Make what's not... possible!
Originally published with SUCCESS
Isn’t personal development or self-help meant to inspire us so that we can make our lives better? It’s supposed to motivate us, but does it?
That’s a question we sometimes face in the self-improvement industry, where the difference between where we are and where we want to be looks so stark sometimes, it ends up disappointing us.
It’s a little like the beauty industry, which shows us perfect lives and perfect bodies that can’t realistically be attained, but we try anyway because that’s what we see.
The question is this: Does constantly working toward a better us cost us accepting who we are right now as good enough?
It is important to understand that the self-help industry usually doesn’t design for reality; it usually designs for an ideal. Subsequently, we conclude that we are always missing something, and to compensate we devour books, we invest in idea boards, we repeat mantras in our heads.
And when things don’t work out exactly as we visualized, we feel let down. At least you didn’t land in the mud, we tell ourselves, as if a pithy pick-me-up will make everything better. Underneath our relentlessly optimistic facades, we blame ourselves and our sad lack of discipline.
But rarely do we stop and question the systems we are buying into. It’s true, we do learn a great deal from many wonderful teachers and thinkers, and their sage advice can prove invaluable. Except we also learn to think of ourselves as “not good enough.” We spend so much time focused on where we come up short, constantly trying to change who we are in order to fit the model of a successful human being, when perhaps we would be better served doing the opposite and making the most of who we are right now.
If we can accept ourselves—our flaws and failings included—anything on top is a bonus. Here are four ideas to make the most of who you already are:
1. Look to systems instead of self-discipline.
Look beyond positivity and discipline as the sole solutions to all of your problems, and instead look to your systems and processes first.
Take the example of saving. The majority of people will agree that saving money is a good idea, but most people have no savings. Why? Most of us blame a lack of discipline, keep the goal on our list, and hope we will somehow transform our behavior with the right mantras and cork-framed visualization. Perhaps if we accepted the fact that saving is hard and that we need better, non-discipline based systems to make savings automatic, we would do better.
2. Realize the main thing wrong with you is that you think there is something wrong with you.
None of us are disciplined in every facet of our lives; we are disciplined in alignment with what we value. The higher up something is on our values list, the more attention and effort we attribute to it—and that is what others see as discipline.
Who we are is perfectly human and we must learn to accept that and work with it if we are to succeed.
3. Use what you are, not what you might be.
Instead of imagining the person you want to be, try making a list of the qualities you have right now—the good and bad. Then re-read the “bad” ones and try to reimagine them as more positive.
For example, if you consider yourself a chatterbox and think being outspoken is a negative characteristic, see it instead as being direct and honest. Stop thinking you are broken, worrying about what you need to fix, and start focusing more on what you have working for you.
4. Don’t just reach up. Reach out.
It’s not all about lofty goals and ambition. This is not to say we should not have big dreams; it means we should not let our big dreams make us feel small. We can’t let what we want in the future stop us in the now.
Today, right here, right now, we can do something to make ourselves proud, even if it’s small, by using what we have and who we are.Read More
Anyone who’s sat through a strategic workshop at anytime during the past decade will be familiar with the SWOT analysis. Simply put, it stands for Strengths Weaknesses Opportunities and Threats and has informed not only planning days and leadership forums but also a large majority of the decisions that executive teams have made regarding the future of their businesses.
The logic is rarely questioned – play to your strengths, sure up your weaknesses, and be vigilant to opportunities and threats.
One of the issues with this approach however, is that it can lead to some rather predictable thinking and formulaic results and may in fact increase the risks we face – even more so than simply leaving things to chance.
Often, in our work with boards or executive leadership teams, we’ll start with a typical SWOT analysis, but then flip it on its head – a process that can be just as informative.
For instance, what we’ve found is that strengths are typically industry or category generic. In a room filled with carpenters, being good with a hammer is hardly an asset. In this context a contextual strength becomes table stakes or cost of entry.
In fact, we like to suggest that strengths should in fact be considered vulnerabilities. They’re the things we think we know. The things we rarely question. This confidence and assuredness in our own ability can be costly as we end up playing in a commoditized market where strengths are neither unique nor considered a competitive advantage.
Contrast that with our weaknesses. We believe our faults and our foibles are in fact opportunities for uniqueness and remarkability. Typically, they’re unique to us or to the culture of our organization and yet these are the things we try to hide under the carpet or bury in our organization’s public face when an embracing of a weakness is not only distinctive, it engenders trust. When we convinced Coca-Cola to admit publically to commercial failure for the first time in their history, it not only changed the way they engaged with their customer base, it stimulated the most successful brand resurrection in the company’s history.
Now let’s look at opportunities and threats:
If opportunities are so glaring that they are borne out of a cursory SWOT analysis, then there is every chance that our competitors are not only looking in the same direction, but may in fact be much further advanced in their exploration than we are.
Which is not to say that identified opportunities should be ignored, simply that they may not provide the competitive lift we desire.
As for threats – an externalization of threat is also an error in our opinion. If the greatest threat to your business, organization or cause or movement is not yourself, then you’re in trouble.
