Remix: 6 Lessons on Playing Smart and Failing Forward

Dug this one up from the archives, dusted it off and gave it a fresh polish — you might even see your own reflection in it.

1 #NoHustleWasted. The shortcut to success takes years to create. There’s no copy & paste formula for it and along the way you’ll fail. Good. Failure is an outcome not a brand. If we don’t fail smart, we can’t play smart or grow, so we remain stuck in the fallacy that more of the same means progress. It doesn’t. You’ll screw up. Own it and show up again.

2 Owning mistakes is not easy. It means being courageous and humble and leading outside your comfort zone (which also happens to be where the magic happens right?). If you find yourself with your desk in a box and a proverbial blank canvas, fill it with what you want to do, not with what you “should” do. Don’t should on yourself and don’t be afraid to colour outside the lines. Perfection is the enemy of human. And it’s cool to be human again!

3 “If you’re not giving back, you’re taking too much.” ~ Robin Sharma
This one is simple. Say thank you, ask how you can help and show up for others. Find opportunities do one of each, every single day. When you rock the hustle of serving beyond yourself, the universe will boomerang the goodness.

4 Chances are designed to be given and taken. Think of a time when someone took a big risk to invest in your talent as much you invest in yourself. Pay it forward. Keep taking risks on yourself. Stay swift in evaluating opportunities, ensuring fit for personal values and future aspirations. Be fearless + audacious when your gut says so and smart when you feel it’s not a win-win. Be Curious and Pivot (for best results, rinse & repeat).

5 Serve and Protect – Being generous with your knowledge is a form of service. In authentic relationships, where the level of social and emotional intelligence is high, this occurs with a spirit of reciprocity. Find these connections and cultivate them. Where there is not alignment, listen. There is always something you can learn – even if it is about what doesn’t feel right so you can be more agile in recognizing it next time. Your network amplifies your story and narrative – your brand. Practice safe brand.

6 Say No to Status Quo. Unless you’re set on building a brand that says “I’m the cookie cutter of the corporate world”, don’t be afraid to be different. Take on roles and initiatives that ignite, inspire and stretch you. Have the courage to be more of who you already are a bit more each day. I dare you.

One final thought: Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is resilience – it’s constructed moment by moment. This is yours – it always has been and will always be.

What’s your top smarten-up lesson?

Lean Learning

It first happened in 2010 and then everyday thereafter. Emerging from my Master’s Degree in Adult Learning & Global Change and leaning into social media, I couldn’t connect the dots between 40 pages of a training workbook and 140 characters on Twitter. What troubled me was that I couldn’t un-see it. I still can’t. What troubles me even more is that as workplaces and organizations, for the large part, leaders can’t see it to begin with.

If how we consume information is increasingly lean, why aren’t we Lean Learning?

We spend most of our lives talking about lean bodies and budgets. We’re obsessed with it. We Photoshop and save pennies for it. Yet when it comes to learning, we pack on the details and filler. And then we retweet, repost or simply repeat facts at dinner parties like “Goldfish have greater attention spans than we do today.” GOLDFISH. Think about it – but you won’t be able to for too long because. Yeah. So why are we still elevating excess information when simple is not just sufficient, it’s just right?

It’s Complicated

Exactly, it’s way too complicated. Anything complicated in the workplace is the silent killer of innovation, ideation, and productivity. Yet we celebrate unnecessary details. We applaud terms that exemplify complicated like “matrixed organizations”. Then we use them in job descriptions and hope we get talent that can disrupt the matrix with their novel ideas and velocity. Lean Learning is part of the entrepreneurial DNA. Complicated learning says you don’t want to evolve, that you’ll die fighting for the status quo. This may have been cool in the 80’s or 90’s, and although stonewashed denim, scrunchies and audacious prints are reemerging as fashion trends, complicated will never again be in style.

This is Your Moment

Lean Learning is here to stay. It’s about moments of truth, of thriving, of clarity. Moments that propel entire days of finding meaning at work, of creating value beyond the boundaries of our own imagination limited by company imposed models & frameworks. Today, in the social era of limited time and excess consumption, employees need bite-sized pieces of social and digital knowledge that allow them to learn in a way that fits into their skinny calendar slots. This is how I define Lean Learning. It is being on the go and in the know and at its core are four key elements:


Learner as Hero – Save the day and increase self-efficacy on your own terms.

Micro Consumption – Learning that is lean and meaningful: short podcasts, 140 characters, 30-second videos, one-pagers, two-liners.

Social as Catalyst – Ideation through curation within and across social, mobile and collaboration technology.

Conscious Disruption – Showing up authentically, being fiercely curious, and raising the game by choice vs. prescriptive design.


Learning must be be lean and meaningful so that we can quickly consume, digest and apply it in real time, in real life to make a real impact on people as well as profit. In the world of work largely guided by an end goal of creating shareholder value, we often forget the need to create human value. Until robots run the world, this matters.

Stay Curious… 

 

Why Learning Should Be Open Source

If knowledge is not open source, we are running a dangerous experiment with the collective intellect of humanity.

