Tag Archives: ” Tony Schwartz

What We’ve Lost… is Stopping Points (insight from Tony Schwartz)

In my old life, when I was in ministry, it look a lot of intellectual and emotional energy to preach a new sermon every week (many times, 2-3 new sermons per week).  And, the moment one sermon was finished, I had to work on the next one…

In other words, I was never “finished.”  I could never “stop.”

Tony Schwartz writes about this in his HBR article, The Magic of Doing One Thing at a Time.  Here’s a key quote:

What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries. Technology has blurred them beyond recognition. Wherever we go, our work follows us, on our digital devices, ever insistent and intrusive. It’s like an itch we can’t resist scratching, even though scratching invariably makes it worse.

It’s the first line that is the best:  “What we’ve lost, above all, are stopping points, finish lines and boundaries.”

A preacher I knew used to print the church bulletin every week.  He would print it on Friday nights.  I mean an old, get ink all over your fingers kind of printing.  I asked him once why he did not have someone else print the bulletin.  He said, “I want to do one thing a week that, when it is done, I know I finished something.”

Don’t we all wish for that? – some kind of stopping point, when we can say, “I finished that.”

Feeling “never finished” really can make you tired and less productive.

Read the Schwartz article.  Think about your own work habits.  We all need to find ways to build in regular stopping points.  They might just make us easier to get along with, a little more sane, and a lot more productive.

The Power of Positive Deviance – One of the Two Good Books for this Friday’s First Friday Book Synopsis

Bob Morris, my blogging colleague and general all around font of amazing knowledge and wisdom, reads books by the bushel full.  I read fewer – far fewer.

And, more times than not, in the last couple of years, I have chosen a book that Bob tells me “would be a good one for the First Friday Book Synopsis.”  This Friday I am presenting The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems by Richard T. Pascale, Jerry Sternin, Monique Sternin — one of Bob’s suggestions.  An excellent suggestion!  Look at this hint about the book:

(A Leadership for the Common Good book.
Published in partnership with the Center for Public Leadership)
.  (Read Bob’s review of the book, on our blog, here).

It will take me a while to process all that the book says.  The book presents the principles, the “guts” of “Positive Deviance,” and then illustrates the concept with story after story of breakthrough findings that flesh out the concept.

By the way, Monique Sternin, one of the authors of the book, leads the Positive Deviance Initiative.  Read about it here.

Here are some key quotes from the book, setting up the concept:

As a problem solving process, this approach requires retraining ourselves to pay attention differently…

What matters far more (than the “what”) is the “how” – the very particular journey that each community must engage in to mobilize itself, overcome resignation and fatalism, discover its latent wisdom, and put this wisdom into practice.  This bears repeating:  the community must make the discovery itself.  It alone determines how change can be disseminated through the practice of new behavior – not through explanation or edict.

People are assumed to be rational, and their social system adaptable, and it is sufficient to “give them the answer and expect them to get on with it.”
The standard model is probably the best course of action for roughly 70 to 80 percent of change problems encountered.  But when empirical experience leads us to conclude, “we’ve tried everything and nothing works,” harnessing local understanding may be the only way to break the impasse.

Pay attention differently
Focus on the “how” – results matter!
Don’t assume that people are rational.  You can’t just say, “do this,” and expect people to do it.  “They” (any group that needs a breakthrough) have to discover the “it” from among themselves.

These are just some of the lessons of The Power of Positive Deviance.  More to come as I finish my reading of the book.

If you are in the DFW area, come join us this Friday morning.  My colleague, Karl Krayer, is presenting his synopsis of the new Tony Schwartz book, The Way We’re Working isn’t Working.  These are two really good books, and you really can learn the key content and transferable principles from these books at our event.  Register here.

Energy (Schwartz, et.al.) and Positive Deviance – Coming for the October First Friday Book Synopsis

We had a wonderful gathering this morning for the September First Friday Book Synosis.  Karl Krayer presented the best-seller, Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion, and Purpose by Tony Hsieh (of Zappos fame).  I presented the provocative book The Great Reset: How New Ways of Living and Working Drive Post-Crash Prosperity by Richard Florida.  Both of these synopses will be up soon on our companion web-site (with audio + handout) at 15minutebusinessbooks.com.

For next month, October  1 (the First Friday of October), we have chosen these two books:

The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working: The Four Forgotten Needs That Energize Great Performance by Tony Schwartz, Jean Gomes, Catherine McCarthy Ph.D. (synopsis to be presented by Karl Krayer).
The Power of Positive Deviance: How Unlikely Innovators Solve the World’s Toughest Problems by Richard Pascale, Jerry Sternin, Monique Sternin.  (I will present this synopsis).

In his review of the Schwartz book on our blog (read his full review here), Bob Morris wrote this:

Schwartz suggests that there are four categories of energy needs that must be accommodated for people to work at their best: physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual. Only by fulfilling these generic needs can we fulfill corresponding needs: sustainability, security, self-expression, and significance. The illustration of all this on Page 9 bears at least some resemblance to Abraham Maslow’s “Hierarchy of Needs.”

And in his review of The Power of Positive Deviance (read his full review here), Bob Morris wrote this:

As for “positive deviance,” Richard Pasquale, Jerry Sternin, and Monique Sternin explain it as an awkward, oxymoronic term. “The concept is simple: look for outliers who succeed against all odds…The basic premise is this: (1) Solutions to seemingly intractable problems already exist, (2) they have been discovered by members of the community itself, and (3) these innovators (individual positive deviants) have succeeded even though they share the same constraints and barriers as others.”

We have a wonderful community of learners gathering on the First Friday of every month.  If you are in the DFW area, come join us.  (You will be able to register for this event from this web site soon).