Tag Archives: conation

Doing Nothing On Demand

One of my 5 Rules for Trusting your Instinct is
      Do Nothing – when Nothing Works¹

Rule-5-Do-nothing-when-nothing-works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So why did I get so angry when traveling companions told me that they were committed to making sure I did not work while I was on vacation?

Because:

1.  If what I am doing is working for me, I do not need to, nor do I want to stop doing it.
2.  Deciding, of my own volition, when I will Do Nothing is essential for my acting according to my Free Will.
3.  What I do – my work – is my joy. To not be able to do it would be agony.
4.  Unless I am mentally incompetent, self-managing my mental energy is essential for me to be a productive human being.
5.  It is not a hardship for me to do what I do, and Doing Nothing is not something I would ever consider to be a reward.
6.  Doing Nothing ought never to be demanded by or enforced by others. It would be an attempt to assert their Will or control over my freedom to be myself.
7.  My work is my purpose. Rob me of it and you have taken my life.
8.  For me to be put in a place where I could only Do Nothing for an extended period of time would be putting me in Purgatory.
9.  Without striving to Do what I do, it would be impossible for me to thrive.
10.  I cannot plan ahead to Do Nothing, or prevent the need to Do Nothing. I have to Do Nothing On Demand – but not the demand of others.
11.  The appropriate demand to Do Nothing comes when my instincts require that I take a break – not when others think it is a good time for me to stop working (sorry Mom, well-meaning friends, and government/corporate regulators).

My instincts have sometimes had to scream pretty loudly for me to stop working (accidents are no accident). My instincts always have and always will have the final say.

1. Kathy Kolbe, Powered by Instinct (Momentus Press, 2004)

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Why Instinct-based Education?

Instincts drive all actions, reactions and interactions – including individuals’ modes of learning:

  • Some kids react positively to repetition of information – others tune out
  • Some kids respond with lots of details – others ignore them
  • Some kids interact tangibly to internalize information – others are hands-off
  • Some kids actively add to discussions, others sit silently

We can see the differences among kids, both in classrooms and in homes, yet few educators and parents know how to nurture such a variety of learning modes. It is especially tough to help youngsters learn in ways that force you to work against your instinctive grain.

Instinct-based education doesn’t require that teachers or parents change their natural ways of taking action.  It requires understanding the natural impulses that drive how each student learns best– and providing options that help them learn to trust those instincts.

 “Trust your instincts,” is, after all, what we tell our kids to do in order to stay out of danger. Shouldn’t we help them figure out what that means?

Research has shown that instincts drive passive thoughts and emotions into action in the part of the brain known as conation. The goal is for kids to “Get Conative” – which means to get into their strongest conative or work-oriented gear.

How can a teacher or parent help kids trust their individual instincts when a classroom or family could include many combinations of 12 different instinctive strengths?                      

                             5 Steps for Success with Instinct-based Education

  1. Enable kids to discover their personal instinct-based strengths through valid assessments of them.
  2. Explain your own instinctive strengths as you use them, role modeling the benefits of being free to act on personal strengths.
  3. Help youngsters figure out how to adapt to your way of teaching/parenting, thereby instilling respect for your conative M.O. or instinctive methods, as well as teaching creative problem solving as a means of dealing with similarities and differences.
  4. Give youngsters permission to try alternative ways of initiating actions, helping them experience the benefits of getting into the right gear. For educators, this should include in-class projects and homework assignments. For parents, it should include family projects and the time/place/process they use to do homework.
  5. Have youngsters rate their experiences with the process, as well as the results, in order for them to learn the effectiveness of trusting their instincts.

Encouraging students to ask for options based on their instinctive needs makes them responsible for maximizing their strengths. Letting them know you will assist them in self-managing their instinct-based strengths makes them aware that you recognize the equality and significance of their natural conative abilities.

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My Theory of Creative Problem Solving

You will never create anything without a conviction that it’s worth creating.  

If you try to create something by making an effort that doesn’t fit your M.O., you won’t get very far with it.

It takes a Commitment of your conative abilities for you to solve a problem in a sustainable way.

Creative Process

Creative Problem Solving takes more than just Doing something you want to do, you also have to evaluate whether what you’re doing makes any sense.

Judging whether another person is fully engaged in Creative Problem Solving is easier than judging levels of beauty. You can evaluate the process without judging the outcome.

Q: Why bother evaluating the process if the outcome stinks?
A: Because those who engage in the process are more likely to get consistently creative results.

 Q: Couldn’t someone who is not using a Creative Problem Solving process create something by dumb luck?
A: Luck happens when you create the opportunity.

Q: Is that all there is to your Theory of Creative Problem Solving?
A: No, but I’ll wait for you to ask more questions here so I can tell you the things about it that you are motivated to discuss.

