Tag: engage

Running is life: 5 Reminders

December 6th, 2012

I swore, “I will never do that again,” when I staggered across the finish line of my first half-marathon. I’ve done six of them since, all on trails, each one more exhilarating than the last. I often wonder how it got to this point. How could I delight in something so grueling and painful?

This whole experience parallels life step for step: a sea of difficult, deliberate work with islands of tranquil, euphoric experiences. So when it comes to life (and running) the following serve as helpful reminders:

1. Lean in

It’s easy to lean back and run on your heels. Don’t. You’ll injure yourself.

2. Discomfort is the language of progress

Do those things that put you in your discomfort zone. This is where we grow and do our best work.

3. Good form channels your strength

Implement a few good habits and disciplines that structure the flow of everyday life. Like water between river banks, everything else flows through these structures.

4. Know your stuff, then get out and do

Deliberate action translates head knowledge into personal knowledge. I geek out on running, but all that knowledge amounts to little if I don’t get out and run. Running makes it real.

5. Cherish moments that flow

Commitment to the difficult process yields clarity and effortlessness.

We’re most inclined to bail out on a project or commitment when things bog down, get difficult, or even painful. Persisting and pushing through these challenges leads to great things.

I hope you find these reminders helpful, and I hope you’ll share them with someone you know who could use some encouragement.


    The Listening Organization

    October 24th, 2012

    Listening organizations are the most engaging organizations on the planet. Non-profit organizations, corporations, and universities that listen attract people because they get the people they’re trying to serve.

    Listening organizations study us with Cousteau-like fascination. They engage us because we sense that they get us, know us, and understand what makes us tick.

    Ace Hotel, Apple, and Starbucks study their clientele and create experiences for them that resonate at a personal, meaningful level. But they have to listen to do this well. So do you.

    The DMV doesn’t get us or care to get us. They’re not listening.

    What tools can you use to listen to the people you serve?

    Surveys and focus groups alone won’t suffice as listening activities—not if you don’t dig deeper. Understanding the truth about people is an art. This is why one of the least effective ways to find out what people really want is to ask them. View content and data as windows through which we can better understand people. Look through the glass, not at it.

    Listening organizations don’t merely collect feedback. They invest resources to decipher meaning—a commitment that reveals the depth and authenticity of their interest in us.

    You strive to engage people each day. How do you listen to them, and, more importantly, how do you intuit meaning?

      Seven ways to keep it real

      August 1st, 2012

      “Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse in The Velveteen Rabbit, ”It’s a thing that happens to you.”

      The so-called “real world” makes being real difficult. Extraordinary pressures and rewards make conformity, sameness, and predictability appealing.

      I spoke last week with a group of students at the University of Oregon. I decided to share seven suggestions for how they might become more real in the world they’re about to enter:

      1) Be uncommonly curious about common things.

      2) Interact with art, conversations, and experiences you don’t understand.

      3) Favor timeless truths over fading fads.

      4) Do honest work, even if most people don’t get it.

      5) Expect and embrace discomfort.

      6) Create meaningful objects, conversations, and experiences.

      7) Engage—Lean in. Diverge. Risk.

      Thank you to Dr. Shoshana Kerewsky and her brilliant students for the opportunity to speak with you. Best wishes in your efforts to be more real.