Monday, 21 August 2017

With a Totally Open and Positive Mindset

Imagine if you could clear your mind of all negativity.

What would this do for your business, your life?

Without those past negative experiences clogging up your world, you will bring optimism and hope to every activity. You may be more outgoing as past social hiccups will no longer bring down the cloak of self-protection. Everything is limitless.

You will retain the manners of your upbringing and associated positive traits embedded in your self-consciousness.

Further, imagine you are Vice President of a multinational, well known Company and are based in Brussels.

The fresh, uninhibited perspective you could bring to everything your employer does would be hugely significant. Truly ground breaking.

Is this in any way appealing?

Imagine this could be achieved by the taking of a tablet or an injection. 

Would you take it?

Before you answer, there are some temporary side effects.

As well as erasing all negativity from your mind, you will also not initially be able to remember or recognise your partner or children. You will also not recognise any other family or friends or have any recollection of who they are or why they are friends or family.

You won’t recall your childhood or have any recollection of where you studied or what you studied.

You won’t remember how to do basic tasks, where the bus stop is or how to get there. You won’t remember how to cook.

Does that change your answer?

However, your Partner, Family and Friends will be totally supportive of your new, be it temporary way of life. They will help with your education, fill in the gaps in other walks of life and be protective

But there is more.

Your ability to study, to learn new things is extraordinary as your mind is free from all clutter. What may have taken years to grasp now takes weeks.

Does that make a difference?

In addition, your Partner of many years all of a sudden becomes like a new romance with all the associated excitement. You have no memory of love making meaning that mentally, you lose your virginity for a second time, but on this occasion to a caring, considerate and loving partner, which is not always the case when a teenager or soon after.

As an adult, you also get to experience the wonderment that comes with what mentally, is your first time flying, train trip and boat ride. Your first merry-go-round ride, first chocolate and ice cream. It is all new. You get to everything for the first time, again.

You have no sense of fear and are willing to try new things, to benefit from new experiences.

The peak of this new state of mind will last 2 months and gradually over 6 months, much of your past will re-present itself, but you will retain your new learnings.

Your employer will have benefitted hugely from your new perspective and your career is set to soar further.

Your partner and children and many friends think you are pretty cool too. 

However, some friends were offended you did not remember them but this is another side effect and anyway, were they really friends in the first place?

The above is based on the true story of Robyn Pratt. A lady from country Queensland who underwent sinus surgery in Belgium, and upon waking, had no memory. She did not recognise her Partner or Children, had no childhood memories; she did not know who she was. This was thought to be a reaction to the anaesthetic.  

At the time, she was Vice President – Six Sigma and Operation Innovation with Starwood Hotels and Resorts. Robyn later became Vice president – Brand Management – W Hotels, Le Meridien Hotels for Europe, Africa and Middle East.

She is now Malta based and is Principal and Managing Director of Impact Consulting Limited.

It took 2 years for her to reconstruct her life.

Here is a podcast of an interview with Robyn in 2013. It is fascinating, a little confronting and also uplifting.

Sunday, 20 August 2017

Whole Self Engagement - A Sunday Self Refelctive

My weekdays are different now, my weekends too.

I have happily left behind the expectation of the new working week and likewise, have left behind the anticipation of the weekend about to start.

I have commented on numerous occasions that I am not sure if every day is a weekend or every day is a workday. What I do know is everyday feels exciting.

In several articles, I have referenced conversation I have been involved in. Having conversations is not something knew however there appears to be a greater quality now. I am also enjoying social occasions far more than I used to and even looking forward to these.

Again, it is not as if I previously didn’t enjoy or look forward to such occasions. I have however become very aware that my dynamic or energy is different now. I pay far more attention, actively listen, ask more questions and am overall far more engaged.

What has changed is that I am not being constantly aware of the time, of where I next need to be, who is in need of my counsel or advice and who do I need to seek out for advice or decisions.

