Monday 29 August 2011

Eliminating show from your leadership and adding more value

On August 15th I began posting weekly sparkenations to my websites and here.
This weeks:
There is a saying about professional golf that goes something like “driving is for show and putting is for dough.” The folk who win golf tournaments have great short games and are not necessarily great at the big shots.

What will you eliminate this week from your leadership that is show and what will you add that other people will find really valuable?

You can read previous weekly sparkenations here.

In my Changing What's Normal book there are 58 sparkenations.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

Friday 26 August 2011

Being comfortable and uncomfortable in our own skin - a thank you to Steve Jobs

My favourite line is by Oscar Wilde:
“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

I have thought a lot about this in the past 24 hours in the light of Steve Jobs resignation as the CEO of Apple. I have never met him. I admire him because it seems to me he is comfortable in his own skin and yet at the same time he appears to me to also be uncomfortable and therefore is always pushing his own boundaries and striving to be better. I trust we haven’t seen the last of Steve Jobs and that a third comeback happens!

To be comfortable in our own skin is life’s greatest journey. It is also uncomfortable as we strive each day to be more of who we are capable of becoming, that unique, special, one-of-a-kind, each of us is.

Steve Jobs changed what's normal and will forever therefore be a hero of mine.

What are you changing that's normal, that no longer serves you and the world.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Change is both evolution and revolution

I have begun posting a short sparkenation each week on my changing what's normal site. I will also be posting them here. This post is this weeks sparkenation.

Change is evolution and revolution and usually at the same time. The trouble is we often see change as either/or rather than both/and.

What will you change this week that's both? Think small change/s. Think incremental.
Most revolutions were/are a tipping point preceded by a whole lot of small changes that in themselves were revolutionary for those who made them.

Conscious evolution starts with a conscious conversation with ourselves and then a decision to change. What are you saying to yourself? What are you doing about what you’re hearing?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Monday 22 August 2011

Thriving in a low confidence-high anxiety world

Some people are describing the status quo in much of the world right now as low confidence-high anxiety and I certainly sense this. In my 20 years as a business owner I have never known it to be so tough. Much of what used to work, doesn’t work anymore. I am not in any way depressed however, rather I am excited by the possibilities and results of changing what’s normal.

Here are five of my key actions that can lead to thriving in your business no matter what seems to be status quo:

1. Concentrate on serving niches.
As my friend and colleague Gihan Perera says “Niche guys finish first.” Become the go to person for people looking for specific products and/or services that you can deliver. Two excellent books on how to do this are: 'Becoming a key person of influence' by Daniel Priestley and 'How to be that guy' by Scott Ginsberg.
What niches do you own?

2. Charge for value as perceived by buyers.
If your product and/or service is a commodity or can be commoditised it is only a matter of time before someone offers a cheaper price, therefore ensure your products/services are not seen as commodities, and leave that kind of business to the big boys (well it usually is boys!).

When people ask me what is my fee? my answer is always, that depends, because I only offer tailored packages based on a simple yet very powerful formula I learned from Alan Weiss - agree on objectives, how they will be measured, and what is the value of achieving the objectives according to the buyer. My fee depends on the value of the result of working together as determined by the buyer.
How do you get paid?

3. Control what you can and stop stressing over what you can’t

“Control the controlables” is often how this action is stated. I am in charge of my intentions, feelings, thoughts, and actions. And you are in charge of yours.
How are much in control are you? And how much are you letting what you can do nothing about get the better of you?

4. Compete with yourself and only collaborate with people when you have achieved a shared view.

These are two of the 58 sparkenations in my changing what’s normal book.

If you want to change yourself, change or modify your intentions, feelings, thoughts, and/or actions, and you will soon have different and hopefully better better results.

If you want to change a relationship, change or modify how you contact, connect, establish common ground, and demonstrate commitment to the person or people and very soon your relationship will change. And if this doesn’t happen maybe you have your ladder up against the wrong wall.
How well are you competing with yourself and collaborating with others?

5. Champion causes that people in your tribes are passionate about
Champion what people in your tribes are passionate about and people will reciprocate in no time.
What tribes are you leading?
And what are the members of these tribes passionate about?
How are you helping these people to achieve what is vital to them?

The above are just 5 ways of many to thrive in a low confidence-high anxiety world.

