Tag: Share Learnings

Smashing Paradigms – Love of Liminality

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”

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At the start of  December 2017 I wrote “Loss of Control and Growth“, reflecting on the power of getting “comfortable being uncomfortable” and riffing on various examples from different fields.

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Read the Wikipedia definition of the word Liminality below, one that, with our conventional thinking, the paradigm we sit in, we would all tend to want to move through and out of as soon as humanly possible.

What if, however, we learned to Love being Liminal and to have the patience to “sit with” that stage of our lives?  To me that can bring huge value !

Liminality (from the Latin word līmen, meaning “a threshold”) is the quality of ambiguity or disorientation that occurs in the middle stage of rites when participants no longer hold their pre-ritual status but have not yet begun the transition to the status they will hold when the rite is complete.

During a rite’s liminal stage, participants “stand at the threshold” between their previous way of structuring their identity, time, or community, and a new way, which the rite establishes.

Disorientation, ambiguity, with no set identity, outside time or the community you are comfortable with. Feels unsettled and unsettling, yes ? Want to stay there long ? Perhaps not.

For an alternative outlook, let’s start with one of the greatest listeners I have ever met is Nick Isbister. As you would expect, I recommend to all successful people to invest in a coach, and Nick is a great one to consider for a fit for your own needs.

I met Nick as a liminal stage for myself, and he shared this with me around the word “Liminality”, a quote from  anthropologist Victor Turner :

Liminality can perhaps be described as a fructile chaos. A fertile nothingness, a storehouse of possibilities, not by any means a random assemblage but a striving after new forms and structure, a gestation process, a fetation of modes appropriate to anticipating post-liminal existence”

~ Victor Turner – Are There Universals of Performance?

What rich language Turner uses ! Fetation.. from the formation of a fetus.. Fructile… in state to bear fruit.

This language is positive and anticipatory, and I love it !

So, should we smash the paradigms and get comfortable with being liminal, it can have huge benefits for us as humans at all changes in life stages.

If you are a parent of a university student and they want to take a year or two to wander before settling into a career the way you did, perhaps consider, as Tolkien put it, “not all those who wander are lost” and that this time will serve them wonderfully in their life to come.

If you are approaching or in “mid-life”, my first recommendation is to follow Chip Conley, a leader I would follow anywhere and who is leading thought and action on the concept of the Modern Elder. A key focus for those investing in themselves at this stage is to embrace their own liminality.

Now, to conclude, let me take this out into a broader sense from the individual to organisations at a stage of liminal change, or stretch further to society, nations, global shifts.

Back to the next paragraphs of the Wikipedia definition of liminality first :

“Usage of the term has broadened to describe political and cultural change as well as rites. During liminal periods of all kinds, social hierarchies may be reversed or temporarily dissolved, continuity of tradition may become uncertain, and future outcomes once taken for granted may be thrown into doubt. The dissolution of order during liminality creates a fluid, malleable situation that enables new institutions and customs to become established.”

Read that carefully and then consider where our world is now, with leaders taking us down a dark and fearful path such as Trump, May, Orban, Erdogan, Le Pen, Duterte and, it seems, so many more.

The world is in a liminal change. Instinctively we want to exit from this as soon as possible, yet perhaps we need to sit with it (at a macro level) longer and be ready for the fetation, the fructile chaos, to allow the world and society to gestate before emerging into a truly transformed post-liminal state.

Earlier this week I wrote: “How do you build a movement? Patiently“. For lasting and truly transformative change to occur, whether for an individual, a business, a government, a society, this takes time and patience.

Let us allow ourselves to “get comfortable being uncomfortable”, then transform that to a positive, to “love being liminal” !

 

 

How do you build a movement? Patiently

A moment of humour to begin. I came up with the title of this post inspired by an old joke :

Q : How do hedgehogs make love?

A : Very, very carefully

So, how do you build a movement for systemic change? I believe that the answer remains, even in this fast-changing world…..very, very patiently.

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This picture is of a Jaeger Le Coultre watch. This company has created over a thousand different calibres, or another type of “movement” for their watches over more than a century. Luxury timepieces like this will never go out of style as they represent patience and quality.

So, back to the subject. why do I believe transformational movements require great patience?

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Smashing Paradigms – Stop thinking your way to decisions!

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”

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As leaders, whether we do this ourselves, in collaboration with others, or by creating an environment for the right questions to be asked and answered, we are responsible for solving problems.

