An excellent source of important 'obvious' points to make your business successful. A fun and simple read.Read More
Book Review: This Year I Will break a habit! Yes, this book will guide you to break a habit or build a new 'positive' habit.Read More
This is a great read - What The Most Successful People Do On The Weekend by Laura Vanderkam. The key message is that successful people are always planning and in particular, planning so that they can enjoy their weekend. Their planning is so vital that they thrive on the anticipation of the what they have planned.Read More
Rising Strong is by one of our favourite writers, Brene Brown. You know, the TED talk which took off, went viral as she ventured into the territory we don't discuss - vulnerability. Rising Strong is how to actually do that 'rise' if you've fallen. It's a tough book but well worth the read.Read More
DISRUPTING HR IN A VUCA WORLD
Lucy Adams ‘doesn’t mince her words’ as my Scottish mother would say!
As a fellow Glaswegian, I was drawn to Lucy’s compelling case and urgency to waste no time getting HR folk to refresh and reinvent their business of ‘people’. Acknowledging the VUCA status of our world, her advice is generous, her reasoning credible and if you’re not on her wavelength then you’re in dire straits.
No matter where you are on the ‘HR Change Continuum’ I know you’ll glean plenty of useful ideas for your organisation. And no doubt, some of you should share your super HR practices with Lucy. However, I was appalled listening to a now ex-employee of one of Australia’s most iconic sporting institutions who recounted their ‘manager’s inability to lead’ and HR’s lack of support; sadly it was too late when the CEO listened and acknowledged his plight. This recent encounter heightened my drive to change Australian workplaces and getting the HR space involved in leadership.
HR Disrupted asks you to turn your HR upside down and:
· Help leaders be more human in their communications
· Become the people experts, not the policy police
· Encourage staff to challenge the status quo
· Be a provider of opportunities to innovate and be creative
· Get fresh people to lead departments to see possibilities
· Treat Employees as Adults, Consumers and importantly, as Human beings (a new HR model = EACH)
· Listen to the five generations in your workforce, they all have different needs, and
· Ask, How was work for you this week? Or, What policies frustrated you most? (And do something immediately about it.)
It would appear that Australia isn’t alone in creating policies based on the lowest common denominator (i.e. one person stuffing up) opposed to removing the ‘HR Policy Handbook’ and creating the People Book – building great people and leadership.
Three components of the book were standouts:
I cracked open the champers when I read “remove appraisals” – thankfully someone agrees with me on this one. I have honestly never met anyone who enjoys the performance appraisal system. Have you? We waste so much of our time, people’s time and money to roll out, stuff it up and roll it back up. We would be best investing in helping our people and leaders give and receive awesome feedback.
Chapter Thirteen delved into my world of Leadership Development; challenging the approach to developing leadership by sending people off on a one day workshop or a six-week program. Whilst I didn’t agree with all of Lucy’s thinking, I wholeheartedly agree that we need to listen to the employee as a consumer of our products - not HR or the business alone. We do know that people struggle to implement their learning – it’s too easy to fall back to what is known opposed to showing courage and experimenting and failing in our attempt to change.
Motivation was examined at length; identifying that the key role of HR is to help leaders learn and understand, what drives people. Given that we know most people want to be respected, appreciated and work with a company doing something special, we can focus less on the need to onboard and off-load as people will be motivated to stay. When HR become the people experts they will be doing things terribly different.
The crux of Lucy’s message is this: HR need to work with leaders to become amazing human beings, helping them communicate in a human way: saying sorry if they get it wrong, use storytelling to engage, and praise staff in a natural and spontaneous way. When this is done, HR have done a super job. In actual fact, HR might do them out of a job!
As more Millennials take on leadership roles and ‘command and control’ baby boomers leave their roles of authority we will have a greater opportunity to disrupt HR. However, that might take a while, so we need the current HR gang to take the lead and exemplify the mindset of VUCA world ready leaders. They’ll do this by building trust, lessening threats, encourage collaboration, connecting people across organisations and have a generosity of spirit.
I believe you get the gist that I’m quite fond of this book – so much so, I’d say it’s been the best read in my reading challenge.
Your actions include: read the book, share the book with people in your organisation and start doing HR differently. And, whilst I prefer to spruik my own workshops, I notice that Lucy will be in Australia in May – check out www.disruptivehr.co.uk
I’d love to discuss Lucy’s ideas and of course my practice – so let’s connect.
I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!
GET WHAT YOU WANT
Book Review - I LOVE NEGOTIATING BY SAM TRATTLES
If you’re looking for a quick unconventional training session on Negotiating, with clear outcomes, then look no further; pick up this book by an Australian woman, Sam Trattles.
As soon as you accept that you’re not amazingly brilliant at negotiating, then it’s time to learn. I rated myself, in the book’s nifty questionnaire, as a Dabbler/Adventurer opposed to being labelled an Avoider or as a skilled Master Negotiator (which we all aspire to be).
I work with so many people, more so women, who lack confidence in themselves with their superb abilities, who need to know how to practise the skill of negotiation. In our world where there is a lack of Diversity and Inclusivity, we need to take our own lead and get skilled.
Negotiation is simply coming to an agreement or sense of satisfaction that you’ve had a fair exchange of value. Whether you’ve purchased a new pair of shoes, charged for your services or asked for a pay rise, you’re justifying value. As Sam reminds us, many of us have grown up with price tags; we don’t barter and literally carry the baggage of ‘accepting what we see’.
With a refreshed positive mindset, a programmed brain which avoids the Amygdala taking control (thanks to Judith Glaser, Conversational Intelligence being referenced) it’s time to do your preparation which is all about research and experimenting with your ‘game plan’.
Sam quotes Brian Tracy, renowned for the ‘eat your frogs first’ approach – get the hard stuff done first. If you’re uncomfortable with the negotiation, go in with the ‘fake it until you make it’ mask and remind yourself, if I don’t ask, I don’t get.
The final step in the negotiation process is to Close. Yes, too often we don’t bring things to a close. If you find yourself stuck at this stage, then take a ‘toilet break’. Yep, go to the Loo, and think. Make the other party sweat while you pull your thoughts together. Be prepared to walk away if it’s not a fair exchange.
If we’re to agree that we’re in a Negotiation Revolution, as Sam suggests, then we all need to get cracking. Let’s start asking for a pay rise, change of working hours and that extra Pizza when you order your takeaway tonight!
I really found this a worthwhile read. Save your money, no need to invest in the training course! However, for many of you, you’ll want your hand held – so follow up Sam Trattle to get the master to hold you accountable for the learning and application into your life.
This is a super resource for people I coach and mentor (I’ve already referred two people to the book) and I’d like to thank Lynne Cazaly to recommending the read. (I notice that you’re thanked in the book Lynne!)
I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!
Hearing the book title, ‘Try Hard’, I thought I had found myself an easy pick – a typical American self-helper. Then when my eyes caught sight of the front cover, more clues were revealed, ‘Tales from the life of a needy overachiever’ suggested it can’t be American!
