For the most part, I don’t give a shit about results anymore. I know, I’m a heretic. Especially at work where the mantra is all’s about delivering results.
But what is the result of our life but just death? Results are the ends. I’m much more interested in the means. How we get there, wherever there might be.
I recently caught myself admitting to a colleague that I like when we have problems on our projects. When something goes “wrong”. Because then we have the opportunity to learn and to try to fix it. There is so much more growth this way.
Of course, given the choice, I prefer to achieve so-called ‘good’ results vs. ‘bad’ results eventually. But not because of the result themselves, but rather because it keeps me employed and allows me to keep going and learning. Getting a salary is not a bad thing and I’d like to keep doing it. Not only to have the cash on hand, but to use it to enjoy life or help others when.
One might argue that the growth/learning from overcoming a challenge is another result and the above is only semantics. But growth means nothing on its own. It only takes on its value when you move along and start to apply it. It’s like force/strength in physics. It only becomes power when applied and progress is made.
In my creative life I’ve published six books. They sit on a shelf and I’ll admit that I appreciate them at some level. They are objects that represent my creative efforts and growth. Yet, the real pleasure is when someone reads them. Perhaps some of it is pride and desire for recognition, but I feel it’s more about sharing an experience between myself and the reader on our respective life’s journeys. Any feedback nourishes me so that I can keep on creating, but in new ways.
Recently my latest manuscript, a collection of poetry inspired by poems, was rejected by a ‘dream publisher’ and I was very disappointed. I thought my concept was great and it was some of my best work yet. Yes, I wanted the “yes”. I was sad upon the news which was provided gently but generically. Yet, when I went back to my manuscript to review it again, I found many areas that could be strengthened. In the almost six months of waiting for the publisher to respond to my query, I’d already grown and my work improved vs. the original submission. The “rejection” was an opportunity for me to reflect. And I’ve decided to move forward in a related but new direction for the work and see what becomes of it.
Letting go of the results is a key to creativity. I work in the field of innovation. As an engineer I was trained to fix problems. This is important know-how, but it can get in the way of creativity. Engineers constantly start with the solution first. With the end in mind. Then they are either successful or unsuccessful in making the solution viable. Yet most historical innovations are discovered not planned. They come from “accidents” or “surprises”. Not all, but most. However it doesn’t need to be this way. If we learn to allow the “result” or “solution” to be undefined and focus on the problem with an open mind we allow space for creativity and enable the discovery of unexpected solutions.
This is a key principle of Design Thinking in the field of innovation. To focus on defining an innovative and insightful problem statement (without presupposing the solution) is the most critical step in the process. Once you have an innovative problem statement, you’ve dramatically increased your potential of coming up with an innovative solution.
To develop an insightful and innovative understanding of the problem to be “solved” without projecting solutions is hard. It takes divergent thinking which goes against most of our training. Engineers and scientists are trained to apply scientific laws and mathematics to deduce results and converge on an answer. Marketers and business people are also trained to be analytical in their thinking and rationalize their way to an answer. We’ve been very good in developing professionals that are masters of convergent thinking. In China, where I work, this is also compounded by the culture where “top-down”, directive management is the norm. Here the solution is mandated by the boss and then there are a 1000 hands to make it happen. The lack of diversity of thought stifles innovation.
I’ve been working in China now for over a decade and what I’ve discovered is that the talent here is extraordinary when unleashed by the right leadership mindset and given a safe space to learn. I’ve been pretty successful in developing this type of space for my team and I’ve seen tremendous growth in my team members. I’ve been less successful in managing up and across the organization to have a broader impact. I bristle at the directive leadership style and micromanagement that comes from it and I tend to be a bit judgmental of leaders with that approach. I think I’m coming to a realization that I have a learning opportunity as to how to provide an environment that helps these other leaders learn. What is their “safe space” to grow and learn? Instead of challenging and banging my head against the wall (ceiling) counterproductively, how can I draw out the best of them. This is hard for me. A problem without clear solution. A perfect growth opportunity for myself.
I had no idea where this write was going. I guess that’s fitting considering I’ve been making the point that I don’t focus on the results. But I’ve enjoyed the journey and glad to have you come along for the ride.
