May 11, 2022

The next life interaction is the most important one

I remember in my early days of managing a radio station (I started when I was 22) there were a number of times I would have an interaction with a staff member and would come away from it kicking myself.

You see I understood that each interaction is an opportunity to build culture, trust and respect, or to erode it.

If, like me, you are human in any way, then there is no doubt that you have failed like this, or maybe in a different way, at some point.

It was Marilyn Vos Savant who said “Being defeated is often a temporary condition. Giving up is what makes it permanent.”

Ok, you might have done a bad job for the past three attempts. You might even wonder if you are cut out for the job. Forget about the history and get this next attempt right.

The next interaction is the most important one.

May 11, 2022

Articulating the vision that you see

I had a coffee with a friend of mine who runs a large services business. He was struggling because his business had plateaued. It was one of the bigger businesses in our area. In fact it was really a big fish in a small pond and he really needed to jump into a bigger pond.

We got to a point in our conversation and my friend stopped himself half way through a sentence.  He was trying to explain where he would like to go with his business but didn’t have a clear picture of how to get there. Because he didn’t know how to get there, he wasn’t really willing to acknowledge, even to himself, where he was wanting to go.

I prompted him to keep going, and after some objections, he did, and he surprised himself. He knew where he wanted to go and once he acknowledged it he started filling in the gaps between the end outcome and where he was right now.

Since that time with my friend I have seen this same scenario play out with a number of my clients and also in my own life.

Having seen this in action I now know the value of articulating my dreams.

The upshot: Don’t let your inability to see how the journey could unfold, stop you from articulating the vision that you see.

3 practical ways to help get your dream or vision out of you and into a list of actions.

1.) Talk With Someone

Talk it out with someone who will listen. They need to be someone who will listen without judgement and not prematurely kill your idea.

2.) Write It Down

Write it down. Either A). Save a word document on your desktop and take 15 minutes a day to update it as you think it over, over days or weeks.  Or B). Create an Evernote notebook or note and update it as you have new thoughts.

3.) Spend Time With Yourself

Have a coffee with yourself.  Go grab a coffee at a local cafe with a laptop and write it up as much as possible. There can be a real benefit in getting out of your everyday surrounds and getting free from the emotions attached with your environment.

May 11, 2022

How to think big – 6 questions I ask myself

I like to sort cutlery after it has been cleaned – I just want to touch it as little as possible. My wife, on the other hand, prefers to order cutlery as it goes into the cutlery basket in the dishwasher, and of course her method is wrong. 🙂

One of my favourite quotes is from Winston Churchill who said, “We shape our buildings, thereafter they shape us.

It’s true in architecture, you can see it clearly when you visit your local bank or airport. The design of the building encourages people to behave in certain ways. In my local bank there is a circle clearly marked in the carpet where people are meant to queue when they are waiting and a lowered ceiling above the tellers delineating their workspace, kind of hinting to you that you shouldn’t encroach on that area.

The power of the environments we live in to shape our behaviour is so powerful that for the last decade there has been a push in larger organisations to move to open plan office spaces to prevent the formation of different cliques (or silos) in an organisation.

Architecture is not the only thing that Mr Churchill was referring to here.  The institutions we work in, our habits, even the way we or others have done things in the past, limit our thinking. That’s what they are designed to do and for the most part that is a good thing.

We need these structures to be able to functions well. These structures mean that we don’t need to think about everything we do every time we do it. We turn thoughts into systems and structures, we call them policies and procedures, or even just the way we like to do things that we have to do repeatedly (like the cutlery).

Systems and structures are great but they have their downside also.  Once in place they shape the way we think and make us blind to more effective ways of doing things.

A great tool I use to overcome this limitation in my thinking is to focus on outcomes. Once I am clear on the outcome I ask the question: How can I get there with the highest return on the effort expended?  I have been using this for the last 3-4 years and seen some remarkable results in the process.

You can try it out for yourself. Think of something you are currently working on and ask yourself these questions:

  1. What is the outcome that I want to achieve?
  2. How long is it going to take to reach that outcome?
  3. How can I achieve the same goal in 10% or less of the time?
  4. What resources do I need to achieve the goal?
  5. Is there a way to achieve the goal with 10% or less of the resources?
  6. How could we make this 1000% better?

I’d love to hear your comments and thoughts. Did you find this post useful? What sort of content would you like? Why not leave a comment below.

