Sunday, March 30, 2008

Wisdom vs. Knowledge

I was recently at a conference where one of the speakers said “Learning is more than gathering information”. That statement had a profound effect on me for many reasons. We looked at the difference between knowledge and wisdom and were asked “How many people have you met who have an immense amount of knowledge, are like walking encyclopedias but aren’t very wise? And how many people are very simple and don’t have a wealth of knowledge or information but are very, very wise?”

Take that question and add one of mine. Which person, the knowledgeable or the wise, leaves the biggest impact on you, so you remember the conversation, the context and take those words of wisdom and apply them to your life? My answer is the wise one.

In the days of vast amount of knowledge available at the tip of our fingertips, the world is fast become an even playing field when it comes to gathering knowledge. A great deal of it, through open source is available for no cost. Wisdom however is something that is priceless.

If we listen to all the knowledge that we’re bombarded with, we will close down and start ignoring it. There is way too much information to remember coming at us at the speed of light (thanks to technology). We can’t possibly retain it all. We can however look for guidance from those who have a wealth of wisdom because they see context, relevance and how it impacts us.

Do you consider yourself wise or knowledgeable? Regardless, which would you rather be?

I know many people with post graduate degrees coming out of their ears who can’t find a job. Why? Because they’re scholastically overqualified but don’t have the savvy, the perception and perspectives needed in a fast paced, competitive world. They get lost in their knowledge and get stuck on research but don’t integrate it and use it as needed to move themselves and organizations forward.

When choosing my development team I didn’t look at their degrees as much as experience, impact, awareness factor and openness to grow, learn and create. Knowledge can hold you back in the realm of what was already studied and documented. My team looks at possibility. How they live their lives, their work ethic and open-mindedness got them chosen for my team. I'm seeing the same trends more and more in the corporate world. Who do you think would serve your organization better? Perhaps it’s time to look at a culture change?

Donna Karlin

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Missing The Boat

“What if a sense of 'wonder' about your life and the world around you already existed but somehow you had just managed to miss it amongst all the drama?” - Nic Askew

How many get so caught up in the superficial things in life, they don’t pay attention to what’s right there, right now?

I'd love to hear your answer to that question.

So often I hear "Today I will…." or "This week I will…."

Will you? Best laid intentions…

How many brainstorm about changes that have to be made to move an organization forward, arrange endless meetings and retreats and perhaps actually dialogue about what those changes should look like, only to park it all and live with the status quo or get so caught up in the drama, they don't see what's right in front of them? This isn't only about work; it's about life as well.

It happens more often than you think. What stops a leader from jumping in with both feet to make it happen? There’s a chemistry that happens in an organization and if your enthusiasm for the results that change might bring isn’t contagious, it won’t be sustainable. So how do you make sure it is? How does everyone have to ‘get it’ according to them so there’s buy in? If the leader hesitates, that in itself sends a message and the ripple effect could make the difference between engagement and having a fight on their hands.

We look at successful leaders as people who move organizations forward and take them on the road to continued success. Some organizations continue to fly and others might succeed for a short while but that success is not sustained. Why do you think that is? Are leaders measured by organizational success or by their style and staff engagement? Is it possible to separate the two? Or can a leader be successful for one organization but bomb in another? A group of us were in conversation about that just last week. Some say successful leaders are measured by who they are, not but the success of the organization they’re working in, yet how in the world can one be separated from the other? If you lead people to failure, yes, you might be great at leading but that gets into good leadership and bad leadership and everything in-between.

Leaders need more than necessary skills sets and a wealth of knowledge to lead an organization into the future. It’s a combination of chemistry, people connectedness and vision. Articulating that vision in such a way where the staff really gets it, owns it and wants to make it happen is the key, so when they say “This week I will _______” or “This year I want to make _____happen” they’ll have the power with people to make it so.

However just because they’re able to do with one group, doesn’t necessarily mean that leader will be embraced by the next. What does a leader have to do give him/her a fighting chance?

Donna Karlin

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Sunday, March 16, 2008

We Are Our Own Magic Wands

The other day I asked myself this there magic in the world? Usually I debate questions like that...look at them from all perspectives to come up with an least my truth in the answer. This time debate wasn't necessary. The answer immediately came to me. This world IS magic. How could there be so many incredibly beautiful things surrounding us and extraordinary people in our lives if there wasn't?

But true enough, it all depends on how you look at the world. If you're one to look at your life as wanting or, to use a common analogy the glass being half empty, the world will always be wanting. And if you're one to look at it as always being half full, then you too will look at the world as a magical place. Bottom'll look at the world and participate in living life fully, not just existing in it.

