Life Vision

One of the exercises we do from time to time with people is to draw their life vision, or their goals. Sometimes this is done in the context of a team or a business - we ask people to envision what they want.
This is not an exercise in drawing! :)

Here is my life vision

GW - life vision. Extra points to anyone who knows where in the world this scene is set.
If you know your film, that may help x
G x

Knowing how to think...

"Knowing how to think empowers you far beyond those who know only what to think"

~ Neil DeGrasse Tyson

A great conversation

I had a great conversation yesterday, I thought it worthwhile sharing some of our takeaways.   I had a call with a good friend of mine, himself an accomplished leader/exec. 

I shared some thoughts around a new coaching module I'm preparing and some other ideas I've had and we caught up with some of his recent things.

Reflection and prioritisation

While we were talking we got into his recent experiences of effective prioritisation and taking time out.  He's taken some of the ideas that we've shared in the past and from this blog, which is nice to know, and developed his own really effective period of reflection.

This something that fits in well with his day, and allows him to focus on the really key value adding things that he needs to get done. Getting into a habit of stepping back in this way  has helped him to maintain control over his day and make progress on the things that will really make a difference to his team and business.

Really effective support conversations

There was real value in the conversation for both of us, and we discussed what it was about the quality of the discussion that made it so effective.  It goes beyond the structure of a coaching discussion, and comes more from the spirit that we adopted, it's a bit different to a bar chat with a mate, but not dissimilar I guess.

  • In one person there is the willingness, humility, and bravery required to go into a conversation willing to be challenged and to be totally open to another view.
  • Whilst in the other party there is the commitment to be there totally for the other person with the intent of helping them find the best way for them - that means being committed to saying what they see and to asking questions rather than giving instructions.

That is a great grounding for a conversation which is more effective than the standard bar chat with a mate where you are often going to have a great chat where you get the answers you want, not necessarily the ones you need.


Friday thoughts - step back, prioritise self, identify high value add activities.

So I've had a little while since writing anything of substance for the blog, and in some recent work I have  revisited the subject of really effective prioritisation setting, I touched on it at points in the  Mastery Exercise pieces so having it appear as a topic in real life has been interesting - at the danger of sounding like a broken record I'll expand or work through it again briefly.

Prioritise high value add activity

So there are a couple of strands to a fairly widely used priority setting process, one is to apply the Pareto principle or 80/20 rule to our activities - to remind us that is the 'rule' that says 80% of our output is derived from 20% of our activity.  It's not a thing of fact, but a principle that we seem to find works, and if applied as theory can help to redirect us to doing things that make the biggest difference, add the most value.  At the same time it can help us to stop doing things that add little value at all. 

Under pressure we can get driven into doing things that are urgent and very immediate in impact and leave aside the things we can shuffle on - even though they are in fact very important, or could be great value add.  

Reflection time

I have said, and again this came out in the  Mastery Exercise, that the best leaders take time to focus on the stuff which appears on their list as 'not urgent' & 'adds value', to do this there is some bravery required, because it means stepping away from the 'urgent & adds value' stuff which is where we tend to find we end up, stuck in day-to-day busy-ness.  The day-to-day stuff has to be done, but if we never bring our attention to  some of things that can make a difference, our advance is slower than it could be - our potential less likely to be realised.
  • That's why I have continued to recommend taking time out to check in on yourself and asking yourself how you are doing on things - because it is a great value-adding activity, that takes no time.
Just taking that 5 minutes out, every day, to reflect and ask yourself a few questions, perhaps read something one day, check out your diary the next, check your priorities on another - you get the idea.
  • If you are training for something, or aiming for a promotion, whatever goal you are working towards, take some time to remind yourself of it, to remind yourself of what it requires from you.
That short amount of time can be immensely powerful for you, in a very simple but effective way, because it means that every day you will be checking in on an area that is important to you,  you will be maintaining your awareness around it.  Awareness brings choice, so you can keep choosing what it is you want to do, or how you need to be - rather than just wandering unconsciously and being done to by life.

Bring greater distinction

I came across this quote this the other day and enjoyed it, words do it for me.  I spent time examining words in the Mastery Exercise, which a number of people I know have found useful, which is pleasing.  There we were bringing greater distinction around the words, about what they may mean and what may be required was really all that we did there.
  • In so doing we've made the purpose of the word clearer and from there we can develop an actionable behaviour.
The Mastery Exercise starts here, last for 21 days and because it was written live, there are some references to the day of the week - so it is best to start on a Thursday.   The exercise will be left, as is, on the blog, warts, spelling mistakes, and all probably. It is also being adapted into a coaching support module and will be available as a resource soon.

G x

not writing...

sometimes it simply isn't possible to write at 6 am :)

but breakfast with Jack is more fun

Friday, always a good day to work on your dreams...

F1 knows a thing or too about high performance and teamwork in every sense, Williams were consulted by clinicians seeking to improve their performance in operations for example.

Apparently, so I heard, Enzo Ferrari used to write in purple ink, somewhere out there on a desk in insurance land might be a pot of purple ink I left behind, and a rather nice fountain pen I recall, ho-hum...

Failure, Explanatory Style.

a rose from my garden - originally snapped on instagram
out of focus, now yellow not peach - pretty though?
Perhaps you persisted all the way through the recent mastery exercise, perhaps you are committed to a journey of improvement. People most often given up because they realise it is hard, or they suffer a setback and lose heart. It can take bravery to risk failure, but if you are stretching your own capabilities and willing to learn from mistakes it is in the failures where you will find the best data.

