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Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Effective Action...

...is a fine line between arrogance and doubt !!...
by David Bookout

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It seems like a lifetime ago when some colleagues and I were building a high-tech manufacturing company from scratch. The ride from $0 to $100MM / Yr. in 5 years was spectacular, and the lessons numerous. Today, one particular lesson comes to mind, and that is the fine line between arrogance and doubt. Falling too far off center in either direction can render some pretty unsatisfactory results.

The good news is we all get to choose the line we take.

Arrogance - Is having it all figured out. We used to joke about a recurrent trend. It went something like this - "just when I'm thinking I've got it all figured out I get hit in the head with a 2 x 4". Even metaphorically this hurts, and it is a great posture to block effective action. Why? Because it invalidates others, limits their ideas, and destroys collaboration.

Doubt - Can also be about having it all figured out. Just in a negative way. Doubt is an equally potent fuel for alienation. The interesting thing, to me, is that when we have doubts we are actually in distrust of either our own, or another's ability to fulfill. When we doubt, the very things we want get farther and farther away.

So, how do we stay on the fine line of Effective Action, particularly when the wind and other elements threaten to take us off course?

Here are Five Quick Tips:

01 - Maintain a healthy wonder about what you, and those around you might be missing. This is different than doubt. An interesting way to view this is; know what you know, know what you don't know, and know that there are things that you don't even know that you don't know.

02 - Maintain a healthy respect for what others think. This is different than sucking up. To be heard, you have to hear others.

03 - If and when others make a commitment to do something, figure out how you can be of value and support them in the fulfillment of their commitment. If you can't be positive at least be neutral, and don't be negative.

04 - Make what you say publicly, particularly about others, match what you say privately to others.

05 - Be willing to wipe the white board clean. As we interact with others we build a mental map of thoughts about each person. Another way to think about this is that we begin to fill the whiteboard with our positive and negative experiences. If negative things begin to pile up, AND your willing, you can wipe that board clean. When you do this you choose to hold old actions in a new, agreed upon light. Once you declare that your going to wipe the board clean with someone, and you should actually tell the person that this is what your doing, you can't continue to bring up the old, negative interpretations.

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