Creative Process ladder

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5 Simple Steps to Avoid Getting a Job Interview

You have an equal opportunity (or as one recent job candidate wrote in the first line of his resume:  “an opertunity”) …to destroy your chances of getting called in for a job interview.

Simple 1st step for getting out of a job interview is what 80% of on-line job applicants are doing: send blah, or blah that should have been spell-checked and proofread.

Step 2: Show laziness + ignorance by either not including a cover letter, or (even better – for your purpose) sending a one-size-fits-all cover letter that doesn’t even mention what the company does or what the job requires.

When you don’t take time to individualize your application for a specific role at a particular company, you won’t need to worry about a quality company taking your time for a job interview. They’ll immediately put you where you seemed to ask to be put – in  the Not Interested pile.

Step 3: If you’re still in danger of having to be interviewed, your next line of defense requires going beyond canned blah. You may need the help of an overused, senseless expert in bad blah, like the book, What Color Is Your Parachute. By using all of its meaningless “key” words, you have a recipe for avoiding the disclosure of any spark of your own creativity or insight. This me-too approach will keep companies from expecting too much from you.

Step 4: You shouldn’t have to put this much effort into not being selected for interviews, but this just-in-case step improves your odds of not being interviewed because it insults the intelligence of whomever makes those recommendations. Be sure you take this step to extremes. Unfortunately for you, many others seem to be catching on to this trick. You’ll have to one-up what is being said by all the other wannabe losers.

Use highly unbelievable statements about how much you have done in so little time (“I worked for a very high status company for 6 months, and during that time I increased corporate revenues by 28%). Or how you saved an entire company from disaster by your discovery of all of their mistakes (“Reviewed and redesigned corporate strategic plan and established a workable system that impacted the productivity of all departments.”) Or how just little “newbie-you” outsmarted the corporate culture (“I introduced the company to the world of social media and got thousands of on-line followers to chat with us.”).

 Step 5: Not sure you can sound more boastful than so many others? This last step is what some have used as the dagger in the heart of an almost-ready-to-interview-you situation. You may even find it fun:  Complain about the potential employer’s hiring process.

There may be an employee who will give you credit for being outspoken (or agree with you that their company is not doing a good job) so be sure when you use this technique that you call the company owner or CEO on his or her personal cell phone. Here’s a sample script that is pretty sure to get you out of the interview:

“I don’t know why you think anyone would want to work for your company. I shouldn’t have to show you examples of my private, personally done work, or spend my free time reading your website, or put up with you snooping around my Facebook stuff.  And, I shouldn’t have to fill out that stupid Kolbe Index.”

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Scholarship: About Doing, as Much or More as Thinking

It feels like there is mostly Thinking going on in many academic programs, from fourth grade through undergraduate programs in universities. Where does the Doing get done? Not in lecture-based classrooms.

How inappropriate that parents, not teachers, often end up helping kids DO their homework – where most of the learning actually gets done.

Ask undergrads what they are Doing at school, and they usually tell you about what they are Doing in their “free” time or extra-curricular activities. Ask what they are doing in class, and the answer is probably, “Nothing but sitting and listening.”

Decades of research shows that learning happens by Doing. It’s called Active Learning in today’s literature. The proper term for the Doing domain of the mind is Conation.

Every field of study deals with conation. Yet, a century of perseverating about cognitive Thinking has led to contemporary blindness of the pervasiveness of conative Doing.

  •  Marketing textbooks, when discussing the fallacy of focus groups asking for opinions (Thinking), point out that they are not a good predictor of what people will Do in the actual purchasing process.
  • Law school texts warn of the need to distinguish the difference between Thinking about and actually Doing (or committing) a crime.
  • Religion and philosophy courses deal with the difference between Thinking in moral ways and actually Doing moral or immoral acts.
  • Language classes teach the difference between passive verbs (Thinking) and active verbs (Doing) – the latter even known as conative verbs in some languages.
  • Engineering programs tackle issues of sustainability – this does not mean keeping a level of Thinking, but rather sustaining levels of energy or Doing.
  • Medical and health related programs cope with issues related to getting patients to Do what they need to Do, not just Think about what they need to Do. The term coming into greater use is now referred to as the patient being Active, as opposed to the former negative labeling of patients as Non-compliant.

Name a field of study and there will be issues dealing with the differences between Thinking and Doing. Doing will always be the key to breakthroughs, innovation, discoveries – or any other word synonymous with Success.

The programs that “Get Conative” become the leaders in their field.

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High Cost of Squelching the Instinct to Innovate

For years many educators and physicians have recommended drugging risk takers. Kids who naturally initiate innovation were told they shouldn’t act that way. Now, there’s a national conversation asking where they went.

