Yesterday at 4 pm UK time (8 am on the West Coast), as we have done every week since returning from the Modern Elder Academy in April 2018, our cohort from that week met for a “Zoom circle”.
4pm. Every Tuesday. For an hour. A circle simply for each person to share and for everyone to silently sit, to listen, to be present. The circle has met every single week. Yes, each of us misses a week or two from time to time, but the circle has always met each week.
I don’t do deadline-based work. But there is one piece of deadline-based work I do continue to do. This blog.
Sometimes inspiration comes and I schedule posts days in advance, most of the time I write them the night before, sometimes first thing in the morning. Today’s daily post is going out around 6pm UK rather than the usual 8am.
Clearly today I needed to wait for specific inspiration from today’s weekly WhatComesNextLive show at 5pm UK, with this week’s guest, Rob Poynton, certainly providing lots of it.
One nugget I share here. During our conversation I said:
“I don’t do deadline-based work”
So, after the live stream had finished and we kept talking to ourselves on Zoom, Rob was very taken with me coining that phrase, then observed, quoting his friend Nick Parker:
“By naming something into existence, you immediately make it visible”
This lead Rob and I into a whole new realm of discussing both deadline-based and non deadline-based work, as well as behaviours around this from leaders.
I’ll leave this with you to muse for yourself.
Oh, and I am smiling. There is one piece of deadline-based work I do continue to do. This blog. Every day, always, over 1,000 daily posts to date. Hmm.
“..who rotated between projects over the course of decades. His article “Biographical Sketch of an Infant”, inspired by his baby son, was published in time for William’s 38th birthday. On the Origin of Species was legendarily long in the making, in part because Darwin simultaneously spent nearly 20 years working on creepers and insectivorous plants. His book on earthworms took 44 years to come to fruition. All these projects were completed in parallel.”
So, for my own slow motion writing of a book, what is the learning here, ie what is my point? Let me tell my story first, then share what I feel the learning is.
At the top of the Writing page on my site, it says: “I get my best ideas from listening to people”. Over the last few years, high on that list of people to listen to is Ben Brabyn, our regular meetups have always been high points in my diary. Always inspirational, they feel a lot like “mutual mentoring” as we listen to each other and bring forth ideas together.
I’m also a student of leadership in multiple arenas, with military leadership being one such field. This week Ben posted on LinkedIn:
Here’s what I’ve learned listening to hundreds of veterans from private soldiers to 4 star generals over 20 years.
How leaders win the hardest battle – for legitimacy and cohesion.
This then linked to a guest article on ERP:
I encourage you to read the whole piece, it is full of wisdom. Here I simply give you the conclusion:
COVID-19 is not the fault of businesses, but it has exposed fault lines in our communities that we must fix, and if businesses are not seen as part of the solution, they will be punished for being part of the problem.
Now is a time for commercial leaders to become champions of cohesion, and to adopt the tradition of leadership embedded in the motto of the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst – ‘Serve to Lead’.
Confirmation Bias is one of the numerous types of Cognitive Biases or Heuristics (mental shortcuts) that formed the core of the work of Kahnemann and Tversky.
So, as I’ve written about lately, I’m currently looking to buy a house in the London area. I was all set this week to get a mortgage from my bank here in the UK as I “ticked all the boxes” in their words.
One last step, though, was that they had to check if it was ok with the bank risk underwriters that my income comes from my Cayman Islands company. This was nothing to do with the nature of income, they had already reviewed my Cayman corporate documents and tax filings in the UK. No, this was simply about the country the income coming from being the Cayman Islands.
You guessed right, the answer was “computer says no” to Cayman.
Let’s talk about why, and why it was due to Confirmation Bias.
If you don’t adapt to the shape of the day it makes everyday life and work a struggle. Looking at ways we will do things differently.
I currently live in a lovely loft apartment in London, flooded with natural light all day. A great place to work, except on the rare occasions when the temperatures in summer creep up to or over 30c. When that happens, my computer literally overheats when I try to run video calls, so, whenever I can, I simply block out the diary for two hours in the hottest part of the afternoon.
What? You take time off in the middle of the day? How strange!
Well, not if you are Spanish and are used to the idea of siesta, or from anywhere in the world where it is really hot and there is no air conditioning (or simply that the culture remembers a time before it existed), or even these three lionesses conserving energy in the shade.
“Innovation is simply doing things differently and doing different things” is my definition of the “I” word.
Adapting to the days, the seasons, to different constraints (such as on-again, off-again Covid-19 constraints), these are among the themes in the latest blog from the “master of pause”, Rob Poynton, in which he muses on the idea of “adapt to the shape of the day”, looking at ways we will do things differently and do different things.
If you are leading long-established organisations, sometimes it takes longer to change, sometimes it takes more effort.
When I was competing in sports in my teens and twenties, if I needed to get fitter or stronger, I could do it quickly. If I was injured, even a significant injury, I bounced back fast. If I needed to maintain my fitness at one level, I could not only do it easily, but I could also be pretty lazy and do so.
Now, in my mid-50s, to get fit and strong takes more time, both in terms of exercise time and recovery between sessions. If I am injured, particularly a significant one, it can take months or more to fully recover. I do need to at least maintain my fitness, but to do so I can’t be lazy or the drop off in fitness is fast and radical.
I was musing on this today as I worked out with my Pilates trainer, our third weekly session back since several months off for lockdown. I adore Pilates, having started doing it in my mid 40s, aware that men of that age need to shift from aerobic to anaerobic fitness due to losing muscle mass as we age. Pilates not only maintained my strength, but built upon it, all the while with awareness, patience and subtelty. Subtle? Yes. Try telling the 20 year old me pounding weights in the gym that, in Pilates, the less resistance I work with, if I exercise correctly, the harder I work my muscles.
I could “crowbar” this into lots of metaphors for leadership and business, but let me use only one.
If you are leading long-established organisations, sometimes it takes longer to change, sometimes it takes more effort than then the business was “younger” to maintain “fitness” without it degrading.
However, as an experienced leader, you can bring all of your knowledge, patience and awareness to the process, knowing that “sometimes it takes longer”.
This morning I was dropping into a “trough of disillusionment” for two different reasons. One reason was personal to me, one more global.
The curve above is something the research company Gartner uses to interpret hype around new technologies and begins with an “innovation trigger”.
Innovation can involve technology but doesn’t have to. My own definition of innovation:
Innovation is simply doing different things and doing things differently
Today I feel to apply the Hype Cycle curve not to Products (as Gartner does), but to our own experience of various changes, innovations and how our responses to them may change over time. In particular, to our experience, as we move through the Covid-19 Pandemic.
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.