There Is No Wrong Way.

While walking the other day, I spied this sign. Of course, I had to walk towards it. I’ve always had a bit of a contrarian streak within me. Even as a kid, if my sisters were going one way, I went the other —just to see what would happen.

I did my entire walk the “wrong way” that day. I enjoyed crossing paths with other walkers, runners and cyclists and being able to greet them “face-to-face” with a smile or a nod. If I’d been walking the “right way,” I would have missed those human interactions, so important in today’s world.

One of my earlier posts, Walking (and Working) Backwards, came to mind. In that post, I explore some possible advantages to starting a project somewhere in “the middle” or even, at “the end.” There is certainly more than one way to approach a problem, reach a goal or generate a new idea.

On my “wrong way” walk, I recalled yet another of my earlier posts. In it, I recount “The Rules” attributed to John Cage, one of the most influential American composers of the 20th century. Many of his works disrupted the way we think about listening. To Cage, music was everywhere and could be made with anything. Chance plays a big role in many of his works.

Although Cage’s “Rules” are geared towards students and teachers, we can all learn from them. His Rule Six is my favorite. “Nothing is a mistake.” I need to remind myself of this, regularly. There is no “wrong way” to accomplish anything.

I also love the ambiguity of Rule Ten. “We’re breaking all the rules. Even our own rules.” I couldn’t agree more. Whether it pertains to our work or our play, there are no rules. We’re all learning and adapting as we go — especially lately.

There Is No Wrong Way.

Learning to Unmeasure

UnMeasureMeasurement is really about the past. When we analyze, or measure anything, we’re using the past as the benchmark. How backwards.

Try as we might, we cannot truly measure success. We may think we can. We may attain a certain level of confidence, knowing we’ve reached a prescribed goal. But, truly successful people are smart enough to focus on the future, rather than the past. They use each new success as a launching pad for their next challenge and subsequent success.

Happiness is another unmeasurable. Happiness is intangible and fleeting. It seemingly comes and goes throughout our lives. The wisest among us learn to amortize happiness over the course of life, rather than gauging happiness on a day-to-day basis. Happiness is an art.

Art. Now, there’s an unmeasurable. Art looks, feels and sounds different every time we interact with it. Music and art critics attempt to use words to convey the value of any musical composition, piece of art or literary work, but most of those critics will admit that words are a poor measurement tool. Art is, after all, about feeling, both for the artist and the viewer, listener or consumer of that art. And, how can we measure feelings?

On the business side, is it really possible to measure brand loyalty? Or return on social investment (ROSI)? We can attempt to, but these are almost as elusive to measure as happiness and feelings. And, by the way, brand loyalty and ROSI each include a certain amount of happiness (or unhappiness) and other feelings at their core.

And, what about employee engagement? Do we really need fancy tools to measure that? Engaged employees do positively affect a company’s bottom line (now, that’s a measurement). But, perhaps, employee engagement should be regarded more as a philosophy, rather than something to be measured. When we begin to measure something, we’re then compelled to analyze it to the point that we lose the human element. And, employees want to be treated as humans, not numbers.

That which gets measured matters? Or that which matters is worth measuring?

I say neither. Thankfully, the most important things in life and in business cannot truly be measured. We should all practice the art of unmeasuring once in a while. By doing so, we’ll give ourselves the opportunity to become better listeners, better observers, better friends and better leaders.

What are your thoughts? What are some areas in your personal and/or business life where you can take an unmeasurement approach?

Write. Just Write.

writer'sblock

Ever had writer’s block?

I have. (And, probably will have again — many times.) A technique I experimented with recently is this:

Write. Just write.

I sat down in a coffee shop with my tablet and just started writing, seemingly without thinking. I typed random thoughts. I pushed myself to simply move my fingers, concentrating on the process.

At first, those thoughts seemed unrelated, but within the span of five minutes or less, I realized that those thoughts were related! It was as if my “data dump” of miscellaneous thoughts, once they appeared on my screen, suddenly began to make sense to me. I was able to quickly connect my “dots of randomness” into a cohesive story.

Now, this “story” is not necessarily one that I’m ready to share here on my public blog. It’s the technique of unblocking that I feel is worth sharing.

Try it. Let me know if it works for you.

Write. Just write.

by Rebecca Cochran