What's in it for me?

I recently was quoted in a story about Workforce. We are facing an unprecedented low unemployment rate nationwide, and yet today, Gallup reports a mere 32.9% of us actively engaged at work. In the article I talk about two questions a company has to be able to answer honestly and transparently for their future employees: What's in it for me? and What's in it for us?

What's in it for me?

This isn't a selfish question. This is about professional development, lifelong learning, and leadership. This is a question that gives the future employee the scope of their own path and advancement within or frankly, outside your organization. Don't be fooled, this isn't an entitled question, it is an honest one. As a culture, we blend our workday and our personal time together. People are looking for work/life integration, not because they are entitled, but because we continue to believe that our time and talents should be valued and paid for. Employees are looking for a culture that matches their values, because then work doesn't feel like work, it feels like helping, doing good, leadership.

What's in it for us?

This is the most exciting question. If a company can follow Zappo's lead and create a mantra around work that matters, greatness occurs. It is a question about WHY your organization does the work it does. Why are you getting up every day to come to work? Why did you take on your position of leadership, and how is it positively affecting the world? This isn't about installing a nap room or flex time if managers continue to micromanage and create distrust. This isn't about putting ping pong tables in the break room if there is still a culture that floor workers can't cross onto the carpet. This isn't about desperation for workers, this is about attracting the right workers who see value in the products and services produced within your organization. And they feel the value you pour into them to make a positive impact on our communities and our world.

The world is big.

Photo by Eric Didier on Unsplash

Photo by Eric Didier on Unsplash

One of my niece's best friends lives in Australia. They have not been in a physical space together, but they face time often.

This is the world we live in.

A world in which kids aren't on their phones merely to keep their Snapchat streak going, but to fact check or find a more interesting way to learn what is being talked at them for 6.25 hours a day.

We are at a crucial crossroads. As companies, we are in competition with the world for the hottest commodity on earth: people. And they are not disposable, They are not expendable. They are beating hearts who, if engaged and bought into your culture, will grow the bottom line...if you can answer two questions.



Revise v. Refine

Revise. Again. Cut, tear, push, pull. Read. Revise. Again.

It is an endless cycle, and one that cannot be avoided if refinement is the goal. We only refine after we have a foundation that is sturdy and strong. When we first start in our career, we will take many years building our foundation one questioned and revised block at a time. 

amphitheater on Raspberry Island, MN

amphitheater on Raspberry Island, MN

It is tireless work and often mistaken as a quest for perfection, but there is no perfection. There is persistence that pays off in satisfaction, but to rest on the laurels of perfection is a charlatan's dream. Once the foundation is tested, cracks come, blocks split, and we tear down and revise again. 

Refinement comes softly, slowly, and simply. Refinement is a pinch of essence here and there. It is a grapple between a word, not a phrase. It is a sweet perfume earned, tirelessly, with the pursuit of a sturdy base. 

Revise until you trip into the refined sense of yourself. And then do it again.



spring grove, mn homecoming parade, 2017

spring grove, mn homecoming parade, 2017

We are all cogs in the machine of life. It doesn't mean a cog stays stationary. Cogs can plug in wherever they want. The difference is when a cog is cognizant of it's importance to the entire machine, it sees which other cogs rely on it to move the machine forward.

One cog doesn't make the machine. Life isn't about going it alone. It is about recognizing our unique way of movement and plugging in with others to move the machine positively. 


To Be Reasonable

Photo by Jaie Miller on Unsplash

Photo by Jaie Miller on Unsplash

That seems a small thing, right? Be reasonable. Ben Franklin would ask us to be temperate. To pause. To reflect. To consider.

To be reasonable is to be the best version of self today, and to continue to work toward the best version of self for tomorrow. And when we fall short, because we will, to own our actions, take a pause, and make it right.

It isn't hard to be reasonable, but it takes a sense of vulnerability and consideration. 

Simulated Success

Extrinsic motivation will only work so long until the stimulus gets old, the routine tired, or the subject wears out. Genius is born out of wonder, dedication and the privilege of time.

Are we giving time for people to discover their own paths? Are we carving time out and setting the expectation that developing and experimenting are imperative parts of the work?

Certainly, we can set up simulations, copy someone else’s genius and a spark may turn to smoke and a little flame. If we want bonfire results, we have to get out of the way of wonder. As supervisors/teachers/managers/parents, we are the bellows, blowing air into the coals of our employees/students/kids. And when that fire catches, and the motivation is roaring with the rise of flames, we step back and watch in wonder of how success, true success, can transform dry logs into blistering heat.

Success must be fostered, fed, and owned by the creator. Success cannot be simulated.

Failing Forward

It is no secret that I am a fan of failing, nor that leaning into failing is actually learning. We are facing unchartered territory every day. It isn't that we are in a epoch of change, or that our times are so much different than other times, it is the very nature of life: every day is different.

We wake up into change. The weather changes, our mood changes, our sleep patterns change. Routines are very rarely routine, rote, perhaps, but routine? No. We don't know if the lights are going to ever be in our favor on our commute or not. We do not know if the interactions with others are going to be the same or not. Life is constantly changing and we are constantly adapting or shifting in response.

Anne Shirley is well advised by her teacher who reminds her, "Every day is fresh, with no mistakes in it." And I would add, "yet."

Shying away from mistakes is detrimental to growth. We don't have time for people to chain their brilliance up behind a fear of failure, because we will fail. Every day, we will fail. So let's get comfortable with it, embrace it, and not just talk about it.

Below are 3 practical ways you can fail forward and reclaim what has been lost to worry.

Daniel Pink encourages us to keep a failure resume. It isn't a shame chart in any form, it is about recording both the failure and what was learned. It is a way to mine the data and move forward.

Seth Godin says to lean into failure, and find that point that is a full lean, but not falling on your face.

And once you are comfortable with your own fails, it is time to make space for your tribe's fails by creating a failure lab.

Because failing is imperative to innovation. Failing is learning. Failing is oh so on fleek.