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Archives ~ July 2013 Entries

Your search for "all posts in July 2013" returned 5 results.

The Doldrums

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Traditionally, the "doldrums" were regions of high atmospheric pressure in the North and South Atlantic oceans. Because the winds in these areas were weak and unpredictable, sailing ships would often become trapped for weeks while waiting for breezes to carry them to the trade winds. Some, desperate for fresh water and to get to their destinations, would even lighten their loads by driving their cargos of horses overboard to drown, leading to the other name for the areas, the "horse latitudes." But in the modern age, the term doldrums has come to mean a period of being stuck, directionless and uninspired, going nowhere. That's what midsummer tends to feel like, even in a busy organization. The holidays are months away, Q3 seems to be dragging on forever, and it can be difficult to sustain focus and energy for projects. During times like these, drawing energy or inspiration from outside of ourselves is a fool's choice. Rather, leaders must recognize doldrums in themselves or in those they lead and find the right reasons to continue pushing, inventing and stretching their creativity even during those long stretches where it seems that the project is dragging on with no end in sight. Bonuses, incentives-they aren't enough to get us through the doldrums. Our winds need to come from within. What are you doing to be the breeze your people need to sail swiftly?

Traditionally, the "doldrums" were regions of high atmospheric pressure in the North and South Atlantic oceans. Because the winds in these areas were weak and unpredictable, sailing ships would often become trapped for weeks while waiting for breezes to carry them to the trade winds. Some, desperate for fresh water and to get to their destinations, would even lighten their loads by driving their cargos of horses overboard to drown, leading to the other name for the areas, the "horse latitudes."

But in the modern age, the term doldrums has come to mean a period of being stuck, directionless and uninspired, going nowhere. That's what midsummer tends to feel like, even in a busy organization. The holidays are months away, Q3 seems to be dragging on forever, and it can be difficult to sustain focus and energy for projects.

During times like these, drawing energy or inspiration from outside of ourselves is a fool's choice. Rather, leaders must recognize doldrums in themselves or in those they lead and find the right reasons to continue pushing, inventing and stretching their creativity even during those long stretches where it seems that the project is dragging on with no end in sight. Bonuses, incentives-they aren't enough to get us through the doldrums. Our winds need to come from within.

What are you doing to be the breeze your people need to sail swiftly?

7.29.13 0
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Stuck in Traffic

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

I live and mostly work in Southern California. That means spending time in traffic...a lot of time in traffic. When you're somebody like me, who seeks teaching opportunities in nearly every part of life, rush-hour traffic becomes fertile ground for thought experiments. Here's where my thoughts have taken me lately. Consider a highway filled with cars to be like an interconnected organization. Each car and driver is independent, but not one can take an action that does not affect the entire organization. When someone merges into a lane and cuts too close to the car behind them, causing that driver to slam on his brakes, there's an immediate ripple effect. The cars behind hit their brakes, drivers in the next lane slow down out of caution, and traffic slows for some distance. Heaven help us if there's a traffic stop on the shoulder-gawkers can bring traffic to a crawl for miles. The reminder here is that each of us impacts many others in ways we don't perceive, with even our smallest actions. In an organization where people are striving for better and constantly pushing their limits, little margin for error exists-something as simple as an angry word or a dropped deadline. Our actions, positive and negative, can and do ripple through the entire community. tail lights flash. People lean on their horns and hurl accusations. Things fall apart. Wise leaders watch and listen, not just for the sounds of great accomplishment, but also the ebb and flow of people and events in their organization to ensure that small actions aren't causing a traffic jam. Even better, wise leaders build capacity in others by teaching mindfulness about the impact of one's actions. No one is an island. Are you encouraging mindfulness or contributing to the traffic jam?

I live and mostly work in Southern California. That means spending time in traffic...a lot of time in traffic. When you're somebody like me, who seeks teaching opportunities in nearly every part of life, rush-hour traffic becomes fertile ground for thought experiments. Here's where my thoughts have taken me lately.

Consider a highway filled with cars to be like an interconnected organization. Each car and driver is independent, but not one can take an action that does not affect the entire organization. When someone merges into a lane and cuts too close to the car behind them, causing that driver to slam on his brakes, there's an immediate ripple effect. The cars behind hit their brakes, drivers in the next lane slow down out of caution, and traffic slows for some distance. Heaven help us if there's a traffic stop on the shoulder-gawkers can bring traffic to a crawl for miles.

The reminder here is that each of us impacts many others in ways we don't perceive, with even our smallest actions. In an organization where people are striving for better and constantly pushing their limits, little margin for error exists-something as simple as an angry word or a dropped deadline. Our actions, positive and negative, can and do ripple through the entire community. Tail lights flash. People lean on their horns and hurl accusations. Things fall apart.

Wise leaders watch and listen, not just for the sounds of great accomplishment, but also the ebb and flow of people and events in their organization to ensure that small actions aren't causing a traffic jam. Even better, wise leaders build capacity in others by teaching mindfulness about the impact of one's actions. No one is an island.

