Goldilocks and the new year

Happy New Year Everyone!

Welcome back from the break. Some folks have said the break was too short. Others said it was too long. A few have said it was just right. The comments so far this week brought Goldilocks to mind.

Remember, Goldilocks and the three bears? One cup of oatmeal was too hot, another too cold, and finally one was just right.

As we embark on a new calendar year, let's think more like Goldilocks.

1. Let's take risks like Goldilocks did. You have to admit, it was pretty risky roaming around unfamiliar territory. But, she didn't just roam, she even tasted the food. Let's put ourselves out there a little further than in the past and be less fearful of the outcome of taking chances.

2. Let's keep trying like Goldilocks did. When the first bowl of oatmeal (what is porridge anyway?) was too hot, she tried again. When the second try didn’t meet her expectations, she tried another time. Let’s be not hesitate to try more than once. Too often, we give up after just one try; however, if we try another time or two, maybe we’ll reap greater rewards.

One example of trying over and over would be with delegation. When you task a colleague with a project and it doesn’t come back perfectly, talk it over, and try again. The next time, it will be better, so try another time. By the time the colleague has done it three times, it will probably be just right.

3. Let’s respond quickly to mistakes like Goldilocks did. At the end of the story, Goldilocks was napping in the “just right” bed when the bears returned home. The baby bear found Goldilocks in his bed and cried out, “Someone has been sleeping in my bed—and here she is!” Goldilocks heard the bear cry out, and she quickly jumped out of the bed and ran away. When we have warnings that something is not going to work out, let’s learn quickly and get out. Oh sure, I just said, let’s try and try again. But, let’s be reasonable about it. There’s a difference between cold oatmeal and a bear in your face. When something major is wrong, it’s time to see the bear and get out.

An example of this one would be when a guest speaker presents and it doesn't go as well as planned. Let's not keep trying with that person, let's move forward quickly to someone else so as not to waste our colleagues' time. Another example would be a project plan. If the plan is not helping the team be efficient, it might be time for a new plan. Or, it might even be time to cancel the project.

As you get back in the swing of work this week, I hope you enjoy seeing friends, working on cool projects, and participating in new year activities.

With so much excitement a new year brings, you might find that the start to the new year is just how Goldilocks would want it: just right. 


Last night my family and I went to Blue Man Group at Starlight in Kansas City. What an outrageous assault on the senses! I kept thinking, "What is this?" It's not a concert or a magic show or circus…it is all of those and more.

Once the shock and awe wore down, my thoughts turned toward innovation.
Whose brain suddenly went, “Let’s get three guys to do weird stuff like paint with balls in their mouths and stupid stuff like cram cereal in their mouths. And, let’s have them wear blue masks covering their whole faces! And, let’s not let them talk at all! And, let’s get the audience involved! And, let’s charge people money to watch them!”

Really? Who thought of that? How would the conversation go when they tried to gain support? Something like this, perhaps:
“Hey, Clyde, I have this idea for three blue men who perform stunts without talking…”
“Um, yeah, Bonnie, that would never work. Go schedule Kenny G.”
Someone came up with the idea and someone encouraged it.
According to a 2012 Fortune article, an average of 60,000 people a week attend Blue Man Group performances in six cities around the world — not including the touring shows — at an average ticket price of $59, or roughly $3.54 million in revenue a week from sellouts.
What do you think about that? Isn’t that remarkable, considering how hard it is to get people to think outside the box and be creative?
It makes me wonder what if we’re missing in our daily jobs. What if the writers of Blue Man Group came to your workplace? How would they view your organization? As more companies encourage more innovation, let’s get in the habit of thinking about Blue Man Group.
WWBMGD? What Would Blue Man Group Do?
Use the Z Model to encourage innovation. Where are you on the Model? Are you the idea person who sees things differently? Or, are you the one to get others involved on the way to figuring it out? Or, maybe you are the detailed person who likes figuring out how to make things happen? Or, you could be the person who gets it done. Which are you?

If you aren’t the first person, resist the temptation to burst the bubble of an idea. Instead, encourage it to grow. There will be plenty of time to figure out the details and whether the idea could really work or not. But, there’s no chance if our tendency is to stifle creativity right off the bat. Let the creative minds foster ideas.
If you are the first person, resist the temptation to hold on to your ideas too long. You might not be the best person to move an idea forward, so involve others and let them do their part. When the creative thinkers resist the rest of the innovative participants, they stifle themselves.
Someone’s brain came up with Blue Man Group—probably, a team of brains. And, others supported them, and others made it happen. Think about them as you create a culture of innovation at your workplace.

You can be patient or become one

Raise your hand if you have been advised to develop more patience. [picturing all hands up]

Raise your hand if you heeded the advice. [picturing fewer hands up]
I was advised to do the same earlier in my career, and I recall thinking patient people were just slow, out of touch, and wishy-washy. Why couldn’t they just make a decision, I bemoaned. One of my mottos to this day is, “Let’s go!” which is not really the motto of patient people.

It has taken me a while, but it turns out, those advising of patience knew what they were talking about. I finally have developed patience and have observed five things about it that are worth sharing:
  1. Patience brings perspective. If you slow down to think things through, you are more capable of seeing more to the story of any situation. The newly expanded perspective will enable you to present yourself better to others.
  2. Patience yields better results. When you are calm, cool, and collected, your brain works differently than when it is under duress; therefore, you are able to be more creative and identify better solutions for whatever is causing the impatience.
  3. Patience builds relationships. Our leaders are pressured to improve performance, while staff is pressured to do more with less. Our leaders want to build effective teams, while staff wants decisions made faster. The complexity of business today adds to the pressure everyone feels, and it is testing patience of staff at all levels. Today’s workplace calls for patience, as does the marketplace.
  4. Patience opens eyes and doors. When you are patient with someone who sees things differently than you, you can learn from them. Your openness can lead to more opportunities.
  5. Patience is a mirror. When you get impatient with a colleague (or, child), think about the cause of your impatience. You might discover that you contributed to the cause of your own impatience and frustration. Perhaps you didn’t train the colleague well or were unclear about expectations.
The next time you get impatient with someone, reflect on the bigger picture, potential solutions, your relationship, opportunities, and your contribution to the situation. Your reflection will allow you to see your maturity as a leader and your impact on others. Patience is not about waiting a long time; it is about how one behaves while waiting.

What else have you noticed about patience?