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

Where you belong.

I belong!
The hidden gremlin – why the wrong upbringing can unwind the right talent.

I reject the notion that we all have “our station in life”. At its worst this is hugely demeaning and limiting.

It did make me think though of the environment we were bought up in, and the impact this has on the way we see ourselves in life. And what I discovered was an aspect no-one in 5 decades has pointed out to me.

As you grow you may ‘improve’ your environment through diligence and effort; but you also need to believe you belong in that new environment before you can realise your dream/ your potential.

As a child it was an exciting day when Ray Sadd the plumber would come around and smoke his roll-your-owns on our back porch.

This was my model of ‘company’, of belonging.

No Lawyers, Doctors, Politicians, Scientists, Heads of Industry, Entrepreneurs or high achievers.

It was entirely incongruous with my other aspirations.

My proposition then, is that life is determined by where we expect to be and also, and critically, by where we expect to belong.

To make progress I had to reframe where I belong much more than understand what I needed to do to get there.

One part of this journey was obvious (Academic you might say), the other incredibly subtle.

That is, if as a child you dream of being a world class football player, you need to dream not only of having the skills and the mental ability but also of being comfortable in the company of the stars you currently idolise.

I know the two characters recently gracing international TV screens and Newspapers dressed as Kiwi’s at the football world cup. They are tremendously at ease mixing with media ‘stars’ and footballers alike. They were brought up in a highly supportive environment where anything was possible, where in effect they were ‘taught’ to feel as though they belonged wherever they went and in whoever’s company they made. They have gone far and will go further.

I am sure we have many talented people falling off the radar because although they may have developed the ‘skills’, training and even career path of a leader, there may be a little voice saying “I don’t belong”.

How many times have you been told by an employer ‘you belong here’? Here being at this level, in upper management, onward and upward. Not many of you I expect.

Maybe, just maybe, this is a missing piece in the career and talent development framework.

We not only need to grow skills and experiences but we need to ensure the individual understands they truly belong. The sky is the limit.[pullquote]they were ‘taught’ to feel as though they belonged wherever they went and in whoever’s company they made.[/pullquote]

The lucky ones already know this. They believe they belong and develop the requisite skills and experiences to fit alongside this. I would hazard a guess that this is as much an influence on future success as any other factor. Perhaps the ‘fortunate and wise’ relay not the skills for future ‘wealth’, but simply the sentiment of belonging and a rightful place.

Does this resonate with anyone?

Do you have talent in your company which is not being realised because of this simple factor?

What do you think about this proposition?

Learn-Un-Learn

This post is largely visual and is drawn from an insight I had with a client last week when trying to explain ‘Unlearning’.

I’m very much interested in your feedback as I think this is a useful conceptual and visual model. It is not Yin/Yang or Tao but shares a number of their principles while exhibiting a number of differences.

The concept is sort of simple.

Imagine a ball is one half Learn the other half Unlearn.

For learning to take place you replace the unlearning – with each being of equal force/quantity.

The notion is the effort to change is driven by the fact that not only do you need to adopt new learning but you need to displace old learning of an equal mental/ emotional weight.

This is the cornerstone of the model, as displayed on the left.






You may think it is easy to reject this with a model based on your ability to learn new skills but consider that many of these new skills will be ones you had not previously thought you could adopt:

You are usurping the belief that you Can’t with the belief that you Can.

Until the Can’t is fully displaced there is no way that you Can.

Have I lost you yet?

I hope not.



Another example;

You will be in two minds about this post. Either you think I’m right or I’m wrong.

I can’t be a bit wrong – because that still means I’m wrong.

So until you can feel that no part of it is wrong then you can’t feel that the whole thing is right.

You must completely displace all of your ‘wrong’ sentiment with something of equal force that it is ‘right’. The process is incomplete until you entirely replace one with the other.




As a further illustration, consider completely new learning.

At first this stumped me. Until I realised Knowledge replaces Ignorance. Further if you choose to ignore ‘knowledge’ you must therefore be choosing ‘ignorance’ (not choosing to Learn).

I was taught by my first coach – What you resist resists.

I think in many ways this model is a versatile articulation of that principle and shows clearly why change resists and why life can feel so out of balance – particularly when you are going through significant change.

Note also: with this model the healthy or desired option is always on top.

I have written a much longer paper/exploration on this, which I am willing to share with anyone who is interested. Please contact me if you wish to review this and provide feedback. I explore sequences, nesting and evolutionary learning based on this simple model. I have used the term ‘ULO’ (Unlearn Learn Orb) to describe the model.

