“Yes but …” or “Yes and …”

Which are you?1_sab2mbvnq-nrns8gqn5dhw@2x

Too many times I hear the “yes but” reflex reply.

My best guess as to where that habit originated is in the need to defend a point of view or a decision, so it becomes a reflex reply.

Reactive rather than responsive.

The message that is sent by those two simple words however is, “I am not listening to you, now hear what I have to say”.

Am I right?

Or have you heard it so many times from particular people that it just washes over you as you sigh and tune out?

It’s a zero-sum game, whereas there is the potential to generate better and shared outcomes by substituting one world.

Instead of “but”, try substituting “and”.

This conveys a whole different meaning.

It is saying “I have heard you and I want to work with you …”.

The door is open to an ongoing conversation rather than the door being slammed shut.

If you are not already doing this, listen to yourself, monitor people’s reactions, and work to become more of a “yes and …” person.

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“Practice makes perfect”

Or so they say!

Actually, I want to add an important word, and that is the word ‘intentional’.

“Intentional practice makes perfect”.practice-makes-perfect (1)

I can almost hear your brain saying, “what”?

Well, intentional practice is disciplined practice.

Disciplined rehearsal coupled with rigorous feedback on the performance and a commitment to making appropriate changes and adjustments.

This is vastly different from practicing, often, for the sake of practicing.

In a past life, I coached many different sports teams. Teams of kids, and teams of adults.

Each practice was planned ahead, and throughout there were many breaks for analysis, reflection on what had just happened, and disciplined planning for adjustments.

In other words, a structured approach to learning from experience.

Practicing with intent as well as performing with intent.

I encourage others to bring this same approach to those events when they are field coaching a salesperson, sales manager, or coach.

If there is not a clear intent and rigorous analysis of the performance, reflection, and feedback leading to improvements, what’s the point?

Here’s a question or two to challenge yourself with:

    • Do you as a salesperson, as a leader, interact with customers and colleagues with intent?
    • Do you plan and practice your own capability development with the intention of learning and improving what you do?

Why do you always have to rush?

I lost count a long time ago of the frequency with which I have heard people equate being in a rush and hurrying to meet a deadline with being productive.what-are-you-in-such-a-hurry-for

It’s almost a badge of honour but, when you think about it, it makes little sense.

Surely the ideal would be to achieve high levels of productivity in a state of calm, lacking any feeling of having to hurry, be in a rush, and the stress this generates?

The causes may be one or all of the following:

  • The workload is too high relative to capacity
  • There are capability and/or resourcing issues
  • The person is disorganised
  • Procrastination, usually accompanied by busy work (doing unimportant stuff)
  • Distractions … and the list can go on.

The outcome is that for any person, no matter how much of a buzz they get from being rushed in order to get things completed, the result will never be as good as when there is a state of calm, of not being hurried.

Then there is the impact on the person, and the effect on productivity is tangible.

Plan ahead, and be realistic (which may mean saying “no”, or negotiating)

Stop yourself from procrastinating.

Manage distractions.

Develop self-discipline.

Be calm and make things happen.

How close were you to ‘burnout’?

As we start this new year and many of you return to work after a break for Christmas and the new year, I want you to take a few moments and think back.burnout-90345_960_720

Think back to your state of being in the weeks leading up to the end of the work year.

Be honest with yourself, and ask “how close were you to nearing ‘burnout’?”

That point where motivation disappears, energy levels are low, and stress levels high.

Symptoms include lower levels of tolerance for others and for situations.

Frustration, tiredness, decreased levels of satisfaction and self-care.

It seems these stress and anxiety levels are increasing for many people year upon year.

Before we take a look at some of the actions you can take to lower the chance of getting to ‘burnout’, it’s important to recognise that our own personal drive to perform to high levels, and to compare our performance with that of others is a contributor, along with the erosion of security in work.

Here are some things you can do that will help maintain your wellbeing.

  1. Plan time for relaxing, and make sure you do switch off. Read a book, spend quality time with those you love, take a walk, engage with the natural environment, meditate …
  2. Establish boundaries for your interaction with your smartphone, tablet, computer. It is useful to establish times of an evening where you turn devices, especially phone, off. Monitor your tendency to slavishly react to notifications, and switch all notifications that are not essential, off.
  3. Get enough sleep. Avoid the myth that you can get away and thrive on only a few hours.
  4. Plan your days so you focus on those tasks that are important, and never, never fall into the trap of being busy for the sake of being busy.
  5. Learn to let go of the things you cannot control, and instead focus on what you can control and influence.
  6. Show gratitude and really connect with others, and my final tip
  7. Self-monitor so you know when to slow down or stop to take time for yourself.

How do you measure your success?

People talk about wanting to be successful and they will compare themselves with others on this premise.

The critical question however is, how clearly can those same people identify what their true success is?

For some, success is measured by material possessions, by income, by financial measures.

One person I worked with measured his success in financial and material terms in order to be able to define his superiority when compared with his very working class schoolmates.

There is a catch though, while recognising that everyone has the right to identify what success means for them.

What if you spend your life working to achieve so-called success as defined by others, by society’s expectations, only to discover at some point that what you thought was success is inconsistent with your values?

What might be the level of regret if you discover that you have been chasing some success that really is not all that valuable or important to you?

As this new year starts, it would be valuable to spend some time reflecting on what your most important values are, and from there, identify what real success would look like.

Exactly the same applies to teams and organisations.

There are plenty of examples of businesses that have measured success by share value.

No other success measure like making a difference for people and communities

Think Enron, amongst others. What do you think their ‘why’ was?