Explanatory Style

I'm interested in the idea that we get what we focus on, an was interested when asked to do some research recently to come across the notion in psychology of what is known as 'explanatory style'. In short, you tend to hear pessimists and optimists speak in different ways about events, here is what the pessimist will say;
  • The pessimist regards the cause being something personal - they internalise it - 'its because it was me'
  • The pessimist regards the event as permanent, unchangeable - 'I am always doing that' 
  • The pessimist regards the event as pervasive, affecting everything - 'everything I touch turn to shit'
No surprises for me that the three traits above are common in people suffering from depression.

Perhaps if you notice that you are demonstrating these traits of pessimism, which I think many of us are inclined to do, it might be worth checking out your hypothesis that it is all your fault.
  • Take time in your reflections and examine the event a little more carefully, asking some deeper questions: 'What really happened?/ What went well? / At what point did it go wrong? / What didn't I know that would have changed my decisions? / Could anyone have known that at the time? / What must I do differently next time?'
Maybe even write the question and the answer down - close your eyes, re-run the event in your mind, imagine where you might have taken another option - what stopped you? What can you do about that? 

Better still, get someone who you can trust, not just because they are your 'best' friend, but someone you know will tell you what they see, get them to answer the questions with you at the same time.

Now go and fail - and remember, it ain't just you x

A lesson in life... The Empty Pickle Jar

The Empty Pickle Jar Video

Post by Burhan Ahmed.

Mastery - Day 21 - OUTPUTS

Part of the purpose of the exercise had been fulfilled, at least for me.

I had written everything as we went along on the first outing of the Mastery exercise. I had started to think about each word the day before writing, then when I got up each morning, often with Jack, I would take a while and then let loose writing.

There were a number of comments on Facebook the first time we ran this, I couldn't say whether anyone took up a daily practice as I suggested, but I know many found odds and ends along the way which were of real value to them.

If you have been reading this daily and then perhaps also taking another five minutes to reflect, then you have built some time into your day also, and I think that is where the greatest value in this exercise probably is - particularly for leaders and creatives on a mastery journey.

Time in self-reflection and review

Consider taking this time you have created forward into the future - use the time for self-reflection and asking those questions I have suggested you use regularly:
  • What is going well? / What isn't so great? / What can I do differently?
  • Spend time getting to know your strengths and do more and more of the good stuff that you can do.
  • Remind yourself of and shift your focus to what you want, remember all the great stuff you can do, and then try again.

Choose some words for yourself

They say that 'you are what you do', but here these words have helped us to describe not so much what you should do but how you might bring some greater choice about what you will bring with you attitudinally and behaviourially on a journey of mastery.

I would suggest that you take a few of the words from the list which you feel you most already represent you and could be a list of strengths. Then check in on that occasionally, asking questions around them, perhaps:

'how was my focus in that last meeting?'
'have I watched someone else play that shot recently?'
'it felt harder to make the effort today, are my energy levels where they need to be?'

You might pick one or two words that you think you most need to bring to your current situation, bringing those to mind a few times during the day or maybe even stopping briefly in the moment to remind yourself about what is required - maybe to be a little bolder with an idea, or bringing the humility to receive some feedback 

  • Have the quality you want to bring more in mind, have the intention to be it - and generally that will help you to find the right words, decision or behaviour in the moment.
  • Enjoy doing this stuff, but don't take it too seriously, that’s not to say it isn't serious, but be compassionate around failure. Try to have fun.
I heard, I don't know how true this is, that between them, the top hitters in the baseball hall of fame missed 70% of the balls ever thrown at them.

Bet your odds are nothing like that bad!



Mastery - Day 20 - SUMMARY

Here is a list of the words we have covered over the last near 3 weeks.  By each word I added a few notes or observations.

This is not a checklist or a model set of behaviours for you to follow, or a list of rules or instructions – these are some little notes from me made against a set of words which may help you to  attain mastery, to learn and develop.  These are all behaviours which we are told will help us to be successful, and it feels like a pretty good list.

I suggest today we just take the list, maybe read it, grab one or two words that we like the look of or even strike some out and put your own in.  Tomorrow we will reflect on some outputs

If you would like a copy of this list contact me, include your email address and I will email you a pdf.

  • Self discipline: take daily  reflection, check in on your self, form positive habits
  • Desire: pursue your dreams, focus on what you want, make your objective your desire
  • Persistence: pursue your goal resist your internal doubts,  review your performance, don't make the same mistake twice
  • Focus: pay attention to what you want, stay present in the moment, be interested in what you do, choose what you are not going to do
  • Effort: set an adventurous challenge to stimulate learning and enjoyment, build internal and external support, maintain balance
  • Patience: focus your impatience appropriately, impatience causes error,  return to conscious competence, practice compassion, accept it takes time
  • Energy: take energy from your desire, bring balance, enjoy and learn, recharge, play, reflect, stress is not positive, try being creative
  • Obsessiveness: a relentless focus on and dogged pursuit of your dream, practice, manage perspective, manage energy, consider those around you
  • Observance: actively and consciously observe the world around us, find a partner in learning, actively review your own results
  • Confidence: recognise, know and rest in your strengths, speak your strengths, confidence brings energy, examine and review success and failure, trust in the process of reflection review and learning
  • Trust in self: man know thyself; create an accurate narrative, understand where you are, know and speak your strengths, own your weakness and emotions
  • Emotional commitment: love what you are doing, be clear on your purpose and contribution, know your value add
  • Humility: rest in your strengths, listen to others, recognise your need to grow, welcome feedback
  • Adaptability: renew and innovate yourself, remain focused on the goal, shift in response to reality, deepen specialisms, broaden interests
  • Boldness: take small bold steps to overcome your inner obstacles, speak your strengths, speak or act to add value
  • Openness: data is all around, be open to receiving it, feedback is data that helps improve performance, great relationships allow for openness and candor

Day 21