Incremental Dismantling of Communities

Working with and in communities in the capacity of economic development for over two  decades I’ve seen the subtle, incremental dismantling of good economic development practices.  Incremental dismantling of a community is created and fueled by poor public administration, misguided policy, and ego driven behaviors.

Economic development in many communities is taking place at the expense of the citizens and community resources.  In the past economic development was shaped by community development, which included planning, civic service, and a sense of the greater good.  Over the last decade or more it appears in many places to be morphing into a win at all cost, any project is a good project, ‘shoot at anything that flies, claim anything that falls’ charade.ThinkThrough

Does planning still take place in communities?  Often planning does take place, implementation however does not always follow.  I had a conversation a few weeks ago with someone who makes a very nice living creating community plans. He voiced frustration and discouragement of repeatedly seeing his work completed, only to go sit on a shelf in an office never to be actually implemented.  So we know paying for a plan isn’t enough.  Staying focused and implementing policy to  support a plan is vital.

In the places that economic development has become a shell of the original intent you can see a direct correlation between the incremental dismantling, or even production of poor policy to feed the ‘beast’  as community resources are squandered. When economic development is more about headline and glory grabs community members will disengage and a downward cycle will develop.

True economic development is focused on community engagement, growth, planning, and development supported by well thought out and implemented policy.  When good policy is in place the public administration path is clear and the influence of politics and/or ego diminishes.  That is a formula that leads to community and  resource growth, as well as civic pride.


Lack of Concentration=Less Productivity

What is the cost of distraction within the workplace?  Do the math… if it takes approximately 20-ish minutes to return to the point of focus prior to a distraction, social media continues to increase our level of distraction, well you get the picture. Ongoing distractions impact our ability to concentrate. We live in a world that is fully aware of this problem, creating terms like continuous partial attention (CPA), and apps to deal with it. Continual distraction is bad for not just workplace productivity and profit, it is bad for employee health and wellness too.

“We have known for a long time that repeated interruptions affect concentration. In 2005, research carried out by Dr Glenn Wilson at London’s Institute of Psychiatry found that persistent interruptions and distractions at work had a profound effect. Those distracted by emails and phone calls saw a 10-point fall in their IQ, twice that found in studies on the impact of smoking marijuana. More than half of the 1,100 participants said they always responded to an email immediately or as soon as possible, while 21% admitted they would interrupt a meeting to do so. Constant interruptions can have the same effect as the loss of a night’s sleep.” (Source: “The Lost Art of Concentration”)


Dr. Wilson’s 2005 research shows a clear correlation between distraction and concentration.   Social media distractions have grown substantially since his study subsequently so have the impacts. So the question becomes, knowing their is a negative impact on employee health and wellness, as well as positive organizational outcomes, why do we fail to address the issue?  The more distracted we are, the harder it is to concentrate. This dynamic leads to higher anxiety and stress as employees try to do more in less time, rushed, and with less attention to details.  Again, the outcome for companies and employees is not a positive one.

Creating an environment that requires, and supports mindfulness is difficult as our culture continues to veer in the opposite direction; however, it is necessary unless management is ready to lean into and accept lower productivity and an ongoing reduction in quality.  Employers are in the midst of normalization of deviation due to social media which results in both short and long term losses.




Accountability Gets A Bad Rap

Oversight is very popular, and obviously necessary within the workplace.  Accountability seems to be less of a mandate, and that is a problem.  The only way to engage yourself, employees, and/or customers is to combine oversight and accountability. accountability

I’m not sure when accountability fell out of fashion, but a lack of accountability equates to lost employees, lost profits, lost vision.  I’m talking about accountability on every level. Are you being honest with employees about the job they are interviewing for and/or the culture of the company?  Are employees working within a dynamic that they operate knowing win or lose people at every level of a decision making, or production making process will be held accountable? Is the organization showing appreciation for those exceeding the bar? Are people being both rewarded and held responsible for both the good and the bad? You get the picture.

