Patrick Johnston, a sports reporter from the Vancouver Province newspaper, recently interviewed me about the current situation of having NHL players in team "Bubbles." During the mid 80's our Montreal Canadiens' team utilized a type of "Bubble" technique to increase our team's opportunity to win playoff rounds, so this became part of my discussion with Patrick.
This interview started me thinking that during Covid-19, many of us have been forced into relational, vocational, family, and cultural Bubbles. As of this writing, some health officials are requesting that we bubble-up-again into teams of 6 or 8 people, when just days or months ago the "Bubble size" had expanded to many times larger.
From a physical perspective, Covid-19 has increased our focus on staying in the relational Bubble, but from an influence point of view, this bubble idea is nothing new.
Jim Rhon suggested many years ago that each of us becomes the sum of the 4 people that we are closest to. Now there is a tight Bubble! Charlie Tremendous Jones said that he could tell each person's future. He said that our future is determined by the books we read and the people that we hang with. We have always been in Bubbles; we just didn't realize it.
Influence expert Robert Cialdini believes that SOCIAL PROOF, the second of his 6 principles, is a powerful purveyor of influence:
"Principle: SOCIAL PROOF
When we are uncertain about what to think, feel and how to behave, we look to similar others for answers.
Activation of SOCIAL PROOF:
By evidence of how others are (or have been) thinking, feeling or acting in a relevant setting."
Bubbles of Influence are powerful carriers of how to think, feel, and behave, and amazing predictors of our future thoughts, emotions, and actions.
John Maxwell has said that "Leadership is Influence." I would amplify that thought in 2020: Great leaders who create positive growth and change are Intentional Influencers. Increasing our awareness of the impact that our Bubble is generating is an important first step to increasing positive influence.
From our relational bubble point of view, we need to ask ourselves two key questions:
1- What type of influence do people closest to me (in my Bubble) have on my energy (thinking, feeling, behaviours) and on my positive growth?
2- What type of influence do I have on the people closest to me (in my Bubble), on their energy (thinking, feeling, behaviours) and on their positive growth?
We influence and are influenced in multiple ways, often by the bubble-people closest to us.
People communicate to us with words, voice pitch, body language, face, energy, etc. Then we choose to make sense of their communication, and develop our own assumptions around who they are and what they have said. Finally, we tend to reciprocate to these same people.
Bear in mind that we bubble-people see as much as we hear. When we are close to people, we quickly get a sense of who they are, and that has huge influence on who we become! When people ask me if I have integrity, I suggest to them that instead of asking my past teammates, coaches, bosses, and colleagues: "Does Ryan have integrity?" Ask my wife, Jenn. Ask our 5 amazing kiddos. The tighter our influence bubble gets, the harder it is to fool each other, and the more the word Character and Credibility become essential.
UCLA legendary Basketball Coach, John Wooden taught his players about character as much as he taught them about basketball:
"Character is so important in everything. Character is what you really are. You’re the only one that knows your character. You don’t know my character. I know my character. You know my reputation. It could be different. Reputation is what you are perceived to be by others. Your character is what you really are."
3 Personal Questions to better inform our Bubble Influence
1 - Do I want "who-i-am-today" replicated in the people closest to me?
2 - Does my current philosophy allow me to forgive myself and others?
3 - Independent of where I find myself in my Bubble, am I excited about my current growth trajectory?
1 - Allow journaling your answers to the first question to become a journey of self-awareness. Additionally, organizing some of your thoughts through a simple SWOT analysis could be one way to challenge the direction and depth of your exploration.
After identifying your personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats, focus on several growth areas, and structure how you want to increase your personal change into a plan and onto your calendar.
2 - We have found in our leadership/team development work that many people very seldom initiate conversations that include: "I'm sorry." Pride often keeps these words imprisoned in our hearts and doesn't allow the words to cross our lips. From a team perspective, we call this the "unsaid." We have found that many teams underperform because the weight of the unsaid, including unexpressed forgiveness toward themselves or their teammates, is consuming energy that would be better expended on playing their very best.
Leadership often involves removing or reducing the Interference that workers experience, and creating an environment that allows and encourages people to have a voice. Increasing personal and cultural forgiveness as a personal and cultural philosophy is extremely freeing. Bubbles that include relationships of "un-forgiveness" and lots of the "un-said" spiral down into bitter body language and cauldrons of negativity.
3 - Finally, how's your growth trajectory? And is it in your calendar?
The world of NHL hockey is starting to learn more about trajectory. Defensemen with the puck in their defensive zone are developing the skill of launching a puck on a high trajectory so that their forwards can skate under the loop and regain possession of the puck. This is a new skill at the NHL level. In my day (100 years ago) this tactic was on the edge of being unacceptable.
But back to you and me. How is our growth trajectory? I am thrilled with the last 6 books that I have read; are you? Jenn and I are writing our next book about the 6 Mindsets of Performance-Resilience, and these last 6 reads have really allowed me to grow in order to finish writing this book.
Here is what we love about growth... it is personal, not positional. Regardless of where you find yourself on the org-chart today, you can begin, and continue, to grow. Forget about the Initial Height and the Range in the visual, for now. Pay attention to your Initial Speed and your Launch Angle. Intentional Growth is easily highjacked by the urgency of other things. Start now. Allow nothing to get in the way of your your initial speed, which is deciding and starting to grow.
"With everything that has happened to you, you can either feel sorry for yourself or treat what has happened as a gift. Everything is either an opportunity to grow or an obstacle to keep you from growing. You get to choose."
We see Intentional growth as you mapping out, activating, and accomplishing your growth plan. We see Reactional growth as more about life teaching you the lessons, often in ways that you don't prefer. Internal and intentional growth or external and reactional adjustments? Either way we will change.
Secondly, focus your launch angle towards what excites you, towards expanding your strengths, towards better understanding your mindsets and values, towards the little wins. Simply getting started is the 80/20 of Intentional growth. (Set up a call with me to help you craft your growth journey)
Covid-19 has made us all hyper-aware of our physical/relational Bubbles today, but we have been influential bubble-people since birth. We are continually being influenced, and we are continually influencing the people closest to us.
A couple of final questions to ruminate on this week:
* Will we choose be a Reactional-influence or an Intentional-influence on the people in our Bubble?
* Down the road, will you and I look like the people in our Influence Bubble or ...
will they look more like the future "us" that we are determined to grow into?
*Would you like me to coach you in your ability to shift or grow today? Contact me!
Here is what my friend Jeremy Greene says about how he is enjoying SHORT SHIFTS!
"By the way Ryan, I am enjoying the short shifts. I find them helpful and they inspire thought. At 58, I find myself thinking a lot about mapping out work/family/retirement/Christian walk, so a lot of the tools are helpful.
Anyway, you do a really good job at them. It comes across very professional with good information on an easy to use platform.
On a personal level, I love the hockey stories. That one about Jacques Lemaire being your favourite coach was really good."
SHORT SHIFTS - Ryan's new way of adding value to you and your family enhancing your growth time in your bubble. Learn more about SHIFTING today's Mindset in order to WIN tomorrow's GAME! https://www.ryanwalter.com/short-shifts