Month: August 2010

You Greedy Little Monkey

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Synergy… the principle that teaches us that we’re better, more effective, more affective and over all just get more results as a group, than we could expect from the simple sum total of our individual energies and resources. But there are some killers of Synergy in our society, both the workplace and in the family, that we need to avoid… Yesterday we talked about them… We called them the “7 Deadly Sins That Kill Synergy”… They are:

  1. Wrath(Anger)- I’ve tried to work with others before, and they just end up hacking me off!
  2. Greed(Selfishness)- I don’t want anyone else affecting my project, my job, my stuff… it’s mine….
  3. Sloth(Laziness)- I’d rather just do it myself, rather than hassle with input from other people.
  4. Pride(Arrogance)- I don’t want anyone’s help, or need it. I’m good enough without them!
  5. Lust(Unhealthy Craving)- Leave me alone! It’s my way! It’s my idea! It’s my project!
  6. Envy(Jealousy)- What if I look stupid asking for help, or someone else shows me up?
  7. Gluttony(Selfishness)- If I’m going to work this hard, I don’t want anyone to get credit but ME.

We talked a litte about ANGER yesterday, and the need to get past bad experiences with groups that might keep you from future synergistic experiences… So let’s talk about the next “sin”, GREED…

That’s right, GREED. It’s that feeling that says, “I don’t want to work with you or anyone else on this… It’s MINE. I don’t want to share the credit or the rewards.” Not really caring if your endeavor yields an average or even sub-par result; at least it is YOURS. The GREEDY person isn’t nearly so much about PERFORMANCE as they are POSSESSION. They are unwilling to partner with others because of an unhealthy and unrealistic perspective that demands a singular position of influence and ownership… and that singular position is their own.

It’s not that a Greedy person is never a part of a group. Many times they are, whether by their own choosing, or because they are forced into it by someone else. And it’s in those situations where greed can and does suck the life out of a group. The greedy person hoards their own ideas and resources, while confiscating and caching away those contributions of others, with the sole intent of using them for personal success or advancement. Rather than being an asset to the group, and enriching the overall outcome for the good, instead they can be the source of mistrust or suspicion. They are like the little boy at a birthday party who is filling his gift bag with his candy, and the candy of all the other children as well. It’s amazing how stupid greedy people can be… Grabbing onto every idea or resource to keep as their own, without thought for others or the common good… Reminds me of a monkey story…

Men who trap animals in Africa for zoos in America say that one of the hardest animals to catch is the ringtailed monkey. For the Zulus of that continent, however, it’s simple. They’ve been catching this agile little animal with ease for years. The method the Zulus use is based on knowledge of the animal. Their trap is nothing more than a melon growing on a vine. The seeds of this melon are a favorite of the monkey. Knowing this, the Zulus simply cut a hole in the melon, just large enough for the monkey to insert his hand to reach the seeds inside. The monkey will stick his hand in, grab as many seeds as he can, then start to withdraw it, but he can’t get it out. His fist is now larger than the hole. The monkey will pull and tug, screech and fight the melon for hours. But he can’t get free of the trap unless he gives up the seeds, which he refuses to do. Meanwhile, the Zulus sneak up and nab him.

Greedy people, refusing to turn loose of their own resources or ideas and work with others are just as goofy as the little monkeys. Don’t be a monkey. Open up your fist… share your seeds. You might just find out that you like it, and that your reward for sharing instead of hoarding, synergizing instead of going solo, is far greater than anything you could accomplish on your own. So how do you overcome the “deadly sin” of Greed if it’s something you struggle with?

  1. Don’t allow your insecurities about succeeding keep you from opening yourself up to working with others. Write a new definition of success, that includes more about the process and working with others, than it does about personal glory or gain.
  2. Ask someone you work with if you ARE one of these greedy people, and be ready for them to be honest. If the answer is yes, then ask them to hold you accountable when they see it happening.
  3. Start out small… work with one or two other people that you know and trust well, and do it on a small scale or project . The positive experience should be a great springboard for you to step out into a larger group or grander project the next time you have the opportunity to synergize.
  4. Just do it. You’re an adult, for heaven’s sake. Stop making excuses about why you don’t like working with the group, what bad stuff has happened, etc.

There are great experiences in synergy waiting for you as you get past GREED! So take that first step!

