Be like water making its way through cracks. Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water.
Last week our first “WhatComesNext.Live” show featured the amazing Mark Beaumont, who shared a number of inspiring actionable insights and ideas (you can see that show on the page link above, plus our upcoming show listings). One thing Mark talked about was about having a goal, but consciously not over-planning it, leaving space for opportunities to arise.
Those who know me well know that, for all my planning and research, sometimes I move and act really fast.
Generally, this serves me well, but there have been times when I’ve tried to “force” things in moving fast. When I do that I can get “a” solution to any problem, one that works, but sometimes isn’t, well, optimal.
So, today, reminded by one of my sons recently of the quote above, I’ll share an anchor that can help us find “the” solution to any problem, rather than “a” solution.
While the very concept of a constraint that enables may feel like a contradiction, creating the right type of constraint can be very powerful.
“What is important is seldom urgent and what is urgent is seldom important.”
Dwight D. Eisenhower
Time and time again I’ve seen clients put off the important work in favour of the urgent.
Important work includes committing time, energy and resources into the areas that will generate the biggest returns over the long term, so logically we should always do the important work first. However, for many reasons, we as humans tend to focus on the urgent.
So, enter the idea of an enabling constraint. While the very concept of a constraint that enables may feel like a contradiction, creating the right type of constraint can be very powerful.
“If you can see radical changes you want to make, make them now, soon.”
Now, if you are ready to make changes, you also see it is key to design, build and implement your strategy for and beyond the “window for change” we are now within.
One example of this is to take this time to completely (yet rapidly and smoothly) re-assess your brand and market positioning. So many businesses have opportunities to embrace new market opportunities and brand positioning is paramount in this!
I do recommend that you move quickly in this “window for change” though, and, as part of your commitment in time and resources to build that strategy and to ensure it is not simply “good”, but “elite”, do as to athletes do and invest in a coach, specifically a specialist Business Strategy Coach.
I have been following Seth Godin and been a subscriber to his daily posts for well over a decade, but it took a long time before I listened to my own voice telling me that daily writing was something for me to do too.
Nearly 1000 daily posts ago, I started on this path and it means and has meant so much to me, with so many learning and growing opportunities coming from it. One of those is WhatComesNext.Live, my new podcast recorded live each Tuesday afternoon.
Thank you Seth, and today I repost another concise piece of his wisdom.
Hearing happens when we’re able to recognize a sound.
Listening happens when we put in the effort to understand what it means.
It not only requires focus, but it also requires a commitment to encountering the experience, intent and emotion behind the words. And that commitment can be scary. Because if we’re exposed to that emotion and those ideas, we discover things we might be avoiding.
I came out with this phrase earlier this week when talking to a client I am working with to make changes to some deeply ingrained ways they run their business. As with so much, those patterns had slowly and gradually evolved over time, but however they happened, they are now “the way things are” and are not best for the business, their staff or their clients.
Why hadn’t they changed? Inertia, humans tend to like structure and dislike change.
However, with the world having been forced suddenly into many changes with Covid-19, as we emerge out of lockdown there are many opportunities to look at doing things differently, often radically different.
But, and it is a big but, when patterns are deeply ingrained, many people will want things to “go back to the way they were before”, so it is key to act fast, hence my thought: “The window for change is closing”
If you can see radical changes you want to make, make them now, soon.
In order to help you with that, let me give you another insight linked to this.
Today is the fifth anniversary of the passing of my greatest mentor in life, Ed Percival. Naming a core page on this site BeMoreYou was done is in his memory.
Ed was a real master of language, so I thought of him yesterday when in conversation with a fellow devotee.
The wise friend I was talking to was reflecting on how sometimes it takes time to change perspectives, views, behaviours. They then reflected on how they had learned over the years of the power of language, then said:
“If you can’t change the lens, change the language”
I paused, felt the power of this, then added that perhaps Ed Percival would have replied:
“When you change the language you use, you will change your lens”
Thank you for continuing to look down upon us, oh Jedi master x
Yesterday I wrote: “Nobody wants to get rich slow“, focussed on what it takes to build something of lasting value. In short, it takes patience as you work on the “source” elements that will build the foundation for the “outcome” you seek.
Later that day, having recently discovered an amazing bicycle service shop in range of where I live, I went to collect my bike from being serviced and having an annoying noise (bike owners may know this phenomenon!) addressed.
I was blown away by the speed, quality and (low) price of the work, but even more so by the passion and drive of the owner of the business.
Hugely busy with the boom in people now cycling in the city, he was able to take a breather when I came to get my bike. I asked him a little about his business, reading that he is now “in a great place, you have lots of choices as to what you do with it now!”.
He agreed, then said: “Yes, and it took ten years to get to this point”
“A cautionary tale for your weekend pleasure”. Language is fascinating, eh? Am sure that title felt like an odd combination to you, perhaps compelling you more than usual to open this particular daily post?
