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Old 01-21-2018, 12:34 PM   #1
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Default Steinbeck Warmup

I've done a couple of these around PsychCentral: open my work day with a bit of journaling to warm up. John Steinbeck did this twice—when writing Grapes of Wrath and then again when working on East of Eden. ... Earned the Nobel Prize for Literature, guess it helped. Search on brainpickings for the full 411.

Right now, I'm dealing with a mis-match on a consulting gig. Feeling my breathing ease merely by getting the words out of my head on down on this thread.

Here's the rub: get hired because I pitched a different sort of approach, but now, my different sort of approach is ... well, different!

I'm working with a group to build understanding of a complex abstraction (leadership development) from the inside out. My checkwriter keeps asking about the external evidence they "understand." He also seems to discount their words if he (or I, when he insists) don't "tell" them first.

Had an incident a few days ago. We are planning for the first in-person gathering of the group (the other meetings have been over conference calls). One of the members perfectly described the challenge and expected outcomes. Three days later the ckwriter said, "We need to get them clearer on what the expected results are." I reminded him of this contribution from one of the very members he thinks has to be told (again) what the goals are.

Now I have extra work to transcribe a few minutes of the recording to get this down in writing.

I'm feeling some grief or sadness at the dialing down of my original euphoria for what I have started to call the "romance" of this gig. Don't really like the term "romance" but "fantasy" is not as grounded as I am about this (been consulting for a long time), and "plan" is too concrete and doesn't evoke the inner-ness of my feelings. Maybe "daydream" instead of "romance?"

Comments welcome.

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Old 01-21-2018, 01:08 PM   #2
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Default Re: Steinbeck Warmup

I don't pretend to understand the exact situation, there just aren't enough details. But I, too, am a consultant, and I fully understand the problems of a client mis-match. I dealt with a client back in the fall who wanted me to do all this work, which was great, but they didn't want to provide me with any of the information or resources I needed to do the work. They kept saying wasn't what they had on their website enough, and I kept telling them that their website had very limited information and it did not answer any of the questions I needed them to answer for me to be able to write the requested documents. They ended up pausing their contract indefinitely. I would love to continue working with them if they can actually do the "homework" I assigned them, but if they can't be bothered to spend some time thinking about the answers to a few questions, then there is literally nothing I can do. If they ever ask to restart the contract, I may just fire them as clients, unless they agree to the understanding that they have to provide information, I can't make it up. And referring to limited information on a website is not providing the information. (Aside from the fact that the website is in Chinese and I had to use Google translator to even understand it, and that's an imperfect translation due to the nature of automatic translation.)

I just recently almost took on another mis-match client because the size of the contract was so enticing, but it ended up not happening, and ultimately I was thankful for that. And thank goodness I did, because I recently found a much better fitting RFP and if I had taken that other contract I wouldn't have the capacity to take on this RFP.

How long is the contract you have with them? Can you see it through to fruition and then decline any further contracts with them? Is it possible to end the contract? I'm assuming by checkwriter you mean the person who contracted you, so the person you have to make happy? My contracts always specific approach and outcomes, is this person deviating from the approach and outcomes or just always requiring further clarity when something has been fully clarified?

I had a boss like that once who could never accept an explanation and always wanted more detail...like if you told someone to pour a glass of water, he would want instruction down to how to turn the faucet on and how to open the cupboard to remove a glass to use.

I have a client right now that I'm grateful to have but the contract itself is a bit of a pain in the ***. I will keep working with them because they are great to work with, but servicing their contract is not my favorite thing to do at times.

I guess that's the nature of consulting, but also the great thing is that the job is limited, so it's not forever.

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Old 01-22-2018, 06:01 AM   #3
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Default Re: Steinbeck Warmup

Your checkwriter has some large blind spots. I hope you're able to work through/around/with him to help transform the team.
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Old 01-22-2018, 10:02 AM   #4
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Thanks Seesaw for your post.

How long is the contract you have with them?

