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“It’s Never Too Late To Be Who You Might Have Been”—George Eliot

April 24, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

Genius “Genius” is derived from the same root as “nature”. It is an innate gift; we are born with it. It is our superpower, waiting to be revealed, whether we know it or not. It lies in wait.

You have a genius. You simply may not realize it yet. Genius isn’t just for the exceptionally smart, the evidently gifted, or the super famous. It’s for all of us.

Steven Pressfield, in The War of Art, writes that genius was used by the Romans “to denote an inner spirit, holy and inviolable, which watches over us, guiding us to our calling. Our job in this lifetime is not to shape ourselves into some ideal we imagine we ought to be, but to find out who we are and become it.”

Sir Ken Robinson speaks of the Element in each of us, i.e., “the place where the things we love to do and the things we’re good at come together. I believe it is essential that each of us find his or her Element, not simply because it will make us more fulfilled, but because, as the world evolves, the very future of our communities and institutions will depend on it…. It’s about how we can all engage more fully in the present and how we can prepare in the only possible way for a completely unknowable future…To make the best of ourselves and of each other, we urgently need to embrace a richer concept of human capacity. We need to embrace the Element.”

Legendary dancer-choreographer Martha Graham believed it was a privilege and obligation common to us all to cultivate and honor our unique capacities. As she put it, “There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time. This expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through any other medium; and will be lost. It is not your business to determine how good it is. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and directly, to keep the channel open.”

Whether you call it genius, the Element, a life force or the Zone, it’s an experience of complete absorption and flow. It’s enlivening. Our whole being is involved; head, heart, gut – everything feels aligned.

Genius wants to make itself known. It is powerful energy, patient, persistent, and insistent. If it is not expressed, we may spend our entire lives feeling uneasy, restless, with nagging unspoken questions in our minds like, “Is this all there is? Is this what I was meant to do?” We may be highly competent, even excel in our roles but if they do not enliven us we may still find ourselves troubled by these questions. These irksome questions are one way genius comes knocking.

Genius takes as many forms as there are people on the planet. The painter, the poet, the CEO, the accountant, the gardener, the parent, the programmer, the police officer, tinker, tailor, soldier, spy, can all operate from a place of unique genius.

In the process of discovering your genius, many things can distract you:  fear, other people, the seduction of things you’re good at, even rewarded for, though they bring you no real joy. You’ll begin to know where to steer and where to steer clear. Take that seminar on how to patent your idea. Start that business. Buy those paints. Have that baby. Merge those companies. Pay attention to your attention. Notice the manner in which you and those closest to you expend energy, in all its forms. Say good-bye to keeping up with appearances, gossip and the Jones and say hello to yourself. Your essence. The world is waiting for you.

“Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.” – Howard Thurman

Genius

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.


pchristen

Emotional Rescue

April 23, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

emotionalRescue

Emotions often get a bad rap, especially in the workplace. But emotions are actually powerful assets.  You can’t make meaningful decisions without them. Science offers surprising insight into the role emotions play in helping us make intelligent choices.

Here’s a rather extreme example, based on a true story:

As a result of a brain tumor in his frontal cortex, Elliot becomes incapable of making reasonable choices in virtually every aspect of his life. Prior to the tumor, Elliot is by all accounts high functioning and caring. He is professionally successful, personally fulfilled, and well regarded.

Elliot’s brain tumor creates a catastrophic phenomenon. Although his cognition remains intact, Elliot is cut off entirely from his emotions. Losing his emotional capacity, he is unable to assign more or less value to any particular choice he faces. Decision-making becomes a roll of the dice. His work suffers, his marriage ends, his finances are decimated. Elliot’s capacity to make prudent decisions of any kind vanishes with his emotions.

A battery of tests reveal that Elliot can conceptualize decisions and options well and can fully distinguish between them. He simply cannot make a decision. Without access to his emotions, he is incapable of weighing the pros and cons of one decision against another. Without emotions, he is functionally incapacitated, at the mercy of his random choices and actions.

In his marvelous book, The Social Animal, David Brooks cites Elliot’s case as “an example of how lack of emotion leads to self-destructive and dangerous behavior.” People who are shut off from their emotions “don’t lead well-planned and logical lives in the manner of coolly rational Mr. Spocks. They lead foolish lives. In extreme cases, they become sociopaths, untroubled by barbarism and unable to feel other people’s pain.”

