Tag: MakingPotentialPossible

Curiosity, a key to Leadership

albert-einstein-quotes-curiosity

Yesterday I wrote “Are you an Old or New Paradigm Leader?”, encouraging you to look at whether you are aware of the goldfish bowl you are swimming in, and to look at new ways of leading. However, I also reflected on how difficult it is to see ourselves (and yes, trust me, though I do this for others all the time as their sounding board, I too have my own blind spots around myself and so have my own coaches, sounding boards, trusted advisors!).

This brings me to the theme of curiosity.

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What is your 80 days ?

Mark B ES 2018

On April 26th, I was at Gleneagles for a truly inspirational and world-class day at the Entrepreneurial Scotland annual conference, themed “Global Mindset, Scottish Heart”.

The conference was opened by my friend, the truly inspirational Mark Beaumont, who just over a year ago utterly smashed the round the world cycling record, taking it down 40% to under the mythical “Around the World in 80 Days” level.

Mark taught us a two part lesson.

Mark spoke of two individuals who have asked him for support in breaking another round the world record. He asked them both, separately, “how fast do you think you can do it ?”. They both answered “well, the record is x days, I’ll beat that”. His response to each of them was simple.  “Then, you will fail”.

You see, they had ignored Mark’s first lesson.

That first lesson is to become really clear on who you are and how much you are capable of, to find your own personal best. He speaks from experience. He had stretched himself to the absolute limit in prior endurance adventures. I’d also add that it is a true privilege to have got to know Mark over a number of years. He is truly a massively self-aware and humble leader, and an old soul. An old head on young shoulders would be another phrase. Inspirational !

Knowing who he is and what his ultimate capability was, Mark then set that 80 days target.

The second part of the lesson is then to design and build a plan and then execute it, as if you truly are going to achieve your full potential, your own “80 days”. there will be times when you are at the limit, and you need to stop thinking and simply execute a well thought out plan that you know you can deliver on. To go on automatic pilot when needed.

A famous quote from Mike Tyson is “everyone has a plan, until you get punched in the face”. If I may extend that from what Mark taught us, “everyone has a plan, until you get punched in the face. When you get punched in the face, you need a plan more than ever.”

So… what is your 80 days ?

What is your personal best, your true and full potential ?

If you know that, what then ? What do you need to have in place in order to achieve that potential ?

Writing I Love – We flatten the topography of their lives

topography

I post every Tuesday on “Writing I Love” and every Wednesday on “Movies with Meaning”. Why do I do this on a site with writings themed around leadership ?

As I wrote recently when reworking my home page :

“I write daily posts highlighting various leaders, doers, dreamers, leadership methodologies and related themes that inspire me.

Writing allows me to share thoughts, ideas, insights and wisdom from people I admire, also adding my own ideas and musings synthesized from such inspirations.”

The key phrase there for me is “that inspire me”, and reading and movies often inspire me.

In our busy lives, it is important to leave room for inspiration, whether than be reading, movies, being in nature, being active, talking to friends, listening to brilliant people share their wisdom. Whatever inspires you, do you do as much of it as you wish ? If not, what is lost ?

A key part of leadership is inspiring others, and to do so we must also keep “topping up our tank” ourselves with what inspires us.

So, recently I woke up one lazy Saturday morning , lay in bed and scrolled twitter, then saw a tweet from a thinker, speaker, writer who has inspired me for years, Nilofer Merchant.

(Do watch her TED talk on walking meetings and read “The Power of Onlyness“).

Nilofer had shared an article on Shondaland on “The Sanitized Words of Complicated Women” by Dianca London, talking about how we have reduced the richness of work and human story of the likes of Maya Angelou, Toni Morrison, Audre Lorde to inspirational memes.

In the article, this stunning line leapt off the page at me :

“We flatten the topography of their lives”

I nearly leapt out of bed at the resonant brilliance of that line.

How often do we flatten the topography of our own lives, live a flat life, look to simplify, give the answer “fine” when people ask how we are, etc etc.

Our lives are meant to be lived to the full, letting our light shine, and also being brave enough to look at our shadow, at the fullness and wholeness of life ! Don’t flatten your topography.

As you can see, I am inspired by this one line, this beautiful writing.

