10thHuman: To Grok or not to Grok, that is the question

photo from unsplash

In our 24/7/365 soundbite world, where millisecond pauses are registered on the book of Face and then used to deliver tailored content to a product (because we aren’t users, we are their product), it may be that we have lost something of ourselves.

We have at our fingertips the greatest information distribution system the world has ever known. Yet, we seem to be increasingly in an age of distrust for expertise (a generous characterization). We seem to be in an age where “my ignorance is as good as your expertise” is becoming commonplace.

Here’s the thing: that’s false. Let’s slow down and push for a deeper understanding, in all things.

If we don’t push for a deeper understanding of the world around us, from the physical sciences to the arts to, well, everything, then…what’s the point of it all?

I challenge you to seek to Grok the world.

10thHuman: What To Do When You Make a Mistake


Make it right, if you can.

Try to forgive yourself.

We all make mistakes. We are but human. When we do, I think the three steps above are the starting point for addressing the mistake and trying to rebuild the damaged trust.

I know that when I make a mistake, for me #3 – forgive yourself – is the hardest. I often cannot move past a mistake mentally unless the person against whom I have transgressed offers forgiveness or at least acknowledgement that I offered an apology.

From a business perspective, I would offer that there is a step 4. Actually, as I type this I realize this is both a personal and business step (given the nature of this blog, I automatically started to step through a business process / checklist). That is: figure out how to prevent such an error as caused the mistake from happening again.

As a businessperson, maybe this evaluating the process you were going through and adding a step to a checklist.  As a human, this is engaging in introspection and perhaps asking yourself, “How did I wrong this person? Is this something I can change about myself or the way I conduct myself?”

I would offer that the very concept that spawned this blog – the 10th man concept – is itself a process aimed at preventing errors. Essentially, the job of the 10th man in an organization is to argue against the boss’ decisions, regardless of how they really feel about it. In this process, the thought is that it enables the boss make better decisions.

I don’t offer definitive answers here, only food for thought from one imperfect human.

The Blog is Dead, Long Live the Blog (or: what blogs do you read?)

file-dec-05-1-29-20-pmFacebook is an incredible tool for connecting to our fellow humans. As a platform, it provides an awesome way to connect to fellow groups and communities. The last time I checked, something on the order of 52% of web sharing is occurring within Facebook.

That’s a staggering statistic.

It’s masking several problems, though, two of which I’d like to elaborate on.

First, the 52% statistic means there is 48% of web traffic Facebook users who rely on this medium alone are not seeing. Personally, I believe this risks building an echo chamber of sorts. Breaking out of the Facebook bubble we’ve built may expose us to alternative sources of information. And I don’t believe that is a bad thing.

Second, Facebook does not, in my humble opinion, lend itself to in depth conversations. This is not to suggest blogs do so, necessarily. However, a blog is a more static platform. I personally find it easier to track conversations in vs. the non linear nature of the way our Facebook feeds us informations.

What are your thoughts?

Please also feel free to share any blogs you frequently read. Personally, I am a Seth Godin fan, as well as find Scott Adams a good read (side note: his content often challenges conventional wisdom).

10thHuman: On the other side of every interaction is a human being…

The effect we have on others-2I’ve blogged previously about the need for authentic, civil communication.

Tonight, I’d expand upon this, maybe step back a bit and ask us all to pause and consider that on the other side of every interaction is a human being.

From a professional perspective, this will absolutely help your business. Consider, please, the last place you visited where the representative of the business didn’t make eye contact, didn’t engage with you, didn’t acknowledge you…is this a place likely to earn your business again?

On the other side of the equation, when you last visited Starbucks or the Apple Store (both known for their customer service), how were you made to feel? Likely, you were made to feel like you belonged, like you were a member of their team or tribe.

From a personal perspective, I think this is a valuable lesson to remember as we interact with our fellow people. We are all part of this tribe called humanity and I believe, if we could just try to see the world through one another’s eyes, we could accomplish wonders.

10thHuman: Language as a framework for knowledge

credit: pixabay
credit: pixabay

I recently blogged about the importance of language in leadership, relaying that “leadership and language are essential partners in business (Van Etta, 2016).”

In the same post, I wrote that language reflects our thoughts, our essence. Leadership is the thoughtful and methodical application of a continually studied framework that becomes a mindset.

Building on the same thoughts on the importance of language and viewing language as a framework, I would share this thought:

The entirety of human knowledge is contained with the framework of ‘language’. Without an agreed upon framework, this knowledge would cease to be decipherable. It would cease to exist. – Me

Fundamentally, language is a construct we use to house and share knowledge and ideas. Language is important. It’s use is important in the spread of ideas, in the motivation of people and the implementation of ideas.

I’d share one more thought with you today.

Words are not just words. They are thoughts given life, an act, which inspire others to further action.

10thHuman: Perspective. Have you seen the world through my eyes?

credit: pixabay
credit: pixabay

Have you seen the world through my eyes?

The question was asked in response to my having offered assistance to a complete stranger. When I relayed what I’d done to a friend, they offered that they would have wanted to do the same but would have hesitated in doing so for a fear of physical safety.

This is a question I think about every day and could be – should probably be – the subject of a much larger post than this is likely to be.

Have you seen the world through my eyes? 

This question stopped me in my tracks when it was asked and still resonates with me today, in a profound way. It’s a question I have asked thousands of young leaders, when I taught a course on leadership, ethics and perspective at the United States Air Force Academy.

The short answer is, of course, “No.”

The longer answer is, “What a powerful question to ask. While I cannot do so, I can and surely ought to try.”

From a personal and business perspective, sincerely asking this question launched a journey of introspection of which this blog is the current manifestation.

From a business perspective alone, what an incredible cornerstone of a framework to consider our actions through.

Have we seen the world through the eyes of a consumer or a client?

Have we seen the world through the eyes of our partners or vendors

Have we seen the world through the eyes of our employees? 

Phrased and applied another way:

Have we tried to see ourselves as others see us?

I don’t offer definitive answers here, just food for thought.