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SEED Discover
SEED Stretch


SEED Enliven



SEED Ennoble



It is so enticingly easy to critique what we are against. We can readily notice others’ doing this, in every walk of life: politics, the arts, education, and even among community organizers whose expressed mission is to improve the life chances of more people. But do we notice it in ourselves?


When you think about it, we’re not likely to improve much of anything by declaring complaints or rallying to oppose bad things.  The Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. is best known for proclaiming “I have a dream,” not “I have an issue.” Right?

I have Dream Martin Luther King Jr

Critical analysis can be a pathway to vision. Getting clear about what is unsatisfactory can help us recognize what actually would be deeply satisfying.


Critique is essential in the face of injustice. 


However, critique can become a severely limiting habit. When left unchecked, this habit can create more distance than ever between current inadequacies and revolutionary improvements. Leading with critique can be a real turn-off to potential co-leaders and prospective partners who might otherwise expand our view and help bring new possibilities to life. 


The tricky thing about habits is that we rarely see ourselves doing them.  Or rather, we do not see habits doing us. 


So how do we disrupt “critique mode,” even when we have no idea that we are doing it, again?    


STRETCH: Our first quest is to recognize the habit.


To reveal potential signs that we are in critique mode, try asking these questions: Am I seeing the strengths in my team? Am I dwelling on what seems impossible for people to accomplish, or am I guiding people to do more of what they do best? Am I finding value in employee inputs?  Am I inviting multiple perspectives and really listening for value in differing views? Do my conversations with my team tend to focus on what is missing or what we have?


Our ability to observe ourselves is such a powerful tool. 


ENLIVEN:  One practice we have at our disposal every instant is to notice our mood.  When we find ourselves critiquing inadequacies more than conceiving new possibilities, chances are good that our lens is being compromised due to a mood of resentment, guilt or sadness. These moods keep us rooted in things past.


Or perhaps we are betting on the future: worrying, dreading, predicting, or feeling resigned that things are hopeless? 


Staying too much in the past or present limits our awareness of options available to us right here and now. 


“What is the mood I wish to create?” This is a powerful question to enliven our present power!  Or try this mantra: “I am open, I am learning, I have choices.” However you go about it, the goal is to see things with fresh eyes, since the only place we take action is NOW.


ENNOBLE:  Let’s try a habit-breaking practice to ennoble others, too. This ancient Chinese proverb is instructive: 


“If you want one year of prosperity, grow grain. 

If you want ten years of prosperity, grow trees. 

If you want one hundred years of prosperity, grow people.”


Consider a work relationship that is currently dissatisfying, one that you have critiqued but not improved. Make a list of three things lacking in the relationship, such as 1) he is not doing X; or 2) she does not Y. In other words, what are three things you are not getting?


Did you make a list? Good. Then you are ready to ask yourself this seemingly outrageous question:


“How might I offer these three attributes to the very people from whom I would like to receive them?”


This exercise is called “Give to Get.” Sounds strange, yes?  Why not try it?  Write down your plan for giving your colleague, partner, friend or team exactly what you wish to get from them. 


DISCOVER: We’d love to hear how this works for you:

Tip of The Month – ARCHIVE


April 2017 – Are We Dancing Yet?

March 2017 – What Is Going On Here and How Can We Work With It?

February 2017 –  Are We Listening for What Is Trying to Happen?

January 2017  Designing Your Own Website, Without A Designer



December 2016 – Are We Facing Our Fears?

November 2016 – Have You Identified Your "Strategic Who?"

October 2016 – How Are You Watering Your Own Garden?

September 2016 – What Did You Do On Your Summer Vacation?

August 2016 – Shall We Dance?

July 2016 – Creating a Culture of Philanthropy

June 2016 – What Is Your Secret Sauce? 

May 2016 – Changing the World and Reporting It, One Butterfly at a Time

April 2016 – The Right Tool For The Right Job

March 2016 – Listening For What is Trying to Happen

February 2016 – How Do You Get to Carnegie Hall?

January 2016 – New Year. New Possibilities. Get On It. 


December 2015 – Trust: A Gift that Keeps on Giving

November  2015 – A Team that Reflects Together ... Rocks

October 2015 – Are You Contributing from Your Sweet Spot?

September 2015 – What Did You Do on Your Summer Vacation?

August 2015 – Emptying the Page to Empty the Mind

July 2015 – Emptying the Mind for New Insights

June 2015 – What do we do when our beautiful plans get derailed?

May 2015 – Who will Bring Your Plans To Life?

April 2015 – Planning with the Magic of Kairos Time

March 2015 – Vision Infused-Planning

February 2015 – Bringing Our Visions to Life

January 2015 – Visioning: We'll See It When We Believe It



December 2014 – Busting Out of the Habit of Critique

November 2014 – Enrolling Allies

October 2014 – Achieve Your Mission


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