How change agile are you?

How change agile are you? Do you anticipate, adapt and plan for changes?

As a frequent traveller, I’m always on the lookout for a travel bargain, on flights, trains and hotels. For an upcoming engagement in a few weeks’ time, I’ll be in central London 5 nights straight. Planning ahead (3 months ago) I secured a good rate for those evenings in a central London hotel. Checking my booking a couple of days ago, I discovered that I could get a much better rate only a few weeks before I’m actually due in the city, at an upmarket sister hotel. How’s that? It doesn’t make sense to me? I’m very organised and always like to book well in advance!

Agility, is the ability and your willingness to change quickly to new developments. Speed, nimbleness, dexterity and being fleet of foot all come to mind, in order to adapt to change quickly – it is key to your future. So, pick yourself up and get your running shoes on.  You’re absolutely going to need them simply to keep up with the pace of change in the world today.

The algorithms behind these advanced rates on booking sites are complex, but the key to it all is agility! Change is now the expectation – NOT – the exception.

What am I learning?

Agile leaders and agile organisations must be entrepreneurial in their mindset and approach to change – always! Best to check that hotel, train or flight booking again today…. It could be far cheaper now!

Are you stubborn?

Are you stubborn? Or obstinate perhaps?

Stubbornness is defined as “having or showing dogged determination not to change one’s attitude or position on something, especially in spite of good arguments or reasons to do so.”

However, stubborn people are driven by a resistance to being forced into doing or experiencing anything that feels against their will, even when all the evidence and opinion is pointing in one direction. A person who is being stubborn will cling to their decision regardless of the consequences. At the root of all stubbornness is the fear of letting go of your own ideas, convictions, decisions and at times, identity. Of course standing your ground I guess can be a good thing when it comes to living your values or defending something that is of great importance. But there is a very fine line between the two.

True stubbornness can and will block our happiness in life, it will harm our relationships, and can hold us back professionally.

The Key

I think the key to overcoming a stubborn streak is to “know thyself” in other words greater self awareness. Recognising too as to whether you are right or wrong in a given situation is vitally important, as I believe there is significant value to looking at something from many different perspectives. Always listen to the other side of the story, seeking to understand, then pause, consider and reflect. Everyone of us can and does make mistakes, and we are all wrong sometimes. Remind yourself that this time might be one of them. When that occurs, then its wise to admit you are wrong, and seek to repair the damage done.

How will you be more sensitive to that stubborn streak of yours?

Selfish vs Selfless

Recently, these two words have played over and over again in my mind. Perhaps writing this post today, will help – a little!! In order to understand selflessness, we must understand its opposite, selfishness.

  • Selfishness is defined as too much concerned with one’s own welfare or interests, with little or no thought for others
  • Selflessness is defined as being devoted to others’ welfare or interests and not one’s own.

So where do you stand with these two principles? Somewhere in the middle perhaps? Or is there a real distinct character trait that you can clearly identify with?

Selfishness

A selfish person frequently uses the terms, “I”, “me”, and “mine” as opposed to “we”, “ours”, “yours” or “theirs”. Generally, you’ll find that a selfish person is keen to be in the limelight, and that ultimately they’ll find no happiness in constantly pursuing a personal or business agenda filled with selfishness. Viewed in its true sense, selfishness is the absence of empathy and compassion. The products of selfishness tend to be, loneliness, arrogance, pride, lying, hypocrisy, greed, and idleness.  The selfish idleness, with its “I’ll do it later” attitude is procrastination at its extreme. I love this quote from a wise leader Gordon B. Hinckley, “Selfishness is a destructive, gnawing, corrosive element in the lives of many people. But the antidote to selfishness is service, reaching out to those about us – those in the home and those beyond the walls of the home”

Selflessness

So what of Selflessness? It is unquestionably a marvellous virtue. It is the giving of ones self in the serving of others and the giving of ones self in being served by others. Through my experience of many years of building long lasting personal and successful business relationships, the key to it all is selflessness and service. Selflessness produces kindness and dispels hypocrisy. It develops confidence, trust and the embodiment of authentic servant leadership in every interaction with others. Selflessness fosters love, confidence, and trust.

The Power of Service

The idea of servant leadership goes back 2000 years, but in his modern ground breaking work in 1970, Robert K. Greenleaf coined the phrase “servant leader” and “servant leadership” in his classic essay “The Servant as Leader”.“The servant-leader is servant first… It begins with the natural feeling that one wants to serve, to serve first. Then conscious choice brings one to aspire to lead. That person is sharply different from one who is leader first, perhaps because of the need to assuage an unusual power drive or to acquire material possessions…The leader-first and the servant-first are two extreme types. Between them there are shadings and blends that are part of the infinite variety of human nature.”

