Monthly Archives: October 2010

Zoning Issues

Last week’s Minute was about trying on new perspectives in order to broaden our views and reduce the likelihood of being stuck in old patterns simply out of habit. A related issue is the topic today – getting out of our “comfort zones.” Most of us find comfort in a certain degree of predictability and stability in our lives. That’s well and good. I think the real question is how broad is your comfort zone? If it’s narrow with inflexible boundaries, you may be limiting yourself.

Food for Thought ~

The most effective leaders I have known and admired are generally people who have a fairly broad comfort zone. They are able to relate to a wide range of people in a wide range of circumstances on a wide range of topics and issues. Further, they are able to function quite effectively outside of their comfort zones. Being in unfamiliar territory doesn’t have to be a handicap. In fact, we often learn and grow the most when we are “stretched” beyond our comfortable parameters.

Question of the day ~

How broad is your comfort zone? Are you flexible and resilient? Might you be more effective if you explored expanding your comfort zone?

Think global, buy local

I have been following the work of Michael Shuman ( who is a pioneering researcher and advocate for the critical importance of a “local living economy.” Contrary to conventional economic development practices in most communities, where municipalities and/or chambers of commerce extol the virtues and pony up major subsidies to bring new businesses to town, investing in already-established local businesses actually brings far more jobs and dollars into the community. As a consumer, I very purposefully shop in locally-owned businesses, not only supporting my friends and neighbors who own the business or work there, but appreciating the fact that roughly 3 times the economic benefit stays in my community vs. going elsewhere. For every $100 I spend, $45 stays in my community with a locally-owned business, vs. just $13 with a chain/big box store.

Walks in the Park

My “walks in the park” continue to provide me with many moments of reflection. Recently I took my usual hike on a loop trail, but reversed my direction. This was after several years of walking the same route in the same direction. What a revelation! The same terrain looked quite different from the opposite direction. The views were even more enjoyable. I savored the usual landmarks from a different perspective. The familiar was made new.

Food for Thought ~
How often do we become habituated to our accustomed patterns and ways of doing things at work? Most of us develop a mindset, a way of viewing the people and issues in our workplace. We sit in the same place at meetings. We have formulated opinions that are dear to us. But how much richer our life and work can be when we purposefully try to see things from another perspective. Try on an opposing viewpoint to see what it has to teach you. Change your meeting venue, your room arrangement, your seat at the table. Let go of doing things the same way just because it’s customary. There’s much to be gained from trying on new perspectives.

“The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.” ~ Marcel Proust

Question of the day ~

Are there any aspects of your work that have become too much a matter of habit and comfortable patterns? How might you enrich your work with a fresh perspective?

Sometimes You Have to Rent a Helicopter

My recent “Adventures Without the Internet” over the past week and a half led me to many reflections. One of the things I have been thinking about is resourcefulness, inspired by my unflappable and extraordinarily capable and creative website designer. This is one of the qualities of an exceptional leader. In virtually every leadership situation I have encountered, there are times of trial and circumstance that require the leader to go beyond the norm to find creative solutions. When circumstances present you with an unexpected challenge, being resourceful is your best ally. One of my readers sent this story about a friend of his in the Napa Valley. It is an excellent example of resourcefulness.

Food for Thought ~

“During the annual grape crush an essential piece of crushing equipment failed at a St. Helena Gallo wine cooperative. A friend of mine quickly realized that he had numerous small co-op member grape growers whose livelihoods might hinge on the profits from their annual grape deliveries. What did my friend do? He located a piece of replacement equipment, contracted with a helicopter service, had the equipment delivered to the co-op, and the grape crush continued on apace.”
He concludes:
“In my opinion, economic catastrophe can often be avoided, even without any contingency planning, if businesses are resourceful when needed.”

Question of the day ~

On the theory that a leader can never be too resourceful, how might you strengthen your “resourcefulness muscles?”

Contingency Planning

Let me tell you what happened last Friday. In the greater scope of what constitutes a crisis, this story will not qualify. But on the “BIE” (Business Interruption Event) Richter Scale, this definitely registered. My DSL service was “disconnected in error.” I learned that it would be 3 – 5 days before it was corrected. Hmmmm…. consternation ensued. With email at a standstill and a website launch in its final phases, the timing was seriously inopportune. The emails will receive delayed attention in due course, but the website launch must go on. The upside is that I am working on the launch project with a very resourceful and exceptionally cooperative technology whiz. With a combination of laptops and flashdrives, and the WiFi connection at my health club, we cobbled together a contingency plan, including production of this missive.

To my mind, it is virtually impossible to be prepared for all eventualities. For example, this is certainly not something that I would have ever predicted. But we can have in place at least the skeleton of a back-up plan for our essential business systems. In this case, my relationship with a professional colleague has proved critically important. The greater the risk on the BIE Scale, the more you need to develop contingency plans.