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Posts tagged ‘Wisdom’

Where are you investing?

This question is not about dollars. I’m asking about where you’re investing your time and energy? Do you set goals? Do you set the Jim Collin’s type of goals: Big Hairy Audacious Goals? I’m not opposed to goals and objectives, but I would argue that we too much time being invested in achieving the outcome.

We invest a lot of time and energy into desired outcomes – losing weight, exercising more, winning the promotion, building a great team, <you fill in the blank>. But when we invest our time and energy into a particular outcome, we set ourselves up for anxiety, loss, and even despair. Why? Much of the time we don’t reach the goals we set, either as individuals or organizations. Life doesn’t seem to obey our commands to turn out a certain way. The influence of innumerable variables most often produces unexpected outcomes.

I’ve been thinking about this and understand that we all need goals, hopes, and dreams for Life and well-being. But rather than investing in the outcome, I believe that we need to invest well and with intention in our actions and the process along the way. We can seize the day, enjoy the journey, befriend what comes along the road. Investing in good process and right action allows us to achieve success every day that we act with integrity and do our best.

It’s about how you got there. Not what you’ve accomplished.
  – Yvon Chouinard, CEO, Patagonia

Yellowstone Wild Flowers

Success … maybe

There are days when I have difficulty deciding whether a project or workshop is working or not. On other days, I can spend time worrying about whether a decision is good or bad. Or something happens that seems frustrating and upsetting. Often the this story that I encountered a few years ago from Wisdom Tales (p.35-36) comes to mind:

A farmer’s horse ran away. His neighbors gathered upon hearing the news and said sympathetically, “That’s such bad luck.”

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The horse returned on his own the next morning, and brought seven wild horses with it. “Look how many more horses you have now,” the neighbors exclaimed. “How lucky!”

“Maybe,” the farmer replied.

The next day, the farmer’s son attempted to ride one of the wild horses, was thrown, and broke his leg. “How awful,” the neighbors said. “It looks like your luck has turned for the worse again.”

The farmer simply replied, “Maybe.”

The following day, military officers came to town to conscript young men into the service. Seeing the son’s broken leg, they rejected him. The neighbors gathered round the farmer to tell him how fortunate he was.

“Maybe,” said the farmer.

Success is often judged by comparing it to the outcome we expected – which is subjective. Circumstances cannot always be judged good or bad. Thomas Edison said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

When things don’t seem to be going the way I hope for I often ask, “What is working well here? What do I need to keep? What do I need to let go? What lessons can I learn?”

Success? Failure? Maybe.

Idea for reflection – 17

In reflecting on how we access our emotional and social intelligence, how we can gain wisdom – I point my readers to Garr Reynold’s post about lessons from the forest. Here you will find several ideas worthy of reflection on a summer weekend.

Idea for reflection – 16

The assumptions of scientific management

in 1908 Frederick Taylor carried a stopwatch in to a steel plant in Philadelphia and began the time and motion studies that would lead to his publication, “The Principles of Scientific Management.” His goal was to find the “one best method” of work – substituting “science for rule of thumb.”

We no longer are surprised by the efficiency and productivity that scientific management delivers. But I would suggest that we have forgotten the six basic assumptions that Taylor makes. Here is a summary as set out by Postman in Technopoly (p. 51):

  1. The primary goal of labor and thought is efficiency.
  2. Technical calculation in all respects is superior to human judgment.
  3. Human judgment cannot be trusted because it is plagued by laxity, ambiguity, and unnecessary complexity.
  4. Subjectivity is an obstacle to clear thinking.
  5. What cannot be measured either does not exist or is of no value.
  6. The affairs of citizens are best guided and conducted by experts.

I’ve been pondering the impact that these assumptions have on our organizations and how they influence our decisions and actions on a daily basis. Are we tempted to make everything in our lives more efficient? Are we tempted to apply efficiency standards to our relationships too? Are we at risk of trying to measure things that require wisdom and not process and procedure?

We forget these assumptions at our peril.

Postman, N. 1993. Technopoly: The Surrender of Culture to Technology. New York, NY, Vintage.

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