Tuning in and making choices

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Quite often we don’t hear it, or try to ignore it, we have to tune in to it and be willing to listen.

It is our inner conscious, our true self.

There is an uneasiness, a discomfort. It is telling us that something is not right, something is not sitting well with our values and what we believe in. It may be small it may be big, but there is something.

This is where we choose – do we let it go and catch it next time?

Or do we trust it? Trust ourselves? Do we make a stand? Do we make a difference and become a leader?

What will you choose today and what difference will you make to yourself and others?

Get clear about purpose – a one week challenge

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What is your purpose? Yes, your life purpose but also your purpose right now? How often are we or the people around us doing things with no clear sense of purpose? Does it matter? You bet!

I heard someone having what started as a routine conversation on the phone, when suddenly the energy, passion and commitment burst out of their voice as they established there was an immediate need  to support a friend in need. That sudden clarity of purpose made all the difference to their state and it got me thinking about purpose in our daily life.

So I spent a week trying to be mindful of my purpose in everything I did: making a phone call, taking exercise, reading, writing an e-mail, having meetings etc. The difference in approach and outcomes was quite remarkable. Being clear about purpose suddenly made routine tasks more meaningful, clarity of purpose meant more thorough work, better engagement with others and better and quicker results. It also meant that some stuff that I would have maybe drifted through was discarded as I realised it did not serve my immediate or longer term purpose.

It is easy to lose focus and forget why we are doing what we are doing in a world of distractions and interruptions, but being clear about purpose in the moment, will lift energy, passion and commitment. The trick is to sustain it. The clearer the purpose in the moment the greater the levels of engagement and likelihood of success.

So the challenge is to be mindful of purpose for a week.

Ask yourself the question throughout the day – what is my purpose right now? And ask your team the same question – what is their purpose purpose right now?

See how hard or easy it is to retain mindfulness of purpose and compare what happens when you and other around you are mindful of the why.

Please share any experiences you have with us.


Have you ever “gone round the room” and failed?

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A great blog from Seth Godin who as always gets to the point quickly and makes it with great conviction!


Recognising the forgotten ones and what they bring

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We have our stars. We are always on the look out for them and make sure that when we find them they are rewarded.  We expound their virtues to all who will listen and look to grow and develop them to be ready for the next opportunity. When they leave it is a great loss.

Then there are the non performers. They are the battle we want to win so we put a lot of effort into “rescuing” them and making them better or if we can’t win, moving them on. When they leave it is a great relief

Then there are the forgotten ones. They turn up everyday and do their job with no fuss. They allow the stars to shine and clean up the mistakes of the non performers. When they leave, they leave quietly and we don’t know what we have lost

Do you have any forgotten ones? What do you do for them?

Genuine recognition of what they bring and a simple “thank you” is often enough.


Collaborative Strategy vs competitive thinking

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“Tomorrow’s strategies will not come from competitive thinking rather they will come from radical thinking about how best to discover and create value. Value creation starts with people united with a purpose that creates passion for discovering how to create more and more value together.”

This is an excerpt from a good article on Collaborative Strategy by Jay Deragon

Reinventing management to meet today’s challenges – a talk by Gary Hamel

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Gary Hamel, rated by the Wall Street Journal as the world’s most influential business thinker, asserts that the management systems we are using today were designed for yesterday’s problems and that we need to reinvent management to meet the unique challenges we face today.

In this entertaining talk he lays out his reasoning and sets out what Management 2.0 should be like.

He outlines 3 things successful companies have to do to succeed:

  • Change as fast as change itself
  • Have everyone in the organisation see innovation as their job
  • Create the environment where employees bring all their gifts and talents to the job every day

He states that is is not about making organisations fit for the future but making them fit for humans

Enjoy and be prepared to be made uncomfortable and excited at the same time with some of the examples and concepts he suggests can make this happen.


Mind your body language

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Amy Cuddy presents her research on how our body language affects our own thinking and behaviour

Verbal communication, the words we use, makes up 35% of how we communicate. Much more significant is our tone; facial expressions, movement, appearance, eye contact and posture, this non-verbal component of communication is 65%But what influence does our body language have on our own thinking and behaviour?

Social psychologist Amy Cuddy uses this TED talk to present her research to give us more insight to this fascinating subject and tells her own very personal story that led her to take up the research.

Within the talk we learn that:

  1. We make judgements about other people based on their body language
  2. Many of the postures we have are naturally programmed (people blind from birth display them)
  3. Whilst we influence others with our non-verbals – we also influence ourselves and govern how we think and feel about ourselves
  4. By being aware of our body language we can change our minds

This talk really caught my attention as a big part of coaching is understanding how our thinking influences our behaviour and in turn our relationships and culture we work in. Cuddy adds another level of awareness to that whole process and the importance of our non-verbal communication to ourselves as well as others.

Have a think about how you are holding yourself and how it then influences your thinking about yourself in that situation. Typical situations are:

  • In meetings with your team or with your boss
  • In a conflict situation
  • Making presentations
  • Interviews
  • When asking for something
  • Talking on the phone

I hope you find the time to look at this. If this makes you aware of something you are doing experiment with a change of posture and see what difference it makes.


P.S. for those interested in the brain and how it works I recommend Jill Bolte Taylor’s stroke of insight.

Innovation – yes, but remember the basics

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Innovation: out bosses look for it and encourage it; our customers want it. It can consume a great deal of our energy and resources. Yet, what people really want is a good service or product that works.

