#2 – where i repeat what montaigne says is the greatest thing in the world (and it’s not jagabee)

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change your questions, change your life. maybe.
filed under: work

for those of us in a support function, this is a common question to ask a business partner: how can we help you accomplish your most important business goals?

this week, i read a blog entry from the communications leadership executive council which argued that this was a bad question as most answers would center around tactical delivery limited to your field of expertise (for example, if you are in Marketing, you could be asked to produce a video to promote internal awareness of a product for cross-selling).

people like to put us in a box.

so do we.

so what is a better question?

“What number (that you’re responsible for hitting) are you most concerned about trying to reach this year?”

this switches the focus from tactics to value and broadens the discussion. it’s also a much easier question for your business partner to answer since it’s measurable.

on my blog, i have stopped asking readers for feedback and if they have questions for me. these never worked. maybe i should change my question and ask what problems of the day readers were trying to solve.

still, i am not optimistic. i don’t have generous readers. maybe i don’t have generous readers because i am not generous. which brings me to my next question.

what can i give to to others instead of taking away from them?

i had been bored at work for a while. my manager knew this. i have a relatively new role but i still felt something was missing. so i am trying a new strategy.

i work a lot on presentations. a lot of business presentations suck. so i am going to offer to teach 20 colleagues how to make good presentations.

when things aren’t working, maybe it’s time to change to a new question.

what can i give to to others instead of taking away from them is my new question.

what’s yours?

give, don’t take. subtract, don’t add.
filed under: life

farnam street is my favourite blog.

it is very generous.

a colleague and i have been talking about innovation. it’s sometimes a big word but we were referring to the “attitude of constant improvement” while laughing at some of the people who like to bandy the word around like it’s the greatest thing since jagabee.

according to farnam street, we can become more innovative by doing more or getting rid of the barriers to innovation (innovation by subtraction). we tend to focus on the former and not on the latter.

subtraction is counterintuitive. we think of improvement as “more”, not “less”. how can we subtract to help solve our problems? can we become happier by getting rid of things that make us miserable? can we stop doing the things at work that make us want to scream?

less choices, more happiness?

it’s not easy. but it’s worth trying.

montaigne says this is the greatest thing in the world
filed under: wisdom

“I did not flee from men, but from affairs. We have lived long enough for others: let us live the rest for ourselves; let us disentangle ourselves from the clutch of things which hold us elsewhere and keep us from ourselves. The greatest thing in the world is to know how to belong to yourself.”

thank you

thank you everyone who has written to me about the newsletter. your generosity makes me happy.

Tokyo, April 2012

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