A better strategy than trying to avoid or evade threats is to manufacture them in-house – to future hack your organization and lead your industry’s change rather than simply managing it.
So what does this all mean for the future of SWOT?
1. Learn to question your Strengths
Rather than seeing them as assets, consider how your strengths expose you to risk or else render you generic in a commoditized market place.
2. Own, embrace and amplify your weaknesses
Consider how you might find uniqueness in your weakness. How could your disadvantage be turned into an asset? Small doesn’t have to mean vulnerable, it can also mean more nimble, more personalized, more exclusive. We need to move beyond a binary view of our attributes and develop a capacity to see opportunities where no one is looking. Which leads rather nicely to…
3. Don’t look for opportunities, go to where there a few and create them
If the best way to predict the future is to create it, we need to learn how to identify not just blue oceans, but to also explore what lies in the less exciting regions of our category.
4. Be the greatest threat to your own business & host an “Insider Revolution™”
Don’t wait for change to dictate your future to you. Innovation should be category leadership and it is a leader’s role to set the course, not just for their organization but also for the future of their industry. This requires a willingness to break what’s currently working.
The S.W.O.T. analysis will always have its place as a strategic planning tool, but perhaps, we could be using it in a less predictable way.Read More
Stop obsessing over how things get done. Worry more about what gets done.
Leadership used to be a top-down, pyramid-style structure. The journey to the top was clearly marked. A student graduates college, finds an entry-level job sorting mail or going on coffee runs. They pay their dues, work their way up and in 15 or so years, they’re the ones ordering the coffee.
Today the leadership model resembles something like herding cats.1 People are no longer OK with the status quo and with paying dues. They want their opinions valued and their contributions celebrated. They want to change the company with their ideas—not 15 years in the future but now.
So what do we, as leaders, do? How do we lead people who do not want to be led?
It starts with clarity, respect and these seven tips for leading the unleadable:
1. Stand for something.
If you stand for nothing, no one will stand with you. Many organizations have long-winded mission statements that, while eloquently written and momentarily inspiring, are ultimately forgettable.
Standing for something means every person in every corner of the office knows the company’s mission and values. They know it in a few words. They know it intuitively. It is a yardstick to measure their behavior by. It is something to head for and hold onto on tough days.
2. Create cultures of the willing.2
If a leader can make members of an organization or business feel like it mattered that you showed up every day (or at least most days), then anything is possible. More than 70 percent of people leaving a position say one of the reasons was not feeling appreciated and valued.
If we as leaders can create a place where everyone feels their role matters, that what they spent their time away from their loved ones mattered, then we can generate incredible loyalty. Then their willingness to do more, give more and push harder is extraordinary. On the flip side, if all they bought into is a paycheck, they might as well be walking around thinking, How little can I do before I am in danger of getting fired?
3. Stand against something.
If we want people to stand up, we often need to stand against something. We call this having a noble fight. When leaders are rallying against something, people will rally behind them. The cause becomes bigger than the day-to-day fires. It always will.
4. Keep it fun.
No one wants to be led down into the mines. No one says, “Oh, I want to spend my life in a place where fun is banned and costs the company money.” If we want people to commit and follow us happily, then we need to value the things that help make people happy. Stop being a fun-sucking black hole under the guise of “serious business.” Google has made itself famous by building a workplace people find fun. You should, too.
5. Ask yourself would someone volunteer for this?
Take some inspiration from a business model that largely relies on volunteers. Notice how they create cultures where people willingly donate their time and energy. They are proud to help.
Your people should be proud in and out of work. A good test: Would they happily wear a T-shirt with a company logo on it for the weekend? If the answer is no, you need to dig a little deeper and look for something people want to help creating. Now unless you’re in the business of saving endangered whales, the voluntary desire might not be as strong. But it’s a good starting point.
6. Obsess about what, not how.
No one wants to work in a regime, so stop obsessing over how things get done. Worry more about what gets done. By trying to control everything, ironically, you end up losing control. People will disengage and begrudge you behind your back. Lead by giving them the discipline of a clear outcome, but the freedom to decide the road they take. Stop counting the seconds they spend at their desks, and start counting the difference they make while they are there.
7. Say good job and mean it.
It’s amazing what a little “good job” will do for your leadership. Say “thank you.” They will know if it’s disingenuous. Thank them specifically. Let them know you see what they do and that it’s appreciated.
– See more at: http://www.success.com/article/7-ways-to-lead-people-who-dont-want-to-be-led#sthash.gATZDM9Y.dpufRead More
by Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan
Originally published with The CEO Magazine
The self-help industry and the associated cult of positivity often leave us with an incomplete picture of the environment we find ourselves in. We end up seeing only opportunity without risk and end up relying on hope as a strategy.
But just as crucially, this partial view of reality robs us of the positive potential that negative influences can exert on us.
The story of the aging executive who suffers a heart attack only to turn their lives around and become a health enthusiast is almost cliché, and yet it’s an important reminder that bad news isn’t always bad for us.