There is equal evidence of organisations whose focus, whose success measure is the impact they can have on people, community, country, the globe.

Not only do their people buy into this version of success, but they are more highly engaged and the financial result flow from this.

Don’t be the 40 something middle manager in a corporate who recently confided that he has spent 20 years climbing some mythical corporate ladder, only to get to the point where his kids are leaving home as young adults, and he has missed out on a good chunk of their lives.

He had realised that actually his values were different from those he has spent many years and a lot of time, energy and effort pursuing, taking him away from building deep connections with his family.

The very thing he now realises is most important in his life.

Time for thoughtful reflection perhaps, so, for those of us in the southern hemisphere, go find a beach (which is not to stop those in the north doing likewise).

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‘Tis the season of giving

This is the tagline appearing in the media as we enter the Christmas period.Tis-The-Season-Nice-Graphic-Design

The cynic in me recognises that this mostly has a commercial intent, almost representing an attempt to inflict guilt.

Let’s flag the cynicism for the moment and focus on what the message should really be.

Surely every day of the year should be for giving?

I don’t mean material things. More important is the gift or giving oneself for the benefit of others.

I think of the kids I know who have every material thing they could want.

Well, not totally true as they are always wanting more, but you get my point.

What some are not getting is a genuine connection with their parents (or one of), something much more meaningful than anything material.

The same applies to managers who are always far too busy to really connect with their people.

This triggers a sense of not being valued and respected in many people.

How do people know when their parent or manager is connecting?

It’s a combination mostly of spending quality time and of genuinely listening. Creating opportunity to listen more.

We should add to that the importance of following through on promises.

I have lost count over the years of the number of instances people have described where they had a one on one meeting scheduled with their manager who, at the last minute, backed out as something more important had come up.

Some parents do the same no doubt.

As we head into this Christmas period I think it is important that we all re-evaluate the extent to which we give of ourselves, whether at home, work or community.

Giving to others, along with displaying true gratitude is of much greater value than giving ‘things’.

Please do not confuse the two.

What I have been reading

If you want to choose some reading for the holiday period, here are some of the titles I videoblocks-v00767-maldives-beautiful-beach-background-white-sandy-tropical-paradise-island-with-blue-sky-sea-water-ocean-4k-reading-book-towel_bjkihhate_thumbnail-full01have absorbed in the last 6 months.

They are in no particular order I should add.

… and for those of you in the northern hemisphere, remember that here it is summer!

HARI, Johann             Lost connections: uncovering the real causes of depression – and the unexpected solutions”

BROWN. Brene           “Dare to lead”

DAMASIO, Antonio.   “The strange order of things – life, feeling an the making of cultures”

LUKIANOFF, Greg & HAIDT, Jonathan    

The coddling of the American mind – how good intentions and bad ideas are setting up a generation for failure”

DUCKWORTH, Angela Grit: The power of passion and perseverance”

TURKLE, Sherry            Reclaiming conversation – the power of talk in a digital age”

Swamped with information yet lacking wisdom

I think it was Garry Kasparov (World Chess Master and political activist) in a discussion that I came across recently.

It’s a loose paraphrase, but he said something like “we live in a world in which we are swamped by information, while wisdom is becoming more and more rare”.

He went on to say, “the real risk is substituting superficial knowledge for the type of understanding and insight that is required to create new things.”

There is a vast difference between data and information when compared with knowledge, or wisdom.

It seems we live in a world that consists of a series of info-bytes.

Chunks of, at best, information, then we are encouraged to instantly move on to the next bit of information.

The challenge then is what to do with that information.

Difficult if the discipline has not been developed to manage the next distracting info-byte that is being delivered, forcing people into rushing from byte to byte, therefore never getting to the stage of considering, which is what joins the dots and leads to wisdom.

What is wisdom, and what is the consequence if it is lacking in people in organisations and in our community?Screen Shot 2018-12-17 at 8.29.34 AM

Wisdom is the ability to take knowledge and, as a result of experience, be able to make decisions and choose appropriate actions.

Wisdom therefore impacts on people’s problem solving and decision making, things that are increasingly of high value to every organisation?

Working with information, knowledge, and not getting to the stage of developing wisdom has an amazingly detrimental impact on our community, as well as our ability to truly function as human beings.

We are nearing that time of year when many people will switch their lives from work to home, holiday and family.

A great chance to also deliberately set yourself and time aside for some honest reflection and planning.

“I really don’t care, do you?”

I think almost every person will recognise the origin of this statement as an adornment to a jacket.Zara-jacket-feature-300x400

In contexts other than those portrayed by the wearer of said jacket, the fact is that there are those who care about little, and those who care a lot.

Placing this in the context of roles in the workplace (which of course equally apply in other arenas of life), those who will be both effective and successful (and I don’t mean in terms of $$$) will be those who care, who really care about achieving specific outcomes, who care about why they are doing it, and who care about the people who are engaged in the process.

A salesperson who cares about the wellbeing and the success of his or her customers will most likely achieve a higher proportion of successful outcomes.

The leader who really cares for his or her people, and has a passion fo achieving agreed outcomes, will behave in ways that both challenge and support those people to achieve.

Achieve for the business, but equally for each other and for themselves.

My question is this.

“Is the willingness and capacity to really care, a disappearing commodity?”

Are we as people making a shift towards greater self focus, losing the ability and willingness to care about others, to care about causes larger than ourselves.

To care about the importance and value of community.

It is perhaps a good time of year to consider who and what you care about, and how you apply it.