Whenever I provide directions, you’ll typically hear, “Go to the streetlight and take a left, then turn right at the corner. At the next stop sign, turn right. I’ll be waiting there.” Using words such as ‘right, left, in front and behind’ are common practice in most languages – it’s natural for us. However, this is not the norm in all languages. Anthropologist John Haviland and the linguist Stephen Levin have shown that the Australian aboriginal dialect Guugu Yimithirr doesn’t use directions such as ‘left, right, in front of and behind.’ These words are typically referred to as ‘egocentric coordinates,’ as they are dependent on the location of the individual. However, those who speak Guugu Yimithirr use geographic coordinates, such as north, south, east and west. If I were to provide directions in this dialect, I would tell my colleague, “Go to the streetlight and turn east, then turn north at the corner. At the next stop sign, turn east. I’ll be waiting there.”
While for the majority of world languages, our own bodies are the focal point when conveying direction, in geographic coordinate cultures, their route relies on fixed global geographic directions along an x and y-axis. For example, if you observed a dance class, instead of hearing the teacher say, “take two steps right” you’d hear “take two steps west,” and “bend backwards” would be “bend towards the south.” Continue Reading »
This past week I was on a conference call with individuals from other advertising and public relations firms. Just as the call leader started the meeting, the line went silent. Country music immediately began reverberating through our office. A bit mystified, my boss and I looked at each other and immediately broke into laughter as the twang of a guitar echoed off the walls. Evidently one caller placed us all on hold, and to our surprise, country music was their chosen stand-in. No one on that call needed to say a word, and yet we all knew what each other was thinking. My boss and I weren’t laughing at one another, but with one another, and that laughter, that shared experience drew us even closer together.
This type of laughter is called knowing laughter, an instrument Brené Brown, Ph.D., a known expert on vulnerability, courage, authenticity, and shame, defines as ‘laughter that results from recognizing the universality of our shared experiences, both positive and negative.’
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From Aug. 22nd onward, the world has been captivated by the story of ‘Los 33,’ the miraculous search and rescue mission of the 33 Chilean miners. Trapped for 69 days, the men lived on nothing but two spoonfuls of tuna, a sip of milk, a bite of crackers and a morsel of peaches, every other day until help arrived. I am still in awe as I think back to watching the first miner rise from the earth last week, a miraculous feat many thought impossible to accomplish.
Luis Urzúa, the shift supervisor has been praised by Chilean president Sebastian Piñera and many others as “a very good boss” and leader. The 54-year old miner had already established a reputation for protecting his men, staying calm under difficult circumstances, and in return, they respected him.
Countless stories have rippled from the mineshaft, most giving us reason to persevere and never lose hope. Los 33 found themselves in a life or death situation and one of significant uncertainty. Though I hope none of us find ourselves in such dire circumstances, we can glean several lessons from the actions and processes chosen, applying these teachings to own work environments.
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Admittedly, I am not a football fan. But I, too, will be among the millions tuned into the kick-off of Monday Night Football 2010. It is the season opener for the Baltimore Ravens and NY Jets. And, there’s a lot of hype leading up to this game. As far as I can gather, it is not because each team ended the 2009 season in second place, or because the last time they played each other during the regular season (2007), the Ravens beat the Jets 20-13. No, all eyes – especially those of Jets fans – will be on the Jets’ cornerback, Darrelle Revis.
After a 36-day contract holdout, almost every sports columnist has weighed in on the same question: How long will it take Revis (as he is commonly referred to) to get into football shape? After reading several articles and listening to ESPN’s coverage, the question I have is: What does the strategy of “Team Revis” teach us about managing the intersection of work and money?
You and I may not be cutting 4-year, $46 million deals, but that doesn’t mean we can’t glean valuable lessons from Revis’ experience. Here are three that jump out at me: Continue Reading »