An ordinary day

October 27, 2020

Today is just an ordinary Tuesday – could it be a great day though? A meaningful, enjoyable and positive day?

A day when I make progress on important work and encourage others in their work? Why not?

Could it be a day when I am kind to myself, mentally and physically? And do the same to others?

What if today is one of those days where I live as I want to live, true to my values and in line with my purpose? On a Tuesday?!


To a larger degree than I care to admit, it’s my choice.


This is important because…

June 24, 2020

Motivation is a really big deal.

If you can understand yourself and what motivates you then you can make choices that enable you to live with more energy, enthusiasm and happiness, as well as generally getting better results in whatever you put your hand to.

If you can understand others’ motivation, then you can help them do the same and that’s powerful.

One way to experience high levels of motivation is to be consciously connected to the value of what we’re doing.

This is important because…

If you can’t complete that statement above in a meaningful way for what you are currently doing – both from a ‘big picture’ perspective and in the nitty-gritty of your current tasks – you are most likely feeling demotivated.

This leads to two options – either there isn’t a good reason for doing it and you should stop. Or, and this is really common, there are mulitple good reasons for doing it and they’ve just been forgotten or drifted out of mind.

Here you should definitely stop and revisit the purpose that was there in the beginning.

Blank piece of paper. Big heading, “This is important because….”

It will make a world of difference.


Success is in the system

May 12, 2020

We looked previously at how success can be defined as progess towards achieving your own meaningful goals. By that definition, everyone can be (and feel) successful. Going back to where we started looking at goals, this is the perfect antidote to the negative feelings that we can all be susceptible to if we find ourselves measuring our success by comparison with others.

Ok, so success is in our hands if, AND IT’S A BIG IF, we learn to regularly set our own goals. It sounds simple. In many ways it is extremely simple and yet so many aren’t doing it. There are two really important keys here:

  1. Learn a system for goal-setting and customise it to your own needs/style/situation/preference.
  2. Make using that system a habit.

We’ll look now at the steps for setting goals as laid out in the LMI Goal Planning System. Next time we’ll talk about how to make using it a habit.

Before we get into that though, a brief intelude. Could you take a few seconds just to imagine the impact it will have if you get seriously good at this? What if every month for the rest of your life you could identify the most important work and personal goals in your life and work effectively to achieve them?

Ok, back to the system in ten steps.

  1. Define or describe something that you’d like to be better in some way.
  2. Write a specific goal(s) that supports this intent.
  3. List the benefits gained and the potential losses avoided by achieving the goal.
  4. Write down possible obstacles and list potential solutions.
  5. Write detailed action steps and deadlines to achieve the goal.
  6. Integrate the action steps into your planning system.
  7. Determine a method of tracking your progress.
  8. Write affirmations to encourage you and keep you on track.
  9. Develop a visual representation that effectively reminds you of your goal.
  10. Celebrate the accomplishment of meaningful goals

It’s a simple and immensely powerful system where each step plays an important part in making the whole system work.

We talk more about this in the Foundations of Success workshop I run. If what we’ve been looking at around goals is an area you’d like to improve in, and the LMI Goal Planning tools would be helpful, you’d be really welcome to join one of these sessions.


My goals, my way.

May 6, 2020

The last post ended with a promise that we’d look at how to set goals that work for you whatever you are currently facing.

And let’s face it, some of the goals we may have had are not very helpful to us right now. That one about getting 5000 people to that big May event, anyone?

I’m sure you’ve had at least some negative experience with setting goals. You may even be in that bracket of people who have sworn never to go down that road again having found it only led to guilt, frustration, disappointment (insert any additional / alternative negative emotion here) when the goals weren’t reached.

Let’s start really simple. A goal is simply the expression of an intended outcome; something you want to achieve, do, have or become. Let’s call it ‘being intentional.’ I find this really helps. I don’t need to start with, “Be the best in the world at….” or “Double my income by….”

The psychology of being intentional is incredibly interesting. When I set a goal, no-matter what it is and regardless of how small it may seem, it gives me a sense of purpose and direction. Again, this may be very small but we have to realise that great habits and big successes begin with small actions and are often the result of years of small accumulations. When I achieve that goal, I can’t help but feel a little bit more successful which in turn helps me feel more motivatied to take on another goal.

