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Leading by Instinct

There is not a Best M.O. among top leaders. Nor is there any M.O. that would exclude you from being a good leader.

My research shows that the best predictor of both productivity and sustainability in complex and complicated environments is the degree of conative or instinct-based diversity among the core leaders in the C-Suite. In smaller organizations, with only a few people at the top of a narrow pyramid, the conative criteria for leadership also narrow.

Instincts in C-Suites

In a large and very complex organization with a collaborative culture, it works especially well to have a CEO whose instinct is to initiate in both the Fact Finder and Quick Start Action Modes, sparking both research and development programs. Another essential part of the conative mix is for such leaders to instinctively resist or just mildly accommodate Follow Thru systems. This is how such leaders keep their organizations from getting bogged down in redundancies or becoming too bureaucratic.

It is essential, that leaders with this M.O. have CFOs, or other cohorts at the top, who deal with the complicated, more linear, financial, legal, and sometimes physical structures. It has proven wise to have a second in command who naturally plays the role of insisting on adherence to Follow Thru regulations -which he or she instinctively creates. It helps a set of such leaders to work in sync with each other if the second person accommodates Fact Finder strategies. When these leaders have equal levels of insistence in Fact Finder, they need to have clearly defined, separate responsibilities or they will end up with dueling priorities. Rounding out the M.O. of the cohort is a resistance in Quick Start, which adds a stabilizing force to the senior management team.

In today’s world, the CEO often serves as the chief PR person in the face of scandals, recalls, attacks, and hackings. I don’t see many resistant Quick Start CEOs surviving through major crises like these. Quick Start energy is required when being a spokesperson dealing with uncertainty (note what happens to the grand orator in Obama when he addresses uncertainty).

Resistant Follow Thrus are beaten up for not finishing what they start, but without their input organizations would stay put. The power of their randomness makes their resistance to sticking with the plan the ingredient that often saves the day. As confounding as it can be to their conative opposites, their natural ability to dodge bullets is a trait that helps organizations land on their feet.

It is the Implementor leader’s insistence on precision and manifestation of ideas that makes this M.O. the most difficult to put in the C-Suite. It is essential, but often better in the field than the executive offices – as long as he or she is empowered to halt processes for quality control purposes. Given the freedom to skip meetings and lead the on-site troops, these leaders will add significantly to the power and quality of products and programs.

Instinctive Facilitators are especially interesting to observe as they perform at high levels of leadership in organizations like franchises and health related situations; first, because in those environments leadership involves maintaining systems and second, because it involves maintaining ego-driven relationships – and the caring for a diversity of human beings. Their instinct to bring out the best in others and to build bridges between people reduces conflicts and keeps energy focused on purposes rather than personal issues.

Entrepreneurial Instincts

It is less complicated to diagnose the instinct-based leadership in an entrepreneurial organization. It is all about the naturally born entrepreneur trusting the combination of Quick Start insistent drive and back-up Fact Finder strategies. Without much Follow Thru budget making, a stand-alone entrepreneur needs to use the power of Quick Start persuasion to cut deals, and rope friends, family and vendors into becoming uncompensated co-conspirators. Of course, those who fill the need for creating Follow Thru systems are also essential. When a true entrepreneur builds an organization to the point where it requires the type of leadership team noted above, it is time for him or her to move on – and do it all over again.

Leadership is not just about the use of conative instincts. But, nothing in my experience indicates that leaders, regardless of their M.O.s, initiate problem solving by using processes they have been taught. Their cognitive powers come into the process when they edit their instincts – and certainly when they second guess them. Leaders’ actions, triggered by whatever motivates them, are as tied to their instincts as their best salesperson’s instincts are tied to asking for the order. I do not belittle the power of the cognitive (it is not an after-thought in the Kolbe Creative Process). It’s a matter of what comes first.