The Wall Street Journal reports the American risk-taking spirit appears to be fading, noting that Americans start fewer businesses. John Haltiwanger, a University of Maryland economist who has studied the decline in American entrepreneurship said, “The pessimistic view is we’ve lost our mojo.” What we’ve lost is a tolerance for a particular M.O. (modus operandi).

The pattern of conative instincts that leads to entrepreneurial efforts has been badly abused.

Ever increasing quantities of kids have been labeled ADD/ADHD and given meds to keep them from distracting others. This has not only robbed them of opportunities to learn to self-manage their instinctive strengths, it has kept these misidentified talents from blossoming naturally. Our culture is beginning to notice the absence of their innovative energy. We’re paying the price for the unintended consequences of dulling the minds of those who would now be leaders in changing the status quo.

So many parents are told: “Your child won’t conform to the system we have in the classroom. He’s being disruptive. We have to change the way he acts.” It is not about helping him or her use these abilities to create change in productive ways. It is an attempt to keep those behaviors from interfering with current classroom procedures. By labeling them “disabilities,” schools not only dull the uniqueness, they get extra funds for doing so.

Now these non-conformist kids’ abilities are MIA in the workplace. Now we recognize the loss of the creative disruptors. Now, just maybe, more educators (and corporate trainers) will be open to the reality that trying to make every student do things one way is not the best way to get the results both the kids and society needs.

I’ve never lost hope that leaders in education and medicine would realize this mistake. It’s logical that the evidence would come from the world of work, where all of the natural conative strengths are essential to bottom line performance. Data I’ve been collecting (with the help of enlightened educators) regarding conation and disabilities may now be recognized as relevant. So I will, with the help of these educators, offer it for public discourse over the coming months.

Kids whose innovative instincts have been pathologized have suffered from the lack of freedom to be themselves. In a society that says it values freedom, this loss of freedom for many of our children is unacceptable. It is embedded in our standardized testing programs and strongly influences university and corporate selection criteria. It is a national disgrace.

In order to have innovation in the workplace, we must free all kids to be who they were created to be.

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OverDoing

 

OverDoing is what makes Rule #5 for Trusting Your Instincts especially important. That’s the one that says: Do Nothing – When Nothing Works.

Telling OverDoers to Do Nothing will get better results than telling them to hold back – just a little. Once they get into conative gear, it’s unlike them to hold back.

OverDoers come in different levels, and the worst of them get (and probably deserve) labels akin to hoarders. They need to have the stuff for OverDoing. It takes paraphernalia to have all the accoutrements for special occasions, the cataloging of the possibilities, and the car that can drag the special effects around.

OverDoing can cause clutter and chaos, and wastes money and time.
OverDoing can turn a special event into a fiasco.

Since it involves Doing, OverDoing is conative.
It isn’t driven by intelligent decisions, and is apparently not edited by them, either.

As with any creative effort, OverDoing is inspired by affective emotions.

OverDoing leads to the conative effort of converting the ordinary into the extraordinary.
OverDoing is the showering of affection, and results from an outpouring of love.

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Goals with Purposes

 

Goals are for keeping score. Purposes are for making differences.

Kids learn a lot about making goals in soccer games.

They learn:
Who is best at making goals
What it takes to defend against others who make goals
Where to position themselves for making goals
When to shoot for a goal
How to use soccer skills to score goals

It’s easy to make the Who/What/Where/When/How list regarding goals of almost any kind.

Who on the sales team is most consistent in reaching sales goals?
What will get a lot of good PR?
Where can you find the best new team members?
When is a right time to buy new equipment?
How is it possible to save enough money?

What’s missing is the WHY

Why is it valuable for kids to play sports like soccer?
Why is good PR an important goal?
Why are new team members a necessary goal?

For all of the other W’s, there is always a Why.
In the Why, you will find the Purpose.

As a journalism student at Northwestern,
I was taught to always include the 5W/s and the H in a news story.
The Why often became clear only when I wrote the headline
–or at least contemplated Why the story mattered.

Kids Prove Teamwork Pays
PR Leads to an Increased Number of Job Applicants
New Employees Add to Team Synergy

Goals, like Deadlines, focus our conative energy.
They help us fulfill our Purposes.

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It Pays to Know Others’ M.O.s

It’s just not worth it to ask people to do things if the way they do them doesn’t work for you.

Don’t ask initiating
     Fact Finders for an answer – if you aren’t prepared to provide lots and lots of background information.
     Follow Thrus for help – unless you’ve cleaned up pretty well ahead of time.
     Quick Starts for ideas – if you aren’t willing to take at least some of the recommended risks.
     Implementors to fix something – unless you have plenty of time to wait for it to be done really, really well.

When you know another’s M.O. you can predict what they’ll do based on non-prejudicial information, not on myths regarding gender, age, and race. You won’t make the mistake of making false assumptions that can hurt feelings and ruin relationships.

