I was talking with a client who is going through the LMI Effective Personal Productivity programme and expressed embarrassment at the fact they are still hindered by what are, in essence, very simple challenges. The reality is that these ‘simple’ challenges are not easy to deal with and it takes time, practice and grace towards ourselves and others.
What we know from experience is that knowing what to do and doing it are two very different things, which is why it takes a process, over time, with practice, feedback and accountability, to make lasting, long-term changes.
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.
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.
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.
Change is easy. Make a decision, then go do it…and keep on doing it and, hey presto, you have the change you decided you wanted.
Except we all know it’s never that simple.
Change is flippin’ hard. We decide, then we try, fail, forget and eventually move on to something else with the scar tissue of another good intention that was going to improve our business, our life, health, or relationships in some important way but ultimately never came to anything and we live with the fall-out which will make us less up for trying the next time round.
I hate it when people in my industry make out that change is easy. It’s not. We get rooted into habits, conditioned into behaviour and ways of thinking that take concerted effort to get out of.
So what’s the answer?
I don’t want to fall into the same trap of now saying I have the simple answer which will solve everything! However, there is an important step that will help massively.
Think about the change you want to make and then build around it. Build in a fitness class to your weekly schedule. Build in accountability by signing up with a few friends. Physically build a door or a wall or something else that’s within your control if it’s about getting more focused time on your top priorities. If it’s reading more, spend some money and put a whacking-great reading chair in the corner of your lounge and always leave an open book on it ready for you to pick up!
Whatever your goal, build something into your routine, your work, your team or your family that will mean you continually stumble over that thing and it whacks you in the shins every time you try to move so that you remember why you took that decision in the first place and have a much better chance of following through on the action required to secure the change needed.
On the radio this morning we heard the news that another cold snap is incoming for next week and we let out a collective weary groan.
My daughter especially is really looking forward to warmer weather and the thought of yet more freezing temperatures after the months of Winter we’ve already had, lowered her mood.
The thing that struck me though as we talked over our bowls of Cornflakes, own-brand Rice Crispies and Gluten-Free Granola was that this was likely to be the last dip before things are well and truly on the up weather-wise.
The mornings are getting lighter, so are the evenings, and we’ve had some warmer days already giving a glimpse of what’s to come. In this context, it was much easier to raise the spirits of the family because they had tangible evidence of things going the way they wanted.
The long, warm days spent in shorts and t-shirts, eating ice-cream after school and water-fights with friends in the street may be some way off yet, but it feels like we’re getting there and that makes enduring the present reality much easier.
The same is true in our work, in our DIY projects, anything really. We function better when we have some tangible indications of progress towards our goals. To do this, we need clear goals of course AND we need to have established definite ways to measure progress towards them. We need regular ‘small victories’ and to get our heads up long enough to notice that the nights are getting lighter and it wasn’t quite so bitter on the platform this morning!
How about taking some time today to pause and notice what tangible progress you’ve made already this year? Share that with your team if you can. Emit a collective sigh of satisfaction….and get back to it… hopefully with a renewed sense of resolve because the end is a little more in sight that you realised.
P.S. I’ve just realised this is one reason I often have the SatNav on even when I know where I’m going – I like to see the progress as the miles are covered and the destination draws closer. Counting down the miles is strangely satisfying!
This kind of feedback is never easy to take. The offending statement came in written form about 15 years ago as part of one of those management team exercises. Again, most of what was shared with all of us was extremely positive but can I remember any of it? Hardly. The difficult stuff? Never forgotten.
Most of us have the tendency to focus on the negative aspects of ourselves and that’s not good. Building confidence based on the positive feedback we receive is really important. Discovering our strengths and developing them is a central aspect to successfully making our unique contribution to the world.
So what about the tough stuff?
That “Nick is opinionated” comment has been more useful to me than I can ever have believed possible. As I reflected on it at the time, and many times since, I began to realise that I did tend to state my opinions pretty strongly. I came to realise that this worked OK in some situations where the other would counter just as strongly and we’d enjoy a lively discussion.
But for others, that was overwhelming; it seemed dominating, arrogant even. So I learned to temper. To speak but make sure I also listened and be persuaded by others where appropriate. I became familiar with a weakness (or a strength gone too far), and over time learned to improve how I communicate and how I work with others. Still learning… but the feedback has been so valuable.
At the time I was not grateful for it. Now I can’t even remember who it came from but I am so pleased it did come.
This is why feedback is a gift. Be open. Dwell on the positives. Ponder and learn and change when you receive feedback that’s not so comfortable but when you reflect on it, there’s a ring of truth to it.
This week’s Friday Five looks at your personal learning & development.
I work a lot with L&D departments – committed teams focused on providing the very best growth opportunities for staff across their business. In many ways though, it’s a thankless, hopeless task.
Individual attitudes to learning.
No matter how good the L&D programme and support structures, the single biggest factor in the success of any investment of this type will always be the attitude of those engaged in the process.
Positive, self-motivated people with great attitudes will learn and develop themselves regardless of what the organisation does or does not provide. Here are five things to consider in the context of your own personal growth:
1. Master growth list – write down everything you can think of where learning new skills or developing a character quality would be beneficial to you in your work (& life more generally). Keep this as a master list. Add to it whenever you can.
2. Create & maintain your own PDP – lots of organisations encourage a personal development plan. In my experience, it’s the exception rather than the rule if these are current, active and influencing someone’s behaviour. Regardless of the degree to which your company helps with this, take responsibility for your own development. Own your PDP! Take the most important two or three things from your master list and make those your current growth priorities. If this is done in collaboration with your manager or coach, so much the better.
3. Set a goal – turn those priority areas into goals. Very specifically, what are you going to do and how much of it and by when exactly? Make it visual. Put it somewhere you are continually reminded of it. Best way I know to do this is the LMI Goal Planning System (if you don’t have a great system for planning & tracking your goals, drop me a line and I’ll be glad to share it with you).
4. Take systemised action – I would say ‘take action’, but it’s such a common story that we learn something (we go on a course…read a book…do some online learning etc), go away and do something as a result, which is great, but then fail to build the infrastructure around that action so that it keeps on being done. For example, a manager learns about how to have an effective one-to-one with their team members, goes away and does nine brilliant one-to-ones in month 1….and it never happens again! Systemised action means booking those meetings into the calendar as recurring appointments for the next 12 months! Learnt something new on Excel? Set a reminder every day at 9.27am to review and practice that action for as long as it takes to never forget it!
5. Review & share – the very best way that anylearning and development is cemented is when you review and share it with others. Simple stuff. Rarely done.
“How was that course / book / webinar?
“That’s good. See ya.”
“Could we grab a coffee and take 15 minutes to review what I learned on that course, what I’m planning to do differently as a result and how best I might be able to share that with the rest of the team?”
I hope that’s prompted some useful reflection about your own learning & development. Have a great end to the week and if you have any suggestions for topics in this #fridayfive series, I’d love to hear them.
We often define change that we’d like to see, even implement change in a positive way. But how many times do things waver or even completely disintegrate so that 2 years, 2 months, even 2 weeks later, the initial enthusiasm and adherence of the new way has evaporated and things are back the way there were before.
In this video, taken from the Foundations of Success Workshop, I share one of LMI’s foundational concepts – the critical importance of securing lasting change through spaced repetition.