Talk to you next time about… LAZINESS…

The Seven Deadly Sins That Kill Synergy

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ConflictWe’re talking about Synergy… that’s when one of us gets together with more than just one of us… and put our ideas, our creativity, our efforts together… and something amazing happens. The whole of our efforts and results really IS greater than the sum of all our individual parts! Incredible! Something powerful, even mystical seems to happen that multiplies and magnifies our thoughts, our passions – and the outcome is so fantastic compared to what we might have accomplished alone. We step back and shake our heads in wide-eyed wonder at the power and the magnitude of our shared synergy.

It happens every day, and in every walk of life. It happens in families, and it happens in corporations. Synergy takes place in city governments and city parks. It impacts schools and manufacturing plants, churches and the arts. With the visible, powerful results of synergy in front of our faces everywhere we turn, then the question begs, “Why isn’t there more of this going on?” Several reasons, I imagine…

Consider these 7 deadly options:

  1. Wrath(Anger)- I’ve tried to work with others before, and they just end up hacking me off!
  2. Greed(Selfishness)- I don’t want anyone else affecting my project, my job, my stuff… it’s mine….
  3. Sloth(Laziness)- I’d rather just do it myself, rather than hassle with input from other people.
  4. Pride(Arrogance)- I don’t want anyone’s help, or need it. I’m good enough without them!
  5. Lust(Unhealthy Craving)- Leave me alone! It’s my way! It’s my idea! It’s my project!
  6. Envy(Jealousy)- What if I look stupid asking for help, or someone else shows me up?
  7. Gluttony(Selfishness)- If I’m going to work this hard, I don’t want anyone to get credit but ME.

Just like the well-known Seven Deadly sins mentioned in religious circles have the ability to wreak havoc in the lives of people and cause them great harm, these same themes can kill Synergy in a group, or even prevent an individual from considering partnering with others for a greater good! Let’s look at the first one… Anger.

All of us have been burned one time or another by someone who didn’t do their fair share. They didn’t work hard enough, or give enough of their time. They rode on the coat tails of others in the group, letting everyone else pick up the majority of the work or effort. When you and I think back on those experiences, it can leave a bad taste in our mouths for ever wanting to “synergize” with others again. Honestly, it leaves us more than just irritated… we’re mad as hell, and we’re not gonna take it anymore! We’re mad at pulling more than our own weight, while the lazy jerk on the team receives just as much benefit and credit as the hard-working members of the group! It ain’t right! So what do we do?

Do we let anger at the idiots littering our past cheat us out of great group experiences in the future? NO WAY!

Do we let anger towards the “loser tag-a-longs” in our previous attempts at synergy prevent us from giving others a shot at partnering today or tomorrow? I’M NOT!

OK, so there were some stupid people along the way who took more than they gave, sucked out energy instead of contributing to the synergy… but don’t let the deadly sin of WRATH destroy your future opportunities for success! GET OVER YOUR PAST ANGER! You give way too much power over your FUTURE by allowing the jerks from your PAST to affect what you do TODAY!

Come back, and we’ll talk a little about GREED and how it can suck the life out of a group…

Don’t Be Afraid of Tonto… he’s cool…

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I loved watching TV when I was growing up.  Yes, I’m old enough that some of it was actually still in Black & White (for our Gen X readers, that means all the pictures on TV didn’t come in color).  I watched Andy Griffith, Lassie, and Mr. Ed, the talking horse!  I didn’t really like the early Superman, but I think that maybe it’s because I thought he was a fake… I mean, the guy can stop bullets, but he ducks when they throw a gun at him?  Somethings not right there.   But my favorite show of all these “oldies but goodies” had to be The Adventures of the  Lone Ranger!  I suspect that it’s what gave me a slight “cowboy” edge today… remembering those days of my childhood, imagining that I WAS the Lone Ranger.  I spent my gradeschool years fighting the bad guys with my faithful sidekick Tonto; wearing my mask and twirling my guns with silver bullets; whistling for my valiant steed Silver to come and untie me with his teeth when I had been surprised, captured and tied up by the one eyed villan.  Man, those days roaming the wild west as the “Lone Ranger” were the glory days of my childhood. 

So what do my childhood TV habits have to do with SYNERGY???  Synergism, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently. The word synergy or synergism comes from two Greek words: erg meaning “to work”, and syn meaning “together”; hence, synergism is a “working together.”