Are you encouraging mindfulness or contributing to the traffic jam?

7.22.13 0
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Yasiel Puig Versus the Wall

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Sports, Wisdom Leading

If you've followed baseball recently, you've heard about Yasiel Puig. The Cuban-defector playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been setting the world on fire since his debut in June: hitting over .400, setting all-time records for hitting, running into walls, and basically playing like a 23-year-old possessed. He's become an obsession for the entire island of Cuba. Here's my question - is it better to go a thousand miles an hour with your hair on fire for as long as you can, like Puig, or to pace yourself, conserve your energy and avoid getting hurt? Going all-out and burning your candle at both ends might thrill your fans and fire up your team, but is it the best way to achieve your goals? Answer - it depends. Depends on your talent. Depends on your goal. Depends on team needs. It truly depends. In Puig's case, when he was called up to the majors to join the Dodgers, the team sporting the highest payroll in the history of the game was languishing in last place and showing few signs of life. Today, barely a month later they are challenging for first place in their division and have righted their ship, largely sparked by the energy and heroics of Puig. Sometimes, a leader's job is to inspire his or her team and demonstrate the pedal-to-the-metal commitment that he or she wants the team to possess. In that case, it's not a bad idea to stock up on Five-Hour Energy, pull a few all-nighters and leave everything on the field in order to deliver something amazing in a short time. Basically, you're running into the outfield wall to make an incredible catch. And, logic would tell you that it's inadvisable to keep doing that long term. If your job, or success, frequently depends on energy drinks and all-nighters, you're pretty much toast. If Puig keeps going face-first into walls, eventually he's going to end up on the disabled list. When your goal is to guide your team over a long-term time horizon, you need to stay on the field. That means being smart and wily-like the old bull - or a longtime baseball veteran. Where could moderating your energy or tempering your willingness to crash into walls actually fire up your team's performance?

If you've followed baseball recently, you've heard about Yasiel Puig. The Cuban-defector playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers has been setting the world on fire since his debut in June: hitting over .400, setting all-time records for hitting, running into walls, and basically playing like a 23-year-old possessed. He's become an obsession for the entire island of Cuba.

Here's my question - is it better to go a thousand miles an hour with your hair on fire for as long as you can, like Puig, or to pace yourself, conserve your energy and avoid getting hurt? Going all-out and burning your candle at both ends might thrill your fans and fire up your team, but is it the best way to achieve your goals?

Answer - it depends. Depends on your talent. Depends on your goal. Depends on team needs. It truly depends. In Puig's case, when he was called up to the majors to join the Dodgers, the team sporting the highest payroll in the history of the game was languishing in last place and showing few signs of life. Today, barely a month later they are challenging for first place in their division and have righted their ship, largely sparked by the energy and heroics of Puig.

Sometimes, a leader's job is to inspire his or her team and demonstrate the pedal-to-the-metal commitment that he or she wants the team to possess. In that case, it's not a bad idea to stock up on Five-Hour Energy, pull a few all-nighters and leave everything on the field in order to deliver something amazing in a short time. Basically, you're running into the outfield wall to make an incredible catch.

And, logic would tell you that it's inadvisable to keep doing that long term. If your job, or success, frequently depends on energy drinks and all-nighters, you're pretty much toast. If Puig keeps going face-first into walls, eventually he's going to end up on the disabled list. When your goal is to guide your team over a long-term time horizon, you need to stay on the field. That means being smart and wily-like the old bull - or a longtime baseball veteran.

Where could moderating your energy or tempering your willingness to crash into walls actually fire up your team's performance?

7.15.13 0
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The Rockets Red Glare

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

It's customary after July 4 to write something profound about independence, freedom, or America. But I'm not going to pontificate about what makes this country great or the eternal balancing act between individual liberty and interdependence. I'm going to write about fireworks. Why do we love them so much? After all, they're pretty much the same, year after year. When you were a kid, maybe you got one of those Red Devil or Black Cat home fireworks sets (always trying to talk Dad into spending just a little more on the bigger box). As adults, we watch professional pyrotechnicians set off massive displays. Either way, there's not a lot of mystery. We know what sparklers are going to look like. We know that the municipal fireworks show will feature colorful blooms of flame exploding high in the sky, with the kaboom reaching our ears a second later. Even so, fireworks have the power to make each of us children again, to transport us back to and age of upturned wonder-struck faces. I think the reason is simple: there's no back story. We're not required to attach some tiresome significance to fireworks, like so much else in our lives. They're beautiful, loud, and just a little dangerous. For a few minutes, we crane our necks, smile and say, "Cool." We could all do with a little more wonder, couldn't we? Less parsing of the underlying meaning of everything and more wide-eyed appreciation of the marvels of the people we work with, the place we live or the things we can do? That's mindfulness. What did July 4th fireworks remind you of?

