36161933 - jump off a cliff with a rope.

Selflessness and Courage

The kindest words that have been said to me lately are, “Jess, I’m worried that you’re wrong, and that it’s going to hurt you.” They came from a friend, who I know didn’t really want to say them, about some personal views in which I had been very confident. Essentially, I had forced her to call me out on pridefully asserting that I was above struggling with something. After opening the conversation, she went on to gently explain her point of view, pointing out some obvious flaws in mine. She was humble, gracious, and obviously continued the conversation for my good rather than her own.

please-wait

Acknowledging Pain

According to reports I’m hearing, my experience applying for a policy on the federal Health Insurance Marketplace has been pretty typical – I’ve spent many hours navigating the site and trying to get help from well-intentioned customer service reps with no more power or knowledge than me.

An Imperfect Metaphor

My wife is a biochemist by training, and she was the one who came up with the name “Catalyst” for my fledgling consulting practice in 2006. A catalyst is a substance that accelerates a reaction without itself being changed by the reaction. I thought that was a perfect metaphor for the work we do– encouraging change in others. As we end 2012, I’m realizing that the metaphor is incomplete.

Building Trust– Repairing Old Damage through Reconciliation

For the past four years, helping teams build high-trust relationships has been a significant portion of my consulting practice. My clients and I achieved some decent results together, but something was missing from my approach. Up until 2010, I had assumed that 2 people who have a damaged-trust relationship can shake hands, agree to work together, “let bygones be bygones,” and move forward in a trusting way.

I was wrong.

A Sugar-Coated Satan Sandwich

This past Tuesday, Rep. Emanuel Cleaver, Chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus, voted in favor of the Budget Control Act of 2011 (the “debt deal”), but he wasn’t happy about it. He described it as a “sugar-coated Satan sandwich.”

He’s not the only one eating a big helping of nastiness; frontline workers in many organizations are gagging on their own Satan sandwiches.

Abbottabad Compound

An Unusual Silence

One of the ways U.S. intelligence forces found Osama Bin Laden was the absence of an electronic signature around his Abbottabad compound. In a noisy and wired world, the building without signals and wires stood out.