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Inspiration Does NOT Matter!

I’ve deliberately sought to be inspired as I’ve worked, because I’ve believed that the work I do when I’m inspired will be higher quality than the work I do when I’m NOT inspired. And yet, my own experience strongly suggests that there is no direct correlation between inspiration and quality.

My major form of production is writing. I’ve written 3 reference books, 3 CPE courses, countless proposals and reports, and 350 sermons. And some of the time I’ve been really inspired – the keyboard has been smoking as I poured forth inspired words of wisdom, explanation, insight, etc. Reading those words later, I have thought that they were really good! However, they still required some editing.

At other times I have been completely uninspired, flat, blah, when I have had to write to meet deadlines. So I’ve just gutted it out and written what needed to be written. Those writings tended to require more editing before they could be released.

BUT…

3 months later, when I read documents that were written while I was on fire with inspiration, and documents written when I was so flat I could hardly write a word – I can not tell any difference in the quality. The uninspired writings are just as good as the inspired ones. This has been consistently true through many manuscripts.

What’s the take away? I no longer worry that my writings when I’m uninspired will be lower quality – I just leave some additional time for the extra editing. I still find that writing when I’m inspired is more rewarding.

Could this be generalized to other activities as well? Does this work for you? What do you think?

PS – Since I was inspired as I wrote this, it took about 25 minutes. I spent another 25 minutes editing a day later.

Gary Langenwalter

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Summer Treat, formatted

Here’s a summer treat, reformatted for easier reading

My-rish Blessing

Words & Music by Joy Zimmerman

May your cats have no more furballs

May your basements all stay dry

May your joints remain stable

May you eat some humble pie

***

May you dance and go on roadtrips

May your allergies go away

May you sometimes surprise yourself

May gratitude light your way

***

May you have a lot of picnics

May you sleep to the sound of rain

May the squirrels not eat your birdseed

May regrets not cause you pain

***

May you renew your license easily

May you let someone else win

May you sometimes surprise yourself

Be brave and kind again

Be brave and kind again

***

Last Friday evening, my wife and I were privileged to hear Joy Zimmerman, from Kansas, play acoustic guitar and sing. We were in a wine-tasting room outside McMinnville, watching the sun slowly set. Joy created an atmosphere of peace, well-being, and hope.

May you have a wonderful summer.

Gary Langenwalter

Retain Your Best and Brightest #2

Following up on last week’s blog, if you want to retain (and attract) the best and brightest, you need to lead the pack as far as being the employer of choice in your area. Here’s a very unconventional suggestion:

1. Ask your employees why they work for your organization. You can use a combination of various means, for example:

· anonymous surveys (e.g. Survey Monkey),

· one-on-one meetings,

· an outside agency, and/or

· Glass Door.

They each have their pros and cons. The most important aspect of any of these is to listen to what’s really being said, underneath the words. Watch the body language, listen for the tone of voice, hear the pauses and subtle nuances in phrasing, pay attention to Freudian slips, and pay especial attention to jokes (which often hide a truth that the speaker does not want to say directly).

2. Then ask your employees what they’d like to see changed so that they would wholeheartedly recommend your organization to a close friend. And again, listen.

3. Then, DO SOMETHING with the information that your employees have entrusted to you. At the very least, let them know the results of the survey – good, bad, and indifferent. When you do, you will reinforce their trust However, if you don’t, they will feel that you have just disrespected them in a very important way, and you will damage morale. So be prepared to be transparent with your survey results and your follow-up actions.

Let me add a shameless commercial plug at this point – check out Vantage Point, an organizational health survey. I’m one of the creators. However, an OD consultant with decades of experience has said that it’s the best survey he’s ever seen. You can see more at https://synermetric.com/products/vantage-point

Gary

Retain Your Best and Brightest, #1

As the job market tightens up, your best and brightest will have opportunities to move to other employers. Conversely, if you’re an employer of choice, you can cherry-pick the best and brightest from other organizations, including your competitors.

Why would someone choose to work in your organization, compared to other organizations?

It’s not primarily for pay, although that may be the reason people give during their exit interviews.

Reason #1 – they want to feel respected and valued. We have a young friend who will change employers the first decent chance he gets because his current boss jerks him around and does not respect him. He left his former employer because his original boss left the company, and his new boss was a micro-manager.