Anyway, today I am on an all-day road trip by car out of London to help someone out, so posting this in advance for you to enjoy on your weekend.
In: “Tim Harford and the secret to creativity“, written back in early 2019, I shared his secret of “slow-motion multitasking”, an idea relevant to our times, as well as my current and “soon come” future offerings. Eventually, I’m going to write a book, but for now, I’m at ~1000 daily posts and soon launching “WhatComesNext.Live“, another outlet I hope is of value to you.
Now, late last year, Tim started a podcast series called “Cautionary Tales”, and he has just brought it back with new stories, with shorter stories focussed on relevance to where we are right now living in, through and beyond the impact of the Covid-19 Pandemic. As of today, he has published two, with, I hope, more to come each week. Each one is also only 25 minutes, so perfect for listening to over a cup of coffee on a Saturday morning.
Always entertaining, always thought-provoking, I encourage you to listen now to the latest from Tim, his podcast: “Cautionary Tales“
WhatComesNext.Live is a podcast recorded and broadcast live. On each show our guest first shares their story, then together we seek to draw out actionable insights, through exploring the intersection of first having the vision to see what comes next, then finding clarity on what is needed to make it happen.
Today marks 89 days of solo isolation, within which I’ve had one or two challenges for sure! However, every challenge is an opportunity to grow and learn and I’ve had more than a few “Lockdown Learnings”.
Out of these learnings, several ideas have emerged, one of which I’d like to tell you about today, “WhatComesNext.Live”.
Although this new show won’t launch for a couple of weeks (we are still fine-tuning a few things!), I love to share stories, so today sharing my process of seeing an idea, developing and launching it. So:
A short and powerful article written in April and published in a Journal in May 2020 from people who know about human behaviour and response to pandemic threats.
When you knew lockdown was coming, did you fill your car up with petrol? I’ve asked that question of many people who live in comfortable ways and areas. None even thought to. Of course, they thought, the petrol stations would stay open. However, ask anybody a Hurricane zone the same question and of course they did, they would always prepare.
Will we learn from this, or go back to our old ways?
Today I’m curating below a short and powerful article written in April and published in a Journal in May 2020 from people who know about human behaviour and response to pandemic threats. A key section:
“We suggest the current pandemic and our collective response to it reveal the contemporary conditions of life, which have been and continue to be defined by gross inequities (Bear 2016). While projections change and responses adapt, the pandemic reveals these are the conditions of life now. This is the pandemic present. It is, as it was.
Today it is not April, we are in mid-June and lockdown is easing. Will we forget the lessons?
At this moment (some) white people around the world are, and truly for the first time, grappling with systemic racism and what it means to be anti-racist.
Almost forgotten in the pandemic apart from wistful mentions of clean air and birdsong, humanity has created a climate crisis and, to date, is still not recognising what needs to be done.
Can humanity not only learn, but truly change? Will moments become movements?
I wonder. I have lived (and lead people) most of my adult life in a country in a Hurricane belt where we always sought to prepare and act, so two weeks before the UK locked down I was loudly and firmly talking about preparing (and amplifying voices that would be heard, to ask, no beg, the government to lock down then). The Government still waited two weeks, at massive cost of lives and to society and the economy.
This is, though, understandable. So many in positions of power and influence live in a world of :
Day to day convenience in city life, of overnight delivery and everything available day to day
Being a white person in a world of white privilege. Enough said.
Having sufficient financial cushioning to air condition your big house, drive your big car(s) and drink your bottled water (oh, but you do recycle those bottles, you do your part for the planet).
To what level is this each of us? To what level will we eventually (or even quickly) drop back into old patterns rather than truly grow and change?
I am always a positive person, yet also someone grounded in reality. Nothing will change unless we choose to change and also encourage others to change. Let us learn lessons from the Pandemic, from the death of George Floyd and upwelling of willingness to be anti-racist, from the awareness and need to address the climate crisis.
As the article below notes, we are in the Pandemic Present. It is, as it was, and yet it seems, more so. Change is literally unthinkable, it is VUCA (Volatile, Unpredictable, Complex and Ambiguous). Those around my age, know we bequeath to our children and future generations a far less stable and certain world. Let us use our privilege, our positions of leadership, let us act from what we have learned.
Now, five hundred or so far more eloquent and expert words than mine:
I’m going to let you into a key psychological trick that coaches use to get inside the head of our clients when they can’t or won’t say what they really think. We ask “so, what do other people think?”, or similar linguist devices that don’t directly ask for their own opinion.
Here’s the thing. When you say what “other people” think, you are really saying what YOU think.
Yes, there are degrees to this, but as you read on, particularly if you are white, there will be a degree to which what you read that makes you uncomfortable. As with my post yesterday, “Be a Point of Light“, please get comfortable being uncomfortable with this.
The example I am going to give again comes from John Amaechi.
John’s example around “what do other people think?” is stark and shocking.