I didn’t know the author which surprised my Book Club friends – so I took a gamble, jumped into it quickly hoping I could use it for this reading challenge and was quickly reminded – you can’t judge a book by its cover!
This book is refreshingly different: it’s a memoir of someone’s life catastrophes and it’s a raw riot read. I laughed on the inside and giggled on the outside.
Em Rusciano is either a good writer or she’s got great support - or both. I immediately connected with her which is Life Lesson #1 – Connection. I slipped into her world as she talked with me (not at me), connected me with her story, creating a feeling I had a shared history with her as we romped the 'burbs of Melbourne. Yes, I was wrong. It’s an Australian memoir.
As Em suggests, it’s unlike Australians to ‘Try Hard’ in life. Hence the title. We grew up with the Tall Poppy syndrome casting a shadow on entrepreneurship, in particular, god forbid a woman attempting to make a mark. What does ‘try hard’ look like anyhow? Life Lesson #2 – Persistence. Her life (to date) has been unashamedly an example of the highs and lows and the need to keep striving to be who you are (and who you could be).
Try Hard is a collection of Em’s personal stories; some will: shock you, create tears, surprise you and many will make you laugh. These life chapters will mirror the life of many young women, however, I doubt few will elect to share publically the experiences of moving interstate, an unplanned pregnancy, elite athleticism, depression, debt and strong family values. Authenticism appeared on every page. Life Lesson #3 – Be Authentic.
There are many life lessons to learn, with some being of a different nature. I learnt a new vernacular – the language of male and female genitalia! I credit Em for having the courage and gumption to take us to the nether region, challenging social taboos. She also purposely provides lessons to expectant mothers which I hope doesn’t sideline those deciding on being a mum or parent.
My affinity with Em is our connection with the Gay world. We both share the amazing friendship of a gay guy. A history of dancing in gay clubs, being the only female at their parties and in particular, being a ‘handbag’ at corporate functions. It’s a different type of relationship and continues to this day just as Em notes in her acknowledgements.
We are who we were – and this for me sums up the wisdom which Em so freely shares in her memoir. Our past shapes us, sharpens our behaviour and solicits our future. Which brings me to sharing what I plan to act on. I have noted five take outs from Try Hard (the self-helper in disguise):
· Write a ‘final message from Mum’ letter to my kids – if I leave this world earlier than planned – I want to tell them how much I love them and reinforce how uniquely special they are and how I want them to approach their life.
· Think and record more life stories. We all have a past which shouldn’t be ignored or forgotten. I am going to start recording a story a week – there are so many to capture.
· Be courageous and publish my book. I too have many lessons to share.
· Be more authentic – play to my strength of saying what needs to be said – too much time is wasted thinking about what should be said!
· Be more thankful for my life and my relationships - work harder to make sure that life and these relationships get even better.
The ability to get up on the balcony, and view what’s going on down on the dancefloor (or arena) is the metaphor required for any book you read. Don’t be judgemental if you’re unfamiliar with the author or the title doesn’t hold your attention for more than two seconds. Give it a go, open yourself to digest the information and then form a view. I’m thankful that my Book Club provided the dancefloor to have a jig with Em Rusciano.
I’m endeavouring to read 52 Business/Professional/Personal Development books in 52 weeks. Yep, that’s one a week. As I read each book, I’ll share my thoughts, learning and recommendations. If there is a book that you’ve been meaning to read, let me know and I’ll read it for us!
Book Review: Big Magic - Creative Living Beyond Fear
‘Big Magic’ is the hunt to uncover the buried jewels deep within us all. And it’s having the courage to share your talent and treasures which in most cases are hidden within us.
As Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Big Magic – Creative Living Beyond Fear, says, “we are all walking repositories of buried treasure”.
Unlocking these treasures is no easy feat: a skilled Coach or talented leader may guide and support you achieve this search, however it takes ‘you’ to use your treasure.
Most people don’t do this.
So, you’d think by flicking through the book’s pages, Elizabeth would help.
Sadly, for me, I found Big Magic an authoritative directive rant. Whilst there were a few useful tips, I have to admit that I didn’t highlight any on my iPad. Maybe if you’re an artist, or a journalist, you’ll find this voice of authority particularly motivating.
I lost the ‘magic’ when I read Big Magic. I struggled to get into it and struggled to get out of it.
This was the 30th book to read in my self-imposed development challenge; a milestone worth celebrating. No champagne pops to be heard.
Elizabeth made her success whilst working full time and writing many books; thankfully one became a worldwide hit - Eat, Pray Love. Heard of it? Many have and I wonder if that has contributed to the interest in this book.
What did I miss? Interested to be corrected and to hear what you thought of the read.
ARE YOU ACHIEVING EXTRAORDINARY RESULTS?
If you are achieving extraordinary results, I suspect you trust and are trusted by others. No matter what you are doing in life.
If you have the interest and agility to increase your results, consider the conversations you’ve had today; yesterday and the day before. If you deconstruct these conversations, what would you uncover about yourself? And, if you placed the results on a dashboard would the dial point to connected, productive or creative? Or would the dial move to the opposite side of this gauge – pointing to sceptic or resistor?
Judith E. Glaser, author of Conversational Intelligence – How Great Leaders Build Trust & Get Extraordinary Results, advises her readership and clients over the past 30 years that we’re probably speaking to and from the wrong brain – the Primitive Brain. (Who would have known?!)
By using your Executive brain, you’ll notice that this connection will alter everything: the way you phrase your greeting, ask your questions and how you offer or make comments. Rather than create distrust, this newish brain will build trust. And trust is the anchor in your relationships to weather all situations.
Whilst some of us might think our conversations are powerful, we may be failing to see the impact these interactions have on others. We need to heighten our awareness and increase our use of the Conversational Intelligence (C-IQ) skill which connects intentions with impact.
Judith’s goal is to help you move from operating at C-IQ ‘Level I – transactional’ (how to exchange data and information) and make the quantum leap to the learnable C-IQ ‘Level III – transformational’ (how to co-create conversations for mutual success). Put simply, change to a listener rather than a teller.
The new language is co-create – working together, cutting through bureaucracy, hierarchical levels, removing the need to be right all the time, in an effort to build a successful culture. This is done by influencing each other’s neurochemistry, while we express our inner thoughts and feelings to strengthen relationships while making sense of the world. Too easy!
We have five brains according to the research which Judith shares liberally – each brain having an influence on our conversational ability. The Primitive brain, which hosts the fear mongering Amygdala, operates differently to our Prefrontal Cortex (Executive brain) which is activated when we feel we can trust others.
As leaders, we unconsciously drip-feed our teams with ‘conversational cocktails’; resulting in the team being drunk with happiness, excitement and enthusiasm, or, all too often, they start acting like angry animals. The ‘cocktail’ is a mixture of biochemicals triggered by what you do and say. The chemicals, oxytocin (bonding), dopamine (when you’re right) and serotonin (happiness) are released if your conversation is at ‘Level III’ – when you and the team are working to achieve a mutually successful outcome.
When what we say, what we hear, and what we mean are not in agreement, we retreat into our heads and make up stories that help us reconcile the discrepancies.
