People grow if you believe they can change

I’ve enjoyed reading through a book of commencement speeches this week called “Way More Than Luck”.  Most moving to me was the one given by Madeleine L’Engle to Wellesley College in 1991.

She recounted how she was placed in a school which valued sport participation and she wasn’t able to contribute due to having been born with legs of two different lengths.  For some reason, her home room teacher equated this with a lack of intellect and completely gave up on her.  Madeleine withdrew from her schoolwork and began to dedicate herself to her own writing in Grade three.  She eventually switched schools and ended up with a first-year teacher who considered it part of her role find and affirm in each person, that which is intrinsically valuable.  The teacher tasked her with writing a sequel to the Odyssey.

I liked this reminder that people can rise to challenges but that your attitude about whether you think they can is crucial.

A recent article from the Harvard Business Review, People won’t grow if you think they can’t change, elaborates the point drawing on the fixed mindset versus growth mindset work of Carol Dweck.   Not only is a growth mindset important to see the potential for people to grow, a fixed mindset may prevent you from seeing the progress an employee has made (and may also well prevent an employee from seeing the progress you are making) thus calcifying a difficult relationship.

What was also poignant about reading L’Engle’s commencement speech was that L’Engle’s teacher acted as a force multiplier for her by taking a task that she was willing to do on her own and asking her to stretch and build on it.  I dipped into a book called Multipliers earlier this year on this theme.  While “diminishers” are apt to believe that work can’t get done without the help of a manager are more likely to shut people down with sharp remarks, “multiplier” managers can get two times more work from their people if they can build on their employee’s existing talents – things they can do with minimal effort, things they do without being asked and things that they’d do readily without being paid.  What is perhaps most liberating about multipliers is that they generate pressure to create the best work (and create the space that this could occur) without creating stress.  They rather generate the belief that the impossible is possible.

L’Engle admits that her sequel to the Odyssey likely wasn’t that great but the suggestion to attempt it seemed to help plant the seed for her momentous career in writing.



Four Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty About Leaving Your Job


Four Reasons You Should Stop Feeling Guilty About Leaving Your Job.

I know that I am not alone in feeling guilt at leaving jobs.

This is a good piece that has some pointed material on why you do no one any favours to stay in a job when it is only for reasons of guilt.  I think that we forget that we as professionals are expected to move on to grow and develop.  In addition, the costs of missing an opportunity and staying put, specifically costs on your morale as an employee, may well outweigh the short term angst of deciding when it is time to move on.

How To Push Past That Terrifying Dip In Motivation | Fast Company | Business + Innovation

Seth Godin has written a gem of a book called “The Dip” on the difficult decisions we often need to take as to whether to push through challenging situations versus throw in the towel. I’ve read it a couple of times and though it’s a good read, I am not much closer to knowing on a day-to-day basis when to push through and when not to.   This has lots to do with the fact that I am generally hard-wired to do so.  What has been more important to me of late is that I am now more more conscious that you shouldn’t push through just because you tend to preserve through things – you should take a step back and ask, who does this serve and why? Once you have decided that you should push through, it is always useful to have support as to help pushing past the dips in motivation. Some of the ways from the article hyperlinked below:

“You embrace the uncertainty and discomfort. Lots of people avoid these two things, but without them, you never get good at anything. You never learn anything worthwhile. Embrace these things and grow. […]

You do it not for success or some end goal, but for the sake of learning. You don’t want to give up every time you face resistance.You let yourself be moved by curiosity: wanting to know what it’s like to get past this, to push through discomfort. You want to find out how this chapter ends. […]

You pause and remind yourself of the reason you started in the first place: it’s not for personal success but to help people, to strengthen yourself, to inspire others, to make someone’s life a little better, to put a smile on your face. And then you ask yourself: which is more important, this reason for doing this project, or your personal comfort?”

via How To Push Past That Terrifying Dip In Motivation | Fast Company | Business + Innovation.

