Jonathan's Blog

Jonathan's Blog

Mindful Leadership and Technology (Mostly Software)


Mindfulness Leadership

The Head and the Heart Working Together - Emotion is Information

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Emotions are information. Through emotion our body tells us things (often important things) and upon which our brain is trained to react.

This system developed as an evolutionary adaptation - fear of being eaten by a bear produces a fight/flight/freeze reaction.

Today this system gets invoked for reasons that often don't have anything to do with why we evolved the system in the first place, and it is therefore an imperfect system.

We can pay attention to this in ourselves. Understanding that we are having an angry reaction is meaningful - perhaps we should be angry. We also may be reacting to one thing (work) and taking it out some place else (home). This is less healthy.

Choosing these reactions and managing them are part of being an adult. It isn't easy. I've found Focused Attention Training and meditation to be effective ways to understand these streams of information and work on managing them in an offstage way.

This can help you later on when you have to manage them onstage.

You can also understand people by looking at their emotional reactions, though again, this is an imperfect system.

A person may display anger for a number of reasons:

  1. Frustration
  2. Pain (physical or emoational)
  3. Exhaustion

All of these are examples of the brain doing the best it can to handle a situation.

What is happening inside that person you can't tell without talking to them or knowing them very well.

What you do know is that anger is a strong emotional response driven by something that is bothering them. It's an indicator that this person may need help and you should approach it from that direction.

It's also possible that anger is being used to manipulate or negotiate. This is also information.

Here's another good blog post on this topic: post.



Detecting Lies

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As a leader, people are going to lie to you occasionally. Even if it is simple lies of omission.

Here is a video from Dr. Romie about some signs that someone might be lying to you:

This is a good video, probably worth watching, but let me summarize it for you. How do you know when someone is lying?

  1. Use of negatives - A person who is lying about calling you back might say, "My phone is so stupid!", "I hate my cell phone provider!"
  2. Use of complex stories and run-on sentences - A person who is lying will tend to provide a more complex explanation, "I had a flat tire and then my boss called and then I ran into an old friend and couldn't get away."
  3. Use of third person - A lying person may avoid talking about themselves and their emotions.

I think as a leader you have to be aware that people are going to lie to you and hide the truth from you sometimes. There can be a lot of different reasons for this.

The big question for you is: what are you going to do about it?


Creativity Leadership Innovation

Creativity, A Theme

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I've recently been talking with my son about all the ways in the world there are to be creative. This stems from some rivalry with his brother and his feeling that his brother is somehow more creative than him.

He's 10.

So, I guess it is good to have these conversations now. I had similar conversations with my father a few years back about the ways in which he was creative in his career. His own feeling was that somehow he wasn't creative because he wasn't painting or writing or poetry or something in the fine arts. This is in spite loaning money to business throughout the community and fighting for what he believed was the right way to do this. And he was very successful at it.

That's very different than what I do, but it's still a creative endeavor. It helped a lot of people build a lot of businesses. It's probably more creative than what I do.

We had these conversations after he was retired.

We probably all have days where we don't feel creative enough. It's possible that what you do is not creative in the same way as others and not creative in the same way as some Big-C Creative endeavor. If you're worried about it you might reconsider who you're comparing yourself to. It might be more creative to look at the world and look at the ways you're having an impact, whether you're inspired that day or not.

The truth is my son is pretty creative in his own ways, and I do my best to reassure him of this (as I did my father). It's interesting that it is something that he feels strongly about at a young age - that's good and its a place to build from.


Leadership Learning Interview

Learning, Like Falling in Love

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I used to ask an interview question about what analogy someone would use to describe their relationship to learning new things. I had a couple of examples (drinking a glass of water, winning the lottery) and then I would turn them loose.

I always considered this an interesting question because I was trying to understand what their relationship was to learning new things and I was trying to set expectations in the interview process about what was expected. In this case it was, "I hope you like learning new things, because that is a big part of the job here."

Anyway, I got a lot of "it's like travel to a foreign country" or "it's like climbing a mountain." All of which had some element of both process and destination, and I always considered these to be pretty good answers.

Until one day when I got the title of this blog:

"Learning something new is like falling in love."

How remarkable that was - it was ALL process and no destination, and yet who can argue with the process of falling in love? You're compelled by the very nature of the thing to want more of it, wherever it may take you.

This was a fine answer. It was, in fact, the best and only answer. I stopped asking the question because I couldn't help comparing every other answer to it.

Interviewing can be stressful, much more so for the candidate than the interviewer of course, but to do a good job you have to prepare on both sides.

Here is what makes it all worth while though - whether you get the job or not - in the interaction the opportunity to answer a question and offer insight. It's worth thinking about in any interaction of course, but in a job interview something to definitely seek out.

What if there was no opportunity to offer insight? Would you still want the job?

What if you offered the insight and still didn't get the position? What does that tell you?



Saying it First, Saying it Best

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Sometimes the person who says something first doesn't say it the best. It takes courage to articulate a new thought that is different from others.

It also takes courage to articulate a thought when you know may stumble because of it's novelty and freshness.

Say it anyway. Go first.

To help with this, surround yourself with people who can help echo your thoughts, improve them, and will still give you the credit for it.

Having people who can say it better than you means that your ideas will have legs and go further. You're more likely to see them out in the world running around in the future.

They'll be another idea that will come along. You should go first next time too. And the time after that.


Leadership Creativity

Creativity and Habit

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Being creative is a habit.

If it's a habit that's hard for you, never fear. It's simply a matter of developing the habit.

Here are some things you can do to start a habit of creativity:

  1. Write a blog post
  2. Tell your kids a story
  3. Learn to fix something you've never fixed before
  4. Draw an org chart for your team or company that looks different than what you have today.
  5. Talk to a friend about a new opportunity
  6. Start a club or meeting
  7. Take a class in something you're interested in
  8. Learn a new language
  9. Build a website
  10. Introduce two people who you think could be friends

Sure, some of these are harder or easier than others. But the difference is a matter of degree or scale, not in the fundamental creative act that sits behind them.