Adonis Diaries

Archive for June 23rd, 2013

Power of “First time I did this… First time I experienced that”

Perseverance is the learning process of trying again a “first time experience”, until the experience is satisfactory.

You can never know how it might turn out: Do not waste a satisfying first time experience.

You can change someone by helping him do something they haven’t done before, and monitor that his first  experience was a success story.

You remember the people who helped you do things you’d never done. First times transform us. Talking is good; doing is better.

Dan Rockwell posted:

Incremental or radical:

Skill development is incremental, one practice built on another. And  there’s nothing like the first time you led a meeting, ran a project, fired an employee, or gave a presentation. It radically changed you.

Successful leaders enable firsts in others.

Examples of Powerful firsts:

  1. Propel your assistants on their journey. Connect this “new thing” to their big picture.
  2. Include pushing. Let them know you believe in them while you’re pushing them out of the nest. Kick, don’t coddle. Admittedly, finding the right amount of push requires skill. (Watch the eagles kicking their one-year old to fly away from the nest)
  3. Create fear and stress. Reaching high is hard. (And reading to an audience)
  4. Involve stumbling. If they get it right the first time, it was too easy.(Or maybe this was not a first time?)
  5. After stumbles, give stew-time. Don’t rush in like momma. Set up debrief meetings a day or two after their first.
  6. Focus on being as well as doing. Ask, “How are you becoming who you want to be?” (Actions are the best responses?)
  7. Require improvement opportunities. Give second and third chances.

Someone gave you first-opportunities that changed you. Return the favor – change others – by giving them their firsts.

What firsts changed you?

Do not be a whiners in the workplace about teammates and other managers. Be the catalyst for first timers.

Reminds me of kids in the backseat. “He touched me!”

  • “Bob spoke harshly to me.”
  • “Mary’s clothing is too casual.”
  • “Bill Doesn’t like me.”
  • “Mary plays favorites.”

You ask, “Did you say something?”

They say, “No. I couldn’t do that.”

Whining may seem small but it’s big.

Whiners, who don’t own and express opinions and concerns, are organizational dead-weight. Complaints about others are the tip of the iceberg.

They won’t provide independent, controversial, or contradictory options, in public. They go along but whine behind the scenes. They:

  1. Destroy open communication
  2. Drain energy.
  3. Undermine team culture.
  4. Weaken relationships.

5 Reasons whiners come to you:

  1. They want you to handle it for them – fear and irresponsible.
  2. You’re sympathetic and they want support – whiner.
  3. They’re undermining others – power and position.
  4. It’s not their place, they believe, to say anything – confused and lack of ownership.
  5. They don’t know what to do – unskilled.

Anonymity breeds irresponsibility.

Fear and irresponsibility often prevent whiners from speaking up (#1). Chronic whiners, on the other hand, consistently undermine others (#3).

Responding to whining about others:

The critical moment is when you realize they don’t want to personally address their complaint. Five options:

  1. Explore. “What makes you feel that way? What happened?”
  2. Contradict. “Mary’s clothing isn’t too casual.”
  3. Support. “I know what you mean. Bob seems to like Sally the best.”
  4. Challenge. “You need to say something to your boss.”
  5. Solve. “I’ll speak to your boss.”

Other responses to whining about others:

  1. Ask, “What would you like me to do?”
  2. I’ll help you formulate an approach, if you don’t know what to say.
  3. I won’t listen to this complaint until you speak to them.
  4. Let’s call Mary and clear the air right now.

What impact does whining have on your organization?

What are useful responses to whining about others?

A ‘Human Face’ of Conflict? A pilot refusing to bomb a school…

During the Israeli invasion of southern Lebanon in 1982, a rumor circulated throughout the city of Saida, Akram Zaatari’s hometown and a Lebanese Artist, that an Israeli fighter pilot was ordered to bomb a school there but refused and instead dumped his bombs into the sea.

Mr. Zaatari, 47, an artist who now lives in Beirut, first heard this story when he was 16 years old. His father was the founder of the school, which was eventually bombed by another pilot and severely damaged.

NINA SIEGAL published this June 19, 2013 in The NY Times “Letter to a Refusing Pilot

Over the years, Mr. Zaatari heard versions of the same tale, with varying explanations for the actions of the pilot, and he came to regard it as a legend of sorts. He once referred to the story during a lecture that was transcribed and published in a book, and came to discover that it was no rumor and that the pilot did exist. His name was Hagai Tamir.

