Monday, 20 November 2017

Your Label - We All Have One - Are you comfortable with yours?

We tend to stick a Label on people. We also tend to Label ourselves, or perhaps we try to fashion our own.

In business, we may undergo psychometric testing as part of an interview process or during a management seminar.

We receive the results, or our prospective employer receives the results and we are “Labelled”.

I estimate doping 20 or more psychometric tests during my Corporate Days. I also confess to enjoying them.

And then there are the less scientific Labels.

We may be deemed or judged a team player or Individualist, outgoing or quiet, thoughtful or instinctive. 

All are Labels, irrespective of if they are justified or not.

We may have a preferred Label, or strive for a certain Label and image. We may structure, or attempt to structure or behaviours according to how we perceive we want to be viewed.

A Leader may inflict behavioural standards on others so they fit the Label they want for them, or perhaps more correctly, the Label they are most comfortable with.

Then again, a Leader who does this can in no way be Labelled a Leader.

For all that, I am wondering of there is a single Label that is worth us all striving for. A Label that doesn’t care what any testing tells us or anyone else about us. It is also a Label that compliments any other we may wish for ourselves.

It is also a Label we can wear all day, every day, everywhere.  

The Label is ENTHUSIAST.

Imagine such a working environment where every team Member is an enthusiast. Imagine the energy and innovation, the communication and joy or such an environment.

Imagine a place where everyone brings their unique personality and skill set with them, and expresses it as an "Enthusiast".

Picture this flowing over to everything we do.

Who wants to work and live in such an environment?

Who wants to be a Leader creating such an environment?

Now that is, a Leadership project waiting for a Leader of talent and…………….. enthusiasm.

Saturday, 18 November 2017

Eliminate "Don't" - The Results May Amaze

I have received some queries and feedback following my Post on Thursday 16 November and specifically, the closing paragraph and the comment about eliminating the word “don’t” from your dialogue.

In response, I am pleased to expand on this today.

The creation of good and positive habits starts by what we input and embed in to our sub-conscious, or seek to programme in to others.

Let’s start with an incredibly basic example:

You want your 3 year old to walk on the footpath (sidewalk) rather than on the road. Your instruction can be:

1.       Don’t go on the road 
2.       Always walk on the footpath

It is easy to say “don’t” but in reality, staying off the road can only be achieved by doing something else, such as walking on the footpath.

Our subconscious is incapable of storing the concept of “don’t” so when it hears the phrase starting with or containing the word “don’t” or “something not to be done”, it is incapable of recognising nor can it store the “don’t”. In the above example, what is stored is “go on the road”.

To the golfers, have you ever stood ready to take a shot over a water hazard and said to yourself “don’t hit it in the water”? What happens next? The ball gets wet.

Interestingly, if you play off a handicap of 18 or better, you won’t even consider the water hazard, concentrating only where you want the ball to land.

How often have you heard the coach of a sporting team, particularly a junior or amateur team make a half time or mid game address where their language is all about what not to do? Don’t drop the ball should become “when catching the ball, be sure to have a slight bend of the elbows and have your fingers equally spread”.

It is far easier to say “don’t” but far more valuable to explain what to do. It is also more challenging to state the what to do.

Try it for a week as in really try it in all aspects of life. Change your “self speak” too.
You will amazed at the difference it makes.
"Don't" simply does not work. "Do" does.

Friday, 17 November 2017

Do it - Or is it doing you?

I had an interesting revelation today about the way I have lived much of my working life.

I also became aware I have transferred out from a Corporate World where so little of what you do is within your control and where you are at the mindless subservience of the Corporate Beast.

Is mindless the right word? Perhaps not.

The correct term is at the relentless subservience of the Corporate Beast where you become caught up in the ever-increasing pressures and momentum of whatever it is has to be achieved, or seen to be achieved.

So much of my working life, and that of many others, has been spent running, then running harder and harder again in the pursuit of the elusive something and the activities required to get there are largely of it out of our control.

I was having coffee this morning in a favourite City café and became involved in conversation with two articulate and obviously intelligent professionals.

I gathered they each perform a similar role with the same employer, or if not the same employer, at least in the same industry. We didn’t discuss their actual role and only made general references to an employer and on reflection, never by name.

