Be Thoughtful

People are the most complex part of any organization. If that were ever in question, just take a look around as you watch, listen, feel and understand what people are experiencing.

Situations are Complex

Things are rarely as simple as we’d prefer them to be in our life. There’s no doubt that complex situations are plentiful and simple seems really hard to come by right now.

When perceptions differ, values and paradigms clash. If you’ve ever wondered what messy looks like, pay close attention to what you’re observing take place around you.

Crisis has the unique ability to unify or separate teams. Having a clear understanding of your identity is a large contributor to determining which occurs in your world. If you don’t know who you are, expect to have it defined for you. In these moments, you come to the realization that strength of leadership is a reflection of your strength of purpose. When both are absent chaos is the predictable outcome.

Choose Your Words Carefully

As we celebrated Father’s Day this past weekend, I remembered a piece of wisdom that I’ll forever associate with my dad. “Think before you speak.”  Time and again, we’ve seen what happens when someone fails to consider or reflect on what they’re about to say. There are so many cases where we witness people using words and making statements that are completely disconnected from thought or reflection. Driven by emotion, we’re far more responsive and careless with what we say. Driven by purpose, we’re much more deliberate and intentional in the words we use and the thoughts we express.

To paraphrase the famous philosopher Forrest Gump “careless is as careless does.” Meaning that what a person says matters and you don’t get to stuff words back in your mouth once they’ve been spoken. You’d better know your intent in what you say and why you’re saying it or things are just going to get messier.

This Isn’t a Drill

We operate in the living, breathing organism known as a company where our decisions and choices have definable outcomes. This isn’t a drill. Clarity of leadership and communication must be present, otherwise, chaos and confusion are the measurable results. While it’s not popular to confront widely accepted views or perspectives, leadership means that we must do so with the intent to move forward with clarity and understanding. Universal agreement isn’t achievable. Gaining greater clarity around why we believe what we believe and why we do what we do is entirely possible. The highly aware person is someone willing to admit when they were wrong. They’re also willing to have their mind changed because they know they have blind spots where they need greater clarity and depth. This progression leads to better interactions, relationships, decisions and outcomes.

Thoughtstarter

How you lead in a crisis contributes to the level of respect others have and demonstrate towards you.

  • How is your communication contributing to the clarity of leadership within your company?
  • How are you helping people solve problems as a result of understanding their situation and being aware of the impact it has on them individually and your organization collectively?

Value the complexity of any situation and seek to understand so that you can advance and progress continually.

Brent


The Tragedy After the Crisis

A quick look at my email inbox and you’d see that there’s no lack of content or articles about how we should lead, navigate, communicate or interact during a crisis.

The amount of input providing information on ways to solve problems is overwhelming, exhausting and many times completely unnecessary. I’m a voracious reader and learner.  The fact that I’ve had to say enough is enough is affirming and concerning at the same time. Can you relate?

There comes a point where we simply have to turn off the noise that surrounds us and is continually bombarding our brains. Instead, we’ve got to take a moment to breathe and reconnect with our creativity and originality of our thoughts, ideas and expression.

Beyond learning, the energy of my commitment is grounded in teaching and coaching others and engaging with them around the application required to achieve results. Information is useless when it’s apart from a practical usefulness. Knowledge is only power when it’s applied to a problem or progression.

If the content, blog posts or articles that hit your inbox don’t help you connect the dots in a practical and meaningful way, consider eliminating or changing-up what you’re receiving.

What You Do With What You Learn

In business, the tragedy of a crisis is often discovered in the action that isn’t taken or the decisions that aren’t made that should have been after the crisis has diminished.

After going through a crisis, it’s natural to want to take a breath. There are times that the people within a company want to take a collective breath. This is important for the same reasons that I stated above. This is an opportunity to reconnect with the purpose, strategy, direction and cultural identity that are the cornerstones of advancement.

Reconnecting around a positive rhythm isn’t accidental for an individual or an organization. The same question helps guide and direct the approach and tone.

What am I doing with what I learned? 

Taking a breath and looking at something with a fresh perspective is not only important, it’s essential. Doing that apart from the action required to move forward creates a void. This void offers the greatest potential to become a tragedy after the crisis.

P.S. What will you do with what you learned? Let me know in the comments.


Encouraging This One Thing Can Help You Innovate

Organizations continually strive to be innovative. They set the expectation and desire to innovate, but then neglect the process that leads to innovation–creativity.

