Tag: Smashing Paradigms

Seeing gaps and learning from others

This was me posting en route back from Paris to London with my boys. (please forgive the autocorrect typo of lived to loved!)

Boston to New York is 215 miles city centre to city centre. It takes 3hr 46min by train for an average speed of 57mph

LA to San Francisco is 382 miles. There are no regular trains.

Edinburgh to London is 403 miles. It takes 4hr 17min by train for an average speed of 94mph.

Paris to London is 291 miles. It takes 2 hrs 25 minutes by train for an average speed of 120mph.

Oh, and that includes GOING THROUGH A TUNNEL UNDER THE ENGLISH CHANNEL!

I can imagine tourists from California to Paris on the Eurostar wondering why there are no trains between the two major cities in their state.

This post is not focussed on answering that question, it simply shows the difference between some of the major countries in the world on a matter as seemingly basic as transportation between major cities.

No, the title of the post is seeing gaps and learning from others. (more…)

How clean are your communications?

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image from a SlideShare deck from OneFish TwoFish called

“How to communicate values without telling people to ‘live the values’ “

So, yesterday I wrote: “Be rid of Brilliant Jerks“. I didn’t say “Fire your Brilliant Jerks”.

So, how can you be rid of brilliant jerks without firing them, particularly in this world where hiring and firing can be a minefield laden with so much employee legislation, policies, procedures, protocols?

My answer? Lead your organisation rigorously based on values (ie where values are not just words framed on a wall or on a website!), then brilliant jerks will leave of their own volition, you won’t need to fire them.

In fact, keep reading my daily posts, as I’m going to keep riffing around this as feel like I’m on a role, and coming soon will be a post on “no fire” policies and companies that have successfully put this at their core. (more…)

Kintsukuroi – Leadership Lessons

Kintsukuroi

Continuing a theme from this week’s post “Beautiful words bring dimensions of meaning“, today considering the Japanese art of Kintsukuroi and lessons that leaders can learn from it.

So many entrenched organisational paradigms look to avoid breakdowns, mistakes, even to pretend they didn’t happen.

At a human level, we are the sum total of all of our experiences and the cracks and breaks that we repair are part of our uniqueness in and for the world. (more…)

Stretch but don’t break – and watch Nanette

“A leader is someone others choose to follow” ~ (me)

People follow leaders who are “keepers of the vision” and who create and maintain a space where people feel inspired and also stretched to be their best to be part of achieving that vision.

What if, however, a leader stretches things too far? It is always a risk, and should you stretch too far, the container, the space, can be broken and you can lose your audience.

So, who can leaders learn from who do this masterfully? Who stretch but don’t break that bond with their audience, their followers ?

Yes, many business, political, societal leaders. Who else? Actors and Comedians. (more…)

When you change the way you see things….

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“When you change the way you see things….the things you see change”

~Dr Wayne Dyer

Each week I typically have at least ten 1:1 meetings, some with clients, some with mentees, some with new people, some with longtime friends, colleagues, past clients.

This past week, one recurring theme was “flipping paradigms”.

I talk about “smashing paradigms” regularly here on this site, with examples where often things are radically different.

Sometimes, though, all it takes to support someone with a shift is to “flip”, to look at things from a different, or even opposite angle.

Read on for an example, and also for a couple of fun “flips” related to the phrase from Dr Wayne Dyer. (more…)

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” !

 

 

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…)

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 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.  (more…)

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 practiced 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…)

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 MORE risky 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.

entrepreneur-definition

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 MORE risky than starting your own business ? What if comfortable is no longer safe…. (more…)

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

drink-before-you-are-thirsty

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.

(more…)

Smashing Paradigms – Procrastination as a Good Thing

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 a writer, occasionally I face the “blank page”.

This blog is inspired by my friend and brilliant business coach Jacob Aldridge, who I chatted with at one such “blank page” moment, including noting to him the power of the book “The War of Art” by Stephen Pressfield, a book that David Kirkaldy introduced to me and that I’ve since recommended to countless people as a great support in how to address procrastination.

Jacob then gently guided me to a 2005 essay by Y Combinator founder Paul Graham titled “Good and Bad Procrastination“, in which Paul smashes the paradigm that procrastination is a “bad” thing.

