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I'd be happy to chat about The Activated Genius Method, my research, our individual and organizational coaching programs designed to maximize your performance, or Tailored Output in general.

No question it too silly, or too profound. This is my life's work. Let's chat!

- julie


Arlington, VA
United States

Tailored Output is a professional development coaching company with an emphasis on goal-setting, career-planning, and team-building within the context of creating whole and fulfilling lives. 



Individuals working with Tailored Output will uncover their unique genius to identify career opportunities that will contribute to a whole and fulfilled life.

Organizations working with Tailored Output will learn how to assemble multi-disciplinary teams--staffed with engaged and motivated members--to accomplish seemingly impossible tasks in alignment with the corporate mission and values.

 

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But, Why?

Julie Slanker

Why? is a tricky question.

Depending on how you wield it, Why? can sound super accusatory or condescending. And it's not even about the tone of voice you use. Why? carries its own unhelpful subtext. It is the Why? itself that causes all the problems. 

Why did that happen? (Subtext: What did you do to cause this?)

Why do you want to do that? (Subtext: You shouldn't....)

Why is that important? (Subtext: It isn't....)

In coaching training, we are taught to avoid the world Why? for that exact reason: It's trick and unhelpful. It puts people on the defensive. It makes you sound like a jerk. And nobody wants to be coached by an unhelpful jerk... 

At the same time.

If we are going to do our part to solve a problem - to disrupt the status quo we can no longer stand. If we are going to make a major change. If we are going to step into the full measure of our Genius to build a better world for ourselves and our communities, we need to get to the bottom of Why?

[Quote: "Before spending all your time and resources, it's incredibly important to re-define the problem." - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak

[Quote: "Before spending all your time and resources, it's incredibly important to re-define the problem." - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak

Why does the problem persist?

Why is this change so difficult?

Why have previous attempts failed - or succeeded?

Why?

This is not a call to judgement or self-criticism. This is not an accusation. This is not even - necessarily - an invitation to introspection. This is a research project. 

Because I am willing to bet that if you - if we - truly understood the root of the big problems we face, we'd be a further down the road to solving them. 

We're smart.

We're capable.

We're motivated to make a change.

Let's focus all that effort and energy on the real root of the issue. Let's dig in to what's really holding us back. Let's uncover the obstacles that are really getting in our way. 

You'll notice my use of the word real. That's the key. And that's why this is a research assignment. Because too often what we think is the problem, at first glance, is actually one of the symptoms.

Often what we think is simple and straightforward is actually complex and interconnected. Often what looks like a personal problem is actually an issue with the environment or the system or the bigger structures we work within. 

Sometimes what we think is a management issue, a leadership issue, a cultural or societal issue, also has its roots buried deep within us.

So you've got to understand Why? 

Why does the problem persist? 

Why is change so difficult?

Why have previous attempts failed - or succeeded?

[Photo: The Helix, Bangkok, Thailand]

[Photo: The Helix, Bangkok, Thailand]

I'll give you a hint: Your first answer will be wrong. Maybe not all the way wrong. But definitely incomplete. Dig deeper. Look inward. Ask around. Keep unwinding. Do more research. What is below that first answer to your inquiry? Why does that situation exist? 

Don't stop there.

Keep going. Keep asking. Explore the many levels that contribute to the status quo you can no longer stand. Document the reasons Why? so that we can spend the rest of the year focusing your Genius on what will make a real difference in achieving your goal.

 
This post is part of a yearlong series stepping through The Activated Genius Method to access and engage your unique Genius, incubate your Leadership, and develop necessary skills so that you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible. To follow-along from the beginning, start here.
Then join me every week as I dive a little deeper into the art and science of human performance and guide you through the practical application of this blog's theme in your Rise & Shine! Monday morning email.
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You Gotta Name It Before You Can Change It

Julie Slanker

Let me say it again:

You need to understand what you are fighting before you can defeat it.

You must know what you want to be different before you can make a difference.

You have to name the thing you want to change before you can actually change it.

It sounds simple. But often it's not.

We spend so much time talking about Vision and imagining an ideal future that we sometimes (often) get lost there. In our heads. Thinking magically about what might materialize someday. Wishing, wanting, waiting - and ultimately wasting all the effort we put into achieving our goals.

Trust me: Vision is important! Critical, even, to achievement. But there is a reason we tackle that topic much later in The Activated Genius Method. Vision matters for inspiration, direction, and emotional connection. And it also is completely crafted out of thin air. 

We cannot build the future on the wind.

[Quote: "...be present to the way things are, including our feelings about the way things are. This practice can help us clarify the next step that will take us in the direction we say we want to go." by Rosamund & Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility]

[Quote: "...be present to the way things are, including our feelings about the way things are. This practice can help us clarify the next step that will take us in the direction we say we want to go." by Rosamund & Benjamin Zander, The Art of Possibility]

We must fix the foundation of our efforts on rock solid reality. On our acceptance and understanding of the status quo (that we can no longer stand).

