My Why

Les Éclaireurs Lighthouse in Beagle Channel, near Ushuaia, Tierra del Fuego, Argentina. Referred to as “The Light at the End of the World”, I visited it twice during 2005 when I worked with an Argentine joint venture on a GM-Brasil radio project. Our manufacturing plant for the radios was in Rio Grande, Argentina and we sometimes flew out of Ushuaia back to Buenos Aires. I loved the experience, the place, and the light, so it is the image that I chose for my logo and brand.

The other day, I was asked a question of why I do what I do.

As usual, I didn’t like my quick answer.  My quick answers don’t come from my best place, of internal reflection.  In product development and my engineering leadership roles, I feel very comfortable saying “I don’t know.” or “I need more time.”  In that domain, it’s respected and necessary to take time to think and answer later.  I’ve been part of developing systems that can both save (working correctly) and end people’s lives (working incorrectly).  When that responsibility is on my shoulders, I take it seriously, and I take the time to reflect, sleep on my decisions, and pull in others.  

It is one of the most powerful insights I have received from Myers-Briggs.  As an INTP, my greatest strength is in Introverted Thinking.  But what the world sees and notices is my Intuition because that is what I project in the Extraverted world.  Many people think that I prefer Extraversion.  As an American who has lived and worked most of my life in Sweden, I have had a cultural advantage in that.  American schools value Extraversion, perhaps to an almost unhealthy level.  I knew if I wanted to go anywhere or make an impact, I had to be able to speak and appear first-order outgoing.  I worked damn hard on that (more on that someday in another blog), and especially in the Nordic countries, I am regularly mistaken for an Extravert.

But although it might appear that my greatest strength is in Extraverted Intuition, it is actual Introverted Thinking.  When I give a training or a speech, I have probably spent at least 8-12 hours working on the principle, the concepts, the order, the presentation, the execution, etc.  There is an awful lot of thought behind something that might be delivered in a short amount of time.

I’ve noticed a tendency though when I work in the teaching or podcast space to give quick answers that I’m not entirely satisfied with, although my father might argue with me that this is a case of perfection being the enemy of good enough.  I’ve thought about it (imagine that) and realised there are primarily two factors impacting that.  One is scarcity.  A lot of the people that I interact with and teach, we have a short time together.  We are here and now, and that’s it.  Most of them, I’ll probably not meet again, and I need to give an answer now.  The other is time.  While a five second pause might not be discernible in a speech, it is definitely enough time for my mind to start jumping all over the place.  I tend to hop around all kinds of different concepts and ideas, do something entirely different, sleep, then I have a solution or the brilliant answer.  I definitely don’t have enough time for that, especially in the closing minutes of a speech.

When I answered the person asking why I am teaching and what I want to do with it, what the focus of my business is, I hopped all over the place, talking about people and cultures, emotions and leaders, high performing teams and individuals who want to grow.  I talked about my love of engineering, the auto industry, and how I really love to solve problems, and got into this whole space because I saw that once interpersonal and communication issues were solved, engineering problems were quite solvable.  I love to talk about the complex systems of today (autonomous cars, IoT) and how they require teams, because no individual can truly be on top of such complexity.

I also talked about the “executive level white man org chart”, how I feel when the young women I work with react to it, and ask how they can be there some day when they see so few role models for them.  I talked how I feel I could be there, but am not because of life’s priorities, but that I want to be part of enabling a future where the “white man org chart” is an anomaly rather than the norm.  

After doing a lot of other things today, like an Excel file, updating my book list, writing marketing emails and my weekly newsletter, a much better answer came to me.

I recalled a speech that I had done for a women’s group at an engineering company.  I talked about my career, my jobs, some of my struggles and successes.  Then, a woman in the audience asked me what she should do if she wants to grow in leadership.  She mentioned the “white man org chart” and also that she had been part of a program to build and develop women in engineering leadership.  

However, she was disappointed in the program, because instead of teaching her the leadership skills that she thought she would learn, the program taught her about diversity.  It taught her about what it meant to be different.  It taught her how to deal with people who struggled to work with someone like her.  It taught her how to deal with unwanted sexual advances, as well as gender discrimination.  She wanted to learn how to be a leader, but she was taught how to deal with a broken system of behaviour.

I want to teach her.

I want to teach her peers.  Female, male, cisgender, transgender.  American, Swedish, German, Indian, Chinese, French, and any mix thereof.  I want to help them embrace their own strengths and weaknesses.  I want them to recognise they can’t and will never be perfect or omniscient, but by working as part of a team, they have a chance to achieve near perfection.  Together.  They can be good at both big picture and details, driving and caring, coordinating and specialising. They can contribute to the great ethical dilemmas that arise from automation, as they give many different perspectives.

I want to provide people the knowledge to get past the labels that we inevitably assign because of the way our brains work. I also want to give them sharp skills, in project management, in how and when to escalate, in time management, decision making, and prioritisation.

I want to be part of creating a new wave of confident humility, where we respect the competence, knowledge, and experience we have, but also realise we aren’t infallible on our own and can always learn and do better with others.  To lead with compassion, instead of fear, knowing that we will achieve more together when we care about our colleagues, managers, and subordinates as valuable humans rather than expendable resources.

I also want to support her, or hen (the Swedish gender neutral pronoun), or him to find their unique contribution, see it shine and be brave enough to carry it into the world despite the storms that try to dim it.  To believe in those who may struggle to believe in themselves.  To be a light, guiding the next generation of engineering leadership.

For the first time, I am offering the classes I teach to a general audience. I am offering three classes that have helped to strengthen individuals, teams, and organisations as part of consulting or training assignments.

If you want to invest in yourself, your teams, or your organization, this is a great, low-risk way to give me a try.

The classes are:

Be Your Best Self for a Better Team – every other Thursday 14:00 – 16:00 / 17:00 April 21st through June 2nd (April 21, May 5, 19, June 2)

Normal price:  3000 SEK ex MOMS (special price 1750 SEK ex MOMS)

Be Your Best Leader for a Better Team – Tuesdays 14:00 – 17:00 / 18:00 from April 19th through May 31st

Normal price:  8000 SEK ex MOMS (special price 5500 SEK ex MOMS)

Guided Interpretation to The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People – Lecture Wednesdays 16:00 – 17:00 from April 20th through May 25th, Discussion Mondays 16:00 – 17:00 from April 25th to May 30th

Normal price 2800 (live) or 1400 (video) SEK ex MOMS (special price 1200 SEK ex MOMS)

Email me or sign-up for my newsletter for more information!

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