Tag Archives: #teamwork

L for Listening and Q for Questions

I have been fascinated with the Socratic type of questioning since I heard about it first in Creativity and Personal Mastery Course. I am also captivated by zen Koans like “What is the sound of one hand clapping?” These are questions which do not have a definite answer, and the purpose is to open your mind, think outside the box – literally.

And now that I am a people leader I am slowly discovering what great tool questions are. At my recent Vipassana course, whenever one of the Dhamma servers would ask the question to the teacher his response was to ask us the question back, and that just stood out for me. Until I asked a question to which the teacher replied, but then he asked me – how would I answer this? And whether I wanted it or not I found my mind asking myself the same question and the answer I gave hit home for me – Thank you, for helping me experience the power of questions.

And me being me – I have started reading books on questions. One of the books I am listening to now is “Great Leaders Ask Great Questions” by John Maxwell. I have not completed the book yet, but there were some quotes in it which just grabbed me.

Take every opportunity to keep my mouth shut
I love this statement, and I am going to do more of this – and this is very hard for me. Because I think I am unique and I have interesting things to say, and I know it all. Now I still believe that I am special, and I have interesting things to say, but I am beginning to realize that I may not know it all. And if I have to know it all, I have to ask questions and listen. And the rare times I have tried it, I have realized that those moments are stress-free and relaxed because all I am doing is listening and Voila! I still get what I am looking for with minimal effort. But, a lot of effort needs to go into keeping my mouth shut. Ironic!

All things alike – people do business with people whom they like
Even if all things are not like people still do business with people who they like

It goes back to the saying that people forget what you said, but they always remember how you made them feel. I am new to this listening and asking questions stuff. I understand innately that this is what is needed for the next phase of my life – it doesn’t mean that I become this silent, secretive type but it means I master it well enough so that I can use it as a tool in my arsenal and use it at will as needed. And everything needs time when the student is ready the teacher appears.

After all – how hard can it be? All I have to do is to ask the question back and keep quiet, right?

Lazy or Lying On The Couch

How many times have you heard yourself think or say the following statements about yourself or others?
– She is lazy or I am lazy.
– She is always late or I am always late.
– You or I never do this.
When we make such statements, we are very harsh/critical and judgemental. But for some of us, unfortunately, this is so normal that we are not even aware of our word choice.

If we were to rephrase the above as
– She was lying on the couch on Sunday for four hours.
– She has been late two times last week by 15 minutes.
– I have never done this once in the previous one month.

Now, don’t these statements have different energy even when you read them. It is because we are not boxing people into a fixed cube from which there is not getting out. It is because we are not using words like always/never which imply forever – a sense of eternity.

Why is it vital for us to move away from such words or mindset?
Because we are creating a reality which is limiting me or others – and nothing lasts forever. Nobody can be lazy forever. Can you remember a comment from your childhood where somebody said – “She is so careless – she will never be able to do this X as an adult?” And now you can do not only X but Y and Z as well.

Let’s say that for argument sake that since change is hard some people might not change. Even in these scenarios, not putting a finality to their behavior will provide more motivation. Also if there was a small spark of change in them – your word choice or attitude might seal its fate. And at the end of the day, you can only talk about what you see, and it is a little presumptuous of us to pass judgment based on the minuscule things we see.

Why do we do this?
Because it makes life easier for us. If we have decided that the other person is lazy then we have a way to deal with them – they fit a box that we know how to carry. For most of us, life is black and white and so are people – but only because we have learnt to cope in a world where it is so. And that does not make the world so. The following poem sums this sentiment neatly.

POEM By Ruth Bebermeyer
I’ve never seen a lazy man

I’ve never seen a lazy man;
I’ve seen a man who never ran
while I watched him, and I’ve seen
a man who sometimes slept between
lunch and dinner, and who’d stay
at home upon a rainy day,
but he was not a lazy man.
Before you call me crazy,
think, was he a lazy man or
did he just do things we label “lazy”?

I’ve never seen a stupid kid;
I’ve seen a kid who sometimes did
things I didn’t understand
or things in ways I hadn’t planned;
I’ve seen a kid who hadn’t seen
the same places where I had been,
but he was not a stupid kid.
Before you call him stupid,
think, was he a stupid kid or did he
just know different things than you did?

I’ve looked as hard as I can look
but never ever seen a cook;
I saw a person who combined
ingredients on which we dined,
A person who turned on the heat
and watched the stove that cook the meat –
I saw those things but not a cook.
Tell me when you’re looking,
is it a cook you see or is it someone
doing things that we call cooking?

What some of us call lazy
some call tired or easy-going,
what some of us call stupid
some just call a different knowing,
so I’ve come to the conclusion,
it will save us all confusion
if we don’t mix up what we can see
with what is our opinion.
Because you may, I want to say also;
I know that’s only my opinion.

Magical – Teams

The Four Rules state:
Whoever come are the right people.
Whatever happens is the only thing that could have.
Whenever it starts is the right time.
When it’s over, it’s over.
and The Law of Two Feet states that:

“If during the course of the gathering, any person finds themselves in a situation where they are neither learning nor contributing, they must use their feet and go to some more productive place.”

If you are familiar with open space, then you know what I am talking about. If not, then open space is a way to run a conference/meetings/retreat. Now, if you are a control freak I am sure this sounds scary because this is all about trusting the process – BIG TIME.

Why am I talking about this? Last weekend we were at Give Back Hack(athon) in Cleveland. This is like a 48 hour startup weekend. Adam presented his idea on Friday, his idea made it to the top 10 out of the 50 ideas pitched. We were joined by 7 other people (self-selection) making us a team of 9 people. The idea was to employ homeless youth to screen print t-shirts and sell them. Screen printing suits the homeless youths flexibility, skill set.

Over the course of 40 hours, we did user validation, talked to people, built our business model with financials and social impact model. We also built our Minimal Viable Product called
Wild Tiger Tees managed to get 17 orders in 5 hours and pitched our final presentation and we won!!!

We started off as nine strangers who met on Friday night, and by Sunday night we were a high-performing team of screen printing experts. How cool is that? Most of the team members spoke to a few other groups and came back feeling very grateful for the team we have.

If you ask me what contributed to our success was the following
1. People: It is imperative the team be happy – happy people – great work. We had a fun champion who at every hour would make us do something or laugh. And by the end of it, we were all looking forward to jokes. And even now seems it’s going to become something of a tradition. We also had a closing down routine where we would all gather in a circle with our arms crossed and shout – Fired Up

2. Patience: When I started on Friday – I knew where I wanted us to go as a team. But if I had stated that on Friday evening – it would have been a flop. So I selfishly kept those ideas to myself and let the team plow through it. By Saturday afternoon I had two people come to me and state that it was getting a little confusing. That was my cue to get everybody into focus and move on.

3. The team takes priority: However great you think your idea is – unless you get the team to buy into it – success will elude you. Hence, it is essential to not get attached and trust the process. Sounds easier than done for sure. And it comes with lots of practice and experience. And as a control freak – I can tell you how painful the process is.

Experiences like this become memories and fill a space within our empty souls. I am very grateful to have been the medium for this to happen and also to experience this.

If you are so called by our cause – please place a pre-order at Wild Tiger Tees