Do you have kids? If yes, I bet their slowness often drives you nuts. You have to go shopping, and your smallest stops every second (at least this is what it feels like for you), to have a look at some interesting things. He stops to observe interesting things like a gum on the sidewalk, or an earthworm in the front garden of a house. But shopping isn’t the only thing in your backlog, you have a lot of other things to do today. After the 5th stop of your kid, you pick him up and carry him the rest of your way to the shop.
Most of us got used to our fast life. It is speeded up by things like mobile phones, email, twitter or tight project deadlines. We got used to run through it, without looking left or right. And the bad thing is that we don’t recognize it. But we need some kind of slack in our life because we need time to reflect, improve and recreate. If you use Kanban to help organize your project, you know that you need some slack, in order to improve the kanban system continuously. It’s the same slack you need to see the real problems behind a bigger issue. If you slow down from time to time, you’ll see the details. These details may be important pieces of the puzzle you’re currently working on.
The next time your kid slows you down try the following: Let the kid be your coach and explore the slowness. Instead of getting angry, start to enjoy it. Enjoy where you are right now. Have a look around and observe the environment. Try to see the world with eyes of your kid. Maybe there are things you didn’t recognize before. Open yourself for the details around, like the color of the trees, the voices of the birds or even the cute little earthworm. BTW, did you know that earthworms are hermaphrodites?
After your kids were coaching you for a while, you’ll be able to rediscover the slowness, also in other parts of your life.
When was the last time you tried to see a situation with the eyes of a different person? Humans tend to think that everybody has the same view of the world as themselves and that everybody has the same perception. Of course, we all know this isn’t true. Everybody has a different perception, and that’s why it is so important to try to see the situation with the eyes of your counterpart. This can be your wife during an argument, your colleague during a meeting or your boss during a salary negotiation. It helps to understand why somebody behaves that way, and to get a common understanding.
Steve was sitting in a train after a hard day of work, when he recognized two kids jumping on the seats and making a lot of noise. A lot of people already started to turn their heads, and some were quite annoyed. The father of the kids was sitting beside them doing nothing. He was just sitting there, apparently unimpressed by their behavior. After another couple of minutes of this dog and pony show, he stood up and walked straight to the man. He was really upset that the father of the kids didn’t do anything about their behavior. He asked him: “Could you please ask your kids to stop jumping on the seats and be more quite?”. “No, I won’t”, the father said, “their mother died today, and that’s their way to cope with the loss….”.
I know this is a harsh example, but it shows that there are always different perceptions of a dedicated behavior. For Steve, the kids were just ill-bred. Now, that he knew what happened to the kids, he was able to see the situation from a different angle. He was able to understand why their father behaved like this.
Now go back and think about different situations at work. Is Mike really lazy, because he is always leaving at 5pm? Or is it because he travels about one hour from and to work, and wants to have the time to bring his kids to bed? Why did Sally dis you at the last meeting? Is it because she is such an asshole or does she has some problems at home? Get rid of your egocentric world view, and start to look at situations in different ways, with different eyes. Go out, and start with it in the next possible situation. Maybe it won’t help all times, but at least it will change your perception.
I know a lot of people with a quite crowded calendar. This hasn’t to be a problem. Sometimes all of these meetings are valuable, but I think, for most of us, this is not true. I know that some of you are just going to these meetings, because you have to go to them (at least that is what YOU think), but they are a complete waste of time. Especially daily, weekly or monthly meetings are affected by this problem. Everybody is sitting around for 60 minutes, but in the end, there is no real outcome. Everybody is happy when they are over.
The next time you attend a meeting ask this simple question: “Why are we here? Why did we schedule this meeting?”. IMHO this is a really important question. If you are not able to answer it, it is a possible waste of time; for everybody sitting in the room. Don’t accept generic answers like “To exchange information” or “Because it’s our weekly status meeting”. Every meeting was scheduled for a special reason, if not it’s not worth the time you’re investing in it. One reason could be, that you want to decide what are the next important steps in your project, or you have to find a way to safe some money. As soon as you know why, put the answer on a flip chart or whiteboard. After you know the reason, start to define the goals you want to achieve, based on the reason of the meeting. These goals will lead you through your meeting, and help you to focus on why you are here.