Brooks describes the profound implications of this:

Reason and emotions are not separate and opposed. Reason is nestled upon emotion and dependent upon it. Emotion assigns value to things, and reason can only make choices on the basis of those valuations.

The key to a well-lived life is to have trained the emotion to send the right signals and to be sensitive to their subtle calls.

We cannot hope to be “sensitive to their subtle calls” if we constrict, avoid or repress our emotions or if we cling to them. The full and complete experience of our emotions is essential to a “well-lived” life, honoring the inseparable nature of emotion and reason.

THIS powerful emotion is the reward of kindness

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.   

 


pchristen

Ease On Down The Road

April 23, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

EaseOnDownTheRoad

Imagine you just woke up, and your first thought is: “What do I need to get done today?”

Now, imagine instead you just woke up, and your first thought is: “What might I do today that creates ease, joy or laughter?”

Reading this, you might be thinking. “Hold on! I have responsibilities! I have a family, a job. My partner just spent half our savings on a couch, my son is hanging around with kids who have pierced tongues and names like Gufu, my dog is incontinent, I’m negotiating an impossibly difficult contract at work, my bank is…, the doctor said…., my board wants…” and on and on and on.

Does the notion that your entire day, your entire life, could be characterized by ease seem unthinkable? Frivolous perhaps? Does it seem impossible? Are you snorting as you read this?

What if this happened instead? What if you consciously committed to creating ease, joy and laughter for yourself and for others and, rather than plunging you into a life of irresponsibility and sloth, it instead created a higher level of productivity and well-being? What if you discovered that ease could increase accountability, that accountability strengthens trust and that trust amplifies enhances ease, creating an energizing, virtuous cycle? Wouldn’t that be something?

In their marvelous book Switch, Chip and Dan Heath describe the following event:

At the Amsterdam airport, the sanitation workers were in an uproar. Specifically, those sanitation workers assigned to clean the men’s restrooms. The areas around the urinals were disgusting. Suffice it to say the aim of restroom patrons left something to be desired (and something to be hosed down). The clean-up job was time-consuming, never-ending and, well, revolting.

Imagine for a moment that you are in charge of these sanitation workers. What would you do? (Answer this honestly, before reading on!) Perhaps you’d consider:

  • Posting signs above the urinals asking for common courtesy and better aim.
  • Hiring bathroom attendants to stand watch near the urinals.
  • Acknowledging to your team the unpleasant nature of the task while making it clear that urinal clean-up is part of the job and complaining about it won’t change anything.
  • Asking to be re-assigned to the sanitation group working with the women’s restrooms.

Well here’s what they chose to do in Amsterdam. They painted a small, realistic fly (the insect kind, not the zipper kind) on each urinal on the spot they believed would reduce urinal splatter atrocities if restroom patrons used the painted insect for target practice. The result? Problem solved. Completely. (And their solution made you laugh, didn’t it?) It’s brilliant, delightful, full of ease. And it worked. It solved a labor-intensive, demoralizing problem with ease and laughter through creativity.

urinal2

Not long ago at HopeLab, we were revising and updating our personnel policies. We noticed our policy on bereavement leave (paid days off employees are allowed for loss of a loved one) was several pages long. We had gone to some lengths to describe the purpose of the policy, within what time frame the leave had to be taken, the lengthy definition of the extended family members to which our policy applied and the documentation necessary to take the bereavement days. (Simply wading through the policy itself was cause for bereavement.) While well intended, there was nothing easeful about this approach. It was awful, actually. We threw out the policy and replaced it with the following three sentences:

If you experience a death in your family or other significant people in your life, the Company will normally grant a leave for bereavement of up to three (3) paid working days, to Regular Employees to make funeral arrangements or attend funeral or other related services.

If additional time off is required, a request should be made to your supervisor.

An employee’s family or other significant people in her/his life may include a parent, sibling, grandparent, spouse/partner/significant other, daughter-in-law, son-in-law, child (natural, stepchild or adopted) grandchild or any other person of great personal significance.

