Monday, July 27, 2009

Important Questions

Ever since I read Peter Block's The Answer to How is Yes, I have altered the way I ask questions.

In fact, this book resonated with me so much that it was one of the reasons I named my company "Bock's Office Transformational Consulting."

It was Block who first taught me that "transformation comes more from pursuing profound questions than seeking practical answers." In fact, that very statement really rocked my world because it helped me see that all my life I have been in desperate pursuit of the "right" answer instead of what really resonated with me.

What I am learning from facilitating now close to 25 master mind groups is that I am not the only one who has been asking less than productive questions.

The main issues I can pinpoint in organizational behavior, thanks to many of these master minders, are 1) Knowing exactly what we want (WE being employees, but in many cases, leaders as well); 2) Identifying for ourselves the why around the what (creating a vision); 3) Determining the best method for conveying our what to parties who need to know and 4) Asking for help and support in achieving those "what's."

Why do we have so much trouble identifying our wants? I talked to a reporter when my book The 100% Factor first came out. He wanted to know why my book would be relevant for business people. I told him it would be helpful for people who realize that there may be areas in their lives that could be improved, but they're not really sure where to start. He just couldn't fathom that anyone would buy that book. His point was if they were looking for some help from a book, they would already know what they want.

Is that true? I'm hearing more and more from people who really are at a crossroads in their lives - career, family, whatever. Maybe that reporter's view was from businesspeople who really didn't want to admit to themselves that they didn't have it all figured out. Maybe that's the niche for my book - and for this blog, and for what I discover happens in master mind groups. People can let down their hair - be authentic - share their dreams, their hopes, their fears.

I believe it's time for us to get REAL - with ourselves first, and then with others. And I believe it's crucial to not try that on your own.

There are lots of opportunities to join or form a master mind group. We've got some virtual groups starting now to study Think and Grow Rich. Groups are limited to 10, and all that's required is a phone and the book (which comes with your registration). Contact me (respond to this post) if you're interested.

Will there be new questions? Sure. But with new questions come new answers.

If not now, when? If not you, who? TAKE THE LEAP. The time is now.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Give me your soul ... I'll give you health insurance

That's a pretty cynical title, I know, but it was inspired by a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago with a former corporate attorney who has escaped what she describes as the tyranny of her corporate life.

Although she didn't know it at the time, her being let go by her organization was actually a blessing in disguise.

I'm making a lot of assertions in this post, but what I gathered from our conversation was right along the lines of a John Grisham novel. Of course it's tough to be "downsized" and to lose the paycheck and benefits of full-time employment. But what my friend didn't realize until she no longer had that regular job was how much that paycheck was actually costing her in quality of personal life.

As we talked more about her experience in Corporate America, it became clearer to me that, at least in her experience, the powers that be really didn't want her heart or soul; they just wanted her expertise and her loyalty. In exchange, they gave her childcare, health insurance and a fairly hefty salary. The key, from what I learned in our conversation, was the word EXCHANGE.

Is that what's happening for most employed people in Corporate America today? Are bosses consciously asking for what my friend reported: brawn but no brain?

Perhaps I'm an eternal optimist, but I find this a little disheartening. I really believed that this would be an exception: that most people would be encouraged to develop their whole selves and bring all of themselves to work, where we could create more fulfillment for employees, less turnover, more productivity, and overall, happier people.

Is that just a dream? Or do you know of companies or organizations that do allow their employees to develop higher awareness and bring all of themselves to work?

My blogging buddy Alex Kjerulf lives in Denmark, which 20/20 reports is the happiest country on earth. Alex would agree. His company is called Happy at Work where he is the Chief Happiness Officer. His blog is called Positive Sharing and he makes his living telling people around the world how (and why) they could be happy at work.

Thanks to Alex's work and blog and what it demonstrates, I'm holding out hope that Corporate America isn't an either/or place to work and we will be able to learn about and share even more examples of what happens when people are happy at work. The leaders today who we're hoping for are those who demonstrate the effects of doing business with head and heart attached.

How about soul AND health insurance?

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Making Change

I was on the road A LOT the past 4 days and I had several occasions to stop along the way to rejuvenate. On one of these stops in a town I can't even remember, I got an ice cream cone at McDonald's. The grand total was $1.06. I gave the young lady at the register $5.11 (I have a thing about carrying around too many coins in my handy-dandy little clutch). My mistake was waiting to find the 11 cents until after she had already punched "$5" into the register.

She was stopped.

What odd combination of coins was I handing her when the total was clearly $1.06? And what was she going to do now that she had already punched in the $5 amount? I helped her out of the predicament by whispering the correct change and dropping the extra nickel into the box they have for Ronald McDonald charities and went on my way.

But I got to thinking, why should she have been able to figure out the change? When are people - of any age, really - encouraged to "make change"?

We've become a society of people committed to "The Man" even though in our break rooms and with our best friends we complain about it. When given the opportunity to actually DO something, how many of us even know what that means? If the cash register doesn't ring up $4.05," what are we supposed to think?

I just finished (again) Seth Godin's book Tribes (which I have conveniently located on my Kindle I - there are costs and benefits to being an early adopter!) and am inspired all over again to become a tribe leader, even if no one is there to follow.

Among my activities over these past 4 days was working with a group of community leaders from small towns around the 5-state area of North Dakota, South Dakota, Montana, Minnesota and Wisconsin who are committed to making a difference for their rural areas. They have stepped up to the plate to become tribe leaders and are finding that that's not always an easy place to be.

Rural communities don't generally embrace change, so the task of many of these leaders isn't necessarily an easy one.

But when groups come together to learn and to practice new thinking skills, they find that they don't have to forge the trail on their own. Learning and sharing from others in similar situations can provide the needed momentum for making change ... and making change stick.

So thanks, rural leaders, and also Seth Godin. I'm inspired to make change in my own community. I'm starting this Wednesday, July 15, by holding space for people to gather with no other agenda than to create community (whatever that means to people who are inspired to come). We will meet at Atomic Coffee in downtown Fargo at 7 p.m. and create something inspiring ... or not. Whoever comes is the right people and whatever happens will be the only thing that could have.

I'm confident that the change will be made exactly as it needs to be.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

Just One Question:

OK, once and for all, I want to know what it is that stops us from being extraordinary. And I guess for me that question is most interesting as it relates to workplaces, since that is where most of us spend the great majority of our minutes, hours, years and, really, our lives.

So I've decided to do some research of my own which could find its way to a blog post, an article, a book, a movie - the sky's the limit. I just know that this is an area of extreme passion for me ... bringing JOY to the workplace. Yes, JOY.

So my research involves this one question:

What is the ONE THING you would like to be different at the place you work?

I would love as much detail as you're willing to provide. If it feels too threatening to answer in a response to this post, please email me at If you want to be anonymous, you can be - I'm just interested in the information. Of course, if you'd like me to have this conversation about your specific workplace, I'm happy to do that, too!

Please forward this question to anyone you think might be interested in being part of this movement to bring JOY to the workplace, wherever that workplace is.

I'll keep this question open until August 1 ... let's see how many responses we can create in the world by then.