Face Your Demons - and Teach Them New Skills!

October 25, 2021

In my September blog - Too Much of Every Good Thing is Bad - I led off with a true story of a fun night out gone wrong - resulting in a brutal hangover, bruises and scrapes, and a broken iphone!  I got a lot of feedback to the post, including outreach from a couple of folks with more of a welfare-check approach than kudos for an entertaining and thoughtful blog.  

For those wondering the same, I’m good - and in fact, I’ve nearly completed the Sober October exercise I embarked on soon after.  No alcohol and no marijuana for a full month!  It’s probably been since I was 15 since I’ve gone that long a stretch without alcohol, and maybe since I was 20 on the MJ.  Admittedly the events of 2020/2021 initiated an uptick in the consumption of both, and it’s been a healthy reset for me I think - and not as hard as I worried it might be.  It’s interesting the sharp thoughts that result when I don’t dull them with alcohol.  

A highlight of my October has been a certification workshop that I and several of my LoCo teammates have nearly completed in Hallos Relational Intelligence.  Hallos is a Brazilian company, founded by my new friend Marco Antonio, and it might be compared to DISC or Enneagram (or Myers-Briggs, Strengthfinder, etc.), but with a stronger emphasis on emotional intelligence and actionable knowledge.  We are among the first groups in America to engage in this program, and Marco has been converting the British English (he has a doctorate from University of Manchester) reports to American English to better support this expansion.  

Better than any personality profile in my estimation, Hallos addresses base archetypes as well as learned behaviors, and the reports and associated learning have helped all of us understand ourselves and others better than ever before.  To quote Socrates “To Know Thyself is the Beginning of Wisdom”, and it’s both refreshing and valuable to add understanding in this area where I’ve already displayed strength in my natural intuitions.  I’ve believed for many a season that businesses are powered to grow based especially on the fitness and engagement of their tribe, and the skills gained in this certification can help one create and coach a team designed to find joy and purpose in the work at hand.  It’s been a great few weeks of learning, and we’ve got some great new ideas floating around to empower yet more growth at LoCo and improvement to the LoCo Experience for our membership. But today, I’m staying focused, and tumbling through the following with you all who choose to proceed.

  1. Why is it important to know ourselves well as business leaders and professionals?
  2. What can Hallos (or another comparable system) provide in support of knowing ourselves and others better?  
  3. How can peer advisory membership (like LoCo Think Tank!) support the journey of creating a strong and diverse team and a high-performing enterprise?

When prospects, or the general public, ask me what our members gain by the experience of peer advisory, I always share the three foundations, Perspective, Accountability, and Encouragement, and usually the notion of positive peer pressure, and wisdom through shared experience.  But, once the conversation settles in a bit, I often share a deeper answer, which is self-awareness.  It’s hard to see ourselves clearly, what with all the emotions we have and our limited perspective spending all our time behind our own eyeballs as we do.  Most of us think we’re right (or at least acceptable/neutral) most of the time in our thoughts and our actions - otherwise we’d think differently or change our behavior!  (Unless we’re truly malevolent, but we’re going to assume that most of our readers are not…)  But yet we have conflicts, and struggles to understand and to relate to one another - and a root cause is the inability to see ourselves as others see us.

There’s a catchy little phrase afoot in the culture of the day, that what others think about you is none of your business!  Although there is certainly some value in this notion - especially in the land of internet trolls and cancel culture and whatnot - in the end I think we can agree that it’s poppycock!  Almost all of our interactions are interdependent with others, and what they think of us is among the most consequential elements of all humanity - and certainly of leadership.  I can think of almost no small business leader who relies primarily on their power or position to change others’ behaviors and actions - if the people don’t want to do the things our enterprises require, they will soon find other places to make their way and earn their pay - especially in today’s labor market!  It’s hard to overstate the cost to businesses - and to humanity - if this rapid-fire transition economy remains a thing - companies spend a lot of time training employees to give customers a good experience, and if high turnover continues it’s bound to cost more for a poorer experience over time - just one more inflationary pressure on our poor economy drowning in debt spending and contemplating billions more!  But I digress…