By definition, innovation is the implementation of something new. It’s about the application of new ideas and solutions. It’s not the actual process of getting to those new ideas. That’s creativity, and that’s what so many companies let fall by the wayside.

Creativity is the seed of innovation.

Creativity is defined as “the act of turning new and imaginative ideas into reality.” The problem arises when people feel they don’t have the autonomy or aren’t challenged to come up with new ideas. Or when creativity is only associated with marketing, product, or design teams.

Creativity is about giving your people the agency to think of new and interesting ideas. Unfortunately, this is often at odds with traditional growth goals of companies. When reliable scalability becomes the goal, it’s natural to seek out process for continued reliability. However, process is often the antithesis to creativity.

Except when creativity is the process.

Innovation stems from the ability to think creatively about a problem and solution. It’s the result of creativity. And it’s virtually impossible to be innovative if you aren’t also encouraged to be creative.

When you combine creativity and empathy around an identified problem that’s when you get true innovation.

When most companies toss around the word innovation, they’re focusing solely on the end result. But how often does focusing solely on the result actually yield the desired outcome? The greatest return happens when the process is valued as much as the result.

At its core, creativity is a process. It involves both thinking and producing. As Thomas Disch said, “Creativity is the ability to see relationships where none exist.” It’s not about starting from scratch, it’s about combining pieces of information in new ways to create something of value.

We are all naturally creative. Think about your last interaction with a kid under the age of 12–their whole word is a creative process because they don’t have a way to understand all of our social constructions yet. The older we get, the more we learn to be uncreative.

Creativity is a practice. Anyone can tap into their creative energy by engaging in the process routinely. As leaders, it’s your job to set the precedent that creativity is encouraged throughout your company culture.

Three foundational factors are needed to foster creativity at work:

  1. The expectation to be creative at work.
  2. Having time to be creative (remember, creativity is a process).
  3. Freedom to take the risks necessary to be creative. (Creativity isn’t about getting it right the first time. Often our first ideas aren’t our best).

In a recent analysis of a Gallup study of more than 16,500 employees, it was found that the presence of these three factors within companies is all too rare. Are they present within your culture?

Creating a culture of creativity is critical to being able to remain an innovative company.

What would happen if you started thinking about all of your people as creators? Not just the departments where creativity is in the job title like marketing, design, and product.

Thoughtstarter

We often challenge you to consider “Are your people living up to their potential?” in Thoughtwave. Today, I want you to ask yourself, “Are my people living up to their creative potential?” Begin challenging them to explore their potential through their creative process.

Other resources on creativity

Make it a creative day,
Alyssa

P.S. If you’re thinking that some people simply don’t think of themselves as creative. I challenge you to consider this: Everyone has the capacity to be creative. The people who are most uncomfortable with creativity struggle because they think that the end result of creativity has to be art in the traditional sense, but a painting isn’t the only output of creative thought. Investing in creativity will go a long way in releasing the new ideas necessary for innovation.


Why Reading Requires Focus

You can’t believe everything you read. True statement. Here’s an even truer statement. You shouldn’t act on everything you read.

As a leader, reading is imperative. Reading engages your brain and sharpens your perspective. Reading is a great way to expand your awareness and knowledge. It’s about developing the ability to consider ideas that go beyond the scope of your own thinking.

Common Sense Before Book Sense

You’re never too young to read or too old. Reading something is better than reading nothing. From blogs to books, feeds to articles, online sources to print publications, short form or long form, reading is more about what interests you than what bores you.

There are two perspectives about reading that must be understood.

  1. Reading offers a distinct competitive advantage for leaders.
  2. Leaders who don’t read limit their capacity for growth.

This is about common sense more than it’s about book sense. It goes beyond the belief that knowledge is power. It’s about recognizing that the application of knowledge is where the real power of reading is discovered.

Seven insights about how I focus my reading:

  1. I read relentlessly.
  2. I read practically.
  3. I read beyond the boundaries of my preferences.
  4. I commit to reading something that expands my view every day.
  5. I set a goal for the number of books I want to read in a year. (This year that goal is 8).
  6. I don’t read about things that don’t interest me.
  7. I read with focus because I can’t, and shouldn’t, act on everything I read.

BTW -  Right now, I’m reading a book titled The American Entrepreneur by Willie Robertson. This is a book about the daring movers and shakers who dreamed big and risked everything to build better lives.

Thoughtstarter: Adapt, Adopt, Abandon

Reading requires focus because every idea read isn’t a call to action to change something within yourself or within your company. Sometimes reading is simply about…well... reading.

