Here’s a review of the inspiring speeches given at this year’s Arbinger Summit!
Huge thanks to the speakers and participants who made the Arbinger Training Summit 2018 such an enlightening and inspiring event! Here are some highlights from the general sessions.
Mitch Warner, managing partner and Arbinger author, kicked off the event with a story about his father, who pursued acting in New York City. At that time, a friend asked his father, “Do you love yourself in the theatre? Or do you love the theatre in yourself?” Mitch reflected that this question could apply to more than just theatre and acting. It could apply to work and leadership. We could ask ourselves, “As leaders, do we enjoy helping others succeed, or do I just like the idea of myself as a leader?” With those introspective questions, Mitch reminded the audience that turning the world outward begins with our personal commitment to being outward. He then framed the summit’s two-day agenda with an overview of the Arbinger process—assess, train, implement, re-assess, sustain–and announced that this year’s focus would be implementation!
“Our work is to turn the world outward. We do that wherever we are. That, more than anything else, is a function of who we are and who we’re striving to be.”
Kimberly White, author of The Shift: How Seeing People as People Changes Everything, shared the “story behind the story” of her book. Toggling between her own story and that of the skilled nursing facilities featured in The Shift, Kim emphasized the difference an outward mindset can make personally and professionally. Following the outward mindset journeys of nursing home employees working in extremely demanding and often stressful circumstances, Kim witnessed the change that occurred in them…and, in the process, underwent her own transformation. For example, at one point Kim asked an employee about the worst part of her job. “It’s the diapers, right?” Not at all! It was when the residents passed away. The employees saw their residents as people—and cared deeply for them. As she heard these stories, Kim’s perceptions shifted. She saw her husband in a different light. She saw herself in a different light. And that shift changed everything.
“Arbinger doesn't exist so we can more cleverly recognize others' faults. Arbinger exists so we can recognize our own faults and get out of our own way.”
Jim Ferrell, managing partner and Arbinger author, drew out three analogies about what it means to be in relationship with others. These analogies then framed a “nuts and bolts” description of how to implement an outward mindset in an organization.
“There are two ways to approach life: To deny that we are connected by our work, or to embrace that reality.”
Richard Sheridan, CEO of Menlo Innovations, shared his insights into creating a joy-filled organization. For him, “joy is when our hearts, hands, and minds are employed in the service of others.” The two fundamental questions that follow are: “Who do we serve?” and, “What would delight look for them?” Rich then gave three examples of how he employed these principles at Menlo Innovations. First, everyone works in pairs, with partners assigned anew each week. There is also complete transparency, to the point that bookkeeping is done on a whiteboard…in front of the whole company! Finally, Rich recommended “running experiments” like he did when he allowed an employee to bring in her baby to work. Twenty “Menlo babies” later, the experiment has proven to be a success. What can we do to bring joy to our organizations? Several things, but most of all, serve people.
“An outward mindset reveals the operating system of the soul.”
Jo Schaeffer-Crabb, Head of Learning and Development at Tokyo Electron, light-heartedly described her first encounter with Arbinger. With laughter and humility, she explained that she initially did not see how self-deception applied to her. (Of course she saw people as people!) However, as time went on she began to see…well, maybe she didn’t. One of her first realizations was that she often failed to see herself as a person. She only saw her value in terms of her productivity, rather than recognizing her intrinsic value as a human being. After this initial realization, others followed. Soon, Jo recognized the ways she saw her family and co-workers as objects. So, has Arbinger really screwed up her life? No. But sometimes it does come as a surprise when we finally recognize our self-deception.
“The continuous pursuit of living life with an outward mindset sounds like an immensely rewarding life.”
Sharon Gentry, EHR PMO Director at Hospital Corporation of America, discussed how an outward mindset was able to help her in three areas: her job, her community, and her family. Her family story was particularly touching. When she learned she had cancer in 2017, Sharon thought, “Finally! I deserve not to be outward!” The “cancer card,” she thought, would allow her to crawl into the I-deserve box. But when Sharon shared her news with her family, she discovered that her 8-year-old daughter had a need to connect with her mom by taking care of her. This discovery helped Sharon stay outward. In all of these experiences, Sharon concluded that this outward journey has made her more accountable—and it has given her more humility than she thought she was capable of possessing.
“The saying goes when you know better, do better. And we know Arbinger. So let's do better.”
John Melton, Commander of Womack Army Hospital, started out giving his take on effective leadership. “Positional (hierarchical) authority drives compliance, while relational authority inspires commitment. If you need to tell someone your rank or title to show that you’re in charge, you’re not in charge.” What made John’s perspective even more powerful was his example of living such leadership. In front of an entire audience, he shared a moment when the topic of a meeting was his ineffective communication. Right away he jumped into his I-deserve box—but managed to get himself back out. In that meeting, John took full ownership for his actions and apologized for making his team feel incompetent. For him, holding ourselves accountable is part of good leadership. Another part of good leadership? Getting an organization of five or 5000 to wake up tomorrow and have a cup of coffee with a different mindset. So can you get an entire enterprise to adopt an outward mindset? Yes. But it starts with you and takes time.
“Create a climate where every member of the team feels it is expected to ask for help, offer help, and accept help.”
Chip Huth, a major in the Kansas City Police Department, described how to lead with an outward mindset and how to help others do the same. In one particular instance, Chip realized he needed to fire someone on his squad. A half hour after speaking with the former employee, that employee came back…and thanked Chip for firing him! Why? Because Chip had led with an outward mindset. He also described the annual “Come On, Man!” award given to the person who has made the silliest mistake that year. He explained that leaders must be vulnerable themselves to create an environment of transparency and safety. When this is achieved, others are more willing take responsibility for their own mistakes. Chip also reminded us of the need to be outward in all dimensions of a life by recounting experiences with his son. Finally, he encouraged those listening to be the leaders they say they will be.
“Outward mindset helps me be more than resilient. It helps me be anti-fragile. Resilience means you don’t change. Anti-fragile means I can stretch and grow.”
We also had the chance to hear from you! Here are some of your thoughts about our general sessions:
“The speakers were incredible, both relevant, and engaging. Topics discussed were easily relatable to Arbinger concepts and useful for facilitators.”
“The speakers were all top-notch. Each had experiences and results to report that were both relevant and inspiring. My favorite was the information from the Cornell study.”
“Fantastic storytellers. Great to have updated, personal experiences and to show the scope of Arbinger.”
“They illuminated a variety of circumstances and experiences by giving life to the material and revealing its power in action.”
Stay tuned on how you can access more material from our Arbinger Summit 2018!