Ten ways to do what you don’t want to do

a great article which hits at many reasons to push through things that suck.

There is nothing new here but the list is bang on.

Including:  do a bit then quit and give yourself constraints. embrace the suck – hard things require work, meditate on why you need to do this and embrace gratitude – I have a job and a roof over my head.

When is the right moment?

Seth Godin is always worth a read…


“The right moment

You might be waiting for things to settle down. For the kids to be old enough, for work to calm down, for the economy to recover, for the weather to cooperate, for your bad back to let up just a little…

The thing is, people who make a difference never wait for just the right time. They know that it will never arrive.

Instead, they make their ruckus when they are short of sleep, out of money, hungry, in the middle of a domestic mess and during a blizzard. Whenever.

As long as whenever is now.”

Here is the link to his website – you click on the picture of this head to access his blog.

Develop Strategic Thinkers Throughout Your Organization – Robert Kabacoff – Harvard Business Review

Since strategic thinking is one of those skills that is notoriously difficult to teach, I tend to glom on to any snippets of information that may aid my own understanding – I enjoyed this description from a recent article to advance my own thinking of what we mean by strategic thinking – a complex matrix of considerations spread over time and other lenses.

“Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead, and planning. That means being able to think in multiple time frames, identifying what they are trying to accomplish over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years, to get there. It also means thinking systemically. That is, identifying the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization—including internal departments, personnel, suppliers and customers.”

via Develop Strategic Thinkers Throughout Your Organization – Robert Kabacoff – Harvard Business Review.

5 Paths To Doing Great Work At A Terrible Company | Co.Design | business + design

(c) Barry Kuts

 5 Paths To Doing Great Work At A Terrible Company

This article has good general application to working through situations which aren’t your best fit.  It may not be the company itself that is an issue but your particular situation.

In particular, I liked the invitation to a perspective shift borrowed apparently from the Scottish Parliament – “Work as if you live in the early days of a better company.”  Also, be tenacious and as needed, moonlight to do the work you want to be doing.

via 5 Paths To Doing Great Work At A Terrible Company | Co.Design | business + design.

Eight Ways Of Looking At Intelligence « Annie Murphy Paul

Eight Ways Of Looking At Intelligence « Annie Murphy Paul.

This is a lovely piece on an expansive view of intelligence and all the things that influence it.

The over-arching theme is that intelligence isn’t fixed and is largely situational.

The author draws out certain themes from the literature which influence how intelligent we are going beyond the standard, expertise and including, what emotions are at play (negative emotions kick in the “flight” response, so it’s hard to be so smart), what relationships exist and our own mindset.

To my mind, this has great value for managers in that it reminds us that we can to much to support our team’s collective intelligence by creating the right conditions to the extent we can.

What I would add for my two cents is that we can be made more intelligent by supportive challenge and also by being made to explain our topic for a specific audience.

What do you value?

VinothChandar / Travel Photos / CC BY

I have a continuing interest in how we can connect to values more closely as we navigate the workplace.  In my coaching course, I loved the values module the most. It was encapsulated by the question “Why is this important to you?”

This piece teases out the benefits of taking time out to deliberately think about and confirm your values.

Being clear on your values will help diminish your level of stress and strengthen your willpower as well as help you be more objective.

How to Perform in a Clutch |

Seth’s Blog: Just the good parts


(c) the rusty projector

Seth’s Blog: Just the good parts.


Love this piece by Seth Godin – reminds us the necessity of the slog to get where you want to go. His examples are great –  “I want to be an actress, but I don’t want to go on auditions.” and could be expanded to fill pages and pages.


To quote


“You don’t get to just do the good parts. Of course. In fact, you probably wouldn’t have chosen this path if it was guaranteed to work every time.



Instead of cursing or fearing the down moments, understand that they mean you’ve chosen reality, not some unsustainable fantasy. It means that you’re doing worthwhile, difficult work, not merely amusing yourself.The very thing you’re seeking only exists because of the whole.”