Saturday, June 30, 2007

Generated Wisdom

In many organizations wisdom is generated but not captured. Teams amass an incredible amount of wisdom which isn’t captured or catalogued for subsequent teams and future use. Knowledge transfer is a constant struggle, especially for many organizations that bring in consultants to do long term work. Once they leave, the knowledge leaves with them.

How can you not only capture organizational wisdom at all levels, but have it readily available to use as a resource and build on to create organizational excellence? Think of how much time and money is wasted when you have to start from scratch time and time again. This, however is the status quo for many an organization.

In a world where technology is a part of everything we do, we should be able to catalogue this wisdom and ‘bank’ it to be built upon, honed, and changed as needed so this knowledge becomes part of the organizational structure. How an organization captures and integrates this wisdom is what makes it stand out in a crowd. Any organization that lets its wisdom evaporate only to start anew will be wasting time, energy and money instead of becoming masterful and known experts in their fields. This is not only unsustainable but damaging to its overall success.

Just think of the massive project archiving the internet is, but the Wayback Machine is a testament to what’s possible if a project that massive is possible, anything is.

Now what about in life? How much wisdom has been lost from generation to generation because the younger generations aren’t paying attention to their elders? I’m not saying they don’t love their grandparents and respect them, what I am saying is do they take the time to listen to them?

I know that things are very different now than when my grandparents emigrated to Canada. But what they learned in their lives, how they lived their lives and having a chance to learn about their rich histories, family dynamics and traditions was priceless to me. In passing these stories and traditions to my son, he will have a richer life as well and more to give his kids when they come along. There’s nothing more heartwarming to me than hearing my son tell me he’s going to get in his car and drive the 2 hours to see his grandparents because he loves to be with them. He too lives a busy life but the lessons learned and experiences shared from the time spent with my parents he can’t learn in any book. It’s called life’s lessons. And when we pay attention to the richness around us, we will learn more about ourselves and our place in life. It can be pretty amazing all around, don’t you think?


Donna Karlin

*Book Recommendation: 'Kitchen Table Wisdom: Stories That Heal': This isn't the usual kind of book I recommend but one I believe everyone would benefit from having. I can't tell you how many copies I've given as gifts over the years. It's the kind of book that makes your heart smile.

"Sitting around the table telling stories is not just a way of passing time," writes Rachel Naomi Remen in her introduction to Kitchen Table Wisdom. "It is the way wisdom gets passed along. The stuff that helps us live a life worth remembering."

Monday, June 25, 2007

People Become Who They Might Be When They Let Go of Who They Are

I'm sure you recall me saying "People become who they might be when they let go of who they are" quite a few times. It pushes a great deal of buttons, that's for sure. Some think it's having to compromise personal values to do that, but that isn't the case at all.

I’m creating a whole new program based on that statement. We might complain that our bosses, family, friends etc. put up roadblocks to our success --- whoever and whatever we can find to blame for our setbacks --- but the bottom line is we hold ourselves back more than all the other people, circumstances and strokes of fate put together. We have to hold ourselves accountable for our choices in life.

If you get over yourself, then you can let go over who you are at least enough to open your mind to possibility. Everyone in this world knows something you don’t know about something. Until you let go and open your mind, you’ll never know what that something is. Look at what you’re missing out on! In these cases, it's you holding yourself back, not everyone else in this world.

Organizational leaders look for people who don’t hesitate to jump into the deep end of whatever they’re about to embark on. Innovation comes from people who not only think out of the box, but don’t acknowledge there is a box in the first place. Remove your own self-limitations and you’ll attract all kinds of amazing opportunities. That energy will attract others and the ripple effect will go well beyond anything you imagined.

Opportunities whisper, they don’t knock and if you don’t pay attention and are so hell-bent on being the person you’re expected to be or who you’ve boxed yourself into being, those opportunities will go poof into the night. The greatest discovery you will ever make is that you’re unique. By letting go of ‘who you are’, you’ll find out just what that means.

Ceiling? What ceiling?

Donna Karlin

*Book Recommendation: A new book is launching on July 9th, and if it's half as amazing as the author (and I have no doubt it will be) I urge you to check it out.

"Mayday!: Asking for Help in Times of Need"

"Seven out of ten people say they want to ask for help more often than they do! This book explores why we don't make requests for help, why we should and how to do it in a way that works.

You don't have to do it alone. In this engaging guide to understanding and conquering the personal and professional fears that keep us from turning to others in times of need, coach Nora Klaver offers readers compelling insights on why we don't ask for help, why we should, and how to do it."

Friday, June 22, 2007

What People Want In Life Is To Be 'Gotten'

A while back in an online dialogue with colleagues we were talking about charm, being charming and can one learn how to be charming. Is it possible? Can we learn true charm or is it a fundamental characteristic we're either 'born with' or not? And if one does learn charm, is it then authentic or forced and fake?

I'm thinking of the statement..."It's the result of using specific skills that most of us know little or nothing about. That means charm can be learned."...

