Answers to complex issues often start with simple steps, don’t overlook the power of listening to affect change in the achievement gap.
We recognize that in nearly all facets of life, from upbringing to education and on through professional opportunities there are historical achievement gaps that impede the application of good things come to those who work for them. While there is no substitute for hard work, regardless of one’s starting point, there should be little dispute that some start their journey with more obstacles that others. Recently there was a video floating around the web that attempted to explain the impacts of privilege with a group of students preparing for a simple race. Recognizing these obstacles helps us to see that we are not always comparing apples to apples when thinking about where we start our journey.
Listening to fuel change includes three key aspects: Recognizing our role, collaborating for creative solutions and following through with our vision for making the world suck less (#MTWSL), we have to ask – where do we start?
Recognizing my own role
How do we level the playing field to create equitable opportunities for those who have been overlooked and/or underprivileged in their pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness? While the question is loaded and rather complex, the answer may be closer than we realize. Dr. Hugo Slim is viewed as a leading scholar in humanitarian studies and ethics. Slim notes, “The testimony of individual voices reveals the experience of hidden groups, and counters the bias of those who speak for or ignore them.” Perhaps in so saying Dr. Slim echoes Michael Jackson in calling for each of us to look at the person in the mirror and ask whether he is listening for a change.
Who has ignored the voices of those who have been overlooked? Me.
Who has a bias as well as a misplaced ego is speaking for others who are underprivileged? Me.
Collaborating for creative solutions
Aid to an individual, family, community or nation effectively comes in the form of creative collaboration rather than supplanting the culture of the parties being assisted. David Dollar’s work in reviewing community development on an international level has many lessons applicable to localized assistance. Dollar notes in Eyes Wide Open that External resources can be helpful in assisting the local stake holders to analyze options, implement unique plans for systemic changes and evaluate these revolutions as they gain momentum. Collaboration requires those who help to listen rather than speak for; to listen rather than ignore voices from within the community being served. Listening to the testimony of others, according to Dr. Hugo Slim, “Has the capacity to break down generalisations [sic] and misinformation about communities, their economies, needs, power structures, social organization and goals.”
Who can do more damage than good if their good intentions are not put in check? Me.
Following through with our vision of equality
In committing our current international efforts to developmentalism we often seek to paint with the broad strokes of best practices and apply those principles to all situations. We apply micro success, which should be celebrated, to macro solutions and don’t achieve the same results. Unfortunately answers are not one size fits all. While many of the same issues affect people and communities across the globe, the answers to those issues are as numerous as the cultures they are embedded in. Progress cannot trample over or disregard the distinct nature of those beliefs, traditions and cultures. This diversity creates both unique challenges as well as core foundations for sustainable solutions.
Who can do more good by listening rather than speaking? Me.
In short, if we want to make positive changes to reduce the achievement gap and increase equitable opportunities, the place to start is a simple as simply listening. Recognize bias, hold your tongue and exercise the sense of hearing.
“. . . the testimony of individual voices reveals the experience of hidden groups, and counters the bias of those who speak for or ignore them. It has the capacity to break down generalisations [sic] and misinformation about communities, their economies, needs, power structures, social organization and goals. While this may complicate the design of relief and development projects, it may ultimately make them more equitable and effective.” - Dr. Hugo Slim, Listening for a Change
IZ Ventures more than business coaching & consulting - we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer.
Practical principles of leadership - video on listening
Parenting: Kids in the bed 🛏
📺 No wonder parents are tired and cranky.
#parenting #family #values #Kids
🎥 IZ Media
Parenting truths. Parents complain about being tired and cranky. Maybe it's because parents are letting their kids sleep in their beds? Kids are terrible bed companions as they kick you in the head and fart on you. Children should not be allowed in parent's beds. Perhaps if this rule were followed then parents would not be as tired. Raise your children so that you can enjoy living life with them.
You can see and read more of our parenting adventures and tips from IZ Farmin.
There will be conflict but there doesn't have to be blood. Let IZ Ventures help you examine six keys to positive organizational conflict.
Whenever you are dealing with people there will always be issues. Even good people have disagreements. The issue with disagreements is not in having them but in how we conduct ourselves. Professionals need to remain professional and how they disagree. Being professional doesn’t mean that at times our humanity expresses itself in negative ways, but this should be the exception rather than the norm. Conflict is not the issue.
