Wednesday, 24 April 2019

Letting It Happen Versus Making It Happen

I like this Medium article by Brad Stulberg particularly the fourth practice he recommends:

"Practice being a curious observer. Let things unfold on their own time and in their own way. When you feel yourself tempted to jump back in the driver’s seat, give it 24–48 hours before you do. See what happens."

Be remarkable.
Ian

Monday, 22 April 2019

Why I'm engaging less publicly online

I think the current Australian Federal Government is dysfunctional, deceitful, incompetent, wasteful, conservative (read out of touch), bullying, ignorant, and arrogant, just to mention a few negatives.

I find nothing attractive about them. It seems to me that they are self-interested and not at all interested in what we the people actually want.

So I can't wait for the current election campaign to be over. I've already made up my mind. I'm voting for the Labor Party.

Mind you I don't find Labor at all attractive either.

It staggers me that in a both/and world our political systems still operate on either/or.

If there was an Independent person running in my electorate I would be voting for them.

Recently I've been expressing my views as civilly as I can on Twitter.

Am I doing any good? Am I positively influencing anyone? Honesty I don't know.

This has led me to rethink once again about my online engagement which overall is considerably less since my month long rest from any form of media. (It was getting less and less before then anyway primarily out of boredom).

I've come up with a question that I endeavour to answer before I post or engage online: Who is this for and is this an important for them way I can reach them?

My answer is often no which is why I am engaging less and less with the masses and focusing on people who have subscribed to my blog or who have indicated that they wish to engage privately online.

You might also be interested in my post 7 solutions to lessen the negative impact of self-interest, party politics and economics?


This is a book I found very helpful in deciding my engagement levels online.

Learn more about this book here.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian

PS I'm not anti technology.

I use Zoom for example for having conversations with my clients 1:1 and in groups.

I'm currently forming a private Facebook group for my clients.

People are enjoying my short (less than 10 minutes) podcasts.

Friday, 19 April 2019

In person communities are key to being our best as humans

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Communities sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book.

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

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

In a nutshell

There was no television in my home when I was born in 1953.

Consequently I am in awe of the vast array of technological advances of my lifetime. Many are simply breathtaking.

The only ones I truly value though are those that genuinely enhance the human experience ethically.

Our lives are entangled in the so-called ‘Internet of Things’, the network of connected “things” that we have allowed to invade our lives.

I’m grateful for the convenience that the things bring.

Yet I’m increasingly skeptical of their real value because what I am seeing is more human disconnection, less sense of belonging, and an absence of meaningful and caring communities.

Consider how much of social media is anti-social?

And how much of this new media is really just the old media on steroids? Where would the social media companies be without advertising?

Add to these Reality TV that isn’t real and artificial intelligence that by definition is artificial!


There’s a better way forward.

In August 2018 I undertook a month long experiment of not participating in social or mainstream media because I was seeking more human to human connection.

I faced some significant health challenges at the time and had lost touch with my proven methods for dealing with them. A friend had challenged me with these words “What’s going on mate? You’re obviously not feeling your best self.”

I was grateful for his challenge. On reflection I realised that I become distracted and disillusioned.

I wrote down that I was tired of social media, particularly the endless self-promotion, quoting of other people by so-called experts, and the lack of value.

I wrote down that I’d had it with mainstream media too. Endless negativity, bad news and self-interest.

I wrote down that I was tired of algorithms trying to dictate what I look at.

The more I wrote the better I felt!

My passion for ‘andorithms’, those qualities that make us human, reemerged.

Here’s my 9 key lessons from my month’s experiment of no media.

1) I've enjoyed and given and gained great value from conversations in person and online where there wasn't a smart phone distracting or disrupting us.

2) I have a couple of hours per day to be a better human, and to better experience nature and other humans.

I'm better and wiser for the experience particularly as I can invest in more deep work and by definition less shallow work.

3) Life is so much better without the negativity, self-interest and bias, and the bullshit (fake news, lies and propaganda) of all forms of the media.

4) As a consequence of unsubscribing from emails that are just fronts for trying to flog me stuff I don't want or need, my in-box is much easier to empty every day and my replies to other emails are better and more valuable to the recipients.

5) I'm much more relaxed. I feel a better human. I'm free of the false feeling of the need to be liked, instead I'm more loved by family, friends, colleagues and clients (and my dog!).

6) Living a life without the constant noise of the media in the background means that my life is more peaceful and in harmony and flow.

