I Am

asphalt-communication-commuter-221310

In current times it’s inevitable that some of my posts will veer into politics.

With the surreal event taking place in Singapore at present I can’t resist passing comment on how our egos interfere with our effectiveness.

Safe to say if you’re reading this blog your ego is nowhere near the issue it is for the two men meeting in Singapore (which will be like Cage Fighting in suits with no physical contact).

However, we all have egos and they both serve and hinder us.

When you see things upside down, the ego can be extraordinarily funny; it’s absurd. But it’s tragic at the same time.

Alejandro Gonzalez Inarritu

If we carefully observe ourselves we’ll see our ego interfere with our lives on a constant basis, sometimes for good, but also to the detriment of doing the right or best thing:

  • When we feel embarrassed – resulting in inaction when action is what is required.
  • When we fail to acknowledge somebody –  because we’re either a tiny bit underwhelmed or a whole lot jealous, or mostly because we are too full of our own importance.
  • When we do something we know is ‘not right’ – because it’s what we said we would do and can’t deal with our imagined ignominy in changing our course.
  • When we lose focus on a conversation – because no one is listening to us (possibly because their egos are working overtime too, or, simply we are a bore).
  • When we interject (my own personal Achilles) – because our ego can’t wait to show ours is bigger, brighter, funnier or more important (yeah right).

Though we may sigh in despair about the events unfolding and the painful rhetoric which will follow, we also need to take a moment to listen to and observe our own ego.

Imagine life if we trained our ego to understand what a good time can be – where it considered not just you but for those around you.

We need to both feed and nurture our ego but at all times be aware it’s with us.

Even if it’s not raging like some of the more public ego’s we see today, we need to actively manage our ego’s impact on ourselves and those around us. It’s a constant work in progress.

Where do you see the biggest impact of ego – either personally or from others?

What can we do to turn this ‘force’ to positive use?

 

Dance like no-one is watching

Tensions
Making choices to do new things

This graphic is a simple illustration of why some things never see the light of day.

The return to my blog while not “new” is a new beginning. It is a true reflection of the tension illustrated here.

We can spend much of time answering questions that haven’t been asked or answered other than inside of our own heads:

why

Why do this?  Will anybody follow or benefit?

…and the answer to almost all of these types of questions – is that other than yourself

“Who cares?”

  • If you’re not doing it, nothing is happening.
  • If it’s not out there, nobody is judging you, nobody is looking.
  • If you’re not speaking with an independent voice, then how are you relevant?

To paraphrase Seth Godin – don’t keep waiting for the perfect horse on the carousel – just get on they are all going to the same place.

So here I am.

I’ll be reflecting on many things, and hopefully doing it in a way that reflects an attitude of dancing like nobody is watching.

I will be dipping into:

  • How and why we change
  • What we say and how we say it
  • How we respond and how we react
  • What blindsides us and what truly motivates us
  • Assumptions we make
  • Things we fail to challenge, and those that we do
  • Challenges we fail to take and those that we choose to pursue

I beleive:

  • That we care more deeply about each other than most of us care to or know how to express.
  • That community is at the core of humanity.
  • That we all wish for a better world – the world that we share, but at present not so well.

I hope to bring something to that discussion

My primary motivation is that this blog may change somebody’s life for the better – bring more clarity, more insight, and more reflection at a time when they need it, now or in the future. I also hope people will use this to look back and reflect on their own experiences and take the learning forward.

Being a father of 2 wonderful daughters this also serves as a capsule for them to understand me and perhaps even themselves better in years to come when I can’t be around to explain myself.

I’m on this blog knowing that it makes me more real, more vulnerable, more reflective and considerate.

Thank you for giving me your time.

Richard

The Complicator

Complicated

A good friend and colleague of mine introduced a wonderful new term to my vocabulary – The Complicator.

I see them in many many places now, and I wish I had this cue to spot them earlier.

Generally I confused them with Chicken Little – people who always thought the sky was about to fall and couldn’t see the upside of anything.

Complicators however are a little more insidious and beguiling. They constantly complain but at the same time they seem to move things forward. You admire the effort, and say to yourself

“Wow in spite of all those problems they made progress, good on them”.

And that is it, they’ve got you. hook line ( that’s a tangled line, and not as strong as it should be, and by the way the hook is made of the wrong metal, and not really appropriate for catching those kind of fish) and sinker (it should be heavier, but we found a way around it, modified it, talked to the design department, rang the supplier, then the sea was drained of all the water so it didn’t matter anyway).

You get the point.

I like to keep things simple, minimise the drama, focus on the outcome and not embellish the journey. Complicators do just the opposite. If you asked them to go to the corner dairy to get some pens for the office the story would go like this:

“That Dairy is hardly ever open (you know it is right now), the last time I went they were working on the footpath outside (3 months ago), damn what time does my favourite program begin…

They want you to say “Hey look it’s alright I’ll go…” to which they reply

“No, no, its fine, be back shortly”

That’s the game. Eric Berne describes them well in his book Games People Play.

So my question is – what the hell do you do?

My thoughts:

No, can’t print that one. Lets try another…

Give them an out for their plea’s for attention

Say “No I’ve heard that already what has changed?”

Say “Yep you told me that so what do you plan to do about it?

Say “Hey, it’s great you recognise the problems, it’s also great you know how to solve them. What I want to hear are the solutions”

All the other options involve weapons, cars, buses and combustible materials.

Have a great day, I’ll struggle to get through mine because, because, because….

I was taught by the woman who cleared my table

Travelling recently reminded me very much about my post on “Where you belong”.

It is an odd thing to be in a business lounge in Dubai which is bigger than Wellington’s entire airport.