Windows phones have not grown market share the way it was hoped. Why? The software does not work or deliver against i-phone and android.

The telcos have suffered for years, despite all the great technology and products, they have been lambasted because of hidden costs in contracts and lousy response to customer problems whether technical or service related. (They are on the improve).

We go to fancy restaurants that look great and have innovative menus etc – but they do not sustain themselves – why? Because the service is not there.

So whilst innovation is important and we should always challenge ourselves to do something new, particularly if what we are doing currently is not working, we should not forget the basics. If we go back to the fundamentals and invest the time and energy in getting that right, then there is a far greater chance of success.

Maybe that will be the new innovation – service and products that work!

What do you think?

Expectations – don’t forget the important question

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It makes it easier if we sit with people and clearly explain what we want and expect from them, but there is a question that we have to make sure we don’t forget.

How often have we heard people complain about being a bit lost and not sure what is expected from them. Job descriptions are often the default reference, but even with very clear job descriptions people want their leaders to explain clearly what they want from people as individuals. It just makes it so much easier if we sit down and explain to people as individuals what we want from them.

Many do not have these conversations, in fact when asked many leaders find it hard to express what it is they want from their people. Others are good at it and make a point of being very explicit so that they can hold individuals accountable.

It is certain the conversation has to be thought about and you have to be clear. However, in the rush to generate clarity and accountability – don’t forget to ask “….and what do you expect from me?”

This is perhaps the most important part of the discussion that can lead to some powerful insights that make us better leaders.

Getting back into the swing of things

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After the festive break, or any another holiday for that matter, it can be a challenge to get back into the swing of things and build momentum again. Here are a few tips on how to ease into things and not lose the benefits of the holiday too quickly

1. Take a step back – “what ? … I hear you say, “I have been on holiday for two weeks I want to get ripped into things and get going.” Yes you can do that, or you can take a step back and remind yourself of the main goals, strategies and plans for the year, where you and the team are at and use this review to build a clear picture of what your priorities should be.

2. Talk to people – check-in with your boss and team to ensure that your priorities and thoughts correspond with theirs. (Don’t forget to ask them how the holiday was and take a genuine interest in how they are.) Agree expectations and set follow-up meetings

3. Make a to do list and prioritise. Based on the above write down the things you have to get done each day and prioritise – A, B, or C and then number A1, A2, B1, B2 etc. This should mean that you are starting to work on the most important and/or hardest things first – it will be hard, but you will feel so much better when you have started on them and get them done. When the big things have been done, the smaller things are easier to do.

Be sure to break your big list into small chunks for each day at the beginning of the week; you can’t do it all in one day and looking at a long list just gets you down. A short list gives focus and you feel good when you tick things off as done.

Procrastination Alert do not start with the small things first, they will consume your day and the important work will be continually deferred!

4. Schedule time in your calendar for your priority work. Before others take control of your week, book 1.5 to 2 hours in the morning and afternoons for priority work. As far as possible let other meetings and work fall around these times unless they relate to your priority work. It is amazing what you can get done with dedicated interruption free time.

5. Give yourself a break. You want quality concentrated effort with the job done first time. So if you feel concentration dropping off, don’t push through as you will likely make mistakes and end up doing the work again. Take breaks, keep yourself fresh. If you have done the hardest things first when the fatigue sets in you can work on the low priority and generally easier tasks.

Go easy on yourself, some things may have to be done over a few days or even weeks. You have been away, it will take time to get back into it. Accept this and use it. Fighting it will tire you out even more.

6. Prep for meetings and phone calls. Be clear on what you want to get out of them and prepare. This should always be done anyway, however after being away for a few weeks you need to do a bit more work to build focus. Do your preparation and you will make sure you use the time well and not miss opportunities.

7. Be smart with you e-mails. At some point you will have to confront the dreaded in box; whether you get to all those e-mails first thing, in small batches or later in the day, here are a few ideas to make it easier:

  • Sort your in box by alphabetical order to go though them. This way you can look for e-mail trails so you only need to read the last e-mail in the trail – delete the rest. Same for reports that update automatically. You can quickly find the messages from the people that you know are a priority and will see the spam mail much more easily this way.
  • Be unrelenting with the delete – where a mail does not relate to your work objectives and you can get the information at another date delete it. If once you have read a mail you do not need it again, delete it.
  • Where you have a major task to start in the future related to the message or need to look at it later, the e-mail to tasks and set it with a reminder date to come back to you when you think you will be ready to do it. This will remove the e-mail from your inbox.
  • Don’t reply to the mail if you can. The less e-mails you send, the less you will receive. If there is a need to contact a person, think about whether a phone call will be more productive and avoid another round of e-mails.
  • Delegate the work within the e-mail as appropriate making sure that you state clearly what you want done and by when. Be sure you have a follow-up system so you can track the work – again tasks can be useful for this.
  • File it – if you do need the information file it somewhere – the main thing is to remove it from your in box.

8. Go home at a reasonable hour. Really an extension of point 3; working long does not relate to quality. At the end of the day review your to do list, create a fresh one for the next day and go home with a clear mind and enjoy your other life. (This may have been something you promised yourself for the New Year, so start as you mean to continue!)

9. Don’t forget your body. Give yourself the right fuel, exercise and sleep to build and maintain your energy at work

Any other tips that you have found useful and would like to share?



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