Let me encourage you to start reading if you’re not and keep reading if it’s already become a habit. Saying that you don’t read because you don’t like to read is about justification ahead of development. Think of it this way…

Would you want a surgeon to operate on you that hadn’t expanded their view both intellectually and experientially on surgical techniques and methods over the last 25 years?

Before you read, understand whether what you’re reading is more about your enjoyment or your education. Sometimes you won’t know until you’re done reading. Regardless, any reading expands your awareness.

When you read for insight and knowledge, ask yourself this question to help bring clarity to your reading.  “Should I adopt, adapt or abandon this idea?” Think of this like your reading filter.

When you choose to adopt an idea, it’s because it offers you something. It’s like a best practice that fulfills something you want and helps to generate a result. In the same way, it’s okay to acknowledge that someone else’s good idea doesn’t have to immediately become your best practice. It’s okay to recognize that what worked well for someone else may not be the best option for you, but you can adapt it to work for you. Perhaps most importantly, it’s okay to read something and realize that what worked for someone else won’t work for you and you can abandon the idea.

The most important thing to remember? Read.

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. What are you currently reading? Let me know in the comments.


Remember, There Are People at the Other End of Your Decision

Your decisions matter and the impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you.

Click on the following link to understand in 15 seconds exactly what I mean.

The Impact of Your Decisions

Why This Matters

Someone I respect once said, “Brent, always remember at the other end of your decision there’s a human being. Every single time a decision is made, SOMEONE is impacted.”

His inference was clear, concise and directed and here’s my interpretation:
Don’t let your decisions get so far beyond the people you lead that you forget about the impact to the people you lead.

This is one of those “nuggets of wisdom” that you want to keep top of mind. It’s so powerful that it should cause us to constantly evaluate our decisions and not just from the view of our own lens.

Consider the Context

A decision made in isolation is a decision destined to create some dynamic of disruption and I don’t mean a positive disruption.

Every decision has context. Each decision has reach. Decisions are connected to impacts and outcomes. When decisions are made in isolation, it’s often because we fail to consider the context, reach or impact on others.

This is why, on so many occasions, leaders are left wondering how one decision could have such a devastating impact on so many people.

The answer… a failure to consider the context.

The Benefit of Context

We’re all guilty of failing to consider context at some point or in some situation or around a specific decision.

Typically, 90% of my day is invested in listening to leaders and asking the questions that reveal context. The benefit of context is the ability to assess our decisions more completely before we make them and yet, purposefully understanding context is a work in progress.

Before there was experience, there was inexperience. Before there was understanding, there was a lack of understanding. Before there was wisdom, there was less insight. Before there was listening, there was talking. Before there was attention, there was distraction. Before there was awareness, there was a lack of awareness. This is the progression of my growth related to context. Can you relate?

Early in my career as an advisor I was introduced to a really bright business owner. As a person eager to make his mark, Jared had his company on the grow and had decided that it was time to take his company to the next level. He asked for my guidance and input on the addition of sales staff. The conversation was fast-paced and driven. Jared was intent on building the base of his business by building a sales team. What Jared needed was the consideration and questions that would lead him to context. What Jared got was the support of his idea because I believed he was on the right track and our conversation revealed that he had thought it through well. With the exception of one critical question related to how he was structuring the two divisions of his company.

After a lot of time and work had been invested on both our parts, I asked Jared a question about how he planned to handle the separation of the divisions. His comment was telling. “Why didn’t you ask me that question before now? That question would have been really useful before we got to this point.”

Lesson learned - Always work to consider the context!

The impact of your decisions almost always extends beyond you. As an advisor to leaders of businesses, experience has shown me that when context is considered deliberately, the development of people and results achieved are both exponentially impacted in a positive way. This awareness leads me to this question. “How is your leadership expanding the context and understanding of the leaders you’re developing?”

#Thoughtstarter

As you go through your week, invest the time to consider your awareness around the context of your decisions. Consider the impact of your decisions so that they are fully understood. Ask yourself this question:

What’s the impact that extends beyond you?

Be Authentic. Be Purposeful. Make it Meaningful.

Brent

P.S. Let me know your thoughts in the comments.


Why You Need To Have A Real Conversation With Yourself As You Start The New Year

"Once we realize that fear is normal, then we don't have to wait until we aren't scared to do the thing we want to do. We just do it scared."
-Christy Wright

“Direction not intention determines your destination.”
― Andy Stanley

“You’ll become the average of the five people you spend the most time with.”
― Jim Rohn

Nearly 20 years ago I was working with Carlton Masi. Life was good. Carlton was a mentor and like a brother all in the same package. Then the unimaginable happened. Carlton’s life came to an end far too soon.