Instincts are precognitive. If that weren’t true, we would have no heroes – or top leaders. Having closely observed the creative efforts of thousands of leaders in vastly different types of problem solving situations, I have yet to see an example of solutions being initiated by them during a period of contemplation. The actions that spark productivity are born from the innate, authentic powers of a leader’s instinctive drive.

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Jim Brady: A Favorite Character

If I ever write a drama, I’ll use Jim Brady as the model for a character considered as a villain – only by those on the other side of causes he espoused. I’d be hard pressed to make his part of the dialog as wise and witty as his reality.

Capturing his character will require showing someone loved dearly by co-conspirators, admired by disapproving critics, and loathed by opponents.

No one found more joy in a hard fought battle more than Jim, or was more loyal to fellow fighters. He admired intelligent opposition, but he’d laugh gleefully as he considered the damage his daring maneuvers would do to their cause. His methods of plotting would move my story along because they are so clever and often truly game changing. He thought BIG, but plotted intricate details with such specificity that when you were in on it, you dared not miss a slightest step.

He was a mentally disciplined innovator who concocted daring strategies. That his ideas sometimes seemed so random made them all the more wonderfully effective.

Who would have thought of such a bizarre way to pull off a political trick? It took his instinctive M.O.: Quick Start initiation, with high accommodation in Fact Finder and Implementor, and wonderful randomness through his prevention of Follow Thru type consistency.

It also took his passion for the causes in which he got fully involved. And it took his intelligence. All of which required high levels of effort – especially when he was deprived of full control over these mental faculties.

“Wonderlic,” he would call me, using my maiden name as a way of not being sexist in the 70’s,”when we get this deal done, the other side is gonna wish there was enough money in the world to make us work for them.”

His character in my play will get the deal done, despite personal pain and the acrimony from the opposition. The small town guy I met when we were young, did make big differences. I hope his character gets lots of curtain calls. Continue reading

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Why Monday Morning Blues During Happy Hour Sunset?

How could they be my friends and spend a lovely Sunday evening (while they could have been watching a magnificent sunset change from vibrant colors to muted tones) talking about how they were dreading going to work the next day. Both very intelligent, well-paid professionals were planning for their Monday Morning Blues.

“Why don’t you find jobs that you would love to do?” I asked, even though I knew the answer.

“It’s not that I don’t like my job, I would just prefer not to work,” one said.

“My job is filled with joy,” I said, realizing this would ruin their fun in complaining about their jobs, and make me an outsider. “Monday mornings are great, because I get to dive in to what I love doing.”

“You are not normal,” said the second, with a tone close to disgust, “I have to work at my stressful job until I can get my full retirement, because we want to be able to do lots of traveling when I’m done with it.”

“You’re your own boss, Kathy, so you don’t know what it’s like to have to work at a job where you have to do what others decide you should be doing,” said the other person.

“Yes, I created a work situation that gives me the freedom to be myself,” I said, “which, by the way, doesn’t give me retirement benefits. I’ll never retire. I look forward to working at doing something that I love doing for the rest of my life. I’m not waiting to have freedom, I have freedom.”

Eyes rolled and they both ordered another drink.

“You are not normal,” they said, in unison this time – with shared disgust in both their voices. “Part of the fun of Happy Hour is complaining about your job. Stop being a party pooper.”

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What I know about Being Gifted

Being gifted cognitively does not make you smart. Nor does it give you instinctive problem solving abilities, a better personality or a greater work ethic than others.

“Gifted” is a dumb label for high intelligence. It is a “gift’ that comes with no instructions, and is often like the proverbial “White Elephant.” It can be hard to figure out how to use it.

Being gifted adds to your workload

People with higher IQs often find it hard to use normal solutions.

If you have a high IQ this means:

You have to work hard to figure out how to get along with the majority of people who don’t “get it” as fast as you do.
If you don’t overcome this problem, you will be a terrible teacher/trainer/boss/roommate/team-member/next-door-neighbor.