I would be very interested in your thoughts because there are a zillion more ways to stop the status quo from strangling the life out of us by changing what’s normal. Please comment here or email me

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Friday 19 August 2011

The trouble with, and the triumph of, tribes

The mob mentality that triggered the UK riots and recent stock market crashes are just two examples of the trouble produced by the cocktail of tribes and the influence and impact of the internet.

The good news is that tribes and the internet are also forces to be reckoned with for good.

Collaboration is at the core of both negative and positive consequences.

The diagram above is one simple way to represent what happens.

To illustrate:
One of the tribes I lead is the changing what’s normal tribe. You can find out more here. I build relationships with leaders of other tribes where there is a aligned purpose with why our tribes exist and therefore opportunity for collaboration is high.

One of my subscribers to this blog is Kwai Yu, the Founder of the Leaders Cafe tribe. There is much alignment with the purposes of both our tribes.

Another one of my subscribers to this blog is Maria Carlton, the Founder of the Ideas to Authority tribe. Again there is much in common with what Maria’s tribe is about and what the changing what’s normal tribe is about.

What tribes do you lead? And which leaders of tribes with an aligned purpose with your tribe are you building relationships with?

Such relationships lead to further relationships with leaders of tribes online and in person. Out of all these relationships emerge partnerships and through the work of such partnerships change on a massive scale takes place.

Could you be a better leader of your tribe/s?

Could you do better in building relationships with leaders of other tribes?

How many partnerships are emerging from your relationships?

I believe we can all do better. And we must. Our world needs positive change on a massive scale right now.

For the best talk I know about on Tribes check out Seth Godin’s TED talk below and get your copy of his Tribes book as well. It has a permanent place on my desk!

“Find something worth changing and assemble tribes.” Seth Godin

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

a sparkenation is a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Tuesday 16 August 2011

SBM and B1G1 - two outstanding examples of changing what’s normal

Selective Behaviour Modelling™ (SBM)

This revolutionary innovation developed by my friend and colleague Allan Parker is about achieving mass behaviour change simultaneously in your organisation. Please watch the short video below to fully appreciate the power of SBM and download the one page overview here.

For a detailed information kit about SBM including results from organisations using it to great effect, please email me

And for folk in Brisbane, Allan will be speaking live about SBM as my co-presenter at my changing what's normal book launch on September 22nd. Details here.

B1G1 (Buy1Give 1)

For some time now I have been, in a small way, a part of the B1G1 family through my role as the Founder of Differencemakers Community. See here.

I began increasing my engagement yesterday. Every sale of my Changing What's Normal book, now means a child learns to read and begins to develop a lifelong learning habit. Almost 800 million people can't read. Together we are changing this appalling status quo through Room to Read, whose work in the past decade has benefited more than 5 million children. We help through my partnership with Buy1Give1.

In my book I refer to the great example of the Chairman of B1G1, Paul Dunn, The Wizard of Wow, who is a great influence on my life. I also devote one of the 58 sparkenations (a sparkenation is a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal) in my book to the concept of Generation G where the G stands for generosity.

Buy1GIVE1™ or B1G1™ matches businesses with charitable causes right around the world so that every business transaction makes a difference somehow, somewhere, every second, every day. But it doesn't just 'match' businesses with worthy causes; it does it at a level never seen before by matching every transaction in some way to a specific outcome. And it does more than that too. It adds a powerful branding and marketing 'engine' that actually builds business. And that simply means that businesses can give even more to make a difference.

"We’re not here to give in order ‘to get’. We’re here to have more to give more." says Founder Masami Sato.

More about About Buy1GIVE1 here.

I would love to know about other great examples of changing what’s normal. Please comment or email
I will be giving away copies of my book to people whose stories I write about.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Sunday 14 August 2011

What is the social purpose of your business?

The Book Rapper and creator of the 1000 manifestos site Geoff McDonald says this Apple ad created by agency TBWA/Chiat/Day in 1997 is one of his all time favourite manifestos. It is one of mine too and I have the words (see below) on my office wall as a constant source of inspiration.

Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The troublemakers. The round pegs in the square holes.
The ones who see things differently. They’re not fond of rules. And they have no respect for the status quo. You can praise them, disagree with them, quote them, disbelieve them, glorify or vilify them.
About the only thing you can’t do is ignore them. Because they change things. They invent. They imagine. They heal. They explore. They create. They inspire. They push the human race forward.
Maybe they have to be crazy.
How else can you stare at an empty canvas and see a work of art? Or sit in silence and hear a song that’s never been written? Or gaze at a red planet and see a laboratory on wheels?
While some see them as the crazy ones, we see genius. Because the people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.

