ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE?

ARE YOU LIVING YOUR LIFE?

Exploring you!

Exploring you!

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.

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!

Six Senses to Rule the Future

SIX SENSES TO RULE THE FUTURE

Being a fan of Dan Pink, I was surprised to discover a book of his which I hadn’t read. A Whole New Mind was first published in 2005 and given the book was future focused “Why Right-Brainers Will Rule The World”, I was immediately concerned that I wouldn’t be held captive on each page.

Wrong. Yes, I was immediately proven wrong, with the first section of the book craftily educating me of the differences of the left and right side of the brain. We flippantly make references to these differences in my game, but to truly explore the research, albeit in laymen’s terms, was fascinating, again. As a reminder:

Left Hemisphere ‘L’ = sequential, logical and analytical

Right Hemisphere ‘R’ = nonlinear, intuitive and holistic

This week's book: Dan Pink's A Whole New Mind

The reasoning behind the intrigue to write the book boiled down to the forces of the three As - Abundance, Asia and Automation. We are saturated with consumerism and people are now searching for more meaning in their life; Asia competently completes so much of the worlds ‘L’ work at lower costs forcing world workers to master abilities which can’t be shipped off shore and with the world almost being automated it reinforces the need to develop aptitudes that computers can’t do better, faster or cheaper!

In the Industrial and Information Age, we required the ‘L’ capabilities to power us to produce data which is now not enough. For those who want to flourish in the future, the once thought frivolous capabilities of inventiveness, empathy, joyfulness and meaning will be needed as people seek your new mind.

The research into our brain continues and fast forward to 2016, we now know that our brain can be manipulated, retrained and even rejuvenated however what differentiates us from other animals is our ability to reason analytically – our ‘L’.

I was intrigued with learning that the ‘L’ is sequential and specialise in text and the ‘R’ is simultaneous and specialises in context – for me, this highlighted our ability to speed read. I finessed this many years ago and only since launching into my self-imposed reading challenge that I realise how helpful this ability is (along with touch typing). I can look at a paragraph and quickly see the meaning.

Keeping it simple, what is most important to note is that whilst this book is highlighting the need to master the ‘R’ we need to appreciate the ‘L’ is just as important. Our ‘L’ handles what we say in life and the ‘R’ focuses on how it’s said – I’m glad I have both minds working together and I am open to learning how to make them both more effective.

So, the main content of the book focuses on the future requirement for the Conceptual Age, characterised by the creator and empathizers and to survive this age, we need to supplement our abilities with high concept and high touch aptitudes from the ‘R’, which Pink calls, “the six senses”.

A one page summary of Dan's book: A Whole New Mind

The crux of the book is to master these:

Design – it’s about bringing pleasure, meaning and beauty to our lives – you must be an agent of change. Wow, this is a big ask but design is a classic whole minded aptitude. It provides personal fulfilment and professional success by making differentiation possible at so many peoples’ fingertips which will in the future change the world. It is so rewarding to create something which is beautiful, whimsical and or emotionally engaging. Development opportunities include: read design magazines, keep a design notebook, sketch an idea of a solution to an annoying household item, go to the guru and check out www.karimrashid.com , visit a design museum, be choosy with things which should delight you not impress others. I’m taking the family on a world tour soon and I’ve added some of the book’s suggestions to our itinerary.

Story – represents a pathway to understanding, think the interest in genealogy and scrapbooking, both popular in the late 90s and 00s – appeasing the hunger for context enriched by emotion. Even today we are still learning that bullet points and PowerPoints are overshadowed by rich stories of peoples’ lives. Development opportunities include: reading great stories found in Aesop’s fables, or fast forward to Gabrielle Dolan a Melbourne author www.gabrielledolan.com, play photo finish by selecting a photo and fashion a tale about it.

Symphony – the ability to put together the pieces, to synthesize rather than analyse to see relationships between seemingly unrelated fields, to detect patterns and invent something new by combining elements (think innovation). Development opportunities include: listen to great symphonies (I struggled with this), buy and browse through loads of magazines (love this idea), learn to draw (I did this a while ago – check out www.lynnecazaly.com), keep a metaphor log, create an inspiration board and master brainstorming.

Empathy – imagine yourself in someone else’s position and what that person is feeling. I love this: it is the ability to stand in others’ shoes, to see with their eyes and to feel with their hearts. Empathy is an ethic for living; understanding other human beings and it’s a universal language which connects us beyond country and culture. I’m currently coaching a Nurse and it’s highlighted how such a profession is amazingly empathetic, quite different to doctors whom I’ve also worked with!  Development opportunities include: participate in the Empathy Quotient to determine if you have a male or female brain (we’re more empathetic!) - https://psychology-tools.com/empathy-quotient/ Eavesdrop on strangers conversations, walk for a day in a colleagues life (great for CEOs to play), take acting classes - actors are good if they understand the emotional expressions of their character and Volunteer – a direct way to imagine yourself in someone’s situation.

Play – injecting laughter, games, humour and joyfulness into your day will provide what the ‘L’ cannot.  We don’t need explained how laughter, humour and joy make us feel however it’s interesting to consider how on-line game playing make us more effective at what we do, boost productivity and enhance job satisfaction. Development opportunities include: join a laughter club (there’s one on skype!), if you haven’t played an on-line game, do so with your kids (that’s my plan for today), and go and be a big kid in a playground!

Meaning – the final essential aptitude in this Conceptual Age is captured in Viktor Frankl’s 1984 book, Man’s Search for Meaning. Have you read it? It is the drive that exists in all of us and the two common denominators shared by many are Spirituality and Happiness. The latter is of interest given the momentum of the positive psychology movement. Development opportunities include: Using a Gratitude journal and saying ‘thanks’ more regularly, list important changes you’d like to make in your life and problem solve by replacing ‘but’ with ‘and’, take a Sabbath – don’t work or use anything technical and be mindful, read Man’s Search for Meaning or Flow by Mihalyi Csikszentmihalyi, check how you use your time – are your values aligned with your time and Picture Yourself at Ninety – What does your life look like when you view it from that vantage point.

So, I asked Dan Pink which of the six senses has he observed in the past 10 years have had the most traction since his book launched and he responded with (much to my delight) – “Hmmm. Good questions. IMHO, they all work together – that is, they’re ingredients in a soup rather than rungs on a ladder. But, if I had to pick one, I’d go for Symphony.

I’m concerned that we haven’t made enough effort to find ‘meaning’ in our lives. Whilst all six senses make a great soup, we need to boost the flavour with purpose. And this is why I do what I do in my practice. 

I absolutely adored reading and delving into the portfolio of tools, exercises and ordering further reading suggested. I have accumulated so many ‘to do, think and act’ items that I will need to rework my life planner to fit them all in – especially while I continue to read all the amazing books recommended.

Dan signs off the book with “good luck in the new age of art and heart” which summarises it nicely however I was taken by his reminder from Viktor Frankl’s powerful imperative: Live as if you were living for the second time and had acted as wrongly the first time as you are about to act now.”