You have to discover how and why you learn differently, because most teachers will not challenge you sufficiently.
If you don’t figure out that you have to be self-motivated, you’ll simply learn to regurgitate facts and not fulfill your potential as an excellent creative problem solver.

You have to work very hard to communicate the ideas in your head in ways that work for most others.
If you don’t make this happen, you will be frustrated by others not listening to you, or joining you in developing solutions you know are possible.

You have to work hard, some times to avoid the bad behaviors that stem from boredom.
If you don’t self-manage your mind, you will attract attention to yourself for all the wrong reasons.

“Over-achieving” is impossible. “Under-achieving” is a betrayal of possibilities.

Those who have a “gifted” mind do not have the option of re-gifting it. They have the responsibility of using it for good purposes.

Advantages of High Intelligence

Three characteristics, which could be used to define the unique nature of high intelligence are:

1. Ability to Anticipate Actions
2. Ability to Empathize
3. Ability to Manipulate

It’s because they have the first two abilities that gifted people CAN manipulate – for good or for not-so-good. They can to choose how and when to use this attribute.

When someone seems to “know” how you feel, it can be a sign of high IQ. However, do not confuse this with Caring about how you feel, which is, of course, in the affective domain rather than the cognitive.

Those who anticipate a movement in the stock market, or of a bear in the woods, or what will make a tree crash to the ground – are all showing higher degrees of IQ. Whether they act on it is an affective issue. How they act on it depends upon their conative instincts.

Being Gifted is Never the Whole Story

I was told as a child that I was highly gifted – in everything but math. Math turned out to be one of my greatest strengths as a theorist and entrepreneur. The terms “severely dyslexic and dysgraphic” weren’t used yet, so my weird way of reading and writing made some people think I wasn’t trying hard enough. It always took effort to “show them!” that my weird ways worked. It also took effort to prove that a severely gifted girl (born in the late 1930’s) didn’t have to play dumb. Most of all, it has required tons of effort to prove that a highly dyslexic person could play smart.

Effort is as essential for a gifted person as it is for any other person. This is understated in most literature on gifted education. Although I have been a university Adjunct Professor of Gifted Education, published “Resources for the Gifted,” and run programs for gifted youngsters, no amount of reading or discussion among experts in the field ever taught me as much on this subject as my observations and discussion with four generations of gifted family members. There is not a single one among them who has not had to work very hard to overcome challenges and discover their nitch in the world.

It is through interactions with gifted grandchildren, that I believe I have completed my home work. I finally consider myself a bona fide authority on the subject of Being Gifted.

 

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Music by M.O.s

Musical instruments tileBach had to have been a Follow Thru because of his repetitive use of sequential patterns.

Beethoven was so much more the Fact Finder with a strong strategy.

Mozart went for the Quick Start pizzazz.

Lots of factors go into the making of a great composer, but certainly HOW a person composes will tie to their innate conative modus operandi.

What instrument should you encourage your child to play? Even if it’s just for a few years of learning music, selecting the right instrument can make the difference between it being a nurturing experience or a dreadful one.

If only my parents had known what I know now, I would never have started with the piano. My resistance to Fact Finder details made it a horrible choice. It was terribly unsuited for my Quick Start need for an instant result. My “ad libs” were considered unacceptable lapses into goofing off.

What’s a parent to do?

Fact Finder insistent kids: piano is the best place to start for those who need the background and strategy of both the instrument and way music is written. For any other kids, lessons that start with such information are tedious and could stifle their love of learning music.

Follow Thru insistent kids, who are not resistant to Fact Finder:  violin, cello, bass (string instruments, in general) meet their need for basing their efforts on patterns/systems, and being rewarded in performances because their sense of consistency helps to create quality.

Quick Start insistent kids: Singing is FAR better than “studying” an instrument, but to do it well, they need some lessons in piano or another instrument – but just for the basics of learning to read music. Make it performance-based, fun stuff, including making their own instruments. Harmonicas, bongos, ukuleles, are all better than the more formal lesson-requiring instruments.