Ans: Till we're through, and our dates keeps sliding around for arranging our meetings. Suddenly, last week, Ckwriter seems much more focus on quickening the pace. When we're on a conference call, though, he contradicts me and tells the work group we have all the time it takes. Sigh.

Can you see it through to fruition and then decline any further contracts with them? Is it possible to end the contract?

Ans: Oh, sure. Most of this tension I know from experience can happen.

I'm assuming by checkwriter you mean the person who contracted you, so the person you have to make happy? My contracts always specific approach and outcomes, is this person deviating from the approach and outcomes or just always requiring further clarity when something has been fully clarified?

Ans: Yup, Scope of Work in Place. I applied using an approach they are not fully familiar with, and coming with that approach is a whole host of other differences. I also see we listen differently, and have divergent intuitions of what other people can know or figure out versus need to be explicitly and formally told.

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Old 01-22-2018, 10:22 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Revu2 View Post
Thanks Seesaw for your post.

How long is the contract you have with them?

Ans: Till we're through, and our dates keeps sliding around for arranging our meetings. Suddenly, last week, Ckwriter seems much more focus on quickening the pace. When we're on a conference call, though, he contradicts me and tells the work group we have all the time it takes. Sigh.

Can you see it through to fruition and then decline any further contracts with them? Is it possible to end the contract?

Ans: Oh, sure. Most of this tension I know from experience can happen.

I'm assuming by checkwriter you mean the person who contracted you, so the person you have to make happy? My contracts always specific approach and outcomes, is this person deviating from the approach and outcomes or just always requiring further clarity when something has been fully clarified?

Ans: Yup, Scope of Work in Place. I applied using an approach they are not fully familiar with, and coming with that approach is a whole host of other differences. I also see we listen differently, and have divergent intuitions of what other people can know or figure out versus need to be explicitly and formally told.

R
Ug! It's just one of those things you have to get through. I hope you have other clients who are more pleasant who you can take some comfort in.

I have some needy clients and other clients who are just rockstars. Fortunately even my needy clients are pretty great to work with. So far.

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What if I fall? Oh, my dear, but what if you fly?

Primary Dx: C-PTSD and Severe Chronic Treatment Resistant Major Depressive Disorder
Secondary Dx: Generalized Anxiety Disorder with mild Agoraphobia.

Meds I've tried: Prozac, Zoloft, Celexa, Effexor, Remeron, Elavil, Wellbutrin, Risperidone, Abilify, Prazosin, Paxil, Trazadone, Tramadol, Topomax, Xanax, Propranolol, Valium, Visteril, Vraylar, Selinor, Clonopin, Ambien

Treatments I've done: CBT, DBT, Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS), Talk therapy, psychotherapy, exercise, diet, sleeping more, sleeping less...
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Old 01-23-2018, 11:43 AM   #6
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Thanks for the comments. They have supported my thinking/feeling. Came to fully 'get' that Ckwriter is trying to grab the steering wheel while I'm supposedly—at considerable costs to them—in the driver's seat!

Working through the J school's "serving people" — how, why, what, who, where, when, how much, how many.

The ones I really care for are how (method & format) and why (philosophy of approach). The rest I can tell my perspective and then move out of the way. I'll keep this insight to myself. A pair of Aces and the rest pip cards.

I also sense that this wrestling for the wheel may be project long, every meeting, every interaction. I'm ready, game face every time.

I can also know that should it get too intense I can offer to fully leave the 'car' and walk home.

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Old 01-24-2018, 11:50 AM   #7
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Friday is a Big Day—I conduct an Open Space exclusively for our team of 15. As I observe myself I wonder what are the optimal levels of suspense or tension pre-day, Day of, and post-day?

I do know some things from long experience. Much of what I'll say will be scripted improvisation, I suppose I can call it that. I know I must start well. I rehearse and refine the first 2 minutes continually.

Not having a sound opening is what sent me into shaky land a week ago when my computer crashed while trying to find their wifi signal. I had to buddy up on Ckwriter's computer. I didn't have space to spread my notes, etc. Made a couple of minor flubs, so managed but it didn't feel stable or confident.