The result? No ill effects whatsoever. No abuses of the policy. No run on the bereavement bank. No problems. Staff members and their supervisors who have used the new policy have done so with ease, compassion, accountability and efficiency.

When we are attentive, we can introduce ease into even those most difficult circumstances. Go ahead. Give it a try. It’s easy.

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.  

 

 


pchristen

Liberating Candor

April 22, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

LiberatingCandor

Look up “candor” and you’ll see definitions like “unreserved honesty without malice.”

Choosing to live with candor as we practice it, requires staying squeaky clean about your intention. Candor is honesty without malice. If you aren’t trying to teach someone a lesson or humiliate them, or get in the last word, you’re likely on solid ground.

Jack Kornfield teaches of the power of candor in “conscious speech”—“Say what is true; say what is useful and kind; say that which is connected to your heart.” Try that for an hour. It is liberating.

When you are genuinely attentive to those criteria, you let go of any attempts to manipulate the outcome precipitated by your remarks. The person you’re talking with might agree or disagree with you. They might get upset. They might appreciate your honesty and be curious about a deeper conversation. They might cut you off from further conversation. They might, they might, they might… If you are behaving without malice, with honesty connected to your heart, with integrity as your authentic aim, their reaction is not yours to control. What is within your control is saying what is true for you with kindness and listening with curiosity as others speak with you, without trying to manipulate an outcome.

Sometimes we are not honest in our speech because we feel like it’s a kindness to protect the other person. But what if the other person is as capable as you are of engaging in a candid conversation? What if they, like you, are hungry for a high integrity, intimate relationship? Once you are openhearted, curious but unattached to the outcome neither of you needs protection from the other.

Candor is liberating. No slight variations of fact or story versions to manage or remember. No half-truths to lead someone’s thinking. Just the straightforward truth as you see it, delivered express from your heart.

Candor_Quote

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide


pchristen

Our Longing for Beauty

April 21, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

beauty

The late philosopher and poet John O’Donohue wrote:

The human soul is hungry for beauty; we seek it everywhere — in landscape, music, art, clothes, furniture, gardening, companionship, love, religion, and in ourselves. We feel most alive in the presence of the Beautiful, for it meets the needs of our soul…

Sadly, whether from resentment, fear, or blindness, beauty is often refused, repudiated, or cut down to the size of our timid perceptions. In turning away from beauty, we turn away from all that is wholesome and true, and deliver ourselves into an exile where the vulgar and artificial dull and deaden the human spirit.

Several months ago, I was speaking to a group of executives about HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. I asked the group to review the questions and offer any additional question categories they would consider in adapting our list for their own use, in their workplaces. A lively discussion ensued. Throughout, I noticed one of the executives seemed highly agitated by the conversation. Finally, his hand shot up. “I do not understand what beauty has to do with work. I would add a category called ‘Accountability’ to this list, but I would absolutely remove beauty as a category.”

Curious about his agitation, I asked him to expand on his reflections. “It is a frivolous category, he replied. “My board would never take me seriously if I showed them this list and ‘Beauty’ was one of the categories. And, I would add ‘Accountability’ as a separate category and have it listed as the first set of questions above all because my primary job as CEO is to hold people accountable for what they are supposed to be doing.”

There is not a single “correct list” of questions from my point of view and I encouraged this gentleman to rewrite the list in any fashion that felt more meaningful to him, urging him as well to stay curious about the changes he felt most strongly about.

My experience at HopeLab leads me to believe that supporting everyone in taking 100% responsibility for themselves is a surer way to accountability than having the CEO or managers assume they are wholly responsible for others being accountable, but this may not comport with his experience.

Beauty

As for beauty, it can show up in many forms. Well-written code is beautiful. A well-designed office is beautiful. Tables can be set with beauty. Meetings can be run with beauty. Colleagues can be acknowledged with beauty. Products can be designed with such beauty we will stand in line through the night to have them. At HopeLab, we intentionally design beauty into our products, presentations, our processes, our pranks and our relationships.

Beauty holds mystery and wholeness at once. In so doing, it captivates our attention, enlivens and engages us.

When someone tends to the beautiful on our behalf, we are touched, knowing attention was directed to the creation of an experience that moves us.