Don’t assume you can change people or that they will “wise up” and stop being whatever part of them may annoy you.

You might even see the humor in
     a perfectly healthy, resistant Fact Finder forgetting important details.
     a seemingly sensible initiating Follow Thru rejecting time-saving shortcuts.
     an introverted initiating Quick Start surprising others with sudden decisions to do the unexpected.
     a resistant Implementor pushing the wrong buttons and messing up technology.

If you know those things will happen, you have a better chance of stopping them from causing problems.

When resistant Implementors grab one of three remotes and operates it by instinct, they often mess it up.
(I just gave my resistant Implementor husband the latest, greatest universal remote. I’ll let you know if it helps.)

Leaders – and bossy spouses – have told me that knowing a person’s M.O. wouldn’t help. They would just demand that people do what they were told to do.

How has that worked for them?

When they have demanded
     Fact Finders cut to the bottom line – they got errors.
     Follow Thrus use short cuts – they got sloppy work.
     Quick Starts stick to the script – they got turnover.
     Implementors sit still and listen– they got disputes and disobedience.

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Microsoft: Ignorant or Arrogant?

Microsoft:

You have set yourself up as a language expert.
You mercilessly correct our spelling errors all day every day.
You posture as an all-knowing judge and jury of right and wrong in use of language.

Yet,
You ignore Peter Mark Roget, the true expert in the English language.
You ignore Plato and Aristotle and thousands of other thought leaders.
You ignore modern research and well-documented studies of the differences in the three parts of the human mind/brain.

Why?
…do you continue to spell-check the word for one of the three faculties of the brain, and simply replace it with the word for an altogether different mental faculty?
…do you ignore calls to correct your error?
…do you think we should trust you when you confuse the source of human actions with the source of passive thoughts?

When?
…are you going to Get Conative?
…are you going to recognize the existence of your resistant Fact Finder M.O.?
…or am I confusing your conative behaviors with affective Arrogance?

MS Blog Pic2

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Don’t Mess with Truths of Conation

Unfortunately, some think that it would be a good idea to try and figure out how to make the brain conform to a job or educational system. For example, some say that it would be wise to find a way to get students to conform to regulations and do their work all in the same way. They don’t see the harm to the individual in doing this because it will “help” them do a better job. Many researchers are looking for ways to use QEEG technology to “change” brains so they are not ADHD. Some researchers are also trying to claim that since the brain has proven to have plasticity, my theory that conation is a constant isn’t accurate.

Yes. There is a way in which all human beings truly are equal. It is in the quantity of their conative abilities.

Yes. There is a part of all human beings that is consistent and sustainable throughout their lives. It is the conative modus operandi.

Yes. There is a renewable form of mental energy within all human beings that provides a natural resilience. It is a life-long, replenishable, conative drive.

Yes. I have discovered the patterns of a person’s M.O., and try to help individuals and organizations use this powerful resource for productive purposes.

Yes. I have found evidence that this resource emanates from a very deep region in the brain.

Yes. I can help individuals self-manage this resource to maximize their mental efficiency, reduce functional stress, and bring them the joy of accomplishment.

Yes. Ethical leaders have a responsibility to give those they lead the freedom to act, react, and interact according to each person’s M.O.

No. I absolutely, positively will not allow my work to be used to justify denying individuals the freedom to act according to their conative strengths.

No. I will not sit quietly and watch children and adults be medicated in an attempt to alter or dull their M.O.s – so that they “fit in” or act, react, and interact in a culturally more desirable way.

No. I will not assist faulty management systems that try to make human beings “more pliable” or force them to conform to work processes that denigrate their conative strengths.

No. I will not go along with brain researchers who, because of ignorance of conation, confuse the neuroplasticity among the three faculties of the brain with the absence of a need to protect the integrity of the brain’s M.O.

Bottom Line Conative Truths:

• Consistency of conative M.O.s assists an individuals’ Sustainability and Resilience and is compatible with theories of neuroplasticity.

• It is not only unethical to deny the free use of natural conative abilities, it is also unethical to try to alter the conative functioning of the brain.

• It is just plain stupid for any human being to think he or she is smart enough to create a better source of human power than the conative energy with which each person is endowed.

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Journalists vs. Today’s Media

Journalists dig behind the words.
Today’s media parse words.

Journalists interview subjects to get the story, not to be a part of the story.
Today’s media promote themselves on entertainment shows.

Journalists try to keep personal biases from being apparent.
Today’s media flaunts views in “panelist” roles.

Journalists seek unique angles and untold stories.
Today’s media repeat (and repeat) the story that is going around.

Journalists seek a wide variety of sources.
Today’s media interview people in the “Spin Room.”