I typed this on my mac computer and use an apple phone so clearly I am an Apple fan. I was very interested to see a retweet yesterday by David Coethica (who writes a great corporate social responsibility blog I recommend) of a Forbes articles by Paul Klein titled Where Is Apple’s Social Purpose. You can read the full article here.

I agree with Klein’s assessment “We love Apple, but we’re hungry for its social purpose. Today being the world’s most valuable company also means being the world’s most valued company—and Apple’s got a long way to go.”

I ask How is Apple actually changing the world for the better? Absolutely they are a prime example of changing what’s normal. I ask to what end?

What is the social purpose of your business?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Thursday 11 August 2011

Changing what’s normal conversations

Two trends I like in professional speaking are that presenters are more and more catalysts for conversation and there is an audience expectation of the speaker to engage in conversation. I love these trends as they are a personal preference.

Conversations of meaning are a challenge for most people particularly in the age of all things digital.

Here are my top twelve tips for engaging in meaningful conversations:

1) Craft and present your messages with the receiver/s in mind

2) When sending a message be clear on what you want to happen as a result of sending your message. The more clarity you have, the clearer your message will be and therefore the better reception you will get

3) Ask the receiver/s for feedback on your message effectiveness, i.e. do they get what you intended them to? Often we think we have been understood and we haven’t been. Such misunderstanding can have devastating consequences. Feedback clarifies for us that others have got our message

4) When receiving a message focus on understanding and not on responding

5) Respond enthusiastically in genuine ways to what others share with you

6) Give feedback to the sender so that they know you got their message

7) Focus on reaching a shared view as a result of conversations. We live in three worlds; the world in here, that’s my view, the world out there, that’s your view, and the world we share, things that matter that we agree on. Ending up with a shared view should be the aim of all our conversations

8) Sometimes other people say things that conflict with our beliefs or values. Meaningful conversations are beyond beliefs and values and require an openness to changing our hearts and minds as well as acknowledging and valuing beliefs and values that are different to ours

9) Share stories other people can feel or see themselves in

10) Be spontaneous using I language and expressing how you feel

11) Take nothing others say as personal even if you feel or think it is

12) Above all, be yourself

“Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”
Oscar Wilde

Here’s to joy and success in all your conversations.

On a regular basis I host online conversations about the status quo and how we can change what's normal in order to build a better world. Each conversation is limited to a small group of people.

Several time slots are available for each particular topic. You can be notified of the available times by signing-up here. By signing up you can download a one page PDF version of the 12 tips above.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Subscribe to me on YouTube

PS Don't forget I conduct free mentoring sessions on most Monday mornings. Details are here.

PSS To receive articles every month please subscribe to my Changing What's Normal monthly newsletter here.

Monday 8 August 2011

Gardening of the heart and mind

I recently spent 3 hard days working in my garden mostly weeding out the dreaded winter weeds nicknamed sour sops. They take over everything in sight, almost overnight it seems.

This exercise, and that it was, got me thinking about how easy it is to allow weeds, meaning negative feelings and thoughts, to take over our hearts and minds.

Have you done some gardening in your heart and mind lately and removed your weeds?

I am normally very disciplined in not feeling or thinking anything negative. As I pulled out weeds, cursing at the start, I started observing that indeed some negative stuff had crept in. I resolved to be even more disciplined to not let this happen.

What emotional and thought weeds have taken over you?

And what will you do about it today?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Subscribe to me on YouTube

Monday 1 August 2011

A pathway to achieving possibility

This article is my changing what's normal newsletter for August. Each month I write an in-depth article. You can subscribe to my newsletter here.

I also provide a digital gift each month that I have created or come across. The August gift is from a friend in the UK Rob Brown, '101 Great Tools, Tips and Tactics to Build Your Mental Toughness' You need to sign-up to get it however well worth it and of course you can unsubscribe from Rob’s list anytime you wish, although I don’t think you will. Rob always provides great value. Get Rob’s white paper here.