This is especially true for Gen Z. WeSpire has just published a white paper titled 15 Critical Insights into Gen Z, Purpose and the Future of Work. Among the findings:

· They prioritize purpose over money

· They need to be proud of their organization

o Equality and environment are vitally important

· They want authenticity

· They are motivated by meaningful work

How well does your organization do on these factors?

You can get download the paper at :https://www.wespire.com/resource/15-critical-insights-into-gen-z-purpose-and-the-future-of-work/

Look for Retain Your Best and Brightest, #2, next week

Hope you have an authentic, meaningful day at work,

Gary

What’s Your Story?

Our stories define us. We relate to each other with our stories. In our stories, we are parents, single or married or divorced, sports enthusiasts, working or looking for work or retired, etc. The collection of many stories serves as our gyroscope. They keep us centered and grounded.

Organizations also have stories. Not just the ones on the web, but the ones inside, in the culture. And they likewise serve as the organization’s gyroscope. That’s why organization change is so challenging. Because to successfully change the organization, we have to change the gyroscope, the stories, the cultural expectation. We do that by changing the stories.

What are the stories that underpin your company? What are the stories that guide the culture in your department? Are they stories of courage, of greatness? Of going above and beyond? Of developing a new product or service that made a difference in people’s lives? If not, what would it take to get some?

If your organization has become mostly ho-hum, same-old same-old, let me ask you a question. What would happen if you called a organization-wide or department-wide meeting and asked each person to come back in one week with one idea about how you all could use your organization’s products and services to make a substantial difference in people’s lives. Then the group will pick the top 1-2 ideas and start to implement them. And then watch what happens. Watch what happens to your stories, your gyroscope. Watch what happens to the energy level and the excitement of your people.

(Of course, you should get top management’s buy-in before you start this journey. But, if done properly, it should require minimal investment.)

Please let me know what happens.

Gary Langenwalter

Just Do It!

“Just Do It!” is an antidote to procrastination. One cause of procrastination is trying to ensure that we expend resources most wisely – to not make a mistake. But trying to decide between two disparate choices can lead to paralysis by analysis – not being able to decide which is the better choice. So instead of making a decision and potentially being “wrong” about our choice, we delay. And we beat ourselves up because we couldn’t decide, and we’re not achieving results. This just increases the pressure to decide without adding any information to help us make our decision.

There is an alternative. When I am teaching high performing teams about fishbone diagrams and the 5 whys, I tell them that it doesn’t matter very much which fishbone they choose to go down – the other paths will still be there when they’re done with their first choice. The same is true for most other choices – there is frequently no “wrong” choice – just the question of which one we work on first. The others will still be there.

The root of the word “decide” is Latin, meaning “kill” – it is also the root for “homicide”. In deciding, we are “killing” all the alternatives that we did not choose. So the fear of making a bad decision is natural, especially if we have been criticized for our decisions previously. However, in many cases, the choices are neither right nor wrong – they are just choices. For example, when you visit an ice cream shop – do you want chocaholic’s delight, or wild huckleberry, or toffee butter pecan, or any of the other delicious flavors? Whatever you choose, you will enjoy. The others will be there the next time you visit the shop.

Suggestion – instead of “deciding” (which means killing the non-chosen alternatives), can you “choose” instead? Whether you “decide” or “choose”, you are indeed selecting one alternative over all others. The difference is psychological. Choosing does not have to carry irrevocability as its sub-meaning. To me, “choose” seems more like I am selecting that which aligns most closely with my values. No matter which term you use, select an alternative. Then do it. Then observe what happens to your energy level as you make progress because you chose to take action. So, perhaps the “real” choice is this: action and results and feeling good about yourself, or analysis paralysis and feeling bad about yourself. Your choice J

I’d welcome your feedback.

Gary Langenwalter

Ultimate Icebreaker – Secret Santa

“Who was your hero when you were 8?” Typical icebreaker question – right? And these are fine when members of a group don’t know each other. Safely superficial. Anything deeper would be inappropriate – too personal, too soon. But what kind of icebreaker can help a team go deeper and increase their trust when they already know each other? Here’s one we got from a client recently.

Secret Santa Icebreaker

A day or more before the team meets, write each team member’s name on separate pieces of paper and put them in a hat/bowl/jar. Have each person draw one name (if they draw their own, they draw again) – this is their “honoree”

Each person writes a short complementary paragraph or two about their honoree. Only positives! Topics potentially include:

· what they have learned from the honoree,

· what they admire about the honoree,

· how the honoree has had a positive impact on the team or organization,

· some skill the honoree possesses that others do not,

· an outstanding accomplishment of the honoree,

· etc.

