Lynne Cazaly: You don’t have to be perfect!
In this episode, Richard interviews Lynne Cazaly, a speaker, trainer, facilitator, and sense-maker who helps business owners, teams, and organizations transition to better ways of thinking and working. Lynne is the author of six books, the latest of which is Ish. We talk about the pursuit of perfection – should we expect it from our team, or should we discourage it? When you finish listening to the episode, make sure to connect with Lynne on Twitter and LinkedIn, and visit her website at https://www.lynnecazaly.com.au.
Hi friends. Welcome back to With Great People, the podcast for high performance teams. I’m Richard Kasperowski. Have you ever felt like your team was slowed down by its quest for perfection? Is doing a job good enough really such a sin? In this episode, I talk with Lynne Cazaly of speaker, trainer, facilitator, and sense-maker who helps business owners, teams, and organizations transition to better ways of thinking and working. Lynne is the author of six books. In her latest book, ish, she deals with this problem of the pursuit of perfection. We joined Lynne and her team on a wild ride through the uncharted deserts of Australia, where a quest for perfection might end up being the final quest of your life. To support this podcast, visit my website, kasperowski.com.
We’re here today with Lynne Cazaly. Hi Lynne, how are you?
I’m good. How are you, Richard?
Great to see you and hear you.
Great to see you too. I sometimes say this as we’re recording a podcast like this, “I have the pleasure of actually seeing you.” Everybody else, okay. You can listen along with us. We’ll try to make this fun for everybody who’s listening. I can actually see each other’s faces and we got big smiles-
We’re already having a great time. We’ve already been talking a little about… Lynne, could you introduce yourself to our listeners?
Yes. I’m a Melbourne, Australia, person from down under. So born in Melbourne, Australia, and had my own business or practice for over 20 years. And my background was in communications. So I used to spend a lot of time working with businesses and organizations, helping them interpret what’s going on in the world for their audiences and stakeholders. Kind of like a translator, but all in one language.
Say more about this “interpret.” What does that mean?
Yeah, I think, well with that communication, it’s being interpreted in the same language, but I see this role that I had as a boundary writer in sport. We’re not in the game and we’re not in the arena, we’re not in the audience area. But we’re running along that line, taking what’s happening on the field, and interpreting that for the audience and then listening to the audience, and interpreting that for the players on the field.
Okay. That is fascinating.
Yeah. So I spent a lot of time working with words. Like writing reports, and speeches, and media releases, and doing some lecturing at universities. So it was all words, words, words, words, words. And, yeah, after a few different job roles, I thought. “I’m sick of this. I’m going to do my own thing. I’m going to leave and leap, and run my show.” So that’s what I’ve been doing ever since, speaking, training, facilitating.
So you left, you made your leap, you’re a speaking training facilitator. On what topic or topics in particular?
I love change. So what elements of change, it could be around how to collaborate better for change or communicate better for change. And I think I’m obsessed with thinking. I love understanding how we think, and I believe we’re the only creatures on earth who can think about how we think. So that means we can become more aware of how to think more efficiently, more cleverly, use our ingenuity, really interested in thinking.
All right, and I could see the bookshelf behind you.
There’s a nice, you have it there so I can see it really easily as you turn your shoulders round, you have a book that you’ve written recently called ish. What’s that book about?
Yeah, this book is… ish, as in near enough or somewhat. And the subtitle is The Problem with our Pursuit for Perfection and the Life-Changing Practice of Good Enough. So in my work with different teams and in my own life, I was discovering and then reading some research that we have a big problem with perfectionism, and some longitudinal research that had come out really affirmed that. And I thought, “Well, what’s the answer to that? How have I combated my perfectionism?” And so going for good enough, rather than aspiring for this invisible perfect is what I really got into over the last couple of years. And so I write this book, ish, and yeah, I’ve really enjoyed sharing that message speaking about it.
Yeah, and I love that concept. I’ve had a few conversations with people saying sometimes it’s the end of the day now for me. I don’t know if there are actually patterns and what we’ve been talking about today, but I’m starting to notice some patterns from my [inaudible 00:05:01]. And one of them is about exactly this, about thinking about in my past life, I’ve encountered it as a team of people being frozen. They don’t want to take the next step forward in the work they’re doing because they want it to be perfect and they’re stuck. They’re afraid to take the next step because it won’t be perfect. And we all get stuck on this.
