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The MOR Hardware Store for Life

, | April 16, 2024

by MOR Associates

Today’s Tuesday Reading is from Bill Hogue, MOR Associates Leadership Coach and Former CIO at University of South Carolina. Bill may be reached at [email protected] or via LinkedIn.

Walking into your first MOR workshop is like opening the doors to a hardware store.  What kind of hardware store?  The world’s largest, most complex, and fascinating, that’s what kind. MOR’s got tools and supplies and all manner of household items you’ve never even heard of, much less put to use on a project.

Home Depot claims their average store stocks 35,000 products.  Hah!  Amateurs! Last time I checked, MOR’s Hardware Store stocked 35053, a nifty little palindrome of products.  In fact, there are so many products, concepts, colors, designs, and DIY ideas floating around, MOR even provides shopping assistants and project facilitators to help you equip yourself for whatever life and leadership journeys you have in mind.  

Do you crave a transformative experience? Do you want to take a quantum leap? Step right this way; MOR Hardware has you covered. If you learn nothing else, you’ll soon enough learn that hardware store culture is layers deep, and you might better get some glasses with special lenses on aisle three, the better to see cultural complexity with maximum clarity.

And here’s an important secret about MOR.  The maxims, principles, practices, and processes that are the foundation of our workshops work just as well at home as in the office.

It works like this.  I’m shopping for lightbulbs at MOR Hardware and bam! – I find an “AHA! Moment” on aisle fourteen.  A professional builder might take that lightbulb and screw it into the socket of a wall sconce in a newly constructed office.  But I might take that same lightbulb and use it to illuminate a dark corner of my apartment – or to shine a light on my relationships or my mental or emotional landscape.  That very same AHA! Moment can shed light on an area of my life that previously had been obscured in the shadows and seemed baffling and mysterious.

The first time it hit me was when I was listening to some guy named Jack nearly hyperventilating while explaining that the best tactics in the world can’t make up for what is lacking in strategy.  Now, I’d heard Jack expound on this topic once or twice before, and I thought I understood what he was saying.  And I did understand – but only in the business context.

Jack seemed to be saying that if you’re leading the Acme organization or a member of the Acme team, you may be justifiably proud that they are performing their tactical, day-to-day tasks and assignments very well.  But here’s Jack’s point.  If there’s no overarching strategy guiding the development, growth, application, and evolution of Acme’s tactics, Acme is forever doomed to wander down dead-end roads.

My personal AHA! Moment came when I realized that every word of Jack’s explanation applied to my own life, as well.  I was undergoing a big transformation in my life journey due to the death of my wife of nearly fifty years.  In the aftermath, I found the strength and resolve to pick myself up and keep things running.  Call my children, play with my grandsons, rake the yard, sweep the floors, do the laundry, water the flowers, gas the car, pay the bills, feed and care for my dogs and cats, remember to eat a good meal with friends now and then, consider having a little fun.  Engaging in those activities was – and is – important.  But as important as they are, these are tactics, not strategies.  Without new strategies, my life was going nowhere.

Even if I paddled as hard as I could, I was rudderless. At a tough spot in my life, I learned that I needed a new strategy to guide my life journey. During my years as CIO, MOR principles helped inform my professional leadership journey. Perhaps, I thought, all those tools I employed in my professional leadership journey could be a powerful force in shaping the new strategies that would now be essential for reconstructing my life journey.

What do I mean? Well, first, I did a gap analysis and scenario planning. Where am I now, and where do I want to be in six months, one year, or five years? What will my life look like at those junctures? How do I bridge the gap between where I am now and where I want to be?

I assessed my trusted circles.  Was I using them wisely?  Who did I need to bring closer, and who did I need to gently push further away?  

I checked the status of my network.   MOR reminds us that relationships are currency.  You can never have too many healthy and dynamic relationships on a life journey.  And was I remembering to use the Four I’s to meet new people and help strengthen and replenish my treasure chest of relationships as my journey moved forward?

Was I remembering to check my presence and energy, and heighten my self-awareness as I entered a restaurant, joined the coffee crowd after Sunday services, or took my young grandsons on a new adventure?  Did I take a few minutes each day to take stock of what I had accomplished and prioritize the tasks and activities ahead?

And, finally, did I make sure to express genuine and sincere gratitude at least three times each day?  Gratitude for someone’s kind words or gentle touch.  Gratitude for my abundant riches, some earned and some not, but gratitude for both.  Gratitude for tender mercies.  Gratitude for friendly service at the grocery store and gratitude for guidance from hardware store experts and guides to help with solvents, adhesives, socket wrenches, plywood, storm doors, mops, buckets, and so much more.  Gratitude for the credit card with no expiration date granted to all of us who visit and hang around at the MOR Hardware Store for Life.    

Which best describes your thoughts about applying what you’ve learned through MOR? MOR learnings apply…

Last week we asked which was most helpful in embracing the positive instead of dwelling on the negative:

  • 44% said reflection
  • 31% said seeking support
  • 25% said journaling and release

All three are viable and helpful strategies for those of us who tend to dwell on the negative instead of embracing the positive. Reflection was the most commonly used approach. Reflection involves intentionality in thought and deeper analysis of what we think. With this understanding of the underlying reasons for our thoughts, it enables a more constructive response.