It's customary after July 4th to write something profound about independence, freedom, or America. I'll leave that to others. Let me clearly and simply stipulate here that I love my country and am eternally grateful for the opportunities it provides and to those who protect our freedoms.

Instead, I'm going to write about fireworks.

Why do we love them so much? After all, they're pretty much the same, year after year. When you were a kid, maybe you got one of those Red Devil or Black Cat home fireworks sets (always trying to talk Dad into spending just a little more on the bigger box). These days as adults, we watch professional pyrotechnicians set off massive displays. Either way, there's not a lot of mystery. We know what sparklers are going to look like. We know that the municipal fireworks show will feature colorful blooms of flame exploding high in the sky, with the kaboom reaching our ears a second later.

Even so, fireworks have the power to make each of us children again, to transport us back to an age of upturned wonder-struck faces. I think the reason is simple: there's no back story. We're not required to attach some tiresome significance to fireworks, like so much else in our lives. They're beautiful, loud, and just a little dangerous. For a few minutes, we crane our necks, smile and say, "Cool."

We could all do with a little more wonder, couldn't we? Less parsing of the underlying meaning of everything and more wide-eyed appreciation of the marvels of the people we work with, the place we live or the things we can do? That's mindfulness.

How could you find a little more wonder in your life?

7.8.13 0
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The Two Tony Sopranos - Part 1

Dr. Foster Mobley // Quotables, Wisdom Leading

Like many, I was saddened to hear about the recent loss of the great actor James Gandolfini to a heart attack. Millions of us spent years riveted to our televisions, watching Gandolfini's savage, troubled Mafia boss Tony Soprano struggle to survive his family and his Family. His incredible performance changed television, making the flawed anti-hero someone to build a series around. What made us watch Tony Soprano was his duality. As brilliantly brought to life by Gandolfini, Tony was both a lost, vulnerable man-child and a brutal, amoral murderer. The fascination lay in that duality, which mirrors the duality in each of us. Tony was a terrifying bear of a man who could break down and sob like a four-year-old. He was merciless thug and killer who struggled with anxiety, self-loathing, and his desire to be more than what he allowed himself to be. Each of us has a dual nature, a light and a shadow. We struggle to balance who we are with who we're supposed to be. While we lead our teams maintaining a cool, well-dressed exterior, our true life's energies complete with pains and passions demand attention beneath the surface. Tony Soprano tortured himself by refusing to listen to his other side; in the end, violence, greed and power defined who and what he was. Wisdom lives in the place where our two natures complement, rather than torture each other. Robert Frost spoke to the idea of unifying our dualities in his "Two Tramps in Mud Time", a passage of which reads: My object in living is to unite?my avocation and my vocation? as my two eyes make one in sight. Only where love and need are one, and the work is play for mortal stakes,? is the deed ever really done?For Heaven and the future's sakes. My daily journey is learning ways to make "love and need" one. What does it make possible, in our leading and our lives, when we recognize and encourage the recognition of our full selves?

Like many, I was saddened to hear about the recent loss of the great actor James Gandolfini to a heart attack. Millions of us spent years riveted to our televisions, watching Gandolfini's savage, troubled Mafia boss Tony Soprano struggle to survive his family and his Family. His incredible performance changed television, making the flawed anti-hero someone to build a series around.

What made us watch Tony Soprano was his duality. As brilliantly brought to life by Gandolfini, Tony was both a lost, vulnerable man-child and a brutal, amoral murderer. The fascination lay in that duality, which mirrors the duality in each of us. Tony was a terrifying bear of a man who could break down and sob like a four-year-old. He was merciless thug and killer who struggled with anxiety, self-loathing, and his desire to be more than what he allowed himself to be.

Each of us has a dual nature, a light and a shadow. We struggle to balance who we are with who we're supposed to be. While we lead our teams maintaining a cool, well-dressed exterior, our true life's energies complete with pains and passions that demand attention beneath the surface. Tony Soprano tortured himself by refusing to listen to his other side; in the end, violence, greed and power defined who and what he was.

Wisdom lives in the place where our two natures complement, rather than torture each other. Robert Frost spoke to the idea of unifying our dualities in his "Two Tramps in Mud Time", a passage of which reads: 

       My object in living is to unite my avocation and my vocation
       as my two eyes make one in sight.
       Only where love and need are one,
       and the work is play for mortal stakes,
       is the deed ever really done For Heaven and the future's sakes.

My daily journey is learning ways to make "love and need" one.

What does it make possible, in our leading and our lives, when we recognize and encourage the recognition of our full selves?

7.1.13 0
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Dr. Foster Mobley

Trusted advisor and coach to admired executives globally for 3 decades, Thought leader on wisdom-based approaches to breakthrough leading, "Lead Coach" for Deloitte's experienced and high potential leader development, Team performance advisor to two NCAA championship teams