Monday 31 May 2010

Some Questions Google Cannot Answer-Have Faith!

I'm fortunate enough to be able to take our daughter to school on a daily basis. Recently a sign was erected in front of the church in Dundrum where she goes to school. I noticed it made me smile every time I saw it. Today I took a photograph and thought it the best advertisement I'd seen anywhere for a church bar none..!

It's award winning material no question. It also links with a great quote I heard from Ronan Tynan (one of The Irish Tenors) when he was being interviewed on TV-AM a few weeks ago. He was talking about Faith. He used a great line to describe it: "Faith is the food that feeds the bird that sings in the dark" The bird being the voice in our heads which lies in the dark recesses of our minds. The singing I took to be what the Psychologists call "autosuggestion". This is the human ability to put positive and/or negative thoughts into our own heads. Henry Ford famously said "whether you think you can or can't you're absolutely right". So true! The problem with the human brain is it does not have a brain!! So what does that tell us...? We have to train our brain to do what we want it to do. It's as easy to train it to work for us as not. Of course this requires effort and time. The need to put positive thoughts into our brain is that they seep into our subconscious mind and that over time informs what we believe to be true about ourselves and the world. I find it also helps us acquire vital new skills (we notice what we want and need and go after it) In this space also we end up meeting people who are actually there to help us, as if they just turned up when we most need them! How often has that happened to you...? It's happened a lot to me. When I think positive things, good things tend to happen when I'm not fussy about what gets into my mind, good things tend not to happen. Even if I was just superstitious, I'd be inclined to stick with the positives!

So, we're talking about Faith! Not in any deep spiritual way (and I believe that is also important) but in regard to how important it is in our everyday lives. I personally struggle with this. It does not come easy to me. Having recently been exposed to a variety of things on Visualisation and how powerful it is, it all came back to a common root; FAITH. What I've become clearer about is that without Faith we have no control over what type of thoughts are running through our minds.

Autosuggestion is the ability to put whatever thoughts you want into your head and preferably positive ones. The idea being that these are transmitted out into the wider Universe and attract similar thoughts which can eventually come back to you and make what you wish for turn into a reality.

I used to think not alone was this hard work, but, all a bit too fanciful to be true. Then I asked myself, why when we write down our GOALS on a sheet of paper, work out how they will happen and revisit them regularly, they tend to happen...? The answer is when we revisit them we put the notion into our heads that this is what we want to achieve and this I believe helps make goal happen. Your mind helps you turn that DECISION into a REALITY.

Only 3-5% of people in the world have clear Goals that they engage meaningfully with. They somehow happen to be the most financially independent and often times very balanced, centred and CALM of people. They're self made....They've won the battle of the mind. The mind now works for them! This is no coincidence.

This is then essentially simple (to understand) just not easy (to make happen!) Recently I uncovered a formula that worked for me. I'd like to share that with you: When I chunk things down they have a better chance of happening. I now build OUT from today, then next week and then next month. I found the 5 year view too far away and then too vague. I recently decided to become aerobically fit by June 1st. What I did was combine this with other things that I'm also poor at (avoiding chocolate, getting enough sleep and getting regular exercise). I now COMBINE these activities (so they're like mini-goals) and this I find makes it more attractive for me to stay on track. You can of course say there is no reward and you close off everything you like. I find that works for me. If another combination works for you go with that. I call the major goal "SELF-CARE" and attach the other ones to it. That way I have a VARIETY of reasons to stay on track rather than one thing I may just blow off at any time if I have an off day. This then becomes a HABIT and habits are what we REPEATEDLY DO............This is not an act of God, but it does require Faith. I also read that when we really believe something we're then READY to acquire it. This just started recently for me and the readiness bit rings true.... Would really like your comments on this as I'm really energised by this right now........

Tuesday 25 May 2010

Stay Hungry, stay foolish

I get weekly updates from many sources and appreciate the brilliance of the Internet as many of my learnings are free. This is a most moving speech from Steve Jobs from Apple who was addressing a graduation class in Standford University a few years ago. Here's the link:

Some of the messages I'd heard previously. The insights into his life and the rich distillation of an extraordinary story that started before he was born, then in college and finally in later life are truly uplifting. Some people just exude style and ooze class. Steve Jobs falls into that category and I'd defy anyone to view this clip and not be moved by the story. This is not an example of idolising relationships as he's far from perfect. This is by any stretch a captivating story.
He says many things but the main thing I got from it was in the title; "Stay Hungry, Stay foolish". By that he meant never lose that sense of curiosity about the world, be prepared to be innocent in our viewing of things and never lose our appetite for learning. Follow your heart and your intuition. That will take you to what you love to do.
As someone who's recently arrived at where I truly belong, I have to agree wholeheartedly. You can't do great work until you love what you do. The passion will run out and so will the adrenaline and the motivation. No wonder so many people are unfulfilled in life and in work. So, the invitation to step out of our own shadow has been issued and awaits us.....................

What will YOU do...............?

Monday 17 May 2010

Remove the Nightmare from Giving Feedback!!

Giving feedback need not be a nightmare for you or the person receiving it!!

Much of the work I do as a Coach involves giving and receiving feedback. Sometimes what we have to feedback is positive and this is a pretty pleasant task. Less so when the feedback is a development area or a blind spot for someone. The responsibility of doing this is an essential part of being a Leader or Manager. There are many models and thought leaders in this field. Personally I rate and like Marshall Goldsmith. Here's a link to his site, so check it out for yourself;

Here are a few tips and pointers when you need to give feedback and an easy to use model.

When giving feedback to someone, the important thing to remember is to focus on the ISSUE in question and not the PERSON. This removes unnecessary EMOTION from the conversation and focuses on the BEHAVIOUR and not the PERSONALITY.