Accountability seems to surface during conversation that are wrapped within something that may or has gone wrong.  This is where it gets its bad rap.  Regardless of whether or not your organization is engaged in accountability, it is impacting you.  Best to stay ahead of the curve and implement it on a level that makes your brand, product, and workplace more attractive to both employees and customers.  Doing so will show a return on investment.  Not doing so will create a people, product, and paid loss.




Integrity Sometimes Means Breaking Commitments

I saw this post from a friend on social media this morning.  It really rang my internal bell.  He is currently at Everest, and if that isn’t inspiring enough the insight he shared (below) is critical. In a world that seems to be polarizing more and more, do what’s right, even if it means changing your mind, path, and/or commitment – that’s integrity.everest

Phil Gore’ Post:

The Memorial to Lost Climbers on Everest

Integrity is oneness with yourself. It means doing the right things in the moment, regardless of what others may think. It means that you are true to yourself.

It does not mean you always stay with your plans or keep your commitments. Integrity is keeping commitments when you should and breaking them when that is the right thing to do.

Most of the dead people remembered by this memorial, either they or someone they believed in were more stubbornly determined to keep their commitment to a summit than they were to doing the right thing in the moment.

This is not criticism or throwing stones. I have made this mistake. Once, it nearly cost two lives, and once it cost a life.

If you read this far, examine your understanding of the word integrity. Don’t buy an ill-conceived understanding of the term. Sometimes, it means keeping commitments, and sometimes it means breaking them. May God help each of us to live lives of integrity and do right things in the moments we have.


accountabilityAccountability is the base of business, leadership, friendship, etc.  The challenge within it can be very real.  Two thoughts on leaning into accountability:

1.)  Know that the lens you look through changes, and be aware that impacts   accountability as well. Revisit what you need to address throughout your life.

2.)  Accountability goes beyond you.  You model and support your business’s culture, your team, your friends, and show leadership by showing others your commitment and integrity through your commitment to holding yourself and others accountable.

Accountability can be challenging because it is not always easy holding yourself accountable, nor is it always popular holding others accountable.  You will often need to do a gut check and pick your path.  Are you traveling the path of popularity, or the path of integrity.

Leadership vs Ego

How do you know if you are a good leader?  Step one, lead without ego.  I just saw “ego is not your amigo” somewhere.  First I laughed, and then I thought how true, and how unfortunate more of us don’t realize that.

Ego can not only get in the way of your success, it can block your talent overall.  If you are more interested in if you are going to get or are getting the credit, than actually getting things done, you have an ego issue.  The problem with ego, is it spins into all kinds of unattractive behaviors which in turn will lift the veil on your “leadership” or more likely the lack there of.

Once people get a whiff of your ego, they’ll write you off as inauthentic.  Once people sense it is about “you” rather than “we” they’ll drop their level of engagement.  We operate in a very ego driven culture; subsequently, it shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone that approximately 51 percent of employees are unengaged, and 17 percent are actively disengaged.  That is significant, and obviously a huge drag on productivity.

Einstein said it best, and I’ll leave it at that…


Unknown Cost of Compromise

The struggle is real people.  Everyone has had a moment when they ask themselves, ‘do I address the issue, or do I let it slide?’  The ‘slide’ option is most often the easiest path to take. Afterall, if the issue isn’t addressed it either goes without notice (or minimal fuss) or it goes away faster-in theory.

This ‘theory’ plays out nicely on paper in Seth Godin’s blog Counting Beans , which illustrates nicely what the cost of compromise can be. The blog frames ‘compromise’ as the moment one decides to place ‘win’ over ‘worry’.  The moment you short change what is right for what is easy and/or a short-term win.

Bottom line, every action has an outcome.  So the question becomes what is the long-term outcome of compromise for the sake of perceived ‘wins’ or ease?  What is your desired outcome?  How are your decisions framing the culture in your organization’s culture?


Commit To Mutual Support, Double Your Success


I saw the above in a random post this morning.  I’d like to take that 2% and up it to the 20% reminder Pareto’s Law conveys.