When I am “there” I am all there, or at least most of me is.

Last week, I was out for dinner with friends I have not seen for nearly 12 months. I not only looked forward to it, but was relaxed and involved, genuinely interested in what they were all up to and their future plans. Two have retired, another will by year's end while the other has broad ideas about what work will look like in the future.

Thursday morning was coffee with a friend and former colleague from North Queensland. We share a number of common interests and our conversations have always been reasonably diverse. It was however our common business involvement that inevitably dominated our chat. On Thursday, we referenced matter Financial for about 2 of our 70 minutes together and if it wasn’t for a need to catch a flight, we may have spent another hour or more over yet another coffee.

Friday was another dinner date, with a couple who have just purchased the caravan and car package. I was interested in just what goes in to making a caravan purchase. I suspect I would have been bored to tears with this conversation had it occurred 12 months ago, perhaps even 2 months ago.

Back to the matter of work days and weekends. It really doesn’t matter. Every day is enjoyable, satisfying, stimulating and with objectives in mind.

But, perhaps the biggest change is that I am no longer in a state of perpetual tiredness and exhaustion, making everything else more enjoyable, relaxed, stimulating, educational and engaging.

If only I could find the secret to helping others achieve this engagement in traditional working life.

Saturday, 19 August 2017

Liveable City

The 2017 most liveable city results were released three days ago.

The Economist Intelligence Unit conducts research and produces the annual report having assessed Liveability based on Healthcare, Education, Infrastructure, Culture and Environment and Stability.

Each category is given a rating out of 100, these are then rolled in to an overall rating out of 100.

The top three Cities were separated by 0.2. The top 10 by 2.5.

I am not disrespecting these ratings, but I do wonder what the point is.

I would like to see if those Cities with consistently higher ratings have attracted more business investment or population growth than others at the mid-point.

I also wonder if people are moving away from Cities on the basis of their ratings.

The Economist has determined the criteria by which Liveability will be rated and these seem all very reasonable. But what about the actual people living in each City.

Most of us live where we do because it is home. Our City of residence is where we are comfortable, happy and where the people are that matter most to us. The City in which I live is highly Liveable, but came in at number 16. I was in Adelaide 6 months ago and noticed almost zero difference in Liveability and the South Australian Capital is rated at 5. Yes, Adelaide with some rather suspect Power infrastructure is the number 5 most liveable City in the world.

Sure, some people move Cities to pursue a change of lifestyle, it may be weather related, cost inspired or chasing an opportunity. I doubt their decision is influenced by the official ratings.

Many simply do not have a choice, or do not perceive they do.

Overall, we mostly love where we live, because that is where we live.

As for the most liveable City, in the world. It is the same this year as it was the previous 6 years. It is a City that abounds with Gardens, hosts sporting events as well as anywhere in the world and has an adequate, although stretched Public Transport network. I cannot comment on health services as I have not experienced these for 30 or so years. It has great cultural diversity and tolerance.

The City rated most liveable in the world for the 7th consecutive year is Melbourne.

I suspect however, that it is more important to most Victorians to merely be rated above Sydney.

Friday, 18 August 2017

Leadership or Management?

In the Corporate World, we have moved on from the concept of Management in favour of that of Leadership.

We no longer defer to our Manager, we defer to our Leader.

Development initiatives are now about creating Leaders, not Managers.

The idea is perhaps that Managers manage stuff but Leaders motivate, initiate, instigate, strategise, communicate and coach in order to well, manage stuff.

Where we had General Managers’ we now have “Chief Officers”, Divisional Managers have become “Heads Of” and Managers “Team Leaders”.

With all this emphasise on Leadership, why is it we seem so bereft of it.

Management was always about taking responsibility. Is this really the difference between the “M” word and the “L” word?

Leaders talk about the big picture, the new strategy, engagement and cohesion. Leaders talk about it then all too often default to short termism.

Am I being unfair? Am I generalising? Yes, I am being unfair and I am generalising.