Sure charm can be learned just like one can learn a skill, however learning a skill is different than being gifted with a talent. There's a difference, whether in playing a musical instrument, doing what comes naturally and becoming masterful at it, or learning a basic skill. One can always tell the difference. Having the talent, or being charming is an extention of who we are and flows from us almost naturally. Learning a skill is more mechanical and even though we can become proficient in it, it doesn't flow quite the same.

I look at charm as being something genuine, a way of being, an ease with people... and to think of it as being a learned behaviour would be more like the difference between a learned skill and a true talent. But I won't go there right now.

If charm is, as some remarked, used or thought of in a positive sense as a way of approaching and embracing people based on a giving, warm, accepting personality, then wouldn't learned charm have that stilted aspect to it that would make us question its authenticity?

<---wondering out loud. (I'd love your three cents on this)

Bottom line is people want others to ‘get them’, and understand where they’re coming from. People want to be comfortable, and charming people puts them at ease….but edgy people keep them on their toes, stretch them beyond what they’re comfortable with and help them fly. Some leaders might be charming but those who create a huge following are the ones with an edge which, in many ways, counteracts the charming persona or minimizes the importance of it.

Interest in the charmer usually wanes but the fascination with an edgy leader remains constant or increases as you wonder what (s)he’ll do next and what your role will be in the scheme of things. (S)he might keep you off balance, but interested. I think in many ways a charmer keeps you at status quo.....might make you feel really good, important perhaps at that moment in time but generally moves on to charm the next person. Will the charmer help you grow? I wonder.

What do you think?

Donna Karlin

Book Recommendation: A great book that speaks about this topic is The Power of Charm: How to Win Anyone Over in Any Situation by Brian Tracy and Ron Arden.

They state: "There's no question that some people are naturally charming, which gives them an advantage. But charm isn't some mystical ingredient that's found in our genes. It's the result of using specific skills that most of us know little or nothing about. That means charm can be learned. "
Would you agree?

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Insights, Thoughts and Reflections

I posted my regular blog yesterday late in the day and after I closed down I started reflecting on the day as I so often do. This post has nothing whatsoever to do with politics or leadership; it has to do with life and relationships and some insights I had which I thought might resonate with many of you.

Today is Father’s Day and I’ll get to that in a few moments. Yesterday was my birthday. I had a fantastic day with my son, out for lunch and buying ingredients and the perfect wine to make a special dinner together. He is one amazing cook! I love cooking with him. We talk as we chop and sauté…laugh a lot! (There is never a shortage of laughter between us) and we also reflected on the year I had. It was one amazing year for which I am very grateful. The phone was ringing off the hook with well wishers, and with every conversation I realized something new. That’s what I’d like to share with you.

First of all, about my friend Deb, if you’re ever lucky enough to have a friend like this, I certainly hope you appreciate that friendship and never take it for granted. She knows me inside and out, my accomplishments, my insecurities, my life and every facet of it. She supports me, applauds me and gives me a kick in the butt when I need it. She, and her family are what I call family by choice. She was the first to call for the day and gave me a smile that lasted right through it! The last call of the day, my oldest friend John, made me crack up and reflect on the 46 years we’ve been friends. I can’t imagine my life without him in it. I just can’t nor ever want to. And then there’s my cousin Joyce who is like my sister. We’ve been inseparable our whole lives. Everyone should have a Joyce in their life! She actually celebrates my birthday without me being there. Sometimes she even invites our mothers for lunch to celebrate and I’m never invited (go figure)…so she can thank my mother for having me. Have you ever heard anything like that? Yep…she’s a one of a kinder! We have the same voices (and have a lot of fun with that sometimes), know how each other thinks, feels, reacts, and love each other in spite of ourselves Sometimes we even send self-addressed stamped envelopes with birthday cards “To my favourite cousin”, cross out one name, add the other’s, put a new message beneath it and send it back : )

Sometimes in life we expect our closest relatives to be the closest, but they aren’t. I’d say some of my closest blood relatives don’t have a clue who I am, what makes me tick, what I’m doing, how I’m doing. It used to bother the hell out of me, but not much any more, because just like longevity doesn’t necessarily make a successful relationship, blood connections don’t necessarily mean interest and involvement. Relationships are about choice not blood line and how we respect and treasure our relationships is up to us.

And speaking of treasuring relationships…my parents…

I was away for Mother’s Day and couldn’t post, so this is really for both parents. My parents are amazing. They will always be young because it’s their attitude and joie de vivre. You’ll always catch them walking somewhere, taking in a festival or whatever is happening in downtown Montreal. They’re with-it, intelligent, loving and amazing people who blow me away continually.

So for all fathers…all parents….here’s a quote that says it all. In my mind I’m adding ‘woman’s’ to the quote because for me it’s both.

“There's something like a line of gold thread running through a man's words when he talks to his daughter, and gradually over the years it gets to be long enough for you to pick up in your hands and weave into a cloth that feels like love itself”. ~John Gregory Brown

Happy Father’s Day!