My apologies if this is way too basic for you but I have so many conversations with people where this is exactly where they need to begin, especially if they find themselves in a state of lockdown lethargy or experiencing the guilt/frustration/inferiority challenges that we discussed last time.

Write down something that you’d like to do today, no matter how small. Something that you’ll feel pleased, relieved, delighted, triumphant (insert any additional / alternative positive emotion here) about when it’s done. Then do it. Start really small and ultra-achievable. See how it goes. If it works for you, then repeat.

Even really big goals work in exactly the same way.

We are just beginning to scratch the surface with the whole goals shebang so please, stick with it because it will make such a difference to your life, your family and friends, your work and even the world if we all get seriously good at this!

Next post we’ll look specifically at the goal-setting system we use in LMI to help people consistently achieve the goals they set. It’s a good one. See you then.

 

 

 


That’s a very personal question

May 4, 2020

Learn a new skill.

Get iron-man fit.

Write a book.

Run a high-performing home-school academy!

There’s so much talk about what we could and should be doing during lockdown and equally as much talk about people feeling guilty / inferior / down because they are not achieving what others seem to be doing during this time.

My last-but-one post about empathy is super-important here.

Just as important though is to recognise why we experience these negative feelings about what we’re not doing. This is a complex issue however one common reason is that we’re not confident in what we are doing.

This is why the art of goal setting is such an important skill.

Paul J. Meyer said,

Success is the progressive realisation of worthwhile, pretermined, personal goals.

In other words,

Success is goal directed action

and

Success is personal.

When I’m good at setting my own goals, whatever they may be, I feel successful when I’m making progress towards achieving them. When I’m focussed on my own goals and I’m feeling good about working towards those, I’m far less likely to be worried about what others are doing and what I’m not doing.

It’s a big subject so more on this next time when we’ll look at how to set goals that actually work for you whatever you’re facing right now.


One very important word

April 24, 2020

One word more than any other seems to sum up what’s really important in the leadership coversations I’m having just now.

Empathy.

Not, ‘Here’s what I would do if I was you’

or

‘Based on my current experience of the world, I’m going to assume yours is the same, or at least similar, and treat you accordingly.’

Empathy.

Tell me about how things are for you at the moment. How can I help? Let’s agree together on the best way to organise / manage / communicate / deliver.

 


What a waste.

April 6, 2020

I’m writing with a fairly heavy heart today as someone who cares about leadership and really wants our leaders to do well. Everything works better when leaders lead well and now, perhaps more than ever, we need things to be done well. We certainly can’t afford to waste time, effort, money and resources in the global fight against Covid-19.

There were two situations that arose over the weekend that saddened me. The first was the announcment by (the hugely profitable) Liverpool FC that they would furlough certain non-playing staff and claim the assistance from the government for 80% of their wages.

The criticism of this has been widespread and well-covered so no need for me to rehash the detail. I do feel extremely sorry for those who have an afiiation with that club. People want to believe in the organisation they work for, the team they support and the people they follow.

In taking this decision the leaders (owners) have caused untold damage in ways which are hard to repair. Trust, integrity, shared values, connection and community are not easily built but are quickly lost. Such a waste.

I know that other football clubs have done the same by the waym though I think that Liverpool has grated more due to its famously integral place at the heart of that community, a fondness founded in togetherness, belonging and shared values.

The second situation was that of the Scottish Chief Medical Officer, Catherine Calderwood, who was forced to resign after flouting the non-essential travel rules that she herself was the media face of. She was clearly doing an important and seemingly  good job and it’s such a waste of ability, as well as the time and effort of those left picking up the pieces to deal with the fall-out and organise a replacement.

I make no harsh judgement of Calderwood for who hasn’t at times facesd their own hypocrisy? This is such a stark reminder though of the imperative for leadership integrity when there is so much more at stake than just that invididual’s reputation.

Neither of these scenarious have anything to do with competence in the job. It’s all about character. Personal Leadership. The most important aspect of all leadership.

Where leaders fail the character test, there’s just so much waste. Invest in your own personal leadership. Invest in others anywhere you have influence.

 

 

 


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


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.