I’ve always had this love-hate relationship with motorcycles,
I love the steady feel of the throbbing engine. The rush of wind that pushes on my face. The freedom of the open road that stretches endlessly into the horizon.
I hate it when mishaps happen. Something inevitably goes wrong. An unaware motorist suddenly pulls out. They don’t see you. A random patch of gravel suddenly becomes ball-bearings beneath the wheels. An eighteen-wheel trucker decides to have a bit of fun at the bike boy’s expense and starts crowding my lane. Yeah, it happens.
I get it that there’s something primal and thrilling about testing your mortality in different ways. (I never totally got why people actually enjoy sky diving or scuba diving)
My biking friends admit their wheels represent a suppressed alter ego. Often the bike sits dormant, gathering dust for months or years.
Just having that stylin’ ride sit there represents the ultimate freedom and adventure (Motorcycle Diaries).https://youtu.be/u6jz_b80V5g
It may reinforce a latent rebellious streak. (Easy Rider/Born to be Wild) https://youtu.be/egMWlD3fLJ8
Maybe a bit of both.
One fateful day, I had three very close calls riding my bike around town.
Years later, a bit older and wiser, I got re-inspired by reading the Zen and Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Promising myself and my wife I’d be as safe as I could be, I signed up for a hardcore Motorcycle Survival Course. Recommend!
I got gutsy little dual-sport and explored a lot of high country in the wilds of Northern British Columbia.
WHAT’S ALL THIS GOT TO DO WITH THE START OF 2020?
Life lessons learned on the bike have served me well. The lessons are readily transferrable. They’ll carry me into 2020 and beyond.
This holds true literally, figuratively, and metaphorically. If you’re cruising a bike or cruising through your daily life, (or a decade), exactly where set your sight is critically important. In biking, this is an immutable law. It means the difference between life and death. At very least, a massive fail video and a whole lot of hurt.
This rider was admiring an oncoming Corvette. Fortunately, both parties were OK. See https://youtu.be/-2R4D1vBOM8
Having your sights set on things that are important and meaningful for you personally, at work, and in the community has a drawing effect. Setting waypoints and having a personal GPS system helps get you there.
See this month’s Winning Habits Challenge.
Once you hit a certain speed, the laws of science and physics dictate that you push left to turn right. This is another immutable law of successful riding.
Every human instinct screams “wrong” but it’s actually “right”. If you ignore the science of this and attempt to swerve to avoid an obstacle at speed, you’ll actually be steering right into it.
This has happened to more than one newbie rider. See https://youtu.be/VVE79XT8-Mg
Countersteering varies by speed, size of bike and geometry of the turn, etc. but if you ignore it, seriously bad things happen.
Navigating life in the 20th century at speed can be perilous.
Going with only your feelings and gut instinct when a preponderance of data dictates otherwise, leads to schmuck-ups.
Knowledge is a great equalizer. We have more knowledge available to us than ever before. In exchange for effort, the person with insight has an extraordinary advantage over the one who doesn’t.
Learn to read, research and interpret the road signs of life and respond with your head and your heart.
Yup, it’s a thrill. Gaining top speed is easy to measure and a lot of fun.
I had an early brush with the effects of high speed. It left an indelible impression. I wrote about it here.https://lorneepp.com/whats-in-your-backpack/
There are times when celerity is exactly what’s needed.
Here’s the thing.
In today’s hyper-fast world, I’m convinced that “slow down to go fast” is the only way to go.
You’ll always need time to master the basics and context of any endeavor. Then and only then can you scale up and gain momentum.
The other new 21st-century wrinkle?
With all this new knowledge coming at us, we need to regularly call a “time out” to stop and evaluate.
Unlike Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz, we can’t just click our heels and magically return to a simpler, slower time. However, we can pause, look at the data, and assess what the latest change means to our personal or corporate world.
For most people I work with, there are dozens of factors that matter way more than functioning at break-neck speed.
We usually look at culture, systems, and processes first. Beyond that, there’s trust, accountability, teamwork, bravery, empathy and a whole lot of other skills that matter way more than horsepower.
Yours truly exploring on Vancouver island
I don’t ride much these days.
That said, it wouldn’t take much if the right opportunity presented itself.
You see, a part of my brain got stuck at 18.
I still have trouble acting my age.
Until next time.
Drop me a line.
If you’re enjoying this monthly article and the Winning Habits Challenge, feel free to forward it to a friend.
You might just win a referral Taco on me. It’s been known to happen.
January Winning Habit Challenge:
Three Words For The Year?
Simple But Never Easy!