If you stroll through our offices, you see immediately the call to beauty. Unprompted, individuals adorn their office spaces with the beautiful. From Nicole’s flamboyant flowers to Steve’s elegant Chinese blossom painting, from Richard’s Elliason mobile to Dan’s walls covered in his children’s artwork, beauty is everywhere. In our experience, it is not frivolous, it is humanizing.

Even in the bleakest settings, beauty calls. In his book, Why Birds Sing, David Rothenberg recounts the story of the composing of Quarter for the End of Time, an exquisite piece of chamber music by Olivier Messiaen. Messiaen was a POW in Stalag VIII-A during World War II. Prior to his capture, huddled in the trenches, Messiaen listened for birds at dawn, having been an avid listener and transcriber of birdsong throughout his youth. Following his capture, he realized he could compose a piece of music incorporating birdsong into his work. Imprisoned with several other musicians of remarkable skill, he set to work. A German officer learned of Messiaen’s gifts and supplied him with paper for composing. The Red Cross provided a few additional instruments. Ultimately, the 50-minute Quartet debuted in the camp on January 15, 1941 before an audience of 400 prisoners. Despite the horrific conditions – the men were freezing, starving and huddled together for warmth – his music, Messiaen reflected, was never listened to with such keen “attention and comprehension.”

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In his notes to The Quartet, Messiaen wrote, “The birds are the opposite of time. They represent our longing for light, for stars, for rainbows, and for jubilant song.” For beauty.

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.


pchristen

Get Curious

April 21, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

Curiosity

A true story:

Annoyed. I am so annoyed. I sit in traffic on my way to an important meeting. It has started to rain, and this annoys me further. Being from Seattle, I absolutely know for a fact that people from California should not drive in the rain. They see raindrops and slam on their brakes.

The light changes several cars ahead of me but traffic does not move. At all. Ten seconds, twenty seconds, sixty seconds. The light changes from green to yellow to red. I am now muttering to myself, further annoyed.

The light changes to green again. Still no movement. What is the problem? I have an important meeting to run! What is wrong with California drivers? Why can’t these people learn to drive in the rain?

I am gripping my steering wheel in a death grip when I first notice the stooped woman, osteoporotic spine bending her to an impossible angle. She shuffles slowly, determinedly across the street, pausing every few steps to steady herself. She approaches the curb. A young man walks next to her, lightly holding her elbow.

She reaches the curb, pauses to grasp his arm and takes a step up on the sidewalk. He squats down to speak to her so she can see his face. She shakes her head “no” at whatever he has said and continues her painstaking shuffle forward, tiny body teetering, her gaze forever focused on the ground a few inches in front of her feet.

The man stands, gazes after her, holds his hand up in thanks to the line of cars, runs back into the crosswalk and gets into his car at the front of the line of traffic.

The light changes back to red again. I am stunned and appalled by my behavior which stands in stark contrast to the acts of generosity and determination I just witnessed.

Why didn’t I see the woman before? When did this young man first leave his car? At the first sign of personal inconvenience, I had created a story. Others couldn’t drive in the rain. They didn’t realize how important my meeting was. I was so certain my story was reality. When I ceased to be curious, I literally stopped seeing the world around me.

Humbled, I drove slowly through the intersection, looking down the sidewalk to catch a final glimpse of that tiny, stooped figure, wondering at the courage it takes to walk alone in her condition and step into a busy intersection. And wondering as well about my self-induced blindness.

Expand your vision

In the absence of curiosity our perception of things, our “stories” rule us, blinding us to other possibilities other interpretations of the same facts. This happens to us all every day. A coworker misses a deadline and we don’t bother to ask why. We “know” it’s because he procrastinated so we let it fester, never learning of his visit to the emergency room the night before with his sick child. A friend throws a party we’re not invited to and we feel hurt, never bringing it up, only to find the invitation months later under a stack of our mail. An email goes unanswered, a sure sign we’re being ignored. We are absolutely certain of it. Later we learn a server went down and no mail was going in or out of the office. We make up stories (and often spread them) a thousand times a day, every day and mistake our stories for the truth.

Getting curious expands our vision, illuminates options, and reveals other choices, other explanations available to us. Curiosity expands possibility, learning and discernment.