A synergy is where different entities cooperate advantageously for a final outcome. If used in a business application it means that teamwork will produce an overall better result than if each person was working toward the same goal individually.

Most people in the business world have read or know about Stephen Covey’s “7 Habits of Highly Effective People”.  It states that “the sixth of the habits is – Synergize. This habit involves you putting your head together with the other party or parties in order to creatively brainstorm a synergistic solution to a problem i.e. to find a solution which contains win-win benefits. It can only be done successfully if you have first practiced habits 4 and 5. The well-known definition of synergy is as follows: Synergy – When the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.”. 

So if synergy is so effective…

If synergy is that productive…

If synergy has that kind of dynamic impact on business, on group dynamics, on life… Then why do so many people INSIST on going it alone?  Why do tons of people avoid, ignore or evade attempts at SYNERGIZING with others for greater impact?  I dunno?  Maybe they didn’t have a TV when they were growing up?  Maybe some people need to remember this one important truth from my hero atop his galloping white steed… DUDE! EVEN THE LONE RANGER HAD TONTO!!!

Here’s the honest truth… and I hate to be the one to have to break this down for you this way, but here goes.  The hard truth is… YOU’RE JUST NOT GOOD ENOUGH.  I know, I know, don’t yell at me!  I hear you saying, “You don’t know that!  You don’t know me!  Who are you to judge me?”  Well, if you’ll calm down, and stop spitting on your computer monitor while you vent, I’ll try to explain.

I’m going to take a few days to talk with you about why intelligent, gifted people just like YOU are gutless when it comes to risking the journey of Synergizing…  then we’ll talk about why “GOOD ENOUGH” really isn’t “GOOD ENOUGH”. 

Are you really satisfied that where you are, how you are performing, and what you’re getting out of every aspect of your life is the VERY, VERY BEST that it could ever be?  I didn’t think so… so come back tomorrow and let’s talk about it a little…

Cya, Kimosabe…

“I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”

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The Beatles… no argument, one of the most exciting, dynamic bands of all time…  and for their “Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band” album in 1967…  

Lennon and McCartney worked together to finish the iconic lyrics and tune somewhere around mid-March or 1967.  This song was intentionally written to be Ringo’s track for the album (I’ve always thought he was the worst singer of the bunch, but hey, that’s me).  How different would the song have been received if it had kept it’s orignal title, Bad Finger Boogie, supposedly because John Lennon composed the tune by plinking it out on a piano using his middle finger.

McCartney and Lennon did a great job of penning a tune with a limited range for Starr to perform, except for that last note… and McCartney spent hours with Starr to help him nail it. 

Now, don’t miss this… they wrote, “I Get By With A Little Help From My Friends”… and the guys who could write and sing wrote a really simple song for the guy that couldn’t sing…  They recognized Ringo’s weakness, but even though his voice made stunted the growth of lab rats when overexposed to it, Ringo’s friends came along side him to help him out, creating one of the most iconic songs of their generation… BUT HOW?

1) “Their strengths as a group made up for the weakness of one member.”  Ringo could have been upset that he didn’t have the poetic heart or musical vision of McCartney and Lennon; he could have been insecure, jealous or sullen.  Instead, he received the gift in song from his friends, welcomed the mentoring so he could hit that last note, and “VOILA”, music history was made!

2) “They turned an individual weakness into a group strength through teamwork.”   It would have been just as easy for the other stronger members of the Beatles (again, my opinion!) to look for someone more talented than Ringo to fill his seat on the bus.  But Starr’s quirky behavior and goofball antics made him the favorite Beatle for many fans.  Knowing that he carried a huge fan base, they were able to use his “weakness” (voice) because of his strength (his following by his fans).    Yes, it meant writing a very simple tune…  and extra hours in the studio giving voice lessons to help Ringo hit just one note.  But it wo!

Who is it in your team that you see as weak?   Take a hard look again… only this time look for a couple of other things:

A) Ask yourself, “How can I, how can WE help our team member?”  What strengths do you or other team members have that could be leveraged to magnify the influence or success of the team if they were used to help a weaker or less talented member of the team? 

B) Look for their hidden or “not so hidden” strength.  Every one has one or more.  Just look.  Ask questions.  Pay attention.  Be open minded.  FIND THEIR STRENGTH.  Then help them to shine.  All of you, work together to help that person, and in turn help the team/group/ organization to shine. 

You will “Get By With A Little Help With Your Friends!”