Shape it how you want to, 20% of the people in your life cause 80% of the problems, 80% of your time goes to 20% of your customers, etc.  No matter how you frame it, it is a great reminder of really taking a look at how you are distributing your resources and the return on investment, be it financial, emotional, etc. you receive.

Recently I’ve noticed my 2nd and 3rd quarters have been time starved yet not financially productive.  I’ve taken a look at where my time is going.  And true to formula, 80% of my time is going to 20% of the people in my life, which happen to have a low to no return on investment for me, relationship wise, business wise, productivity wise, etc.  A very ‘people pleasing’ dynamic grew out of this 20% at some point, and unchecked that dynamic has grown like a field of weeds. Consequently I have the majority of my time being sucked up by people with their hands out.

Don’t get me wrong I believe in mentoring, supporting, even volunteering.  The risk factor to stay aware of is when we fall out of balance and there is no mutual benefit. I’m not suggesting there always has to be a mutual benefit on every human interaction you have, but odds are you have a lot of responsibility in your life and need to be cognizant of what will build you up, and what will tear you down.

It is true, if you identified a 2% shift there would be an impact.  Realistically though, odds are if you invest the time you can identify over a 20% factor that would significantly change your daily life, and subsequently your life as a whole.  The challenge is one, carving out time for evaluation, and two, having the courage to set down and walk away from those things that no longer serve your mental, financial and/or physical well-being.

I’ve recently completed step one, and now begin step two.  Step two will not be an easy journey for me, and perhaps at times unpleasant, but I do know that doing the ‘work’ to make it happen contributes to not only further empowering myself, but perhaps even empowering another by modeling the behavior.


“No” is a complete response.

I had the great pleasure of spending sometime this week with a friend and colleague, Deborah Siegel, PhD.  While talking with Deborah, she shared something amazing. She said she has a place in her office where she marks down when she says ‘no.’

So why is saying no a big deal?  Because most of us, especially women, struggle with saying ‘no’, and saying no without having to explain why, etc.  The ramifications can be significant when we fail to draw, and stick to the boundaries we need to be successful on our own terms.  Here is a perfect example involving my own lapse.  I over committed in the last few months.  Some of the stuff I committed to I love and would do anytime I was asked.  Some of it was because I felt I ‘should’ even though time wise I knew it would mean 4am or 5am starts to the work day and 11pm ends to the work day.  What happened was due to being over committed, over worked, and under rested I began to slip up on things.

Specifics…The May TEDx event I organized and ran required a lot of work pre, during and post event work with caterers, budgets, social media, ticket sales, accounting, speakers, etc.  I LOVED doing that event, and deeply enjoyed the speakers that come on board.  Being over committed I was not able to fully entrench myself the way I wanted to.  Also updating TEDx web site required text often happened prior to 5am or after 10pm, or even on the fly via my cell phone, not ideal.  And yes, I did it at 100 mph and managed to misspell one of the speaker’s name, not only in the original program for the event, but also on the TEDx video bio.  I guarantee you this would not have happened if I had not over committed to things that really weren’t as meaningful and/or valuable.  I got lucky, the speaker, Katy Hansell, caught it prior to the program going to print, and on the web site, which I then updated.  Even luckier for me, is Katy is truly a generous person and made me feel like I was not an idiot for screwing it up.  But we all know that doesn’t always happen, and very often people will zoom in on the 1% you missed rather than the 99% amazing stuff you got done.

All this is to say, saying ‘no’ not only supports you, your mission, your business/employer, your family, etc. by empowering you to give your best, it is also a necessary thing to do.  The word “no” does not require an explanation, nor does it need to involve feeling bad.  One of the greatest lies in our culture is that we should be able to do everything, all the time and be the most amazing person in the history of the world at it.  WRONG.  You should do what you do best, and leave the other stuff to someone else who can do it best.  Saying ‘no’ not only helps you up your game, it allows someone else to shine with the opportunity you are turning down.

And yes, I am now proudly tracking when I say ‘no.’

Want to check out the two amazing women noted in this post?  Visit Deborah Siegel, PhD, she does amazing things, by clicking here.  And visit Katy Hansell, who also does amazing things by clicking here.