The younger lady mentioned how she needs to find a way to do her work without always feeling like “crap”. The work she does is increasing in intensity, growing in volume and under ever increasing real and perceived compliance and governance scrutiny.

We got to talking about resilience and I put forward my theory that resilience and the training and counselling provided by some employers to help staff become more resilient is in fact creating more pressure than it relieves. Should not the employer be understanding as to why greater resilience is needed and addressing the problem before providing the cure? By way of example, I suggested increasing the pain relief medication to address ever increasing headaches is not addressing the problem, it just increases the resilience to the headache.

The more experience party to the conversation could not hold back any longer. She suggested the only resilience training required consisted of three words and they are “Suck It Up”.

We talked this through a little more and the debate ranged from “that is what the job is, suck it up and just do it” through to “the inevitable outcome when it can be sucked up no longer”. (when the pain relief no longer fixes the headache)

I walked away from the conversation with a clear thought.

One of my conversation partners this morning wanted to “do the work".

The other was happy for the “work to do them”, and to "suck it up" in the meantime.

Take this further in to life itself.

Ask yourself:

Am I living my life, or is life living me?

It is Saturday tomorrow. Do something you love.

Thursday, 16 November 2017

Value, Listen and Encourage Innovation and Creativity - From Day One

“From the Moment I Could Talk, I was Ordered to Listen” sang Cat Stevens in his hit “Father and Son”.

I wonder what the industrial, financial and artistic cost is of the sentiment expressed by Cat Stevens?

We enter the world free of prejudice and free of inhibition. From virtually minute one, the process begins to dampen the expression of our creative mind. We are programmed to keep quiet about  thoughts we assess others may view as being “alternative”.

The general inclination is to tell us what not to do and what we cannot do. Our uninhibited imagination, or at least the freedom to express our imagination is dampened from very early on.

Many businesses talk about the want for feedback, for ideas from all staff. The reality is, almost all suggestions are shut down at the next level of Supervisor. I hate to think how often I have heard it said:

“We tried that and it doesn’t work”.
“Great idea but insert reason

And my favourite:

“Leave it with me”

We default to instruction ahead of encouragement. We have evolved to be better at saying what not to do rather than what to do. We do this as parents, leaders and educators.

Our dialogue may indicates we value new ideas and innovations but our actions rarely reflect this.

We prefer to avoid change rather than seek it and profit from it. We are programmed this way from our early years.

Just imagine the intellectual power, the creativity and he awesomeness that remains untapped in an organisation employing 50 people. What about 1000 people?

From a young age, we are “facilitated” to value the status quo, adhere to someone else’s expectations and conform. We stifle our creativeness, or at least keep it to ourselves.

We learn that encouragement to speak up, express an alternative opinion is not genuinely valued, so we stop doing it, or maybe never start.

Imagine if Cat Stevens had sung:

“From the moment I could talk, I was respected and listened too”.

The discoveries would be limitless, the positivity boundless and the world a better place, societal, family and business.

It is never too late to start to change the world, one attitude at a time. Perhaps a good place to start is to eliminate the word "don't" from your dialogue. After all, it is only possible "to do something", meaning it is impossible to "not do something".

Wednesday, 15 November 2017

Political Rant - Denial and F@rt Noises in the Back of the Classroom

How about our Politicians select just one day to talk only about what they have planned for their electorates?

How about for just a single day, they present a positive picture of what they want to achieve, without the associated “barb” directed at an opponent or a sector of the community that may oppose them.

How about, they refrain from calling the truthfulness of their direct opponent in to question and put on the record what they will do.

And the media, for just a single day, every interview is to be conducted live to air and is not to be recorded or posted on catch up media such as IView .

Our politicians are so scared they will say something that will be used against them, they say nothing.

And for this single day, all Politicians will commit to never using their opponent’s words to their own advantage.  

We have an election campaign underway in Queensland at the moment. There is a chance minor parties will play a role in the outcome.

I would prefer a Leader of a Party to have a plan to negotiate with one of the minor parties in the event there is not a clear majority achieved. I want them to at least be open to doing so.

The ALP Leader is refusing to even acknowledge this possibility so I ask, what else are they deluding themselves about?

