How do creative people come up with great ideas? Organizational psychologist Adam Grant studies “originals”: thinkers who dream up new ideas and take action to put them into the world. In this talk, learn three unexpected habits of originals — including embracing failure. “The greatest originals are the ones who fail the most, because they’re the ones who try the most,” Grant says. “You need a lot of bad ideas in order to get a few good ones.”
I’m sharing insights from Jennifer Woofter, chief-consultant at Strategic Sustainability Consulting. Interesting perspective in addressing the management of change which can often be much larger than the green-change initiative.
Change can be difficult. Whether it’s a shift at work or in your personal life, embracing change can be a challenging issue for many people. For companies moving toward greening the workplace, it’s key that they remember that even small changes can result in small stressors to employees. It’s important to recognize the added stress and think from employees’ perspectives during the transition. Organizations that are working to be more adaptive and innovative may find that the resulting culture change becomes a huge roadblock to their efforts as employees resist or respond to the stress.
Innovation and change require leaders and employees alike to embrace new behaviors, which may initially seem antithetical to existing corporate culture. When making such dramatic shifts, it’s vital that leadership understands it’s impossible to dictate optimism, trust, conviction or creativity and consider the needs of everyone in the company.
With that in mind, the entire team should work together to establish a joint purpose and utilize internal efforts to make sure everyone on the team is onboard before changes begin.
One of the best ways to motivate employees, particularly during a transition is praise. Praising people not only motivates them, it also encourages and inspires them to do even better.
If you are helping to lead a cultural movement toward a greener workplace, consider these tips:
1. Frame the issue in a way that will excite your employees and motivate them to action. In order to engage your team’s commitment you have to inspire a desire and responsibility to change. A good organizational purpose calls for the pursuit of greatness in service of others and asks employees to be driven by more than simply personal gain.
2. Demonstrate quick wins that can show how actions toward change are working. Instead of simply declaring the culture shifts you want to see, highlight examples of the actions you expect to see more of in the company.
3. Create safe havens. If you intend for individual to act differently, you might find that changing their surroundings in order to support new behaviors to be incredibly helpful. Outposts and labs are often built as a way to give people a safe space to embrace new beliefs.
4. Embrace symbols that will help create a feeling of solidarity and demarcate who your employees are and what they stand for to the outside world. Symbols can help define the boundary between “us” and “them” for movements and can be as simple as a T-shirt, bumper sticker, or button supporting a general cause, or more elaborate like a new corporate brand identity. Internally and externally, such an act can reinforce a message of unity and commitment — that an entire company stands together in pursuit of a singular purpose.
It’s important to remember that even with the best guidelines, and the best intentions, change isn’t easy. While harmony tends to be most people’s preferred environment at work, a moderate amount of friction should be considered positive during a transition. Creating a culture shift with a complete absence of friction probably means that very little has actually changed. So explore the places where change faces resistance in your office. These areas may indicate where the dominant organizational design and culture need to evolve.
And culture change can only happen when people take action. While articulating a mission and changing company structures are important, keep on tackling the tough issues after you’ve shown people the change you want to see.
A successful day begins with a purposeful morning. A lot has been written about the power of your morning routine to set your day on a positive course, and science backs those assertions. A common thread among many books and articles on this topic is the importance of a solid morning routine.
Success in the morning begins with the plan you made the night before.
Whether you’re a morning person or a night owl, we all start our day at some point. Your success today depends on how you begin and end your day. Tapping into the power of mornings, a time of day when you are most active, might be the key to your long-term success. While most of us are still wrestling with our snooze buttons, many of the world’s highest achievers are getting a head-start with their work. A morning routine sets you up for the whole day, and if it is done right, everything else in your life will follow.
“Morning and evening routines prime you for success. They help you achieve more, think clearly, and do work that actually matters. They keep you from thoughtlessly stumbling through your day and make sure you get the most important things done,” says Stephen Altrogge of Zapier.
Many successful people spend the first hours of each day alone, to reflect, think, meditate, create or read. Find something that motivates you and look forward to it every morning.
In a commencement address Steve Jobs gave at Stanford back in 2005, he revealed the motivational tactic that he used to start each and every day.
For the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?”And whenever the answer has been no for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.
Pretty powerful stuff. Would asking that question help keep your morning to-dos in perspective? Time management starts right from the minute you wake up from bed. You are most active and productive in the morning, hence the need to do everything in your power to make the first few hours count.
For 15 years, Starbucks President Michelle Gaas has set her alarm for 4:30 a.m. to go running. Gretchen Ruben, popular author of The Happiness Project wakes up at 6 a.m. and works for an hour before her family rises.
The AOL CEO once told The Guardian that he gets out of bed immediately when he wakes up at 5 or 5:15 in the morning, either to answer emails or sneak in a workout. “Historically, I would start sending emails when I got up. But not everyone is on my time schedule, so I have tried to wait until 7 a.m. Before I email, I work out, read and use our products.”
