Nonsense At Work

#86: August 2014 MindShift

Nonsense just is,
but sense must be uncovered, grasped and held tight.The NonsenseAtWork Monthly MindShift


August 2014

Cultivate Fear Of Master Thought

Cultivate your change

cultivate-changeSo, you want to change and you want to manage change. Answer this. When is change an event and not a process? When it jingles in your pocket.

And when is it a process? When you treat it as a vegetable garden. (I know, you find your veggies in the freezer section, but try to imagine you’re the gardener.) What outcome do you want? Vegetables. So you prepare the soil, you plant, you nurture and you harvest, in that order. You manage the process, even though you cannot totally control the outcome.

What part of the process most often destroys the harvest? Nurture. Because if you don’t kill the nonsense, I mean the weeds, they will suffocate your plants.

Remember, cultivate your change. Because if you don’t treat change as a process and live it as a process, then the process will make small change of you.


Fear of failing loudly

speedingPlanet Earth’s most famous cycle race is rolling again (or maybe not, depending on when you read this) and I miss my trusted, rusted bicycle. I learned quickly how to ride a bicycle because I had no training wheels. I learned quickly because I learned not to be afraid of falling.

I don’t see many kids riding bicycles today, never mind falling down. This worries me because kids do need to learn to overcome their fear of falling.

Did you know that we are born with only two natural fears? The fear of falling is one. All other fears are learned, mainly through our ability to imagine negative outcomes.

I did learn two things about falling off a bicycle. Every time it scared me less and every time I got better at getting up.

By the way, our other natural fear is the fear of loud noises. Like someone shouting ‘don’t fail!’  Which is why so many of us struggle to succeed.


The fear of continuity

president-precedentI have worked with two types of CEOs. Those who want the firm to succeed after they’re gone and those who secretly want it to fail to prove how important they were.

Oh, let’s not pick on CEOs again! I have worked with two types of managers. Those who want the firm to succeed after they’re gone, and those who . . . , well, you get the picture.

I again worked with one type recently. I suggested that a key aspect of his new strategy was to ensure continuity so that the firm and its clients were protected in the event he did not make it to work. He agreed, but refused to make this a selling point to his board, because, he said, if they knew that, then his job was no longer safe.

I tried to explain that he could be fired for not ensuring continuity. Sadly, his fear for his job was stronger than my fear for his job.


Master, not over

mastering-overMaybe it wasn’t fear for job, but love of mastering. Let me explain with another bicycle lesson.

When you ride a bike you have no conscious awareness of your skill in balancing-pedaling-steering-breaking and your mind is free to focus on other things. However, when asked to explain how you do it, you must make your unconscious skill conscious. Now you must figure out how much of what you know will be relevant or helpful to someone else.

Welcome to the mentor’s dilemma.

Being masterful at something does not mean that you know how to teach what it takes to become masterful. It simply means that you have mastered all the nonsense that stops you performing well. This is why the best way to mentor is simply to share what has worked for you.

Remember, being a master enables you to mentor others.  It does not entitle you to master it over others.


Chew on this thought

drinkingI had lunch with a new friend who hoped that our life stories would be different enough to stimulate interesting conversation. I hoped for good food.

He is bored of interacting with people who do not think for themselves. Too many people, he said, are told what to think and not taught how to think. Noticing that I ate fast, he slyly mentioned that he was also taught how to chew properly.

Wait! There’s a message here. How to chew; how to think. Chew properly so that food can be better digested; think properly so that ideas can be better assimilated. Proper chewing releases more flavors; proper thinking releases more nuances. Do not speak with your mouth full; do not speak with your mind full.

As I ruminated on this, it struck me that we are not cows who chew the cud aimlessly. We humans think with purpose.

I hope.



Want to master it over me?



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