My concern is that we are progressing to a state where the taking of responsibility may be becoming less common.

I have been in many a forum where it has been stated by Management, sorry, by Leaders that compliance is the responsibility of every employee. At times, I have been the orator of this mantra.

However, for Leaders, is there a danger that actually addressing a compliance matter is only relevant when a problem is discovered?

In recent years, we have seen numerous scandals in and around financial services. Is it possible Leaders were blinded to reality by short term objectives? Do Leaders operate in the long term but work day to day in the short term? Is it possible short term incentives based around next week's targets impact such behaviour?  

In moving ahead, does Leadership need to combine the modern theory of strategy etc with some of the drudgery of Management practice; the drudgery of the responsibility of “getting stuff done”, and getting it done properly?

Thursday, 17 August 2017

Workplace Behaviour - Politicians Setting the Example

Television programmes, movies, books, DVDs and in fact nearly all content we consume has an associated rating attached to it.

The ratings systems vary depending on the category however in all cases, the more restrictive the rating, the more intense the violence, more graphic the imagery or colourful the language. The theme contained within the content may also be a factor.

The theory is, we should not expose those in our society considered not yet mature enough to apply a sound and balanced decision making logic as to what is real or not, what is acceptable and what is not.

It is time to place coverage of matters political in to the adult only category?

Tune into the comings and goings in and around the American, British and Australian Political scenes and you will see what in my opinion are textbook examples of mental abuse, verbal abuse and general bullying. And this is just what we see in the open. If this is happening for us all to see, what will be going on behind closed doors?

When one of our sports stars misbehaves, we hear about the responsibility they have to set an example to the community and young people in particular.

When one politician accuses another of treachery and spices it with personal acrimony, it is considered to be fair game in the rough and tough of political debate.

We, the taxpayers, employ these people, we pay their salaries.

We pay the salaries of the public servant who handles the renewal of our drivers licence too. Would we be accepting of such behaviour in their workplace?

There are dozens of examples of past behaviours and actions that we now deem inappropriate and unacceptable, in the workplace, on our sporting fields and in society as a whole.

It is time to require our ultimate leaders, our elected politicians, those we delegate the authority to spend our money, defend our country and to make the laws we agree to be bound by, to behave in accordance with acceptable social and workplace standards.

Maybe then, they would do what they are meant to do and concentrate on matters that support the disabled, underprivileged and others who are disadvantaged while providing a fair and equitable country rewarding honesty, hard work and efforts to advance individuals, enterprises and families alike.

Come to think of it, I am not sure the behaviour we see in Federal Politics is even suitable for Adult consumption.

It’s Time

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Patience Before Judgement

We often click on a link with a variety of emotions or energy. Some positive, others not.

The title may excite us so the page is opened with much expectation of a satisfying and enjoyable reading experience.

Alternatively, the title of the link may infuriate us, or have us enter in to a feeling of negativity and a corresponding preparedness to be critical or judgemental.

It was with the energy of the second example that I clicked on a link that came across my LinkedIn feed a week or two ago.

The title of the article was the first thing that accelerated my heart rate. What was expressed is the exact opposite of what I believe.

Secondly, the writer was well known to me, having delivered her consulting services to my former employer over a period of about two years. Not only that, the results were comprehensive and positive.

What made it worse, was that only a week before I had written a testimonial for her business.

The article in question was written by Professional Certified Coach Kylie Denton and is titled:

                             Four tips to get more out of others"     

I find the concept of getting more out of others to be somewhat old fashioned, hailing from a time where the “boss told and the staff member responded” or else.

I jumped to images of a management style of red faced ranting and raving and one way communication.  

I believe the best way to achieve ongoing sustainable outcomes is to create an environment where individuals can work collaboratively and are supported to be the best they can be, exceeding the expectations they perceived for themselves.