So, when what we say, what we hear and what we mean are not in agreement, we retreat into our heads and make up stories that help us reconcile the discrepancies. We make “movies” and generally fail to connect.
If you were to replay ‘the movie’ of a recent staff meeting, what would you see and hear? Would you see the same people sitting in the same spots, hear the same people speak and see the agenda following a similar pattern? To make a change, Judith recommends commencing with a ‘Rules of Engagement’ activity which talks to the Amygdala, calming it down to be more fully engaged with the meeting intent. Similarly, when we host a workshop or conference – we break the ice with this style of activity to build trust in the group – we talk to the Amygdala!
The term ‘intelligence’ was brought alive with the advance of Emotional Intelligence (EQ); which is differentiated by Judith: “Emotional Intelligence is about self-regulation whereas conversational intelligence is about co-regulation”. I get this and it will be the EQ leader who will ease into becoming a C-IQ leader. One who will masterfully observe their inner world of desires whilst observing the impact of their actions on others.
I am currently reading Big Magic, by Elizabeth Gilbert. It’s my 30th book. I’m a little behind with reviews as I found writing about Conversational Intelligence a challenge. I’m not totally sure why, the content isn’t new to me – it’s probably deciding what to share with you and what not to include!
Please take the opportunity to read this book. It’s a definite ‘must read’ to learn how to train your brain and ultimately achieve extraordinary results in your endeavours.
I have been inundated with questions about my reading project, in particular, my ability to read so many books. Well, I do read, I don’t listen to the books and I know that I am a disciplined person who enjoys learning what others are learning. I believe you must keep ahead of the amazing information and practices which others are successfully applying in their Leadership Practices.
I’ve been having shameful thoughts! I hear myself blaming society for the leadership we're not experiencing. I feel that everywhere I turn, Leadership is referenced, yet there are no apparent demonstration or modelling of the behaviours we associate with the many styles of leadership which we write and talk about.
Am I alone having these thoughts?
My kids drop the ‘L’ word in their playground as frequently as you hear: “you’re it” and “where is my hat?” At the end of each year, their school hold leadership elections; their peers listen to the many speeches and then vote them in and out! I think ‘they get’ leadership especially when my son highlights the incongruent behaviours of his peers in leadership roles– swearing with their mates in the playground!
I have a greater confidence in the educational system especially when I read ‘Ten leadership lessons you must teach your teenager’ by the controversial Dr Tim Hawkes – who has over 35 years’ experience working with our teens here in Australia and England. His book has the best take on leadership I’ve read for some time. When I grew up, this ‘handful of wisdom’ would have been a nice follow-up to the books on ‘sex education’ slipped to me when I turned 12!
Tim Hawkes pours his knowledge, experience and foresight of the changing world into this informative and interesting book. Whilst it’s aimed at parents/adults, I suspect that any mature teen would enjoy the multiple stories and history lessons which are shrink wrapped into bit sized pieces.
If anything, reading this book would help any parent converse with their teens studying Politics and in particular American and European history. (My appreciation for the many ‘names’ in history has increased exponentially.)
The Ten Lessons are a thoughtful choice which will put many young people in good stead for life. Whilst there are no surprises, the information is prepared for you to have conversations with your teen: questions to explore, stories which build context for each lesson and helpful models to recall the information from each lesson. VUCA, SWOT, Strategic Thinking, Styles of Leadership, Dealing with Difficult People, Writing Resumes are among the useful subjects incorporated into the ten lessons to help young adults make decisions and choices about what they say and do.
The lessons include:
The Choice you make – an attempt to determine why people choose to lead and follow others
A Discipline to learn – identifies what’s required to develop extraordinary skills in life to create whom you will become
An Example to follow – defining the different styles of leadership, when these styles work best and an emphasis on the importance of adults demonstrating these different styles at home
A Calling to hear – how to arrive at an understanding of why you are on earth and how you will help society
An Ending to have – addressing the need for resilience courage and persistence to finish what we start out to do and to accept that failure in life is just as important as winning
No matter what is happening in your home, and what role you play, we all wish to see a change in the behaviour of young people who cause anxiousness, concern and frighten the public. To create a change, we need to help all teens learn about leadership which is essentially making sound decisions. It appears that too many teens and young adults are creating havoc and destruction in our society. If our young can learn from this book, we no doubt will see the change being sought.
This book is very different to the many I have purchased in the airport bookstore. It’s uniquely practical and I rate it in my top five reads. The key to making this book work for you, as a parent or as an interested adult, is to model its content. I believe you’ll learn as much as your teen will learn – about yourself, each other and of course, about Leadership.
MY SHINING YEAR
Have you written your 2017 goals? It's the 1st of February and if you haven't, I have a book for you which may ease the pain of goal setting.
This isn’t exactly a book … it’s a workbook. Better still I believe … as too many books are read and no action is taken. My Shining Year by the colourful and creative Leonie Dawson provides a platform to Stop, Think, Feel, Write, Do and Discover.
I received my copy of the 2017 My Shining Year from the gorgeous @cynthiamahoney for Christmas and given I was heading on the plane the following day on receiving it, I only found time on Monday (30/1) to read through the workbook and complete most of the activities. There are 160 pages and you could spend an eternity working through it – however, I found myself being able work through it, answering questions, writing ideas ... all very quickly.
It will appear rather quirky even female-focused to some, however, I think this is a super tool to use yourself or in particular, to give to others who would benefit from some support and guidance if they need a boost in their businesses or considering venturing into doing happier things in life.
The workbook does what I believe is very important and that is REVIEW. Reviewing the previous year is the first section - allowing you to leverage off the information recorded in the workbook as you answer the questions. A closing ceremony is a fun way to view this activity. Be reminded of what you did which worked well and the things which didn’t work in your ‘2016’.
Once you’ve closed the door with your 2016 lessons, you can immerse yourself in the guided tour of achieving and creating new goals for 2017. Starting with income (how much do you want to earn!) followed by the resources, support, systems, habits, education, customers and marketing which are evaluated and identified to make things happen.
Plenty of reading is recommended to learn how to make these things happen, (I’ve taken note of a few reads especially in the systems area) and the love or loath activity of ‘dreamboarding’ is highly recommended. Make your dream be achieved by the Law of Attraction. I’m yet to complete my 'dreamboard' – but I have promised myself to spend a weekend afternoon playing with cardboard, glue and magazines.
A component of the workbook provides space to ‘make your goals happen’. With the metaphor of the magical mountain, you need to climb, step by step. This was a fun exercise, involving brainstorming 2017 goals (with myself) and prioritising what’s required to be acted on first – even with dates to commit myself. There's an emphasis on having a ‘mastermind’ or ‘circle of friends’ who can hold you accountable to your plans. (Such an important piece of advice for those on their own.)
I also have a ‘My Shining Day’ planner – which you can use every day to prioritise the activities, remind me to drink water and four important reminders including my favourite – MONOFOCUS. Do one thing at a time!
I’m still completing an activity: 100 things to do in 2017. It’s challenging. I have to dream up 100 glorious goals for me to do in my business this year. Help, I’m only at #11. I need to seriously monofocus on this activity.