We do. And I think it’s that perfectionism of the end result. We don’t know when to stop. And so the cousin or the half sister, if you like, of perfectionism is procrastination. Is we do get into this frozen state of, “I can’t do anymore. It’s not good enough.” And so we just stop and hence the team getting frozen, paralyzed by perfection.
All right, then we’ve mentioned the word team now. This is the podcast about great teams. And so what I like to ask people about is the best team of your life could be any kind of team, work team or not work team. Just any group of two or more people with a shared goal. For you in your life, what’s your best team ever?
I’ve been reflecting on this over the last a few days, going, “Oh, what example would I share?” And so I thought back through different job roles thinking that’s where my best example was, but no, the best example came out of a holiday, driving four wheel drive through the middle of Australia. It’s the Red Center for a reason because there’s a red dirt and dust and huge sand dunes. And many people still live there, Aboriginal indigenous people in communities. But the best team I was part of was a group that was doing what we called First Across the Desert.
And when they opened the Simpson Desert in Australia each winter, the first team that’s able to go out there across the desert, it’s a real challenge because there’s no tracks. All the tracks have blown over from the previous year. So we set out on a trip. There were about eight vehicles, two people in each vehicle. And we set off leaving a place called Mount Dare, which is really just made up of a pub, a hotel, and headed off to be the first across the desert. So what followed then for the next seven or eight days, travel was total teamwork and collaboration to successfully get to the other side.
Are you thinking of your team as the group of two, you and a friend who were in one vehicle or is it the group of 16?
It’s the group of 16. It’s the group of 16. I think you start out thinking it’s you and, so it’s my husband Michael. I think he started out thinking it’s you two, “Hey, we’re a team in our vehicle, listening to our music.” And so off we set, and then we got to a place called the Spring Creek Delta, which is a bringing together of a number of different rivers. And there’d been incredible rains in the weeks and months leading up to the opening of the season. And we got to a point where we couldn’t go any further. There was too much mud, but we’d already traveled quite a distance. So when we stopped, we turned back a little and found a campsite and regrouped. And “Okay, what are we going to do? How are we going to… We’re either going to drive back and not be the first across the desert, or we’re going to work out what the advance strategies to get us through this tricky space.”
All right. Now, okay. Your group of two quickly became your group of 16 as the best team. What did it feel like doing this trek across the desert together, as you started, you’ve been ruminating on this for the last couple of days, I guess. If you could summarize the experience of that group, that team, in one word, what would the one word be?
Good Australian word, gutsy.
Gutsy. That’s a good American word, too.
Is it? Okay. That you have guts.
Tell me more about gutsy.
Gutsy. So the guy who became the trip leader that took us just through the muddy bitch, he said, “Come on, we are going to do that.” It never died. The vision in his mind, we were getting to the other side. It was going to happen, even though several of the 16 were saying, “No, it’s not going to be possible. We’ll get stuck. It will be disastrous.” They’re thinking of all the negative things. But he’s saying, “No, we will do this. We will find a way to get through this mud, this incredible, huge flooded area.” And so we set about doing that. So gutsy in the face of things not looking so good. Yeah. Guts and determination.
Yeah. And that’s a common experience for people in any kind of team, things not looking so good. And then what?
Then what? Yeah. What do we do now?
All right. Now, as you look back in this team, let’s say I was… I don’t know. I was flying a drone, an airplane or something. Or I was accompanying you, shooting a video for a documentary. What would I have observed about the team? Subjectively, what went into this was a great team, or objectively, what went into this was a great team?
Yeah. Firstly, subjectively, all the vehicles were stretched out over a space of maybe a kilometer. And we were trying to get the first vehicle through the mud. And it was interesting to see how people quickly put their gumboots on, their galoshes, whatever you want to call them. And we got out, most vehicles have two of these long plastic, they’re about a meter long and maybe a foot wide. There’s a bit of imperial and metric together there.
I love that. I love that.
And they’ve got grip things on them. They’re called max tracks. And so four wheel drivers use them to stick them in the sand and in the mud and whatever to get traction. So yeah, between eight vehicles, we had 16 of these max tracks. So we were then pooling our max tracks. So now here we are pooling our resources to help get this first vehicle through. So people were knee deep in mud, laying out the max tracks so that the first vehicle could get through a first bit of the mud and water.
