Weekly Highlights #12: Growth, Gathering, Feedback, and Belonging

Grateful for…  the reminder of growth.  In these days of late August, I’m enjoying checking on the garden.  My wife and I are spending our summer in a new house, and planted vegetables for the first time in seven years.  And, as happens with life, planting them was hectic:  we started the seeds the same afternoon that we prepared the house for a renovation project and left on a weekend road trip.  We transferred to the raised beds over a frantic weekend and barely managed to finish.

Growth in the garden 🙂

Now when we go outside, we look forward to little surprises.  Occasionally, we’ll find a new zucchini or a tiny watermelon has appeared overnight.  It’s a good reminder for us that with time, life grows and planted seeds bear fruit.

Thinking about…. gathering.  This week, I was in charge of hosting a summit for a national team that I help lead.  I’m trying to be more intentional about these moments, but here were some things we included in the experience:

  • Check-in / Check-in Question.  This is an easy way to start a gathering by hearing the voices of everyone in the room.  The version we commonly use has three parts.  First – a “sit”, which is 3 minutes of meditation at the start of the meeting.  Second, a question that each person answers–not necessarily in order–which shares a bit of themselves with the room.  Third, a statement that they’re all-in.  Many things can pull us away from a meeting, and recognizing the commitment to be present in the room can be a powerful thing.

Of these three, the check-in question is the easiest to implement.  Simply starting a meeting with something like “What are you grateful for today?”, or “What was on your mind on the way here?” while being willing to wait for all to speak can help people open up for the rest of the gathering.

  • Sharing Best Practices.  The purpose of our summit was to share what each of our markets was doing and learning.  This generated a ton of great discussion, and was helpful in letting each person share what is going well.
  • Ideation and Brainstorming.  Because we also wanted to chart a course for the future, we did an ideation exercise.  We used post-its on the wall (though private data collection might have been better), then voted on which were most relevant and important.
  • Celebration.  We took a moment during the gathering to honor the great work of a few team members who had gone above and beyond.  It was a simple ceremony–a certificate, kind words, and a photo–but we felt like it meant a lot to those we recognized.
  • Commitment.  We asked each person who attended to commit to one thing they would do differently after the gathering.  Ideally, this is not forced, written down, and something that people can be easily reminded of in the future.

Advice I appreciated….  from a leader I’ve worked with, on taking feedback and interviewing.  Full article here.

“Once I was talking to a friend about some negative feedback I’d gotten, and he told me a trick to put any feedback you receive into one of three categories:

  1. “I knew that I needed to work on that. Time to work harder.” This is the type of feedback that really resonates with you that you know is right.
  2. “Whoa, I hadn’t thought of that, but I think it feels right.” This type of feedback might have caught you off guard but feels like it is coming from a good place and you should take action.
  3. “Nope.” This is the type of feedback that is either something that doesn’t matter or is something about you personally that you can’t change or simply doesn’t feel right.

For example, once I got some feedback that I needed to be more formal in my client interactions. It caught me off guard and honestly felt very inauthentic to me, and so I just decided to throw it out and move on. I find this exercise to be quite freeing.”

Quote I’m thinking about…. I came across this statement in the The Magic of Thinking Big by David Schwartz.  It’s attributed to Werner von Braun:

“Everything in space obeys the laws of physics. If you know these laws, and obey them, space will treat you kindly. And don’t tell me that man doesn’t belong out there. Man belongs wherever he wants to go — and he’ll do plenty well when he gets there.”

Stay encouraged!

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