Journalists don’t use the weird phrase, “Take a listen;” or begin a segment by issuing the command: “Look, what you have to know is…”
Today’s media believe it’s imperative that we pay attention to them.

Journalists don’t moonlight for the candidates or organizations in his/her stories.
Today’s media boast about insider connections with subjects in the news.

Journalists don’t confuse reporting the news with giving opinions about it.
Today’s media are confused about their role.

Journalists give the most important news at the top of the story.
Today’s media tease you to stay, but save the best part ‘til last.

 
(My bias: I am a long ago graduate of Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism)

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Peeves

I’m not calling the following Pet Peeves, because the term is an oxymoron.

A pet is something you enjoy having around, that brings you pleasure and that you pamper.

A peeve is something that is annoying or irritating.

If Personal Peeves are brought out into the open will they become less irritating? I doubt it. There’s no really good reason for sharing these, but one of my Personal Peeves is my inclination to feel I need to write things that will make a difference in the world.

This list is probably not going to make any difference in anyone’s life. It’s way too personal, and it’s not a clearly focused statement about anybody or anything.

Some of Kathy Kolbe’s Personal Peeves

Calling Peeves “Pet Peeves”
Being told I should stay focused
Being told there is no such thing as multi-tasking
The phrase “Take a listen”
Airplane arm rest hogs
Whining
Stores purposely designed so I can’t find the exit
Menus that include cilantro on every offering
Using a conative MO as an excuse for not making an effort
Being called “young lady”
Tweets from a book of quotes
Dead spots on my iPhone at crucial moments in conversations
Waiters interrupting at crucial moments in conversations
Seeing people who resist Follow Thru routines called uncooperative
Calling chemically encased vegetables “fresh food”
Invitations that require RSVPs when I don’t even know the inviter
Being asked if I just woke up one morning knowing everything I’ve spent years studying
Hotel curtains with pesky spaces allowing early am light to hit my sleep-deprived eyes
Hearing conative actions referred to as preferences
Former friends who didn’t consider it an adventure when I got us lost
People who say they trust their instincts giving 35 reasons to prove it
Teachers whose homework assignments require parents to do the teaching
Claims that entrepreneurialism can be taught
Boring presenter reading boring PPTs expecting me to read along although it’s too small to read
Having to sit where there is no place to put my feet up
Things that look exactly alike but could kill me if I don’t know the difference
Phony praise
Phony laughs
Phony agreement
Professional sports teams assuming my years of being a season ticket holder means I’m always a fan
People who don’t know someone, yet referring to them as “my friend”
Innovation used to describe what’s been going on for years
Football risking the brains of players of all ages
Having to explain myself

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When a Fast-Forward Mind is Forced to Rewind

By my own reckoning, my instincts compel me to be future oriented and to resist living in the past. I’ve thrived by living according to my instincts, even when others have wished I could explain exactly when and where I had done what.

It’s not easy to avoid the past.

The Past is Omnipresent.

Everyone talks about it – a lot.
Most writers start with it.
Teachers tell you about it and test to see how much of it you recall.
Friendships are built on it.
Religions celebrate it.
Friends relive it.
Doctors dwell on it.
Politicians rewrite it.
Lawyers restate it.
Accountants refigure it.

How can the Past be avoided when:

Problems recur?
Events are relived?
Dialog is repeated?
People reappear?
Plans are reinvented?
Ideas are refreshed, reinvented, and reproduced?

What’s a person to do when redoing and remembering doesn’t come naturally?
Look stupid? Seem uncooperative? Satisfy requirements?

When I meet others with my conative MO, I often ask them about their survival tricks. They don’t want to talk about what has and hasn’t worked in the past. Worst of all is recalling times they had to justify steps they had previously taken.

Having to clean out a storage area in which I’ve dumped 3½ decades of my past efforts has made me realize there are 100s of products, programs and manuscripts that I could retrieve and reinvigorate.

I wouldn’t need another new idea as long as I live.

 

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Why I am so Obstinate – and you should be, too

Being Obstinate, according to one of my personal heroes, Peter Mark Roget, is akin to:

• Tenacity
• Perseverance
• Dogged resolution
• Having a ruling passion
• Being willful
• Acting with determination

Being Obstinate means:

Fighting for the freedom to be yourself
Firmly adhering to your purpose and principles
Not being controlled or manipulated
• Proving your personal resilience

If we don’t overcome the obstacles that keep us from having the
freedom to act on instinct, we will never live up to our potential.
That makes Being Obstinate an imperative.

You are practicing Strategic Obstinance when you:

• Go where everyone else wants to go – but do your own thing in the process.
• Play the game others are playing – but work to attain your personal best.
• Give the “right” answer – then, add your personal opinions.
• Wear what’s appropriate – with your personal touches added in.