It’s also indicative of how our enemies can define our vision and mission as much as our noble ambitions.
Of course, when we talk about enemies, these needn’t be individuals or even people at all. In business, our enemies might be outdated beliefs, unproductive behaviors, the tyranny of a monopolistic category or even the outrageous mistreatment of shared customers. Enemies need only be something that we collectively want to change.
A clearly defined enemy can often be more motivating that a less tangible but positively phrased mission statement. In fact, the need to create change in the world points to the fact that something that already exists is undesirable.
It’s also important in terms of how we build organizational culture. Few things incite human tribalism as viscerally as a shared enemy and this is because it aligns so well with human nature. As much as we would like to believe that we are defined mostly by carrots and only rarely by sticks, this flies in the face of our evolution as a species. Our survival brain is far more driven to avoid risk than it is to gain advantage and this still drives much of our decision-making.
However, rather than being seen as something dark in our natures that needs changing, we would do better to understand this innate desire and to align it with our greater purpose.
Defining your enemy:
- Understand the change you wish to create – If your goal is to make your service more affordable, it’s useful to frame this as fighting against high prices. If you’re driven by the desire to democratize your category, making your product available to everyone, then fight exclusivity and category snobbery. Freedom, for example, makes a lot more sense when defined alongside slavery or autocracy.
- Be clear that it’s a fight your customers want you to have – This is incredibly important. No one will thank you for picking a fight with an underdog, however, challenging a bully is in everyone’s interest.
- Be clear about the rules of engagement – In other words, establish clear rules about what is appropriate behavior in the way your staff talk about their enemy and just as importantly think about it.
- Use the scale of your enemy as leverage – The larger the change you are seeking to achieve, the more critical your mission, the more important you become in the live for whom you have taken on the fight. David was defined by the fact that he took on Goliath, so too should your enemy be a challenger worth taking on.
by Dan Gregory & Kieran Flanagan
Originally published with SUCCESS
The Gen Y and millennial generations have been harshly criticized by its Gen X and baby boomer counterparts, people who have survived economic downturns, recessions, the digital revolution, outsourcing and off-shoring and still managed to maintain their “greed is good” work ethic. So they often look at their younger co-workers and think, You just wait, kid…. Life is going to hit you hard!
And as the managers of this new, seemingly entitled, generation, we constantly complain of the fact that they won’t just knuckle down, do their time and earn their stripes.
These Gen Y’ers and millennials demand things like work-life balance, time off to donate their labor to charity work, a sabbatical to pursue a foreign placement, a clearly planned path to management—and then they clock-out at 6 p.m. so they can spend time with family and friends because they place human relationships ahead of a singular focus on career advancement. Seriously, what is wrong with these people?
All this angst is despite the fact that many of us from the more senior generations are disillusioned, suffering burnout, dealing with broken relationships and perhaps not doing as well in business as we think we should.
Legendary New York adman Bill Bernbach is reputed to have always carried a card printed with these words: “They might be right.” It was there to remind him that his clients sometimes had a point. Maybe we should apply the same wisdom when dealing with our younger team members.
What if a more balanced view of work, seeing it as a part of our broader lives, is no bad thing? How can we learn from those who will follow us instead of constantly assuming that we know better?
Clearly all generations can learn from each other, but given that the older one is usually doing the lecturing, let’s consider what the attitudes of these so-called slackers have to teach the rest of us:
1. Learn to seek work-life congruence.
Work-life balance is a myth. The lines will always blur and, from time to time, one part of our life will dominate the others. So rather than seeking balance (whatever that is), we should seek a level of congruence between our work, our personal values and our lives.
Consider the fact that Gallup’s Global Workplace Engagement Study has workplace disengagement at around 50 percent, and you begin to understand why. At least half of us, from all generations, are not engaged in the work we are doing. Add to this the fact that employee surveys of younger staff consistently rank a sense of meaning in their work ahead of things like money, and we begin to understand why a establishing a sense of purpose in our work, one linked to our own, is so important.
2. Challenging the status quo is useful (if also slightly irritating).
Of course the world would be a better place if everyone around us just did what we asked without questioning our motives or methodology. But all progress requires a level of agitation and dissatisfaction with the current way things get done.
Constant questioning is critical to innovation, to improvements in efficiency and also to ensuring that we mitigate risks that we hadn’t planned for. While challenge can often come across as disrespect or insolence, being open to questioning the status quo is essential.
3. Shift from using metrics like time and physical presence to measuring results.
Just because someone is burning the midnight oil does not always mean they’re being effective. In fact, oftentimes it’s an indication of poor time management and a lack of planning and proficient systems.
The move away from Industrial Revolution models of productivity toward those of the digital and information age necessitate a re-evaluation of the metrics we use to assess our output and that of our teams. In this reality, achieving greater results with less effort is a critical asset.
So the next time a younger member of your staff starts to push your buttons, remember Bill Bernbach and consider, “They might be right.”
– See more at: http://www.success.com/article/gen-ys-and-millennials-they-might-be-right#sthash.GMxnqPSi.dpuf
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