A screenshot from the film “Letter to a Refusing Pilot,” made by Akram Zaatari in 2013.

When Mr. Zaatari was selected to represent Lebanon at the 55th Venice Biennale, which runs until Nov. 24, he chose to focus on this Israeli pilot’s act of conscientious objection with a quiet, evocative, film, “Letter to a Refusing Pilot.”

“The importance of the story is that it gives the pilot a human face,” Mr. Zaatari said. “It gives what he is about to bomb, which is considered terrorist ground; it also gives that a human face. I think it’s important to remember in times of war that everyone is a human being. Taking it to this level humanizes it completely, and we’re not used to this at all.”

The film was shot in the neighborhood around the school, which has been rebuilt, and incorporates aerial photographs, drawings, computer imaging and some personal documents from Mr. Zaatari’s own life to tell the story from the perspective of a teenage boy.

In the Lebanese Pavilion at the Biennale, it is part of an installation that includes a reel film projector, a single movie theater chair and a number of cylindrical stools.

Mr. Zaatari has built a career on exploring historical narratives through documentary materials including old photographs, audiotape and film, and he also uses contemporary materials like smartphone videos and YouTube clips.

In 1997, Akram was a founder of the Arab Image Foundation, a conservation and research institute that has preserved about half a million professional and amateur photos from the Middle East and North Africa, chronicling personal and public histories.

He has curated these images in London, Beirut, Damascus and Brussels, and has used many of the works as a starting point for his own videos and installations; they are among the collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York; the Pompidou Center, in Paris; and the Tate Modern, in London.

Mr. Zaatari says one of his interests is exploring the nuances between official versions of events — how wars are represented in the news media, for example — and how the same events might be told on a personal scale. That was part of what attracted him to the story of Mr. Tamir.

“This comes at a really important time; a time when we need it,” Mr. Zaatari said. “It’s the story that perfectly represents a conflict between an individual’s ethics and the orders that he’s getting.”

Although Mr. Zaatari has been recognized as a major artist in Lebanon and beyond for several years, he is receiving particularly avid attention in the West today.

This year marks only the second time that Lebanon has organized a national pavilion at the Venice Biennale, and Mr. Zaatari alone was chosen to represent the country this year. He is also the subject of an exhibition on display at the Museum of Modern Art in New York through Sept. 23, “Projects 100: Akram Zaatari,” featuring two of his video installations.

One of the works in that show, “Dance to the End of Love,” (2011) is a four-channel video installation of YouTube videos made by young people in Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen and other Middle Eastern nations, representing themselves as superheroes, bodybuilders, dancers and musicians.

The other work, “On Photography, People and Modern Times,” (2010) a two-channel installation, tells the story of the Arab Image Foundation, with images and recorded oral histories by those who contributed photos to the archives.

“He has this very personal approach, very poetic,” said Eva Respini, associate curator of photography for the Museum of Modern Art and one of the curators of the exhibition there. “He’s an excellent storyteller. So while he’s out questioning how images work in public society, how they circulate, there’s also something very personal, very filmic in how they express themselves in his work.”

In November, Mr. Zaatari will have his first solo exhibition at the Thomas Dane Gallery in London, which began representing him less than a year ago, and a separate exhibition of his work will open at Kurimanzutto Gallery in Mexico City on June 27. He is also represented by the Sfeir-Semler Gallery in Beirut and in Hamburg.

“He’s a very quietly powerful artist,” said Martine d’Anglejan-Chatillon, a partner at Thomas Dane. “He is a very particular kind of individual who has the courage to engage very profoundly with some of the questions he finds around him in Beirut and that region. And he’s able, more than any other artist I’ve seen, to deploy very different kinds of mediums to convey a certain kind of universality, so that they touch a much, much broader group of people than one might imagine.”

Mr. Zaatari uses the term “excavation” a lot when he talks about his work, perhaps because his first field of study was archeology. The term, he says, refers to treating ordinary locations as archeological sites, where meaning is discovered within the ruins.

The site might only be a photography studio in Beirut, or a public school, as in “Letter to a Refusing Pilot.”

The intersection of truth and legend continues to intrigue him.

“What still interests me in the story is that he didn’t tell anyone except his friends and his family, for many years,” Mr. Zaatari said. “How did the news leak into Lebanon? I don’t know. How did the story circulate in my neighborhood? I don’t know. He didn’t come out publicly until 10 years ago. So how did I come to know the story when I was just 16?”

A version of this article appeared in print on June 20, 2013, in The International Herald Tribune.


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