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Archives ~ June 2014 Entries

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Amazon’s Fire Phone and the Death of Connection

Dr. Foster Mobley // Business, Wisdom Leading

Recently, Amazon.com released a device that pundits are calling the "death of brick and mortar retail": the Fire Phone. Its owners will be able to scan any product's bar code, find the same product on Amazon (presumably for a lower price) and buy it on the spot, with same-day or next-day delivery. It's pretty amazing. Retailers are justifiably terrified for their businesses, and I find the Fire Phone disconcerting for a different reason. With it, people will be able to spend even less time in the public marketplace and more time at home in front of their devices, where we face little risk of being affected by people or situations. To me, that's a flaw, not a feature. We risk a critical loss of that rare commodity called connection. Connection is best cultivated in person, face-to-face, in those messy real-world meetings where we don't have the luxury of hanging up or unfriending. Connection creates a level of communication with empathy, which goes beyond just clarity. It's being on the same wavelength as another person, yielding a deep understanding of emotions, values, and what makes another human being tick. The serendipitous run-ins at the market or gas station, the shouted "Join us for a drink!" invitation from the sidewalk café nurture our souls, and feed our ability to listen and our tolerance for views different from our own. They free us from our cocoons. As leaders, inspiring our people means first connecting with them-understanding what motivates them, what they value, and how they view themselves. We can't do that from a distance, by email or social networking. We need to be in the marketplace. We're at our best, leader and led, when we're bouncing off one another and watching the sparks fly. How are you choosing to connect with the people in your life?

Recently, Amazon.com released a device that pundits are calling the "death of brick and mortar retail": the Fire Phone. Its owners will be able to scan any product's bar code, find the same product on Amazon (presumably for a lower price) and buy it on the spot, with same-day or next-day delivery. It's pretty amazing.

Retailers are justifiably terrified for their businesses, and I find the Fire Phone disconcerting for a different reason. With it, people will be able to spend even less time in the public marketplace and more time at home in front of their devices, where we face little risk of being affected by people or situations. To me, that's a flaw, not a feature. We risk a critical loss of that rare commodity called connection.

Connection is best cultivated in person, face-to-face, in those messy real-world meetings where we don't have the luxury of hanging up or unfriending. Connection creates a level of communication with empathy, which goes beyond just clarity. It's being on the same wavelength as another person, yielding a deep understanding of emotions, values, and what makes another human being tick. The serendipitous run-ins at the market or gas station, the shouted "Join us for a drink!" invitation from the sidewalk café nurture our souls, and feed our ability to listen and our tolerance for views different from our own. They free us from our cocoons.

As leaders, inspiring our people means first connecting with them-understanding what motivates them, what they value, and how they view themselves. We can't do that from a distance, by email or social networking. We need to be in the marketplace. We're at our best, leader and led, when we're bouncing off one another and watching the sparks fly.

How are you choosing to connect with the people in your life?  


6.30.14 0
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June 28th, 1914

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

This year, Americans will commemorate the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sent much of the world into World War I. I'm not going to explore the geopolitical consequences of the Great War. Instead, I'll address the nature of conflict. One of the myths about the assassination is that it was the cause of the war. It wasn't. It was merely the match that lit the bonfire. Tensions between the Kaiser's Germany and the rest of Europe had been high since the turn of the century, with both sides jockeying for position and allies. The overt conflict may have kicked off in 1914, but the covert conflict simmered under the surface for years. Conflict between individuals, teams and departments is the same way. It can bubble quietly, unseen, for a long while before it breaks out in the form of heated argument or angry ultimatum. But all the while, it breeds resentments, robs us of our ability to be present, and blocks our streams. Conflict in an organization is nothing to fear; disagreement can be a source of vibrant, sustainable energy and air-clearing communication that shakes us free of complacency. But only when it's addressed and properly harnessed before it turns into war. In your organization, is conflict a source of tension or positive change?

This year, Americans will commemorate the June 28, 1914 assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which sent much of the world into World War I. I'm not going to explore the geopolitical consequences of the Great War. Instead, I'll address the nature of conflict.

One of the myths about the assassination is that it was the cause of the war. It wasn't. It was merely the match that lit the bonfire. Tensions between the Kaiser's Germany and the rest of Europe had been high since the turn of the century, with both sides jockeying for position and allies. The overt conflict may have kicked off in 1914, but the covert conflict simmered under the surface for years.

