Five Signs of a Shallow Community

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In his new book, author Paul Born explores what makes a strong and sustainable community. One of the things Paul warns about is how many are often lulled into a false sense of security by participating in "shallow" communities -- communities that seem, initially, to be strong and supportive but whose foundations are flawed.

Here are five signs of shallow communities:

1. Communities of Fear: These are groups formed of people who share a common fear. The problem is that fear is not something that bonds people to each other; all it does is make people more paranoid by validating that paranoia by bringing in others who share the same fear no matter how irrational it may be.

The Alternative: When groups are afraid they can share their fears with each other, bringing what they know, have heard and observed to the whole and in turn make sense of the fear going on around them. We realize how irrational many of our fears are when we deal with them together.

2. Communities of Hate: Aryan Nation groups and others like them claim to be about self-preservation but in fact they are more about hating others unlike them. Whenever you have a group that stands against something as the foundation of what they stand for, it's a sure sign of instability and irrational thinking with foundations in negativity. Nothing good can come of a community founded on hate.

The Alternative: There really is no alternative here. If you are part of a community of hate, please get out and find one that is caring, open, and accepting of debate and diversity. Collective hate will create an “us vs them” scenario every time. Find a Deep community that is welcoming of who you are, all of you.

3. Communities of Elitism: Gated communities and those of the very wealthy are surprisingly poor and lacking in community spirit in comparison with middle class and working class neighborhoods, and the reason for this is simple. Communities of the elite are focused on exclusivity, not inclusivity. However, the same mindset that detaches such people from others will often detach them from their "own kind." There's always elitism even among the elite.

The Alternative: Enjoy all of the differences in your community. Gated communities are most often beautiful and orderly spaces but they are also uniform and homogenous, so you don’t experience or learn anything new.. When you live in a diverse community, you build new skills and are constantly learning. 

4. Communities of Hedonism: “We are here for a good time not a long time, so have a good time the sun can’t shine every day”, is one of my all-time favourite musical lines from the band Trooper. Though living excessively for pleasure, going from one joyful experience to the other comes at the expense of engaging in the lives of people all around you and the real problems that face us. Hedonism is an escape from reality but as we all know, we can never actually escape reality.

The Alternative: The simplest way to deepen your experience of community is to have fun together with the same people over time, which builds reciprocity and trust. Reciprocity and trust are the gate ways to mutuality and caring for one another and the world around you. So go ahead have a good time, just remember at least some of those experiences should be with people who get to know really well over time.

5. Communities of Loneliness: I cannot tell you how many people I know that live in apartment buildings who no few or any of their neighbours by name. Living in close proximity to one another can cause us to create space and boundaries around ourselves. We feel secure in our anonymity. Anonymity has but one friend and that is loneliness.

The Alternative: We all love our own space so I will not ask you to give that up. It is always a good idea to know you neighbour and I can almost guarantee when you do you will find out they love their own space as much as you do. Humans have co-existed for a long time mainly because we are pretty good at enjoying each other, relying on one another, working together and still finding plenty time for ourselves and the things that matter to us. 


Five Reasons Why Execution Needs to Happen More Quickly Now Than Ever Before

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In her latest book, Laura Stack talks about the need to respond to challenges and changes quickly and efficiently -- so much so that execution is, in fact, an actual strategy and not the process of carrying out a separate strategy.

Why are response times getting faster and the need for reactions getting quicker? Here are five reasons:

1. The unprecedented speed of change. Technological evolution and instant worldwide communications means that business can change faster than at any other time in history. We need the ability to execute immediately—not just to take advantage of new trends—but to implement our strategies before change passes us by.

2. The need to execute strategy in the moment. In order to stay ahead of the race, front-line employees must be empowered to execute on the spot, without waiting for permission to percolate down from the top. If management ties their hands, the battle is lost before it begins. Actions are communicated upward, which allows the strategy to course-correct.

3. The convergence of manager and worker. Managers are now members of the team. The leader acts more as guide, facilitator, and cheerleader than dictator; they provide the vision and shape direction, while the professionals execute in the moment. Workers need the flexibility to make their jobs their own so they can execute on the spot and shape strategy upward.

4. Strategic plans age too quickly. When business speed was more sedate and you knew a piece of technology wouldn't become outdated within six months, it made sense to plan company strategy years in advance. That's no longer true. Modern strategic plans must be able to jerk to a stop and turn on a dime. Anyone who doesn't review theirs at least quarterly—if not monthly—runs the risk of failure.

5. Only results matter. Swift, productive strategic execution puts black ink on the bottom line, unlike adherence to a strategy that’s out of date soon after it’s printed. Empower your team members to succeed by executing from experience or experimenting as conditions change.

Learn more, do more, and stress less by checking out the book and other goodies here.


Five Things That Elevate Us from Mediocrity

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In their latest book, authors Harry Paul, John Britt, and Ed Jent present the humorous story of when excellence (personified) is kidnapped and what happens in such cases where a crucial quality goes missing. But underneath the story is real research that outlines the causes of excellence breakdowns in organizations and individuals.

For this newsletter, the authors present the Five Things That Can Elevate Us from Mediocrity to Being Our Best:

1. Real Passion
Passion is the primary building block for excellence, and more importantly, is less of an emotion and more of a daily choice in our attitude. For the employee, it might be the choice to see past the shortcomings of a colleague and rather than distance him or herself from that person, maintain a positive attitude and even help the other person in improving his or her work.

2. True Competency
We often relate competency to the technical skills required to do the job. But competency is not just the technical aspects of our work and lives but also in our relationships with one another. The construction worker who is great at reading blueprints, but lacks the interpersonal skills to be able to relate well with his employees and customers can’t be considered “competent.”

3. Proactive Flexibility 
The only thing that remains constant is that everything changes. Those in the excellence category understand that change happens and they look for positive, practical and professional ways to adapt to the changes. The worker who resists changes and hangs on to the philosophy of “that’s not the way we do things around here” may find himself not only in the land of average but also in the land of the unemployed.

4. Deep Communication
 Perception is everything, and perception is primarily created by communication. Those who understand that there is a delicate balance between listening and talking and that listening is more than just paying attention to the words are on a path to excellence. Some managers think they are “managing” when they hear employees’ concerns, but if they don’t actually listen (instead of just hear), they are not receiving the communications accurately and so can’t act effectively in response. 

5. Personal Ownership 
Who among us has washed a rental car? OK, there are a few of you. But most of us have not. It is not part of the expectation. We are more likely to take care of the things we own. You can go into work with an attitude of just meeting the basic expectations of the job and you may, in fact, be able to fly under the radar screen. Or you can come to work with a perspective of how you would work and operate if you owned the company, your department, your specific work. That is a perspective of excellence.