Curiosity is our all-purpose Swiss Army knife for well-being and compassion.

Curiosity

 This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.


pchristen

Leave the Drama Behind…

April 18, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge. 

Responsibility

We can be fully committed to taking 100% responsibility for our lives and living with integrity even if we know we will fall short at times.  It’s not about perfection. It’s about intention and commitment. How might we begin to appreciate what it means to take 100% responsibility, being fully accountable for our lives and our decisions?

To better understand this, at HopeLab, we often use a simple tool – the so-called “drama triangle” to help us discern whether we are taking more than or less than 100% responsibility. The drama triangle has three roles on it – the villain, the victim and the hero. Each role demands the presence of at least one of the others in order to exist. (A hero needs a victim to rescue, a villain needs a hero to blame, etc.)

Let’s take a closer look at each role.

The Victim

What are we doing when we choose (and it is a choice) to play the victim? As victims, we feel at the effect of the world, overwhelmed and powerless. We may complain of being overworked, underappreciated, and tired, but we continue to seek out situations that will cause us pain and suffering so heroes rescue us or villains exploit us.

When we find ourselves saying “I don’t have a choice,” or “I can’t get out of this,” or “I have to sacrifice myself,” we’re playing the victim. We have sad eyes and sorry excuses. As victims, we feel so burdened. We take less than 100% responsibility for our circumstances and seek out heroes to come to our rescue or villains to blame.

The Villain

What about the villain? Every drama requires a great villain! As villains, we play the juicy part of blaming others or ourselves, zeroing in on someone or something to criticize. We finger-wag. We are masters of the blame game. Self righteous in our condemnations, villains are “my way or the highway” actors. We might be cynical, narcissistic, puritanical, or sarcastic, but we are always right. Just ask us.

When you find yourself saying “You’re doing it all wrong!”, “Whose fault is this anyway?” or you’re blaming the government, the DMV, or the weather for your woes, you’ve cast yourself in the role of the villain.

Villains gladly take more than 100% responsibility for a situation so we can blame ourselves when things don’t turn out as we’d like or less than 100% so we can blame others. Who cares as long as we get to place the blame? As villains, we require victims or heroes.

The Hero

Finally, the hero! It’s evident why one might not wish to be a villain or a victim, but what could possibly be wrong with wanting to be a hero? Well for one thing, on the drama triangle, it demands we perpetuate others acting like victims or villains so we can maintain our hero status. It’s exhausting, but somebody has to do it.

As heroes, we crave problems to fix and people to save. We will protect, analyze, listen, provide, and go the extra mile, all in an attempt to seek temporary relief from pain or discomfort we would just as soon not face. For example, doing workarounds for colleagues rather than having a direct conversation with them about their performance. Or paying an addict’s rent rather than allowing her to bottom out.

When we find ourselves saying “I’ll keep you from harm,” or “I’ll make it all better,” or “I can do it all right now,” we’re playing the hero.

As heroes, we take on more than 100% responsibility so we can feel appreciated and acknowledged. We love the applause. We live for the curtain call and the standing O.

These are the actors on the drama triangle—victim, villain, and hero—and they can consume us, running the show, leaving our integrity in shambles and our energy drained.

In some of our more elaborate performances, we even play the roles of victim, villain and hero all by ourselves. We’re a one-person show: as the victim, we cry about being loaded down with work, as the hero, we stay up all night to complete the job, then as the villain, we gossip at the water cooler, blaming others for our woes.

Sound familiar? So, what to do?

Step off the off the drama triangle and into presence, fully into our lives. Stop blaming, rescuing or whining.  Seek meaningful resolution and accountability. Keep the promises we make. Stop saying things about others we would be unwilling to say in their presence. Exchange self-righteous certainty for curiosity.

100% responsibility for 100% of our lives. It’s our ticket to integrity, to energetic lives of impact, connection and purpose. Better than any drama. It’s the greatest show on Earth.

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.    


pchristen

Integrity: The Path To Self-Mastery

April 18, 2014

From presidents to parents, we are all leaders in some way. Every day we make choices that matter. In this multi-part series, we encourage readers to consider their choices as leaders using HopeLab’s Questions for a Curious Leader. The goal? To spark a personal, fiercely honest reflection that supports greater clarity – where new possibilities and perspectives can then emerge.