7) My social network more than ever now is being in person with family, friends, colleagues and clients. Online still has a place in my future particularly in increasing the value of my relationships with my network through technology like Zoom. 

The big difference is that I'll be much more deliberate in choosing when, where and what. I've lost interest in algorithms and their undue influence.

8) Just sitting and thinking and often just sitting are more of a practice now. Less distracted by technology and more distracted by life in a non shallow way.

9) I'm more valuable to the people who matter in my life.

3 recommended actions

1) Make it your personal practice to regularly take time out from all forms of media. 

2) Undertake a review of your personal and family philosophies concerning the ‘Internet of things’. Ask, What is truly adding value to our lives? Disentangle yourselves from everything that isn’t adding real value.

3) Of all the third places you feel you really belong to where are you giving and receiving the greatest value? What modifications/changes will you make?

Recommended deep work

1) Involve people at all levels in your organisation in an extensive review of your philosophies concerning the ‘Internet of things’.

2) Undertake a further detailed review of all your policies, procedures, practices, processes, projects and systems and update so that they truly mean it’s simple for people to bring the best version of themselves to their work.

It’s likely that in your review you will discover that many people are still not doing work that is meaningful for them and highly valuable for others.

There’s more about this in the designing and delivering meaningful and valuable work section of Sparkenation 12 in my Remarkable Workplaces book.

For now consider the following diagram that depicts the new world of work and ask a part of your review, How will we better our competitive advantage?



Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.
Ian

Wednesday, 17 April 2019

Women and men being real not parodies

This opinion piece 'What Happens When Women Stop Leading Like Men' by Tina Brown got me thinking about a sign that I read and contemplate on every day:

This above all - to thine own self be true.

I often wonder what was going on in Shakespeare's heart and mind when he penned these immortal words.

Are Jacinda Ardern and Nancy Pelosi just being true to the best version of themselves?

CreditCreditMarty Melville/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

Are Trump and May being true to the best version of themselves?

I have not closely studied Nancy Pelosi, Trump or May like I have Jacinda Ardern.

What I am in no doubt about is that the world needs more women like Jacinda Ardern. Not being her just being true to themselves as human beings and as women.

Women and men being real not parodies is a key to all of our future's and that of our grandchildren.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian

Monday, 15 April 2019

Is your smartphone use impairing your decision-making?

I found this article by Emma Young very insightful. This picture from the article is a typical scene we all witness daily eh?:


Personally I have had to work very hard to avoid smartphone addiction. You?

It could well be that your smartphone use is actually impairing your decision-making? Please read Emma's article carefully and take action.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian

Friday, 12 April 2019

Collaboration - an essential skill for thriving in the 21st century

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Collaboration sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book.

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

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

In a nutshell

Every problem/challenge in our world today (and in your life) is a human one. Every solution has relationships with other humans at heart.

We’re hardwired for collaboration.

My friend and colleague Keith Abraham says:
“Achievement is never an individual activity.”

And it’s literally about matters of the heart.

“Most of us think about ourselves as thinking creatures who feel but we are feeling creatures who think, and we live in a society that values what we think over what we feel.”
Dr. Jill Bolte Taylor, a leader in the world of neuroscience.

There’s a link to a great TEDx talk by Jill at the companion resources web page to my Remarkable Workplaces book.

Collaboration is the other side of the coin to competing with yourself.


At the heart of collaborating of course is relationships. To improve/sustain highly valuable and mutually rewarding relationships we must change or modify how we contact, connect, establish/sustain common ground or shared-view and demonstrate commitment with other people.

3 Recommended Actions

1) Write down your greatest collaboration or relationship story and one where you failed. Who will you become and what will you do next to better live the lessons from these experiences?

2) Review the seven special steps to successful collaboration on pages 99, 100 of Changing What’s Normal with your team/performance partners and explore changes/modifications you could make to your relationships. The seven steps are also available for your convenience at the companion resources web page to my Remarkable Workplaces book.

3 a) Review your diary for the past month. Are more than 75% of your actions some form of communication or conversations with family, friends, colleagues and stakeholders? How could you better invest your time and energy to build and grow high value mutually rewarding relationships?

b) Choose a theme song for collaboration and play it regularly to get into the state right for you.

And while we’re referencing diaries; How much of your time is not scheduled. The very best Sparkenators I know have only a maximum of 50% of their diaries with appointments scheduled (including meetings).

