we reached the New Beginning. We moved to our new home on September 6th. In that time, I have made dinner more times than I can count. 

Don't get me wrong. I love to cook. It's one of my passions. So many menus...Salmon. Putanesca.  Pork loin. Sweet Jersey corn.

Not having moved in 30 years, I didn't realize that so many people would be stopping by and that I'd be serving dinner so frequently.

But this new start is not a bed of roses. We really miss our old place. We could walk everywhere : downtown, to the park, to the bank, to Rutgers campus.

Now we live in a suburb. Far from the student madness that drove us out of New Brunswick.

It is quieter here.  We have deer that come by to eat our yard.

Now we have new decisions to make:  Put up a fence? Build a shed? 

These can wait. Summer has drawn to a close and the weather will be changing soon.

Now the important decisions are of a different sort. We feel weird here.  Like we don't belong.

Who are we now?

Terrence Seamon helps his clients to change for the better. Follow him on twitter @tseamon, and on facebook Facilitation Solutions.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Soft Skills vs Hard Skills?

Does the expression "soft skills" irk you or work for you?

Here is a little diagnostic:

In your business, does it matter how your reps treat your customers?

In your business, does it matter how your supervisors and managers treat their subordinates?

In your business, does it matter if your teams get along well?

Let me cut to the chase. Soft skills ARE hard skills.

They  are hard to master.

They are hard to beat when you have them.

And it will go hard for you when you don't.

This is true because your hard results such as production and profits, depend on them.

Terrence Seamon teaches soft skills to help his clients achieve success.

Wednesday, September 07, 2016

Know Thyself

In ancient times, the Oracle of Delphi in ancient Greece admonished "Know thyself."

In more recent times, two psychologists, Joe Luft and Harry Ingham, created the JOHARI window to help us do just that, develop greater self insight.
Image result for johari window

Having more self understanding is vital to anyone in a helping profession such as OD work.

Minneapolis area consultant John Persico published an essay on what it takes for an organization to really be effective. In essence, Persico says, organizations must become more self-aware. Especially about their own built-in blind spots. He says:

"...most organizations are blind to the intrinsic problems that underlie their failures."

What is an organization to do? Persico offers some good ideas, including listen to your dissenters and "embrace your difficult people."

Here are five more tips that I would add:

Get feedback from others - The Scottish poet Robert Burns once pointed to the value of finding out how others perceive us when he wrote "O, wad some Power the giftie gie us/To see oursels as others see us!/It wad frae monie a blunder free us,/An' foolish notion." The gift he refers to we now call feedback. Honest, clear feedback from a trusted source can help free us "from blunders and foolish notions" of our own creation.

Ponder JOHARI - Persico uses the JOHARI window in his article to help explain the different domains of information that exist about ourselves. One of the great things about the JOHARI concept is how it opens our minds to the awareness that others know things about us that we do not know (the "blind spot") and that there is information about us that neither we nor others know (the "unknown" area). The process of increasing self-awareness includes pondering what lies in these panes.

Take a trip to another country - Have you ever experienced the thrilling discomfort that comes from taking a trip to another country? Especially one where you don't speak the language. Somehow or other, you have to confront the challenge to get by and survive. In the process of overcoming this adversity, you realize a great deal about Who You Are, and what you are capable of when pushed way out of your comfort zone. Travel is a great teacher of humility.

Increasing mindfulness - The Zen practice of mindfulness cultivates a tranquil attentiveness to the constant traffic flow of thoughts going on within us. The more we practice this , the more we can step back a bit and establish a degree of objectivity toward ourselves. We can start to notice, for example, the triggers that set us off in some of our relationships. Or the value judgments we make about others. Or about ourselves.

Listening more deeply - Seems to me that we really have to learn to listen much more deeply than we usually do.

Listening to others, for the signals they send about us. The quote from the Scottish poet Burns is apt here.  What a gift it is indeed to see ourselves as others see us.

Listening to one's coaches and mentors who can provide us with incisive feedback. 

Listening to one's customers, especially their complaints, which can lead to improvements.

We also really have to learn how to listen to ourselves. This has many dimensions. Listening to our bodies, for example. 

Listening (as Marshall Goldsmith suggests) to our 90 year old self.  

Listening to our inner child. 

Listening to our better angel.

Terrence Seamon helps others to reach their goals. Follow him on twitter @tseamon and facebook Facilitation Solutions.