My challenge every January is to come up with three words that represent the strategic directions for the year. Two isn’t enough and four’s too many so three’s about right.
There’s nothing magic or weird here. It’s just a way to incorporate a small success habit by bringing consistent intent, focus, and clarity to my decisions and actions in 2020.
That’s why I’ve been taking the time to thoughtfully select three words that will serve as keys to my year. If you’re unfamiliar with this exercise, business writer and consultant Chris Brogan started this in 2006.
A lot of other folks are doing this. Just check out #my3words.
I spend time reflecting on the past year, what’s worked, what has not, what was unclear and what was missing. More importantly, I try to gain a clear picture of what I want my next year to look like.
Sometimes the words come out of the goals I have set, other times I will jot down words that capture my attention and accurately reflect my intention.
I usually take time to talk through my goals and my three words with my wife Margaret and several close friends. That’s always helpful.
It shaped my ideas into something more tangible. It also reaffirmed that we’re in this together and no matter what goals I have or words I choose, they are meaningless without mutual support.
I try to interact with my three words each day. For example, I’ll jot them at the top of my planner page or on top of my workout calendar. Doing this keeps them front and center, not only pointing me in the direction of my goals but grounding me in the interim work that needs to be done to achieve them.
I’ve come to think of my words as three keys that unlock potential in the coming year.
So far I’ve settled on 1. NETWORK 2. ENHANCE 3. SIMPLIFY
Stay tuned. I’ll expand on this more next month.
It’s WAY more fun if you actually share your three words once you’ve got them figured out.
I love hearing people’s three words every year. It’s truly one of the best parts of every year for me.
Use the hashtag #my3words so that others (like me) can find what you’ve got to share.
Meet Festus the dog. (seen here with my sis)
Upon our first meeting, I got a perfunctory sniff.
He mulled it over for a bit, then cautiously decided I was ok.
We soon became fast friends.
Festus lives on cattle farm with my sister and brother-in-law in the scenic hill country south of Des Moines, Iowa.
He’s wired for a purpose.
He’s a combo of Heeler/Australian Shepherd who is wired to herd livestock.
More than a cherished family member, he is also an invaluable farmhand when it comes to rounding up cattle.
Heelers generally are hardy and intelligent breed stemming from their dingo outback ancestry.
He’s compact and muscular with a high energy level. His friendly demeanor belies a fierce determination that allows him to face the most ornery 2700 lb. bull.
Festus’ remarkable intellect shines through as he problem-solves and follows complex instructions in the course of his work.
When he’s not on cow dog duty, as sometimes is the case, he’ll get bored and starts herding anything else that moves, like little children, or the chickens, or even cats. No matter how much they object, he does it anyway.
His vigilant guarding instincts have him protecting the farmyard yard day and night from anything and everything. This includes chasing errant squirrels, the occasional fox, or treeing multiple marauding raccoons. This leads to a lot of excited barking, even in the middle of the night. He won’t stop until brother-in-law David gets up and deals with things.
As annoying as that can be at times, he’s just “doing his thing”, exactly what he was born to do.
Festus was wired to be a working dog. His Creator gave him remarkable energy and intelligence specifically for herding cattle. He either fulfills that purpose or creates minor havoc doing something else!
Did you know that every human being is created with a purpose and that they have a responsibility to not only discover their purpose but also to fulfill it? Zig Ziglar
Like Festus, we’ve been created as human beings to be “wired for a purpose”.
Watching Festus do the work for which he was intended is remarkable. With his feet barely touching the ground, he moves with speed and skill, strategically corralling and directing the herd.
And, he seems to do it all with something akin to delight and gratitude. He always returns to perch on the back of the ATV with a wide doggy grin and “that was fun” look and eager for more.
What Festus presumably does from instinct, we have the privilege of doing by choice.
We too have been wired for work, even though our work is much more complex and nuanced.
Us humanoids require thoughtful engagement and considerable discernment when it comes to working.
Nevertheless, Festus can teach us something about fulfilling our purpose and the wasteful consequences of not doing so. Our capacity for work will always find expression in some form. Our challenge is to be intentional and discerning about how we choose to live that out.
Like Festus, we can either fulfill our purpose for good meaningful work or get bored or sidetracked chasing squirrels.
The two most important days of your life are the day you were born and the day you find out why. Mark Twain
Unlike Festus, our work is rarely singular in its focus. Our vocational roles are often multi-faceted.
Me? I’m a builder at heart.
While I’ve built houses, commercial structures, and entire communities, my current work is helping others build strategy, effective teams and innovative organizational cultures at for-profit and not-for-profit companies.
