Thursday, September 27, 2007

Stretch and Be Stretched

A few weeks ago I was hit with some chronic back pain. It didn't matter how I moved; it was all bad. After growing increasingly impatient and distracted by the whole matter I visited my family doctor, who promptly diagnosed me with "tight as hell" hamstrings and sent me to physical therapy for a few sessions.

The sessions with enlightening and more educational than painful. I learned that I've basically never stretched my hamstrings in a proper manner, and the impact this had taken on my back. The therapists showed me several new techniques for strengthening my "core," both my back and abdominal region, including ways to be intentional about stretching while sitting at a desk in front of a computer (not that I ever sit in front of a computer, of course.)

A few weeks later, I'm not fully free of the stiffness I feel in my back when I first wake up...but I am free of the pain. I am embracing a "stretch lifestyle," and am grateful that I have the opportunity to be proactive about an aspect of my health that can serve as an impediment to almost anything else if left unchecked.

The physical therapists were professionals who helped stretch me and taught me how to stretch myself from a physiological standpoint. I also have appreciated lots of individuals, both at close range and through books or talks, who have helped to stretch me in professional, spiritual and emotional ways.

I have learned that I am never as supple or flexible as I could be, and am always in need of a good stretch. I need to keep my muscles warm and ready for the game, for there are no time-outs. My goal is to keep people in my life who constantly stretch me, and who hopefully are stretched by me as well. They could be family members, friends, colleagues, bosses, mentors, coaches, clients or "former" strangers. The key is to be stretched by someone, and hopefully maintain proper form while doing so.

Who stretches you? Are you feeling any tightness right now that is hindering your reach?

Technorati Tags:;;

Labels: , , ,

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Doing What You Love

I had a few hours to myself the other day, and found that I must not exclude myself from being the target of penetrating questions regarding things that matter.

For a variety of reasons, I had good cause to scribble on paper a list entitled "Things I love to do." It boiled down to this:

• Nurture the members of my immediate family

• Write and talk about interesting themes and connections from the Humanities, whether fact or fiction—for the sake of simply learning or for application purposes

• Learn in ways that stretch both my heart and mind

• Make people laugh as part of a memorable learning experience or conversation

• Motivate people toward positive behavioral and perspective changes

Generating such a list naturally led to the key questions I cannot and should not escape. They are universal in application, relevant to anyone in my humble opinion:

• What am I doing now that positions me to do more of what I love?

• What should I be doing, or doing more of?

• What should I stop doing?

I brainstormed several possible answers to each of these questions, which I shall not bore you with at the moment (or at any moment, hopefully). But put the questions to your own test...and give yourself permission to do more of what you love! Others will notice the change...

Technorati Tags: ; ;

Labels: , ,

Thursday, September 06, 2007

Wanted: Social Architects

Peter Block nails it.

Near the end of his book The Answer to How Is Yes: Acting on What Matters, Block discusses the dominant organizational archetypes of the engineer, economist and artist. The first two, he asserts, currently dominate industry and its prevalent desire for measurement and results (often in contrast to what is most worth doing at the end of the day). The artist has a tougher time finding his or her way, and often when given power does not always make the best choices for an organization or for themselves.

But Block also refers to the archetype of the architect, a professional who balances practicality and results with aesthetics and beauty. The architect, he writes, begins with the engineer’s question of "what function or use will this serve?”…and once the utilitarian aims are established, moves on to questions of “feeling, ambience, taste and personal values.” The strategy of the architect, Block says, is to “bring the engineer and the artist together.”

What is needed, then, is a rebirth for changing times of the “social architect” motif; an individual who can, as Block puts it, “act on the aesthetics, values and intuition of a situation in the manner of the artist, and also act on the material or concrete aspects of a situation in the manner of the economist-engineer.” The social architect designs “social space” rather than just physical space, giving people room to act on what matters the most while delivering on institutional objectives.

Easier said than done. But Block has given additional language to my ensuing passion for shaping organizational life in a manner where art, business and learning intersect, where persons need no longer feel so subdivided. The engineer, economist and artist, Block adds, must get together to design a social system “where the personal, intimate and subjective qualities of the institution are valued along with the practical, technical and economic objectives.”

Can you think of a better place to work than the confluence of such objectives? This approach transcends industries and fads. The architectural studio is before us, and the drafting equipment and tools are found in our individual strengths, experiences, relational networks and accumulated wisdom.

What opportunities do you currently have to wear the social architect’s hat?

Technorati Tags: , ,,