Recommended Deep Work

1) If you have not yet watched the compete/collaborate video and started to make the compete with your yourself and improve relationships exercises part of your routine then now is a good time to start You'll find this at the companion resources web page.

2) For your business/organisation staying in touch with customers/clients and continually adding value to the ways you delight them is fundamental to remaining relevant and successful. Explore with your team how you could better utilise the contact-connection-common-ground-commitment as a service-sales-experience and value adding cycle.

3) What is a major collaboration you have thought about however not yet acted on? Who will you become and what will you do next to better turn your thoughts into reality?

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.
Ian

Wednesday, 10 April 2019

Is there a shared-view around the behaviours that demonstrate your values?

This is the third recent post on living values. The first was What do you mean when you say 'traditional values'?  and the second Turning values into virtues (sustainable not situational values).

The key to living values is turning words into behaviours.

In most workplaces values are words. In remarkable workplaces values are behaviors.

Most organisations have stated values. Very few are lived. Rarely is there a shared-view around the behaviours that demonstrate values. Of course if you are the exception rather than the rule you have competitive advantage.

Should you not yet have agreed behaviours in place for each of your values begin to do this work.

There must be alignment between personal and organisational values. Any disconnect means trouble. So begin here. Often conversations around behaviours that are acceptable in families is a good starting place.

I suggest 3 to 5 behaviours that cover key aspects of human relationships as plenty.

Below are examples of behaviours from one workplace:


Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian

Monday, 8 April 2019

Is it time to break up our big institutions?

"The 2010s May become known as the decade in which we lost trust in big institutions eg the church, big business & politics. Justice & atonement must follow. But beyond that, in the 2020s, there may be a return to a tribal trust & hope placed in authority."
Bernard Salt on Twitter 30th March 2019

I have great respect for Bernard and generally align with his predictions.

On this occasion I retweeted Bernard's tweet with this comment:
"Ironic cannot read full article without a subscription to a Murdoch owned newspaper. Trust in big institutions lost long before 2010s and that trust will never be regained."

What say you?

I'm concerned that there are corporations with more money than many countries and that leaders from such corporations have undue influence on politicians.

I'm worried that leaders of institutions based on faith (by definition something that cannot be proven) are allowed influence, based on such faith, on fact and conversations about the future. (I am not against faith. Each person to their own perceptions and beliefs).

I'm fearful of the money we spend on military matters compared to what we invest in avoiding conflict.

What say you?

I have doubts about institutions like politics where there is no due diligence on the people we elect before we elect them.

In Australia for example we have one influential politician who thinks Al Jazeera is an individual, only remembers books by the colour of the covers, and who confuses insurance companies with national associations in other countries. Clearly this person is not competent enough to serve us.

I am worried about political systems that result in deadlock because individuals are serving themselves or the ideologies of their parties above the best interests of citizens. BREXIT is the current prime example.

I am equally concerned by a political system able to depose Prime Ministers based on vengeance. This is Australia for the past 9 years.

What say you?

One solution to these dilemmas is to break up our big institutions.

Ironically this is probably not possible because of the power of the people who run such institutions.

What I've done personally is to live my life wherever possible as if it's
post industrial revolution,
post politics and religion,
post big business,
post violence of any kind.
post greedy bastards and do gooders.
And I live keeping my part of our planet at its regenerated best.

It's living with an attitude of gratitude mainly, and it makes a significance difference.

"Forget fake news, now we've got fake politics, fake government, fake democracy, fake life. Our most critical institutions, the very structures that underpin our society, have become parodies of themselves.

And the most terminal symptom is that many within these institutions think ordinary people don't believe in them because they are too stupid or delusional to sort between fact and fiction.

Maybe. Or maybe those people within the institutions have so thoroughly trashed them that there is simply nothing left to believe in."

Joe Hildebrand (read his full article)

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian

Friday, 5 April 2019

Communication part 3. The four success principles of powerful presentations

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Communication sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book.

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

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

In a nutshell

I began speaking professionally in 1991. Five years later I engaged my first coach/mentor, the genius David Griggs from The Speakers Studio in Adelaide, Australia. I wished during my first session with David that I’d hired him 5 years earlier! The full story is in my Changing What’s Normal book.

Since that defining moment in 1996 I’ve left nothing to chance. 

Now I’m not saying here that you need to be able to speak professionally. What I am suggesting strongly is that you must be professional when you speak. 

