Love don’t come easy…

April 2, 2020

…and neither does building a new habit!

My intention, as you know if you’ve read the previous couple of posts, is to write every day. It doesn’t have to be long, but it does have to be every day.

You’ll notice that I failed!

This is my first post this week and it’s Thursday morning. Thing is, writing hasn’t been a habit recently and thinking you can just start something new and stick with it is unrealistic.

It’s one of the core ideas I share almost weekly in the Foundations of Success workshop – to create lasting change you have to build a habit. To build a habit you need to change behaviour. To change behaviour you have to form new attitudes – ways of thinking – and you do this by conditioning – the practice of spaced repetition. The repeated exposure to ideas and activity that changes the way we think and behave for the long term.

To build a habit we have to build some infrastructure. I hadn’t done this. I have now. I’ve written the goal. I’ve set up a tracking sheet. ‘Writing’ now appears on my day plan ‘Must do today’ list.

As you know, none of this guarantees success, but it gives me a much better chance if I stick to the pattern.

In these days when you have to adapt and live differently, what is one new daily habit that you’d like to develop that might just change your life…or that of others? Worth thinking about.

All the best,

Nick


So what about leadership? – new episode

March 27, 2020

I haven’t got to write today but I have been speaking with my college Roisin from LMI Ireland and we recorded a new episode of the podcast. Great talking with her about all the inspiring leadership stories that are emerging in difficult times. Hope you enjoy it.

 


Live deeply. Lead well.

March 26, 2020

In clearing things out yesterday, as many people are doing these days, I came across this plaque that my dad received in 1986. He worked for the Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) for all of my childhood, I think about 25 years in all, starting his own businesses just a couple of years before he died in 1991.

Dad_DEC In our home I remember we had DEC towels, DEC pens, DEC bags and we went on DEC holidays! Occassionally we still come across some old DEC merchandise in an old cupboard!

As I mentioned in my post yesterday, my goal is simply to write each day, not knowing exactly where it will go but practicing the discipline and building routine. I see this post going down two distinct paths.

Firstly, the personal one. We lost my dad when I was 16, he was 49. Not ill, just gone suddenly due to undetected heart disease. There are many times over the years when I would have especially loved to be able to chat to him, this being one of them. My response it to be grateful. My family are well. We are restricted in what we can do but the five of us are well and in the same house. We can talk. Let’s make sure we do that. Live deeply. Connect. Don’t just exist in the same space and look back one day wishing we had lived deeper. The very precious gift of time and proximity is not to be unappreciated.

The second is the Leadership pathway. DEC is a tragic story in many ways, from the world’s second largest computer company when I was a kid, to rapid decline and extinction in a very short space of time. There’s a good review of the story here.

Simon Sinek also talks about the DEC decline in one of his books. I can’t remember it was Start With Why or The Infinite Game (both are excellent reads by the way). Fundamentally, it seems, that DEC leadership failed to adapt to a changing world with a clear vision of their part in the future. I would love for that company to still be around and to feel proud to own DEC stuff – a tangible connection to our family history. They had the opportunity and resource to be a key player in the new and emerging digital world, but they failed. It reminds me also of the Wright Brothers story compared to their well-funded rivals at the time to launch the first successful manned flight. Passion, purpose and commitment trumped ‘corporate wealth.’ In my business now, as with every other, as leaders we need to lead well. Be clear. Inspire. Take brave decisions. Communicate clearer than ever. Be human. Empathise. Set direction. Exude passion and purpose.

That’s all for today. More tomorrow. Have a great day.


The new normal

March 25, 2020
It’s day 3 of severe restricted movement in the UK (and across much of the world) due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
Schools are closed so our three children are all at home. My work continues running workshops and one-to-one coaching sessions via Zoom, but with far more gaps in the diary than at any time I can remember.
In short, it’s a very different world and we are adjusting fast to a new normal with new routines.
Part of my new routine will be to write every day. Just for 15 minutes. I’m not sure exactly what will come out but I’ve learnt that the practice of reflection and processing thoughts and emotions is an extremely healthy one and for me the best way to do this is in writing.
Feel free to ‘listen’ in. More than ever I’ll be up for engaging with comments, discussions etc if you want to join the conversation.
So to the first of these journals.
I find myself oscillating between feeling courageous and purposeful and then drained and deflated. I read a helpful article yesterday on HBR about recognising that what many of us are feeling can be described as grief. It’s worth a read – I won’t say more than that in this blog except to recognise that we are not immune emotionally to the magnitude of what is happening.
I operate in the world of leadership where there is lots said about staying positive, and I’m all for that. What I don’t like though is when that leads to a triumphalist, unrealistic outlook that fails to recognise our human fragility and, frankly, the utterly shitty situation that many find themselves in. This applies not just to the current pandemic but to many people all over the world, all the time.
So how do we handle this tension?
I’m reminded of the situation my wife described when undergoing rehab after her leg amputation a couple of years ago. The utterly marvelous staff at the hospital talked about goals in a way that I really like. Everyone they work with is in a difficult situation for all sorts of tragic reasons and their job is to help them face their reality and move forward. To do this, they counselled, you have to set some goals. You have to have something that you want to do, to achieve, to conquer, in order to do the hard and painful work today that will give you the very best chance of the best possible outcome in the future.
Therefore I’m thinking today about vision, purpose, mission and values. What is important to me beyond (and during) this crisis that will keep me focused on doing the work neccessary today that will give the best possible chance of the best possible outcome tomorrow.
One of my colleagues shared some great thoughts on The Stockdale Paradox that you can listen to here. Profound advice on facing truly adverse situations with courage and purpose.

Latest podcast

March 5, 2020

New Podcast: Goals & Goal Setting

October 18, 2019

Yesterday Roisin and I recorded episode 3 of ‘So What About Leadership?’. In this edition we talk about goals and goal setting.

I used to not like goal setting at all. It felt forced and restrictive when I prefer to be relaxed and spontaneous. Turns out I was just not using goals very well! Goal setting is simply the practice of deciding what’s important to you (in all areas of life) and setting a course in that direction. I love it! Hope you enjoy our conversation.;


Get out of the way, Nick!

October 16, 2019

A short but important learning…

Yesterday I was leading a meeting with two members of our team via Zoom and I was having some connection issues as I was out at a client site. After a while trying to make it work I decided to bail out and leave the two others to continue the conversations themselves.

Guess what? I had messages later in the day from both about how great their conversation had been, how inspired they both were and how some great ideas had been hatched as they spoke. It was clear they had connected and opened up to each other in ways that wouldn’t have happened if I’d been leading that call.

It’s great to play a role and contribute where required…but sometimes the best thing you can do as a leader is get out of the way and let people get on with it!

I’m challenged by this. How many occasions are they where my involvement may hinder or stifle others? I’ll definitely be thinking lots about this. When is it best for me to get out of the way, trust others more, empower them fully…and be there to hear about the great results that ensue?

I think the answer might be ‘often’. How about you?