All the best..
Donna Karlin

Wednesday, June 13, 2007

You Know What You Know....

...but do you know what you don't know or take the time to discover it?

One of the first conversations I have with clients is "You know what you know. What don't you know that you need to know in order to do your job and succeed?" That in combination with "If you're making decisions based on assumptions then those assumptions just might become truth and is that where you ultimately want to be?" That's where incorporating data or evidence gives them the foundation they need with which to make informed decisions.

It's like trying to forecast the future by only looking at the past which might assume that conditions remain constant. They don't. Situations change moment to moment. It's like driving a car by looking in the rearview mirror. Eventually you crash.

We can learn from from the past, decide to repeat how we did something because it worked for us, or to absolutely never go there again because it didn’t. One of my major roles is to look at a situation or snapshot in time that created something extraordinary for my client, and rather than him looking at what transpired as a stroke of luck or a fluke, I put words around it so he can repeat it again if he so chooses.Alternatively often I share with my client something that happened that didn’t work for him, and help him become so aware of the intricacies of that situation that he will make sure he doesn’t react in quite the same way again.However the purpose of what I do is not to keep my clients in the past but to give them the vehicle with which to create their future right now as each moment unfolds. The future is built on what we do in the present. They’re building blocks, yes, but not independent segments of life. They all need to fit into some sort of puzzle we put together to invent what we want to evolve into. If we constantly live in the past, whether in our own problems or successes, or using pure data, there would be no growth.

Conditions never stay constant. As we grow, learn, experience through life we start this moment in time from a new wrung on the ladder. Forcing ourselves to go back to what was is like starting the climb all over again. Why in the world would we ever want to do that?

I learned not to fight the intuitive thoughts as they come, or to talk myself out of them with logic or pure fact, it's to incorporate them into the whole picture and work with them to succeed.One of my clients recently told me I look right through him. When I asked him what he meant he said I see past the obvious. One of the benefits of them working with a Shadow Coach™ is they know their Coach will be aware of what they were too busy to pick up. I'm not treating my clients as transparent or one dimensional. It's taking into account all the intricacies of a personality and how that person changes with every personal interaction, situation and experience they have and seeing what isn't there as well as what is. Add the foundation of data to the mix and that leader will fly, taking the rest of the organization with him. One is not exclusive of the other. Together they're extraordinarily powerful.

Donna Karlin

* Note: Welcome 104th subscriber from Cote D'ivoire!

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Six Degrees of Separation or Is It Two or Three?

Who do you know who knows…? Years ago one of the first shampoo commercials said it perfectly. Tell two friends, who tell two friends and so on and so on.

It's quite something how an idea or concept can be shared world-wide within a few degrees of separation. A month or so ago, there was a blog post about LinkedIn. I am a firm believer in business networking. One of the bonuses of being on LinkedIn is the ability to ask questions of those on the service. Many of the answers generate dialogue, collaboration and partnerships for projects or research. I can't tell you how much valuable information I've gotten through this service.

I joined LinkedIn a few years ago and was amazed at the connections that formed through this service. And then I was asked to join the Microsoft Vision Team (no I'm not a was to look at the context of technology in my life and my clients lives) and almost overnight I was inundated by emails from people who worked for Microsoft all over the world asking how they could support me in my work. Blew me away! So my three degrees of separation as of this morning is now 1,237,000. Could you imagine what that might mean to gathering information and ideas not to mention possibilities?

But it's not only about me in the context of my work. It's about connections and connecting others who would benefit from knowing each other. Who do I know that I could connect with someone else I know in order for them to succeed in their own realms?

We witnessed that last month at The Conversation Among Masters, inaugural conference of Master Coaches from all over the world. Within that conference we launched The Coach Initiative. The mission is "To be the central gathering point where professional Coaches can volunteer their experience and expertise in support of global projects that focus on the betterment of the human condition and uplifting the human spirit. The Coach Initiative holds the value that professional Coaching has the ability to increase both personal and professional effectiveness, contentment and success of committed clients ("coachees").

This is where the power of connections is so evident. I started contacting my colleagues all over the world, blogged about it in my own blog and was asked to guest blog on other's Blogs. And so it begins. The power of people connecting people has been invaluable in my profession, my creative work and for my clients, colleagues and friends and can help people attain a level of mastery in their fields beyond their wildest dreams.

If we all connected people who can support us in our passions and us in theirs, it gives a whole new meaning to open source. It can create strong, cohesive global working groups. Location doesn't matter any more because technology can connect us. Think bigger. Think beyond your geographical box. The saying "The world is our oyster" has never been as true as it is in this day and age.

Who can you support where you both grow, develop and attain mastery in each of your fields? My Research and Development team is made up of people from all professions, not just executive coaching. Break the box in any way you can and you'll be amazed at the world wide community you create.

And if you do, I'd love to hear about it as would other readers, I'm sure from all over the world.

Donna Karlin

*Note: Welcome subscriber from Aruba. 103 countries and territories and counting!