Proactive conflict resolution
In times of conflict leadership has to decide whether they need to be proactive in restoration. More often than not this is better to be carried through rather than ignored. Our friends at Step Up 2 Success specialize in resources for classroom management, many of which have direct application to the workplace.
A strong organizational culture will be proactive in preventing negative outbursts.
A strong organization culture is not afraid of constructive conflict.
Constructive conflict is positive. When team members are able to disagree and work through questions related to vision and value there is an energy that is conducive to progress. In being proactive an organization will establish times and places for where disagreements can occur.
Practical conflict boundaries
For example, if two technicians in the field have a disagreement they should understand that it would be improper to have carry that confrontation out in front of the customer. A more constructive location for conflict is to go to the truck to work through a disagreement. If the issue is escalating then those team members should dismiss themselves from the jobsite to “get lunch” or “pick up materials” so that they can work through their issue.
Management conflict engagement
Management should be available to assist as needed when conflict is unresolved between team members. When we hire crew members that embrace and enhance the organizational culture, these types of outbursts should be the exception rather than the norm. Our recruitment and hiring practices should be in line with our organizational values.
Weekly or monthly team meeting are a great place for team members to work through ideas as a group. If there are issues with performance, productivity or personalities, these group gatherings can be a proactive method for teaching and training on both values and well as conflict resolution. Even when we hire recruits who embrace our culture, we still need to invest in training them and developing our team around those core principles.
The rules of conflict
When an employee observes a team member doing something wrong or incorrect, the training and culture should be such that conflict is expected. Employees should be empowered to address each other directly, this is the highest form of sustainable accountability. Depending on the severity of the infraction observed, employees should know when to notify their supervisor. If things escalate or are unresolved then supervisors should be engaged in either re-training or restoring relationships between employees.
There will be conflict. Will there be solutions? The key perspectives include distinguishing between constructive and destructive conflict. The questions those in a position of leadership must ask are, “Does the situation of resistance show someone who has made a mistake, someone who is processing the changes or someone who has decided to be an obstacle to progress?”
The most effective means of conflict resolution is to prevent conflict. Prevention measures should be built into recruiting, hiring, training and discipline for the whole organization. The goal is to clarify our vision and values and to build those into everything we do as a team. If we can be clear, we can be consistent and from consistency we can develop accountability.
The keys to success as an organization include clarity, consistency and accountability.
IZ Ventures more than business consulting and coaching - we help you Connect, Collaborate & Conquer.
Conflict can be healthy in an organization as we collaborate for creative solutions. As leaders we should not create conflict by making employees the enemy - let our video on engagement help you identify positive means to deal with discipline.
Originally published October 30, 2017 with Restoration & Remediation (R&R) Magazine as a guest feature for November National Entreprenuer Month.
I enjoy finding inspiration from obscure places. I believe this coincides with the aspects of the entrepreneurial spirit that I identify with - going against conventions, disrupting the status quo and carving out a segment of the market that appreciates the value you bring to the table. When I think about what it means to be an entrepreneur, I think of the movie Pee Wee's Big Adventure, where the grey suited, red bow tied and awkwardly cackling main character asks a gritty question that all persons engaged in life as well as business should be asking themselves every day.
Before we reveal the question, some of you may already know, but I'd wage good money to bet it wouldn't be many, let's do the storyteller's work and set the stage. In the Big Adventure movie, Pee Wee Herman has lost his most prized possession, his unique bike. This great loss causes him to launch a journey in search of his treasure, of which he suspects his nemesis Francis stole from him out of jealously (can we draw some allegories in this to market competition?).
Some people help Pee Wee on his journey, many of whom are unexpected allies while many of his friends fail to empathize with his loss or provide any constructive input. Many of those close to him don't see it while those whom he meets along the way offer insight and encouragements (again, do any entrepreneurs see any correlations here?). Mid way through the film, Pee Wee is particularly down in spirit as he has learned the Alamo does not have a basement. Why did he think it had a basement? He consulted an industry professional who was not a practitioner in his field (a bit of a dig there, did you catch it?). Mr. Herman hires a consultant, a fortune teller, who sounded wise but gave straw advice for an exorbitant fee (dig after dig).