I think we sometimes avoid this step because we worry about that word, acceptance. We fear that if we acknowledge fully the way things are, we will lull ourselves into believing that things do not need to change. If we spend too much time working to understand the present, we will not have any time left to create a different future.

And this is a valid concern. If we spend our lives complaining about what doesn't work - what must change - we may never turn our attention to the actual work of changing. 

But we cannot let that valid fear prevent us from investigating the here-and-now in the first place.

So I encourage you to take the time - just enough time - to figure out exactly where you want to focus your work. Your energy. Your Genius. Your Leadership. To make something important to you better than it has ever been before.

[Photo of construction site with sign that reads "still under construction even though you're so over it."]

[Photo of construction site with sign that reads "still under construction even though you're so over it."]

Think of it as the site survey before construction starts. We are not mapping the world for mapping's sake. We are selecting the building site for the skyscraper of our future. 

And if we want that structure to stand tall. If we want it to be safe, sturdy, beautiful, and resilient to the wind, we need to understand and accept all the current features of that imperfect plot of land. We need to understand and fully describe the status quo (we can no longer stand).

What is that for you?

What is the thing that absolutely must change? What is the rant you rant when you get a little drunk, or a little riled up with your best friends? What is the major frustration you feel when you watch the news, or go to work, or walk back into your home for the weekend?

That's the other problem with focusing too quickly on our Vision. 

That word alone can sometimes pull us away from the real change we need. We associate that word with flying cars and landing on the Moon. We hear it most often in the context of multi-billion dollar corporations and global leadership decisions. And maybe that will the scope and scale of your Vision, too. Maybe the thing you want to change is exactly that big.

Or maybe the thing that would make the most difference - the thing that you were put on this Earth to do - will meaningfully touch only your family, or your work unit, or your classroom.

Maybe it is something that no one will truly know about but you.

That doesn't make it less important. That doesn't make the change less-needed. And frankly, sometimes, the smaller the scale the hard it will be to execute - because everything that must be done will need to be done by you.

Don't worry about that yet.

I promise, we will get there.

Now is the time to take just enough time to name the thing you want to be different, so you can focus your future energy to truly make a difference.

 

This post is part of a yearlong series stepping through The Activated Genius Method to access and engage your unique Genius, incubate your Leadership, and develop necessary skills so that you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible. To follow-along from the beginning, start here.
Then join me every week as I dive a little deeper into the art and science of human performance and guide you through the practical application of this blog's theme in your Rise & Shine! Monday morning email.
Name *
Name

All the Easy Problems Are Gone

Julie Slanker

Quick wins...

Low-hanging fruit...

Hacks...

Five simple steps...

One easy trick...

There is no shortage of solutions for quick, simple, easy, obvious problems. They are in every magazine. Every book. Every infomercial you've ever seen. They are passed along in conversation with friends. And implemented without much effort.

[Photo: Life-size "connect four" game.]

[Photo: Life-size "connect four" game.]

That means: If it was going to be easy to do, it would be done already.

You are smart. You're capable. You care. So, if all you had to do was connect a few dots - with a little bit of practice and the slightest bit of strategy - you'd have a winning solution in hand. 

If you don't...

If it feels hard - if you are struggling to make an important change - then it must be more complicated than that.

This is not a reflection of your lack of smarts or creativity. This is not a failing of yours at all. It feels hard because it is hard.

All of the easy problems are gone.

They are solved. And when new easy problems pop up, they are just as easily solved, again. With a gadget or a book recommendation or a new bit of advice from a friend.

[Quote: "Solving problems is hard. If a given problem still exists, you can bet a lot of people have already come along and failed to solve it. Easy problems evaporate; it is the hard ones that linger." - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak]

[Quote: "Solving problems is hard. If a given problem still exists, you can bet a lot of people have already come along and failed to solve it. Easy problems evaporate; it is the hard ones that linger." - Steven Levitt & Stephen Dubner, Think Like a Freak]

That is not what we're doing here. 

There is no difference to be made in making the world slightly less annoying. Or by moderately improving something that wasn't that big of a deal in the first place. 

No.

Your Genius is way too big for that!

Our collective Genius would be criminally wasted if all we cared about were the quick wins, the simple solutions, the five easy steps. 

Thank goodness they're gone! Out of our way.

So that we can focus our time, our energy, our brilliance on making the difference we were born to make.


This is the first post in a yearlong series stepping through The Activated Genius Method. Follow along to access and engage your unique Genius, incubate your Leadership, and develop necessary skills so that you can accomplish more than you ever thought possible in service of a better world. 
Every Monday morning in your Rise & Shine! emails, I will dive a little deeper into the art and science of human performance and guide you through the practical application of this blog's theme in your own life and work. Join us!
Name *
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