Conscious Use of Self #3: The Three Keys to Self-Mastery

Self-Mastery and conscious use of self have a broad purview. We use ourselves with everything we do, think, feel, and believe. Most of the time our automatic behaviors and thoughts serve us well. No mastery is needed. However, when we want to shift the dysfunctions around us including our own, being on automatic can be counterproductive. 

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Conscious Use of Self #2: The Ways We Waste Our Time and Energy

Time is a resource. And leaders never have enough of it. There are staffs to be managed, customers to coddled, finances to figured out, superiors to satisfy, and the partner and kids at home to be pleased and loved. The list goes on and on. Time’s a wastin’. Yet, we rarely think about the things we do on automatic which waste time and energy. I’m not talking about watching TV, resting, having a glass of wine, or playing with the kids. Those activities are not wasteful. They are useful for both pleasure and energy renewal. Do them well.

It’s the complaining, blaming, worrying, making excuses, and rationalizing that concern us. Procrastinating is another—too often I go shopping or clean the kitchen floor when I should work on this article. Another is analyzing for the 30th time how I’ll talk my editor into giving me a bigger advance. Arguing and trying to convince are too rarely useful to be anything but energy sponges. 

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Conscious Use of Self #1: The Foundation of Leadership

"Most of us make unconscious choices in the things we do; we sleep-walk through the possibilities available to us." -- Tony Robbins

When life isn’t working for you, when you aren’t getting the results you want, when your followers are stumbling around as you are; what to do? These situations happen to us all. At these times, we most need the power of conscious choice. We make many choices every day. We don’t notice most of them. Most are pre-made, automatic habits that require no conscious thought. We go through our routines: we wash up, have breakfast, check the phone, drive to wherever we are going, and interact with those around us. On most days, we give those actions barely a moment’s thought. It’s all automatic and works well…unless it doesn’t. Even then, still on automatic, we blame, complain, make excuses, and worry. We feel sorry for ourselves. We’re damned if we do and damned if we don’t. Such a waste of perfectly good energy.

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Conflict and the Misuse of Differences

The pleasures of fall colors in Maine, a sunset in the Caribbean, a waterfall veiling into the Columbia River are experiences we prize as different from our everyday life. We save our money to make them the focal point of vacations. We regale our friends with stories about such wonder. Differences are the source of rare beauty and joy. Viva la difference!

Then there are the differences that source the mutilations of poverty, racism, sexism, and war. That are behind the dysfunctions of teams, families. That drive us to avoid conversations about politics and religion. That have us bend ourselves into the shape of those we see as more potent than we are. The differences of opinion, thought, and belief we dare not share in fear of disapproval and ostracism.

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Leadership = Some Place to Go and People Willing to Follow

Great leaders are going someplace extraordinary and lots of people follow them! Leaders in most organizations know where they want to go. Keeping followers aligned and in sync to get there, however, can be frustrating. Here are seven areas to turn that frustration into excitement. All of the questions are born from the two primary aspects of leadership: They have some place to go, and they have people following them!

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A Practical Definition of Organization Development: Revised

Not too long ago I was having dinner with a client in the midst of a project that was going well. At some point my client looked up at me and said, “I’m glad you’re not one of those OD people.” After recovering from my surprise, we had a good discussion about what OD is and isn’t. Here is a summary of that discussion.

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Quick and Easy Consensus Decision-Making

Michael F. Broom, Ph.D.
Excerpted from his book The Infinite Organization

Consensus decision-making has the reputation of being very time-consuming. It needn’t be if the steps outlined below are followed. The failure of most supposed consensus procedures result from failing to ask those objecting if they are willing to accede to the proposition work even though they are not in full agreement with it.

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Making Interventions Sustainable

You used all of your skills to move your team from being dysfunctional to one with a high level of productivity, full engagement of all team members, and they even had some fun together. But will your success last? Will they revert back to dysfunction when you can’t be there? Did you built in the mechanisms to make your changes sustainable?

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Two Ways to Create Safe Teams and Organizations

An important key to having great teams and organizations is their sense of safety. Their members feel free to speak, to dissent, to be radical, and even outlandish. This freedom is key to having high levels of productivity, engagement, and creativity. In so many organizations and teams such freedom has been stifled. Cultures and norms of group think, submissiveness, and ennui develop when team members sense that being different is risky or useless. What a waste of human capital, of human energy, of human beings!

Here are two ideas I’ve found useful toward creating an environment of safety in teams and organizations. Both level the playing field where those involved see each other as human beings rather than boss and subordinate, sales and manufacturing, or some other form of more power and less power.

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Six Ways to Cure the Dysfunctional Team Blues

The CEO is frustrated! She is the CEO of a major health care organization and, like many other organization leaders, believes in teams. She has project teams, functional teams, cross-functional teams, process improvement teams, etc. A few of those teams work very well and others not so well. She wishes she could clone the leaders of her good teams and rid herself of the others. That so many of her teams are mediocre really bugs her! She’s got the dysfunctional team blues.

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The Why, What, & How of Organization Development

Once again, at a major organization development conference, I heard OD practitioners bemoan how hard it is to tell potential clients (and family and friends) what they do and how they do it. As usual, I refer them to a definition of organization development I published several months ago. Today, I decided that it was time to totally restructure that definition.

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It Takes Dragons

People ask me why I use a rather fierce looking dragon as my Center for Human Systems’ logo.

Dragons are known throughout the world in all climates, cultures, and eras. There are dragons with horns, claws, breath of fire, great size (some small), wondrous wings (some wing-less), and marvelous colors. These serpentine creatures forever populate our myths, legends, novels, and movies. Dragons are strong, fierce, powerful, and persuasive. They are creatures of magic, power, and beyond-normal insights. In Western cultures the magic and power of dragons is destructive; they are to be eliminated. In other cultures, dragons are positive symbols: Chinese dragons are symbols of good fortune. In the Aztec, Olmec, Mayan world, their dragon—Quetzalcoatl—symbolizes sustenance and re-birth. In the old Slavic world, some dragons—Zmaj—were friends of humans while others—Azdaja—were friends of witches and such. When they fight, great storms occur.

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