Pee Wee thinks he is doing the right thing, he consults his friends, he seeks professional advice and sets out heedlessly on a journey to acquire the one thing he values more than anything. He craves success in his pursuit. Since you mentioned success, we will interject a not-so-shameless plug for an article previously published with R&R on the subject of success.
We are at the point in the story where our main character is distraught. Pee Wee is sad and feeling hopeless. He has taken a job washing dishes in a dive restaurant to finance his debts (how many of you have had to hold second jobs to pay for your dreams and/or failures?). To cheer him up, his new friend Simone takes him to up to a movie viewing area in the head of a dinosaur statue. Simone shares her dreams of traveling the world and Pee Wee drops his insightful line [this is the big reveal], "Everyone I know has a big but. Come on Simone, let's talk about your big but."
Pee Wee & Simone - Video clip: https://youtu.be/0yfJQUoxN3U
What's Your Big But?
Isn't this what separates the doers from the dreamers? Everyone has a dream and they have a "big but" that keeps them from venturing out to pursue that vision. For Simone, it's a lumberjack of a man named Andy, her boyfriend, who is holding her back and soon enters the scene to threaten Pee Wee's life. There is no super gene, no special training or magic pill that makes an entrepreneur. An entrepreneur is one who has identified a dream, a vision and/or a journey that they wish to pursue. An entrepreneur has faced the opposition from within; the concerns of those who care for them as well as the assault from those who oppose them, and continues to move forward (even if it's an inch at a time).
The question is not whether there is risk of failure but whether you will be nimble enough to navigate the multiple failures that arise as you chase your dreams.
The question is not whether you are the best able, most qualified, or expert enough to launch out upon your path, but whether you are willing to work you ass off, always be learning and remain true to your values as you meet the obstacles between you and the end of your road.
Entrepreneurs are everywhere. While this term has become synonymous with those who start their own business, the true definition is one who organizes and/or operates with an aversion to risk that hinders most (paraphrase). I have found in my experience it isn't as much the risk of failure itself, but the fear of the risk of failure, or atychiphobia, that holds most back from having the faith in themselves to grab life by the horns and enjoy the tumultuous ride.
Embrace the Opportunity
In that head of the dinosaur, Pee Wee is encouraged by his new friend and their discussion also inspires Simone to buy a bus ticket the next day, taking the first step to pursue her dreams. Pee Wee, on the other hand, is chased down by her former boyfriend Andy. In the moment of the chase, he is scrambling from certain death, but that run leads him to his next opportunity, effectively jolting him from his depression and back onto his own journey (can any entrepreneurs shout out an amen here?).
I shared some thoughts previously in another publication on the entrepreneurial lessons we can learn from the journey of Noah, being fueled by vision to endure opposition as well as obstacles. I bring this up because Noah faced opposition, Pee Wee faced set backs, and you understand that life isn’t about getting over one hurdle and then it’s over but rather continuing to rise over hurdle after hurdle. We work hard. We are always learning. When we can work hard and learn hard we should be able to glean from others some means that help us to adapt our approach.
There are many who say, “I would do this-or-that, but…” and fail to launch. Even those who have set out on their journey hit points where they hesitate to take the next step, “I would move forward with this-or-that, but…” and stall momentum through analysis paralysis. There are also those in a position of leadership who are faced with daily decisions based upon their core values, “I would do this-or-that, but…” and they allow fear to prevent them from action.
Entrepreneurs often see opportunities that others don't and take risks others are not willing to take but that doesn't mean they don't need quality input in their lives. Whether it's a stalwart of faith in action like Noah, a goofball like Pee Wee Herman or simply having coffee with a respected peer, you need people in your life who ask you from time to time, “What about your big but?”
If you have a dream to start a business, IZ Ventures can assist you with clarifying that vision and resources that will equip you to connect, collaborate and conquer. More than business consulting & coaching.
Pursuing your dreams starts with setting yourself up for success - video on preparation
Thoughts on personal and professional development.
Jon Isaacson, The Intentional Restorer, is a contractor, author, and host of The DYOJO Podcast. The goal of The DYOJO is to help growth-minded restoration professionals shorten their DANG learning curve for personal and professional development. You can watch The DYOJO Podcast on YouTube on Thursdays or listen on your favorite podcast platform.