Posts Tagged ‘Motivational’

A Leader for a New Generation: Public Service

I often read research reports, presentations and hear executives making speeches referencing the “new generation”. The concept is often presented as vague and futuristic. The way the government goes about its business, it seems as though we haven’t arrived yet.

Being part of this new generation, I wanted to offer my own thoughts. Primarily, I wanted to discuss what I believe will constitute a successful public service leader of the future. The four aspects of a future public service leader that I outline below are based on my current beliefs of my own generation, often misunderstood and stereotyped. I make the following assumptions of my generation, adopted from Don Tapscott’s book: Grown Up Digital. The book was the result of a $4 million research project that interviewed over 10,000 people. It accurately portrays (accurate in my experience) what Don Tapscott terms the “Net Generation” (those born between 1977 and 1997, often referred to as the Millennial or the Echo Boom) and provides insight into how this generation is and will continue to change the world.

The eight “norms” of this generation are as follows, followed by my own commentary as applied to the public service:

Freedom of Choice: Millennials want freedom and choice. Freedom over one’s own work plan, including how to get a particular job done (the freedom to use own software or tools). Freedom from the office, meaning they want to be free to integrate their work lives with their private lives (dont block gmail at work!).

Natural Collaborators: Millennials create natural networks through social media and other tools. They expect to be stakeholders for any product they buy. They want to join the conversation rather than simply observe it (reading a newspaper online vs. web 2.0)

Sceptics: Being constantly bombarded by information has become a state of normalcy for Millennials. Within an instant, they are able to find reviews, commentary and reaction on a particular product or policy issue. Naturally, they become sceptics, questioning authority. In the workplace, this translates to the need for open spaces, dissent and dialogue, rather than hierarchy and taking orders from the top down.

Insist on Integrity: Traditional barriers between government and citizens no longer exist. The advent of the internet has allowed citizens to easily communicate with elected officials, public servants, the media and each other. This open flow of communication has provided Millennials with new methods to seek out the truth. Millennials come to expect no less from their superiors in government.

Want to have fun: staying connected means having fun. Millennials want work to be fun. In return, they will stay motivated and productive. For example, for a Millennial, the “two 15min breaks” doesnt work. Sometimes they want a 2minute break to go on facebook, or a 20min break to work on their blog. This integration of social life with work life should not be seen as a negative, but rather the solution to making employees more motivated and productive.

Speed is normal: Millennials are constantly bombarded by diverse bits of information flow. This is normal, which is why many find the pace of government such a burden to progress and in conflict with the lives they live outside the office. An instant question requires an instant response. This is how workplaces should begin to orient themselves.

Innovation is a part of life: Millennials can recognize a problem quickly. Often problems are recognized through any of these norms, or lenses above. Solutions are often sought in collaboration with others, taking ideas and applying them to unique contexts. This, Millennials are always looking for new ways to collaborate, learn and work. Give them these options and they will excel in what they do.

This brings me to the four aspects that a future leader in the public service must embody in order to successfully manage the “new generation”:

1) Unite around common cause: There is a fundamental human need to feel part of something bigger than ourselves. Abraham Maslow in his 1943 paper A Theory of Human Motivation, outlined what he termed the “Hierarchy of Needs” to explain that people are motivated to fulfill basic needs before moving on to other needs, ultimately reaching a state of self-actualization. Psychologists have studied and built on this theory for years, with many concluding that a sense of purpose is a basic fundamental trait of the human psyche, and without it, many fall to depression and isolation. To this end, many turn to religious faith while others find purpose in their career or the pursuit of a family. What all three of these examples have in common is that they are profoundly motivational – people are motivated by a higher purpose, being part of something bigger than themselves. Effective leaders must establish a cause, from day one, for which to motivate their staff. The cause should be communicated as worthy, progressive and on the side of the future.

2) Walk the Walk. Talk the Talk: morale is contagious. As such, it is vitally important to set the tone. Leaders that demonstrate inconsistency or incompetence will be less respected for it. Those that demonstrate self-sacrifice and devotion will want to be followed. Personal example is the best way to set the proper tone and build morale. People thrive off positive energy. In groups, the effect is multiplied. Set a positive, future oriented tone from day one, or risk losing your staff to those that do.

3) Reward High Fliers; Weed Out Slackers: All groups contain a core of people that are more dedicated and disciplined than the rest. As a leader, it is important to recognize and reward these people. At the same time, keep a low tolerance for slackers. Controlling perceptions is half the battle: be careful not to appear to have trouble addressing sensitive issues or your staff will have less faith in you, or worse yet, take advantage.

