I didn’t have to look far to find these “scripts”.  I’ve played each of them many times before in conversations with friends and colleagues, and expect that I’m in good company.  Most of these are not scripts that nourish relationships, cultivate friendships, build self-image, or free up our positive creative energy.  And yet how often do these scripts guide our behavior?

My suggestion — Try playing each of these scripts for a day.  Rehearse your lines, and be prepared to deliver them with passion and energy.  But stop short of speaking.  Think twice, and experience how the “real” you can best come forward.

Have I left out one of your favorite — or least favorite — scripts.  I’d love to hear from you.  Post on this blog, or e-mail me.

  • Woe is me — Let me tell you all that has befallen me this week, the people who have been so mean or thoughtless, those who I thought were my friends, but finally showed their true (selfish) colors.
  • Gratitude — I’m so thankful for you as my good friend, and you’re part of a community surrounding me.  Stuff keeps happening, but I’m glad that I’m not alone.
  • Entertainment — I’m an entertaining speaker, and I’ve lots of new stories and jokes, so — hold on to your seat — let me sound off.
  • Compassionate curiosity — It’s been quite a while since we’ve really talked, and I’d love to hear what’s happening with you.  What’s happening with you now?  What’s important?  I’d like to know.
  • Interview — I want to hear about you, but let me take control of the conversation.  Are you ready for my first question (of twenty!)?
  • Flirting time — I’d like to offer you much gratuitous praise — not that I really mean it, but can’t we enjoy flattering each other?
  • Far from the personal — Let’s talk about politicians abroad, or movie stars, or scandals . . . anything that keeps us from revealing much about ourselves today.
  • Not so hidden disinterest — I asked you how you are, and about your family, but please don’t say anything too challenging.  Running into you has been a diversion from how I really wanted to spend my time.
  • Saving the world — I know you’re compassionate about world hunger, torture, and other such tragic issues, but are you feeling enough guilt?  Let me offer some concrete things that you can do, and a big dose of guilt for you to absorb if you’re not willing to take these on.
  • Please set the pace — Glad to run into you.  I’ll be relatively quiet, just wanting to hear from you.
  • Our fortune is overwhelming — Let me tell you about my promotion, the fantastic job our daughter just got, the contest we won.  I’ve so much good news to share with you that I really don’t have time to listen to your story today.  Oh, yes, and I was sorry to hear your bad news.
  • False pretense — Let me pretend I didn’t see you.  I won’t say a word, but trust you won’t be offended.

I’ve been aware of much work on personal communication styles — how we each can best receive support, advice, criticism, support, validation, etc. And, of course, there are various personality models that help us understand all these things.

But I’m aware of much less work characterizing organizations.  Thus I set about to put together this simple model.  I present it here as something in process, for discussion and validation only. Please add your commentary.  And if you’rereading this through another blog or medium (such as a LinkedIn group discussion), please make sure that you post here any comments that you post there as well .Image

I characterize organizations along two dimensions:

Traditional  . . . Visionary

Weighty . . . Agile

And the, for each quadrant, I’ve assigned a name:

A traditional organization, that has some agility but not vision, is Awkward.

A traditional organization, that is more weighty than agile, ia probably Stuck.

A visionary organization, that remains weighty, is truly Reaching.

And, finally, an organization that is both visionary and truly agile is truly Creative.

Although I suggest that this characterization is for organizations, it may better fit organizational segments, perhaps a department or work group.

How helpful is this model?  Are the quadrant names appropriate and helpful?  And how useful is this picture to you?  Please comment.


October 4, 2012

M. C. Richards in her book, “Centering in Pottery, Poetry, and the Person” draws on the metaphor of the potter centering a piece of clay.  The potter pushes against the clay but leaves space for it to move, until it is well centered on the wheel.  At that point the potter can touch one point of the pot and the whole moving piece of clay will respond.

The potter must be careful — for if the clay gets off center a strong touch might pull it apart.  Instead, the potter will carefully lead the pot back on center, and then continue working it.  Of course there are limits to the strength of the clay, especially when it is wet and heavy. An understanding of this reality must moderate the potter’s touch.

Similarly, we need to re-center ourselves as we begin any meeting, or even any task.  Left unchecked, we may drift or get pulled away from where we need to be.  We may find that we’ve taken a wrong turn, or gotten off the trail and need to find it again.  This is not a sign that we are imperfect or inexperienced, but simply that we are human.  And when we are on center — everything is possible.

Things don’t always go well.  Sometimes “centering down” seems impossible, as laundry lists of tasks and issues keep running through our minds.   Undone tasks, complex relationships, or other matters may loom large, and not let themselves be pushed aside even for an hour.   Withhold judgment, be prepared to let go, and wait.  Let the center find you.


Telling my story . . .

April 16, 2012

On Turning the Computer Off

September 10, 2010

Turn the computer off?  “Impossible”, you say.  And my emotional response is to agree.  I’ve a dear friend in the hospital, and I may get e-mails that need to be relayed. There may be an inquiry about the apartment we’re renting, a prospect who wants my coaching or consulting, a client who needs help in a hurry.  I need to stay tuned to that information stream!

Or, do I?  Will that information wait 30 minutes, or 60, or 90?  Can I work on my time frame?

With the computer on, I tend to respond, and pay attention to what might come, even as I’m addressing the opportunities or challenges that are already here.  My attention, and my creativity, are diverted from the most immediate task at hand.

I’m not alone.  I see this with business colleagues around the globe. Sitting in front of our computers, we may be connected, but too often we’re not focused on the real questions, the deeper issues. We’re probably not  our best creative selves.

Neuroscientists tell us that our brains need quiet time to rearrange and reorganize information we’ve taken in. When we’re permanently connected to an on-line data stream, that time just doesn’t happen.

What’s the prescription?  Spend some time sitting under a tree, or on a rock by a stream, or even in a quiet room with no electronics.  Think, plan, envision, create, imagine.  Write with a pencil, and don’t worry about the font or margins.  In fact, don’t worry at all.  Just be present in the quiet space.  With practice, you can even do it in a room with computers, iPhones, and other electronic devices present.

Effective managing involves catalyzing, facilitating, inspiring, modeling, organizing, creating respected methods of accountability, and much more.

But there’s more than just such outward tasks, I believe. Dancers take class every day to keep up their physical agility. Creative and successful professionals need to nourish our right-brain agility. One of the important tasks of management today is to foster that agility, and the kinds of preparation that lead to it.

How to do that? Well, that’s why we have  organizations like the Center For Creative Emergence in the Washington DC area.  That’s why I do the consulting and run the workshops that I run in New England, that’s why many of us are exploring other initiatives in this relatively new area.

States of Creativity

January 28, 2010

I can be in several different  states of creativity:

  • Creating: Feeling that something exciting is coming out through me, and though related to my intention, my vision, and my skill, is larger than me.
  • Editing: Doing good — though perhaps not exciting —  work, that ties together or refines what I’ve created.  I’m using my skills, vision, perhaps even my imagination to see more.
  • Marking time: Balancing my checkbook, and doing all those other things that are neither exciting and creativity  nor so mindless as to be great for meditation.
  • Using my other senses and muscles: Walking or shoveling snow, or doing exercises at the gym . . . doing out of mind things that are nourishing in other ways.

My challenge is to get enough of all of these (along with social life, worship, prayer, etc), keeping them all in balance.  The words or definitions don’t really matter; balance does matter.