Friday, July 24, 2009

Impossible Things

"There is no use in trying," said Alice;
"One can’t believe impossible things."
"I dare say you haven’t had much practice,"
said the Queen. "When I was your age,
I always did it for half an hour a day.
Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as
six impossible things before breakfast"
- Lewis Carroll

Dreams to some can be pure nonsense....and to others, the means with which they shape their lives. To believe something is impossible is to never try....never have hope of the possibilities that your dream can happen. But to have that spark of hope where there’s even a tiny possibility, helps you be ready for the a wonderful surprise waiting to happen.

When I was speaking to friends recently about circumstances turning lives upside down, what came to mind was the only constant in life is change. And if we live with that premise, then we no longer have a feeling of being out of control, reacting to circumstance. Rather it’s the anticipation that something’s going to happen. Life then is never boring...or stagnant.

Woodrow Wilson said "We grow great by dreams. All big men are dreamers. They see things in the soft haze of a spring day or in the red fire of a long winter's evening. Some of us let these great dreams die, but others nourish and protect them; nurse them through bad days till they bring them to the sunshine and light which comes always to those who sincerely hope that their dreams will come true."

I believe that. If we bring our dreams into the light of day and nurture them, they will shape our lives forever.

So make them be great!
Donna Karlin

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Clarity vs. Transparency? Why Choose?

I was recently reading a blog by John Maeda "Leaders Should Strive For Clarity, Not Transparency" and shared it with a colleague as this is a topic that always comes up in conversation, especially in times of organizational crisis. My colleague asked me a great question, "Why do we have to choose? Why does it have to be an either or?"

Great question. Why does it have to be either or? Why do we often feel we have to choose one over another when more often than not, we can choose both?

The article talks about transparency in times of recession where in his opinion a leader is better off being less transparent as difficult decisions have to be made. How about making them in such a way that embraces transparency and gives staff truth?

What a concept.

Where clarity comes in is in articulating that decision so that everyone can wrap their heads around the why it was made.

The clearer the simpler. And I'm all for simplicity.


Donna Karlin

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

There Can Be Order From Chaos

The reality right across the board is that my clients are overwhelmed with work, and their offices look like a tornado went through with stuff everywhere. They can't find anything, find time for anything and find enough time to do anything well and then have to find time to do it over 'cause it just isn't good enough the first time around (another whole conversation).

If this is you, you KNOW you're not going to be taking a whole day off any time soon to clean up the clutter. So start in small increments. Start processing, storing, filing, and delegating today's stuff and add a couple more things from yesterday's pile. You keep this up and before you know it, you'll have some order out of the chaos.

It works. THEN we'll have the space to work with the behavioural drivers that create the chaotic environment in the first place.

There is a method to my madness. Clear the clutter for some breathing space and then we have room to dive in.

Donna Karlin

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Is Your Comfort Zone Shrinking?

I recently had a conversation with a client about our comfort zone, what it is and how you purposefully have to expand it or, without you realizing it, it begins to shrink, especially as we grow older.

To use a simple example, when you were a teenager and your friend bought a pair of jeans that you loved and you found out the only place you could get them was clear across the city, you'd get on a bus and travel an hour or more to get them. Sometimes you'd call a group of friends and make an outing out of it but you did go and get those jeans no matter what it took.

As you got older, perhaps without realizing it, even with a car, first you'd get on the phone calling other stores closer to work or where you lived to see if they might carry them. And then the rationalizing would start as to whether or not you really needed them because you do have two pairs of jeans and so what if these were great looking 'cause it was clear across town.

As you get even older often people say "No, I don't feel like going so far. I'll buy a pair that's similar or won't even bother". They'd start going to stores nearby rather than venture out of the neighbourhood 'without even recognizing you're doing that.

And so it goes. Your comfort zone or world begins to shrink unless you purposefully stretch it and go beyond your immediate boundaries. That goes for trying a new food, listening to new music, expanding your horizons in your area of expertise, especially if you tell yourself you're too close to retirement or "you can't teach an old dog new tricks". Who's boundaries are those exactly? Who said you have to stop learning or stretching into new territory?

"You have to leave the city of your comfort and go into the wilderness of your intuition. What you'll discover will be wonderful. What you'll discover will be yourself." - Alan Alda

Even though we grow older, we have a whole world out there to discover, starting with who we are and our place within it. People do things out of habit rather than conscious choice until they start paying attention. Are you paying attention to your choices?

Donna Karlin

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Succeeding in a Challenging Economy

How do you succeed in a challenged economy?

You stop thinking about the challenged economy.

H. Jackson Brown Jr. once wrote, “Your mind can only hold one thought at a time, so make it a positive and constructive one.”

That goes for the economy, someone you’re having difficulty with…even a toothache.

OK, I know that might sound like a ridiculous example but think for a moment to the last time you had a toothache . Your tongue continually goes there to press on it so you make the pain lessen. Are you thinking about anything else at the moment? Or when you get a mosquito bite and it’s itching like crazy, is your mind able to completely focus on anything else?

Same goes for the economic environment. I have been listening to clients in the corporate world talk incessantly about the economy to the exclusion of everything else…leaders in government who only talk about cutbacks and what they can’t do because of them and coaches, creative and other solopreneurs talk about how people are cutting back.

Let’s face it. We always have parameters within which we have to do our work. Change how you do it. Build something great in spite of it. Figure out what’s amazing with what you have right now. Make it be great! Make your thoughts be great and share them.

Donna Karlin