“The difference manifests itself in the care taken by the servant-first to make sure that other people’s highest priority needs are being served. The best test, and difficult to administer, is: Do those served grow as persons? Do they, while being served, become healthier, wiser, freer, more autonomous, more likely themselves to become servants? And, what is the effect on the least privileged in society? Will they benefit or at least not be further deprived?”

What we desperately need today in our homes, schoolrooms and boardrooms, and certainly throughout society at large – are leaders, men and women who are willing to stand for principles of goodness and virtue. In leadership standing for these principles, there is often loneliness – but ultimately the courage of one’s convictions brings great happiness, joy and long lasting relationships of trust and happiness.

How can you develop greater selflessness?

Self-awareness

“How do I improve my self-awareness?” asked a course delegate. Candidly, I responded, there are many ways, but I know for certain that a personal journal is my absolute favourite. It can be a powerful tool for self-evaluation and self-improvement. Simply stated, we can examine our lives as we come to know ourselves through our journal entries.

I received my first journal on Christmas day,1977.

Forty two years of daily journal entries later, capturing many experiences along the way, I know they have helped to establish stretching goals and to analyse my own personal circumstances. The result is a keener sense of self-awareness.  Seen over a period of years, recorded day by day and page by page provides an exclusive personal intimate pattern of your life. My journal is in fact my autobiography, my personal legacy, so I need to keep it carefully.

Journals help you reflect on and overcome challenges. They act as a meaningful compass to guide you through difficult situations. Journals are a potent self awareness tool!

The best day to start a journal was yesterday – then next best is today! 

Why not start one now – you will never regret it!

Empathy

Empathy is the “capacity to understand or share the feelings of another person – that is, the capacity to place oneself in another’s position.”

Recently – in many of the workshops that I have facilitated, empathy has been a frequent topic of discussion in the room.  As a coach and counsellor, it has struck me that empathy is looking on the heart, to seek a deep understanding of the feelings of others. I’ll often ask myself “Where am I listening from?”

Elaine Walton observed – “Because of our unique set of personal experiences, we have been conditioned to look at people from different perspectives. We could all be looking at the same person. Some of us would see the background. Others would see the clothing the person is wearing. And some would notice the facial expression and imagine what the person might be thinking or feeling.”

I have come to understand that I cannot help another person, unless I can recognise how they feel. I have also learned that empathy is important for everyone, not just professional coaches like me. It is a vital ingredient for all positive interpersonal relationships. If we couldn’t at least imagine what it feels like to be in someone else’s shoes, we wouldn’t be able to connect; we would live our lives in isolation.

Five tips for greater empathy –

1. Set aside your own point of view
2. Actively listen
3. Ask yourself – what would you do?
4. Serve others more often
5. Be non-judgemental

How can empathy help you build relationships?

Authenticity

Love her or loathe her, the long-lasting legacy of the Oprah Effect is legendary. Oprah lives and breathes authenticity. For years, everything and everyone Oprah endorsed, was akin to the Midas touch. Let your imagination run riot with me for a moment by applying the Oprah effect to some of our global challenges.

Brexit – Boris Johnson, Michel Barnier, Nicola Sturgeon, Arlene Foster, Jeremy Corbyn and Nigel Farage are all invited to meet Oprah. After some healthy debate, negotiation, hilarity and a potent mix of the Oprah magic – a resolution is miraculously agreed.

Trump – Political persuasions aside; opposites attract. Trump announces Oprah as his running mate for the next Presidential campaign – in utter disbelief the world is stunned! Maybe its Fake News – but no Oprah has received an answer to her prayer and the Oprah effect kicks into play.

North Korea – Kim Jong Un meets Oprah. Missiles cease, sanctions are removed, the world is a safer place.

In a whirlwind world tour, Oprah meets all the other G20 leaders – Climate Change, Pollution, Poverty, Terrorism, Corruption, Famine, Economics and every other global challenge is resolved.

Yes – it’s a stretch of the imagination – but isn’t it great to dream. Authentic leaders dream often of better days ahead. If that’s you, step up – the world needs you NOW!
#business

The Loneliness of Leadership

This image of Theresa May in Brussels a few months ago – sparked a series of memes – poking fun at her lone figure. Reflecting on this image and many others like it, I thought of the terrible loneliness of leadership.

