Let’s Be Frank – Leadership Is Not For Everyone

Do you think anyone can be a leader?

A trend I see across leadership courses and books is the assumption that anyone can become a leader if they want to be one.  I concede that everyone should at least be good enough to lead their own lives.  However, leading other people is a skill that perhaps some people will never master.

For the next assignment in the Write of Passage course, we were asked to write an article that challenged conventional wisdom.  So I decided to take on what I consider a flawed  core assumption of many leadership courses.  As I wrote:

“The core flawed assumption may best be expressed with a quote from John Maxwell:

“If you want to be a leader, the good news is that you can do it. Everyone has the potential, but it isn’t accomplished overnight. It requires perseverance.” John C. Maxwell

My two questions are these: Why do we assume that everyone can be a leader?  Also, why are the psychological burdens of leadership rarely discussed?”

boring meeting

Read the rest of the article here, and feel free to share your thoughts on the topic in the comment section.

Criticize with CRIBS

Have you ever been asked to edit someone’s written work?  For most of us, it is hard to provide constructive feedback to a writer beyond noting spelling errors or grammatical issues.  However, what every writer needs to be successful is honest criticism and sharp editting that can push their writing to the next level.

person holding orange click pen writing on notebook

I am taking an online course called Write of Passage, and in the last class the instructor David Perell, shared a simple approach that anyone can use to provide quick, helpful criticism.  It is titled with the acronym of CRIBS. As an editor moves through a written piece, they use the following five items to provide useful feedback:

  • Confusing – The section reviewed doesn’t make much sense
  • Repeated – The information was shared earlier and nothing much was added this time
  • Insightful – This section provided valuable, engaging information
  • Boring – This section doesn’t hold the reader’s attention
  • Surprising – The information was unexpected and thought provoking

I’m going to use CRIBS myself in the future whenever I am asked to edit someone’s work.  I invite you to try it yourself and let me know what you think.

Tidying for Guests

mariekondoWith stores now selling Christmas decorations in the middle of summer, I don’t need to remind you that the holiday season is upon us.  Aside from shopping for gifts, the holidays also bring guests to our door.  And since these friends may not visit often, many a host wants to make a good impression.

In the spirit of the season, Marie Kondo has provided on her blog some quick tips to ensure that your house is looking its best for invited (or uninvited) guests.  For example, she suggests the following:

Do a “Joy Check”

We become so accustomed to living in our space that it is difficult to see it objectively. Start by walking through the front door as if you were a guest. Move through each room, looking at it with fresh eyes. Perhaps you’ve stuffed things in a closet or piled items you’re feeling unsure about. Take this opportunity to ask yourself if these things really spark joy. If they don’t, thank them and let them go.

Explore the rest of her quick tidy tips on the Konmari web site.

10 Minute Tidy Up

If you studied science in high school, you may be familiar with the “Second Law of Thermodynamics”.  It states in a nutshell that “entropy increases.”  In layman’s terms it means that all systems move towards a state of disorder.  You don’t have to be a scientist to see how this plays out in life.  Just take a moment to look around and see how quickly personal and work spaces becomes cluttered.  It is amazing how quickly our spaces become disorganized, and equally demoralizing to consider the hours it will take to restore them.

claire-tompkinsIt need not come to this state.  To keep our spaces clean and orderly on an ongoing basis, a simple approach works best.  One method is the 10 minute tidy up, suggested by Claire Tompkins, aka the Clutter Coach, in her book 52 Simple Ways to Get Organized.  She describes the technique on page 11:

“Just as it is better to wipe up a spill right away, the ten-minute tidy up will keep your space organized with much less effort than spending half of a Saturday on it.  If you do this daily, ten minutes should be plenty.”

She suggests tidying up at transition times, such as before leaving the house or immediately after dinner.  If you are interested in trying it out, she suggests making a list of three spots to tidy today before bed.

Small actions can reverse the weight of entropy in your home.  Why not try a 10 minute tidy today!

Forte Labs & Public Libraries

This year, ForteLabs stars Tiago and Lauren came to Florida to work directly with Palm Beach County Library staff to help them build their own second brains.  Working in person and remotely, library staff got to explore the latest techniques in the science and art of digital note taking.

Tiago Forte just released an insightful summary of the experience working with us on his Praxis blog.  His post neatly captured the character of modern day librarianship and the opportunities the profession has to be a leader in spreading productivity practices.  He also gained a deeper appreciation of the mission of public libraries.

“Far from being a dusty, stale institution stuck in the past, what we saw on our tour was a vibrant, dynamic, quickly evolving organization full of people who care deeply about accessibility for everyone. Lauren and I were blown away by the breadth of the library system’s programs and services, and all of them offered for free to anyone. We came away with the sense that the library was an absolutely vital part of the community, especially for those with the fewest resources.”

Read the blog post on the Palm Beach County Building a Second Brain project here.  As an added bonus, you can read Tiago’s second posting on the role of public libraries as social infrastructure here.  Thank you Tiago and Lauren!

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Digital Decluttering

How many files do you have cluttering up your computer’s desktop?  What about that app on your phone that was opened once two years ago and soon forgotten?  And just how many photos have you saved to the cloud?

It appears there is a tendency to ignore the clutter in our electronic spaces.  While a slew of books talk about the stress relief that comes from tidying up our physical belongings, should we also pay attention to our digital world too?  Some believe that with computer memory so cheap there is no downside to storing all our files and apps forever. What could possibly be wrong with this approach?

Writer Kelly Oakes argues in an article from earlier this year on the BBC’s web site that decluttering our digital world is just as important as cleaning up physical spaces.  Kelly writes:

“Emerging research on digital hoarding – a reluctance to get rid of the digital clutter we accumulate through our work and personal lives – suggests that it can make us feel just as stressed and overwhelmed as physical clutter. Not to mention the cybersecurity problems it can cause for individuals and businesses and the way it makes finding that one email you need sometimes seem impossible.”

design desk display eyewear

Learn more by reading the rest of the article on the BCC – Future web site.

2nd Brain Paradigm Shifts

Have you shifted a paradigm recently?

Paradigms are philosophical and theoretical frameworks that we all employ in our minds to help us navigate the world.  Whenever someone experiences a radical change in perspective, we tend to say that they underwent a paradigm shift.

Tiago Forte believes that to succeed in our information abundant world, we need to undergo a set a paradigm shifts regarding how we understand and work with knowledge.  In a recent post on his blog, he explores a new way to think about the purpose of his course, Building a Second Brain:

“This may sound strange, but I increasingly believe that the purpose of this course is not to give students new ideas. It’s not even to give them useful techniques. Endless ideas and techniques are already out there for the taking. No, the purpose of this course is to take people through a series of personal paradigm shifts in their relationship to technology, knowledge, and the new world that is evolving ever faster.”

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Tiago believe the course allows for at least twenty paradigm shifts!  Have you gone through any of them yet?