So there was this subjectivity. I could see it, going, “Oh, well, isn’t this nice? Everyone’s chipping in.” And when we had to maneuver different vehicles, we weren’t waiting for the owner of the vehicle to come back and move that car where anyone was jumping in, we just left the keys in car and we would just jump in and move, crawl them up, keep moving them up up up. We had a couple of different people on different roles. So I was sitting in the car really being on radio and communication so that we could all hear what was happening. And then one of the other participants. So she was on catering duty. So she was getting morning tea and nourishment and nurturing things ready.
And there was also of course, someone on camera capturing some of the great video and the efforts. So subjectively, there were lots of elements I could say that just went, “Wow, this feels like such a good team. We’re doing this together.” But then objectively, there was the strategy of putting the max tracks in place. It was quite a measured approach. And Dave, the guy leading the trip, he had this certainty around, “Yes, this is what will work. I’ve seen this work. This is how we recover vehicles who are stuck. So we’ll be able to use this to make forward progress.” And we did, within half an hour, we’d made some really good progress as in a hundred meters, maybe, through this mud. So there was objective measures. “Yes, we are moving ahead. This is working. We are getting through this incredibly long and wide bulk.” Yeah. So it was feeling good, but we could also see, there was an achievement, a measure.
Oh, that’s so cool. And I love a lot of the sort of turns of English metaphors that we use when we talk about work teams, they were all concrete things that were actually happening to you. I was writing down some of these phrases that you’re using. Knee deep in mud, we’ve all been on a work team that was knee deep in mud. You were literally knee deep in mud.
Everybody jumps in. People on this team were literally jumping in to the next car to help it move. You could actually measure your progress, literally see that the group of cars had advanced a hundred meters. It was really easy to gauge progress. It was actually, maybe better than a lot of work teams have. There was a very clear sense of progress that you could observe.
True. Yeah. And we had a clear starting point. It was the start of the area, the Spring Creek Delta. And then we could see as looking ahead, you could see, as Dave in the advanced vehicle was moving ahead. And I was looking through binoculars and I could see him, he had this motto of “Drive it like it’s stolen.” You hop in the vehicle and you drive like it’s stolen. You get your foot into it to get through the mud. And so I’m looking through binoculars and I can see him several hundred meters up, and the car’s swerving through the mud and there’s all spray coming up. And we’re just going, “Wow, look at that. Yeah.” And he was totally driving it like it was stolen. He was getting through that mad. Remember he had this vision of, “We can do this. I’ve seen these conditions. We can do this.” Even though he held the belief for us when we said, “No, let’s all just go back and have a warm shower at the pub.” But no.
Oh, that’s awesome. I love this idea. Drive it like it’s stolen. I would love to see some of the work teams sort of drive it like it’s stolen. How fast can we go? Let’s get away from where this sprint started and get to our end point. There’s nothing stopping us.
That’s it. That incredible drive, not the tentative hesitant “Oh, I’ll only do a little bit and see what happens,” but he’s saying, “No, we need to take a big risk through this section.” I’ll send you a photo of one of the really muddy parts where he was totally driving it like that.
Absolutely want to see that. Yes. Or video.
Yeah. Yeah. I think I’ve got video too.
All right. Now what about other concrete behaviors that went into forming as a team or the success together as a team? Concrete behaviors?
Yeah. Concrete behaviors, I saw several people step in when winches, so we’re using the winches on the front of the vehicles to bring the next vehicle through. And on a couple of vehicles, they stopped working. So they was smoking and they’d been overworked or the vehicle had gone off, come out of the tracks, out of the ruts and up into deeper mud. And to see a couple of of the team members, so they’d already jumped in and they’re already waist deep in mud, but they went further. Then one guy hooked up a rope to a car, and we’ve got a picture of him with the rope over his shoulder, playing set of drivers, driving the vehicle as best they can.
And there’s a guy in front with a rope just trying to guide that vehicle on the tracks. That was totally observable, concrete, not standing back waiting, saying, “I’ll watch how you go,” jumping in and doing it. And then concrete behaviors of guiding each other. So let’s say a vehicle got through on a particular track, then other members of the team would stand ahead of the next vehicle and point left to right to help them stay in the tracks and on those max tracks to make sure they kept the friction going, more traction.
That’s a good thing.
I feel like everybody should have an experience like this, of what it’s really like, what it’s like to be on a really great team.