When you are Being Obstinate:

• Your intractable defense of your own methods will be persuasive.
• Your unyielding pursuit of your personal freedom makes you invincible, even to the criticism of those with presumed power over you.
• Your instinctive powers come to the forefront.
• You don’t linger long after disappointments
• You are challenged by what otherwise might defeat you.
• You do the do-able– and even some things you may have believed were improbable.

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Yellow Pad to iPad – and Back

I love technology. My Think Pad, iPad and iPhone help me communicate with more people more often from more places.

But do they help me think as deeply as my theorist mind needs to go? That question kept coming to my mind while going thru 40 years of hand-written papers, some water soaked but partially saved after a fire in our office a year ago. (Actually, there’re only 30 yrs of papers…cuz there aren’t many hand-written papers from the last 10 yrs.)

What was I thinking?

There it was – the paper on which I scribbled a formula, crossed it out and tried again, then again. I could see where my mind had thought to go, then turned in a different direction, then settled on what has worked for decades. None of that process shows up when I work on my computer. I try to do what today’s tech experts recommend and erase most previous versions of docs. What do those show anyway?

In the boxes there are pages torn out of yellow pads with squiggles all over them. No stock photos or pics, just my hand-drawn icons for four things I called Powers, Creative Strengths, Positives…finally Action Modes. Version upon version of a concept. My arrows remind me how emphatic I was when I hit on a formula that resonated in my mind. Right there is the one that has been used for decades. I did a swirling circle around it. Lots of swirls.

Archiving the details isn’t the point. It’s my process of decision making that matters most – at least to me.

Now THAT’S the page where a concept fell into place. That drawing of the Kolbe Creative Process was in-tune with what felt like truth. Seeing it made me recall putting the pen down, resting my head on the back of the chair as if I were a composer listening to a symphony I’d just completed.

Several random yellow (or blue or pink or white) pads later I see the difference. And, I can hear the dissonance I sensed in my head when I moved an element to the wrong place. Computers may screech when they are misused. My mind does that when it senses errors. But it seems louder when I do it with a pen on paper.

Another stack of yellow pads. All with lists and lists and lists of words. Days and days, and weeks and months of searching for the right ones. Some pages all nouns. I can tell they were wrong because they were printed more formally. I was certainly being too cognitive. When I see the list of verbs, it’s as if trumpets blared. Yes! I remember my sweeping orchestra conductor movements in the middle of the night. That’s it! It’s all about the harmony of the four types of Action Verbs.

I had obviously scribbled furiously. The a’s and e’s were sometimes script and sometimes print – that’s when I am on a roll. (And it just doesn’t show up on my Word docs.)

Pads and pads and pads of lists. There were the ones from Roget. There were the ones from the physics books. There were the ones from cartoons.

There are the lists of names. Hundreds of names – mostly just first names of kids and adults – attached to various sets of words. Yes, I remember Bob defying me to predict what he would do with those tooth picks. There are the names of the gifted junior high kids who found the information fit them to a tee. There is the woman whose name I never got right, but who broke into tears with an MO I will never forget.

Hit “Save”

After the fire in our office I was told, and said to others: “We were able to save most of the important things. Our clients never lost a moment of access to scoring Kolbe Index results when our server room was destroyed.”

Some water soaked boxes were carried into the back corner of our undamaged warehouse next door. The IRS would need some of the financial information in the boxes over there. THEY were scanned, but no one rushed to save the boxes of my handwritten work.

The results of my thinking have gone into computer programs, formulas, books, and software applications. Thank goodness we’d backed up the damaged servers. There is no way to back up my memory of the process it took to discover conative truths.

It’s the conclusions my processes led to that matter to the world. No one but me would be able to interpret these tattered pages. They won’t stop those who believe ideas just pop out of my head. Or that my work must have been stolen from someone with a PhD.

As a resistant Fact Finder, I won’t spend much more time looking thru the old stuff. The smudged papers have served their purpose. They told me what I need to do.

I need to move forward using all of my techy toys. I also need to protect days for making – and fine tuning – music in my head. I need the process of putting pen to yellow pads.

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Kids & Sports: Time for Sharing Values

Something I did the least well in my school days, has helped me do what I care about most now. I was an Activities Major: student government VP, a newspaper editor, co-director of the original musical production – almost anything and everything, except for sports.

But I was an avid sports fan. I learned how to keep detailed baseball score cards before I learned Roberts Rules of Order.

Sports have acted as glue in our family, a source of shared fun and for sharing values with my parents, kids and grandkids. Even my seven in-town grandkids, with whom I spend lots of time, have yet to get a lecture from me about writing or putting on a musical, but they know exactly what I think about errors in baseball, the importance of assists in basketball, head-butting in youth soccer, and the plethora of medals in gymnastics.