The LNP Leader is at least acknowledging there could be a minority situation and has said they will negotiate. The problem is, he comes across as still being the kid up the back of the class room making farting noises.

They each claim to be truthful, which means if I believe they are telling the truth, I must also believe each is not.

In a coffee conversation yesterday, a friend was lamenting how hard is it for politicians today and the scrutiny they are under, the relentless questioning by the media and the need to be on top of so much information. Sure, it may be hard but they go in to it with eyes wide open and every seat with a reasonable chance of victory comes with a bitterly contested battle for pre-selection.

Perhaps the most impressive interview I heard in recent days was when a new candidate was asked about a particular policy of their Party and they answered something similar too “I am not yet familiar with our Policy and can’t answer your question right now”. It was refreshing and waffle free, and the journalist moved on to the next question.

Yes, I am dreaming. I am also fed up with the way us electors are having our intelligence insulted by our Politicians.

Tuesday, 14 November 2017

Experience - What Is It Good For?

Experience, what is it and why is it important? 

Is it important?

I was reminded today of a phone conversation earlier this year between a (then) Manager Colleague and a Team Leader in another division. There was quite a debate taking place about how to measure the success of an upcoming seminar series. 

Naturally, I could only hear half the conversation however I was aware of what could be called “past tension” between the two in conversation and was not at all surprised they were struggling to reach a consensus.

Eventually, my colleague said “I have been doing this for 30 years. I know what I am doing”.

The conversation concluded shortly after.

What is the ideal level of experience and is there such a thing?

Experience is often confused with knowledge. 

I may have all the knowledge needed to explain a complex financial scenario to the Finance Committee but do I have the experience necessary to present it in a way that will hold their attention and garner the decision that is needed?

Conversely, because of my past experience, I may encourage the submission to the Committee be postponed because I know they always say no to funding product enhancements. I am sure you will agree that this is hardly a way forward.

Back to the phone conversation.

My colleague was leveraging his experience to refute the credibility of a new tool aimed at collecting feedback from seminar attendees. From his experience, nothing beats a paper and pen based process.

My colleague was not prepared to look at alternative, perhaps better data collection options. He possessed vast experience but if he had been more open, chances are he would have been able to use his experience to enhance the online tool therefore creating a win/win situation. 

Many times I have witnessed the cloak of experience be used to dismiss an initiative or shut down a proposal. 

My conclusion is, experience is an extremely valuable commodity, as long as its owner is able to apply said experience with an open mind to new ideas, processes, products, concepts and products. 

As soon as this ability deteriorates, experience becomes counterproductive and it is probably time to move on.

Monday, 13 November 2017

"BE" First - "DO" Later

Monday – the best day of the week.

We have made the most of the weekend, or should of.

With renewed energy, we set about the start of the working week, eager and enthusiastic to get things done, to achieve, to make a contribution.

The familiar “start of the week” questions or comments are passed.

What have you got on this week?
What is happening this week?
This week I must do…….. or catch up with……..

We make the “To Do List” and set about “The Doing”.

What we do is how we measure ourselves and how others measure us.

We are addicted to “Doing” even if we are not authentically engaged in what we are doing or why. It is what “we do”.

Is there something far more important than “Doing”? Is there something that should be prioritised, each day, each week?

Is there another list to prepare, a more important list?

An article came across my LinkedIn feed earlier that was a reminder of the perils of the To Do List, alone.

I was reminded of the “To Be” List.

Until we know what type of person we want to be, day in day out, how can we possibly know what we need to do, and more importantly, how we will go about doing it.

Some people want to be overtly assertive and be seen to be so. If this is the case, it is how they will go about their “Doing”.

In other cases, being conciliatory, inclusive and collegiate is important, resulting in a very different approach to the task of “Doing”.

I wonder how many feel pressured to being more of the asserter rather than the conciliator, or perceive pressure to be so.

If the behaviour is in response to perceived expectations rather than authentic belief, it is certain to be a bumpy path to satisfaction and happiness.

The environment we operate in would be enhanced by simply prioritising the “To Be” list over the “To Do” list. How positive would the employment environment be at the Corporate who had "To Be" as the sole behavioural value because nothing else would matter.

And that may lead to a higher conviction and a tougher question. Is my current employer able to allow me “To Be”?