May 11, 2022

What I learnt about business from taking photos

When I was studying photography. In the early days of taking photos even with a single lens reflex(SLR) camera that allowed me to see almost exactly how the photo was going to be framed, my photos would never turn out like I imagined them. Have you ever had this problem?

I imagined a great outcome but there was a gap between what I imagined and what I was seeing. Usually it was the difference between my imagination and the limitations of the lens I was using.

As I became more experienced I learned that if the image I wanted to take was not represented in the view finder, along with the camera settings needed to achieve my goal, then it’s not going to end up on the print.

I have found that this translates to other areas of life also.

In business If you don’t have a clear plan to reach your budget with all the parts needed to achieve your goal clearly articulated, the will and the resources needed to achieve it, then your budget equates to little more than wishful thinking and achieving your budget is left to luck.

This principle is true in all areas of life. If you want to be successful in business or life you need to be committed truth, and specifically the truth of where you find yourself right now. Your context.

This is easier said than done. If you have any experience in sales or marketing you will know that our disposition as humans is that our emotions are more likely to cause us take action rather than rational thought or reason.

So unless we are actively seeking to be aware of what’s going on for ourselves in our emotional world, then we run the risk of making bad decisions.

While the idea of journaling is not a new idea it is one very effective way to stay aware of your context and emotions.

If you’ve tried journaling before I’d love to hear about any experience you have of had. Was journaling helpful, how much time did you put aside, do you have any tips on getting the most out of journaling? Why don’t you leave a comment below.

If you haven’t journaled before why not try taking time each day this week to reflect on and write down your thoughts. Even 5 minutes a day can make a difference.

Personally I use Evernote to keep my journal, I find it helpful to have it on my phone and use little gaps in my schedule when I’m out of the office or traveling to journal.

I also use Evernote to write blog posts. This post was written on the plane to Sydney. More about tools for websites and blogging in my next post.

May 11, 2022

Authority = Permission to Author

Leaders are story tellers. They tell the story of the great vision. They tell the story of where their people have come from and where, collectively, they are going. But most of all, leaders tell the story of who people are.

As engaging as the vision may be, people will be attracted to or repelled from you and your organisation depending on how you write their part in the story, and particularly how they’re valued.

If they don’t like the story you’re writing about them, they will seek out another story writer who will write them into a story in a way they want to be portrayed.

This may be done by leaving your organisation, or by an overthrow in leadership – as we saw in the Labor Party when Kevin Rudd was overthrown, and the many changes of prime minister we have seen since.

Those who stay in your organisation but don’t like the story you’re writing about them, have the potential to weigh your ministry or organisation down.

They are likely to drag their feet on projects and only deliver the minimum on all tasks assigned to them.

They may do better than this if they have a high level of maturity, but even those people who show maturity will be unlikely to remain in your organisation for any length of time if they don’t see themselves playing the character they want to be in the narrative you’re delivering.

You may not be able to control whether or not the people you are leading believe in your vision, or your ability to deliver the vision you cast, but you are able to impact how valued your team feels.

If you see the best in your team, and value each team member highly, over time they will prove the value that you place in them to be well founded.

May 11, 2022

Are you a visionary leader?

It is very rare to find someone who will point in a direction off the well worn paths of the industry the organisation belongs to and say ‘lets go there’.

In my opinion there are three reasons it is so rare to see visionary leadership.

1.) Institutionalised thought

The first is that being able to draw outside the lines of existing systems and structures is uncommon.

Winston Churchill said “We build our buildings and then our buildings build us.”

It’s a quote that I have shared before many times because the concept of institutionalised thought is very useful to recognise. In my opinion it is the antithesis of vision.

2.) It takes a high level of leadership

The second reason visionary leadership is rare is because even if you have the ability to see what doesn’t exist yet, it takes a high level of leadership to be able to lead others off the well-lit path of the familiar.

You may know the way, but unless others allow you to lead, then your vision remains little more than a good idea.

Having others allow you to lead is a measure of your ability to influence, and ultimately the measure of your leadership ability.

3.) Courage

The third reason is that because it’s difficult, there are many people who posses both the vision and the leadership but lack the courage to try.

The good news is that the mere fact that you’re reading this – presumably because the title of this post grabbed your attention – probably means there’s a strong chance you already have these qualities, even if they are latent at the moment.

Over the coming weeks I’ll share with you some of the insights about leadership that have been shared with me.

As always, I really value your input and would love to hear from you. When you have seen visionary leadership in action? What did it look like? Please leave your comments below.