So, it’s the 1st of February and already one month of my potential shining year has disappeared (on a gorgeous overseas holiday) so I need to do what I’ve written in this workbook and potentially, we might work together (if you’re reading this now!)
If you’re interested in looking at this workbook – jump over to www.leoniedawson.com – she’s offering 50% off her ‘my shining’ products. I also noted that she supports not-for-profits and gives away these products. This gives you an idea of the type of person behind this workbook – I like it even more that I’ve discovered this generosity.
As usual, if there is a book you’d like me to read for us, let me know. Or, I’d love to hear from you and your thoughts about my previous 24 books which I’ve read and blogged about to help you decide what to read or learn from my learnings. (These are all on my website - under the section of Leadership Thoughts.)
I'm currently reading a great book to help you with your teenagers and I've just downloaded a book which has been on the list for a while: Conversational Intelligence. I'll be reading it this Sunday & Monday as we're driving to/from Canberra.
Book Review: What the most successful people do before breakfast
Do books need to be two, three, four or five hundred pages long? Is there a prerequisite?
I know that the ‘thud factor’ gives credibility – lots of pages equates to lots of knowledge printed on lots of pages. However, I fear that a big book scares off potential readers. As I near my halfway mark of reading 52 books in 52 weeks, I’ve identified how to read quickly and how to create the time and space to read.
So, I was totally surprised to find that my choice of reading this week was completed in one night. A quick purchase on my Kindle based on the title was only 50 swipes. Complete with a few key lessons – enough to reflect on for the week.
Laura Vanderkam, author of What the Most Successful People do before Breakfast presents her findings of what others do to make the most of their day.
My daughter Jennifer was perplexed with the cover of the book, a cup of coffee. She doesn’t like the smell of coffee and concerned that she’ll be unable to be successful! So, let's get beyond the cover and I’ll share what I learnt … very quickly!
Depending on what time you rise, and the time you have breakfast, there is a space to fill with activities which some say enables them to be successful.
We all have our own routines, rituals, quirky habits and a mindful of thoughts in the morning, so here’s your opportunity to TICK off if you’re aiding or hindering your successfulness:
· Wake at 5am – or at a time which gives you an extra 60 to 90 minutes to use wisely
· Reflect and or Pray on a daily basis
· Prioritise items to tackle for the day
· Avoid social media and especially email until you’ve completed a ‘chunk’ of real work
· Journal your thoughts
· Exercise - Run, walk, yoga or gym work
How many ticks do you have?
We all have 168 hours in our week and ‘successful’ people use a proportion of these hours a day to nurture their career, relationships and their self.
New research (prior to 2012) identified that self-discipline is in abundance after a good night’s sleep and depletes during the day. I think we’ve already worked that out – I know I can kick off with a healthy breakfast and then arrive at the evening snacking on potato chips while I cook dinner …. 12 hours later! We lapse as the day progresses and whilst some can squeeze in exercise after work or during their lunch break … the research tells us that morning is best; we are fresh and our internal motivation is in abundance to tackle tasks which the outside world isn’t demanding.
The best morning rituals are activities that don’t have to happen and certainly don’t have to happen at a specific hour. These are activities that require internal motivation. These are generally activities which have long term benefits.
So, if you had minimal ticks a few suggestions were offered to change:
· Tracking your time – identify what you’re doing with your 168 hours a week
· Picture your perfect morning – visualise what it would look like to be effective in the morning
· Think through the logistics – what can you change around you to make it work
· Build the habit – it’s like a muscle … keep practising
· Tune up as necessary – keep correcting and get your early morning working
This is a seriously short book, however, it’s straight to the point and very implementable. I’ve already adopted the practice of ‘no social media’ in the morning until I’m having a coffee at 10.30am. (Let me tell you, when I do it, it's magic, however, it’s very difficult to change your habits!)
WHAT’S YOUR PROVOCATIVE QUESTION?
What do you collect?
I’ve met collectors of shoes, cars, houses and recipes! I simply or crazily collect questions.
Great questions can: transform a superficial conversation into an extraordinary relationship; unlock the real you … someone whom you thought you really knew and questions can elevate your happiness (think: Will you marry me?)
I glean questions at every opportunity. I record them, highlight them in a book, send myself recorded messages when I hear questions and their answers – quite alarming when I think of it!
So, it was very exciting to be handed a book which was filled with questions. That’s a Great Question, written or should I say, collated by Greg Bustin, provides on a platter, hundreds of tried and tested provacative questions, categorized into themed chapters – handy if you’re coaching others or as I found myself, using it as a self-help coaching book. Don’t be fooled thinking it’s a one hour read!
This book is your ideal, end of year practical exercise to prepare for 2017. As Greg suggests, take yourself away from your normal space; go hiking, block out a day to work through this book. Surprisingly, I am still reading this book today (Sunday) as I have found myself continually stopping in search on the answers.
In my business this week, we completed a mini-skills session with a client – exploring a couple of models to coach staff. I am always amazed how people come to realise how powerful a conversation becomes by using great questions to dig and discover.
Greg says that using questions effectively is like a dance. I agree. It’s not a checklist. It’s a conversation which you can exercise your lead but it’s about two people committed to working together. Whilst it might not look like Fred Astaire & Ginger Rogers on the dancefloor, it should feel like a performance (of achievement).
I couldn’t decide on a favourite question to share; so I’ve selected a few from a few of the thoughtfully categorised sections of the book. Use these on yourself and be surprised how time consuming it can be truthfully respond.
If our company did not exist, what would the world be missing?What gives me a sense of certainty?
What’s one principle I wished everyone practised?
If I knew I couldn’t fail, what would I do?
What am I kidding myself about?
How do I respond when I place my trust in someone and they let me down?
If a stranger walked in and asked any employee about our vision, mission and strategy, what would they hear?
Do I behave differently in the office than at home? If so, in what ways? If so, what causes my behaviour to differ from place to place?
If I tracked my time in 30 minute increments for a month, what would I find? Is this how I should spend my time?
Talent + Teamwork
Who are five people I spend most of my time with? Are they helping me or holding me back?
What am I doing to help make this job the best job my people have ever had?
Customer + Prospects
What memorable experience are we creating with our customers?
Making Things Happen
Do we measure the things that are important to us?
Are we having fun? Am I having fun?
Whose job am I doing today? (I do like this question.)
What would I do if I didn’t work?
I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious. – Albert Einstein
The book provides tips to help you coach others effectively, how to structure your questions, which words to never use and rules to abide by to establish a trusting relationship where private information is shared.
My greatest tip for you is to use the book on yourself first. Leadership works well when there is authentic self-awareness. Let this book be your gift to others by getting yourself ready for an awesome 2017. Alternatively, gift yourself a Coach for 2017 and get in contact with me to discover your best self.
THE LEARNING BOARD
This week's Book Review: The Fish Rots from the Head - Bob Garratt
This week’s book was gifted to my husband 19 years ago and I’m sure neither of us has read it. However, its title is imprinted on the inside my forehead as the Chinese proverb (title of the book) was mentioned at a Board and leadership education session I attended 20 years ago.
