Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Experiencing, Sharing, Multiplying...

Those who know me are well aware of the fact that I work both directly and indirectly with incredibly smart, creative people. In fact, I often celebrate the fact that I am rarely (if ever) the smartest person in any given room. It is that acknowledgement that all but ensures I leave a meeting, conversation, or briefing smarter, or at the very least more informed, than when I arrived. The same is true of any room with access to the internet. I am a student of ideas and very much enjoy the insights on many different aspects of life others choose to share. I learn so much by reading blogs, links shared by friends and repeated use of search engines. In an effort to reciprocate, I choose to share some of the things I experience, observe and learn in my life via this blog and a few other collaborative forums). I do so in part because I know how difficult it is for many (including myself) to publicly share. Believe me, I question myself with each and every post, yet I hit "PUBLISH POST" three times a month in hopes that others will choose to respond by sharing their ideas and making the collective smarter. In essence, I share ideas not because I think my ideas are any better than anyone else's, but because I know how important it is to share and appreciate when others do the same. It should come as no surprise that my parents raised me to be a proud proponent of "The Golden Rule" and a believer in "The Law of Reciprocity"...there is great power in those two guiding principles.

On occasion, colleagues have thanked me for, built upon or delved into deeper discussion of a post, while at the same time admitting they don't feel comfortable sharing their thoughts with a wide audience. These individuals have intellect far deeper than I, ideas far more creative than I, and communication skills far more eloquent than I. Though some even make it a point to write down many of their thoughts, they do so with the belief that their ideas are not for public consumption and that there is no audience for their ideas. There was a time when I felt the same way, but things changed (at least in my mind). I didn't share because I thought doing so would give others reason to perceive me as self-absorbed or even arrogant (two of the largest character flaws in my opinion). Then I found myself complaining that others in my professional life were not communicating, were not making it a point to share their unique insights and some even relished in the misconception that withholding information increased their importance. In essence, I saw that I was beginning to view people who were not contributing to the conversation in the same way I thought I might be viewed if I chose to publicly share. Tipping point reached.

Since then, any time made to share thoughts with any audience who is interested in listening (and yes, even a few who aren't) has been time well spent. I am reminded of a book I recently read, Multipliers - How the Best Leaders Make Everyone Smarter. Since sharing this book with my colleagues at NIOC Pensacola (and beyond), I have exchanged both letters and e-mails with the author, Liz Wiseman (interesting how one's network changes and grows when we share of ourself), and she has even sent me books to help spread the message. The premise of her book is captured in the title and between the covers, she does a great job of contrasting "Multipliers" and "Diminishers". As unfortunate as it is, I have run into just as many (if not more) "Diminishers" in my life as I have "Multipliers". To use her vocabulary, "Multipliers" are...

- Talent Magnets: Get access to the best talent because people flock to work for them knowing they will be fully utilized and developed to be ready for the next stage
- Liberators: Create an environment that requires people's best thinking and work, resulting in bold thinking and best effort
- Challengers: Define opportunities that challenge people to go beyond what they know how to do
- Debate Makers: Engage people in debating the issues up front, leading to sound decisions that people understand and can execute efficiently
- Investors: Give other people the investment and ownership they need to produce results independent of the leader

I did not know it at the time I created this forum, but Liz has helped me to know I continue to share for three reasons:

1) I want to be a true "Multiplier"
2) I feel a responsibility to help create a Multiplying Culture
3) I REALLY don't like "Diminishers"

Though there are people in my life who I consider "Multipliers" despite their unwillingness to publicly share of themself, I don't know of any "Diminishers" who make the time to share. For my fellow "Multipliers" out there who have yet to reach your personal tipping point that will result in a desire to both share great ideas and encourage others to do the same, consider...

Not all good ideas are shared, not all shared ideas are good, but what good is an idea if it is not shared?

Note: If you are interested in a copy of "Multipliers" or would like me to send one to a colleague on your behalf, please be one of the first five to send me a note at seanheritage@gmail.com


  1. Thank you for your interest...all copies are currently spoken for. We may be able to obtain more, details to follow...

  2. CDR H,

    I really like this blog! It is a bit late for me so I'll comment on some of the things you blogged about in the future when I can keep my eyes open. Good on you sir and hang in there!

    MC A