I’m not really much of a dancer. So, when I was at a wedding recently, I spent much of the reception doing one of my favorite activities: observing.
It was very interesting to see the ebb and flow of people and energy on the dance floor as the songs changed. At times, just a few people would be on the floor, dancing with slightly disinterested expressions, and at other times excited dancers would come running from across the room squealing “That’s my song!”.
The significant difference in emotions between these two situations caught my attention.
I love watching kids interact with the world. They have a wonderful ability to treat even the most mundane things as fantastic discoveries. My youngest daughter can always get me to smile with the way she lights up when she learns something new. Her excitement is infectious as she announces to the room in a very loud voice what she has observed.
It doesn’t matter if it is playing with sticks in the mud, having a pretend picnic, or challenging themselves on the playground, kids are constantly interacting with their environment in novel ways. They test ideas and ask questions about the world and how it works. Driven by their curiosity, this is how they grow and learn.
“Children astound me with their inquisitive minds. The world is wide and mysterious to them, and as they piece together the puzzle of life, they ask ‘Why?’ ceaselessly.” – John C. Maxwell
Adults and organizations are no different.
Several years ago, two independent organizations set off on journeys to transform their cultures. Both organizations wanted to move from environments that valued protecting the status quo and were resistant to change to cultures in which change was rapid, structured, and pervasive.
As both organizations embarked from this common starting point, their paths began to diverge. In one organization, the philosophy began to take root, the tools were used consistently throughout the organization, and the culture continued to mature. Employees at all levels of the organization bought into the new ideas and their teams began to thrive.
In the second organization, changes in the culture were much less widespread. Individual pockets embraced the new ideas, but the results were not sustained. Years after their journey began, the culture was not significantly different from where it started.
So, what was the difference?
I often find myself working on household projects and reaching a point where I must make a decision: Should I take the time to get the right tool for the job or will I make do with what I have at hand?
One example of this situation has stuck with me for quite some time. I was building a swing set for my daughter when I reached a point in the instructions that required a hole to be drilled in a very tight space. I considered many options for how to get the job done with my available tools. Unfortunately, all of them involved some combination of extra work, a likelihood of failure, or unsafe behaviors. In all, I spent the better part of a week on this problem, not making any progress. Continue reading
Are you a direct route or a scenic route person?
If you have ever been on a road trip with a group of people different from yourself, you have likely experienced the headaches that can result. Even though you are in agreement on the final destination, they way in which you desire to get there is very different.
Several years ago, I experienced this situation first hand. The direct route individuals preferred to keep to the interstates, stop only when necessary, and get back on the road as quickly as possible. The idea was to get to the final destination as quickly as possible. For the scenic route individuals, the travel was part of the experience. Stopping for a relaxing meal or taking an unplanned detour were not out of the question.