A pathway to achieving possibility

I doubt I will ever lose my enthusiasm and excitement for the “privilege of the platform”. I consider myself very fortunate to be able to travel the world and share my ideas and insights with willing people. When clients/organizers agree I always end my 30, 45 and 60 minute presentations with a question and answer time.

After giving a presentation in early 2006 the first question threw me momentarily and the answer I gave surprised me, so much so I almost couldn’t wait to get back to my hotel room to write down what I said so I wouldn’t forget it! The questioner said “I’ve very much enjoyed your presentation but can you put it all into one sentence? After what seemed to me to be the longest pause I had ever taken in 15 years of professional speaking I said:

Principle before passion; passion before purpose; passion and purpose during practice = possibility

The audience cheered wildly including the questioner (You had to be there). On reflection these words capture what I am mostly on about.


For me there are three great life principles, an attitude of gratitude; the law of the farm; freedom of choice. These principles are unchanging and uncluttered by dogma, the hallmark of fundamentalists whether they are religious, political, business or otherwise. Fundamentalists believe their way is the only way and create dogma to justify their ideology. Principles don’t change, nor do they favour ideology, they simply just are, and, they can be lived in any number of ways regardless of beliefs, mindsets or culture.

An attitude of gratitude
When faced with a potentially life ending illness 33 years ago my doctor’s advice was to first have an attitude of gratitude. In order to get well he told me, I must first be grateful. I remember my reply as if it was yesterday. “You’re telling me I may die and you want me to be grateful. You have to be joking!”
In recovery I learned, and I am still learning, a great truth, when we are grateful for what we’ve got we can have more of what we want. The most productive people in history have an attitude of gratitude.

The Law of the Farm
My grandfather, a farmer, taught me this law. Grandfather knew the law as you reap what you sow. He believed as I do that more often than not if you have fertile ground, plough it, seed it, nurture it, you get a harvest. Today we phrase this law as what goes around comes around, or you get what you give. In my Changing What’s Normal book I use this law to explain my perspective on many things and how you can choose to use this law in your own way.

Freedom of Choice
We are the sum of the choices we have made and those we haven’t. As history has demonstrated over and over again, regardless of where we were born, and even in the most dire of circumstances, we can live a fulfilling, happy life that influences and inspires others. The most productive people in history make the wisest choices for them on a daily basis.

Living by principles such a these, is in my view the first step to achieving possibility.


I live and work with all the passion I can muster and inciting passion is very much a part of what I do. Two of my mates who are also experts on passion, best selling authors Keith Abraham and Charles Kovess.

I asked Keith and Charles three questions. Here are their replies

Question: What is passion?
Keith: “It is loving what you do and doing what you love. It is the desire to work towards a worthwhile goal that stimulates your enthusiasm.”
Charles: “Passion is a source of unlimited energy from your soul (or 'spirit' or 'heart') that enables a person to produce extraordinary results. Why 'extraordinary'? Because most people are not passionate about their work, or are not pursuing their passion in their lives, and this is the 'ordinary' level. When you tap into passion, and the amazing energy source that it is, you will perform at an 'extra-ordinary' level.”

Question: How do you discover your passion
Keith: “You can either list the activities that you love to do with your time or you can list 100 things you want to achieve in your lifetime and see what reoccurring theme keeps on coming through.”
Charles: “I recommend a four step process:
1) Be a Passion Seeker: decide to discover your passion. It's like making a decision to run a marathon: first you have to decide and then take action
2) Be a Detective: look for the clues throughout your whole life, since you were born up till now, that will give you the solution to the puzzle. Ask your parents, their friends, your siblings. Do a chart of your life, showing the ups and the downs, to raise your conscious awareness of your life journey so far.
3) Be the Riddler: once you discover it, it may be a 'riddle' to work out how to earn a living from your passion. I have always found, when advising people, that it is possible to earn money from pursuing your passion.
4) Be the Risk Taker: take the plunge! Take the risk and pursue your passion. Remember, 'the hardest thing in the world is to leap a chasm in two bounds!' I promise that the rewards will be worth it, because you are discovering and pursuing, your soul's purpose.”