Conflict between individuals, teams and departments is the same way. It can bubble quietly, unseen, for a long while before it breaks out in the form of heated argument or angry ultimatum. But all the while, it breeds resentments, robs us of our ability to be present, and blocks our streams. Conflict in an organization is nothing to fear; disagreement can be a source of vibrant, sustainable energy and air-clearing communication that shakes us free of complacency. But only when it's addressed and properly harnessed before it turns into war.

In your organization, is conflict a source of tension or positive change?

6.23.14 0
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Hallmark Holidays

Dr. Foster Mobley // History, Wisdom Leading

I simply couldn't resist this topic. Maybe not for the reason you think. Sunday was another of the "Hallmark Holidays," a contrived time of reflection and acknowledgement of a loved one. The origin of this slang term derived from a clever marketing tactic perfected by the greeting card company, Hallmark Cards, whose sole purpose was to (wait for it)... sell more cards. I'll admit to minor cynicism, in times past, over such contrivances. Don't get me wrong - I love acknowledgements as much as the next person. My distrust and dislike stemmed from the fact that Hallmark was agnostic as to what the day was and who it was calling out - mother, father, co-worker, babysitter. They simply wanted to sell more cards. So, they invented days, provoking my ire. This year, however, I've taken a different stance. This past weekend, as I read at the countless, heartfelt acknowledgements of fathers on Facebook, staring at dated and cherished Kodak photos, I started to view each one as a prayer, rather than a boast; a moment of presence in a world so void of presence. Each post became a chance, for that fleeting moment to pause, reflect, honor, feel something. Those are good things, things I say I like, so why would I feel otherwise? Like the daily childhood ritual of reciting, often sleepily, the Pledge of Allegiance or the Buddhist cymbal that lightly rings us into presence, perhaps the occurrence of these invented days is a simple, gentle reminder of the value of reflection and acknowledgement. I'd like to take it one step further. Why not every day? Do you recall the concept of "un-birthdays" from Lewis Carroll's classic "Through the Looking-Glass?" It's like that; every day not our birthday is cause for celebration. While we have Father's Day once each year, every day is an un-Father's Day (on un-Mother's Day, or...) and still a cause for honoring and acknowledging important people in our lives. What would a daily ritual of reflection and celebration make possible in your life?

I simply couldn't resist this topic. Maybe not for the reason you think.

Sunday was another of the "Hallmark Holidays," a contrived time of reflection and acknowledgement of a loved one. The origin of this slang term derived from a clever marketing tactic perfected by the greeting card company, Hallmark Cards, whose sole purpose was to (wait for it)... sell more cards.

I'll admit to minor cynicism, in times past, over such contrivances. Don't get me wrong - I love acknowledgements as much as the next person. My distrust and dislike stemmed from the fact that Hallmark was agnostic as to what the day was and who it was calling out - mother, father, co-worker, babysitter. They simply wanted to sell more cards. So, they invented days, provoking my ire.

This year, however, I've taken a different stance.

This past weekend, as I read at the countless, heartfelt acknowledgements of fathers on Facebook, staring at dated and cherished Kodak photos, I started to view each one as a prayer, rather than a boast; a moment of presence in a world so void of presence. Each post became a chance, for that fleeting moment to pause, reflect, honor, feel something. Those are good things, things I say I like, so why would I feel otherwise?

Like the daily childhood ritual of reciting, often sleepily, the Pledge of Allegiance or the Buddhist cymbal that lightly rings us into presence, perhaps the occurrence of these invented days is a simple, gentle reminder of the value of reflection and acknowledgement. I'd like to take it one step further. Why not every day? Do you recall the concept of "un-birthdays" from Lewis Carroll's classic "Through the Looking-Glass?" It's like that; every day not our birthday is cause for celebration. While we have Father's Day once each year, every day is an un-Father's Day (on un-Mother's Day, or...) and still a cause for honoring and acknowledging important people in our lives.

What would a daily ritual of reflection and celebration make possible in your life?

