Neither Good Nor Bad

I’ve learned not to judge events as “good” or “bad”, under most circumstances.

A couple weeks ago, an ice storm closed Portland down. One casualty of the storm was a public workshop on Process Improvement (Lean/Quality/Change) that I was going to lead, which got rescheduled to the first week of December. Unfortunately, not all the participants, who had paid for the workshop series, were available on the new date. That’s bad, right?

Maybe not…

I decided to offer the workshop to the participants who could not attend the rescheduled time, at their location, at no additional cost to them, so that they would receive full value for their investment in education. Three organizations accepted my offer. I requested that each of them invite other colleagues, again at no additional cost, so that we would have approximately 8 in the room – a 1-person workshop is VERY small!

As rewarding as it is to lead a public workshop, leading the on-site workshops is even more so. It’s a much smaller group (8, rather than 20). And I am able to use examples from their organization for the major exercises, allowing them to move their organization forward. In the public workshop, that is not possible.

So, as “bad” as the ice storm was as far as messing up people’s schedules and commitments, something good emerged – the opportunity to lead workshops on site for 3 organizations, using their own examples. Now I can view ice storms as “good”. Well, maybe…

Gary Langenwalter

Becoming Child-like!


Giving yourself permission to be silly will nourish your creativity and is a good exercise in letting go.

Children appreciate all that is silly as a matter of course. Their grasp of humor is instinctual, and even the smallest absurdities provoke joyous gales of earnest laughter. As we age, this innate ability to see the value of silliness can diminish. Work takes precedence over play, and we have less incentive to exercise our imaginative minds by focusing on what is humorous. When we remember childhood, we may recall the pleasures of donning funny costumes, reciting nonsense poems, making up strange games, or playing pretend. This unabashed silliness nourished our vitality and creativity. We can take in this nourishment once again by giving ourselves permission to lighten up and be silly.

Too often we reject the wonderful silliness that is an inherent, inborn aspect of the self because we believe that it serves no purpose or is at odds with the grown-up culture of maturity. We play yet we do not lose ourselves in play, and our imaginations are never truly given free rein because we regard the products of irrational creativity as being valueless. Yet silliness itself does indeed constitute a vital part of human existence on a myriad of levels. Our first taste of ethereal bliss is often a consequence of our willingness to dabble in what we deem outrageous, nonsensical, or absurd. We delight in ridiculousness not only because laughter is intrinsically pleasurable, but also because it serves as a reminder that existence itself is fun. Skipping, doodling, and singing funny songs are no less entertaining than they were when we were children. We need not lose all interest in these cheerful and amusing activities, but to make them a part of our lives we must be ready to sacrifice a little dignity and a lot of fear.

It is precisely because so much of life is inescapably serious that silliness should be regarded as a priority. Through the magic of imagination, you can be or become anything—a photographer, a professional athlete, a dancer, a pilot. Whether you take hundreds of silly pictures, revel in the adulation of your fans as you make the winning catch, boogie down rock-star style in front of your bedroom mirror, or turn your desk into a cockpit, the ensuing hilarity will help you see that lighthearted fun and adulthood are not at all incompatible.

Dare to be silly! Embrace your inner child!

Greg Sievers

Director of Silliness!

Portland Consulting Group


The Greatest Gift You Can Give

Children crave attention. A 4 year old will demand, “Daddy, Daddy, look at me! Mommy, Mommy, look at me!” Unfortunately, parents are not always able to pay attention when the child demands it; other items might take higher priority. When a child doesn’t get attention by being good, he or she might do something naughty. Any attention (even negative attention) is better than being ignored.

So what does this have to do with our organizations?

People crave to be seen. People need genuine recognition for who they are. Old or young, male or female, boomer or gen X or millenial – doesn’t matter. We are each wired to want to be recognized, to be seen.

Thus, the biggest gift you can give someone is to see them. You can see them for how they want to be seen, and/or for the potential and creativity and capability that you see in them. Even better, this is free. It costs the organization exactly zero dollars.

Best of all, you can ask others give you that gift as well.

This is the original win/win.

We’re all on a journey – so let’s support and celebrate our fellow travelers. And let’s be gentle and generous and give them the gift of being seen for who they really are and who they can be – courageous persons who are doing the best they can with what they’ve got. That’s what makes great teams great.

What do you think? Do you agree/disagree? Let me know. I’m looking forward to hearing from you.