4) Stay Dynamic and Unpredictable: never bet on stability. Everything changes. Appear to be fluid and adaptable, changing to the times when circumstances call for it. The new generation of public servants is hungry for a type of newness. Managers that are rigid, have set identities and hardened habits elicit boredom. Being dynamic, on the other hand, elicits excitement and a sense of urgency, creating an atmosphere of necessity and purpose. This is what breeds innovation.


Farewell Letter

If I was granted a little bit more of life, I would use it to the best of my ability.

I would give merit to things not for what they are worth, but for what they mean to express.

I would sleep little, I would dream more, because I know that for every minute that we close our eyes, we waste 60 seconds of light.

I would walk while others stop; I would awake while others sleep.

If I was granted a little bit more of life, I would dress in a simple manner, I would place myself in front of the sun, leaving not only my body, but my soul naked at its mercy.

To all men, I would say how mistaken they are when they think that they stop falling in love when they grow old, without knowing that they grow old when they stop falling in love.

I would give wings to children, but I would leave it to them to learn how to fly by themselves.

To old people I would say that death doesn’t arrive when they grow old, but with forgetfulness.

I have learned so much with you all, I have learned that everybody wants to live on top of the mountain, without knowing that true happiness is obtained in the journey taken & the form used to reach the top of the hill.

I have learned that when a newborn baby holds, with its little hand, his father’s finger, it has trapped him for the rest of his life.

I have learned that a man has the right and obligation to look down at another man, only when that man needs help to get up from the ground.

Say always what you feel, not what you think. If I knew that today is the last time that that I am going to see you asleep, I would hug you with all my strength and I would pray to the Lord to let me be the guardian angel of your soul.

If I knew that these are the last moments to see you, I would say “I love you.”

There is always tomorrow, and life gives us another opportunity to do things right, but in case I am wrong, and today is all that is left to me, I would love to tell you how much I love you & that I will never forget you.

Tomorrow is never guaranteed to anyone, young or old. Today could be the last time to see your loved ones, which is why you mustn’t wait; do it today, in case tomorrow never arrives. I am sure you will be sorry you wasted the opportunity today to give a smile, a hug, a kiss, and that you were too busy to grant them their last wish.

Keep your loved ones near you; tell them in their ears and to their faces how much you need them and love them. Love them and treat them well; take your time to tell them “I am sorry,” “forgive me, “please,” “thank you,” and all those loving words you know.

Show your friends and loved ones how important they are to you.

A farewell letter from Gabriel Garcia Marquez on his deathbed

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Eight Tips for Winning Brains

Eight Tips for Winning Brains

Self-awareness: Train yourself to interpret other people’s facial expressions and body language by watching scenes from a movie on mute. Then watch the scene again, this time with volume, and compare how well your interpretations matched up. You can improve this skill over time.

Motivation: If you have a problem with procrastination, make large tasks feel more manageable by breaking them down into parts.

Focus: Like playing Whac-a-Mole, sometimes you can actually perform better when you’re not concentrating too hard. If something’s not coming to you despite your best efforts, try relaxing and letting the brain work on autopilot.

Emotional balance: Practice managing your emotions by changing your perspective of a situation. Research shows that if you think of a highly emotional event as a challenge rather than a problem, you can stay calmer and retain a better memory for details.

Memory: “Edit your brain,” the authors say. Recognize and consciously purge useless information. Imagine sweeping it away, so you can concentrate on more useful data.

Resilience: When you’re in a tough spot, think of a “resilience role model,” a parent, teacher or mentor, and ask yourself what they would do in your situation. That way, you’ll have more than your own resources to draw upon.

Adaptability: Try a few minutes of meditation a day to calm your thoughts. Studies show “regular yoga and meditation can increase cortical thickness in as little as eight weeks.”

Brain care: Research suggests that 30 minutes of moderate physical activity, three times a week, can help strengthen your mind.

by Mark Fenske and Jeff Brown in their new book The Winner’s Brain.

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Barack Obama’s Letter to his Daughters

I often post articles, stories, short phrases, quotes and other literature that I consider motivational. Motivation can be defined as the driving force behind all the actions of an individual. People are inspired or motivated in different ways. I believe we could always use more motivation because the world in which we live is too often characterized by competition and self-interest, rather than the values we are asked to promote in the workplace, like teamwork and working towards the public good.

