Foster Innovation – Make the “Next Action” Specific

Specificity. Action.

At the beginning of someone’s career, when they hear “I’ll get to that” they get excited. To that person’s mind, it has reached an action plan, and something is going to happen. Eventually, they realize that the idea fell apart, and it didn’t mean that at all.

They drop the naivety and in the worse cases, their creativity.

So when that person comes to you and hears “I’ll get to that,” they just listen to a “long no.” Anyone else in that room that understands that they also take a note.

Innovation dies. Status quo takes hold.

Instead of relying on the easy answer, take a breath and do one of two things:

  • Make a promise to make a concrete action
  • Say “no” with a reason coming in the moment with an invitation to talk in depth afterward

It’s hard to do this at the moment, however, if you want your team to innovate over inertia, it’s what is required.

Pushback Pushes You Up

Hearing “no” stings

When you do the work, when you hear “no” or in some cases “why” it can hurt, especially if you’ve laid the case in a way that makes sense to you.

I’ve had it happen to me before, and I know it sucks. It can start you down the path of negative self-talk rather fast.

One thing I try to keep in mind, however, is that each time this happens, its resistance.

How do you build muscles? Resistance.

Pushback can push you up. And with that in mind, reframe it as an opportunity to get stronger.

One day it is going to count.

Pushback pushes you up.

Yikes. Then What Happened?

Usually, It Ain’t As Bad As You Think

Our imagination stokes our greatest fears.

If we were rational about the situation, the most we have to fear in many respects is hearing the word no.

Our minds don’t accept that, so it builds a narrative. No one else sees or hears it.

They are real to us. We feel those feelings. And it can stop us in our tracks.

Meanwhile, that project, decision, or relationship just sits there taking up space in your head.

Two things:

  • That project you are stuffing down still has an emotional cost
  • No one can see what’s happening up there

So, it’s worth it to say what’s on your mind, if just for the clarification.

Usually, the worst we will hear is “no.”

Even that allows us to move on.


“No” is Powerful In Many Ways – Wrap-Up For June 2016

“No” is a powerful word for discovery, too.

I started this month in one direction: “no” is a word primarily used for power dynamics.

I thought of “no” just as a way to bend one’s will.

What I realized, however, is that “no” is a word is not just a word of power. “No,” is a way to explore ourselves and the community around us.

“No” has just as much worth as a word of discovery.

“No” leads to external discovery.

Putting our ideas into the world is dangerous to our  ego because we hear the word “no.” Ideas are our babies in a sense, and because of that, sometimes we hide the idea from our community.

Except in most circumstances, our community wants us to succeed, and the only danger that could happen by putting an idea out there is hearing the word “no.”

This starts a conversation and creates pushback, a good thing. This conversation causes awareness and through that, possible alignment*. When we make those around us aware, we create a connection.

We, as human beings, crave connection. Without a connection to something, most of us can’t work at our best.

“No” leads to internal discovery:

As much as we think we always act in our best interests, we don’tIn deciding to say “yes” to ourselves all the time, we will sometimes cut off our nose to spite our face.

We have the last word when it comes to the decisions we make.The outside world is powerful in its own right, but it is worth the time to train the “kill switch.” In this case, the “kill switch” is the word “no.”

If we don’t, it leads us to some behavior that wastes energy to get “satisfaction.” These behaviors have consequences, the most important one being that they waste your time. No one keeps score.

This doesn’t mean become a robot. Our emotions matter, and are an important guide to understanding ourselves. They aren’t the end of the line. Emotions can take control,but we always have the “kill switch.”  There is always a better decision, and “no” helps us get there.

*I say possible alignment because alignment isn’t the end goal, you shouldn’t always listen to the crowd.

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Don’t Forget to Breathe

You always have time.

When you watch an action movie, the hero always does one thing before going into that room filled with bad guys.

We see it help with their success, yet it is so easy to neglect. 

What is it?


Whenever something bad happens to someone I know, the first thing I do is tell them to breathe.

There are always questions, depending on the level of anger. All of the questions they ask eventually lead to “What does breathing do for the situation?”

Breathing doesn’t do anything “tactical.” It, alone, won’t save your life.

Breathing won’t:

  • Put money in your bank account.
  • Get your significant other to call you back.
  • Stop your boss from firing you.

It’s about your strategy moving forward. Strategy informs tactics, tactics inform emotion.  Breathing gives you the opportunity to improve the strategic mindset by doing several things all with one action.

Breathing helps:

  • Slow down the situation.
  • Take control from the reptilian brain (fight or flight).
  • Increase empathy for the other side.

By breathing, our hero makes the right call. Help yourself make the right call by taking a second to breathe.

Don’t Do “Hit Lists”

“Hit lists” sap energy for no reason

After you didn’t get that promotion, funding, audition, spot, etc. it feels rewarding to put people on a hit list.

These aren’t people you kill. They are people you are going to “hit” with your “success.”

“They are going to remember me because I remember today, and when I “get” it (whatever it is) I’ll make sure they know.” *queue revenge music*


It isn’t worth remembering the people who “slighted” you for several reasons.

Here are a few:

  • Don’t contribute to malice what you could contribute to incompetence.
  • People (generally) aren’t out to get you.
  • You don’t know what they went through that day.

That moment’s importance is relative to you. That other person is just doing a job. You weren’t their cup of tea today. That’s fine.

There is a limit to time and energy.

It takes energy to  support, store and retrieve “memories” for the hit list.

You then have to spend time crossing people off the list, doing a “hit” when you get some success.

“I got the part, now I can’t wait to post it on Facebook. They are going to see it.”

That is draining and only causes more conflict. Every time you don’t get enough, you add to the hit list.

“Hit lists” never stop growing.

Would you rather keep up hit lists or get better? 


Hate-Sharing, Venting, and Keeping the Bad Feeling Alive

Don’t  do it

Yesterday I shared something on Facebook that I didn’t agree with. In my post, I stated that the article below wasn’t good. It was standard, trivial, click bait nonsense. I thought that I was sharing a lesson.

People shared it and I thought I was doing the world some good. I started looking at the shares.

Uh oh. 

People were taking the article as helpful. They didn’t see my warning, they just started sharing.

In my “hate share,” I propagated the article to the world around me. It was a mistake.

Then I realized, we do the same thing when we “vent.” We intend to warn, but when others tell the story, they usually get it wrong. You end up putting people on to something that doesn’t help them grow. They share the click bait and not the warning.

When we “let out steam,” we do so in an emotional state.

This has some after effects:

  • We put the emotion on a treadmill, letting it run around our lives.  Anger doesn’t solve much in such an uncontrolled state, it goes back to “fight or flight.”
  • Introducing something to your social group that doesn’t help them. They might share something from it that wasn’t your intent.

“Venting” doesn’t vent the bad feelings out, it pushes them into other parts of your life.