When the chips are down, no matter what other advisers and supporters are around – it is the leader who has to face the world alone. Forget your political colours for a moment, as I watched the demise of Theresa May, I sensed the loneliness of leadership. While watching her, there came to my mind some powerful words (applicable to us all who are in a leadership role) from William Shakespeare: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” (King Henry IV, Part II, act 3, scene 1, line 31)

There is a great loneliness in leadership, the pressure and strain can be overwhelming, but like so many in these challenging roles, you not only have to live with yourself, your conscience and the inner feelings that come, but also the feelings of a nation too. Ultimately, the PM’s demise was inevitable.

As the old joke goes “it might be lonely at the top, but the view is terrific”…well, maybe for a little while.

Top Tips:

– Work with a trusted coach

– Encourage your senior team to speak up and challenge

– Get out and about, listen and get rid of your ego.

Moments

It’s often really surprising what a considerable part very small moments play in our lives.  In the world of work, we’ll probably never remember an entire conference, but will most definitely remember the moment the CEO tripped up on the stage.

“We do not remember days; we remember moments” – Cesare Pavese

For instance, I’ll never forget the moment in this picture when Fawn and Fern aligned perfectly for a split second, just as I had my camera in hand.  Impeccable!

Life holds lots of surprises, doesn’t it?  Life too can be filled with lots of uncertainty, yet frequently surprises will pop up all along life’s path.  Who knows what will exactly happen tomorrow, or where you will be in a few years time, and what you will be doing?  Only a few weeks after this picture, sadly Fawn died with heart failure.  It was a difficult time for all of our family.

Sometimes, course changes in our lives come from unexpected challenges or disappointments. I have learned through experience that we only partially control the circumstances of our life.  Yet, there will be key moments for you that may change the course of your life in a flash.  Such a moment may consist of no more than a look or a simple conversation, an unplanned event perhaps or even an unexpected opportunity.  Moments of truth arrive perhaps when we are being tested, a tough decision has to be made or a crisis has to be faced.

As you reflect upon your own memorable moments, enjoy every one of them, in the grand scheme of things they are the only things we’ll have.  They are also called moments because they don’t last very long, but can stay with us forever.

“Sometimes the moments that challenge us most, will define who we really are……”

Amongst all your moments in life, good, bad, happy and sad, which ones do you recall that were perfectly aligned?

 

 

The inner chimp

What happened to Rory McIlroy? Day 1, destruction +8, Day 2, brilliance -6, how can that be?

Yesterday, I was out golfing for the first time in nearly 2 years. It was a lot of fun. I wasn’t expecting too much – and that was exactly what happened! But I got to thinking about the challenges of what goes on in our thoughts, that directly affect our actions.

In The Chimp Paradox, Dr. Steve Peters illustrates the neuroscience behind the complex inner workings of the brain. According to Peters, we all have three parts to our brains. One being an “inner Chimp,” playing havoc with our rational thoughts and our emotional reactions, in a wrestling match over dominance when under pressure. Our inner Chimp is impulsive, it can impair our actions with self doubt & fear, chattering away in our heads with unwanted thoughts creating inner turmoil and potentially overwhelming the rational brain. When the Chimp is allowed to rule our thinking by having lots of fun, we can self-destruct. Day 1 perhaps? Rory talked about “pressure” with The Open being back in N. Ireland – at the same time holding the course record at Portrush since he was 16 years old.

Overnight – control returns.

Day 2 – The two other parts of the brain, namely the “human” and “computer” kick in and take control. In the human arena, the rational, compassionate and humane Rory resurface, he smiles and jokes with the crowd. Memory banks for reference filled with all sorts of automatic strokes of success kick in, as the computer is switched on again. Rory’s back, but sadly its not quite enough.

How do your thoughts affect your actions?

Patience

So, your patience is wearing thin…..

Perhaps a certain amount of impatience may be useful to stimulate and motivate us to action – do you agree?

“Patience -the ability to put our desires on hold for a time – is a precious and rare virtue. We want what we want, and we want it now. Therefore, the very idea of patience may seem unpleasant and, at times, bitter” – Dieter F. Uchtdorf

However, too often, we are impatient with ourselves, with our family members, friends, work colleagues and other matters. We seem to demand what we want right now, regardless of whether we have earned it, whether it would be good for us, or whether it is right.

Recently, our house sale fell through. It has been a difficult time. Consequently the topic of patience has raised it’s head in our home. Patience isn’t merely waiting, in my mind it means active waiting, enduring, staying with something and doing all that you can, including working, hoping, and dealing with the challenges that arise one by one. It also means accepting that which cannot be changed.

As important as patience is, in my experience we shouldn’t be surprised to discover that our lives are designed to give us many opportunities to develop it.

How can you take the time to develop your patience by being patient?