Wednesday, May 18, 2011


On a playground, the way you swing higher and higher is to pump your legs in the same rhythm that the swing would swing if you pulled it back and let it go - the resonant frequency. The way you push down a small but formidable tree (I as did last week) is to push at the natural frequency that the tree naturally oscillates at (in that case about once per second back and forth, back and forth). Tiny.. small.. bigger.. bigger.. bigger.. BIGGER.. BIGGER.. down!

People jumping to music in bleachers or wind gusts hitting bridges are two other places where jumping or gusting just in the right regular tempo makes the movement grow bigger and bigger until it breaks.

A leader I worked with always talked about starting things at the right time of year - the time of year that makes sense to people. The more I think about it, that was a commitment to hitting the organization at it resonate frequency.

To move anything... a company, an organization, a family, an employee... push at the resonate frequency. As it naturally oscillates, push things at just the right time to make the oscillation bigger. Unveil exciting things at the annual conference. If your kids are especially receptive at bedtime, speak things that mold their character at bedtime -- not when they're cranky right after school. Your church operates on the school calendar... start new things at the semester breaks.

Move things at the regular frequency with which they want to be moved - the timing they "resonate" with. Any other timing than that has the feeling of being jerky and dampens the effect you are trying to achieve.

Sunday, May 15, 2011


If you are feeling down, just start smiling. I'm not talking about tricking yourself psychologically. I'm talking about how the physical action of your smiling face sends signals to your brain changing your mood. Try it!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Why can 'no' not sometimes be 'yes'?

I'm not a big James Dobson fan, but one thing he said years ago has really stuck with me.

As parents, sometimes we just get in the habit of saying 'no' to our kids.

Can I play with your iPhone? No
Can I have some ice cream (30 minutes before dinner)? No
Can we stop by the gas station and get a Coke? No

Many times 'no' is the right answer, but does it always have to be?

Sometime soon, when you would normally say 'no' to your kids, try saying 'yes'. It'll be fun to see their reaction.

Is there really a good reason why 'no' cannot sometimes be 'yes'?

Monday, May 09, 2011

Book of Remembrance

Warning: This is a little touch-y/feel-y but sometimes leadership requires that.

Pastor Harry Li inspired me a while back to have what he calls a "Book of Remembrance". It's just a journal where you can write down funny, cute, or special things that happen in your family.

A few keys:
-- If you're the one starting the book, only you can write in it. If the kids or your spouse ask to write in it, say "Get your own book!"
-- Keep the book in a certain place with a pen attached so it's very easy to write things down. If it's always getting misplaced or there's no pen around, it'll be too hard and you won't write in it.
-- Pull it out every once in a while and read some posts to the family... great laughs and special moments.

If something feels funky...

One of my favorite leaders, Bill Hybels, says "If something feels funky, engage!" He speaks of that mostly in regard to work team dynamics going south, but I find it's useful in any area of life.

If the fridge is making a weird noise or the car has a weird smell, waiting won't make it go away. And, every day you wait, you worry.

Whether it's a relationship problem, a technical problem, a mechanical problem, a work team problem... just engage sooner instead of later and you'll keep it from getting worse.

Sometimes you'll find, when you do bite the bullet and engage the problem, that it's not quite as bad as you thought.

If something feels funky, ENGAGE!

Thrash Early

In Linchpin, Seth Godin talks about thrashing early. Often we do things on our own in an organization and then the closer we get to the finish line of a project, the more and higher up people get involved in approving the end product. That is thrashing late... only getting the collective wisdom of the team near the end when it's too late to make it better. Thrashing early is hashing things out on the front end, and then as the project goes along there's less and less input needed from others.

That's thrashing early as a team, but what about thrashing early internally with your own relationship to the project? It's easy to put off the hard trashing til later. You glance and see a couple of things that need to change in that print piece being designed, but you think you'll let it go. And then you find yourself (on the day the piece was going to print thousands) having to hold things up because that one sentence doesn't make sense. You knew it wasn't right a week ago, but you didn't thrash early and say something.

Or, what about when you half-way review some creative work and think it's good enough, but then right before time to ship you see something that could have made it 10 times better.

Thrash early! Engage your brain and heart fully early on so there's time to act on what you think and feel before you get too close to the shipping date.