- Under the Earth’s ShadowI lay awake under the earth’s shadowGentle breathing curled at my feetA companion in this darknessHolding guard against The cold reality and coming lightFor I’mContinue reading “Under the Earth’s Shadow”
- Blue HeronBe well, Monty
- Endure MeEndure meEndure my cold feet under the sheetsEndure my rough breaths sawing through the night’s airMy tossing and turningMy hogging all the blanketsMy nightmare kicksMyContinue reading “Endure Me”
- DepartingBe well, Monty
- Scenes from TodayThese are untouched photographs from today’s walk on Bainbridge Island, Washington (just applied a simple frame). Be well, Monty
- Perched in the MoonlightBe well, Monty
- Playing with TimeBe well, Monty
- How Did I Get to This Beautiful Place?Be well, Monty
- Birds in FlightBe well, Monty
- Rising SunBe well, Monty
- Forest MoonBe well, Monty
- BlessedBe well, Monty
- Snowy SceneHappy snow day! Be well, Monty
- Peek-a-BooPoking my head up after a spontaneous hiatus. I hope you are all well – happy and healthy. I’m on holiday visiting my mom inContinue reading “Peek-a-Boo”
- A Return to PatternsBe well, Monty
- QuietHe’s been quiet lately. The voice in my head. The voice that is, quite frankly, a bit nuts. Often compelling me toward darkness. Vacillating betweenContinue reading “Quiet”
- TodayToday’s a gorgeous weather day. Cool with a light breeze. Bright and sunny aside from my spot in the shade of the tree above me.Continue reading “Today”
- Shine OnShine on, shine on, shine on meShine your light on meLight me up, cast away my doubtsLift me out of these shadowsI’m ready, I’m ready,Continue reading “Shine On”
- Here I Go AgainHere I go again. Interrupting this negative space with some generic typeface. No particular intentions. Just wanna release built-up tensions. It’s coming out in dripsContinue reading “Here I Go Again”
- A Test of the HeartI’m wearing a Holter heart monitor today and I can’t help but wonder if it can see past the irregular beats and witness how whollyContinue reading “A Test of the Heart”
- An Observation and a QueryA fly walks by. S t r e t c h i n g Its legs, I guess? Be well, Monty
- A Gentle Drizzle Sets the SceneA gentle drizzle sets the scene;The last of the season’s persimmons hang-on,Half-concealed behind leaves shimmering underA quiet concert of pitter-patter percussion. In quick succession aContinue reading “A Gentle Drizzle Sets the Scene”
- The BirdsThe birds are watching me from the wire above. What are they thinking? Do they see my sadness?Or are they too busy balancing in theContinue reading “The Birds”
- Mired in MudMired in mud.I don’t like this feeling, but I appreciate the alliteration. Mired in mud, mud, mud.Stuck in repetition. Mired,So tired — In mudOf sinsContinue reading “Mired in Mud”
- Let Me Be (Note to Self)Let me be angry. Without good reason.Let me be lonelyEven if not alone.Let me be sadJust because I am.Please, Let me be. Be well, Monty
- Morning CocktailMorning Cocktail 3 parts Zoloft 1 part AbilifyMix meditatively and pray for help with my unbeliefDilute to taste and swallow (along with my pride)Assume PeacefulContinue reading “Morning Cocktail”
- Rhyming InventoriesA Rhyming Inventory of Things I’ve Not Been Doing Because They Would Make Me Feel Better (and I Don’t Deserve To)1. Prayer or meditation2. TakeContinue reading “Rhyming Inventories”
- Poetic LicenseI applied for my poetic license today;It was rejected due to a grammatical error.Oh, The irony. Be well, Monty
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- This Morning’s SongCoffee. Bold. Fragrantly steaming — the weather’s turned cold. Expresso doubled again and again.I opened my day’s calendar — it appears never ending. Patience isContinue reading “This Morning’s Song”
- UnashamedNaked. Clothed only by my sins. Jealousy wrapped around my neck. Sloth draped over my shoulders. Lust sagging around my ankles. Here I am. SeeContinue reading “Unashamed”