They know I will watch them play any game they choose, but will be outspoken about the unmitigated dangers of football, and the silly sexist style of little girls’ “baseball.” I’ll cheer loudly for any team that’s playing hard and watch in the rain for the final play of a team that’s working to the bitter end. I’ve also been known to ask, “What made you feel really good about that game?” Win or lose.

Herein lies the beauty of sports with my kids and grandkids. It’s in the banter about the game, the plays and the players that we share values, perspectives and opinions that would bore them in any other arena. Watching sports together means they knew exactly how strongly I felt about drug use without my ever having lectured them on the subject.

No way, no how, should a drug user be admitted to a Hall of Fame. Period. Got that? Yep.

A loss with a bunch of errors is for losers who didn’t give it their best shot. No sympathy – and don’t ever blame it on the officiating.

Basketball is a team sport, so I’m done cheering for that pro who makes sure his stats look good in spite of the team losing games. “See how he took the shot but could have drawn the foul – which would have helped us more in the long run? I’d bench him. You wouldn’t!? Just cuz he’s a star? What’s the deal?”

“How much money is it costing the organization to have that guy sitting on the sidelines? Maybe we ought to just trade him? Fans love him. What if we divided his salary up among all the season tickets holders and gave them a refund? Oh yeah, math does matter.”

Sports has led us to natural discussions about work ethic, morality, trust, respect, team work, staying focused, following the rules, overcoming the odds, holding your ground, strategizing, non-verbal communications, dress codes, music as a manipulator of the masses, drugs, loyalty, economics, understanding the odds, persistence, fear (including of mascots), racial discrimination, sexism, self-confidence, embarrassment, punctuality, uses of customs and rituals, safety, abuse, celebrations, anger, duty, vendors who brand themselves, honesty, attitude vs. intelligence, luck, not burning bridges, parking strategically, practice, trusting your instincts and appreciation of individual differences.

Wow, I just got started, but will give it a break.

Some weeks my husband and I go to five or six grandkids’ sporting events, and/or with them to pro games. Bring’em on.

Today we’re celebrating our 26th anniversary by going to a Diamondback’s game with two grandsons in our blended family. I know both will be totally disgusted if there are a lot of errors, and will high-five us in recognition of a great bunt as well as a home run. Both have learned how to be team players in sports and within the family– and what to say to get a grin from Grandma.

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Why is it Good to Fail?

Failure can be informative, insightful, energizing, clarifying, character building, team building, equalizing – and very funny.

Lack of failure is a sign of an avoidance of creative efforts.

Fear of failure stunts innovation.

Overcoming failures fuels future success.

Not making an effort is a far more egregious error than making the wrong one.

Defining and assigning failures to those who caused them is an essential step in improving group processes – and individual performance.

Those who don’t own up to failure will not have many reasons to be singled out for success.

Those who are uncomfortable when failure is pointed out betray a desire to hide in the midst of mediocrity.

Failures in children can spawn humility.
(A good reason to sign kids up for activities that will be difficult for them)

Failures in arrogant adults are blamed on someone else.
(A good reason to find the actual culprit and not do group punishments)

Games of chance make failure the luck of the draw. They provide no chance to experience the benefits of failure.

Winning means less to those who have not suffered losses.

Conatively inclined risk takers (Quick Starts) are not authentic if they don’t fail fairly often.

If you want the benefits of failure you have to reward it. How are you doing that?

 

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A Family Business After All

Growing up in a family business started by my father, I saw my generation suffer from a misplaced use of abilities and stresses that negatively affected our personal relationships. I certainly never wanted to be involved in another family business.

More than a decade after I’d founded an award winning company, my newly married spouse, Will Rapp, became so passionate about what I was doing for US businesses, families and schools, that he wanted to help take it to international clients.

I told him he had to earn his own way into the business and start by working as one of our independent resellers, proving he could make a profit buying and selling through our standard pricing system. He earned the position of President of Kolbe International. Today we serve clients in 34 countries.

Will’s daughter, Amy Bruske, needed a place of refuge. A bright, hardworking, successful young career woman with a professional baseball player husband, she’d fought off a parking lot attack in LA and needed to be with us in Phoenix while her husband was on the road. She also needed to keep working, so I offered her the opportunity to do some things at Kolbe Corp for a few months. I made it clear it was not a family business, so this was just a short time deal. She made it clear that she intended to be her own person, and certainly wouldn’t be sticking around long. She immediately became irreplaceable.

That was 18 years ago. Through her efforts, she has earned a share of the company. Yesterday, I was a very proud Mom/co-owner, who was able to watch her receive the award for Business Owner of the Year from the Phoenix Chapter of NAWBO. She was nominated for her work with that organization and the leadership she provided the company during the last year; a year we not only survived a major fire and relocation of the business, but grew the business (36% in the last two years of a down economy) and created highly innovative, new products.

