Are there places in your life where you’re doing 80% crap and only 20% good stuff? How might you flip those percentages around so that you could get more of what you want and less of what you don’t? More of what you need and less of what you could do without? That’s something worth considering.

While most of my posts are inspired by things that happen when I’m facilitating or giving a speech, this one came to me during a much less professional pursuit. Last Sunday morning, I had finished writing my blog early and had time to treat my family to some fresh-baked muffins for breakfast. My kids love muffins. Well…most of the muffin. Actually, just the top of the muffin. Often, the bottom sections of their muffins are found discarded, still encased in their little paper muffin cups.

Imagine my delight when my mom bought the girls a muffin top pan. This is the most ingenious invention. The muffin-top pan has 12 shallow receptacles that force the batter to quickly balloon over the sides, producing almost no boring, crumbly muffin bottoms and a disproportionate amount of crispy, delicious muffin tops. This pan is genius!

Muffin tops

It got me thinking, where are all the other spots in life where you’re getting the balance wrong? Where are you trudging through when you could be savoring? What are you discarding when you could be diving in? Here are a few of my thoughts, I’d love to hear yours.

New Priorities

Less Backward, More Forward

I wish there was a muffin top pan for meetings. I’d have more of that awesome part of the meeting where you talk about what’s coming down the pike, how you might respond, what the opportunities are, and how you might mitigate the risks. I’d minimize the part where everyone goes around the room talking about their results from last month. A little bit of time reflecting on what you need to do differently or what surprised you, that would be ok, but not too much.

Less Statements, More Questions

I wish there was a muffin top pan for disagreements. I’d have more really great questions where you try to understand where someone else is coming from, how they see the world differently, and what would need to be included for them to be satisfied with a solution. I’d minimize the part where everyone is making statements and assertions about their versions of the truth. A declaration here, a little pontificating there, ok, but mostly questions.

Less What, More Why

I wish there was a muffin top pan for leadership. I’d have leaders spend much more of their time and attention on answering the why questions; why the organization exists, why the strategy will give the organization a competitive advantage, and why some investments take priority over others. I’d minimize the part where leaders dictate what their direct reports should be doing because micromanagement takes leaders’ attention away from the big questions while simultaneously disempowering and disengaging everyone around them. There’s the odd crisis where it’s ok to shift into directing mode, but those would be few and far between.

Less Pretending, More Authenticity

I wish there was a muffin top pan for communication. I’d have people share more about what they’re actually thinking, what they’re worrying about, and how things are affecting them. I’d minimize the part where folks are trying to pretend that they know everything or that they are super-human, machine-like robots who can persist undeterred in the face of endless challenges and adversity. There would be moments where people would rally and work through their anxiety with a stiff upper lip, but more often, they’d be transparent about what’s going on for them.

I love my muffin top pan. It gets the balance just right. It gives you a muffin with a little bit of the tender, crumbly guts and a whole lot of the crispy, golden dome. There are so many other places where I would like to flip the balance to get a more satisfying outcome. What balance is off on your team? What process, or ground rule, or behavior could flip it? What’s your muffin top pan?

Further Reading

If Meetings Suck, Why Do You Keep Going?

Infographic-How to say no to a good idea

Dead wood or dead work?


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