Ever since I read the book Good to Great this quote by former Pitney Bowes Executive Fred Purdue has resonated with me…
“My job is to turn over rocks and look at the squiggly things, even if what you see can scare the h_ll out of you.”
My definition of a squiggly thing is this: Anything that is breaking down people, relationships, organizations, processes, systems and/or results.
When squiggly things challenge my thinking or behavior I’ve:
- Been tempted to ignore their existence by defending my opportunities instead of listening to someone who is trying to show me something.
- Struggled between the temptation to run and hide from the situation and the people involved or to argue and judge.
Fred’s quote gave me a powerful reason to begin turning rocks and the more squiggly things I faced the more I began to realize:
- That if I was so convinced that I knew the truth, I had no reason to fear another perspective.
- That I would make wiser decisions and create better results when I learned to engage with and listen to the wisdom of others.
“It is impossible for a leader who is not growing and developing to lead a growing and developing enterprise.” ~Mike Myatt
Today I relish the adventure, the learning’s and the growth that have resulted from those experiences.
Each time I discover a new squiggly thing, and take the time to learn more about it:
- My brain and creativity are stimulated.
- My knowledge and understanding grows.
- The people I work with are more engaged and empowered.
- And we are all more equipped to create positive change and to help others.
Some of those rock-flipping experiences have generated thoughts and questions like these:
Our organization needs help generating revenue.
- This team has the right information and the right people to turn that failing process that is costing the company hundreds of thousands of dollars, into a revenue generating opportunity for the organization.
- Yes it would be extra work for us, but it could increase the stability of the organization.
- Our department would no longer be a cost-center.
I wonder if we should volunteer to take it on?
Is that leader making a conscious choice to not see and not care?
- Is the organization so dysfunctional that no one cares to see?
- Is that leader surrounded by others that are intentionally manipulating the situation to serve themselves?
Vision drives behavior.
- Our department is the connection to the career the students came to school for.
- What if we involved employers in a strategic plan to increase student grades, attendance, retention and completion?
Could we help to create greater results for the students, the employers and the campus?
What’s driving me right now: Is it Fear or Wisdom?
- When is it wise to choose trust and when is it wiser to pass?
Do the people and organizations involved in this project realize how difficult they are making things for each other and for their customers?
- How is it that they’ve been given such an important project and none of them knows the vision?
- Do they realize that they each spend more time defending their turf than creating results?
- Have they been a part of the system so long that they don’t realize that they have created an energy vacuum that is zapping energy from each of them and the people they engage with instead of generating energy?
People find huge value in this place and it is the opposite of the place they are from.
- Are they unable to identify the reasons for the difference?
- Do they believe they can’t create this kind of change where they are?
- Do they not care enough to be a part of the solution?
Underneath that emotion, I hear pain. I need to ask more questions and listen more intently.
- How would I feel if I were experiencing their circumstances?
- What don’t I understand?
- How are my beliefs impacting my ability to hear them?