Yeah. It reminded me that… Because I generally work alone. I’ve got a business manager. We work together. But my teams end up being new teams almost every day. So I’ll go and work with a new group and I have to build rapport with them quickly and get them to trust me. And we have to become a great team very quickly so that we can get through the workshop, whether it’s facilitated or training. Whereas this gave me the opportunity to spend, it was eight to 10 days with the same team. That was cool. That was really nice to build in deeper trust day after day as we’re problem solving. And then after that, getting through the really muddy bit, we did get through. Our cars just coated in mud, but it didn’t stop there because we had some equipment failures here and there, which meant we had to be a little bit more aware of what we might be expecting each team member to do with their vehicle.
Yeah. Cool. How about can you offer some advice to listeners? What could they do with whatever team they care about, whatever group of people they care about? What could they do to reproduce some of this team’s success?
It’s cool to identify some roles. So you need not jump in and rescue the situation, but you can stand back for a moment and go, “Okay, someone already emerging as a leader of this team, how could I support them?” Not “How can I take this over or fix it?” I think we can tend to go in and try and fix or rescue something, but maybe we can be more of the support person. Maybe our ego doesn’t like it so much. Cause we’re not the star of the show. We become a quieter, but still supportive member of the team. So have a look at some of the roles that have already emerged through initial action or initial behavior, and go for your strengths. So I like the idea of contribute early then give something to the team that that helps you feel confident and helps the team say that you’ve got something great to offer. And then try some other stuff.
Yeah. And you did exactly this, is you introduced yourself saying you had a background in communication. You told the story, and in the story, your special role was communication. Your strength.
Communication. Yeah. I wasn’t out there saying, “Okay, I think we should put the max tracks in the ground like this.” Oh no. I kept away from that and let a couple of the equipment experts deal with that. But I knew that my ability to listen to people, pick up on tone of voice, make sense of information, distill it, really provide clear, concise information. I thought, “This is my job. The microphone is my job today. I will listen and translate, and shout things out the window and hand gestures and communication.” That’s my strength. Bring it to the team.
All right. Is there anything else you’d like to add, anything else you want to share with listeners?
Perhaps that this experience. Don’t doubt it, I was so scared out there. I was really scared. I thought “We are out in the middle of nowhere.” We do have all the communication gear and everything. So just because someone looks like they’re succeeding at leadership or that the team looks good, doesn’t mean that everyone’s feeling safe and happy and joyous. We can be melting on the inside or feel quite anxious. So the psychological safety of the team’s vital. When we had our camp that night, at the end of that day, we had a really good meal, the good come together and eat together.
And a colleague of mine, Sharon Natoli, she’s writing a book about the benefits of teams eating together. So I totally saw the benefit of that that day. That hard work, slog through the mud, but then we weren’t all okay. We needed to debrief and come together and doing that over food was a great way to kind of counsel each other and help us feel like we’d really achieved something.
For sure, it was probably one of the best meals you’ve ever had.
What else is going on in your life, in your work life? You have the book ish.
Yeah. So been working on some thinking and some IP around cognitive overload. You know when you’re say in a training program or at a conference, and you get overwhelmed with information. So I’ve now got a program for that and a keynote. So I’m hoping that people will think of putting that in at the start of the conference, just 30 to 45 minute session that skills the audience up with why we become overloaded and how to manage our own cognitive overload during something like a conference or training program. So that’s something I’m really passionate about helping people make sense of information and no one’s going to fix it for us. We have to manage our own load. So that’s something I’m getting right into at the moment, looking at what opportunities ahead for 2020.
All right. Great. And if listeners would like to get in touch with you, what’s the best way to do that?
Yeah. That’s why I have a look at my website, www.lynncazaly.com. On LinkedIn, I publish something every day pretty much. I post every morning, Australian time, about things I’m thinking about or seeing. So I’m happy to connect there or Lynne Cazaly on Twitter, blah, blah, Instagram, Facebook, every other platform you try and get across. Yeah. Getting plenty of information on website under my blog on all things team collaboration, facilitation, leadership, all of these good talkies.
All right. Wonderful. Lynne Cazaly Thank you so much for being on the podcast today.
Oh, I appreciate the opportunity. Thank you, Richard. Thanks. So good to share this story.
Hi friends. Thanks again for listening. And remember, to support this podcast, visit my website kasperowski.com.