3 Rules (A.I.D.- An acronym)

1. Actions- (What the person did- both +/-) Use language like 'I noticed you doing........a,b,c' 'What I liked about x was when you took the initiative and did y.' If the feedback is not positive, focus on the facts. "We agreed the report would be on my desk by 9am, it was late. We discussed this several times, do you recall that...?" This clarifies the situation and is in no way personal. (This is the current status, what you're GETTING)

2. Impact- (The effect of the behaviour in question) 'The upshot of that was it slowed down everyone and everything while we waited for this report' (This builds the CASE for CHANGE. Often times people don't think through the impact of their actions (or inaction!) This is where people have an 'Aha' moment and realise this behaviour needs to change. (This is feedback-it relates to the past)

3. Desired Outcomes- (Ways in which the Coachee could do things differently)Let's explore together options that address these points' This is also where as a Leader or Manager you get to have a say in the behaviour you want. Many times I find people forget they are in charge and it's part of those responsibilities to clearly state to people what you want. If need be, outline to them what good quality work looks like. You also have to become comfortable in helping people work in the way YOU want them to (this is not the same as bossing people around or being a tyrant by the way!). If people were doing what you asked them to do in the way it needed be done you would not waste either parties time. (This is also referred to feeding forward-It focuses on the future)

This is all part of 'on the job Coaching'. The best Leaders I've come across are really skilled in HOW to do this. I suggest you take the time to learn how to do this well.

When you think about it, it's not possible to manage performance or develop people if you can't comment accurately and effectively on how people are doing....Give this a try and see how you get on. If you decide to work with a Coach, they will help you develop the skills and belief to do this really well. It's central to my work and will make you stand out as a Leader. That's also why smart people have a 'Coaching Relationship' and not go looking for a Coach when they need one. This is a little like having great need them before you need them!

Why give this attention...? Because it's known as 'instant payoff' Coaching, you can change behaviour quickly or recognise great work in a way that generates loyalty. That's just smart thinking.

Let me know how you get on with this.........

Monday 10 May 2010

How Great Leaders Inspire Action

I came across a great video on TED last week and it inspired this post. The video clip (from a guy called Simon Sinek) is simply stunning in its simplicity and has real potency in the message. His core tenet is "People don't 'buy' what you do but WHY you do it". He uses 3 great examples: Apple, The Wright Brothers and Martin Luther King Jnr.
Our decision making is based on what things MEAN to us. That's why the picture is so true. Our emotions tell us what's really going on. Here's the link;

The beauty is ANYONE can learn how to do this. I link this to another insight I uncovered recently related to this concept. People who are good at operating from 'WHY' as per the video clip are often Visionaries or Early Adopters.

I've grown to realise that while having a Vision is important, making a Decision is even more important. Here's the link. It's how to make the dream become a reality.

Dreamers are vital people, especially dreamers of the day (not the same thing as day dreaming!), but people who turn dreams into action are like gold dust! Many of the best Visionaries of the works (Bill Gates, Walt Disney, Martin Luther King) would have failed unless they had people around them who could turn these dreams into reality.

I equate it to the analogy and the relationship between Leadership and Management. Leaders see further ahead and much sooner than most people. (They get the WHY...Disneyworld, Computer in every home, etc) but they often don't know HOW to make things happen (Walt Disney's brother Roy made the dream come true). The person with the idea is like the DANCER and the first follower helps turn it into a MOVEMENT! This is a powerful insight. We are typically either one or the other. very few people are gifted in both areas (that would be unfair!). I realise I paint in big pictures and don't always hold all the I married someone who does! When we work well together we make a powerful team and that's when real SYNERGY happens.......(we create something togtehr better than either of us could alone)

So, what are you a WHAT or a HOW person...? It's an important question to know how to answer. It can affect the boss you next want to work for (how do they do Visioning, Strategic Thinking etc) or the person you want beside you to implement a major project (handle the detail and follow through on commitments.

Let me know your thoughts.....

Monday 3 May 2010

Being instead of Doing....

Much of what I see in my own practice tells me there is a conflict between what people are doing and who they are when they're doing it. No wonder so much of people's best work is never seen at work!

In Coaching parlance this is referred to as " how you show up in a given situation" My own noticing is my BEST work is always when I move away from problems and solutions and move onto what people want (to be) rather than what's expected (to do). Otherwise we may become like the picture,unreasonable!

We had a family revelation this week that showed how people suffer silently when this is not named. Someone was doing something because they felt it was expected. Others presumed it was because they wanted to do this activity. The person involved was really 'holding' a false assumption about this and was doing it for others out of a sense of duty. Can you imagine what the commitment to that activity was and how they felt about it. What was said was really interesting, here it is "it wasn't really me doing this at all, it felt like another person..." In a work situation this is when people often seek outside help due to lack of employee commitment! You'd have to ask does God do this just for fun..?!

This post is about celebrating the world of being. In any given situation we ARE someone and that someone matters. Sometimes we like ourselves better than others and much of Coaching's about helping clients BE or BECOME that best version of ourselves. This is really important. In my experience any profound shift and sustained change is unlikely unless work is addressed in this way or at that level.

Too often we're obsessed with 'fixing' especially in the world of work. Problems need solving- get a Coach, a Consultant an Expert. If you really want to see results with your Coach allow BOTH of you focus on Being rather than Doing..........."Who are you in that situation....?" is a powerful question. A reflection of my own is working to tight deadlines with people on certain pieces of work is not always the same as helping clients see clearly who they are in this situation. When this is clear everything flows with a natural ease and it does so quickly!

When we know who we are we automatically become more resourceful. That's where the REAL work is and to paraphrase the wise words of Ken Blanchard author of many of the "One Minute Manager" books "We need to slow down in order to go faster" (Less haste= more speed)