At a celebratory dinner with Amy’s kids and my son David’s kids last night, one of his kids said to me, “I thought Kolbe Corp was Daddy’s business.” I told her that he is the “deciderer” about many things, and owns part of the business too. Yesterday, he was out of town at meetings with senior level military leaders, discussing how Kolbe Corp could help our national defense and perhaps further our brain research.

I told David that he could never work in my business unless he had first proven himself on his own. He told me he would never want to work in a family business. He had seen what had happened among my siblings. Yet, 15 years ago he left a law firm to help us because he saw how much his combined Wharton Business School/legal training could contribute to Kolbe Corp’s mission, which he believed strongly in. Now, he is the CEO and General Counsel of Kolbe Corp.

A few months ago, one of our clients, who specializes in consulting with family businesses, commented to me that Kolbe was the best run family business he had ever seen. I, myself, work with lots of family businesses, trying to save them from the unfortunate misalignments that existed in the one I grew up in. One of the differences I point out between most of them and Kolbe Corp is that there has never been an expectation or requirement that the other five, highly successful, Kolbe/Rapp offspring would participate in the business. Another difference is that all four of us work within our Conative strengths and divide the responsibilities accordingly.

In the past, I have chosen to say that we are so different from most family businesses that Kolbe Corp is not a family business.

Today I realize Kolbe Corp is a family business.

David and Amy, as co-owners, lead a team of highly committed employees who are members of an extended family that helps us all make a difference to so many other families and businesses.

At Kolbe Corp everyone is a member of the family. Everyone is responsible for earning his or her own way, is respected for individual abilities, and has to prove a high level of commitment to a shared purpose.

I am very proud of the honor Amy won yesterday and what it says about the Kolbe Corp family.

 

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Conation has It’s Place

Where does conation live?

Conation is within you. It’s not just some knee jerk reaction. Or effort that requires elbow grease. Or thing that’s isolated in your guts. It oozes out of you and bursts forth from every pore. It’s probably in your head. Your brain, specifically. That’s where scientists logically place it, because how else could it inhabit every single thing that you do?

Where do you see it?

I see it in everything I do. It’s like my shadow, yet it precedes me, and roots me as well as trails me.

I especially see it where I live.

  • It’s in the energy of the colors I put on the walls (the more intensity the more it sparks my creativity).
  • It’s in where I put things (neatly, when I’m under stress; all over the place when I’m in my groove).
  • It’s in the number of projects I have out or stuffed in closets (if you can’t seen ’em, I’m in-between ’em).
  • It’s in how healthy my plants look (their wellness shows I’m getting down time)).
  • It’s in the degree of formality with which I set the table (the more of that the less of me).
  • It’s in the compromises I make with my husband (I can’t reach where he put the spices).
  • It’s in the whimsy all around me (don’t expect me to explain).

 

So how do you move you from a place that is/was you? How do you leave a home that you created, that you made perfect for your conative needs, that brought you and your spouse joy? How do you leave it without leaving a part of you behind? How do you move on?

The house I’m putting behind me is the one that helped us create a nurturing environment for a blended family. It’s the nest into which I brought my newborn grandchildren. Its bedrooms housed their hundreds of sleepovers and many session of Camp Kolbe. Its  Conasium(tm), which I was compelled to build, has a 3/4 size stage, art corner,  technology oozing out of the walls, and natural light from all directions, including overhead.  It has the pond I personally lined with cement and the swiming  pool with the linear waterfall I made so  kids could swim thru it- and they called their ‘carwash’; and a wood burning oven for  individually designed over-the-top pizza creations, and the tree house my son-in-law built around the palm tree because it needed to be left it free to sway.

When I see potential buyers look at all the gardens I created and say “Looks like too much work,” and just look, not skip around the soft surface “race track” in the grandkids play ground, I realize they just don’t get it. It’s not built to their MO. It doesn’t fit how they act, react and interact in their lives.

How can I get past the past of this place I created? This place that housed my conative spirit for 18 years?

It didn’t help to think so carefully about what to do with each and everything little thing and hope family and friends would want to take this and that. It didn’t matter that I  love where I now live, and haven’t had a moment of regret or sadness about the decision to move on. 

It took getting conative — taking action — about leaving that  house before I actually moved my conative self completely out it.

Yesterday I found myself with a paint brush in hand, personally painting over the colors I had so carefully chosen. I personally took down the large magnetized white board where grandkids had posted the names of their plays and roles they played (and sometimes used the wrong kind of markers, making it messy to others’ minds). I personally chose the shade of off-white for the carpeting and walls in all the bedrooms. I personally packed up the last of the whimsy.

Now the bones of the wonderfully designed house show through. It’s ready to house someone else’s conative creativity. Mine has moved on.

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