Many thanks, Richard

Our Team

Talking Staffs
An observant colleague pointed out you don’t have great staff – you have great people (Thanks Rob).

I agree, staff is a hugely impersonal term, and for someone so important to your company why would you use such an impersonal term of such varied meaning?

I prefer to talk of Our Team, but this can sound a bit corny and insincere, and besides I’m far from being politically correct. But staff (or staffs as Microsoft Word tells you) is impersonal, though difficult to work around.

This points me to the dilemma of ownership. Who did what?

Once, when asked to outline value I had added in a particular role I said “Well depending on your view I added all the value or none of it, which would you like?”

My point was that as leaders you are both entrusted with steering the ship and watching it from shore.

If you do your job well amazing things are achieved that wouldn’t be achieved without you, without you! (yes that is what I meant to say)

As a leader you aspire to everyone being their own leader within the boundaries set by you, within the code of conduct and collaboration that is the company culture (also set by you).

I am a fan of Carver’s Policy Governance Model® in which the board determines the ends (outcomes) and only limits the means (the way in which it is done) by exclusion (things falling outside prudence or ethical guides).

I think this is also a great model for everyone in a company to operate by – ‘Tell me what you want and what I can’t do to get there – I’ll let you know if I need further assistance.” Self-managing teams on steroids.

Which brings me back to the comment about staff, er.. people.

Treat people with respect and trust – it will be returned.

Treat them just as staff and you might just get sticks.

Change is not an option

Into your future?
As a leader, if you’re not creating change you are inviting certain extinction of both your role and your company.

As a Change Manager I realised ‘Change’ was a redundant qualifier.

If you are managing or leading, even a conservative role, you must constantly be looking for what needs to change.

Be nimble: change-ready and active.

Sadly however the number of leaders and managers I seeing being nimble are too few, even fewer if you required them to be pro-actively nimble.

You need to be changing yourself, changing the organisation and encouraging, supporting and cheering on everyone else to do the same.

If someone in your organisation is not changing you need to rethink your strategy, make some decisions and kick things into action.

Stuck in the mud is dead in the water.

Ideas to promote change:

Celebrate failure. You want change to be guaranteed? Sorry you won’t be nimble enough often enough.

Crash the car. Put a team on dismantling a service or product and seeing how they might build it from scratch.

Break up successful teams. Use your best when you need to, but if they really are good then ‘share the love’. Inject their skills and enthusiasm into the gaps. Elite is unproductive.

Mea culpa. Admit your mistakes, show your willingness to try, to invent, to explore, but don’t hide from the things that don’t work. Do it without shame.

Take an axe to the suggestion box. If you can’t talk to your managers and they can’t talk to their teams, then you’re nowhere near where ideas will thrive and change will be a way of life. Like an extra steering wheel in your car – the suggestion box looks like it could be handy but it only invites chaos.

Rethink quality systems. If they don’t foster change they’re unsustainable, change them, NOW!

And of course…Celebrate success.

Great Staff

Too often I hear the lament of not enough good or great staff.

Great Staff?

  • Do you find good staff?
  • Do they find you?
  • Do you grow them?

Yes, yes, yes.

Having great staff is not just a case of having great people.
Even the greatest people won’t be great staff if you don’t do the right things as an employer.

Great people are what you receive. Great staff are what you create.

What are some of the steps that need to happen?

Recruitment…
Be bold, be enthusiastic. Interview four unequal candidates – the best of those that show specific but quite different attributes. Why split hairs on the middle ground, make the differences obvious ones that count. Seek talent. A colleague of mine utilises sociology, anthropology and psychology in his recommendations as a talent consultant. This not only improves the fit but provides a great framework going forward.

In the beginning…
Pour in the resources. Keep the channels open, ensure peers, colleagues and superiors are engaging with the new hire. Ensure they have the resources they need and know how to access them. Make them feel welcome, not as though they have to justify their existence in a foreign country. Don’t spend $20-$50,000 on recruitment and nothing on the follow through.

Along the way…

  • Gather evidence; check with staff and clients how they observe the new staff member.
  • Keep the dialogue alive.
  • Don’t settle for less than they can deliver.
  • Reset goals, set stretch targets. Demonstrate belief and interest in their development.
  • Be authentic.

At all stages…

Keep the momentum, build excitement, and make it viral.

And now…

Do the same for all your staff.

Every day you are re-recruiting your own staff, except they are interviewing you, assessing their options, deciding their future.

Build on these guidelines and they will find you, you will find them, and they will grow with you.