One of the members sent an description of OS to the project leads (me + Ckwriter + one support staff). I'll look at it carefully today and likely will pass it through to the whole team. I didn't send any because we've had a lot of other stuff to deal with, and frankly, I'd prefer to wait for them to experience OS and then talk about it than to read someone else's ideas before experiencing it. I may or may not agree, may or may not do it as described. Sigh.

Much of today is full of printing out needed materials and keeping them organized and in a sensible order.

I have my inner assistant questioning? Am I forgetting something? Is there something I need to bring, create, take?

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Old 01-27-2018, 03:00 PM   #8
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Back last night from an overnight working gig.

Really, really depleted this morning, but something I expected. Even expecting it, to arrive at the feeling of it remains it's own thing.

Along the way, the hotel (Marriott) cannot seem to get my payment right. I've addressed it, my colleague who arranged the room (and paid for it on her credit card) has addressed it twice, I've called this morning, and they are so confused! Checked my pending VISA charges and I'm seeing the wrong amount, double billed!!

Called this morning. No help. Calling someone higher up the chain of command later today. Then as high as it will take.

Alerted my credit card servicing bank and they told me how to engage their conflict resolution services.

Let see, corporations are the great, efficient, etc. assemblages of poeple who do things right! Every organization from schools to government should imitate their stellar example. They care about customer service (at least in their ads)!

Hm, then why have I had such difficulties with ... Hewlett Packard, Virgin Mobile, Marriott, Westinghouse/KitchenAid, and Back of America? I've escalated all the way to the CEO's office with Virgin Mobile and Westinghouse/KA. Brought in my US Representative to help with B o A. Gave up on Hewlett Packard and changed brands. And now getting ready to engage Marriott.

Non of these escalations needed to have happened if the reality exceeded the hype.

Never buy the hype.
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Old 01-29-2018, 11:31 AM   #9
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Hi,

Mr. Steinbeck would on occasion discuss his very busy life. It's all part of getting the head clear to get to the work.

I've taken on moving our local transit system (Metro in Seattle) to Maybe. This is a play on getting to maybe which I think is very good motive. Getting to the City of Yes goes trough the town of Maybe.

I don't have much time. With the limited time I can use, I've started an egroup, thought through an approach, and identified some seemingly simply changes we might get through Maybe to Yes so we experience progress (wins, a term I downgrade because it evokes its polar term: lose).

So I put out an invite to the 6 people who have joined the egroup so far to meet or patch into a video call to talk. No response.

Now, I built the link to the call and sent it further and wider. I'll open the lines tonight and for an hour sit ready and work on related materials for the project.

And again tomorrow night.

Sometimes its more holding the faith and spirit than holding a meeting.

So be it.
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Old 01-30-2018, 10:04 AM   #10
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Default Re: Steinbeck Warmup

For a few years I've taken up an-appearing-to-others Quixotic idea of repealing an odious state law. Jokingly I'd say, I'm in till I die or it passes.

Heard the "Well, you are barking up a tree but the game won't come down" sort of comment when the focus was on the City Council and getting a resolution passed calling for a repeal.

In October 2015 the CC passed out a resolution for the repeal 8-1.

Next, onto the State Legislature. "Don't bother, with the Republicans holding the Majority in the Senate it won't get any attention."

The Republicans no longer "hold" the Senate.

A new, radical, Representative has dropped a bill to lift the ban.

The Leader in the Senate organized the original Tenants Union that "inspired" the ban.

There's a hearing this morning that I'll watch via video streaming. I've sent my thoughts and materials to my Rep's office and the leading activist group. Both houses are taking it up and there may be the first vote as early as Thursday.

It's enough that "you can't fight government" is an idea that's out there. It's just sad when it's your own circles who buy into it.

No worries, I sing out loud that Civil Rights song, can't let nobody turn me around!
Revu2

Consider always that "you can't fight City Hall may be a rumor started by City Hall." Audre Lorde
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