I was also shocked because having worked with Kylie, my opinion is she is devoted to helping and supporting people to develop as they desire and to fully achieve their potential while being true to their individual desire for balance.

I performed the MacBook equivalent of ripping open the envelope and readied myself to be appalled by what I was about to read. I was also mentally drafting the e-mail I was to shortly send to Kylie, withdrawing my testimonial.

I speed read the article and realised my state of mind was such that I must have missed something. I read it a second time, feeling again I had missed something.

Kylie’s article proved to be positive and constructive as well as being informative and valuable. It was nothing like I expected from the heading; it was definitely in keeping with my experience working with her. My emotional build up had been wasted.

How often do we jump to conclusions before considering the facts?
How often do we do ourselves a dis-service by pre-judging a situation or circumstance?

How much better would we be if we eliminated this tendency from all we do, in our business, social, recreational and family lives?

Kylie, I apologise.

Tuesday, 15 August 2017

A Picture of Passion and Ethos

Conversations fall in to various categories.

Some are educational for one or both parties. Others are fun, whimsical, opinionated or inspirational.

On a rare occasion, a conversation includes all the above, and then some.

Today I had such a conversation and it was with someone I feel I know well and have known for a long time. However, we really don't know each other that well at all.  

It was our first conversation in about 2 years however there was no re-capping  of the last 2 years; this didn’t seem necessary.

My conversation partner is two years my junior. He withdrew from the structure of employer/employee work relationships a little over two years and is therefore two years further down this path compared to me.

Alberto was my conversation partner. He is a professional photographer, having returned to his passion some 15 years after first establishing (then closing) a studio in Adelaide before settling in Brisbane after a stint as a diving instructor in Cairns.

Alberto was introduced to me about 9 years ago by his partner who I had met through the Hamilton Wheelers Cycling Club when we raced against each other in the same grade. She always finished ahead of me.

When first we met, he was building a reputation in masters age group bike racing, later taking out  the King of the Mountain title in the Grafton to Inverell Road Race. He doesn’t ride any longer. In his work life, he was 3 years in to a planned one year (gap year) stint as a baggage handler for Virgin.

As well as returning to his photography passion, he has also rediscovered his love of the ocean and surfing, a love first honed in his teenage years.

Much of his photography involves spending long hours in the Ocean, no matter what the temperature. He also produces some superb portraiture, still life and non ocean related scenery. He has an eye for the natural and for nature.

I know of some of his work through his Website and Instagram account. He also exhibits when invited and frequents the South East Queensland weekend market circuit. I first wrote about him two years ago when I visited his exhibition at Raw in Brisbane.

Alberto works to a client brief and I asked if there are any assignments he would not accept. He said he has given this a great deal of thought and fortunately, has not yet been challenged to consider this. He suggested it would depend upon the intent of the brief and the story his photographs would be used to illustrate and not just the subject matter being photographed.

I was more interested however to hear what drives his work that is not based on a client brief. For example, is he thinking about what he might be able to sell, or is he photographing what he would like to buy?

He did not hesitate in answering his work assumes he is his own customer.  

We discussed the cold hard commercial impact of always creating content, be it photographs or written material for the market versus producing content we like, while effectively "waiting to be discovered".

We landed on the side of idealism meaning that at least for the time being, we are prepared to be patient and will "wait to be discovered".

We also discussed matters Social Media and our attempts to discover the secrets of promotion via the various mediums; what words to use, what not to use and how to “boost” exposure. We are  still very much in the infant stages of our learning.

Alberto granted me permission to use his images in this article. I have decided not to as I cannot select from the many beautiful and many thought provoking photos he generously placed at my  disposal.

Instead, I will simply provide a link to his Website and Instagram account.

More than anything, I was inspired by our conversation and by Alberto’s love of his art and his passion and belief in his chosen path. I was inspired by his determination to continue being true to his own ethos and doing so during those periods of fluctuating income and sparseness of sales.  

Alberto's is both a lesson and a motivation.