Archive for February, 2009

Golden Oldies

Saturday, February 28th, 2009

I was driving along the M25 this evening and noticed one of these old Bentley Speed 6’s: as I pulled off about 30 minutes later onto the A3, there it was.  We were next to it and you could hear this huge, powerful throaty growl.  I guess it must have been almost 80 years old and still sounded amazing!  I then realised that I was listening to Chuck Berry ‘Johnnie B Good’ and that is 50 years old and still had its power.

When you build something right, when you give it your heart and soul, it stands the test of time.  I wonder how many of the things we are making today will be around in 50 years and still be ‘doing the business’? 

I think that something special happens when we offer the best of ourselves, whether that be at work or just show up and let ‘our light shine’.  How do you set this kind of example?  How do you create an environment where excellence flourishes?

“Excellence can be obtained if you:
…care more than others think is wise;
…risk more than others think is safe;
…dream more than others think is practical;
…expect more than others think is possible.”

The Eye of God

Thursday, February 26th, 2009

I came across this picture of the Helix nebula, which the Hubble telescope took.  It just makes me feel that God is watching us through this of a dying star. 

We are all watched and judged by those around us; our colleagues, our customers, our staff and our bosses.  Each of them sees only part of what and who we are,  and like the astronomers, they draw inferences and conclusions.  Unlike the scientists, they don’t test these hypotheses, they (usually) just say this is what I observed, so that must be the case…

There is so much scope for misunderstanding and misinterpretation.  Today an on-line friend was apparently a victim of this, but it happens to us all.  We need to constantly be aware of what we are sending out, and what we pick-up from others reactions and ensuring that where possible, we clarify and question, to offer and ask for feedback.

 

“All perceiving is also thinking, all reasoning is also intuition, all observation is also invention.”  Rudolf Arnheim

“They who are in the highest places, and have the most power, have the least liberty, because they are the most observed”  John Tillotson

Resources:

Twittering

Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

On the off-chance that you haven’t yet discovered Twitter, I thought I’d say a few words about it.  First we were told we needed a website, next and relatively recently, we advised to blog, well the next ‘imperative’ is Twitter.  So what is it?  Well it is described as micro-blogging (not that you will be much wiser!)  Imagine if you could only send a text message (like you do do from you mobile); you have only 140 characters so you have to be succinct.  These messages are then sent to everyone who chooses to ‘follow’ you. 

Effectively it is a broadcasting system in real time.  Think of it a little bit like an electronic water-cooler.  You can ask a question, share a thought, article or web page, pass a comment.  It is quick and informal.

So how do you use it?  Well the truth is I am still working that one out, but it enables you to share your expertise an build your brand.  Stephen Fry has over 230, 000 followers, Barack Obama has 320,000+! 

If you want to follow me on Twitter 

I’ll post my experiences here as they may help you to go up the learning curve a bit faster!

Here are some useful guides and resources:

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Wednesday, February 25th, 2009

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Recession – Hit or Myth?

Monday, February 23rd, 2009
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I have had a number of quite contradictory conversations about the impact of the current economic downturn.  One colleague said he was noticing big customers were now impossible to talk to, on the other hand, a couple of my clients are enjoying record results and I have had a number of new enquiries. 

In times of change there will always be winners and losers.  I’m sure that many people will look fondly back on this time as the time when they made their fortunes or picked up some incredible bargains.

Obviously the press is talking up the ‘crisis’, but I’d like to try and gather some real data.  This simple little survey should take no more than 2 minutes of your time and I will publish the results on our site.

Click Here to take SURVEY

Many thanks

Gangs & Governments

Monday, February 23rd, 2009

I was listening to an interesting radio programme (Gangs, Guns & Families) which gave a fascinating insight into this area, as Suzella Palmer & her son talked about the realities of this from their dual perspectives as academic and gang member.

Something that got me wondering was when the son, Zane, was talking about the role of the gang in looking after its people and the need to stay on top that lead to an ‘arms race’ from fists to knives to guns.  It struck me that this is same language and strategy as governments employ.  The odd thing is that whilst we consider one completely legitimate the other is condemned by society.  Another programme was observing the parallels between both extremist Christians and Muslims, both of whom were quite happy to kill others to save their souls!

The thing is that when we judge people, and label them as  something of lesser value, then we make it impossible to communicate with them.  No one wants to be judged and we all fight back against that.  We aren’t all either in governments or in gangs but we all fall into this trap.  If you want to communicate, then you have to set aside judgements and respond to what you experience….