Implementor insistent kids: Let them pound away on the drums, bang the cymbals, and/or use the mallets to play the xylophone. If they also have a high accommodation (or insistence) in Follow Thru, they’ll have a natural sense of rhythm. If not? Well, you might think more about getting them into the trumpet, bassoon or other places where they aren’t the essential keepers of the beat. Band instruments are best for them. Think marching bands!

Facilitator kids: Playing the guitar often appeals to these kids because they see themselves as using it to bring a group together in a sing-along atmosphere. For them, music is a means to an end – that does NOT include spending hours all alone having to practice their instrument. That’s why singing in a choir is excellent for them. It can lead to a very natural outlet for musical interest in a Facilitator – which is to become a musical conductor.

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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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Like Forcing Water to Flow Uphill

Having spent a good part of the past weekend on a steep hillside, trying to get my amateur watering system to flow up to outlying trees, I was reminded of it being an analogy for conative stress.

Trying to get water to flow up hill is like dealing with:

1. Barriers to Innovation:
Convincing a determined Fact Finder boss that something that has never been done before could work well.

2. Inflexibility:
Getting a mega Follow Thru to adjust the schedule.

3. Misplaced Dependency:
Waiting for an empowered person, who is short on Implementor, to repair equipment.

4. Overcoming conative Conflict:
Having to get two totally opposite conative people to work together cooperatively.

5. False expectations:
Getting your short-lined Follow Thru friends to RSVP – or even find the invitation.

6. Endless Inertia:
Watching a team of conative clones trying to get something done.

7. Stunting Growth:
Helping an entrepreneurial Quick Start stick with the tried and true.

8. Making a Temporary Fix:
Making it easier for a conative Facilitator to choose a side – any side.

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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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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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“Follow Your Passion” – with Lots of Effort

A father asked me recently to tell his son that he should “Follow his passion.” Not wanting to undermine fatherly advice, I hedged.

“You certainly need to do what you were meant to do,” I said, knowing that meant whatever either one of them wanted it to mean.

To me, that phrase is very specific – and very different from suggesting the guy should just do what he has a great desire – or passion – to do.

Passion is a high level of affect, and affect or emotions trigger creativity (which can also be defined as your problem solving process). I hoped this young man would do some creative problem solving to figure out what he should do with his life – and get on the job of living his life with purpose. Following his passion is just a starting point.

That’s all it is.

If everyone wanders around following a passion, there would be no symphonies, no cakes for weddings, no Triple Crown winners, no Hall of Famers, no great movies, no fun tech toys, no special brews, no beautiful gardens.

Passion is only 1/3 of the creativity formula. Whether the results are positive or negative, the equation includes equal parts of effort using emotional preferences, conative actions and cognitive skills.

The father thought that if his son acted according to advice on his Kolbe A™ Index he would do well chasing his passion. Yes, using your innate conative strengths to make something happen is lots easier than working against your conative grain. However, even if you lived alone on an island, survival would require working against your instinctive grain some of the time. You need to learn how to deal with such situations.

You also have to work to gain knowledge, evaluate and become persuasive about what you want to be doing.

Following a passion requires spending time and energy learning about it (and yourself), and persevering in doing it — including when you experience failures.

Following a passion requires sacrifice. It means giving up lots of other things you would enjoy doing, but that would consume too many of your mental resources.

What I wanted to say to the young man was:

Work hard to do things that you believe have value. Make an effort to learn as much about them as you can. When you find a passion that is worth your sacrificing the time and energy you could be putting into other endeavors, you will know it is a life passion, not a passing interest.

Instead, I turned to his father, who I knew lived a purposeful life, with a passion about what he does, and said, “Tell your son about the hard work and sacrifices you have made to follow your passion. He sees the result, and would benefit from understanding the great amount of effort you put into achieving your goals.”

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