“A county level look at vote volume and proportion.” Source: IDVSolutions

“A county level look at vote volume and proportion.” Source: IDVSolutions

Picture this. Obama and Romney look to their right-hand man for the results of their efforts in the US Presidential campaign. “How’d we do?” they ask their respective people. Obama’s guy says, “you won!” Romney’s guy says, “you lost.” The feedback is succinct and accurate.

On the other end of the spectrum, we have this: “A county level look at vote volume and proportion.” Wow. This is feedback that bares all.

How specific is the feedback you provide at work?


Photo by: tom_bullock

As a relationship-oriented leader in your organization you focus on having meaningful, productive conversations with your peers and staff. You work on encouraging new ideas and being collaborative for the sake of getting to great solutions.

But it’s not always about solutions or action. The important task of building relationships in your workplace means that sometimes you have to just listen. Particularly in the circumstance where one of your people has to get something off their chest and you sense that they don’t want your opinion or your input, they just want your ear. In this case, your job is simply to make the other person feel heard.

True, if you field too many rants you won’t get any work done. But if you willingly receive them on occasion, that same person will surely feel safe in coming to you to openly share much more.

(Check out this rant about printers that I deeply identify with!)

Photo by Civic Center

Have you ever been asked a question that’s so simple, but so deep it stumps you for a second? Here’s one: “Fill in the blank: ‘before I die I want to ______;” (Granted, it’s not technically a question….)

Now what if you could survey gobs of strangers with the same inquiry? Do you wonder what they’d say? What about your co-workers or your relatives – do you think you’d be surprised?

Artist Candy Chang asked a whole New Orleans neighbourhood the question by creating a giant fill-in-the-blank chalk board on the side of an abandoned building. [http://candychang.com/before-i-die-in-nola/], and since then, many others have put boards like it in their cities.  “It’s easy to get caught up in the day-to-day and forget what really matters to you”, Candy says on her website.

What comes up for you when you’re challenged to fill-in-the-blank? Does the answer align with what you do in your day-to-day?

There’s a spin-off of this project called Project Better. Using the same concept, their public boards say “[this city/neighbourhood] would be better if_____”.  Can you imagine what might show up in anonymous comments if a corporate leader put a giant “this organization would be better if _________” board? What about a big “this company’s leadership would be better if _______” board? Talk about being vulnerable.

The difference between this and a suggestion box is that it’s not just about mining for answers by whomever posts the board; the effect of allowing the larger population insight on others’ perspectives will surely stimulate innovative ideas and productive discussion.

I’m dying for someone to try this large-scale experiment in their organization and report back to me at rachel@weinstein.to.


Photo by The Green Party

Regardless of whether you have kids, my sense is that as August turns into September, we all get that “back to school” feeling. We buckle down and get a little more serious about our work after weeks of being pulled outside by summer…. be it long lunches, long weekends or long breaks. And there’s a twinge of sadness about saying goodbye to this universal “play” season.

For kids going back to school, the “goodbye” is balanced out a little. Even those who would hate to admit it know that there’s an excitement. It’s about seeing old friends, gaining status as you move to the next grade, the sports teams, the school plays, and hey, maybe even learning something cool in class. It’s familiar…..but different.

Let’s challenge ourselves as professionals to add some of back-to-school spark to our “back to the grindstone” perspective. Don’t repeat the grade! We don’t wait for kids to get 100% in one grade to move to the next one, and you don’t need to have had a perfect year at work to advance.

In other words, we owe it to ourselves to intentionally do something diffrent and interesting this season. Don’t wait until you’re sick of repeating the same grade over and over.

What one thing can you point to and say, “That’s somewhat intimidating, but tackling it would feel so great!” Is it asking for something you want? Being bold about sharing your vision? Raising the bar with sales goals? Upgrading your skills? Redefining your role? Your career?

This is not like a guilt-driven New Year’s resolution. Rather, this is about building off of another solid year of experience under your belt. You’ve earned a promotion to the next grade.  So what will you sign up to learn and experience this school year?

So this could change everything. A client sent me this HBR blog today entitled, “Who Says Work has to be Fulfilling?” I guess if the answer is, “it doesn’t”, then this client and many others of my coaching clients have been wasting their energy!

My instinct is that this kind of thinking gives too many people an easy out. I mean, who says life has to be fulfilling?

Yes, now I’m just being cheeky. But I respect that the initial question was raised because it challenges an assumption a lot of us have, and I like challenging assumptions; it’s what I do as a Coach.

What do you think would happen if the next time someone comes to me and says, “Can you coach me toward something bigger, better, more fulfilling in my 9-5?”, I ask them, “who says work has to be fulfilling?” Assuming I have the guts to ask, my ideal client would boldly say, “I do.” And from there, no doubt, a satisfying and successful journey will begin! View article here

We’re all busy trying to reach lofty professional and personal goals. It’s what ambitious people do. I am so thrilled to be a part of these journeys everyday with my clients. I witness it being exciting, scary, invigorating and challenging. A future orientation keeps us all motivated and focused, and as a Coach, I encourage it. But sometimes we forget that “life’s a journey, not a destination”, as Ralph Waldo Emerson said; one of those clever sayings that’s earned its place on many a fridge magnet. The message is really important and offers a refreshing perspective.

How can we make it more than a fridge magnet? We can put some action around this notion to help us adopt its meaning, which is to enjoy the process of moving toward your big dreams. Here are some tips as to how to make this happen:

1. Celebrate small achievements. Be proud of each step in the right direction.

2. Be actively grateful. Reflect on all that you have at this stage in your life.

3. Escape. On occasion, do something that isn’t on your to-do list and has very little “purpose.”

4. Do it now. Don’t wait. Whatever “it” is….big or small: Visit your Grandmother, sign up for a marathon, write a poem, negotiate your salary, replace that lampshade you hate.

5. Stop and smell the flowers. (Note: This tip also available in fridge-magnet form.) Literally STOP. Notice your surroundings. Notice yourself – your body, your feelings.

It’s not always easy. In the interest of full-disclosure, this is a constant struggle for me personally. Is it irresponsible to take my eyes off my big goals for just a moment? What am I worried about? Do I think the vision of my dream “destination” will disappear?

What I do know for a fact is that the moments of the present that make up the “journey” disappear every second. My only chance to participate fully is right now.