I’ve finally read ‘The Fish Rots from the Head’ and whilst I don’t have any immediate intentions of joining another board, it’s a fascinating read. I’m almost inclined to download the current (third) edition given the tumultuous time boards and directors have experienced over the past 20 years.
It’s interesting to note that the Australian Institute of Company Directors has the third edition of this book for sale on its website – must be a recommended read for aspiring directors.
It’s an easy read and I was pleasantly surprised that the focus was less on the mechanics of identifying issues with the financial plan, however, more on how to skill Directors to know the importance of corporate climate, culture, accountabilities, strategic thinking styles and leadership.
Whilst Corporate Governance isn’t sexy … it sure is significant if you’re a Director. Addressed under the chapter of Accountability, governance gets some airplay, however, I would think the third edition of this book would catch up with the ever changing heightened importance of being a responsible director.
As a Director, no matter which organisation or even country you reside, you’re faced with four dilemmas:
· Be entrepreneurial yet prudent
· Knowledgeable of day to day actions yet stand back from the management
· Sensitive to local issues yet have a global view
· Focused on commercial needs yet responsible for people and partnerships.
Bob’s mission for Boards, is that they are a Learning Board: keeping ahead or at least working at the pace of change encountered by the organisation, stakeholders and society; educating directors on a continual basis. This can be done as a group of Directors, using models and tools shared in the book with the focus on short and long term activity.
During the week I used a SWOT analysis with a client on their Planning Day which is the first tool recommended by Bob for the strategic thinking process. It’s use created a day of conversation which we didn’t finish, highlighting the need to get groups and teams together to think and talk and share their intelligence.
These are the simple standout messages which made the book interesting and informative:
· Direction–givers need a brain-on, rather than a hands-on attitude.
· A director needs to use ‘intelligent naivety’ as a key tool of the job. (Like a leader should always be asking questions to understand people.)
· The Vision should be unattainable in the short term to medium term but sufficiently tantalising for everyone to be exciting about it and see it as a real possibility, even in the worst times.
· Board members must act out the values they agreed to and check that the company is doing the same.
· Directors need to scan the environment, religiously reading daily and questioning “what does this mean for us?”
· Using scenarios to test strategies, identify thoughts and possibilities enabling the killing of a strategy if it strays from the purpose.
· Avoid creating committees of the board, rather, form working groups which have a ‘use-by’ date.
· Boards are typically groups of powerful individuals and need to work effectively as a group in the short time which they have together.
· Directors must think: to the past, in the current and to the future. Right, true and new! Sadly, many Directors look to their past experience and stop there.
When I reflect on the books I’ve read so far, Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday is one which I believe ‘would be Directors’ or current Directors should read to realise the how debilitating their ego can be to their organisation.
Bob offers this activity to help with the Directors development; it’s similar to one which I use however this is brilliant – I can see how dynamic it would be if everyone was honest with their feedback.
ACTIVITY FOR DIRECTORS (and Leadership Teams)
Stop, Start, and Continue. Write the names of each Board member onto individual pieces of Butcher’s paper (large white paper) and these three headings: Stop, Start and Continue. Affix the pieces of paper to a wall in a room and encourage Directors whilst they have a coffee to walk around and write in each category against each board member, feedback and ideas which would help their fellow directors be more effective on the board.
The critical question is, what training and activities have you done whilst in your role as Director? Likewise, as a Leader, what training/learning have you completed to be an effective and efficient Leader? Get in contact with me as I can definitely help you and your leadership team develop.
THE NEED FOR DISCOMFORT
Here I am, at my 21st book, reviewing its content using my leadership lens. To be honest, the lens fell off at times and I found myself shifting in my seat with the discomfort of truth. Powerful questions made me stop and ponder, thinking about my current life, causing more discomfort.
My new discomfort is still being experienced as I am yet to complete the many exercises I commenced (they could take some time which I don’t have at the moment) which all appeared so very worthwhile. (I hope I get back to them.)
The Unlimited Self by Jonathan Heston was a free download onto my Kindle. I was dubious … as they say ‘you get what you pay for’ so I was pleasantly surprised that I was onto something great.
Jonathan has produced a useful ‘self-help’ book which I believe is a crucial read for those who are either looking for the next best thing in life or on the extreme end of the life continuum, experiencing doubt in their life and need support; in particular, guidance with a path or map to follow.
From a leadership perspective, The Unlimited Self offers a new communication style and language to help the leader understand how to help people who are in their comfort zone and need to be pushed to their edge – to feel some vulnerability or at least feel a need for change.
I highlighted these particular statements which I’ve reread a few times:
· Accept the reality of your weakness – its feedback where you can grow.
· Perceptions hold you back – from where you are and where you want to be
· Limiting beliefs are stories our mind feeds us which limit who we are and where we want to go. They disempower instead of empowering us.
· We need to love and respect ourselves or everything disintegrates. We are the only filter between the world and ourselves.
· Authenticity is you being the best you that you can possibly be.
· Work harder on who you are, more than what you do.
· How we view others is often a mirror of how we view ourselves.
· Vulnerability is one of the most difficult habits to practice and develop. But it’s also incredibly rewarding
Like many of the books I have been reading, it is crowded with quotes … here’s a powerful one which:
To destroy our limiting beliefs, and uncover the inner greatness, Jonathon suggests we need to reprogram our future self by:
· Practising forgiveness as it is fundamental to free your perspective – even if you forgive yourself first. Try writing a forgiveness letter (you don’t have to send it).
· Talking to our self! Try talking to yourself in the mirror (without giggling), out loud with meaning. Make powerful statements about your identity.
· Meditating to be comfortable with yourself – 15-30 minutes a day (Yikes – this is my discomfort)
· Use a journal morning and evening – writing questions that you seek to be answered by your subconscious mind and using it to write what you appreciate in life (I’ve changed from gratitude to appreciation.)
· Find a group of people who allow you to be your future self – who are also wanting to live on the edge.
Reading books like this one make you pause from your busy hectic life. They make you ask questions of yourself and hopefully you’ll make time to answer them truthfully. Powerfully simple questions such as “Am I happy?”
To be an effective authentic leader, I suggest you read this book as it’s a great little tool to help you to help your team of followers be authentic. You could read it together!
Note: I also felt a level of discomfort with the references to ‘God’ in the second half of the book. I found it evoked my cynicism (very unlike me) and I am yet to understand why. I almost stopped reading the book because of this, however, I soldiered on, thankfully.
THE WHITE HOUSE APPRENTICE
It’s ironic that this week’s book was about the Enemy!
Last week whilst the US elections occurred, I was reading Ego is the Enemy, a super read (by Ryan Holiday, an American) which alerted us to history and research which suggests that we tone down our ego if we seek success and happiness.
This week’s book blew this belief out of the water; How to get Rich by Donald J. Trump, an assisted autobiography. Written in 2004, the now President-Elect, stated that he was too blunt to be the President! Funnily enough, one of his other books (there are several) touts he is the most supreme leader of the free world!
