Since we’re talking about freedom, I wanted to share another paradox of freedom – a cage in which to be free. It’s a concept I’ve been sharing as part of my Success Strategies for years. And it’s directly connected to how our minds work, and how we simply cannot behave to a story that is inconsistent with our driving truths. Great leaders understand the paradox of the cage in which to be free not only for their own success, but for the success of those they lead.
Each of us lives according to our own specific myths (stories), contexts, and definitions. We choose these myths, contexts and definitions for ourselves. Some we choose consciously and some subconsciously. This is why I continually remind the leaders I work with that our perception is our reality. Not only do our perceptions determine how we live, but they also determine the limitations we place upon ourselves.
Does your leadership team listen to each other? Many companies I work with have very bright, smart, and motivated people in leadership positions. Many of these leaders advance in the ranks due in part to their subject matter expertise, whether they are product, finance, industry, sales, customer service, or operations experts.
In order to get the most out of your leadership team, you need to set the vision, and frame the context by which your leaders and employees reach their goals, always with the vision first and foremost. In other words, it is difficult to be innovative, productive, and profitable in a company where the leadership teams focus first on their own individual subject matter expertise, and lose sight of the vision.
I learned many life lessons from my dad. At the time I learned them, they helped me on a certain level. As I’ve lived my life, I have come to appreciate the depth and fullness, yet also the simplicity, of what he taught me. Here is just one example.
One day I was practicing my clarinet, working on a particularly difficult passage in preparation for my high school soloist competition.
“Hey Joe! Listen to what’s coming out of the end of your horn,” my Dad yelled down the stairs.
Lost in my efforts to learn and perfect the proper fingering and phrasing of the passage, I had stopped paying attention to the sound that I was creating.
Success Strategy # 11: Openly and sincerely compliment that which you admire and respect.
Last week I had the chance to meet Mike McCurry, the former Press Secretary for Bill Clinton’s administration. It was nice to be able to tell him in person what I’ve told hundreds of people and leaders that I’ve worked with over the years.
What did I tell him? That he was the ultimate example of grace under pressure during the Lewinsky scandal, and is probably the best press secretary of modern times.
Never miss a chance to openly and sincerely compliment that which you admire and respect in others.
On this President’s Day, let’s take a minute to reflect on the words of a President who knew how important it was not to divide, but to unite this country. Here are the words of the Gettysburg Address:
“Four score and seven years ago our fathers brought forth on this continent a new nation, conceived in liberty, and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal.
Now we are engaged in a great civil war, testing whether that nation, or any nation, so conceived and so dedicated, can long endure. We are met on a great battle-field of that war. We have come to dedicate a portion of that field, as a final resting place for those who here gave their lives that that nation might live. It is altogether fitting and proper that we should do this.
So the Congressional supercommittee fails to reach an agreement on deficit reduction. You heard it here first. Stay tuned for more predictions we don’t want to come true, but will. How do we know? Because we understand that people’s natures and cultures drive their behaviors more than their desires to have what is actually good for them…
Here’s the deal—we all lie to ourselves about ourselves. We tell ourselves stories that aren’t true and we rationalize and justify things that happen so they validate how we think.In some ways it is part of the human experience. Sometimes we are in denial of certain realities. Sometimes we just have blind spots that we can’t see no matter how hard we try.
The essence of our work here at Caruso Leadership, and where we have the biggest impact, is to help leaders with denial and blind spots—whether it’s on their part, the part of their leadership team, their organization, or even their target market.
Two weeks ago, while in London, I bought and wore a paper poppy as a donation to the Royal British Legion in commemoration of their version of Veteran’s Day.
Today, I plan on making the same gesture stateside. A policy of my business is to donate my time and services to those who serve education and our military. We do our best to do so, as often as we can.
There are three things that keep a sovereign nation powerful and sustainable: Military, Education and Money. The sad fact on this Veteran’s Day is that we are failing in two of the three, and due to a foolish political negotiation that created the silly notion of a super-committee who were doomed to fail from their inception, we are about to decimate the third.
Yet political leaders and the media continue to perpetuate the fallacy that consensus must be more reasonable and more right simply because most people seem to think it so.
In spite of the recent trend of business books touting the “wisdom of the masses,” the fact is that by and large, groups just aren’t that smart. While, by definition, they are good at determining what is popular, they are usually terrible at determining the best way to define something, let alone decide the wisest course of action.
Crowds and groups can create consensus just fine. But consensus is usually reached via compromise, and compromise is rarely the path to a great or courageous decision. Compromise is merely one way for a group of people to reach a decision. Here’s the deal about compromise: Once a group decides that compromise is the goal, they are actually more focused on assuaging the emotions of the moment than they are on finding the best solutions to the problems.
“I do not believe in the collective wisdom of individual ignorance.” — Thomas Carlyle
Here’s some contrary thinking for those so inclined… I firmly believe that future historians will look back at our current culture and blame our belief in what we currently call, “the wisdom of the masses,” as one of the reasons for the demise of our culture.
Leaders take note. Our current tendency to hold popular opinion as a measure of veracity flies in the face of all we know about history. Past cultures embraced the wisdom of the masses when it came to things like slavery and witchcraft.
Never before have I seen so many intelligent business leaders use the term, “wisdom of the masses,” as a foundational principle for running their businesses. Before I offend the sensibilities of any readers—assuming I haven’t already—let me be clear about why the wisdom of the masses can work for some business plans yet has absolutely no place in others.
Animal Kingdom is the current 2:1 favorite for Saturday’s Belmont Stakes. So why not bet $100 if I can double my money and go with the favorite? At horse race tracks, the favorite wins fewer than 30% of the time. But that doesn’t stop millions from plunking their money down. The media drives the story of “the favorite”, we buy in, literally, and expect Animal Kingdom to win, or perhaps, are disappointed when Animal Kingdom does not in fact win. (Multiply this effect when the possibility of a Triple Crown winner drives the storyline, which is not the case this year).