I know some will immediately point out their illness or disappointment. And maybe for some it will be near impossible to look at their life as anything close to magical if they're concerned about losing a loved one to that illness. But every day we have that person in our lives is a gift.....and something to treasure. Knowing we've had that person touch us in some way IS magic. And, when they're no longer here...their spirit lives on. That too is magic...something we can hold onto....share with others and let them be a part of what or who has touched your life.

And then this morning as I looked out into my back snowy wilderness....because there's nothing garden-like about it, it’s covered in feet over feet of snow.....I watched as a cardinal flew to the tree right by my window....turn and watch me watch him back. I don't know how long he sat there watching me. I know if I had moved he would have flown away. He was exquisitely beautiful. And then a letter from someone who always gives me a smile...just by being, both strengthened my belief that if there is such beauty around in all could I ever have thought of debating this question in the first place?

This week I told a client of mine I have no magic wand….but that we are all our own magic wands. If we don’t make our world magical for us, why in the world would we expect others to do it for us?

For some it’s not believing they deserve a magical life, that it’s for other people who do ‘special things’. For others, it’s not looking at their lives as special even though they are. And for many, when I ask them to look at their lives through new eyes and ask them what they see, a whole new world reveals itself. Have you done that lately?

Donna Karlin

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Taking Freedom of Movement for Granted

This isn't the usual blog post about politics or leadership or even languaging. This is more about taking things for granted. Even in Ottawa, where storms and snowfalls are taken for granted and rarely stop us, this weekend was an exception. Imagine going to sleep one evening with snow covering the ground and the odd snow banks here and there, waking up to snow as high as rooflines. Streets, once wide enough for 5 cars to park side by side to being so filled up with snow that all of a sudden there's only room for a little over one car width. Bungalos are no longer visable at all from the street and sidewalks and signs have all but vanished is in the photo to the right.

That was this weekend when everthing came to a standstill even in a city used to snow where ploughs take it away almost as quickly as it comes down....except this past weekend. It was like a page out of a story book where the only people wandering around were walking on snowshoes.

We take so much for granted....freedom of movement being one of them. Plans never happened, going for groceries was out of the question and you made do with whatever you had around. Reading replaced running around and a roaring fire and an old movie replaced travel. It wasn't in any way shape or form what I had hoped for but it was a reminder we don't always have control of what the world hands us. And even though trips were cancelled, in the scheme of things and in a world when some can't guarantee their safety when they leave their homes, I have to remind myself that I'm so lucky in life...that the snow will melt and other weekends away will happen....and still I won't have to worry about my safety and well being. We sometimes take that for granted to. There are so many things and people we take for granted. This past weekend gave me the time to to sit back and take stock. When's the last time you stopped and let the world in?


Donna Karlin

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Combined Forces of Ego and Emotion

In a group dialogue a ways back someone posed the question “Why do so few managers and companies face and use the facts?”

There are many answers to that question and I know we’ll only touch the surface on this. One of the reasons why I think they don’t face and use facts is because of the filters that they put in place. Through those filters they process and apply facts, thereby coloring them to some extent.
What are filters you may ask? I use filters in my teaching. Whatever ways of being, attitudes, perspectives, cultures you filter context, content, your world, communication, or any ways of being through to create your own perceptions.

Most people have some kind of hidden agenda when they move forward. Hidden agendas aren't always a bad thing; often they are just how people deal and work with their filters to move in some direction.

Filters can be everything from over-inflated egos to cultural tethers. Facts are interpreted by people through emotion, through what their talents and strengths are (so would it be in their comfort zone or not), and everything in-between. It's through those filters or interpretations that might make one wonder whether or not organizational leaders are facing or using the facts as they stand at all. Add in the next layer of filters, such as assumptions, expectations etc, and even though they might be using expert advice compiled over time, that data or evidence is so watered down and filtered based on the people utilizing it, it no longer resembles the original information. Then, add the equation of multiple personalities putting those benchmarks to use and the facts are so altered, they might no longer be relevant.

Evidence based practice may be a starting point, however we need to figure out how to utilize it in the best way then go that level deeper. To use a medical analogy, it's the difference between X-rays and MRIs. X-rays look at the surface of a problem and its face value and MRIs go a lot deeper; the difference between assessing, and the basic assessment information with discernment as to its applicability within a unique organization. That is a key factor in my methodology of Shadow Coaching™. We have to take into account the uniqueness with regards to people, dynamics, resources, target clients/customers and all the other variables that apply.

Is seeking and applying a generic common factor using data in its true factual form (such as a rigid organizational model) or maintaining an organization's uniqueness that determines whether or not its leadership is successful and sustainable? Or is there some other combination that might ensure the desired results? I’d love to hear your three cents (or more).

Donna Karlin