The one thing which a large percentage of Australians don’t like to admit is that they suffer from ‘tall poppy syndrome’. They are affected by people who unashamedly self-promote. Aka, those who are egotistical. Which is why the whole American election was a Primary school playground discussion topic – which of these two egos (Hilary vs. Donald) do we dislike the most.
Whilst I had my preconceived beliefs, perceptions and thoughts, I attempted to put them aside while reading the book. I actually found it too easy to read as there isn’t much depth; my daughter (9yo) was shocked that an adult book would have two pages in a chapter!
I feel that I’ve researched the personality and behaviour of USA’s next President; understanding what drives him to do and say what he does which offends so many of us.
How to get Rich leverages off the cult following of The Apprentice, a show which I admit I didn’t follow closely like my husband. The final part (VI – which is the shortest), is about this show, however, the remaining five parts are interesting and do offer information to consider.
Lessons worth considering:
· The sincere gratitude he shared for his family, team of dedicated staff – recognising them for their talents and commitment to the company and his friends
· Keep the door open to listen to everyone – as long as it’s not a chat fest, be focused and succinct
· Don’t equivocate (aka beat around the bush)
· Staff should be able to answer these questions: What do you contribute to the welfare of the organisation? Do you work wholeheartedly? Are you instrumental in keeping it humming and moving forward?
· Focus on talent, not people’s title
· Read books every day; set time aside to read and learn
· Be Passionate – people with passion don’t give up. (A hidden gem in the chapter – Play Golf)
· Brand yourself and toot your horn – Trump Tower was going to be called Tiffany Tower!
· Listen to your gut and learn to tap into your unconscious and subconscious (Trump follows Carl Jung)
· Connect with your audience when you’re speaking publically – and learn to speak confidently: be a storyteller, learn to think on your feet, listen well and enjoy it (he has an 11 point plan to speak publically)
· Be positive and have faith in yourself – increase the altitude of your attitude (he recommends reading The Power of Positive Thinking – Norman Vincent Peale)
· Learn to negotiate – however I would tone down Trump’s advice
· Keep meetings brief – really brief.
What I question or disagree with:
· Intertwining leadership and management as the same practice
· Being too blunt publically about who he doesn’t like and why he doesn’t like certain people and advocating it’s OK to hold a grudge
· Don’t shake hands, it’s how we spread germs. Bowing, like the Japanese custom, is a better option.
· Learn from your successes, not from your failures (there are no excuses for failures if you do your homework)
· Too much emphasis on style, looks and beauty - relating to success and the decision maker of gaining attention. (There’s a chapter dedicated to the art of his hair!)
· Advising on being your own financial adviser, getting a prenuptial agreement and maximising the power you have with being wealthy
· Valuing wealth and associating it to his success when he numbers his wives and names his beloved buildings.
The part which gained my attention was Trump’s ‘A week in the life’. An hourly recount of activities, conversations, movements and character accounts. Trump lives and works in the same building and identifies how he uses his time to maintain his success. It is all about communication: innumerable phone calls, meetings (either one or a three minute in duration), letter/email reading and longer meetings = playing golf. I suspect that Trump spends his time on the ‘Tell’ end of the communication continuum opposed to the ‘Ask’ end.
I was surprised to learn that that Trump attempted a career change in 2000, running for US President and quickly decided that he preferred running his business. As we embark on a new journey, it will be intriguing to see Trumps change of role as the Apprentice in the White House.
I feel better informed and plan to read another Trump themed book in my ‘52 book, 52 week challenge’ – it’s important to know who you’re dealing with and get inside the head of someone whose influence will have a massive impact in and on our world.
What are your thoughts about Trump? What have you read recently which gives you better insight? I've now read 20 books in 20 weeks and I am better informed and better positioned to do what I do best - consult on leadership development and performance. Let's connect if you're interested, to increase your performance.
Is Ego your Enemy?
In the ‘70s, Skyhooks, an iconic Australian band, had a hit song, ‘Ego is not a dirty word’. So iconic, that the mere mention of the word “Ego” sends the Australian (of my era) mind into a lyric mode. (Am I right?)
I grew up believing that Ego wasn’t a dirty word however in recent reads, ‘ego’ has raised its head as the culprit and the demise of so many known identifies. Ego caught my eye while book browsing and this week I read Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday, a New York media columnist, reformed workaholic and historian.
To be told that ego is the enemy, the reason for so much sadness, failures, and unfulfilled dreams, proved a challenging read. However, as I flicked through the pages, it proved to be an interesting, informative and I must say, influential read. If a book can change your view on a matter then it’s been a worthy read. I was really challenged by this book’s content– more so than any other book I’ve read during my self-imposed reading ‘challenge’. Ryan’s style is sophisticated, yet soothing with so many stories and his blatantly biased beliefs.
With his rich source of historical stories and fact, I found the read a most educative read – it’s saved me reading 20+ historical books – learning about his choice of individuals who have either suffered their own demise of egotism or mastered a humble life. I feel most informed about; Aristotle, Churchill, Machiavelli, General Marshall, Howard Hughes, Genghis Khan, Benjamin Franklin, Katharine Graham, Angela Merkel, Malcolm X, Steve Jobs and Adam Smith.
The book is organised into three sections: Aspire, Success, and Failure. Purposely designed to heighten your awareness when ego will plague you, encouraging you to start your training to suppress ego and to replace the temptations and cultivate strength. In other words: be humble in our aspirations, gracious in our success and resilient in our failures.
I would expect that my many extroverted mates will be intimidated with the views scattered through the book and suspect that 51% of the population, the introverts in our world, will agree with the populated world of extroverts who are overly noisy about their passion for sharing in their egotistical manner!
I found myself sinking into thoughts of the past, using this new Ego lens to view people’s performance, behaviours and management of matters. Ego has taken the paramount place in guiding their choices and humility has been left behind.
I suspect that this book would be a great gift for that person who’s Ego needs taming or needs some training.
I’ve been following Ryan on Twitter for the past week and he shares an abundance of historical quotes. This is evidently his style as the book is saturated with wisdom and challenging thoughts. To master our greatest opponent, our ego, let’s contemplete these thoughts:
· Passion typically masks a weakness – it is a poor substitute for discipline, master, strength, purpose and perseverance.
· We tend to think that ego equals confidence, which is what we need to be in charge. In fact, it can have the opposite effect.
· Pride blunts the very instrument we need to own in order to succeed: our mind.
· Passion is form over function. Purpose is function, function, function.
· What is rare is not raw talent, skill or even confidence but humility, diligence and self-awareness
· The ability to deliberately keep yourself out of the conversation and subsist without its validation. Silence is the respite of the confident and the strong.
· Talk depletes us – while goal visualisation is important, after a certain point our mind begins to confuse it with actual progress – the same goes for verbalization.
· The only relationship between work and chatter is that one kills the other.
· If you start believing in your greatness, it is the death of your creativity.
· Only when free of ego and baggage can anyone perform to their utmost.
· When we remove ego, we’re left with what is real.
