Solve the minor issues

April 22, 2020

There are plenty of big issues to think about right now. That’s always true but happens to feel especially real at the moment.

I would love to be able to fix some of those things. Top of my list, this morning at least. is the need for a more grown-up political conversation and the ability for the UK to tackle its major issues effectively rather than degenerate into the mire of partisan point-scoring. Some (definitely not all) countries do this far better than we do. That’s a thought for another time though!

There are also many other serious business and societal issues we could be giving thought to and actively working to prepare for. These are a couple of the questions that seem to me worth spending time on:

  • In society, how might the future look different because of this crisis?
  • How might my specific sector look different?
  • How can I be part of creating that future with positive intent rather than just responding to it?

However, right here, right now there will also be a myriad of minor issues that definitely can be solved and if you spend some time each day to fix some of these, the impact upon your immdiate environment and how you feel each day can be tremendously positive. It certainly works well for me.

The power of small victories should never be underestimated. When my kids were in primary school they came home nearly every day with a sticker or a certificate for some (mostly) small thing they had achieved that day. Why? Because it was all part of recognising progress and motivating them to keep going. We may be grown up but our motivation system works in pretty much the same way.

What kind of smalls things am I talking about? Well, here’s just a couple of minor fixes that I’ve done myself or seen others do over the last couple of weeks:

  • buy a more comfortable home-office chair
  • create an alternative standing workstation for long video calls
  • invest in better quality microphone for online meetings
  • learnt how to use some new video/screen recording software
  • begun using some new integrations for my CRM

Try listing a few small issues that you face, resolve at least one of them in the next 48 hours and see how that works for you. If it helps, try another. Don’t stop working on the big things, of course, but keep in mind the benefit of achieving and celebrating regular small victories.


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


Making friends with failure

July 3, 2018

It’s an issue I find myself constantly facing with my own kids, as well as in many situations with the managers and leaders I work with. Fear of failure stops people from achieving what they are capable of. We must realise that failure is inevitable if we are to learn and improve.

With my kids it often comes out as “I’m not very good at…”, or “I can’t do…” and I hate it! Of course some things will come easier to them than others but there is almost nothing that they couldn’t become really good at if they seriously wanted to and put in plenty of hard work.

YouareAwesomeI’m really enjoy Matthew Syed’s writing on this subject. First with ‘Black Box Thinking’ and then in his book for children called ‘You Are Awesome’. In this work he speaks to children about how you get really good at something. Sure there has to be a little bit of natural ability to begin with but then it’s down to practice, hard work and, most importantly, getting comfortable with the idea that to improve you have to fail. You have to try something and it not work as you’d hoped…so you try again. And again. And again.

Whether it’s a new marketing strategy or learning Italian – making friends with failure (also known as learning to get it right) is essential. Cue the Thomas Edison light bulb quote!

I find this challenging as I realise I am just as prone to to failure avoidance as my kids. Head down; keep going; keep the end in mind.

 


End in sight

February 21, 2018

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.

pexels-photo-309384.jpegMy 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!

 


Have you planned your victory party?

October 31, 2016

On the Foundations of Success workshop, I introduce four Success Foundations.

Number 1 is CLEAR DIRECTION or ‘having a crystal clear picture of what success looks like.’

This is a great starting point. Define goals clearly.

Are you aware though that you can significantly increase the compelling power of those goals to enthuse and energise people (including yourself) to give very best efforts, when you plan and communicate how you’ll celebrate when you get there?

My son’s Year 5 class knows if they’ve get a certain number of merit marks in a week, that means Friday afternoon Golden Hour!

Sports teams plan their open-top bus parades.

Marathon runners salivate over their planned post-race meal!

This can work with the big, hairy long-term goals and just as well with the small ones.

“When I finish writing this blog, I’ll reward myself by making a fresh pot of coffee.” [true story]

Try it this week. Define an aspect of success that’s achievable by the end of this week and be specific about how you’ll celebrate when it’s done.

Have a great week,
Nick

P.S. Interested in further leadership ideas & discussion?

I’m excited about my new Total Leader Facebook Group for developing ideas & discussion that will help leaders with the day-to-day joys & challenges of leading. It’s a closed, moderated group so won’t be full of spam and drivel and I’d like to invite you to be one of my specially invited founder members – join here.


The critical importance of a lasting change process

September 9, 2016

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.

 


The start and the finish

September 6, 2016

Today is my kids’ first day back at school and my second day back at work after returning from our holiday some silly time in the middle of Sunday night!

After time away, do you ever experience the “who am I and what do I do here” feeling? I certainly do! There’s the horrible discomfort that comes from being out of the habit: the work habit or the school habit…or the exercise habit, or whatever. It’s why we can often feel like we need a holiday just a few days after coming back from one!

The trick is to get straight back into starting and ending well. If you do that bit, the middle will mostly take care of itself. Avoid the temptation to put aside all those good disciplines. Make a list – yes, physically write it down! – of all the positive actions that have helped you stay productive in the past and make a bigger-than-usual effort to make sure those things happen again from day 1.

Get straight back into your ten magic minutes habit – review your goals, make a plan, schedule important tasks. Set an end point.

Re-establish your end-of-day routine. Review what’s gone well. Record today’s victories. Transfer unfinished tasks. .

This start well / end well mantra works! In fact, it works like a dream and you can apply it not just to organising your day, but to almost everything you’re involved with – staff one-to-one’s, monthly team meetings..the list goes on.

Decide how to start and how to finish. Do that routinely and the bit in the middle goes better and better!

Have a great start to autumn!