With my family, it’s all about being a husband, father, and grandfather to three enegetic grandkids.
In my local community, I serve in volunteer roles, and so on.
In all these contexts, there are different dimensions to providing leadership.
One of the gifts of being human is the sheer variety of our work. The best part? We get to do this!
What are you wired for? Do you see a better future when others don’t? Are you able to teach and lead others? Perhaps you driven by empathy and a deep concern for others. Are you an explorer who enjoys conquering new territory?
Been chasing any squirrels recently?
Until next time.
September is always a reality check time for me. Time to park my liminal “summer brain” and get back at things.
If you’re part of my community, I can only assume you love doing meaningful work that benefits others. You’ve been working hard, so it’s check-in time to see if you need to make adjustments down the home stretch.
Remember back in January? We started out with a brand-new year. It was a clean slate with some fresh goals and aspirations. You may have even joined me in the three-word challenge.
Well, now we’re at the nine-month mark and it’s time to hard evaluate.
What are you going to do with your next 4 months?
Do you have a clear plan in place?
Last year at this time I was feeling a bit overwhelmed with some of the personal and professional goals I had set for the end of the year. I worked with a coach to create a plan of attack to achieve what I had in mind.
We focused on having a simple plan and taking consistent daily action. It was amazing how empowering and exciting it was to see the plan on paper. Once I had someone guide me through what to do, it demystified the process and made it extremely doable.
Oh, and besides just FEELING good about my goal. I actually hit it.
It’s crazy what a simple plan can do.
If this sounds like a plug for coaching, it absolutely is! (I can’t help it. It’s what I do)
But plans of action aren’t just for personal goals like finances, fitness, personal development, etc.
They are extremely effective in business too.
Some Relevant Questions
So, how have things gone so far this year? Did you execute your game plan well?
What does your scorecard say? More specifically, are you getting the results you wanted to achieve? If so, how do you know?
How you choose to keep score is up to you. Look, this is your game. You set the rules. But you must have some way to track the results of your efforts. Otherwise, how will you know what’s working and what’s not?
So, let’s break it down.
What do your results to date tell you?
What’s working well?
What’s not working?
Your Four Options
The way I see it, you’ve got four basic work options for the rest of the year.
Stick to the Plan
Adjust the Plan
Get Back to the Plan
Make a new Plan
Yeah, I get it. Every situation is different,
The “make a new plan” option is only for extreme circumstances at this stage. A big rock has dropped into your pond and changed everything. Some compelling data has come to light and you’ve got to change course or go back to the drawing board.
The other three options are far more probable. We get distracted and veer off, we need to make adjustments, and sometimes we just need to keep working the plan.
It’s also true that we experience setbacks, negative change or crisis points in our personal and professional lives.
Whatever your circumstance, lean in with your strengths. Don’t waste energy, trying to compensate for your weaknesses. Don’t beat yourself up for not getting everything done on your lengthy to-do list.
Maybe some of those things didn’t belong on the plan in the first place. That’s not excusing -making. You instinctively know when something doesn’t quite fit and when you’re making rationalizing noises.
“We can’t direct the wind, but we can always adjust our sails.“
So, take a wee break. Look at everything you’ve done so far.
Choose your approach.
And then get back out there and let’s bring this thing home.
Until next time,
p.s. If you’d like a personalized strategy chat about where you’re currently at your business or professional career and where you’d like to go, let’s find a time and schedule a friendly, no obligation call. https://lorneepp.com
Pull Up a Cup of Something
2018 is really happening. I’ve just spent some time pondering the agonies, ecstasies, and everything in between of 2017. Also, I’m thinking through the year ahead. Right now, I’m watching a glorious sunrise on the first day of this year and drinking a steaming mug of plain black Kirkland Dark Roast (my stand-by favorite) I’m also finalizing my three words for 2018.
My goal in connecting with you is to give you something valuable that you can consider and perhaps act on. Think of it as “leader fuel” as we combine efforts to help a whole lot of folks. My purpose always is to inform us, inspire us, and keep us focused on the road ahead.
You see, we’re on this journey together of becoming a foremost community services organization. Much of it is fun, meaningful and rewarding until of course, it’s not. There are also the inevitable difficulties, discouragements, conflicts, and confrontations – sometimes scary and ongoing. Then we have to evaluate, recalibrate, and hit the reset button.
Through it all, we’ve built a social enterprise that manages a portfolio valued in the $250 M range that houses and helps approximately 1700 people. Thousands of people have been housed, helped and healed through our work. Much of our growth has come because ordinary people like you were willing to attempt extraordinary things.