Upon winning the Presidency, Barack Obama wrote a letter to his two daughters. The letter didnt garner much media attention, however it did make its way around the internet fairly quickly, instilling a sense of optimism upon the people that read it. I am sharing it here not only as a source of motivation, but as a demonstration of leadership in public service values and ethics shared innocently in a letter from a father to his children.

Dear Malia and Sasha,

I know that you’ve both had a lot of fun these last two years on the campaign trail, going to picnics and parades and state fairs, eating all sorts of junk food your mother and I probably shouldn’t have let you have. But I also know that it hasn’t always been easy for you and Mom, and that as excited as you both are about that new puppy, it doesn’t make up for all the time we’ve been apart. I know how much I’ve missed these past two years, and today I want to tell you a little more about why I decided to take our family on this journey.

When I was a young man, I thought life was all about me—about how I’d make my way in the world, become successful, and get the things I want. But then the two of you came into my world with all your curiosity and mischief and those smiles that never fail to fill my heart and light up my day. And suddenly, all my big plans for myself didn’t seem so important anymore. I soon found that the greatest joy in my life was the joy I saw in yours. And I realized that my own life wouldn’t count for much unless I was able to ensure that you had every opportunity for happiness and fulfillment in yours. In the end, girls, that’s why I ran for President: because of what I want for you and for every child in this nation.

I want all our children to go to schools worthy of their potential—schools that challenge them, inspire them, and instill in them a sense of wonder about the world around them. I want them to have the chance to go to college—even if their parents aren’t rich. And I want them to get good jobs: jobs that pay well and give them benefits like health care, jobs that let them spend time with their own kids and retire with dignity.

I want us to push the boundaries of discovery so that you’ll live to see new technologies and inventions that improve our lives and make our planet cleaner and safer. And I want us to push our own human boundaries to reach beyond the divides of race and region, gender and religion that keep us from seeing the best in each other.

Sometimes we have to send our young men and women into war and other dangerous situations to protect our country—but when we do, I want to make sure that it is only for a very good reason, that we try our best to settle our differences with others peacefully, and that we do everything possible to keep our servicemen and women safe. And I want every child to understand that the blessings these brave Americans fight for are not free—that with the great privilege of being a citizen of this nation comes great responsibility.

That was the lesson your grandmother tried to teach me when I was your age, reading me the opening lines of the Declaration of Independence and telling me about the men and women who marched for equality because they believed those words put to paper two centuries ago should mean something.

She helped me understand that America is great not because it is perfect but because it can always be made better—and that the unfinished work of perfecting our union falls to each of us. It’s a charge we pass on to our children, coming closer with each new generation to what we know America should be.

I hope both of you will take up that work, righting the wrongs that you see and working to give others the chances you’ve had. Not just because you have an obligation to give something back to this country that has given our family so much—although you do have that obligation. But because you have an obligation to yourself. Because it is only when you hitch your wagon to something larger than yourself that you will realize your true potential.

These are the things I want for you—to grow up in a world with no limits on your dreams and no achievements beyond your reach, and to grow into compassionate, committed women who will help build that world. And I want every child to have the same chances to learn and dream and grow and thrive that you girls have. That’s why I’ve taken our family on this great adventure.

I am so proud of both of you. I love you more than you can ever know. And I am grateful every day for your patience, poise, grace, and humor as we prepare to start our new life together in the White House.

Love, Dad

Rediscover Curiosity

As a child, we all had a need and hunger for knowledge, to overcome ignorance, so we observed the world as closely as possible, absorbing large amounts of information. Everything was a source of wonder. With time, our minds tend to close off. At some point, we feel like we know what we need to know; our opinions are certain and firm. We do this out of fear. We dont want our assumptions about life challenged. If we go too far in this direction, we can become extremely defensive and cover up our fears by acting with supreme confidence and certainty.

What we all need to do in life is return to that mind we possessed as a child, opening up to experience instead of closing it off. Just imagine for one day that you do not know anything, that what you believe could be completely false. Let go of your preconceptions and even your most cherished beliefs. Experiment. Force yourself to hold the opposition opinion or see the world through other’s eyes. Listen to the people around you with more attentiveness. See everything as a source for education – even the most banal encounters. Imagine that the world is still full of mystery.

When you operate this way, you will notice that something strange happens. Opportunities will begin to fall into your lap because you are suddenly more receptive to them. Sometimes luck or serendipity is more a function of the openness of your mind.

Robert Greene

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