Archive for March, 2015

Four lessons from our self-talk: lesson 4

Monday, March 30th, 2015

Lesson 4:  “What would people think?”

We all live inside invisible walls constructed by our society, we are self-policing to the degree that we care and worry about what others would think and this has its positives.  However, often it constrains us in ways that limit us.  We judge ourselves and project that judgement on others.  We limit ourselves in ways that don’t serve us.  Perhaps better questions are:-

  1. What would those who really love me think about this?
  2. Just because I haven’t done it before is that a reason for not trying it?
  3. Do I care what …. thinks of me?

Marcus Aurelius once said “It never ceases to amaze me: we all love ourselves more than other people, but care more about their opinion than our own”  Stepping out of our comfort zone is risky and we can try to ‘stay safe’ by limiting our options to those which keep us in the same old place.

Four lessons from our self-talk: lesson 3

Monday, March 23rd, 2015

Lesson 3: “They are smarter than me” or “I couldn’t do that

We often feel like this or say it ourselves and others and guess what?  Sometimes it is even true.  Of course there are more talented or more intelligent people out there; we can’t all be Stephen Hawkings or Bob Dylan!  However, the good news is we don’t need to be.  We just have to be the best us we can be and we are all different.  We often envy others gifts but tend to depreciate our own ones.  I’d love to be able to be able to really play the guitar but after years of trying had to acknowledge I’d never be Clapton or even the busker in the underground!  However, there are some things I find easy and natural that others equally can’t do. 

However, we can expand our repertoire, we can grow our skills base or our mastery of those we already have.  Sometimes though we hide behind comments like “I couldn’t do that” for fear of failure (see lesson 1).

If you actually feel that this is something you wish to invest effort in, ask “What is the first step to learning….?” and then take that!

Four lessons from our self-talk: lesson 2

Thursday, March 19th, 2015

Lesson 2I  don’t like them (or that)

When you hear yourself saying or thinking this you should pause and ask:-

What exactly is it that you don’t like about them?

  1. Does something they do remind you of yourself?  Perhaps something you don’t much like?
  2. Does what they do or who you perceive them to be remind of someone else? 
  3. Do you not like them because you envy them?
  4. Are they ‘making’ you feel in the shade?

The thing is our perceptions tell us as more about ourselves and how we see our world as they do about the other person.  We label people, often on little real evidence and the don’t bother to re-evaluate these judgments.  If someone is too like us we often see them as potential rivals, but perhaps they could become friends and allies?

We all have comfort zones which we are reluctant to step outside and let ourselves be challenged, it is easier to say “I don’t like that..”  We maybe right, but if we aren’t what new doors could be opened to us, what new pleasures could we enjoy?

Four lessons from our self-talk: lesson 1

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

Lesson 1I can’t do that or “I’m too lazy

When you hear yourself utter or think either of these phrases you need to pause and reflect.  It is easy to say them in a self-depreciating way and think you are joking, but it is worth asking what is really behind this convenient cop-out.  Ask yourself:-

  1. Why don’t you want to do this?
  2. What are you seeking to avoid?
  3. What would happen if you tried and failed?
  4. What is the worst that could happen?
  5. What is the next actionable step?
  6. What are you doing that is more important?
  7. What would you gain by doing this?

It maybe it is perfectly sensible to choose not to do it, but if that is the case, say so, it is much more empowering.  And take a moment to explain your choice. 

It has been said, if you want something doing, give it to a busy man (or woman!)  The (kinda) converse of this is the quote mistakenly ascribed to Bill Gates “I choose a lazy man to do a hard job, because a lazy person will the easy way to do it” and I can relate to this as I always look for the easy way to achieve a task, and have always explained as due to my loathing of hard work!

Some thoughts on measurement

Monday, March 9th, 2015

I have often told my clients that whilst it is crucial to measure the things you want to change, you also need to be careful what you measure (and how you measure it.)  Think about the experience in the National Health Service, it is an object lesson of how not to do it.  They decided to improve efficiency by introducing professional managers and measurement systems.  Years later we find that people are being discharged prematurely to ensure that the turnover numbers meet target. 

Regular readers will know that know that I set myself a target of losing weight and getting in better shape (literally).  I found a key tool was using data to track what I was eating; my daughter suggested I try My Fitness Pal, which I found very helpful.  I had been a rather unaware of the calorific content of some of my eating habits.  It also allows you to track exercise, which was another strand of my regimen.  I found myself making better decisions because I knew the consequences of my choices, and the fact that I was recording what I was doing kept me on track.

I bought a Samsung Note 4 before Xmas that has a fitness monitor built in that measure the steps you take amongst other things, and I also found that both motivated and slightly shamed me.  It was more data but it didn’t talk to my other data sets, so recently I invested in a fitness tracker.  I have tried both the Misfit Flash and the Jawbone Move (which I will probably review a little later).  They are relatively basic as these things go now, but I felt this was all I required at present.  They do feed into My Fitness Pal and now I have one dashboard of my goals and progress. 

It is true that there are many things I am not measuring, like perhaps the my investment in terms of both time and money (although I could if I wanted), but these things are not crucial in my life.  You will make progress in the areas that you attend to and this whole process is part of keeping my goals in the front of my mind so I am less likely to be diverted.  If you are embarking on a Change project, you need to monitor and review the key factors, discuss them and you will make progress

It’s all in the mind… Only it isn’t!

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

This a useful TED talk by Dr Guy Winch.  He is a psychologist who is worth a listen.  He sensibly posits the thought that despite all the evidence that mental issues affect our physical state and health, we constantly ignore them.  Young children are schooled in the importance of looking after their bodies, but we tend to ignore psychological wounds, simply because we can’t see them. People will happily offer the ‘advice’ (especially here in the UK where we are still great believers in the ‘stiff upper lip’!) “Snap out of it!  It’s all in your head..” even though life is essentially a subjective experience in a unique self-created reality.  Imagine how daft it would seem to offer similar advice to someone who had broken their leg, “Walk it off… it is all in your leg!”

Failure, rejection and loneliness are all subjective judgments and states and they materially affect our quality of life, our health and our performance.  A little time listening to someone, taking them seriously, not trivialising their self judgements might be the best investment you can make as both a human being and a boss or co-worker.

9 signs of a really good company culture

Monday, March 2nd, 2015

This blog is adapted from Fairness is Overrated: And 51 Other Leadership Principles to Revolutionize Your Workplace by Tim Stevens.

When I first heard the phrase “company culture” it was over 20 years ago, and I was working for a global  pharma corporation whose cultures mainly produced yeast!  Back then few people, including me, would have known what it meant.  I was told it was “The way things get done around here” and I still like that definition as it is based on what really happens not on the aspirational phrases used in the company values, it is realpolitik.

What you notice in your work place tells whether you have a healthy culture or not.

  1. People want to join you.  Not because you are paying more but because of who you are and your reputation.
  2. Similarly, you don’t lose many people other than for good reasons, like pregnancy, promotion, retirement etc.
  3. The leader isn’t defensive and protecting his/her power, rather  he/she encourages others to lead.
  4. Leadership comes from all levels in the team, not just those in positions of power
  5. The team feels good about what they do, and believe in and understand their ‘mission’
  6. People know and feel that they matter and they are smiling
  7. They are happy to speak their minds and unafraid of making mistakes.  A good team must make mistakes and learn from them.
  8. There is good communication, upwards, downwards and sideways, but gossip is not needed or tolerated
  9. Change is normal and not something to be feared.  It isn’t just driven from the top but evolutionary