· It is poise, not pose.
· One might say that the ability to evaluate one’s own ability is the most important skill of all. Without it, improvement is impossible.
· Don’t allow your ego’s noise to indulge in games – ignore the noise, don’t allow it to distract you. Restraint is a critical skill.
· Man is pushed by drives but he is pulled by values.
· Disease of Me – after a team starts to win, the simple bonds that joined the individuals begin to fray – people calculate their importance.
· Silence the noise around you; ‘go into the wilderness and return with inspiration, a plan, perspective and an understanding of the larger picture.
· Creativity is a matter of receptiveness and recognition. This cannot happen if you’re convinced the world revolves around you.
· Power doesn’t so much corrupt: that’s too simple. It fragments, closes options, mesmerizes – clouds the mind precisely when it needs to be clear. Sobriety is a counterbalance, a hangover cure – or better, a prevention method.
· Ego can’t see both sides of the issue. It can’t get better because it only sees the validation.
· Vain men never hear anything but praise.
· Not everyone is the best possible version of themselves.
A great metaphor is shared regarding training to master your ego. Training is like sweeping the floor. Just because we’ve done it once, doesn’t mean the floor is clean forever. Every day dust comes back. Every day we must sweep. (Every minute of the day and then sweep again.)
If you struggle with the discipline of changing your behaviour, it's worth considering asking for guidance. Get in contact with me to help you with your ego.
I’m looking forward to my 20th book which I found in my library – it’s by Donald Trump!
The New Leadership
Did you miss the news? There’s a new leadership in town!
Take a moment and consider which version or brand of leadership you are using at the moment.
Is it out of date, redundant, out of touch and not meeting the demands of your customers? Or, have your customers and people not changed in the past five, 10 or 15 years? Just think of the arrival of the Millennials – different expectations, values and focus.
Whilst we speed through life, navigating Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity and Ambiguity (VUCA – a military term), it’s a reminder that we need to be flexible in our approach to lead our relationships and interact with technology which we never dreamed of using five years ago.
We need to reinvent our leadership, learn the capabilities of being adaptive and agile according to Dr Simon Hayward, author of Connected Leadership, who skilfully turned his doctoral research into a must read. Incorporating client case studies in his capacity as CEO of Cirrus (International Leadership Consultancy) we travel the many changes which prominent world known businesses have implemented to keep customer focused, profitable and proud of their leadership brand, many of whom have adopted the Connected Leadership framework.
A connected style of leadership leverages off the learnings from previous styles, applying behaviours which meet the demands of the 21st century and departs from 20th century practices of heroic and hierarchical command and control. (Consider placement of car parking spaces – Customer vs. C suite). We need to keep adapting our leadership to keep up with change; in particular with social media, where customer experiences are often played out on the global stage with millions in the audience, exaggerating the effect of the connections.
Given my reading journey, navigating approximately 5000 pages in 18 weeks, I found Simon’s book will summerise what we’re expecting of our leaders in 2016. You can then delve further into content in other books which I’ve recently reviewed – think Making Sense, Adaptive Leadership and Your Leadership Edge.
Being agile, moving quickly and easily, needs a strong spine of clear purpose and direction and a strong sense of shared values with the flexile muscles of colleagues who are empowered to take decisions based on their proximity to customers and a willingness to trust and collaborate.
So, how connected is the leadership in your company? (Spine and Muscle) You can assess your organisation by completing a simple survey in the book. This reinforces the framework helping you mentally measure components of your leadership and business practices. These are the five key factors contributing to a style of leadership suited to this connected world in which we live. Would your customers and people describe your style of leadership which incorporates:
Purpose and direction – a common understanding of why the business exists, helping people make sense of how their roles relates to the purpose of the business.
Authenticity – values, ethics and a behavioural framework are consistently followed with a high level of trust and respect is experienced
Devolved decision making – decision makers are determined on who is best placed, their proximity and relationship with the customer
Collaborative Achievement – there is open dialogue and mutual influence to focus on end to end processes to achieve efficiency, collective merit and a breakthrough of bureaucratic silos to produce new answers to old problems
Agility – fail fast and learn – full stop! Enable people to adapt to changing circumstances, share what they learn and build a culture which supports experimentation (remember continuous improvement) without blame. I contacted Simon and he mentioned that if he were to do a second edition, he’d add some Agile methodologies to help you.
To tweak your style of leadership following this five part framework, I noted in my read that you need to concentrate on these specifics leadership practices:
Sense making – help people understand the importance of what they are doing in the organisation
Storytelling – inspire with your communication to help connect colleagues with strategy
Strong moral compass – be accountable for your behaviours which are based on your values
Share power – delegate decision making to others in your business who are closer to the customer
Self-aware – seek behavioural consistency by tuning into your emotions to manage your reactions
Solicit feedback – receive feedback with good grace and look for any lessons you can take.
Amongst the lessons there were many quotes and I was drawn to - You need to have five fingers touching the factory and five touching the customer. Amancio Ortega is the founder of the Spanish fashion chain Zara, (part of Inditex), which has been operating for over 40 years, has 6,500 stores in 88 countries. Referenced regularly in the book, it’s current and very interesting.
We all have customers in our life, maybe not as many as Zara, and interestingly, Simon’s final chapter is targeted at political leaders: tips on how they can apply the leadership framework to their role. Bravo I say – let’s encourage our local Politicians to read this book to think of their constituents as customers - maybe we should gift the book to each of our representatives.
Whilst it’s clichéd, I think all leaders and better still, those expected to demonstrate leadership, should read this book. It could well lead to aspirations of changing your organisation to becoming more agile and customer driven.
ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE?
I felt many emotions whilst reading Finding Your Element; enthusiasm due to the brilliant resources contained and often sadness. I wasn’t sad for myself but for the many people who don’t get the opportunity to read this powerful message; gifts of wisdom, schools of thought and practical advice.
Too many people in our world are “too busy” or too lazy to contemplate what they can grasp and learn from reading what another person has taken so much time to prepare and share.
I feel humbled that a colleague and friend loaned me, The Element (last week’s read) and Finding Your Element which I’m sharing my views on now. How lucky am I to learn, and be reminded of useful ideas, techniques, activities and research to add richness to what I do in my business – which is very similar to the purpose of this book.
Ken Robinson, author, TED Talker and now a ‘Sir’ has followed through with responding to ‘how do you find your element that you told us about in your book?’ Again, another really easy read, however you might get lost in time if you answer the multitude of questions and delve into the many activities.
I’d be really surprised to meet anyone (here in Victoria, Australia) who took the time to complete the activities. They’re not difficult, but what concerns me the most is that people fear what they will discover about their life. I suspect many people will realise that they are living someone else’s life.
My tip is to read the book first and then go back to the beginning and respond to the questions and complete the activities. Like many self-help books, it’s hard work!
So here are a few gems which I think would entice you to read Finding Your Element … here goes:
In a nutshell, finding your element boils down to being self-aware of your aptitudes, attitude, personality etc – having an honest audit of yourself allows you to slot yourself into future opportunities which you will want to create.