The world doesn’t need any more death by powerpoint or boring presentations that fail to inspire.

I’ve learned that there are 4 principles that you really must learn to apply in your own best way.

The first and therefore the fertile ground is knowing your audience. 

You need to know their needs, wants, expectations and desires. 

You need to know what they believe in and what they don’t. 

You need to know their worldviews on the subject you’re speaking about. 

You need to understand where they are, where they want to move to and why.

Such knowing makes the second principle (the ploughing) simpler, that of crystalising your message so that it is just right for your audience.

My coach David Griggs used to continually ask me what my message was because in my early work with him I wasn’t crystal clear. In the deep work recommended below I’ll share some resources that I rely on to ensure my message is precisely right for the audience on the day.

Stories that match your message is the seeding of the ground. The best stories are those that people in your audience can feel themselves in. 

Becoming a great story teller or story-sharer as I suggested in The Appreciative Leader book is a must have passion and skill for everyone wanting to be a Sparkenator in the 21st century.

Principle 4 and the nurturing component of powerful presentations is your use of pauses and how you make your points.

David taught me to not speak while moving and to always make my points from centre stage or the same place in a room. I learned over time and deliberate practice to become a master of short and long pauses. You can become a master too.

Message, story, point, pause, link to message is a proven method for presenting professionally.

3 recommended actions

1) Speak or present to groups as often as possible. Make this part of your community service. Community organisations are always wanting speakers. Assuming the right kind of practice you will get better, wiser and more valuable the more you speak. And you will enjoy the enormous privilege that presenting is

2) Learn who the best presentation skills coaches and mentors are in your area and work with them.

3) Ask these people to be in the room ocassionally and meet afterwards to explore your messaging, stories, pausing and point making and impact on the audience.

Recommended deep work

Immerse yourself in the following resources:

For messaging I highly recommend ‘The Presentation Coach’ by Graham Davies and ‘Think’ by Matt Church and Peter Cook. 

For speaking in general I recommend ‘Speakership’ by Matt Church, Sacha Coburn and Col Fink.

The above resources also contain some great insights into sharing stories. There’s other great books and resources too which are referenced at the companion resources web page to the Remarkable Workplace book here. 

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.
Ian

Wednesday, 3 April 2019

Turning values into virtues (sustainable not situational values)

This is the second in a series of posts about values. Here's is the first post.

One of my favourite writers and authors is Thomas L. Friedman. In his 14th May 2010 blog A Question From Lydia he says:

So more and more of us are behaving by, what Seidman calls, “situational values”: I do whatever the situation allows. Think Goldman Sachs or BP. The opposite of situational values, argues Seidman, are “sustainable values”: values that inspire in us behaviors that literally sustain our relationships with one another, with our communities, with our institutions, and with our forests, oceans and climate. Of course, to counter this epidemic of situational thinking, we need more and better regulations, but we also need more people behaving better. Regulations only tell you what you can or can’t do in certain situations. Sustainable values inspire you to do what you should do in every situation.

The Seidman Thomas Friedman refers to is Dov Seidman, the C.E.O. of LRN who help companies build ethical cultures. Please read the full Friedman blog here.

Sustainable values are for me virtues i.e. lived values.

Read a great article here about values becoming virtues by Jack Krupansky.

Have your values become virtues?

How well are you living sustainable values?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian

Monday, 1 April 2019

What do you mean when you say 'traditional values'?

My conversations with my clients for almost 30 years have centred around 3 subjects, people feeling valued, people living values, and people delivering value.

I know that getting these 3 right for you leads to better results at less human and operating costs.

These 3 are the engine room of a central model that I help my clients to adopt in your own best way.


Concerning people living values my conversations with clients almost always begin with words and eventually we get to behaviours. As I explore in the short video below words on the wall are useless unless they are lived in the hall.



Lately I notice that conversations about so-called 'traditional values' have entered the mainstream particularly through religious and political leaders, yet also by citizens in reference to them. I find this all ironic given both religious and political leaders as a generalisation have a lot to answer for when it comes to not living values.

I do like the words below by the former Prime Minister of Australia Kevin Rudd which I have taken from his article The Complacent Country.

So what are our enduring Labor values? As a movement we are grounded in values of fundamental human dignity, that human beings are worthy of intrinsic respect for their essential humanity, not because of their material worth, while recognising that this core value is still far from respected universally and where many still see human beings as mere political constructs or as economic commodities. 

