Options and Choices
It’s mostly been the result of mere convenience, for my iPhone is always with me, and my ‘dedicated’ camera isn’t. It was also the result of a forced upgrade to an iPhone 4s when the screen on my old phone shattered, and I discovered just how great the newer iPhone camera is. In those early days of being a newbie user, I’d often be surprised at the photo quality which would result, even if cropped close as a macro zoom.
Pretty thrilling, especially for an amateur photographer like me!
Yet I’ll often wonder: What am I missing in neglecting my Canon? This blog for instance, is a constant prompting of that question, for with few exceptions, the photos I publish here aren’t from my iPhone. (This particular post however, is one of those exceptions: All of these photos were pulled from my Instagram account.)
So I recently did something that would get me to use my Canon again, a simple action that would evoke that convenience factor, at least when I’m working from my home office: I gave my camera a new parking spot, placing it on the easy-grab corner of my desk right next to my iPhone.
It’s only been a week, and I’ll be honest: The results have been frustrating. I’m using the Canon more, but with mixed results. My photo hits are way fewer than my misses. If I don’t have time to fiddle and want a good, quick shot, I reach for my iPhone because between the 2 options, the iPhone photo will be better.
It’s not the Canon, it’s me. This has not been a ‘like riding a bike’ episode for me: I have to relearn how to adjust and select the Canon’s settings all over again. I have to study, I have to practice, and I have to remember. So this morning I got smarter about it, and got the Camera User Guide out of my filing cabinet. I placed it on my desk corner too, sitting the camera on top of it, so ‘look it up!’ can replace trial and error.
Work is full of options and choices too.
There are a whole bunch of situations like this in the work we do, isn’t there. We do certain tasks every single day, and repeat our actions instinctively, but chances are we could, and should, newly study those tasks and actions so we can improve upon them.
Convenience and availability are valid factors, but they aren’t everything. We usually don’t have to improve upon our work for any academic or scientific credentialing purpose, but for highly practical ones that feel satisfying — we want to be power users, smart about what we do.
The workshops I teach are one of my examples: I have a ‘set curriculum’ for the teaching points I know will best convey what Managing with Aloha is all about in workplace culture building, or for grooming a life aligned with values-based choices, but all my sets are works in progress. They have had to qualify themselves in proven case studies to be my standards, yet they are still studied, reassessed, and tweaked for specific customer objectives on an ongoing basis.
Another current example of a personal task, was prepping my income tax returns. It’s something I’ve done annually for decades now, yet each year I know I have to study my m.o. and update my process, or I’ll probably miss something. It can be a costly mistake.
My most expensive mistakes however, have all been connected to work. True that I have this ‘thing’ about HO‘OHANA. But know what? Most people do, even if they don’t phrase it as Ho‘ohana as I do. Work is personal. It just is.
Alaka‘i Managers are workplace students. We study the work.
Alaka‘i Managers shine when they become workplace students. We study the work which is being done by our people, and we help them become power users, smart, confident, and happy about what they do. We want them to shine in what they achieve because they actually do it perceptively, and they do it well. We intercept work in progress so people don’t settle for shortcuts, or get overly frustrated with hit-or-miss fiddling as opposed to smarter learning. We make the right tools available, and we eliminate obstacles. We give our people opportunities to apply what they’ve learned and practiced, so they can reap true usefulness from devoting their best energies to work and workplace mission, and so they become wealthy, continuing to grow within that work.
Conversely, so much of daily work can get stuck in ‘the old way’ where people sense they don’t do it the best possible way, but they plug in and plow through it anyway, simply so they can say it got done. It’s a kind of ‘done’ which feels like a cheat though, and it isn’t very satisfying. If their work is part of a larger chain reaction in workplace accomplishment, they become painfully aware of how their cheat can negate the whole, or keep it from being as exceptional as it could be. Kūlia i ka nu‘u eludes them.
Alaka‘i Managers create the study. We make work better.
We managers must believe in the possibility of good work, and we must believe in people who struggle to believe in themselves: Ka lā hiki ola and the ‘Can do’ attitude of Ho‘ohiki.
Managers are those who will CREATE workplace study, making it enjoyable and rewarding to pursue mission and vision. We’re the dreamers of drill downs, experiments, and pilot projects. We’re the best next-steppers, and we batch. If we’re Alaka‘i Managers, we go for value alignment in worthwhile work as that sweet spot (a person’s Ho‘ohana), building a healthy workplace culture at the same time.
If I’m to be successful with my Canon again, for I was at one time, before the iPhone 4s clouded over my learning memories of it, I have to make time for the study again, and I have to create my enjoyment of that study. I’ll have to set up some ‘artist dates’ where I go on new photo-walks and leave my iPhone in the car. I’ll have to take dozens of photos using different camera settings until my usage memory returns and my practice improves, and I’m again getting those photos I sense I’ve been missing. That done, I’ll then have to get into a new rhythm, where Canon and iPhone coexist in my happy life in the most pleasing way.
I’m highly motivated to accomplish this. I will be posting to Flickr from my Canon again. The photos on this blog will be new again, and not pulled from my archives as much.
Lean in. Look closely. Nudge the possibility.
We cannot assume that a similar self-motivation, determination and commitment is happening in our workplaces. The possibility is always there, but it may be asleep, needing a gentle nudge to awaken it. That nudge is one of those best reasons why managers MATTER; they check in. They step in to question and listen, to suggest, to facilitate, to teach and coach, and to support. They are the nudge. They sense it whenever readiness happens, and they zoom in to capitalize on it.
And so dear manager, this is what I ask you to do in your practice of Managing with Aloha, self-motivated, determined, and committed to being the Alaka‘i Manager I know you can be.
At the end of your work day today, read this paragraph again, and assess: Is this what you did today?
Alaka‘i Managers shine when they become workplace students. We study the work which is being done by our people, and we help them become power users, smart, confident, and happy about what they do. We want them to shine in what they achieve because they actually do it perceptively, and they do it well. We intercept work in progress so people don’t settle for shortcuts, or get overly frustrated with hit-or-miss fiddling as opposed to smarter learning. We make the right tools available, and we eliminate obstacles. We give our people opportunities to apply what they’ve learned and practiced, so they can reap true usefulness from devoting their best energies to work and workplace mission, and continuing to grow within that work.
Then tomorrow, be more proactive: Read the paragraph first thing in the morning, and go find your opportunities. Be a student, and study the work. Be more curious, and succumb to that curiosity completely, so the workplace intrigues, and fascinates you again. Nudge all possibility.
Do this for yourself, and do it for others. Lead by example as you create opportunities where satisfying work plays out in that sweet spot we call HO‘OHANA.