 

At times the sound of the rain seemed to be louder than the crescendo of voices inside the coffee shop during the lunch rush; an enlightened irony of my conversation with a colleague about noise. Not the noise we hear with our ears, the one we encounter daily with our eyes and minds when we devour (or attempt to), massive loads of information. Words, ideas, images and infographics are pouring down upon us and we aren’t even protecting ourselves from ignorance with an umbrella of purpose.

 

 

Open-Source Learning

With social media and collaboration technology, ideas can now be analyzed, debated, deconstructed and reconstructed in ways entirely inconceivable in the prior era of elite-only learning. Social technology enables intellectual crowd-sourcing at its best. The validity of an idea in a single classroom is being tested in workplaces and communities in parts of the world where access to the Internet is the only source of formal education. Where disruption is the difference between surviving and thriving. Where being born in a slum means living in an ecosystem of micro-entrepreneurs. If it truly is about who you know, then it’s time to talk about how to get to know those people where they live, work and play. Open-source learning is the meeting of the collective mind.

 

Open-Source Ideas

What good is knowledge if it is only shared in the name of monetization? Are we that greedy to hoard possibilities to ourselves because we cannot in our own simple minds conceive of ways to create additional value? Unfortunately, yes. What’s frightening is that some of the most poorly designed content, curriculum, blog posts command top dollar. Sure, anyone can put pen to paper or connect their words to a keyboard. Writing is easy. Writing for influence is not. This requires you to facilitate expertise through social engagement rather than being the expert as author. The skilful content creator is expert as curator, engager and author. The master communicator is the invisible orchestrator of human engagement with knowledge. This is the single element that separates a ruckus from a symphony.

 

Noise Cancellation

Did you ever think that the spa days, mental health days, vacation in the mountains, digital detox/diets/sabbaticals could be avoided by simply choosing to produce and consume knowledge as it is meant to — in small bite-sized chunks with all the flavour minus the artificial fillers that are hazardous to our mind? I call this Lean Learning.

Is Your Organization Collaboratively Intelligent?

They say too much of something is not always a good thing – when you’re not being smart about it. Collaboration is no exception.

Is your organization collaboratively intelligent?

A Collaboratively Intelligent Organization has a culture of sharing, powered by thoughtful people, who access key knowledge, at the speed of need, amplified by community caring, so that in the flow of everyday work, ideas collide for good to create new forms of human and business value.

Leaders, Time to Get Your Shift Together

In a time of scarcity, the greatest abundance is the plentiful of being more of who we already are.

Today’s leaders own a lot. We are responsible for a continuum that has the bottom line on one end, and on the other, cultivating conditions for the organization to thrive during times of uncertainty. We must empower our people to reach beyond the boundaries of imagination to enhance the customer service experience and develop innovative products and services. 21st century leaders are tasked with engineering an ecosystem of hope in the workplace and beyond. This is challenge of the new engagement paradigm.

In the new engagement paradigm, conversation is the catalyst for every shift

I believe designing a space that betters organizational and individual life while driving business excellence requires 5 key shifts.

1. Openness ⇒ Truth

Open-door approachability is no longer enough. Leaders must shift engagement from providing opportunities for autonomy, to creating a culture of authenticity. Once we recognize our truth as leaders – who we are when at our best, and we own it, we can begin to understand how to consciously influence engagement in a way that matters.

2. Values ⇒ Voice

It’s time to stop talking about what connects us, and to start talking to each other about why we’re connected and exploring how it shows up as a strength in the workplace. This shift is a trust-building exercise.

3. Performance ⇒ Play

Employees are hired to perform on time and on budget in agreement with the essential job duties they signed up for. This also grooms them to have one foot out the door. The leadership call to action is to be in the relentless pursuit of emotional, spiritual and financial profit. Happiness improves the bottom line.

We must empower our people to reach beyond the boundaries of imagination to enhance the customer service experience and develop innovative products and services.

4. Dream ⇒ Dare

The impetus for implementation is shifting from creativity to bravery. Thanking your talent for being bold enough to push fear of failure aside is just as important as ideating. Curating courage to do things differently is what organizations need to transform brainstorming to building.

5. Embrace ⇒ Exchange

If we look at adoption to change as a physical action, it’s opening our arms to invite and welcome. However, as we seek to grasp and hold onto this new way of being, we end up using our energy to guard and protect what we’ve learned. It’s just as important to find ease in extending our willingness to share, as it is in accepting knowledge. Organizational resiliency lives in these exchanges that harvest collective intelligence.

Hope is not the expectation that things will turn out well, it is the belief that there is meaning no matter how things turn out. Vaclav Havel

In the new engagement paradigm, conversation is the catalyst for every shift. It starts with the one you have with yourself (personal truth), then with your talent (leadership truth) and with your customers (brand truth).

When you are clear on your truth as a leader, tell it to five people outside the boardroom and empower them to pay it forward to another five. As this exercise unfolds, the circles of truth will begin to overlap and the dotted lines will disappear. What will emerge is a sense of community weaved together through storytelling, ownership and trust. This is where the organic flourishing of an ecosystem of hope begins.

The new engagement paradigm starts from within.


This post was originally published as part of the Winning Employees Through Engagement series on SwitchandShift.com – a leadership blog and community dedicated to the “Human Side of Business”.