Friday, August 26, 2011

Learning and Teaching to avoid plateaus

Ever meet someone who has plateaued? I am an avid swing dancer. I often find dancers who reached a level competence and never grow any further. Its like they decided, “Yep, I am good enough and that’s all I need to do to get by.” They fail to realize that getting by is not the goal. The goal is constant improvement. One key way to never reach a plateau is to remember the essential techniques and to keep learning and teaching.

When we are actively growing in an area we are identifying the essential techniques that make others successful. We are sponges and driven to find out why those a head of us are so good. Your senses are keen in the beginning which later will become dull due to apathy or self confidence. This is the time that you need to be documenting each essential technique. 

Each time you have an Aha moment and record it in a blog or journal. This is not a diary that little girls keep, this is a journal which you will go back and read regularly to remind yourself of the essential techniques which made you successful. When you find technique that works, note it down. When you find something that didn’t work, note it down. Note down important quotes you read or hear.  Sketch your ideas and then any comments on them.

These notes are not just techniques; they are a documentation of your passion. Later in your career, go back and read your notes. These will remind you of the little things that made you successful. The little improvements usually are around the basics that you discover early in your career. For example, a swing dancer needs to focus on connection with their partner and listening to the music. When you move along in your career you’ll get distracted by the politics and forget those essential skills.

Writing down your ideas is a good start, but the next step is to share those. Sharing what you learn will concrete the lessons in your own mind.  Sharing can come in several flavors. You can either teach a group or mentor an individual. You can also write a blog, article or book!

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Technology and business

The question is often posed, does business driving technology or technology driving business?

Technology allows new business models to be created that would not have made sense in the past. The brilliant business person will analyze new technologies and ask, "What new business models can this technology enable?" We each need to take the technology and utilize it most effectively in the business models which the business folks create. We also have an advantage if we are paying attention to both technology and the market to create our own companies to take advantage of new technologies.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Making an impact

This post is for all of you out there struggling to make a difference in the world but not seeing any results. This week I had a rare glimpse at some of the impact that I personally have made in the last year. At the end of last year you'll recall that I was doing an experiement to see how much one person could handle. Well I've often felt that my efforts with my architects club have gone without results. That is until this week.

I first met Charlie at my first architecture meeting in January. I encouraged him to come to my monthly club meetings and he said he would but that he was in production support so it didn't really impact him. A few weeks ago when I asked for the speaker for August 1st, his eyes lit up and he said he wanted to talk on Cloud computing. He knocked all of our socks off with an amazing 30 minute speech on how the cloud impacts each development job today. After the meeting I told him how impressed I was. A few days later he told me that he had just been hired as an architect in another group. He said that I was the reason that he started thinking down those lines. I suddenly realized that I had impacted his life! I was so thrilled.

So even when you think your not making an impact, when you don't see any results, even when lots of folks think that your wasting your time, DONT GiVE UP! You are making an impact.

And if someone makes an impact on you, TELL THEM! They might not hear it from anyone else. You might be the encouragement that keeps them going.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011


“Trust is the one thing that changes everything” Stephen M. R. Covey

The following is a summary of some of the key points from The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey

In every situation your priority should be to build trust with those around you. Trust decreases cost and time in any effort. Think about how long it takes to get through security now that we can’t trust passengers due to the one person who decided to take a liquid bomb on the plane. It costs lots of money to hire all those security officers and it takes an extra hour to get on an air plane instead of 30 minutes it used to take.

The three ingredients required for trust are the following:

1. Integrity
2. Intent
3. Competence

Let’s ask questions on each aspect:
1. Integrity
Integrity is different from honesty. Honesty can be leaving out information or saying the truth in a way that misleads the person. Integrity is communicating clearly and making sure the person fully understands the reality of the situation.

2. Intent
Intent is hidden inside a person and can be a cause of speculation. Its best to tell the person your intent so that they understand it. Your intent should be win/win, and if its not then you should examine your assumptions about what’s important.

3. Competence
Someone can be sincere, but if they don’t have the ability then they need to recognize that. If you wish to be trustworthy, constantly increase your competence in your area. Delivering results is the fastest way to build trust.

The Speed of Trust by Stephen M. R. Covey is an excellent book which covers how trust impacts relationships and your success from your family to your company’s brand in the market and how to build trust in each of those domains.

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Becoming Radical

Kathy Potts' green eyes flashed as she looked at us across the table and said, "I had to become radical to implement my vision." We ate our last dinner of our Destination Breakthrough weekend. Kathy Potts orchestrated the entire weekend to unleash 10 women as part of her OnCore Performance Group mission to touch 5.5 million lives. "Become Radical" she repeated. This struck a cord with me. When you have a huge vision you can't be a regular normal person to fulfill it. You have to change your mindset and how you live in such a way that people look at your and realize you are Radical!!.

Kathy created a detailed experience for the 9 participants. We were at a spa resort in Vail Colorado for Friday night, Saturday, leaving on Sunday afternoon. From a trust walk on Friday night to eating a 5 course meal blindfolded, to visioning our most exciting future event in detail, to getting spa treatments, to climbing the mountain at sunset and declaring our goals she carefully planned every detail for radical impact.  I've never experienced anything so well thought through and well implemented. Her audience, amazing powerful women, completely enjoyed and benefited from the intense mindfulness she put into the experience.

We bonded, shared dreams, shared doubts. She taught us how to get out of "the cave" (the place we go when doubt fills us).  We created accountability partners who could keep us on track. This is the right way to change your life!

We had to create a 1 year plan to make our vision come true with the exact steps we needed to take. My main take away is that I can't be a normal person any more. I have to become Radical to make my visions come true. My goal is to reach my target audience of software developers with the steps to become a software architect.

I am happy to say that after the weekend I completed the first half of my book, and I got a paid speaking engagement!
Thank you Kathy!!

Find out more about Kathy and what she can do for you.
Use your head. Use your heart. Choose the Game.
Perform at your best!
Kathy Potts