I then flow into thinking “what an amazing opening line for a book that would make !”, and then to considering great opening lines.

I’ll give you just one, and it is from one of my absolute favourite books, a masterpiece of magical realism, where one gradually lets go of the need to understand plot, timelines, narrative flow, and simply surrenders to the fantastical magic that flows from the pen of one of the greatest authors we have ever known.

“Many years later, as he faced the firing squad, Colonel Aureliano Buendía was to remember that distant afternoon when his father took him to discover ice.”

Gabriel Garcia Marquez – One Hundred Years of Solitude

Do more of what inspires you !

 

Writing I Love – No Ordinary Moments

Gold coast pool

I took this photo a few days ago at the amazing aquatic centre in Gold Coast, Australia, as one of my sons competed at the Commonwealth Games. A 10,000 seat arena and an amazing lifetime experience for my son. Due to ticketing vagaries I sat on my own in a “nosebleed” seat, quietly absorbing the atmosphere, including the moment when the Australian crowd sang their anthem in unison and from the first note as one of their swimmers was presented a gold medal. #goosebumps.

So, sometimes for my Tuesday “Writing I Love” posts I simply reflect on a line, and at that moment in time it was a phrase from my friend Morgan Da Costa ”

No Ordinary Moments

Now, recently I wrote “No such thing as an original idea” in which I reflected that, although I believe there is indeed no such thing as an original idea, “we are always listening, learning, developing new ideas to develop, extend, evolve ideas.”

With that in mind, several months ago I wrote one of my favourite posts on this site, “Life is Wild and Precious, Be Present“, in which I reference that phrase from Morgan, as well as the beautiful poem “The Summer Day”, which finishes with :

Tell me, what is it you plan to do
with your one wild and precious life?

I wrote that post around six months ago, reflecting in it: “what is it I plan to do with my one wild and precious life ? I have no plan, yet I have an intention to hold every moment as Wild and Precious”.

Where am I six months later ? A lot has evolved, yet one thing does remain constant, and that is a focus on being present, on recognising that there are “No Ordinary Moments”.

I’ve also written a lot around tags such as Presence, Ikigai, Open Leadership around themes in that prior blog, such as reducing busyness, being more present, tuning into our Ikigai, along with writing on presence from amazing humans such as Marina Abramovic, Scilla Elworthy, Gandhi, Mandela and more.

For today, then, let me simply focus on the power of “No Ordinary Moments”.

In our lives, in our businesses, in our leadership, let us always recognise that there are no ordinary moments, every moment we can choose to be present and to imbue with that presence to appreciate where we are.

With that, I give you this view taken around 6am this morning as  I walked at random from my host’s home to listen to the bird song and feel and smell the air just after sunrise.

We then walked to a coffee spot and had the best coffee I think I’ve ever tasted.

First time I’ve seen my friend in at least five years, and may be a while before we see each other again, so we are making the most of it.

There are no ordinary moments.

Brisbane sunrise

 

 

 

Writing I Love – “Life is too short not to do something that matters”

life is too short not to do something that matters

In this particular post series, sometimes the writing I love is a poem, sometimes a business book, sometimes something on personal development, sometimes a favourite novel.

Today it is simply these words, represented graphically in the art of Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void. As I write this, just the other day a Gaping Void daily email featured this classic, along with these words from Hugh :

“What matters” is a strictly personal decision. Only you know. But, as we grow older, it becomes apparent that choices matter and not spending your time in a way that moves you forward, that reveals your aspirational self, is a disservice to you. We all need to own our personal journey.

Even if really, there is no “Ending”. There’s just more negotiation with the infinite. As you grow, your definition of success grows. Like Sisyphus pushing the rock up the hill, only more edifying and if you’re lucky, fun.

Nobody questions that life is too short to do something that matters. The question is, why aren’t more people actually living it.

Seeing this drawing really gave me such goosebumps, as I remembered the magical time of conceiving of and seeing come to full fruition the Leadership Growth Programme (LGP) run through Shirlaws Cayman first in 2013 and then 2014.

At the end of the LGP each participant was given a special acetate block with the “Life is too short not to do something that matters image printed on it.

On several occasions since I have been in the office of an LGP alumnus and seen their block prominently placed to remind them to do something that matters.