It brings home “them and us” and illustrates how many there are of both; though what determines who sits in each camp is not always clear.

My first instinct with inequities like this is to struggle – that I should be a ‘have’ when many others, like the woman, with her ear missing and ‘half’ her jaw removed, clearing tables, have not.

Then without wishing to sound pious or arrogant, nor excesively “Ayn Rand”, I realise the best I can do is exactly that – to do the best I can do, be the best I can be, to honour those who cannot or will not, or won’t be given the opportunity.

If I squander the opportunties I have been given, then it is another matter.

Dan was part of my inspiration to do this blog. He is a great example of my point with this post. He cares deeply for others and honours everyone by putting himself out to the world and to his communities (blog, church and local); by leading, by being courageous.

Even great researchers can’t lead by keeping their work to themselves. They can only lead when they open themselves to criticism, to challenge, to the possibility of being wrong and having more to learn.

Ultimately any true form of leadership is the same. If you don’t reach out with authenticity and allow others to reach in are you truly leading?

The despots of the world past and present, are unfortunate examples of only reaching out to manipulate others and fuel their own egos, there was no reaching in.

Great leaders reach out and simultaneously reach in, and allow others to do the same, and their work is transformed when they do.

The thought of leaders emerging at any stage from anywhere, and in any number of ways, excites me. Reaching both out and in and sharing this with the world is not an exclusive domain. Anyone can achieve this.

There are some extraordinarily positive examples of ‘ordinary’ people providing outstanding leadership.

As has been commented upon by my readers – Swami/ Guru’s search within themselves for many many years before ’emerging’ as leaders.

Leadership can be quiet, subtle, loud, colourful, intense, effortless, sudden, short, prolonged, recognised, ignored, delivered by the young or old, etc.

I realise now how much leadership is about being open, putting you hand up, letting others see a little of what is inside you. It is not being right, being brilliant, being special or better than.

It is nothing more than being gifted and gifting.

And what really excites me is this personal insight not only improves my leadership but allows me to see far more leaders than ever before.

If this posts means there is one more leader ‘caught’ in the act by you, my readers (not excluding seeing yourself as a leader), it has been a success.

Today, look for the beauty in what many ordinary people do and support this as leadership.

It can be as simple as saying (with a smile):

“Thank you for clearing my table.”

Rewarding

And your prize is...
Many readers will be familiar with the theories of Maslow and Herzberg, the insights of Carnegie and the work of the likes of Goleman, Senge, and plenty of others.

I love all of it, even the stuff I don’t agree with is a learning experience.

I was reading a blog post the other day about Herzbergs Two Factor Theory which got me thinking of the other side of this coin.

There is plenty of literature on how to motivate, how to communicate, how to ‘read’ etc. but maybe the simplest thing of all is being overlooked?

    How often do we ask?

Or alternatively

    How often do we tell?

We know people can have a personal focus on anything:

    • Their cat/s
    • Their dog/s
    • Their exotic plant collection
    • Their child/ren
    • Their rally car/s
    • Their quality of work
    • Their quantity of work

But seldom do people readily express, nor does a manger ask, what ‘reward’ is, or means, for them.

I have a good friend who always said to me – “If you ask people it is amazing what they will tell you” (and it doesn’t matter what you ask). This is very true.

Certainly factors such as trust and authenticity enter into the equation and there is a fine line between prying and taking an interest, but I know as a motivational tool ‘asking’ works.

So there are two messages in this simple post about identifying what is ‘rewarding’ :

For others:

    Ask. Be authentic. Listen

For yourself:

    Tell. Be sincere. Communicate.

It’s probably the shortest route to reward for them and for you.

Thinking back over my own career – I did the first one well, while the second one would have saved a lot of grief for me and my employer.

Try it. You just might like it, and so might your employees.

Laughable or not?

Time means nothing
I think a sense of humour is a great quality for a leader to possess.

Moreso if they can share this humour throughout the organisation in an appropriate way then humour becomes a culture setting strength

However there are also ways to get this horribly wrong – and it is no laughing matter.

I think the landscape around this area has changed significantly in the last 20 years.

Bawdy and poor taste jokes thankfully have diminished significantly in most organisations.

At the same time I wonder – has the ability for the organisation to have a happy and healthy sense of humour, to be able to laugh at and with itself, gone as well?

Perhaps the nexus of the internet’s killing of the personally delivered ‘joke’ and the shift in standards of behaviour to much more appropriate norms has taken with it the art of great humour?

Further I wonder if there will be a backlash, and of what nature and to what extent?

I often think my posts are too serious- I have this little guy running round in the back of my head saying – “Lighten up, lighten up!”. It illustrates well the challenge of leading with serious intent while demonstrating a sense of humour.

Why is humour important?:

    It lifts our spirits
    Executed well there is more than an ounce of truth an insight in many good jokes
    Humour can be used to deliver important messages very softly
    Executed well it appropriately reduces stress and negative emotion around errors/mistakes/omissions.
    Surely a client seeing a happy smiling workforce is better than them seeing a humourless and dour one?

Here are some do’s and don’ts

    • Don’t mock
    • Beware – wit is either the lowest or highest form of humour, it depends on how and when it is used.
    • Sarcasm is just not funny in any way
    • Laugh with others but only if appropriate
    • Laugh at yourself (or never at all)
    • Laugh with people not at them
    • Set the standard for good and positive humour by what you say and what you listen too
    • Sexist, racist, bawdy jokes are seldom if ever funny, steer well clear.

How much humour in your work? In your workplace? At home?

My favourite punch line:

“To a pig, time means nothing.”

When we meet I’ll happily tell you what precedes it.