Elephant Gun

November is National Blog Post Month (NaBloPoMo). This post is part of my post-a-day challenge. I have picked a theme for the challenge: song titles. These songs have been featured on live albums from KEXP (an awesome alternative radio station in Seattle), so at a minimum you will hear some great music.

Powerful and dangerous, the elephant gun was originally created for the hunting of large game. The reason for it’s existence is clear in its name. It was designed for killing elephants. The gun looks intimating. There is no doubting it’s power.

But in relationships, intimidation rarely leads to success. It’s the opposite. The elephant gun of a relationship is listening – not speaking. It’s also important to consider the how and where you listen. If you are trying to persuade your child, your coworker, your spouse, etc. are you entering into his world? If not, you should. Go and listen. Ask why – a lot. (Maybe 5 times!)

Listening is a powerful weapon in your relationship arsenal. It allows you to empathize and understand root causes. This will give you the ammo you need to make subtle changes to how you approach the people in your life.

Listen.

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The beats of a story

Illustration: Oscar Ramos Orozco

I love this post at 99u on “The five beats of successful storytelling.” I plan to use this to explore the story I want to tell at an upcoming talk.

As I have mentioned before, storytelling is so crucial in today’s world. There is so much information floating around, the only thing that tends to get our attention is a well crafted story.

My take on the importance of storytelling overtime

  • pre-3000 BC – I would love to write some of this stuff down, but I don’t know how to yet. It’s easier for my cro-magnon brain to process a story, so tell me about the story about that enormous woolly mammoth you killed with your bare hands and I will draw pictures of it on this cave wall.
  • 3000 BC – 2013 – This industrialist work/life balance has really got me down. Can you just send me the excel spreadsheet with last quarters’ sales figures?
  • 2013 and beyond – I have a million tweets a minute coming at me. Lot’s of information, but nothing is sticking. My modern hipster mind would love a story so I can make sense of all of this.

So as you can see from my exhaustive chronicle of time, storytelling is back in. There’s no doubt that good storytelling has always been valued, but I believe stories help us separate the signal from the noise.

So check out the framework and 99u’s article. Try and craft your story doing this…I am working on mine and hope to blog about it in a few days.

The only way to do it

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After my spouse and I were pronounced man and wife, the minister made a small verbal misstep. He had undoubtedly officiated hundreds of weddings and knew what to say.

We all know what to say…”You may now kiss the bride.”

Despite all that experience, something happened. The minister looked my square in the eye and said “Lance…now you can do it.”

The congregation laughed uncomfortably, I kissed my bride, and we have been happily married for over ten years.

Now knowing how my wedding ended, it should not be a surprise that seeing the sign shown above makes me think of the minister’s charge. This sign hangs prominently at Stanford’s d.school and I took this picture the last time I was there.

I’ve been thinking a lot about “doing” lately. For most of us, it is much easier to sit on the couch, stay at your desk, or to not speak up in the meeting. Non-action seems to have less risk – key word being “seems”.

Non-action and not doing is every bit as risking as doing. It happens over time, almost so slow that you don’t notice it – non-action allows your skills to weaken to the point at which your contribution isn’t valued and you become a non-factor.

The best strategy for mitigating this risk is to act. To take a risk. To move from the couch. To leave your desk – Go talk to the guy in accounting that no one will talk to. Go talk to a customer. Go ask you friends what you are doing that is short of your potential. Go ask your neighbor what you can do to help them. Go do something that scares you a little and that might fail.

I want to be know as a doer. That’s how we learn. By taking risks and making mistakes. I build to think. Building is all about doing. Sure, you make start by sketching out a plan, but you build as soon as you can. You test your plan and then refine and build again.

Join me in doing.