A sincere and heartfelt “thank-you!” to each one of you for that.
2018 Chapter 1: Page 1
This doesn’t need a whole lot of setup so I’ll get straight to the point.
In recent days, I wrote our Board of Directors advising them of my intent to resign the overall leadership of the MTR group of Societies. This will allow them to begin the important work of putting in place the next generation of leadership for MTR. I will, of course, continue on in my current CEO role until a new executive leader has been selected.
After that, there’ll be an appropriate onboarding and orientation period.
The board has requested that I remain to help guide the transition process. We’re targeting July 15th but experts tell us that this type of executive recruitment/ transition process can be quite fluid and often takes 10-24 months. Analogy: It’s kind of like an IKEA project. All the big pieces are available, but some patient assembly work is required.
So, no goodbye parties just yet.
Why? And Why Now?
First of all, it’s part of an overall plan that I and the board have been collaborating on for over five years. We have the luxury of a timed and planned transition that isn’t crisis-driven. Smart and savvy organizations pay close attention to succession planning at the top and throughout the organization. And we’re smart and savvy, right?
Secondly, the work has grown and will continue to grow. We’ve grown our leadership base along with it by adapting, learning new skills, continually restructuring to make sure we’re effectively delivering on our mandate. As the founder/ leader, I’ve learned that we “grow by letting go” and I’ve actively given things away at key points to make room for other leaders. This is one of those key “letting go” times that will catalyze and empower the next generation of MTR board and senior staff leadership.
Third point. We’re at an organizational “sweet spot” for change readiness. Most, if not all of our current problems are good ones. We have a good structure, a good work ethic and a clear vision for the future. Never before have we been stronger and better resourced in all areas. Nor have we had the range of opportunities facing us than we have right now. So, centering the timing of all this around 2018 is actually looking pretty good.
What Does This Mean?
For the time being everything and everybody continues the status quo. I’ll continue leaning into the leadership needs of the organization while the board does the deep work of discerning and deciding leadership selection. The collective job of the board and staff over the next 2-3 years will be to continue to self-organize for scale and capacity. That’s just “corporate speak” for doing more better.
What About Yours Truly?
Aw shucks, thanks for asking. I love this organization and all of you. It’s been my life for the past 23 years, but I also have a strong sense of new things headed my way. At a visceral level, you’ve got to know it’s a bit scary for me. However, the bulls-eye of my target has always been to finish strong and finish well with all things MTR in very good shape. I think we’re there. Regarding a possible future role: It’s too soon to speculate, so let’s take things one step at a time and see what unfolds. Right now, I’m totally fine embracing ambiguity.
My Three Words
If you’ve been with me for a while, you probably know about the Three Words project.
I twigged onto this idea some years ago via author and business advisor Chris Brogan.
It’s quite simple really. Thoughtfully choose three words to guide and anchor your year. If you want some “how-to” guidelines around this, just drop me a line and I’ll be happy to share how I do it.
If you want to see what others are doing just look up tweets for #my3words.
Our words are the roadmap to our intentions.
When we articulate our vision, it helps guide where we wind up.
Our words also guide what we think about.
Repeated thoughts (words in our head) produce our emotions.
My Three Words for 2018
Move – as in motion, action, kinesis, getting from here to there, A reminder to move physically (fitness) as well as on life plans and projects that I’m working on. Movement is life! The fact is that life is a constant balance between planning and action. 2018 will be a year to move.
Improve – Life happens. I get that. Hopefully, I learn from it and move on.
Part of me is always looking to make some things better while staying consistent at other things. Not in a sweaty, white knuckle, “we’ve got to get better” way. Its more a curious, appreciative inquiry approach. My personal mission statement is to “help others do better”. This will be a continued focus as I move into 2018. Not to put too sharp a point on this, but continual improvement is “baked” into or brand promise of “More” and our value of pursuing excellence.
Renew. Renew is somewhat related to the first two words.
Sometimes it’s a full-time job being me. But hey, it’s also a lot of fun. (Margaret’s comment: “more supervision needed.”) I love watching the renovation reality shows. They remind me that I’m a “work in progress”. The same goes for our work together. I trust the coming year will bring a renewed focus to MTR.
The Goal is Clarity and Action
I regularly review, write out and think about my Three Words. That is the point after all. They are meant to be anchors and signposts for my year. I keep them in front of me and use them to direct my thoughts, responses, decisions, and actions.
So…..what about you? Have you come up with your Three Words this year?
Are you on track?
Let me know.
Hit reply. I’d love to hear from you.
Thanks for reading!
It means a lot to me.
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