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Smashing Paradigms – Legacy Careers

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

Smasher_logo_cracked+black

(c) smasherofficial.com

Last week I wrote “Smashing Paradigms – Why Retire” referencing the work of Chip Conley around changing demographics and the world of work.

Since that post I have been introduced to the work of Lisa Taylor and Challenge Factory of Canada.

chart-career-timelines

Wonderful graphic and wonderful visual demonstration of the changing world of work, from a two phase career to a three stage career.

  • Foundation Career
  • Mid-Career
  • Legacy Career

I particularly love the idea of a “transition with purpose”, indicating a conscious period of reflection, investment and preparation for what is to come next.

This involves smashing several paradigms, and a key one in there for me is shifting beliefs of both employers and employees in businesses such that the “legacy career” phase has both of them wanting to remain “at work” in a way that is purposeful and of value to all.

I look forward to immersing myself further in this space and would love your thoughts, plus any further introductions.

 

Smashing Paradigms – “Stupid Banking Rules”

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

Smasher_logo_cracked+black

(c) smasherofficial.com

 

Today some data to illustrate the issues around UK retail banking customer service, a personal example of how they can be in the paradigm of “we’ve always done it this way”, then an example of how that paradigm can and has been smashed !

First, some data. In November 2017 I went to a presentation by Vernon Hill of MetroBank put on by the Academy for Chief Executives. One key slide which had me laugh and nearly jump out of my seat was on Net Promoter Score. To simplify “NPS“, the score comes from one core question :

“How likely is it that you would recommend our company/product/service to a friend or colleague?”

To simplify, if there is an equal number of promoters and detractors in your client base, your score is 0. If it is negative, you have more promoters than detractors. A company with strong customer loyalty will have a score over 50, those around Zero, well, not good, not good at all !

When Vernon Hill put up the slide comparing the NPS scores for all the banks, the score for Metro Bank (more on them later!) was 78, excellent. THe highest score for any of the other full service retail banks was around 20, with one of them even having a negative score.

The phrase “shooting fish in a barrel” comes to mind !

So, now a story to illustrate the “old” way, then a little on how simple it has been to do it a “new” way.

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Smashing Paradigms – Why Retire ?

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

Smasher_logo_cracked+black

(c) smasherofficial.com

 

Readers in the USA might remember the ING commercial from around 2008 about knowing “Your number” for how much money you would need saved for retirement.

 

The paradigm around our lives that I grew up with in the UK (and that has barely shifted since) looks a little like :

  • Up to around age 21 – be a kid, then learn and prepare for a career
  • 21-65 -work, raise a family, and make sure you save enough money to retire
  • 65 to 71 (when I was born in 1965 in the UK).

So, back then “your number” would only have to be enough to last you six years, though of course chances are you’d also have health issues to deal with before you die, so make sure you have health insurance (well, at least in the UK they have the NHS!).

Now, things have changed radically with life expectancy, health, as well as technology.

Not just “can I afford to retire (umm, likely “no”), but change the frame.

Why retire at all ? (more…)

Smashing Paradigms – Happy Business

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

Smasher_logo_cracked+black

(c) smasherofficial.com

Online retail is on the march, and any walk around a shopping mall in the USA, UK, Canada and other Western nations will show this in terms of closed stores, reduced footfall. The term “retail apocalypse” was common in 2017, as “bricks and mortar” retail continues to struggle.

Within the retail sector, the area that seems the most archaic and doomed to be engulfed by the march to online retail is absolutely “old school” department stores.

However in amongst all of this is one of the most beloved brands in their country of operation, with hugely loyal staff and customers, and this business continues to thrive.

Their secret ?

This.

john lewis happiness

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The Hero’s Journey – be your own hero

1200px-Heroesjourney.svg

In my last article, I wrote about “Emotional Equations – What Makes a Story ?” where someone from the movie industry created an equation that captures the essence of all stories.

This led my thinking to reflection on the Hero’s Journey by Joseph Campbell. Campbell refers to this as the monomyth (a term from James Joyce), referencing that this single myth tells the story of thousand of heros and many of the movies you’ve watched.

Star Wars ? George Lucas was absolutely inspired by the hero’s journey…. (more…)