It was time to have a real conversation with myself about my perspective and what I needed to do to move forward with clarity and conviction. That conversation took place on October 27, 2002.

Welcome to 2019 and the time of year that I continue to have a real conversation with myself. A conversation about what I need to do to move forward with clarity and conviction in the year ahead and beyond. Interestingly, I personally answer each of my own questions. Here’s a sample of the kinds of questions I ask and answer with myself:

  1. What are my hopes, goals and aspirations?
  2. What are the goals that I expect to accomplish this year?
  3. Where can I stretch myself to achieve something that would seem unlikely?
  4. What do I need to do to be a better husband? A better father? A better leader?
  5. How will I challenge myself this year in ways that are different from previous years?
  6. What do I need to change to be the best version of me?
  7. Who can I invest in and help to achieve their goals and ambitions?
  8. What was the most significant change about me personally or professionally in the previous year?
  9. How did that help or hinder me?
  10. What new experience can I expose myself to this year that will help me think beyond boundaries?

One Simple Question

I figure that since I’m the one that asks and answers the questions in the conversation I have with myself, I’m also the one who’s accountable for my progression. I measure that progression throughout the year by asking myself one very simple question:

Am I getting where I want to be on purpose?

At the end of the year I ask myself one more series of simple personal accountability questions:

Did I end this year where I wanted to be? Why or why not? What’s next?

I want to challenge you to have a similar conversation with yourself and I also want to challenge you to be personally accountable in measuring your progression. If you know that won’t work, find an accountability partner who can support and help you along the way.

Don’t Be Surprised

My hope for you in the year ahead is that you will get to where you want to be on purpose, because that’s far more invigorating than getting their accidentally. When you get to the end of 2019 I don’t want you to be surprised; I want you to be accomplished. Why? Because there are plenty of people who have learned to be content with going in the wrong direction. As Joel Thomas says, “When you’re going in the wrong direction you can be happy, but you’re still going in the wrong direction.”

Ask For Help

I used to think that asking for help was a sign of weakness. Experience has shown me that there’s wisdom in asking for help where and when I need it. If you don’t, you’ll pay the penalty for not paying attention to the fact that everything wasn’t meant to be accomplished alone. Not surprisingly, people want to help other people. Sometimes the ASK is all they need to be mobilized to support and assist you on purpose. Likewise, in the year ahead, look for opportunities to contribute to others and help them. There is an inspiring and energizing power in creating a positive impact in someone’s life simply by helping them.

Unnecessary Compromise

Buckle up for what comes next.

Underperforming people would prefer that high achieving people lower their standards of performance so that they don’t have to raise theirs. We live in a world where compromise is necessary. However, your hopes, dreams, goals and ambitions aren’t the place to make unnecessary compromises in your life. It’s taken me years to learn that the limitations that someone places on themselves aren’t allowed to become my limitations. I’m unwilling to apologize for being driven towards accomplishment and achievement. That focus is my choice and in the same way I have to be willing to accept that everyone doesn’t share the same view. Here’s a key point to consider as a part of your conversation with yourself: Choosing to ignore what you see underperforming people doing isn’t a formula for your success. When criticism comes, because it will, for your energy and direction in your life always remember this thought: There’s a difference between being judgmental about other people and using good judgement regarding myself. I own me, they own them.

In the year ahead, challenge yourself to move beyond the boundaries of your own self-imposed limitations and knock-off with any unnecessary compromise you’re making that marginalizes the power of you.

Be authentic. Be purposeful. Make it meaningful.

Brent

Final Note: As I’ve mentioned here and in my social feeds previously, I’m continually refining my writing focus. My purpose is to write in an authentic, purposeful and meaningful way on topics that are impactful to you as a part of the Thoughtwave Community of Readers. Your feedback along with analytics have shown that most of you have joined Thoughtwave through a direct or indirect connection to Perpetual Development. With that information provided, I want to let you know that the Thoughtwave blog has been moved from my personal website BrentPatmos.com to my company website PerpetualDevelopment.com. As we progress, both of these sites will serve unique purposes, writing focuses and areas of emphasis. More about that in the year ahead.


Out of Your Control

I like to control what I can and don’t much care for the things that are beyond my control - particularly if I’d prefer that they were.

Realistically, doesn’t everyone want to control the course of events in their life?

