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Winning in Today’s Economic Climate

If the world economic crisis is negatively affecting you and/or your business, I have some advice for you…stop worrying about it. There’s next to nothing you can do to fix it, and worrying about it certainly isn’t going to help anything. If you really want to help yourself and your business, there’s another crisis you should be focusing on. It’s one that nobody is talking about and yet nearly everyone is suffering from. It’s also a crisis that you can actually do something about–and by doing so–you can help yourself fare better in these challenging economic times. Believe it or not, it’s called an Identity Crisis.

ECONOMIC CRISIS, OR IDENTITY CRISIS, IN BUSINESSES?

What does an identity crisis have to do with you, especially during these turbulent economic times? Let’s start by shedding some light on what an identity crisis actually is. Erik Erikson, the ground-breaking developmental psychologist and psychoanalyst, said that people experience an identity crisis when they lose “a sense of personal sameness and historical continuity”. Further, only those who fully address this crisis and find a way to see themselves differently and in a way that is more congruent with the new and different world they find themselves in will survive and thrive.

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A Unique Mother’s Day Gift

In just a few days, this nation will celebrate one of our most sacred commercial holidays, Mother’s Day. The media will carry millions of odes, tributes and dedications that will reach nearly every living American in some form or another. More phone calls are made on Mother’s Day than on any other day of the year.

Millions of Americans will reflect on one of the most special, unique relationships of their lives; that between a mother and a child. We will spend at least a part of our day thinking about the institution of motherhood and all it stands for. Some of us will have had or still have a personal relationship with our mothers that validates and edifies all of the good feelings and thoughts that the word “Mom” can invoke. Yet for millions of Americans, Mother’s Day will feel quite different. While they’ll still be thinking of their mother, for them it will be less a day of honor and gratitude and more a day of reckoning. Those millions of odes, tributes and dedications will serve as sour reminders that amplify the bitterness and ache of a sacred promise that was never kept.

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Myth is Greater Than Truth

In my work with individuals and organizations, I focus on people’s “stories.” I call them their “myths.” Many people who study my work are at first put off by my use of the word myth and suggest that I use a different word. They feel that the word myth implies that the story is less than true, and therefore, somehow less than valid.

I suggest, however, that the very essence of my success in helping organizations and individuals make positive, drastic and lasting change is because I understand that their stories or their “myths” represent great truths to those who believe in them. If someone asked you, “What’s your story?” isn’t that another way of asking, “Who are you, why are you here, and why do you do what you do?”

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The Immaculate Perception Myth: A Barrier to Leadership Development

Many business owners tell me that the biggest challenge they face is a “leadership vacuum” within their organizations.  They usually identify the following problems at two different levels within the organization:

  1. Their senior level managers, while competent overall, are lacking skills in one ore more critical areas:  knowledge of the business, capacity to lead, or ability to create and/or implement vision and directives.
  2. The mid-level managers perform their duties quite adequately, but fail to demonstrate consistent capacities to think strategically, and then communicate those strategic decisions with others.

While it’s true that “you can’t send ducks to eagle school,” it has been my experience that more often than not, the managers that lack a few critical skills can be developed into fine organizational leaders and strategic thinkers. However, the solution isn’t as easy as having them sit through a training course on strategic thinking or leadership. The real solution consists of changing the driving myths of the culture in which these managers operate.

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Sincere Change: Looking in the Mirror

A reader from Indiana recently wrote,

“Dear Joe,  I know I could be a better mother and a better friend if I could improve the way I communicate. My problem is I don’t want to change into somebody I’m not. How can I stay sincere to myself and change at the same time.” — Susan V.

This is a very good question and one that most people aren’t willing to acknowledge. It is one of the biggest challenges that keeps most individuals and organizations from making true transformation. While they may sincerely desire to make fundamental changes, they have a greater psychological desire not to change anything by which they define themselves.

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Transformational Thinking & Congruency Training Q&A’s

Recent columns on transformational thinking and congruency training have generated email from around the country. Thank you for your correspondence – I appreciate the opportunity to discuss this topic. I wrote this week’s blog to answer some common questions on this often misunderstood topic.

What distinguishes transformational thinking? Transformational thinking is different from the way an individual or organization normally thinks in that it doesn’t use past myths, old driving-truths and past self-definitions. As our thoughts are driven by these three things, we are not likely to think differently enough or change our approach enough to create a vastly different outcome until we’re able to change the very templates on which our thoughts are formed.

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Business as “Unusual” – Transformational Thinking

In an interview with Newsweek Magazine, Jack Welch, the iconic CEO of General Electric said, “The old days of asking managers for 3 percent productivity gains–you can’t settle for that. You can’t think incrementally–you have to think transformationally.”

While he’s right, this is much easier to say than to do. The challenge is that few people, let alone organizations, understand the mechanics of transformation. Most people have never had a transformation, and surely even less actually know the mechanics of how to “create” one. One of my pet peeves is when I hear someone say they’re going to attend a full day or multi-day seminar on “change” with the goal of “getting one good thing out of it.” Have we become so jaded about our ability to truly transition that we’ll settle for merely learning “one” new concept as significant movement in our quest? This is hardly the stuff of transformation.

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Make Objectives Understandable (Gideons)

Vision statements, mission statements and strategic objectives are often misused and abused because they’re too often misunderstood.

Too many organizations understand that it’s important to have these things, yet don’t seem to understand just how powerful they can be.

Each year, I spend more than 170 days traveling, flying to various cities and staying in different hotels. While the comfort and decor of each room varied, there was one thing I knew would be consistent.  If I looked inside the drawer of the bed stand, I’d find a Bible. I could be sure I’d find that Bible because of the strength of a vision and the conviction of a mission.

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Leading in An Out of Control World – CASE Council of Administrators of Special Education

As a keynote speaker during the 19th annual 2008 CASE Conference, Joe was asked to contribute a feature article for the newsletter for the Council of Administrators of Special Education, CASE, a division of the Council for Exceptional Children, published bi-monthly.

Leading in an Out of Control World

A lot is asked of the CASE professional. It’s difficult enough to try to properly function in the dysfunctional and out of control environment that special education professionals deal with every day. Now CASE is asking you to lead as well?!

How does one lead a process that they don’t control? Further, how can one lead disparate individuals in micro-communities with varying and various agendas? Not to mention that there is no “leadership” line item on your already stretched too thin budget.

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