Why mental flexibility beats mental toughness

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Oct 27, 2014 | Comments Off on Why mental flexibility beats mental toughness

Leaders and management consultants often try to invoke a spirit of mental toughness in their employees and audiences. And certainly, a measure of persistence and resilience is a good thing and necessary for growth and confidence.

What often gets overlooked however, is the idea of mental flexibility.

Mental toughness allows you to pick yourself up after running into a brick wall and run at the wall again without any loss of enthusiasm.

Mental flexibility however, allows you to look for a door, or a window, or a way under or around the wall, or to build a ladder, or to use a bulldozer…etc…etc…

Too often we point to a lack of motivation as the reason for failure, when it’s just as likely to be a lack of creativity.


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Start with WIIFM?

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Oct 20, 2014 | Comments Off on Start with WIIFM?

Simon Sinek’s “Start with Why” is an extraordinary book that explores how meaning and purpose can drive human beings to lift their game and amplify buy in well beyond simple incentive based motivation.

And this is certainly evident in many of the extraordinary businesses and social causes we see around us – certainly, it’s what drives us at The Impossible Institute to #makewhatsnotpossible.

However, where this theory can become undone, and why you might like to consider starting with ‘What’s In It For Me?’ lies in the assertion that this is a motivator for all workers in all manner of jobs. Which isn’t necessarily the case.

An entrepreneur building a business in an emerging part of the economy is far more connected to the meaning in their work than say someone sitting in a cubicle-based call center pasting on a fake smile and droning, “Good morning, you’ve called ‘Faceless Corporation’, my name is Compromise, how may I pretend to care for you today?”

Now you might suggest that the above script is laced with cynicism and doesn’t reflect the level of enthusiasm your employees possess, but consider that Gallup Research has revealed that 50% of workers are not engaged in their jobs and a massive 20% HATE THEIR JOBS. And these are just the respondents willing to be honest.

What makes this worse is, these are the good statistics. In some economies, workplace disengagement is far, far worse. But, sure, go ahead and tell your people about how much meaning you provide for their lives… but remember, a little less than half are actually listening.

The truth is, some people do find meaning in their work, but others find meaning in other parts of their lives – their families, their hobbies, in the sports teams they coach on weekends. And for many of the latter, the 9 to 5 is just a job!

One of the issues we face when we start with WHY is that it’s typically OUR WHY. The meaning we seek to offer may not align with the meaning they’re seeking. We do the same in sales, talking about features and benefits of a product before we really understand what’s driving the people we’re wanting to sell to.

So before you begin to share your inspirational WHY (which, by the way, is incredibly important), take a moment to consider your audience. Maybe their aspirations are different to your own.

And here’s the rub, the more you align your WHY with a little of their WIIFM? the more effective and influential you’ll be.


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Design Beats Discipline

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Oct 15, 2014 | Comments Off on Design Beats Discipline

Too often in our attempts to drive change in our organisations, our selves or our communities, or in an attempt to lift the performance of our teams, we tend to resort to things like discipline and motivation.

The problem is, both discipline and motivation, whilst useful, are only ever meant to be used in short bursts to effect short term change.

As a result, when these short term measures fail to create the kind of long lasting change we want, we blame the human beings involved (even ourselves) rather than the strategies we’ve chosen.

In the long term, to drive real change and engagement, Design beats Discipline!

Consider this example – Dan has been trying to spend more time at home – he does a lot of hours at the office. But no matter how motivated Dan is to get home, or how disciplined he was in turning off his computer and hitting the road, it never seems to make a difference.

So we decided to do the math:

Here’s the issue: Dan has a 1 hour commute to work and an hour drive home at the end of the day. That’s an extra 10 hours a week – or one long work day a week.

This equates to 52 of those days a year which, with weekends factored in, creates an annual total of an extra 2 months a year away from home!!!

Motivation won’t solve that problem.

Discipline can’t solve that problem.

It’s a design failure.

If Dan applied no further motivation or discipline to his day and simply moved the office half an hour closer to his home, or moved where he lived a half an hour closer to where he worked, he would automatically and virtually effortlessly get an extra month a year at home.

So consider where you’re applying discipline where design would be more appropriate. The key is in how long you need the change to remain in effect. In the long run, design always trumps discipline.

Buy your copy of Selfish, Scared & Stupid here.


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The importance of women on top

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Oct 13, 2014 | Comments Off on The importance of women on top

Our political and economic thought leaders are constantly lecturing us on the need to engage with the incredibly important emerging economies. Yet there is an global economy that exceeds them all in terms of scale, financial opportunity and diversity, but for some reason, it receives scant attention from the industry that is supposed to give business its voice.

It is not Brazil or China or India. It is, of course, the female economy.

