Startling Minds

Don’t lose sight of the opportunity to connect with other people.

April 29, 2013

Have you ever encountered a person that challenged your thought process? Or caused you to reflect upon an issue and change your attitude?

Perhaps someone you know may be in sync with your values but offer opportunity to appreciate additional facets of long held beliefs with new perspectives and varied experiences.

Such encounters, when we recognize and welcome them, facilitate growth and innovation. Another wonderful outcome of these interactions is that we can “pay it forward” as we enthusiastically share our discoveries.

Such was the experience of Douglas Conant, as described in “What Losing My Job Taught Me About Leading.”

Conant worked with outplacement professional Neil MacKenna as a result of the termination. The acquaintance changed Conant’s perspective and life.

“With Neil’s guidance, losing my job became a valuable learning experience about what leadership should be. For some, these thoughts may constitute a ‘blinding glimpse of the obvious.’ But I have found them extraordinarily powerful in their simplicity.”

Conant’s lesson learned? “Too many leaders are so caught up in the momentum of work that they lose sight of opportunity to connect with other people. I discovered that the more fully present I was… the more fully present (others) were with me and the more productive our relationship became over time.”

Take a closer look and listen to those around you, both old friends and new. What teachable moments exist every day when we are open to learning and ask questions?

Learning from consumers

Awareness of consumer trends allows us to meet their needs. What are consumers saying with their behaviors?

Women are reactive in their financial planning practices, according to a Boston College blog.  Focus groups reveal that personal change and emotions are important motivators in financial planning, and that women “lag men in understanding how to manage their money” despite their professional accomplishments.

This post serves as an appeal to women who “need to learn to plan ahead and prepare for the future.”

The “Re-Gens,” or the “Pluralist Generation,” or “Homeland Generation,” as they have been labeled, is beginning to demonstrate financial and workplace needs and beliefs. This generation of the mid-90s is “environmentally conscious and tends to be fiscally conservative,” according to Workforce.

They have economic concerns and “a desire to do more with less.” Willing to defer gratification, they avoid incurring debt.

Another interesting belief is “Investments in homes don’t necessarily result in increased equity.” Thus, renting will be prevalent for this careful group.

For people who do buy, location of real estate near public transportation is increasingly important, says a study by the National Association of Realtors and the American Public Transportation Association. Interesting conclusions:

  • Residences close to “fixed-guideway transit” exhibited greater stability in sales prices during the recession;
  • Transit type impacted resiliency of property value, as heavy- and light-rail transit sheds outperformed commuter rail transit sheds; and
  • “Presence of fixed-guideway transit not only benefits… property owners, it also supports a more resilient tax base.”

“Economic uncertainties and shocks weaken families’ security, economic mobility, and ability to provide for the next generation,” declares a new Pew Research report, “Hard Choices: Navigating the Economic Shock of Unemployment.”

Here you’ll learn, “Those who experienced unemployment between 1999 and 2009 were 1.3 times more likely to have suffered a loss in wealth during the decade than other families.”

Read and discover “rich detail on families’ efforts to patch together a variety of resources and strategies during unemployment, including household financial assets; family, friends, and kinship networks; credit, debt, and loans; and institutional resources.”

Perhaps your discoveries of the real-life stories of the financial practices of the unemployed may challenge assumptions.

New thoughts in the workplace

Reports from the office challenge beliefs and tradition this week and may cause you to take a second look.

Are things wild in the West? Boise-based dance troupe Trey McIntyre Project attempts to help employers foster creativity in the workplace with demonstration of their creative process as inspiration, says a CNNMoney article

“Watching the dancers in action and talking with them afterward about their creative process ‘pulls our staff out of the same way we do things so that we can better design solutions and solve problems,’” according to the article.

The dancers tailor their presentations for each client and results have included revitalization of properties in commercial districts and repurposing of space in office buildings.

“Unconventional interactions can lower the barrier for people to posit novel things,” the article notes.

Meanwhile, some of your colleagues may challenge notions you may harbor about their work abilities if you pay attention. “Neurotics Shine Over Time in Team Settings,” reveal two new studies reported at CNN.

“Our intuition about anxious, neurotic employees and colleagues is that their volatility and negativity is going to make them a drag on the team,” claims a researcher in the report. “What we don’t appreciate is that an aspect of that neurotic personality is really an anxiety of not wanting to disappoint our peers and our colleagues. Neurotics can actually be motivated to work really hard especially in collaborative situations.”

Conversely, extroverts like to be the center of attention and they “tend to be less receptive to other people’s input, which can make them more difficult to work with.”

Does academic ability trump soft skills to achieve on-the-job success? Not necessarily, says The Fast Track.

Here a survey finds “71% of employers say they value emotional intelligence over IQ,” and “Soft skills, including interpersonal communication and conflict resolutions, are becoming increasingly important in the workplace.”

Does this perspective cause you to reconsider your own traits as an employee and how you might readjust to find success?

Be open to the surprising discoveries you can make and the resulting success you will find during interactions with members, co-workers, policy makers, and the community. Appreciate opportunities to ask questions and learn.

As Ralph Waldo Emerson observed, “A chief event of life is the day in which we have encountered a mind that startled us.”






Lora Bray is a research librarian at CUNA.