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Tools

The mechanic that would perfect his work must first sharpen his tools.
— CONFUCIUS

A leader depends on her ability to think clearly and creatively.

How do we sharpen our minds?  Is simply reading the latest ideas enough? We believe that our minds need more practice at thinking wisely and creatively.

If you want to teach people a new way of thinking, don't bother trying to teach them. Instead, give them a tool, the use of which will lead to new ways of thinking.

― Buckminster Fuller

To support that process, we have developed tools to assist us in training our minds to think in new ways based on time-tested wisdom.

We call these tools wisdom jigs because they help us to hold our minds and ideas in a productive new relationship just like a woodworking jig allows us to customize our tools to produce the results we want again and again. Eventually, we internalize these tools, but until then, we use jigs to train ourselves.

Here are some sample jigs to get you started:

Learn about Wisdom Jigs as they are released by joining our email list.

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Moving Beyond Our Fear of Appearing Incompetent Into More Creativity

As successful leaders, we know how to act in the face of fear. We calculate risk and reward and step into ambiguity, risk, and constraints every day. But, for many less experienced leaders fear begets inaction while problems fester, disruptors emerge, windows of opportunities close and learning slows. Of course, we don’t allow that happen to us... very often.

No matter how experienced, leaders still feel fear, but what are we actually afraid of?

Might our primary fear be appearing incompetent to our team, peers, and superiors?

If so, then trusty Maslow’s hierarchy gives us some insight into the psychological needs we’re afraid won’t be met. These needs can be met with more, better work, more time invested in relationship building, etc.

Of course, as self-aware leaders, we know that with practice our psychology is consciously mutable and therefore under our creative control.

For most of us on most days, we’re well beyond meeting these core psychological needs. But, what interests me is how impassioned, richly fulfilled, self-actualizing leaders relate to fear? Are they somehow beyond fear?

As I walk this path, it seems that self-actualization requires stepping into even more fear, not less.

As I begin to pursue a new business model, I am seeing that a skillfully pursued counter-phobic approach to taking creative risks, to exposing our deepest desires, our personal insights, and our riskiest creations to a much wider audience is demanded by the path of self-actualization. Suddenly, I am not only seeking approval for my socially acceptable behavior and admirable accomplishments, but I am turning what I hope is my best possible self inside out and publicly revealing that more essential self.

This entails integrating more of my ethical and aesthetic values into my work; this means writing about the humanities as they relate to leaders rather than continuing to relying on my analytical skills to deliver value to business clients. It means stepping out of well-armored competence and into work that reveals deeper and more personal values and it certainly feels scary and has required new counterphobic actions.

What’s made this easier for me is to look into history to find intelligent leaders who have trod this road before me, people who have pursued personally and professionally risky goals without complete data to base their decisions upon. One I’ve found helpful was the Roman general and emperor Marcus Aurelius.

Based on a bit of wisdom in his Meditations, I’ve created a thinking tool, a Wisdom Jig as I call it, to let me apply his method for stepping into risky endeavors with more confidence and clarity. Click here to find the Turning Hindrances Into Advantages wisdom jig.

Godspeed,

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The Introverted Network Builder: An Offering to John Hagel

Buried in a blog post on the measuring your real net worth, John Hagel recently opened this invitation,

I would welcome advice and insight on how introverts (and others) can be more intentional about cultivating the kinds of personal networks that I’ve described above.

So, Mr. Hagel, and all you introverts who might share his question and challenge, here is what I have learned in my years studying and practicing networking as an introvert. Continue reading The Introverted Network Builder: An Offering to John Hagel