Essentially, Ken wants you to lead a life (the dash between the years of your life) filled with passion and purpose which means you need to articulate what you’re good at, what you love doing and essentially, what makes you happy. Do you know the answers to these questions?
Reading people’s element stories was heart-warming – courageous acts of change that sometimes sounded almost unbelievable. I felt like a plodder (is that a term?) compared to some people whose pursuit involved using all their funds, selling family homes, returning to study and leaving their technical expertise. Taking risks because they knew that their ‘true north’ was yet to be discovered.
Amongst the many exercises which Ken provides, one is extremely useful - determining what you’re good at. We generally get caught looking for, talking about and thinking of ‘what we’re not good at’ (especially women) – the activity enables you through its step by step explanation, to differentiate your aptitudes and abilities. This exercise encourages you to explore aptitudes at a depth concealed, latent and waiting to be discovered.
And finally, amongst the many questions, the five which I found would help many consider what their element might be:
· What do you know of that you’re not good at and would like to improve?
· Do you have any talents that you haven’t developed that you wished that you had?
· What sorts of activities lift your spirits and feed your energy?
· If you couldn’t fail, what would you most like to achieve?
· When do you feel at your happiest?
If you don’t see the need to read this book for yourself, then consider your role in life. If you’re a team leader, you’ll appreciate this as a resource – providing quality questions to add to your repertoire. Applying the questions in regular conversations will enable you to coach your people to self-develop and help them locate their element or other elements (we’re not limited to one).
I am a self-help book junkie. To say that I enjoyed Finding Your Element, is an understatement. I hope that some of you will be influenced to read it too and feel the emotion of joy that it brought me.
ARE YOU IN YOUR ELEMENT?
Which TED Talk has been viewed more than any other?
If you guessed correctly, you would have said Sir Ken Robinson’s – Do schools kill Creativity?
Following his recording, 10 years ago, he pumped out this week’s read: The Element – How finding your passion changes everything. Interestingly, Sir Ken is asking people to send him an email about the impact his TED talk has had on their lives.
As I read The Element, I could hear Sir Ken’s voice on every page packed with a good dose of humour. It’s now a toned down English accent as he resides in sunny California – a big move from his humble beginning, being one of many siblings and being struck down with Polio at a young age. This adds great creditability to Sir Ken’s enthusiasm to take heed of his message and the story of his journey.
The format of The Element makes for an easy and interesting read – providing rich stories and research supporting the opportunity to apply the push to find the element lurking in your inner self … if you’re yet to locate it.
The Element – the place where the things we love to do and the thing we are good at come together.
The added bonus of this book is learning more about the many people who I have grown up with (well, they don’t know me, but I thought I knew them well). Living their youth filled with adversity, or parents who had different plans for their future and those who didn’t become famous until later in life. People like Vidal Sassoon, the man behind the Shampoo on the shelves of the supermarket. He said, “That the inconvenience of discipline, the structure in my young life, one of adversity, is what helped shape me and make me be successful and be in my element.
Sadly, too many people live other peoples’ lives. They don’t follow their passion, for various reasons, and succumb to living and behaving how others want them to be.
Many people put aside their passions to pursue things that they don’t care about for the sake of financial security.
Sir Ken examines many reasons why people don’t operate in their element, more instructions on how to get your element happening and a bucket load of data to support why you should get busy with your Element as he has overturned all excuses of why you wouldn’t and couldn’t.
Here’s a summary:
We are now more aware of our many intelligences; we’re not relying solely on IQ tests to determine our success. By exploring where our strengths lie, we will have more opportunity to discover what we love doing, and doing it well – which equates to your Element.
In Sir Ken’s TED talk, he focused on how schools stifle creativity and the need for parents to help their kids decide if education is the right path to follow to locate their Element. In his book, we delve into the power of the mind, imagining what you want to do and then taking it to the next level by being creative to make it happen
We are introduced to another great book, which is on my list to read, Flow, by Dr Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi – the text is referenced to suggest that we need to be skilled and invested in a goal to achieve a state of Flow or as we more commonly say ‘in the zone’. Many of us have experienced this feeling in sports - consider training for a Marathon: you know how to run, you know the distance which is required and you can run and run and feel no pain.
If you‘re a leader that encourages others to be in the flow and in their element, you are giving them energy. If you’re the opposite, you have a workplace which discourages people being in their element and in Flow, then you suck the energy (and creativity) out of them.
Circles of Influence aka your Tribes are required to help you achieve your Element. Hanging around with people who encourage you to be creative and be the real you, create the environment to operate at your best. Think of a great team, whether that be work or a sports team, they will testify that you were in your Element. Sadly, it is our closest tribe, our family, who often have other plans and priorities for us - preventing our achievement of our element.
How many square pegs in round holes have you encountered in your work life? I have met too many and sadly they cause too many of the dilemmas and dramas in workplaces. When people are in their Element, they require less management and leadership. I do blame managers in these situations – it takes good leadership to have helpful and challenging conversations to guide people to locate their element … elsewhere. At the same time, it’s a big price to pay to change. Resistance from friends, family and fans to leave a ‘good paying job’ to find your mojo elsewhere.
And help is needed on this journey of change in search of your Element. This help can be obtained from a Mentor. Mentors connect you to the right people, will be a part of your life and a critical influence in your Element search. If not a Mentor, search for your Hero’s – those who have saved you from a position or situation and put you on a better course. Either way, like having a tribe, you can’t do it alone – you need others in your life to be in your Element.
Being in your element often means being connected with other people who share the same passions and have a common sense of commitments.
I enjoyed learning about people who chose a different road in their life, later in their life. I am affronted with the thought of retirement. I’ve never considered stopping doing what I love doing. I often challenge myself to do new things and continue to learn. I’m always looking for the opportunity to change … to find a possible new element! You are in charge of your life. The only thing which is stopping you is in your head – your mind.
When we are in our element, we feel that we are meant to be doing what we’re doing and being who we are meant to be.
My favourite piece to read was the debate of the Professional and the Amateur – the professional gets paid for what they do and the role they fulfill whereas the amateur does not. The Amateur is passionate about what they do and doesn’t get the cash. Are you a professional or are you an amateur on the Element Continuum? How prepared are you to forfeit your money opportunities to fulfill the feeling of being in your element.
The final chapter in The Element links back to the TED Talk – discussing school systems. This makes sense as it’s in school that we heard ourselves say, “When I grow up, I want to be a ….” and when we’re in our final years of education, we’re less sure of our desires. It’s a terrible indictment on our Education system and I hope in the past ten years, we are on a better course to help our young people find their Element
I’d like to think that you’ve got this far reading my review and said Yes, I am in my element. However, I think not. It’s not easy to admit that you’re not happy ad unsatisfied with what you’re doing in your life. If there is any doubt, do something about it. If you are in your Element, then consider being a Mentor.
And do I recommend reading this book? Absolutely – we should all be involved in our and others’ Elements. I opened the first page The Element and a hundred books. Sir Ken was very generous with his research and writing, quoting, sharing and extracting the core value of so many other books which supports The Element. You should read it too.