Now you have a real chance that you’ll have a decent outcome after the meeting. Now you are able to check at the end of the meeting, that you met your goals. Maybe you are even able to finish the meeting, before the scheduled end. And last but not least, I’m sure you were able to delete some of your meetings from your calendar.
There it was, just 5 minutes ago. The resistance. I was sitting in front of my laptop, and a voice in my head said: “Let’s go downstairs to watch TV. It doesn’t matter if you don’t write your post today. Do it tomorrow or at the weekend.”. Today is one of these days, where it was more difficult to overcome the resistance. Now I’m sitting here and do it. I defeated the resistance, at least for today…
Last week I wrote my first children’s story (If you speak German, you can read it here). I carried this idea with me for quite a long time. Every evening, when I bring my kids to bed, I tell them a home made story. Some month ago I thought, it would be fun to write these stories down and share them, but I didn’t do it. Until last week. I created a twitter account, a facebook fanpage, a blog and wrote the first story. The feedback was overwhelming, and I thought to myself “Why didn’t you take this step earlier?” The answer is simple: Because my lizard brain told me that I can’t do it and that I’ll make a fool of myself.
What ideas are you carrying around for some time? What crazy dreams do you have? What is the one thing you want to share? If you wait any longer, this idea or dream will sooner or later die. Don’t plan too much, just do it. Now! Pick your idea and let it happen. If you still need some advice of how to overcome your personal resistance, there are some great books out there, that can help you:
I’m sure there are even more books out there. Feel free to add them in the comments.
I carried this idea with me for quite a long time. Every evening, when I bring my kids to bed, I tell them a home made story. Some month ago I thought, it would be fun to write these stories down and share them, but I didn’t do it. Until last week. I created a twitter account, a facebook fanpage, a blog and wrote the first story. The feedback was overwhelming, and I thought to myself “Why didn’t you take this step earlier?” The answer is simple: Because my lizard brain told me that I can’t do it and that I’ll make a fool of myself.
What idea are you carrying around for some time? What crazy dreams do you have? What is the one thing you want to share? If you wait any longer, this idea or dream will sooner or later die. Don’t plan too much, just do it. Now! Pick your idea and let it happen. If you still need some advice of how to overcome your personal resistance, there are some great books out there, that can help you:
Did you ever leave your comfort zone? Did you ever challenge yourself to try something new? If not, you hadn’t the chance to experience the joy of leaving the comfort zone.
I’m glad that I had a great coach some years ago, who really helped me to do the first step. The first time I consciously left my comfort zone was during a training course, when I was working for Volkswagen. Every attendee had to do something once a day, which was completely out of their comfort zone. Something, that he thought he won’t be able to do in front of all of us. One guy was praying another one read a book and one girl even started to dance. I gave a talk about the Internet in English (I’m German, you know ;)). At that time, my English was quite rusty, and I really had to fight for every word. But soon I found out, that it wasn’t that bad. If I forgot a word, I was able to paraphrase it, or I just started a new sentence. Nobody threw rotten vegetables at me, and nobody laughed at me. After the second time, I even started to enjoy it. The third time it was already fun. In the end, I was able to broaden my comfort zone. And now, a few years later, I’m actually speaking at conferences.
Since that time, I regularly challenge myself to leave my comfort zone to explore new areas, to learn something new and to help me with my self development. What I love the most when doing it, is the thrill in the beginning and in the end, the joy of a new area inside my increased comfort zone.
My challenge for today? I’ll start to write stories for children, about a guy named Pilli Pulli Kastropi. He is a famous character in the stories I tell my kids every evening. If you’re German and need some stories to tell your kids tomorrow evening, follow this guy on Twitter
But now it’s up to you. Leave your comfort zone today, e.g by giving uncalled feedback…