However, in all my experience, we only use one part of our human ability to solve problems, and that is by THINKING.

What if, as per the quote above, we recognise instead that at least as large a part of our ability to process information comes from FEELING?

Reiki masters can tell us, from thousands of years of practice passed down from generations of masters, that so much more energy is generated, processed, emanated from our heart and other energy centres than our rational mind.

In more modern times, science is beginning to catch up with the wisdom of the ancients, so neuroscientists are now able, more and more, to confirm such wisdom with their evidence-based analysis.

To go one level further, I will also put to you that we don’t separate THINKING and FEELING in processing and solving problems, instead we integrate them. (more…)

Diversity and Culture – a lesson from an elite sport

“Culture isn’t just one aspect of the game, it is the game” ~  Lou Gerstner

What can leaders learn from pro athletes? After all, elite professional athletes are known to be paid stupefying amounts, be full of ego, selfish, etc etc etc.

Except…perhaps not…read this closing to a lengthy, passionate and erudite open letter written by a superstar player who has earned well over $100m in his career and felt to come to the defence of someone in that sport, that league. In this, he stands up for diversity and for the feeling of family. You can sense his pride and passion.

Can you guess the sport and the league? : (more…)

Are you an Old or New Paradigm Leader?

Who's next?

Leadership is the overarching theme of my writing on this site.

As part of this, I write every Friday an article on “Smashing Paradigms“, looking to challenge my own thinking and to be of support to you in the same way.

First, for clarity on the word Paradigm, please read my article on “What is a Paradigm“, though to put it concisely, a paradigm is a set of unconscious beliefs, a goldfish bowl we don’t know we are swimming in (see the base of this article for a beautiful expression of this).

Today I feel the need to pause and once again reflect on old and new paradigms of leadership, as another expression of being stuck in a paradigm is “we’ve always done it this way”. I refer to Old and New Paradigms as leadership is so entrenched in society and business that we somehow seem unable to see the need for change, and even that we can change.

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Smashing Paradigms – the less time you take, the more you can charge

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”

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Say what? huh? What is Tom talking about today?

“the less time you take, the more you can charge”

Over the last two days, I have talked about inspiration from Ben Hogan and Michael Jordan, two all-time greats in their sports of Golf and Basketball.

Both were athletes who not only practised more than anyone else, but they did it mindfully, always with a focus on improvement, or “Deliberate Practice“.

Malcolm Gladwell has a hypothesis called the 10,000 hours rule, broadly that it takes that amount of practice time to become a true master of any skill.

Combine such a huge amount of practice with that being “deliberate practice” and that mastery is of huge value. (more…)

Michael Jordan: I failed, that is why I succeed

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I love this quote from Michael Jordan, as it speaks to “Deliberate Practice”, a topic I wrote about yesterday, focusing on golf and Ben Hogan, as well as looking to prompt readers to consider where they are deliberate in what they do, whether it be in their personal life or at work, in what they do personally or what they guide and lead their people to do.

So, to “MJ” or #23″. Oh, and I’ll come back to that quote at the end of this post to reflect on perhaps his greatest success. (more…)

Ben Hogan: Deliberate Practice

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The summer I was 15, the weather in the Scottish Borders was beautiful (so my memory tells me!). That year I got the “bug” to play golf. Junior membership was almost free and I rode my bike to the club with an old “half set” of clubs and spent all day there most of the summer. All that time I had with me a very old copy of this book by Ben Hogan, first published back in 1957.

Ben Hogan was one of the greatest golfers of all time and was known to practice more than any of his contemporary golfers. He is said to have “invented practice”. Hogan himself said, “You hear stories about me beating my brains out practising, but… I was enjoying myself. I couldn’t wait to get up in the morning so I could hit balls. When I’m hitting the ball where I want, hard and crisply, it’s a joy that very few people experience.”

Hogan believed anybody, through “deliberate practice”, could “break 80”, which in plain English means to become a good golfer. So what do we mean by deliberate practice(more…)

Wait overnight before replying

**first a note..historically I have posted “Writing I Love” posts on Tuesdays, and “Movies with Meaning” posts on Wednesdays. Effective this week, I’m iterating a change. My writing and movie posts will continue, simply on weekends, leaving Monday to Friday for evolving in my usual eclectic way my themes and posts around #OpenLeadership 

keep calm and just wait

What if you waited at least overnight to reply to all your emails and messages?