When we are in control we feel energized and empowered. When things get beyond our control we may feel frustrated, confused or even overwhelmed.

Growing up as the son of a science teacher, I would often hear my dad talk about the controlled environment that was part of an experiment. As a part of the experiment, he would reference the control sample. The common reference point to both was rooted in stability. The ability to create an environment of equilibrium. “A fancy word for balance,” he would say. “The relationship between the internal factors and external factors and their impact on something.” Note: This exact bit of fatherly science teacher wisdom on equilibrium helped me win a blue ribbon in the 7th-grade science fair.

In business today, we face a constant battle of equilibrium. The relationship of balance between internal factors impacting our business and the external factors. That which we can control and that which may be beyond our control. Forces working collaboratively to our benefit and at times working in direct opposition to our detriment. This is the scientific state of business that demands our agility to achieve stability.

This all gets very real when we understand that at any given moment there are external forces that are more than willing to challenge our business balance or, worse yet, our very business existence.

The belief that external factors or forces will never impact you or your business is unrealistic. Just remember that your competitors would have no problem taking your business if you or your company ceased to exist, or became irrelevant, in the mind of the customer or client.

Beyond Your Control - What Would You Do? #Thoughtstarter

You're driving a car at 70 mph on a crowded freeway with cars in front of you, behind you and to each side. You’re listening to music and doing your own version of carpool karaoke. Suddenly, a large piece of cement debris falls from the overpass and lands on the freeway just a couple of cars in front of you. What would you do?

Prior to leaving for work, you’re catching-up and reading the latest Google Alerts on several of your customers. While reading, you discover that your largest customer had a major fire at their only manufacturing facility and the owners have decided to cease operations and shut down the business. What would you do?

You arrive at work only to discover that the EPA has shut the doors to your energy plant for unsafe operating practices. There has been no communication to the employee team and you are all arriving at work only to find that this isn’t a business as usual day. What would you do?

As the famous philosopher, Mike Tyson says, “Everyone’s got a plan until they get punched in the face.” A good friend and colleague of mine put it another way. He says, “Watch out for the sucker punch. It’s not a matter of if it’s going to come but when.”

The sucker punch is the unexpected blow. The punch that you didn’t plan for. In that moment; when we confront things that are out of our control because we will, we all have a choice. What will you do?

Until Next Week,

Brent

P.S. I'd love to hear what would you would do in the scenarios above. Let me know in the comments.


Perspective

My week didn’t go the way I expected it to go last week.

Whatever my plan was, events mandated a new plan.

Life’s experiences have a unique way of conditioning you into a new state of normal.

You can theorize or intellectualize leadership and then you confirm that what’s most important is the living out of leadership.

Does this sound like a week you’ve ever had? Can you relate?

This past week highlighted 10 important leadership lessons that have further shaped the importance of my view on awareness and an eyes wide open perspective.

  1. You truly don’t know what you don’t know. You can only control what you can control.
  2. No matter what you know, there are moments where that knowledge is both completely relevant and irrelevant at the same time.
  3. No matter what you know, there’s more you don’t know that can, and must be learned.
  4. Smart, intelligent, intuitive and wise are uniquely different characteristics and well-developed leaders possess a balance of all four.
  5. Pressure will reveal the true nature of a person.
  6. People are the most complex part of a company. Empathy makes people less complex.
  7. Building relationships and developing teams is the result of the experiences you share together.
  8. Relationships inspire commitment and commitment is your currency.
  9. The character of your leadership when no one’s looking, had better be the same as when everyone’s watching.
  10. Growth, development and awareness, beyond what we know right now, most definitely matters.

#Thoughtstarter

Reflect on how these lessons relate to you, your experiences and your growth.

With increased awareness,

Brent

 

P.S. Have you ever had a week like this? Share with me what you learned from it.


Identity: Overcoming the Age Objection

“How do I overcome the fact that I’m young in the eyes of my customer?”

This is a question that’s asked of me repeatedly. It’s a question I hear from young professionals across all areas of an organization and it isn’t a question that’s exclusive to family-owned or privately-held businesses.Read more


Simplexity and The Importance of Focus & Critical Thinking

Simplexity and the importance of critical thinking

To all of you fellow dads, I hope you have a great Father's Day. In keeping with family-business on a day to celebrate men who influenced us as children, I want to tell you about my grandpa.

My grandpa was a simple, yet very complex guy. Part hard-working farmer and part deep-thinking philosopher. That made him simplex. He had such a unique way of making poignant, simple statements that also held a much deeper, complex meaning to them.
Read more