Dying To Live

You have to die a few times before you can really live.

Charles Bukowski

Transitions Begin With Endings

Transition is the inner psychological process that people go through as they internalize and come to terms with the new situation that the change brings about. Empathetic leaders recognize that change can put people in crisis. The starting point for dealing with transition is not the outcome but the endings that people have in leaving the old situation behind.

Change will only be successful if leaders and organizations address the transition that people experience during change. Supporting people through transition, rather than pushing forward is essential if the change is to work as planned. This is key to capitalizing on opportunities for innovation and creating organizational resilience.

William Bridges Associates


When Work Becomes Play

Work and play are words used to describe the same thing under differing conditions.

Mark Twain


Leading Your Life

An enormous vacuum in leadership exists today—in business, politics, government, education, religion, and nonprofit organisations. Yet there is no shortage of people with the capacity for leadership. The problem is we have a wrongheaded notion of what constitutes a leader, driven by an obsession with leaders at the top.

That misguided stand often results in the wrong people attaining critical leadership roles. When problems surfaced at Enron, WorldCom, Arthur Andersen, Tyco, and dozens of other companies, the severity of the leadership crisis became painfully apparent, creating a widespread erosion of trust in business leaders.

Over the past fifty years, leadership scholars have conducted more than a thousand studies in the attempt to determine the definitive leadership styles, characteristics, or personality traits of great leaders. None of these studies has produced a clear profile of the ideal leader. Thank goodness. If scholars had produced a cookie-cutter leadership style, people would be forever trying to emulate it.

The reality is that no one can be authentic by trying to be like someone else. People trust you when you are genuine and authentic, not an imitation … You need to be who you are, not try to emulate somebody else … Leaders are defined by their unique life stories and the way they frame their stories to discover their passions and the purpose of their leadership.

Bill George, True North


Specializing for Adaptability

How The Big Shift changes the way we perceive ourselves and our work, both individually and collectively.

Our current world of work often becomes increasing more complex and confusing because of the limitations of our current beliefs. When we learn to let go of these outdated beliefs and step beyond them, we’re able to shift our entire perspective of what’s possible in the process.

Additionally, we need to move away from an educational system that trains people to do only one thing in only one place. By doing so we create path dependencies that increase individual fragility. Specialization is beneficial in predictable, low-volatility environments, but in uncertain, high-volatility environments, specialization can slow or inhibit adaptation. The optimal state involves people with an array of specialties who can learn new skills and switch between specialties quickly and efficiently.

Remington Tonar & Ellis Talton
City Leaders Must Focus On Building Urban Antifragility In The Post-Pandemic World

Taking a reflective step back from this, we need to move away from a business system that values this which is causing an educational system to value it in turn.

And the focus isn’t so much on finding “an array of specialities” for an individual but rather reframing the meaning of specialization within the larger context of this new age based upon what’s valued within it which is adaptability. Thus the meaning of specialization transforms from being something within a specific domain of knowledge to something that allows one to bridge an “array” of different knowledge domains.

Illustrating how The Big Shift transforms an individual’s sense of identity.

What I’m talking about here is something I’ve discussed and illustrated years back with a simple diagram called The Big Shift (which ties into John Hagel’s & John Seely Brown’s work). This future that is emerging presently causes a radical shift, like an earthquake shifting a building off its previous foundation, whereby our identity is no longer defined within a single job within a single domain. Instead our identity now slightly overlaps an “array” of what used to be considered different jobs (with different domains of knowledge each accompanying them).

Another more common name for this “slight overlap” is hyperspecialization.

And this new meaning of specialization that allows us to flexibly adapt across many different domains of knowledge is more commonly known as our passion.

In other words, an individual’s passion paradoxically allows them to hyperspecialize and do so across many different domains of knowledge at the same time.

Thus they are no longer trapped at a professional “dead end” of eventual obsolescence within the confining beliefs of the old world of work but are instead freed to flexibly adapt and explore endless possibilities specifically optimized for them within this new world.