What Tom? Are you crazy?  I can’t do that!

Really? Yes… (more…)

Smashing Paradigms – from Patron to Patreon

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”

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Last week’s Smashing Paradigms column was titled: “your Comfort Zone is no longer safe..wait, what?“. In it I wrote:

“What if, however, taking the comfortable option of a regular job is riskier than starting your own business? What if comfortable is no longer safe….”

I then quoted Seth Godin:

Be an Artist, and Make Art!

“It’s simple. There’s still a safety zone, but it’s not in a place that feels comfortable to you.
The new safety zone is the place where art and innovation and destruction and rebirth happen.”

“Oscar Wilde wrote that art is “new, complex, and vital.” Art isn’t something that’s made by artists. Artists are people who make art. Art is not a gene or a specific talent. Art is an attitude, culturally driven and available to anyone who chooses to adopt it. Art isn’t something sold in a gallery or performed on a stage. Art is the unique work of a human being, work that touches another.”

Seizing new ground, making connections between people or ideas, working without a map. These are works of art, and if you do them, you are an artist, regardless of whether you wear a smock, use a computer, or work with others all day long.”

Now, what happens, you may ask, if nobody recognises the commercial value of your Art? How do you eat as an artist working without a map?

What if an idea from the Renaissance could be reworked for our crowdfunding times to fill that gap innovatively? Well, it has happened.  (more…)

Smashing Paradigms – your Comfort Zone is no longer safe..wait, what ?

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”

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Banks don’t like to take risks, so they lend money and make sure they have security and are first paid if something goes wrong, but they don’t make high returns on their loans

Entrepreneurs hold the equity in a business, so when it works they get the high returns, but if it doesn’t they are last in line to be paid.

So, Entrepreneurs first need to see an opening, a gap in the market, but they must also be risk takers, they must have a high tolerance for risk.

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In fact, if your risk profile is less than 6 out of 10 on an online risk indicator I’ve had many people take, I advise them to NOT try being an entrepreneur. They are too risk-averse.

So far, so normal, yes? Nothing new here.

What if, however, taking the comfortable option of a regular job is riskier than starting your own business? What if comfortable is no longer safe… (more…)

You can’t pour from an empty cup

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A recurring theme for me is to encourage leaders to support themselves, to be aware of their energy and what they need to perform optimally.

As flight attendants announce on every flight: “In the event of a loss of cabin pressure… first put the oxygen mask on yourself, then help those around you”.

Another way of putting this is “you can’t pour from an empty cup”. Please have the awareness of how full your cup is, and as I advised in a recent post, “drink before you are thirsty“, don’t let that cup get empty.

The three line job description I use for leaders is :

  • Set and hold the Context
  • Manage the Energy
  • Coach, Don’t Play

That “Manage the Energy” role is about what you as a leader bring to your team in aligning them, energising them activating them, motivating them and more.

However, in order to “Manage the Energy”, you must first ensure you drink before you are thirsty, that you manage your own energy and put on that oxygen mask for yourself.

This week I have been at the amazing Modern Elder Academy in Baja Mexico. The visionary leader of this is Chip Conley, who is an amazing leader. I’ve been around so many over the years, all I would say is that I would follow this man anywhere. If he said jump, I’d only ask him to tell me how high to jump!

Still, one thing Chip owned this week is how tired he is from running about two months in a row of workshops at a place which is also his home, whereas one group leaves each Sunday morning, another one arrives that afternoon. Chip has been masterful at managing his own energy, and at the same time… wow.. back to back to back to back. This is a beta test of the Modern Elder Academy, and one learning is that when it goes live, for all the team managing and leading it, they will run a programme which allows the team to manage their energy, to fill their cup. That way they can keep filling up their cup so as to be at their absolute best always for those they choose to lead, to serve.

Drink before you are thirsty, as you can’t pour from an empty cup.

In closing, I also want to express my deep appreciation for Chip, Jeff, Christine, Carla, Tony, Saul and all the team at Modern Elder Academy. I leapt at the opportunity to come to Baja, my cup is absolutely overflowing. Deepest thanks.

Smashing Paradigms – Drink before you are thirsty

Latest in the 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 “we’ve always done it this way”

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This week I am feeling more privileged than ever as I am in Baja as a participant at the beta of the Modern Elder Academy.