He opens his essay with :

“The most impressive people I know are all terrible procrastinators. So could it be that procrastination isn’t always bad?

Most people who write about procrastination write about how to cure it. But this is, strictly speaking, impossible. There are an infinite number of things you could be doing. No matter what you work on, you’re not working on everything else. So the question is not how to avoid procrastination, but how to procrastinate well.

There are three variants of procrastination, depending on what you do instead of working on something: you could work on (a) nothing, (b) something less important, or (c) something more important. That last type, I’d argue, is good procrastination.

That’s the “absent-minded professor,” who forgets to shave, or eat, or even perhaps look where he’s going while he’s thinking about some interesting question. His mind is absent from the everyday world because it’s hard at work in another.

That’s the sense in which the most impressive people I know are all procrastinators. They’re type-C procrastinators: they put off working on small stuff to work on big stuff.”

He closes the essay (and please do read the whole thing) with these words :

“I think the way to “solve” the problem of procrastination is to let delight pull you instead of making a to-do list push you. Work on an ambitious project you really enjoy, and sail as close to the wind as you can, and you’ll leave the right things undone.”

Beautiful and masterful !

I look to model Paul Graham’s words in my life and work, and to inspire others to do the same. One of the joys of writing daily is that, over time, I’m creating a trove of thoughts on related and recurring themes, so search away on terms, tags, key phrases (flow, ikigai, presence, innsae and others come to mind).

I’m with Paul Graham. I support others in focussing on what’s important, As I identified in “Matter, Anti-Matter, Doesn’t Matter“, reflecting on chatting with fellow Physics students in my last year of high school :

“we were amused and baffled at so much of the stuff they had us learn, when some of it mattered, and some of it simply didn’t. We felt super pleased with ourselves to come up with the idea that not only was the universe made up of both “matter” and “antimatter”, but also that there was a third type that we had discovered through our inventive reasoning. We called it “doesn’t matter”.

So, a thought to ponder. Are you busy ? If so, what about considering how much of your universe is filled with “doesn’t matter” ?”

Good procrastination then, is about being clear with yourself on what is the “doesn’t matter” in your universe, then being ruthlessly laser-like in eliminating as much of it as you can.

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Smashing Paradigms – Less is More

{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”

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Our modern world is overwhelmed with data. We have unfathomable amounts of data, which we must parse for information. We have so much data, yet so little knowledge. Where we do find knowledge of value, we seek and crave for that even rarer of things, that of wisdom.

I define wisdom as being something concise that, “as soon as you hear it, you feel like you always knew it”.

To this, I say to you, less is more.

Less-is-more

In being with another person, speak less, listen more. In playing music, the virtuoso plays less, expresses more.

Yesterday, in “Listening, your Superpower”, I wrote :

As we practice listening, we can go deeper and deeper in listening and learn more, be of service more. The french composer Debussy said : “La musique, c’est ce qu’il y a entre les notes”.  The poetically translated English version is “Music is the space between the notes”. The French more literally translates to “Music, it is what is between the notes

Ask any music fan for their list of all time guitar greats, and Stevie Ray Vaughn will be on there. Spend time listening to him and he can play staggeringly fast and complex guitar solos… and yet.. sometimes less is more.

Also on the list of the greatest composer and producers of pop songs ever is Nile Rodgers, who produced one of the greatest pop albums of all time, “Let’s Dance” by David Bowie. Stevie Ray Vaughn is no longer with us, but Nile is still touring and grooving. Nile recently tweeted :

A moment that will stay with me forever is sitting outside Murrayfield Stadium with friends in mid summer 1983 (aged 17, no less!) waiting excitedly for a few hours before the David Bowie “Serious Moonlight” Tour concert that evening.

The band came on for their soundcheck and the amazing arrangements Nile Rodgers had written came out. The bass line of Cat People, the rhythm guitar throughout, and the lead guitar part in Let’s Dance. Gives me #goosebumps to this day.

I give you the rehearsal tape of Let’s Dance featuring “the sparsest most brilliant few notes ever”. Nile Rodgers on rhythm, SRV on lead.

Less is more.