Saturday, November 16, 2013

How Well Do You Integrate?

Successful people integrate.

That’s a big word for me, integrate.

It literally means, “to render something whole.”

And the people who master this art––actually, it’s more of a way of being, really––bring substantial value to those around them.

The challenge is, integration can’t be taught. There’s no formula or system or seminar.

But it can be modeled. Consider these examples:

Zapponians are encouraged to bring unrelated passions to the work environment. In their culture book, one employee wrote, “It’s like a game to see what part of ourselves we can bring to work every day.” Sounds like a dream job to me. Integrating means making use of everything you are. What unique aspect of your personality can you enlist to help you work?

Billy Jean King, hall of fame tennis player and advocate for sexual equality famously said, “Bring all of yourself to everything you do.” She’s right. Halfway will be the end of you. Integration means fulfilling your whole capacity for living. Do you have the freedom to use the talents you might never exercise anywhere else?

Mike Arauz from Undercurrent talked about hiring square shaped people: "It’s not just surface knowledge, it’s going deep enough to be dangerous on an expansive landscape of interconnected knowledge that quickly makes you a powerful recombinant thinker and inventor." That's what allows you to participate in deep, thoughtful conversations about anything. Even offer meaningful advisement off the cuff. Do you know a little about a lot or a lot about a lot?

Conan O’Brien, the funniest man on the planet, once told a story about the best piece of advice he’d ever been given. Johnny Carson said, “You will use everything you’ve ever learned.” That’s one hell of a memory. Integrating means refilling and accessing your mental reservoir. What’s your routine for documenting and organizing your daily learnings?

Scott Adams famously admitted, “I succeeded as a cartoonist with negligible art talent, some basic writing skills, an ordinary sense of humor and a bit of experience in the business world. Dilbert is a combination of all four skills. The world has plenty of better artists, smarter writers, funnier humorists and more experienced business people. The rare part is that each of those modest skills is collected in one person. That’s how value is created.” Everyone should be so lucky to fire on all cylinders. Integrating means meaningful contribution through masterful combination. Is everything you do designed to give you a stronger base?

Jerry Seinfeld is a master of integration. He famously told Howard Stern, “I’m never not working on material. Every second of my existence I’m thinking, can I do something with that?” That’s what billionaires do, they leverage everything. Integrating means killing two stones with one bird. What’s your system for accumulating more firepower into your creative arsenal?

I read a fascinating article about Douglas Hofstadter, a professor and author and Pulitzer Prize winner. He said, “Anything I think about becomes part of my professional life.” Amen to that. Workers of the mind, unite! Integrating means rolling your snowball down an infinite hill. How do you expand your repertoire a little bit more with each thought?

Robert Downey Jr., perhaps the greatest comeback character of his generation, was described as an artist who, “Will eat almost anything, idea wise, or he’ll at least chew on it.” He takes in everything available. He never meets an idea he doesn’t like. Integration means guarding your curiosity against exhaustion. Do you embroider the accumulated threads of daily observation into a striking tapestry of innovative thinking?

I remember watching an interview with a renowned nerdcore rapper. When asked about his experience working with Cartoon Network, he said, “They use every part of you like a buffalo.” What a delicious way to work. Don’t dismiss or deny your native background. Compress all of your assets into a tight little package. Integrating means leaving no talent untapped. When people tap you on the shoulder, how many different ways do they use you?

The key to remember is, integration takes a long time, a lot of practice and a high level of maturity.

It flows from a complete openness to yourself. Even the parts you view as liabilities.

And it’s a spiritual imperative. At the heart of what it means to be a person is bringing value and light and joy and meaning to the people around you.

Are you ready to render yourself whole?