6.17.14 0
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California Chrome and the Myth of Winning

Dr. Foster Mobley // Sports, Wisdom Leading

Saturday California Chrome did not win the Belmont Stakes, finishing in a tie for fourth place. Chrome is now the twenty-third horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but failing to grab the Triple Crown. That begs the question: is California Chrome a failure? Should we consider the team that trained him a failure? According to current practice, the answer might be "Yes." In many organizations, winning means one thing-obliterating last month's/quarter's/year's numbers, winning the account, getting the external recognition - cost be damned. For some, getting the immediate win is so critical that they'll sacrifice everything: the team's resources, the mental and physical health of the people they lead, you name it. In many cases, it's unsustainable - losing disguised as "winning." In my view, true winning is about the sustainable long game. Most of the battles we lose don't imply we'll lose the war. A wise leader takes the lessons from setbacks to direct attention to improving performance for the ultimate goal, not just the next battle. Consider a definition of winning that is both about winning races and a sustainable future of health, vitality, and continued excellence. What do your words and actions communicate about what winning means to you?

Saturday California Chrome did not win the Belmont Stakes, finishing in a tie for fourth place. Chrome is now the twenty-third horse to win the Kentucky Derby and the Preakness but failing to grab the Triple Crown. That begs the question: is California Chrome a failure? Should we consider the team that trained him a failure?

According to current practice, the answer might be "Yes." In many organizations, winning means one thing-obliterating last month's/quarter's/year's numbers, winning the account, getting the external recognition - cost be damned. For some, getting the immediate win is so critical that they'll sacrifice everything: the team's resources, the mental and physical health of the people they lead, you name it. In many cases, it's unsustainable - losing disguised as "winning."

In my view, true winning is about the sustainable long game. Most of the battles we lose don't imply we'll lose the war. A wise leader takes the lessons from setbacks to direct attention to improving performance for the ultimate goal, not just the next battle. Consider a definition of winning that is both about winning races and a sustainable future of health, vitality, and continued excellence.

What do your words and actions communicate about what winning means to you?

6.9.14 0
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And They’re Off…!

Dr. Foster Mobley // Sports, Wisdom Leading

On June 7th, thoroughbred California Chrome will try to become the twelfth horse to win the elusive Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes. And as so often happens, the upcoming race got me thinking...about performance and noise. Distraction and preparation. The role of the trainer in getting the horse ready and then turning him loose to run. Thoroughbreds are sensitive, skittish and brilliant. With hearts twice the size of the average racehorse, they're extraordinary machines. And they're temperamental. It's the trainer's job to get his Triple Crown contending horse fit, keep it healthy, teach it, and develop a race strategy around its strengths. But his most important job is to block out noise. While chaos might swirl around the animal in the form of news media, other horses, pressure and money, the great trainer keeps his thoroughbred wrapped in a bubble of quiet, focused calm. Equipoise, it's called. That way, when the gate opens, the horse doesn't feel any distractions. It just runs like hell. We want our people to perform like thoroughbreds, to do the extraordinary. That means as leaders, it's our job to protect them from distractions, to create environments that breed equipoise. The noise-financial hubris, news stories, office gossip-should break against us like waves against a seawall. Behind us, things are calm. People are free to focus on the moment, to be their best, to run their race. To win. How are you being a source of quiet, focused calm for your team?

On June 7th, thoroughbred California Chrome will try to become the twelfth horse to win the elusive Triple Crown by winning the Belmont Stakes. And as so often happens, the upcoming race got me thinking...about performance and noise. Distraction and preparation. The role of the trainer in getting the horse ready and then turning him loose to run.

Thoroughbreds are sensitive, skittish and brilliant. With hearts twice the size of the average racehorse, they're extraordinary machines. And they're temperamental. It's the trainer's job to get his Triple Crown contending horse fit, keep it healthy, teach it, and develop a race strategy around its strengths. But his most important job is to block out noise. While chaos might swirl around the animal in the form of news media, other horses, pressure and money, the great trainer keeps his thoroughbred wrapped in a bubble of quiet, focused calm. Equipoise, it's called. That way, when the gate opens, the horse doesn't feel any distractions. It just runs like hell.

We want our people to perform like thoroughbreds, to do the extraordinary. That means as leaders, it's our job to protect them from distractions, to create environments that breed equipoise. The noise-financial hubris, news stories, office gossip-should break against us like waves against a seawall. Behind us, things are calm. People are free to focus on the moment, to be their best, to run their race. To win.

How are you being a source of quiet, focused calm for your team?

6.2.14 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