by Sarah Hunter
Dear book clubbers,
Well. We have basically reached the end of our journey with this book. I’m grateful to all of you for participating and for sharing your thoughts with the group. I learned a lot along the way. I hope you did, too.
If you have a specific question for the author, please send it to me. I can’t guarantee that he’ll respond, but I’ll send them to him and see what happens.
Also, if you have any thoughts on the club experience or on anything related to the book or our journey together, please feel free to message me. I’d love to hear from you. If I get enough feedback, I’ll post a final round up.
Catch up here:
In Chapter 9, Workout, Scott Sonenshein provides us with information about how to implement stretching. It’s akin to the proverb, “Give a man a fish, he eats for a day. Teach a man to fish and he eats for a lifetime.” But (thanks Trevor Noah), there is a step in between. The man needs a fishing rod. This chapter contains fishing rods to help us implement the concepts set out in the book. I have copied liberally from the chapter in this summary.
In the introduction to the chapter, the author discusses the importance of a map to the health clinic in persuading students to get Tetanus shots. Shocking pamphlets were not enough. The map was the key to transforming intention into action. He then outlines a dozen exercises to help the reader transform the intention to stretch into actual stretching.
Exercise 1 – Just Say No. Shift our mindset to using existing resources better. What we do with what we have is more important, so reject the impulse to collect additional resources. Use what we have. Constraints can be liberating.
Exercise 2 – Find a Sleeping Beauty. A sleeping beauty is a dormant resource. The value of a dormant resource is mostly recognized by outsiders who have different backgrounds and therefore notice a new use for a sleeping beauty resource. To discover sleeping beauties, ask: What personal and organizational resources have been shelved for years? As outsiders the same question. Then make a list of potential ways the dormant resource can help advance an objective, followed by at least one action you can take immediately to revive it.
Exercise 3 – Go Explore. Use the multi-context rule discussed in Chapter 4 (breadth of experience helps people stretch) in every day life. It doesn’t have to be a wholesale life change, it can be as simple as reading new publications, meeting new people, sitting at a different desk. If you can take time to go explore, do it! But the same effect can be achieved by assembling a group of outsiders. Just be sure to leave comfortable territory.
Exercise 4 – Take a Break (and Pay Less Attention). Mindless work gives the mind space to ruminate on the hard work. During a challenging project there are two things that can be done: Occasionally do easy or less demanding tasks and go on the clock by limiting the time spent on the challenging project.
Exercise 5 – Pick New Neighbors. To strengthen a stretch, we must first break free from the chase. Choose other people to hang out with who are stretchers and hang out with them for an hour a month.
Exercise 6 – Appreciate. When people are grateful they expand how they think about their resources often in ways that try to help others. They appreciate those resources making it easier to say no to other tempting but not necessary resources. Express gratitude by finding time once a week to write down five things in your life for which you are grateful.
Exercise 7 – Shop Your Closet. This is like identifying sleeping beauties, but closer to home. Find unused talents in coworkers and unused stuff that could be repurposed.
Exercise 8 – Plan Backward. Act first and plan afterward. Planning robs us of the benefits of careful reflection as we will simply move to the next step if the plan is working.
Exercise 9 – Scramble the Back Row. A chess reference. Sometimes the comfort of habit lulls us into complacency and we don’t think about how things might be better. Change small, simple things like members of a work team, location of a meeting, speak in person instead of emailing, or change work hours.
Exercise 10 – Make Midyear Resolutions. I didn’t realize that making a New Year’s resolution increases the success rate for making positive changes ten times. The midyear resolution lets us take stock of how our resolutions are going and set additional goals going forward.
Exercise 11 – Break It Down. Breaking down resources into their tiniest components allows us to discover new ways to use those components. Do this by posing two questions: 1. Can the resource be broken down further? And 2. Does the description of the broken-down part imply a use?
Exercise 12 – Turn Trash Into Treasure. “At GM we view waste as a resource out of place.” Mobilize people to do new things. Keep a benefits diary listing key events, activities, or experiences. Next to each item write at least one unexpected benefit, which turns each item into a treasure.
At the end of the chapter, the author stresses that these exercises are not meant to be followed to a T. They are starting places and can be adjusted to fit your needs. I identified several that I can start using immediately. The important thing is that you get moving. Grab your fishing rods and haul in a feast!