For years we’ve thrown around statistics such as women make 81% of purchase decisions (or is it now up to 87%?). And it’s not all shoes, sanitary products and handbags. Women play a greater role in areas that we’ve traditionally seen as secret men’s business. Women routinely make the decision when it comes to buying things like homes, cars and (this’ll hurt fellas) big-screen TVs. Women are even dominating hardware purchases – mostly because they’re tired of waiting for a generation of white collar men with no practical skills to put up the shelves we asked them about over a month ago.

Women too are particularly social shoppers, and we’re not referring to the Saturday afternoon retail therapy you might be assuming. Women are increasingly using social media and product forums to flex their consumer muscles and engage and exchange in a dialogue.

All of which are compelling reasons to actively place more women in senior roles in the Comms Industry. Yet these numbers are not reflected in the make-up of the executive teams or boards who are charged with creating communications that speak to these power purchasers – women.

It’s actually pretty rare to see certain women in the communications we create, particularly women of a certain age. If you think about how rarely you see a woman over 50 advertising anything other than incontinence pads, arthritis relief and political party policy, you could be excused for thinking all older women are leaky, gnarly rednecks.

Still not convinced that we all need more senior women? Well, let’s talk about an even more staggering event transpiring before our eyes, women not only shop more but in the not to distant future will have a greater share of money to spend too.

According to some predictive modeling by the nice folks at the Boston Consulting Group, women will control the wealth of the planet in coming years. Partly because, they’re doing quite all right in their careers thank you very much, but also because they’re experiencing a double windfall – their husbands and parents are dying. (We’re not suggesting it’s a plot, it’s just what’s happening!)

It is estimated that this will be the greatest transference of wealth in history. Some analysts estimate that by 2022 women will control two thirds of wealth on the entire planet.

So if ever there was a motivation to address the gender imbalance in the corporate world, surely this is it. Perhaps it starts by paying a little attention. It is, after all, what women have been asking for, for millennia.

Warren Buffet recently said that women were the great economic hope for the US; he asked Americans to imagine what the economy might be capable of with 100% of its talent truly harnessed. We think he is on to something.

Industries that are reinventing themselves and trying to reinforce their relevance might go a long way towards achieving these goals by having women on top.


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Influence: How to argue

By Dan Gregory and Kieran Flanagan | Oct 12, 2014 | Comments Off on Influence: How to argue

One of the principle problems we face in an argument is that we get caught up in a “win at all costs” mindset. In other words, our survival brain takes over and we become driven by protecting territory and less concerned with achieving a successful outcome.

However, if we want to be more effective, persuasive and influential in heated conversations and negotiations, we need to learn to think Selfish, Scared and Stupid™.

Now this may sound counter intuitive, but in fact, these are the core drivers that run us at a mostly subconscious level, and in fact have contributed to our capacity to survive and thrive as a species. Humanity’s success has largely been due to the fact that we all approach the world through a lens of looking out for #1, mitigating risk and trying to keep things as simple and easy as possible.

The problem is, we don’t like to admit it. It just doesn’t sound good does it? So we try to cover these biases up and tend not to be too aware of our “weak-points” and likewise assume everyone else is as selfless, brave and brilliant as they’re pretending to be too.

By accepting that we are all Selfish, Scared and Stupid™, not only do we become more self-aware, we also tend to be more others-aware – and that is the point.

So what does thinking Selfish, Scared & Stupid™ look like in an argument?

1. Think Selfish

Just as you’re wondering “What’s in it for you”, so are they. However, by accepting that you are both driven by selfishness, you’re free to ask an alternative question, “What’s in it for them?” In other words, by framing your argument in terms of what they get out of agreeing with you and even accepting your position, they start to see that they have something to gain from by being a little more flexible on their side. If it’s all about you, then why would someone who is essentially selfish ever want to see your side (or you theirs for that matter).

2. Think Scared

The problem with many arguments is that the argument you’re having is not the argument you’re really having. So we all need to be aware of what they have to lose beyond just an argument. Is their social status or reputation at risk? Is there money involved or a friendship or professional loyalty? The fear of these loses can keep someone completely entrenched in their position so we need to understand that just as we fear losing, so do they. So consider how can you reduce this loss and risk?

3. Think Stupid

Make your self easy to agree with. Most of us do the opposite in an argument. In the heat of a disagreement or negotiation, many of us tend to become so obnoxious, enraged or smug that those arguing with us may choose to stay in the argument simply out of spite. So it’s critical that we become less difficult to agree with if we want to persuade others to our side of the fence.

Whilst thinking Selfish, Scared and Stupid™ sounds counter intuitive and more like the kind of thing that starts arguments, it’s worth remembering that accepting human nature and working with it, actually offers us a greater chance of success than fighting against it. Of course, you may choose to disagree…

Buy Selfish Scared & Stupid™ here.


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