Integrity

Malcolm Gladwell’s best-selling book Outliers: The Story of Success breaks down the concept of masterful practice. In his book, Gladwell cites the work of K. Anders Ericsson who studied mastery and top performance in a wide array of professions including surgery, acting, programming, music, and firefighting. Ericsson found that “the journey to truly superior performance is neither for the faint of heart nor the impatient.” The same might be said of the practice of integrity.

Mastery of any endeavor is not simply about practicing a lot. It is also about a particular type of deliberate practice that pushes you beyond your competence and comfort with attention, intentionality and resilience.

Ericsson’s research illustrated the “10,000 hours or 10 years” rule of practice essential for mastery. Athletes and musicians alike brought precise attention to the placement of their bodies, their thoughts and their emotions as they cultivated their genius. Purposeful, highly focused practice might occur up to 5-6 hours per day, but rarely more. Rest was essential.

Ericsson’s research also revealed that one may well need “a well-informed coach not only to guide you through deliberate practice but also to help you learn how to coach yourself.” We can’t go it alone.

Integrity too is a practice that takes discipline. We inevitably fail along the way. Mastering the practice is a lifetime’s work. And the practice will not look that different from the aspiring violinist or the Olympic swimmer–to get better we’ll need knowledgeable instructors and a willingness to push at the boundaries of our learning edge. Curiosity, candor and accountability are handy assets in the practice. It is humbling, rewarding work.

There are no short cuts.  Staying curious and keeping the promises we make—living in whole-hearted integrity—may be the practice of a lifetime; but we need only start with this moment. What do you intend to do with it?

Integrity

This blog series is based on the writing of Pat Christen, Susan Edsall, Chris Murchison and Richard Tate. In creating Questions for a Curious Leader, we’ve benefited greatly from the contributions of several colleagues and partners. To learn more, please download the quick reference guide.


Kevin Neilson

Do You Haiku?

April 17, 2014

We sure hope you do!

In the spirit of play with purpose, we invite you to celebrate National Haiku Poetry Day by appreciating something larger than yourself, whether it’s nature, justice, knowledge, community, family—or something else altogether.

Inspiration

Compose a haiku that’s inspired by an element of our work in resilience, purpose, connection, control, belonging, or physical activity. Then submit your haiku on our Facebook page in the comments section by 10:00 PM PDT.

Prepare to be surprised

Several haikus will be featured on Thursday 4/24, where the highly coveted HopeLab High Five will be awarded in a visually stunning style—we promise! Plus the HopeLab High Five’s secret redemption value will be revealed.

Tips

Remember a haiku consists of three lines with a syllable pattern of 5-7-5.

Like this:

HopeLab_Haiku_R38

Or this:

HopeLab_Haiku_R31

So try your hand at haiku on our Facebook page. There’s only upside!


Chris Murchison

A Thriller of a Farewell

April 15, 2014

Recently we said goodbye to an employee in a truly remarkable way. Instead of telling you about it, I encourage you to watch it. Spoiler alert: You’ll love this behind-the-scenes look at one of the most joyful and unorthodox send-offs ever. Plus, you’ll get a glimpse into the positive organizational culture we strive to cultivate here at HopeLab. Please enjoy!

How We Put the “Good” in Goodbye

Departing from a job is a significant milestone in anyone’s career. These endings are inevitable, and we make every effort to mark the milestone in a meaningful way at HopeLab. To honor the individual in their transition, we consider the whole person, their interests and passions, and curate a farewell that respects who they are as an individual and how we know them. Our farewells will often include a memory book with photos and hand-written notes from staff. There might also be a meal with favorite foods or at a favorite restaurant, a handcrafted article like a handmade card or a fun activity. We try to create an event and/or gift that delights the individual and communicates how much they matter to us.

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Endings are significant cultural events at HopeLab. Although sometimes sad, acknowledging and honoring these transitions strengthens our community and builds resilience. Every employee will one day leave your organization, so paying attention to endings is one of the best ways to live the values of your organization.

For insight on how honoring endings can impact your bottom line, read Jessica Amortegui’s article in Fast Company.