I’ve shared before, and will likely share again, a superior catchy little phrase we picked up at Startup Week in February 2020  (you know, just before the covid lockdowns...we all remember what we were up to in February/early March of 2020, am I right?)  Anyway, the phrase is “It takes a good friend to be a front stabber.” and it was said during a panel discussion and I don’t even know whose it was!  But it’s true - it’s hard to tell people the unvarnished truth - for their own good.  It’s a lot easier to talk about someone’s shortcomings to another, than to either look at our own shortcomings or to confront someone else about theirs!  Oh look - the internet helped me find the source! - I’m off the hook unknown panelist, you stole it too.  🙂

“A good friend will always stab you in the front.”

― Oscar Wilde

So, if we generally think we are right and true, but we are confronted by another perspective, even from a trusted friend, who suggests we might not be as on-the-mark as we think, what are we to do about it?  Do we immediately change our thinking and actions? - what if our trusted friend is wrong? - after all, they’re not perfect either!  So, this willingness of others to speak to us and address this difference in opinion about what the nature of the mark is can help us to understand ourselves - but why do we have this difference of opinion anyway?

Part of this difference is cultural - as an example, I remember the first time a stranger called me out for spitting in a gas station parking lot in Denver.  Where I grew up, on a farm in ND, people spit all the time - for one there was a lot of tobacco chewing - smoking takes too much time and there’s work to be done! - but also because you’re working in the dust and dirt quite often, working on equipment or whatnot (I was not a tobacco-chewer, BTW, found it gross).  And there’s almost never anybody there, and you’re spitting in dirt and the crops need rain and there’s no harm to be found in it!  But I can see how if everyone at a busy Denver gas station spit on the parking lot when they gassed up their car how it’d be pretty gross.  But I still spit on the ground in my backyard or at the gas station once in a while - old habits die hard, and it’s an easy hydration check...but I digress yet again.  In a place like Fort Collins, which is a melting pot of different (mostly white) cheeses from all over the country, there’s a community culture that most quickly accepts, and it’s different than the one they grew up in, and changing all the time.

That’s where tools like Hallos come in - they give us objective insights that are beyond culture difference - but instead speak to types, and personalities, and for Hallos, archetypes.  We can quantify that we think differently from others, with strengths and weaknesses, and preferences and prefer-to-avoids!  In DISC I’m a high-I, low-C, Myers Briggs I’m an ENFJ if I recall correctly, and in Enneagram I’m an 8 with a 7 shoulder, “The Maverick”.   In Hallos I’m a White-Green Archetype, with a developed trait of Orange.  Since these colors mean nothing to you yet, at this link is a copy of the basic Hallos report on me.  This is a one-page overview instead of the available 20+ page detailed report - yet it allows you to see me through this lens, and learn just a smidge about the model (and more about yours truly!).  

Most of the folks I’ve been with when I do these kinds of reports and exercises always find themselves nodding their heads when they review the report on themselves, which tells me that insights are gained, and there is utility.  The cool thing is, that we can pull reports on each other as well, and they show someone who is wired far differently than we are - and they’re nodding their heads too!  

As you can see in my report, my essence is dominated by White - the Thinker / Innovator type - and balanced by Green - the Social / Relational type, and the Orange - the Achiever / Entrepreneur type is a developed trait.  As I reflect, the development of this trait is likely impacted by my journey - my father started a farm during evenings and weekends during my elementary school school years, which has since become a significant enterprise, and my position as first-born probably contributed to the achiever instinct - set a good example and all that.  When I interview prospects or podcast guests, I often ask about their family history - did they come from a family of business owners and entrepreneurs, or are they the weird one?  If they didn’t come from a family of entrepreneurs and they weren’t the firstborn, I suspect one of the colors of their essence is Orange.  

