Identity Beacon

Illuminating Possibilities

Identity Beacon - Illuminating Possibilities

What’s funny about change (and what isn’t)

Louis C.K is considered by some to be America’s top comic. So, when he started riffing on our obsession with the minutiae of social media technology, I decided to listen in. It was a rainy afternoon in Denver and I was sitting in my hotel room, looking for a little diversion.

Louis C.K. described how we get our noses out of joint when a text we’re sending doesn’t go through immediately. Or, how in the “old days,” when telephones came with rotary dials, we became impatient if a particular phone number had too many zeros or nines, meaning we’d have to wait as the rotor circled all the way back, before we could dial the next digit. His point wasn’t just that we’re spoiled instant gratification junkies; it’s that we’ve become change junkies: Enough is never enough. Fast needs to be faster. What’s new is not as cool as what’s next.

As I took all of this in, I looked out of my window. What met my gaze were the Rocky Mountains. They presented a stark contrast to what now seemed to be trivial, insignificant bitching about nothing — to our obsession with change.

For all our craving for change, I was struck by the contrary idea that we are our own Rockies — inviolable mountains with cores that defy change.

When it comes to change, here’s my conclusion: In the end, we love most what doesn’t change: nature, the Rockies, the essential character of the people we care about, which hopefully includes ourselves. Yet, change is inevitable. So, what’s the solution?

My advice to you is to embrace the identity paradox: the ability to change from a changeless foundation.

Every individual and organization has at their center an immutable core — an identity — that makes them who they are. If you embrace this core, you can “change” how you express yourself without upsetting the apple cart. You can remain authentic while staying relevant. This is the power of the identity paradox. 

One more thing: The next time a text takes a few extra seconds to go through, don’t sweat it. Just give thanks for the miracle you hold in your hands.

The crisis crisis

Reading about Rutgers University’s ongoing athletic department scandal, leads me to conclude that we’re into a protracted crisis season, a time when crises are showing up all over the place. The list is long. Here (along with Rutgers) are a few of my recent favorites.

The Catholic Church and its propensity for hiding sex crimes under its robes

BP and its failure to deal with the Deep Horizon explosion before the fact (and after it, for a time)

Penn State and its protection of its football program over the protection of young children

The BBC for the sexual misconduct of 81 staff — half of which still work for the broadcaster (so much for the “integrity of the source”)

The US for the Great Recession, which put us all at grave risk, leading to the destruction of wealth as well as human dignity, due to the loss of millions of jobs

You can tell a crisis from a run-of-the-mill problem, or even scandal, because, figuratively speaking, a crisis cuts into the flesh and bone of a company or person. Invariably, it makes us look into the abyss – into ourselves – to see whether we still are who we thought we were.

From where I sit, the greatest danger lurking inside a crisis is not recognizing it for what it is, which leads to a kind of crisis inside the crisis, or simply, the crisis crisis.

The crisis crisis happens when you claw your way through it by hook or by crook. You survive it, but you don’t change. And then, what? You’re doomed to repeat it. A crisis ignored, skirted, or denied is cancerous. It may recede for a time but it will be back, stronger, and more virulent than ever. That is the inevitable result of a crisis crisis.

Don’t let this happen to you. What I mean by “this” isn’t necessarily having a crisis. Sometimes, it’s inevitable, especially for people. What I am referring to is not allowing a crisis crisis to occur, whether it is in relation to your company or yourself. If a crisis hits, see it for the seminal event it is. Make the most of it, even as you work to overcome it. See it as an opportunity to learn, to change, to grow. 

 

 

New year, new you?

Ever wonder why the new year inspires so many resolutions? And why so many don’t stick? On the surface, it’s pretty funny. For instance, you see dozens of new faces at the gym starting in January, most of whom have left by the end of February. Where did they go? I’m betting home.

We love change. We hate change. We want more. We fear more. We aspire. We demure.

The new year is a call for hope. For possibility. For “maybe this time.” It’s a worthy pursuit. But, here’s the rub: Most people are trying, unconsciously, to change who they are. Bad idea. You can’t. So when you try, it often leads to let down.

Better plan: Before you exercise your outside, exercise your inside. Examine why it’s been so hard to get moving in the first place. Start with  these 3 “exercises:”

  1. Write down 2 things about yourself you love and do NOT want to change, ever!
  2. Tell someone (starting with you) how you will feel about yourself when you reach your physical target (lose 10 pounds, run 3 miles, do 25 push-ups, etc.).
  3. Let yourself off the hook. It’s OK to not want to go at the gym, sometimes. Acknowledge that feeling – most people have them – ask yourself why, then go anyway. (I’ve talked to people who’ve told me that reason they stopped going is because they didn’t like to feel bad about themselves – not because they were lazy. So, admit what you really feel and move on!)

I know you have the courage to do these things. And when you do, I know you’ll be one of the folks whose face I wind up recognizing in June, long after the “hopefuls” have lost their juice.

One more thing: Write me and tell me how it goes!

 

 

New Executive Title: CGO – Find or train one today!

This has been bugging me for a while, so I’m going to dig it up and put it out there. Opinions welcome.

Ever since “the vision thing” collided with “execution is everything,” people have failed to resolve the ‘what is more important’ tug-of-war between these two powerful forces. Here, I offer a way to resolve the debate to everyone’s potential satisfaction (or consternation). Forget business for a moment; let’s garden. Continue reading