Wednesday, December 23, 2015

You can be the CORE or you can be the OUTLIER…can you be both? by Madelaine Kenner

Madelaine is back with another great post that hits hard on how you become a leader and grow.

You can be the CORE or you can be the OUTLIER…can you be both?
You can either be one or the other…which one would you choose? Trust me, there are perks to both. Hear me out:
The vast majority of the workforce are considered the core of any organization. Core people know the roles and responsibilities and do not shy away from the status quo. They are programmed accordingly and go through the notions without so much as a blip in protocol. Doesn’t that sound…”robotic”? I think so...however they have their feet firmly on the ground and know the reality. They know the higher you rise; the less space they have to fall. They are happy with where they are at and loyal to the ones they work for. The management can always rely on them to get things done with accuracy and diligence.  They are the foundation of every organization and know without them, the company would not be able to do near as much as they do.
Then there are the outliers. These are the dreamers; they break the mold of the average Joe. They have huge ambitions and are very pride-based. Anything they set their mind to achieve, they will go for it and not hold back until they achieve it. They don’t care how much space is left at the top because they will make room; even if it means climbing over others who have helped them along the way.
However, the most prestigious of this group have learned the hard road it took to find the mid-point. These are the people who started out as the core of the organization but they wanted a change. They dug their heels in, worked the grind and followed the status quo. However, along their journey, they developed questions, comments, suggestions, etc. that, when given the right opportunity to voice them, these insights would show their true worth. They made sure they were someone others could rely on. Don’t get me wrong, these people were not perfect. They had felt the struggles, the disappointments, the failures. They rose to the top because they never stopped getting up and pushing through. They physically made their dream become their reality. They are humble because they know the growing pains. They are the ones who earned the respect of everyone who helped them along the way and have equal as much respect to give in return.
So the answer is yes, you can be both. In fact, I encourage the core to stand up and make themselves the outlier. Those are the ones I can rely on to not only teach me the core values, but also aren’t afraid to roll up their sleeves and help me succeed. They are the best of both worlds.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Piloting Your Way Through The Danger Zone: A Look at Learning to be a Jedi

Learning has many variables and paths that you might follow as you travel to mastery of a skill. The skill could be one of mathematics, problem solving, or even being a pilot or a Jedi. As you learn the new activity or skill you travel about the graphic above.
While this graphic is only a learning model, we can see three distinct zones that could yield interesting thoughts as one analyzes the concept of learning.
The first phase is the Beginner Zone.
Here you find yourself excited to learn and with so little knowledge of the topic that you don't even know what transferable skills or talents apply to this learning quest. With this said, you may underestimate what you know and how much there is to know on the topic. You will be fixated on acquiring knowledge and teachers to guide you.
The second phase is the Danger Zone.
As time or as expertise grows, you will transition into the danger zone. Here, some students believe they no longer need their teacher or sensei. They believe they are better and more knowledgeable than the master that trained them. You can see this zone characterized in the movie Star Wars, Attack of the Clones where Anakin Skywalker (soon to be Darth Vader) began to believe he was better than the Jedi Expert and Sensei Obi Wan. This misunderstanding cost him his hand and led him to the dark side.  We also see this Danger Zone in aviation around the 250 hour of experience mark. At this point a lot of pilots begin to feel too comfortable in the airplane. They skip checklists and tend to get a little gutsy with their personal flight limits. Sooner or later, it catches up to them and they are either scared straight or wind up as an National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) report. The Federal Aviation Administration accidents statistics also support the danger found in this zone. In the work place or on the conference scene this zone is demonstrated by the "know it alls" that want the world to see that they are "experts" with out the understanding to realize what they do not know on the topic. The point is if you do not recognize this phase it could cost you your hand, your career, or your life. 
The third phase is the Expert Zone.
At some level of maturity the learner realizes that what he or she knows is only a trace of the knowledge that exist in the area of study. This "humblization" of the learner allows them to transition to the Expert Zone. In Malcolm Gladwell 2008 book "Outliers," he wrote that "ten thousand hours is the magic number of greatness." Now we know that not everyone will be an virtuoso at everything by 10,000 hours but I would contend that they stand a good chance of being in the expert zone. They know many if not most of the areas of the body of knowledge (BOK) and they can see that there is so much to learn about each of those elements of that BOK. They continue to strive to learn and grow in the topic as they travel this zone.

Where are you with the items your are studying. Are you in the Danger Zone in any of your pursuits?

May the force be with you on your learning journey and be safe young Jedi. 

Friday, December 4, 2015

Guest Post from Madelaine Kenner: Michelango, The Sistine Chapel and Your Next Big Project

Take a look at this photo for a second. It's quite amazing that one person created such a magnificent work of art as monumental as this famous masterpiece. So how does this pertain to change management? Think of this fresco as a physical example of the phases you are going to go through; just as Michelangelo went through his phases to painting this historical beauty, those same phases can be related to what you are going to go through with every new skill you pick up; the time spent in each phase will be entirely up to you!
     Let's start with Area 1. This initial phase happens anytime you have a new challenge up in front of you; your excitement about this new, novel idea is very high without knowing the skillset you may need to successfully master it. Michelangelo did not just walk into the Sistine Chapel and start painting just to paint. He was given an idea and figured out his big picture. However, Even though he may have mapped out the entire task and gave himself a very in depth "job plan", planning is just busy work without execution of the plan.
     Next phase is Area 2. This is the tough phase for everyone yet is the determining phase for whether you deem it worth it to continue on with the change or revert back to your own ways. This area is called the "Valley of Despair". Go back to that new skill you were initially excited about. At this point, you are starting to realize it may take a little more effort and skill than anticipated. At this point, you need to stop looking at the big picture and actually start looking into the details. If you keep looking at how far you have left to become proficient, you will get overwhelmed. Instead, focus on the details; what needs improvement, what successes you already have, what you need more of, what you need less of, etc. Those details, when taken one at a time, will allow you to swallow that doubt you may have bubbling up inside of you.
     The third phase; Area 3. This is the point where you are rising out of the depths of the "Valley of Despair". This phase is where you are starting to take hold of the new skills you are achieving. You may not be perfect at it yet, but the pieces of the puzzle are starting to show you the big picture. To revert back to the fresco, this is the point where Michelangelo was getting past his half way point; he started seeing his vision come to life and, though not completed, he sees his big picture starting to come to life with all the work and detail he is putting in. HOWEVER, your full return on investment has not completely been fulfilled...until the final stage.
     The final stage of change management is Area 4. This is where you are officially the master of this challenge. When Michelangelo brushed his last stroke and took a look at what all he accomplished, he along with everyone else saw the mastery in his craft. This phase is where not just you but everyone sees the big picture. You not only can vividly elaborate on the big picture, but you can also be the living proof that it can be accomplished.
     So think of every challenge you come across as Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel; create the excitement about the big picture, KNOW YOU WILL GET OVERWHELMED and focus on the details, learn what opportunities lie ahead and master them, then push yourself until your big picture is physically in front of you.