There Is Wisdom In Dancing

TODAY’S FEATURED THOUGHT FOR HUMANS

There is wisdom in dancing

To restate an old notion: knowledge is not wisdom. And, often times, our reliance on knowledge blinds us to wisdom (for instance, passing a test has little or nothing to do with learning). My mentors taught me that the toughest thing in life to master is relationship. The reason: relationship is at the heart of everything we do whether we acknowledge it or not. Life IS a relationship. Education, business, art, spirituality, leadership, management, self love, economics, agriculture, kindness, gratitude… are all relationship skills. Wisdom is found in the fields beyond your thinking. Get onto the floor of life and dance.

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Sometimes It Takes More Than A Text

TODAY’S FEATURED IDEA FOR HUMANS

Sometimes It takes more than a text

In a recent post I wrote that we are often slaves to brevity. We want quick and easy answers to life’s big questions. Peter Block wrote that, in 30 years of consulting with businesses, he was routinely asked “How” but never asked “Why.” Relationship is at the heart of almost every big question (like leadership, management, marriage, self-love, the sacred,…) and, in relationship, there is no shorthand.

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Serve

A painting from my archives. This one  sold in 2007.

A painting from my archives. This one was 4′ x 4′ and sold in 2007.

Jim asked a world-class question: When did customer service become a firewall against serving customers? If you’ve had to call about a mistake on a bill or to try to get some support from your insurance provider you’ll appreciate his question. How many buttons do you have to push to get to a person? How many levels of supervisor do you need to ascend to get to the person who has the authority to serve you?

What does it meant to serve?

Quinn once told me that the world was ruined with the advent of the salad bar. He was far sighted (and funny) and recognized that it might at first be attractive to build a salad your own way but the trade-off, the loss, would be much greater than the free-will-illusion that the salad bar provided. Service would become equated with efficiency; it would become a cost saving strategy. Quinn suggested that the “salad bar concept” would forever redefine the essential relationship of the business; it would reduce the word “customer” to something consumable for the business. In other words, it would no longer matter whether or not a customer was happy because there would always be someone else to sidle up to the salad bar. In a salad bar world, the word “service” would forever be subject to a strange ongoing cost/benefit analysis. The society would shift the emphasis from service to others to service to self. Do you remember, after the introduction of the ATM, having to pay a fee to your bank if you needed to talk to a teller? Serve yourself. Save time. Do you remember when the airlines started charging travelers for bringing luggage? Or recall the introduction of extra fees for extra legroom? It may seem as if we have product choice but Quinn would tell us that we are forever standing at a salad bar.

What does it mean to serve others?

Martin Prechtel writes that transcending self-interest to put your life in service to the greater communal interest is called maturity. In order for the community to thrive, to grow and renew, the members must be oriented toward serving something greater than their own individual need. Without this necessity of service the society descends to the bottom of Maslow’s hierarchy.

What does it mean to serve something greater than you own self-interest?

I’m preparing to go over seas and do a workshop on “team,” so I’m asking many questions of people who are trying to facilitate teams in organizations. “What’s the greatest challenge you face?” I ask. The response is universal: trying to get employees invested in something other than their own personal gain. In my mind I can hear Quinn laughing; he’d call this  salad-bar-blowback. When customers become consumable, employees also become consumable. The essential relationship in business, the one it has with its customers, is merely a reflection of the relationship it has within itself. Vested action is not something that can be manufactured. One must care in order to be invested. Vested action is the blossom of service to others.

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Click, Click, Click

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SeaTac airport. 5:30 am. I’m sitting in the atrium holding coffee with both hands, staring into the void waiting for consciousness to catch up with my body or at least to know that my heart is beating enough to sustain life. I am not alone in my stupor though my stupor is decidedly less active than the stupor practiced by others. There is a different dull hum of voices in the morning; luggage wheels click over tile at a slightly slower rate, setting a tempo for the morning rush.

There are more business folk than families at this obscene hour. If I were a farmer I’d fly at this time of day and I’d move through the airport as if it were one of my fields. Slow, respectful. Business travelers have forgotten their inner farmer and walk with a deliberate goal in mind: get “there.” Even at this early hour and in their pre-coffee diminished capacity, they move with a studied determination. Click, click, click. No time to waste. A plane to catch. A sale to close. A deal to make. Ten minute rest interval. A trip to the gym. A light meal. Most have heads down and are answering emails as they move with intention to their portal.

Don’t get me wrong. I love business people. I work with business people. They live in a different culture than I do. They play by a different set of rules; they hire me because my rules are different and so I can see what they cannot. For instance, I do not believe that “time is money;” were we living in the industrial age that might still be true but it was an antiquated notion before my parents were born. I’m certain that “relationship is money,” that the path to efficiency is to slow down and not speed up (I can prove it). From my vantage point the prerequisite for success is cooperation, not competition. Cooperation is an infinite game and competition is finite; competition can live within cooperation, but not the other way around. I’ve learned from famous consultants that the only real purpose of a business is to serve a customer – that is cold language until you realize that the verb is “to serve” and “customer” is an antiseptic word for “human being.” Do you want to succeed in business: serve a human being. Serve lots of them. Focus on what you bring to them and not what you can get from them.

As I contemplate another cup of coffee (oh, okay…if I have to…) I want to whisper to the morning sprinters, “Markets are made-up just as are economies; they are constructs and not forces of nature; we make the rules, we thrive or suffer according to the world we make up. Let’s play a different game. Let’s practice health. Slow down. Live today. Take a look around: you are surrounded by those you serve.