 

“The major block to compassion is the judgment in our minds. Judgment is the mind’s primary tool of separation.“  Diane Berke

“To sit in judgment of those things which you perceive to be wrong or imperfect is to be one more person who is part of judgment, evil or imperfection.”   Wayne Dyer

 

Spring has sprung, the grass has riz

Saturday, February 21st, 2009

As the schoolboy poem says.  We have crocus and snowdrops in the garden, the woods are green with the bluebell shoots and the garden is full of bird-song.  It is hard to believe that we were shivering under a foot of snow a few weeks ago.   (Of course, as this is England, there is plenty of time yet for more blizzards, fog and frost!)

It seems significant amidst all this economic doom and gloom that we also are on the look out for the signs of new growth and remember that the economy is as cyclical as the weather.  In the same way that we have to work with the seasons when we tend tend our gardens, we also have to prepare the ground, plant the seeds and do what is necessary to grow our businesses too.

Ode to Spring

“Spring has sprung,

The Grass has riz,

I wonder where the birdies is?

The little bird is on the wing,

But that’s absurd! 

Because the wing is on the bird!”

Life is a Hall of Mirrors…?

Thursday, February 19th, 2009

I was talking to one my partners and we waxed philosophical.   We were discussing the behaviours of  a mutual acquaintance who was not getting what they wanted from life.  They are someone of undoubted talent and the Universe has dealt them a pretty fair hand and all that is required to be a winner, and yet they don’t seem to be able to get ahead.  Now if we were talking about poker, then we might just say they are a lousy player and should quit.  However when it comes to playing the Game of Life, we are unable to walk away.

We analysed what was going on and it seemed that the core issue was they were saying one thing and actually doing and seeking quite the opposite.  It is a little bit like listening to someone say they want to visit Scotland and keep seeing them drive south.  I’m sure that they are not alone in this, how many of us fail to achieve the things we say we wish to because, deep down, they are not what we really want?  How many people are there who say they want to serve others but actually are more interested in helping themselves, or want to meet someone but never go out, or go out every night and communicate with no one?

I have often come to the conclusion that the true nature of things ( and people) is often the mirror opposite of the surface appearance and wonder if I wouldn’t be more successful if I always inverted my choices and actions.  Somehow I have never been brave enough to to try it…

I’d be very interested to know if any of this resonates with you and what your experiences and observations are.

“If somebody thinks they’re a hedgehog, presumably you just give ’em a mirror and a few pictures of hedgehogs and tell them to sort it out for themselves.”  Douglas Adams

“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.” Warren Buffett

“How we think shows through in how we act. Attitudes are mirrors of the mind. They reflect thinking.”  David Joseph Schwartz

Monkeys have a sense of morality

Wednesday, February 18th, 2009

Frans de Waal, a scientist from Emory University in Georgia has discovered that monkeys and apes have an innate sense of fairness, are prepared to help one another and will do so even when there is no apparent reward.  It is a fascinating study.  It is important because it contradicts previous ideas that morality was solely a human preserve, that it was, in fact, a defining characteristic.

I blogged the other day about the importance of values in corporate decision making.  Our values as individuals have a key function in helping guide our actions.  Unfortunately, if we don’t feel able to act according to our own values this can lead to stress.  It is unfortunate at a personal level, but if one has a general misalignment between the values of the team and business then this leads not only to stress but also to resistance.

If even our primitive cousins have a sense of fair play, then how much more important is it that leaders actions are perceived as fair?  If a decision is at risk of being seen as ‘unfair’ then it is crucial that the leader takes the time to communicate what underpins it so that people can understand his/her rationale.

“I know only that what is moral is what you feel good after and what is immoral is what you feel bad after.”   Ernest Hemingway

“Moral excellence comes about as a result of habit. We become just by doing just acts, temperate by doing temperate acts, brave by doing brave acts.”    Aristotle

Resources:

Galaxy Quest … for real

Tuesday, February 17th, 2009

If you go to GalaxyZoo you can participate in the exploration of the Galaxy.  They are enlisting our support in finding out how galaxies are born.  They work on the basis that there are lots us and they need many pairs of eyes who have a little time to spare.  They have found that non-experts are actually better at spotting new galaxies and interesting patterns than the scientists.  This is because we are innately programmed to look for meaning and spot patterns.  It is part of how we learn to make sense of the world.

We use exactly the same instincts and skills to make sense of our immediate environment.  So when we can’t understand what is going on around us and in particular when we are feeling threatened then we scan for meaning and patterns in the data we can gather.  This is how wives find out that their partner is cheating and how employees are able to see through the corporate gobbledygook and see what is really happening.

This is just one of the many reasons why it is important to send out clear, authentic messages when you are communicating… because people can just tell when you aren’t so it doesn’t serve you.

“There are no whole truths: all truths are half-truths. It is trying to treat them as whole truths that plays the devil.”  Alfred North Whitehead

“Never apologize for showing feeling. When you do so, you apologize for the truth.”  Benjamin Disraeli