We are also grounded in values of freedom in a land where working people were once far from free and in a world where freedom is still denied to many. 

We are grounded too in values of justice, fairness or what we call a fair go for all– meaning at a minimum equality of opportunity for all and a decent safety net for those who collide with a brick wall at some stage of their lives and need society’s helping hand to preserve their basic human dignity and that of their families. 

We also believe in values of opportunity, prosperity and enterprise so that through hard work, innovation and achievement women and men can build their own futures and reach for the stars of their own imaginings. 

We believe equally in values of empathy, compassion and human solidarity– the “other-regarding” elements of our human nature – which cause us to extend a helping hand, not just through random acts of private charity, but also through properly informed public policy, to support those in poverty, hardship and distress because we share with them the bonds of common humanity. 

We are anchored as well in values of family, community and nation-building, as the natural antidotes of unfettered markets, which when left unrestrained would happily destroy all in their wake. 

So too are we now animated by values of sustainability so that Mother Earth herself can live to sustain us all with air to breathe, water to drink and a climate worthy of handing on to the generations that come after us – because we believe in inter-generational justice as well. 

And finally, we believe in security, both at home and abroad, so that all can peacefully go about their work and their lives, free from the threat of fear, remembering with pride that it has been Australian Labor governments that have lead our country for the most part through both world wars. 

These then are Labor values. Values of human dignity, of liberty, of equality, of opportunity, of solidarity, of family, of community, of sustainability and of security. They are not only Labor values. They are also Australian values. And they are universal human values. In Australia, it was also the Labor movement that grafted many of them  deep into the Australian soul. There was nothing about “a fair go” in the values 19th century colonial Australia. We the Labor movement put it there. 

The conservatives will try to own some of these values – through their partial embrace of concepts of human dignity, freedom, family, opportunity and security. But when did you last hear conservatives talking about a fair go, about solidarity, about community, about nation building or about sustainability. 

For them, these are a foreign language – almost a foreign country. Whereas we believe in the full monty. 

There is a deep philosophical reason for this. For all our faults as a movement, we believe that human beings are designed not just to be self-interested. We also believe that a fulfilled human life is both self- regarding andother-regarding. 

Conservatives  regard this is inherently contradictory. But we have sufficient grounding in reality, and sufficient  “audacity of hope”, to believe that they are not, and that indeed these values are mutually complementary, mutually reinforcing, mutually tempering  and deeply empowering of both the individual and society, of both family and community, of both nation and the world, of both human beings and the natural order. 

Our philosophical view is that values that are exclusively selfish are ultimately self-destructive. Indeed that is the essential nature of unfettered capitalism – or what the theorists call “creative destructionism” – so much so that time and again through modern history we the Labor movement have been  called upon to rescue market fundamentalism from itself, most recently in the Global Financial Crisis. It is not, therefore, simply a question that ourvalues are different to the conservatives. They are. It is because these different values go to a fundamental philosophical principle concerning the absolute core of human nature and human responsibility.

The conservatives seek deliberately to deny an essential part of our common humanity – namely other-regardingness. They do this in order to advance individual greed, however they may try to mask it, as their unfettered project. This reached its apogee with Hayek’s market fundamentalism, later embraced by Thatcher, Reagan and Howard’s “Work Choices.” It also carried with it a reckless disregard for where this ideology ultimately leads in the destruction of people’s intrinsic dignity, their families, their communities, their economies, cultures and even their planet. 

Conservatives also seek to ‘externalise’  any other-regarding values as if they lie naturally beyond the proper province of government –  as if they are at best a matter of random,  personal ethical discretion.  This indeed is the conservative world of “noblesse oblige” rather than systematic social justice. 

Yet in privatising these values, conservatives also place us in collective peril when people find themselves ravaged by the untrammelled forces of an unfettered free market. Which is why working people inevitably react with anger towards the political system if and when these most basic and inclusive values are traduced by forces beyond their local control.  

The Labor Party, by contrast, has always sought to ‘internalise’ these other-regarding values within the politics and economics of the nation. We see the intrinsic dignity of labour, of families and communities; the principles of social justice; and the imperatives of the planet as demanding a public policy response, not just as an occasional act of private, discretionary charity. This is why our values are so different from the conservatives, And this is why we should be proud of the difference.

What do you mean when you say traditional values?

How well are people in your workplace living your values?

Is there a strong alignment between the values your workplace espouses and the personal values of your employees?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.
Ian