Question: Once you have found your passion, how do you keep it?
Keith: “Make sure that you are spending time pursuing your passion each week or day. Focus on the things that count for you, that give you the greatest energy and enjoyment.
Charles: “You keep the passion alive by using the same principles that you use to stay fit and healthy. These are:
Write out your goals in great detail
Read them every day
Don't hang around with energy suckers, or negative people. Get them out of your life.
Don't share your goals with people who might kill your dreams.
Spend your time with passionate people.
Look after yourself physically, so that the machine you live in (your body!) can help you rather than hinder you.”

Living your passion, is in my view the second step to achieving possibility. When we are passionate in applying unchanging principles in our own way, we have unlocked the door to world of infinite possibilities.

Living on Purpose

The Macquarie Dictionary defines purpose “the object for which anything exists or is done, made, used etc; an intended or desired result; end or aim; intention or determination”

Poet and writer Gita Bellin said “success depends on where intention is.” This is a very powerful statement. To change an outcome we must modify or change behaviour, because continuing to do the same old thing expecting a different result is a good definition of stupidity! In my experience before behaviour change is lasting we must first modify or change our thinking and to do that we often must modify or change our feeling and to do that we often have to modify or change our intention or purpose!

So what is your purpose? What was your aim when you got up this morning? What were you feeling and thinking literally? If you are like me the answers to these questions can be elusive and often the day is over before it really seemed to begin.
I believe we humans all have the same broad purpose: to be at peace with ourselves. For only then can we make peace with others. How we find peace within ourselves and then make peace with others is an individual journey.

I have found regular contemplation, reflection, and just plain hard work on the following as great ways to keep myself living on purpose

Knowing my strengths and applying them excellent way to find out your key strengths click here
Allowing the strengths of others to make up for my shortcomings
Seeing my work as a calling and never a job or a career
Spending a hour a day on my own personal development
Engaging in activities that give me a sense of purpose
Knowing and understanding what gives me meaning and pursuing these things with vigour
Being the best I can be in each moment (and when I mess up, take the lesson and move on)
Continually asking why and why not
Maintaining positive self talk
Never saying anything negative about myself or others
Competing with myself and collaborating with others

When we combine purpose with passion (bringing everything we are to everything we do) and unchanging principles (gratitude, the law of the farm, and freedom of choice), we have unleashed an unstoppable force for good, leaving only one step left to achieve possibility.

the nitty gritty – practice

Actions do speak louder than words. We can believe in principles such as an attitude of gratitude, freedom of choice and the law of the farm; we can understand passion, “the amazing energy source” to quote Charles Kovess; we can grasp purpose as being at peace within ourselves; however it all means nothing if we do not take this trilogy into all that we do or practice.

12 actions for taking our principles, passion and purpose into everyday life

Instead of a to do list have a won’t do list and don’t do whatever you list

Be crystal clear on your goals but more importantly the steps you will take, one at a time, to achieve your goals. Then detach from your goals and put everything you’ve got into taking the steps

Wherever possible add value to transactions and interactions. The extra things we do that usually cost nothing, are often perceived as the most valuable to the recipient

Take responsibility for your feelings, thoughts and actions, but take no responsibility for other peoples feelings, thoughts and actions

Stop to celebrate failure as much as success, and then move on

Live in the now. Now is the only moment that matters. The past cannot be changed (we can view it differently) and the future will take care of itself if we are bringing everything we are to everything we do, right now

On a weekly basis review your actions. Next week repeat what worked and don’t repeat what didn’t work

Always tell the truth as you see it. My father used to say this means we don’t have to remember anything!

Invest wisely in time. We have 168 hours every week that’s it! I devote a third to work, a third to sleeping, eating and personal time, and a third to family and friends. Whatever your investment, see it as just that, and you will get a return. Forget about time management, it’s investing wisely in the time we have that counts

Apply the 80/20 rule; we get 80% of our results from 20% of our efforts. Known as the Pareto Principle, the law of imbalance or least effort, this one is worth a lot of thought. Most people are trying to achieve a lot by doing a lot. This principle says do less; just make sure that what you are doing is producing what you want. More with less is possible

Whenever you are doing a particular task focus on doing it to the best of your ability and do not allow yourself to be distracted

Be intense for short periods of focus then take a break. 45 minutes of intensity then a complete break for 10 minutes does wonders for our productivity

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Author of Changing What’s Normal

Partner of passionate and enlightened leaders in several countries since 1991, to change what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit.

Subscribe to me on YouTube

PS To receive articles like this every month please subscribe to my Changing What's Normal monthly newsletter here.