If you look at the % breakdown, my lowest type is Blue - the Organizer / Planner, at < 2%.  My honey-bear is also participating in this workshop, and I wasn’t surprised at all to see she was over 75% Blue, but also shares Green in her essence, and has a developed trait of Orange.  That’s one reason why she was so fascinating to me when we met (aside from her great beauty), what with all her planning and organizing, and why she was entirely uncomfortable with taking off last June for a 4,000+ mile road trip in an RV and no real plan except to be there for the shared 40th birthday with her twin sister.  You can read my blog about that experience here, and it’s a good setup to this last segment about the value of diversity and the utility of peer advisory. 

Another catchy little phrase that I adopted years ago - before LoCo was a thing at all - is “Ask of Your Needs and Share of Your Abundance” - and it remains a motto and foundational value here at LoCo Think Tank.  Embedded in it is both a theory of justice and an acknowledgement of diversity - sometimes one’s abundances are exactly what another person needs!  If you’ve been to my office, likely you’ve said something like “wow, what a cute little office!”, because it’s great - full of windows, with well over 20 plants flourishing, and a ping-pong table and a convertible desk for Alma...and the story of moving to this office is a fun one that speaks to this notion.  

I had swung by to see my friend Kelly, owner of Jukebox Quilts, an original LoCo Think Tank member and at that time the owner of the building.  I had abundance to share - it was spring season and my chickens were laying more eggs than we could consume - and so I dropped by for a say-hi and to drop a dozen eggs.  As we chatted, Kelly asked of her needs -” Do you know someone who might want to rent the glass-artist shop in the corner?, my tenant just gave notice yesterday”  I had just hired my first employee, an amazing young lady named Ellie Naasz, and though I had no inclination to increase my rent expenditure the small office in the America Building down the street was not the kind of place to find peaceful work or healthy collaboration.  I had needs that I’d not even acknowledged, and Kelly had a great space and need of a tenant - and so the deal was done and we’re still here today and I hope to stay for a good while.  

Wow, great story Curt, really happy for you...what’s the point?  Well, the point is, Mr. Smarty Pants, that Kelly and I had very different needs from one another, and different abundances, and through this chance encounter we were both left better off.  And that’s the spirit of commerce generally, and why when we build a diverse group of business owners they can help each other see from different perspectives.  

I like to share that we don’t think of intelligence as a number at LoCo, IQ-style, but instead that we are stronger and weaker in different areas of natural ability or learned experience.  Any particular member might be strong in marketing or sales, another in process development or culture building, and yet another in financial awareness, technology integration or risk management - all critical business areas - but most who are particularly strong in some areas have other areas of weakness.  Similarly, the wisdom that comes with time can temper the exuberance of youth - which in turn can invigorate the more seasoned members.  It’s always important to include a woman’s perspective (hopefully more than one), and different racial or cultural perspectives as available can add benefit still.  So, when we’ve got a group of a dozen or so, with a good healthy mix and an open and collaborative forum - members can use that collective wisdom to make better decisions and be more confident in the decisions they make!  

I’ve been listening to and learning from Scott Page lately, the author of the landmark book The Difference, and the foundation upon which his other books such as The Diversity Bonus and The Model Thinker is built upon.  I gotta say, Scott is barking right up my tree on this stuff - it’s kinda like my study of Hallos, which is to say it’s affirming and giving data and structure to the stuff I already know from experience and anecdotal stories!  I dig it, and I think you will too - here’s a challenge for you, go and get you a copy, and don’t buy it offa Amazon!  That malevolent monster is killing our local independent businesses with convenience, and for the many smaller firms that get their start and do much of their selling through Amazon - it’s studying them and killing them too, with knockoff products!  Don’t get me started on that topic!...shop Amazon, but buy local or through other digital conduits whenever you can!...but I digress yet again...

So, with the self-awareness gained by peer advisory, and the benefit of tools such as Hallos to better understand our teams, we can build better businesses stewarded by stronger and healthier leaders, bringing more better jobs and happier employees to a community and customer experience near you!  

Know Thyself, and Know Thy Team with LoCo Think Tank membership and a side of relational intelligence training from our team - powered by Hallos.  Formal rollout is coming soon, PM me if you want one of our first (discounted) team engagements!

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