Citizen, Father, Leadership, Marketer, Musician

Discovering competence

Most of us have been in situations where we arrive on a scene, especially when joining a new group, and learn that something is going terribly wrong. The Boy Scout group planning an activity is disorganized. The band uniforms to distribute are all in a giant unsorted pile. The last guy wasn’t enforcing the rules so violations are commonplace. The previous leadership didn’t put key systems in place to make it easier to make decisions. So you must decide whether to let it rot, or whether to step forward and exert your will to course correct.

But sometimes, you discover competence. The people in the group you’ve joined have already figured things out. Processes are in place and they work. There are precedences which guide behavior, or a positive culture focused on getting the job done. Inventory is organized; leaders are stepping up, setting examples, and giving direction; exceptions are flagged and handled. Sure there are problems, but they are identified, triaged, and assigned an owner. The primary decision is not whether to help, it’s to decide where and how you can contribute to them moving faster and being more successful.

Don’t let that joy of discovering competence go unacknowledged. Remind the competent that they’ve come a long way and are doing a great job. Give hearable praise about why what they’re doing is making a difference. Because there’s a good chance they’ve forgotten while they target the blemishes and try to keep the positive energy moving forward.


Fresh starts

The new year! The new decade! Moments like these are always an opportunity to take a step back, to count your joys, to look at what’s not going well, and to decide what to do about it.

Let me preempt your argument about whether the decade starts on Jan 1 2020 or 2021 by telling you I’ve arbitrarily decided the first decade runs from 1 BC to 9 AD, because I want to reconcile the endpoints of decades with being able to say the 80’s, the 90’s, the 20’s. But I’ll take it a step further. Why should these fresh-start moments come around only once a year? They can come on your birthday or an anniversary. On the start of the school year, or a new job. Or to celebrate finally cleaning off your desk. Or to mark an otherwise boring Wednesday in the dead of winter.

We control the frame of reference. We decide when it’s time to mark the scorecard, turn the page, step up to the next tee, or whatever wipe-the-slate-clean metaphor helps convince ourselves that we are the ones in charge here.

Whatever frame of reference you choose, I wish you a joyous start.