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Be Deliberate in Your Ripple Effect

Read this week's blog from Janet M. Harvey, Author of Invite Change: Lessons from 2020, The Year of No Return. Nautilus Book Award Silver Award Winner.

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We've just marked the midpoint of 2021. Can you believe it? If you've been keeping your attention on the horizon and what's emerging, of course, you think it. Perhaps like me, you are also thinking long and hard about how you want to engage life and influence your future and that of your family, customers, and community. As the quote suggests, Planet Earth 2021 is time not to be afraid to be great. Sometimes our perceiving is not that reliable, meaning not all threats are real, and some are not quite as limiting as we first imagine. When we connect to something interior with a more profound sense of self-acceptance and self-trust, we cause greatness for ourselves and others. Fernando's definition of coaching is that we are all ambassadors of hope and orchestrators of mood. And I think this is true of all leaders. Here's a quick metaphor that has been very useful for me this past month as I channel my thinking about the rest of 2021 and beyond.

Getting trained to drive a car at high speeds on both an oval and a cross-country race track was a thrilling experience for me. During the day I spent with instructors and coaches, I learned new skills on the whiteboard. I applied those skills on the track immediately. I had a coach by my side and an observer in the tower who spoke into my headset. I was challenged and encouraged to go for more speed and sustain my attention in the new ways I was learning to perceive. I exceeded my limits and beliefs about what I was capable of and trusted in myself to pursue. I made mistakes and had to adjust quickly and move forward again. No win-lose, only win-learn, and remember I was doing this for fun! I notice how many parallels there are between this experience and the long path of evolving from a competent individual contributor. I became an inexperienced supervisor of people in the late eighties and today I am an entrepreneur working on a global scale across multiple industries.

Former President Barack Obama said, "Acts of sacrifice and decency without regard to what's in it for you create a ripple effect. Ones that lift families and communities, that spread opportunity." His quote captures the roots of reciprocity when I consider choices in my life. He captures what it means each day to adopt a social mindset that looks out as far as I can perceive on the horizon and considers everything between the place I am standing and that distant future. To do this requires replacing a habit or preference of instant gratification with a pause in my thinking and choices to notice the ripple effect on others. Some examples for detecting the ripple effect: think about wearing a mask, getting a vaccination, trusting remote workers, and fully seeing racial injustice. We all had time to reflect and to be with ourselves and what most matters to us. In the pressure or the tension of loss or sacrifices, we start to see what we value, what we value most and care about, including the company we want to keep, and the places we bring our unique gifts and contribute to the world. Feeling tension, from any source, surfaces a central paradox in being human. I hold paradox as an indicator that a change is wanted when we have two things in tension. There is something right about both sides of the tension and likely some aspects that we're ready maybe to let go of because we recognize we've outlived those aspects or outgrown them. Beginning to see the paradox and deciding what to choose to change is real work worthy of our attention.

Personal skill and practice of reflection and contemplation offer an essential key to be successful with navigating paradox. Using my capacity to reflect, to make space for reflection, and a pace to allow it to emerge, I realize that synergy and collaboration stimulate fresh ideas. Such ideas are so much better than the first idea that I bring into the conversation. Reflection is how to be in continuous learning, a subject that has been on the top ten issues list of CEOs for the last 30 years to manifest a learning organization. Of course, the landscape for reflection on big subjects that demand our courage to uplift communities benefits from a framework to resolve our inner dilemmas. For me, being generative is a treasure chest to unlock and explore. What does this look like for you to personally be generative? Four key capacities accessible by all human beings include:

  1. Originating new ideas, using imagination, and trusting it to come up with things that are going to be relevant and actionable.

  2. Translating those ideas in ways that create something really practical and pragmatic. We call that the creative function.

  3. Win-learn orientation rather than win-lose, being deeply curious about what stimulated results, what data motivated fresh ideas, and how various methods and processes created something new that was what was wanted or not.

  4. Producing outcomes, results and experiences.

Exercise these capacities to adopt a social mindset. A social mindset perceives holistically how decisions we make and actions we pursue will impact all of society. When I pause to give some thought, I realize everything big starts small, with me and every small decision. Each decision ripples out to each person I touch. And that person touches another who asks the question, what might the impact be on the whole of this community? Transformation and belonging are both high values for me. They're also values of our organization. And as I think about our decisions for where to deploy our resources -- brainpower, creativity, time, money, and methodologies -- making these actions congruent with transformation and belonging, I know we'll be successful. Does it always turn out the way I imagined? Heck no, but imagining is what gets us going. Being able to invite change rather than wait for change relies upon the courage to imagine. And that keeps us connected to the values that matter to us, which is how we can stay congruent internally.

We are in a whole new phase of society that must integrate and incorporate organizations as a foundational part of human society. We spend most of our waking hours in the company of our colleagues and customers, and that holds tremendous potential to create a positive ripple effect. So, an inquiry question is this: What current attachments blind my vision for what's needed? There are so many little and big ways to move past our attachments in our ordinary daily life and see because once you see, you cannot un-see, and see how to be part of restoring our sense of humanity with each other.

Janet M. Harvey, MCC

Experienced with individuals at the Board of Directors, “C” Chair, Executive and Senior Management levels, Janet assists executives in adopting effective habits of perception and behavior to lead and accelerate corporate strategies. Typical engagements address executive development in the following areas: articulate and inspire through clarity of vision, enable respectful challenge, debate and catalyze synergy for strategic business choices, risk/reward critical thinking about investments and shareholder value, plan leader succession and architect sustainable cultural/strategic change.
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