At the start of the meeting, each team member honors their honoree in front of the entire team, one at a time. Rather than using 3rd person (“Jim really helped me when…”), the speaker talks directly to their honoree’s face, using “you” language (“Jim, you really helped me when…”)

This process was suggested by an introvert, who did well in both giving and receiving complements publicly.

Let me know how it works for you.

Gary Langenwalter

You Are Whole!

YOU ARE INHERENTLY WHOLE! In this context, “whole” means complete, fully integrated, not lacking anything. A coach assumes that each person has the innate knowledge, wisdom, and power to

· ask and answer the deep questions,

· face and embrace their shadow side, and

· be the gift to the world that the world desperately needs, and that their soul wants them to be.

In this model, the coach lets the client do the heavy lifting, because that’s the only way that healthy, lasting change will happen. And that is the only way to empower the client, to help them realize how powerful they are so that they can reach their full potential. The coach journeys beside the client, rather than carrying them. The coach provides a safe place for the client to examine their assumptions about life, and helps them ask questions that they might not otherwise ask. The coach encourages the client to face the pain and work through it, rather than avoid it. The coach helps the client see him or herself as he/she truly is.

The coach helps the client see that the client’s limitations do not, in any way, make the client less creative, resourceful, and whole. In fact, the limitations might turn out to be blessings in disguise! In all cases, the coach is a powerful, steadfast stand for the client’s health and well-being – the coach sees the client as fully human, and the coach sees who the client can be, at his or her best: fully powerful and fully engaged in the world.

The Coaches Training Institute teaches us that each client is Creative, Resourceful, and Whole. My previous 2 blogs covered Creative and Resourceful. I hope this has helped you on your journey and that it will help you help others on theirs.

Gary Langenwalter

You Are Resourceful!

YOU ARE INNATELY RESOURCEFUL, according to Coaches Training Institute, where I was trained as a coach.

What does this mean? That you have deep wisdom which will tell you the truth and keep you on your path. It means that you can get the job done – that you can figure out how to get where you need to go, and to do what you need to do. It does NOT mean that you are completely self-sufficient. You still need to ask others for help. But you can figure out who to ask and what you need (or ask people to help you figure out what you need and who to ask. You’re still being resourceful and moving forward).

Being resourceful means that you already have the resources you need in order to grow to be who you are called to be. This is both good news and bad news. The “bad” news” is that you can no longer tell yourself that you don’t have the resources to do something or be something.

Some people want to see the ultimate destination and a detailed map of each stop when they start on a journey. But being resourceful means you don’t really need the detail. As long as you know where you are going, in general terms, you trust that you’ll have the resources you need along the way. All you really need to see is the first step, after which the next step will unfold, then the next step, then the next step… And in the end, I’ve usually been amazed at where I’ve finally arrived – it’s usually been different, and much better, than I initially conceived.

How will you act when you KNOW that you that you are resourceful – that you have everything you need already? And what’s stopping you from acting that way right now?

Gary Langenwalter

You are Creative!

YOU ARE INNATELY CREATIVE, according to the Coaches Training Institute, where I got my training to be a coach.

What does this mean? It means that the coach does not have to be the creative one, furnishing ideas and leading the client forward. It means the client is fully capable of creating the future they want. The coach merely needs to give the client the confidence to believe in themselves. When a client starts to realize how creative they really are, they become much more powerful, much more unstoppable. They become the learning, growing, passionate person that they have always been, but never really let out to play, before. They become a truly beautiful person, from the inside out. They attract other like-minded, bold, beautiful people. Just consider the impact that a group of powerful, creative people can have!

Creative people do not let their past define them. They create their own futures, the futures that they want to live in. And then they live into those futures.

Does this mean that all their efforts succeed? Of course not! But a creative person understands that fact and learns from the results of their efforts. They either change an input and try again, or decide to do something else entirely. Bill Gates said that he has learned more from his failures than from his successes.

So, are you being the creative, powerful person that you’re capable of being? If not, would you be open to some coaching? Do you know someone else whose latent creativity and power is untapped?

Next week’s blog: You are innately Resourceful

The following week’s blog: You are Whole.

Gary Langenwalter