Chip Conley is beginning a movement to change the way we look at ageing and the value our “Modern Elders” do, can and so will have for humanity at all ages and stages.

Inspired by the environment (see yesterday’s post on “Change your environment, change your outcomes”) today I give you my riff on and exercise on “five things you, as a Modern Elder, would like to share with Millennials that they could do that would make a big difference for their future lives”.

I thought particularly here of of young adults in their early 20s and the paradigms of our society. Get an education, choose a profession, choose an industry, narrow things down, get on the career track.

Consider that societal guidance, and also please consider my advice from my own experience. It is heartfelt. I title my guidance :

Drink before you are thirsty

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In cycling in hot climates, cyclists all carry water bottles, but it takes experience to learn to drink before you are thirsty. You can carry on riding at high speed and high effort and be dehydrated and so lose performance long before your body tells your brain you are thirsty.

So, don’t wait until you recognise you need to do these five things, do them now, or at least soon, Trust me, you’ll benefit immensely.

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Change your environment, change your outcomes

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Nice view, wouldn’t you say ?

How about this eight second video to give you a fuller sense, including the sound of the surf on the beach.

This stunning location is where this week I have had the awesome privilege to be part of the beta test of the Modern Elder Academy, the brainchild of Chip Conley, who regular readers know is a leader who truly inspires me.

Chip and the team have created an amazing environment designed at all levels to create a space for transformative change for participants.

The home page of this site talks about elevating, about seeing our potential and bravely creating and achieving brave and transformative change.

This week, through the programme, the facilitators, the “compadres” in the cohort supporting each other, I have again and again been witness to profound and powerful changes in participants that will see them go back to their lives and make even deeper impact for themselves and others.

I am a participant this week too, and this has absolutely applied to me too, and I am so grateful to Chip and absolutely everyone here for that too !

So, back to environment, which is one element to the secret sauce of the “MEA” experience.

The physical environment is the start, it is absolutely stunning and world class. The next layer is a cohort aligned around the powerful message and vision in the book Wisdom at Work. Cohort members in the beta read an advanced version of the book, you can buy your copy now as a pre-order (published September 2018). Also, stay tuned to this site for more news on when the Modern Elder Academy opens applications to the public for education programmes in the autumn and winter of 2018.

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Beyond the physical environment, the cohort themed around the Modern Elder book (and the movement this will create), the curriculum has been patiently fine tuned over the five month long beta test by the amazing faculty, However, beyond ALL of that, I wont give away specifics, but the Culture of the MEA is astonishing and truly abundant in being of service to participants and a broader and expansive vision for humanity.

In such a carefully and lovingly created environment, I and the other cohort members have all had incredible experiences, and again I am deeply grateful.

Change your environment, change your outcomes.

Please consider what changes you can make in your own environment to change your own outcomes.

You may not go to Baja, but a few ideas :

  • Who do you spend time with ? Be around a tribe that inspire you to aspire to more
  • Are you happy with your work environment ? If not, what can you do to change that ? Do you need to develop where you are to create change or perhaps have the bravery to leave and go to your next challenge ?
  • What about your physical body ? Happy with your energy, your shape ? strength ? resilience ? All too often we ignore that and it impacts our performance ? How intentional are you around what you eat, your exercise, sleep ?

So much more you can consider, these are a start for you.

Power of positive language – Hamba Kahle

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As I prepared to go on a trip recently, a friend said to me “Hamba Kahle”.

I had no idea what it meant. It is Zulu for “go well” and you say back “Sala Kahle” or stay well.

I love it.

I can only imagine the resonance when Mandela died of “Hamba Kahle, Madiba”.

Language is so powerful, and positive language too.

In my work with leaders, I am very conscious of language, mine and theirs, and always encouraging people to frame language positively. Energy management is so vital as leaders, and the choice to use positive language is a simple one to make to support energy across a business, organisation, movement.

Whether or not one is a believer in or proponent of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming), it does bring strong awareness of the power of language, and for that alone, I encourage you to gain at least some grounding in NLP. I was fortunate to sit at the feet of a master of NLP and of language, Ed Percival, and have picked up many learnings from him.

Oh, and back to me going on that trip. Have you noticed how people automatically say to you “have a safe flight”? The sentiment is positive, yet the language tends to make me think “funny, I had no intention of having an unsafe one”. I much prefer “go well”, and love the term for flying and for life’s journey in general.

So, Hamba Kahle to you now and always.

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