Dan Ariely, behavioral economist at Duke University, once said, “It turns out that most people are productive in the first two hours of the morning. Not immediately after waking, but if you get up at 7 you’ll be most productive from around from 8–10:30.”
“One of the saddest mistakes in time management is the propensity of people to spend the two most productive hours of their day on things that don’t require high cognitive capacity (like social media),” says Ariely.
Start your morning on purpose
If your mornings are rushed, the simple solution is to get up a bit earlier. This means going to bed a bit earlier too. It pays to commit to a few value activities every morning and over time you will create your own optimal morning ritual. Don’t try to fit too much into the mornings though. You don’t want to procrastinate. Commit to one or two if that will work best for you. For me, it’s exercising, reading (posts saved to Pocket) and writing. Don’t just have things you think you should do but don’t really want to do. You should have a sequence that starts your morning ritual. But the drawback to having a routine is that it can get boring. Occasionally you need to mix it up when things get stagnant. Take a chance on something new if you have to. Do something that’s out of your comfort zone. Surprise yourself.
Ian Fleming, who is best known for his James Bond series of spy novels maintained a rigorous morning routine to stay prolific. He once said: “Writing about 2,000 words in three hours every morning, ‘Casino Royale’ dutifully produced itself. I wrote nothing and made no corrections until the book was finished. If I had looked back at what I had written the day before I might have despaired.”
There are thousands of reasons to get up each morning and start your day right. You’ve got to find your reason. Once you find it, do everything in your power to make it happen.
Knock out your most difficult work first thing in the morning.
A purposeful morning isn’t something that just falls into your lap — it’s created consciously. You don’t have to implement all these ideas at once, but try one or two out and see if your mornings improve. I think you’ll enjoy them as much as I do. Time-management expert Laura Vanderkam highlights what makes mornings special and how we can use them more efficiently in her book What The Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast.
“There are going to be reasons why you can’t tackle a personal priority at 4 p.m. — things have a lot less likelihood of coming up at 6 a.m.,” says Vanderkam.
Having a regular daily early-morning ritual leaves you feeling abundant, refreshed, and energized from early in the morning until you wind down at night and end your productive day on purpose. High achievers tend to find routines that work for them and stick to them to get their best work done — it’s typically something they credit as a core to their success.
In his book Daily Rituals: How Artists Work, Mason Currey writes about the habits, routines, and rituals of hundreds of artists, including Benjamin Franklin, Charles Darwin, Twyla Tharp, Karl Marx, Pablo Picasso, and Ernest Hemingway. Currey came to this conclusion after studying the great artists: “In the right hands, [a routine] can be a finely calibrated mechanism for taking advantage of a range of limited resources: time (the most limited resource of all) as well as willpower, self-discipline, optimism. A solid routine fosters a well-worn groove for one’s mental energies and helps stave off the tyranny of moods.”
Success in all fields of endeavor is all about creating real intention in the morning and committing to it. Breaking out of old habits is not always easy, but establishing new, positive habits has the potential to be a strong influence in your daily life. Starting your day with a solid morning routine helps make every day an opportunity for success.
Just one day after he stepped down from GE’s top job, I got the chance to talk with Jeff Immelt and hear what he’s learned about leading during times of change. Here are three ideas that I took away.
Find your true north
On a personal level, the accelerating pace of change can be noisy. With each new change, there are more things competing for our attention. It’s easy to lose sight of what’s important and hard to filter out the noise.
To succeed, great leaders have to identify their true north and actively commit to removing all other distractions. This isn’t hard to understand in the abstract. What’s hard is finding the grit and confidence to stick to your choices and believe in the value of getting simpler over time, rather than more complex. You can spend all your time taking in as much input and information as possible, but at the end of the day you have to just go forward and act. As Jeff observed, the best leadership requires thinking about where the world is heading, identifying a couple of spots to go long, and then sticking to your guns.
Leadership comes from within
Jeff shared a great and humbling detail about what leadership feels like. He goes to bed every night feeling like a failure but wakes up every morning feeling on top of the world. Leadership, for him, is what happens in the space between those two extremes. And it comes from taking a constant and sometimes intense journey into yourself. Each day, you’ve got to stop and learn new ways to solicit and accept feedback and keep people motivated. To lead others through change, you first have to be willing to change yourself. And to help others get better, you have to be committed to your own continual self-renewal.
The changes that Jeff has faced have been of vital importance to GE. To survive over the last sixteen years, we’ve had to pivot many times. For Jeff, the key to that was accepting that any leader, especially in this era, isn’t going to make it through their tenure without paradigm-shifting change knocking at their door at least once. Instead of fearing it or fighting it, Jeff said he has stayed motivated by staying curious. When you’re curious, you’re open to growth. And when you’re wondering how the story unfolds, you can closely observe what change means for your organization in a constructive way.
What’s he most proud of after sixteen years? Leaving behind a company that is ready for the future, but still in touch with what has made it great since the beginning.