How powerful it is to become aware of understanding the things that we can influence & change in our lives and working on them, and stopping wasting time on worrying and wishing about the things we don’t have influence over. I heard Rosie Batty speak this month. She recently lost her young son in tragic circumstances. What is incredibly powerful to me is her attitude. Her focus is so much on what she can have influence on...not trying to wish for a different past. She cannot change that. What she has realised is that due to her position, she now feels able to have a broad influence on the topic of family violence and she is listened to by people in positions of influence like politicians. She used words like: “I have nothing to lose”, “my voice is all I have”. She is one of the most proactive people in the face of adversity I have met.
Steven Covey in his book, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, talks about a circle of influence. Proactive people are aware of what is inside their ‘circle of influence’ and focus on them, instead of spending time on their ‘circle of concern’ which is full of “if only’s”!
When I look at my life objectively, there are places I have influence and places I wish I had more influence and there are places I have great concern for and know I have no influence in. I am working at growing my circle of influence, and having ‘influence’ in the areas I can – which is mostly within myself.
I’m reminded of the AA mantra ..
‘God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.’
This has been around for such a long time and has had such a strong positive impact on many people’s lives.
Do we need to have tragedy in our lives to become proactive about anything? What does it take for us to believe that we actually have a wider circle of influence than we think?
Steven Covey wrote before the advent of blogging. With www and all that comes with the cyber space that we inhabit, there is so much more opportunity to expand our circle beyond our physical world. My actual physical friendship circle is probably around 100, however who I can have ‘influence’ on is way smaller. My cyber circle is larger, therefore so is the potential to influence on a wider scale. Oprah Winfrey’s circle – just on face book alone is over 10million. Not to say all these people are part of her circle of influence, but there is that potential. It is possible today to build our influence exponentially.
My hope for the future is that more and more people who are lead by their heart expand their circle of influence into the ‘power’ circles that make decisions of law, rules and regulation in our world and with their ‘influence’ helps the world evolve into its positive loving potential.
I have discovered a debate. A what comes first – the chicken or the egg kind of debate….and it’s to do with confidence and competence.
My premise has long been that confidence is a state of mind. So I can be confident that I can do something before I know that I am competent at it. I think that is why I have often thrown myself in the deep end with things. I can see myself achieving at new things, before I am proved to be competent at them. I see confidence as the first step to achievement and what follows on the path to becoming competent or capable is learning.
For me there is a difference between being able to say – ‘I know I can do that ‘(confidence) to saying ‘I understand how to do that and I have the experience that proves it’ (competence). There is a balance needed and to succeed at something there’s no doubt we need both, confidence and competence.
Last month I wrote about confidence and explored the development of trust – personal trust – that can overcome fear. Confidence is something that is drawn out and encouraged into being, tricks of trade can be learnt, however authentic confidence is found through personal development.
With competence, I believe the learning happens on a more cognitive and practical level – with acts of perceiving, knowing, experiencing and remembering. This enables us to move from understanding, to knowing, to embodying processes, actions and ways of doing.
Competence requires flexibility, emotional intelligence, self awareness and resilience. It is wholly experiential. I can study ‘how’ to play basketball, but until I get on a court and practise, then I can be as confident as I like, but I will not know that I am competent. Experience brings the theoretical into reality. I have observed this sitting beside my 17 year old as he learns to drive.
So building BOTH confidence and competence is a key for success, however I believe it helps to start with confidence. It’s the chicken and the egg thing again. I do think that having a confident attitude to start with enables a whole lot more opportunity for development of competencies. Take someone like Richard Branson – here is someone who is the epitome of confidence, someone who only develops competencies after her has chucked himself in. I like his four top competencies in business:
In my life I can translate these into:
Fine competencies for a balanced life I would say.
Building core competencies in presentation skills and public speaking is the focus of the second ‘C’ , COMPETENCE : The Art of Effective Speaking.
In this one day seminar we extend your competencies in;
The path to compassion and empathy
I’m a huge believer in the power of imagination. A healthy and positive imagination is one of the paths to a life of awareness, fulfilment and freedom. With imagination comes freedom of choice with choice comes personal power. Imagination puts us in the driver’s seat of our own lives. What it does even more than that is foster empathy. Empathy is not possible without imagination. We need to be able to “walk in another person’s shoes” in order to get a sense of what they might be experiencing. We can only do that in our mind’s eye. We will never be really able to live another person’s life. It will always be coloured with our own sense of the world.
A few years back Australian Greens Senator Rachel Siewert had a go at living on the income of the dole (or Newstart allowance). She did it for one week to get to understanding of what it might be like and in a bid to attempt to persuade other sides of politics to raise the allowance by $50 per week. She wanted to get a feeling of what it might be like to have to budget down to the cent. Of what it might be like to have to prioritise paying for food for the kids over paying the rent. What she got was a sense of temporary discomfort. She would never really understand what it would be like to be born into a family that had no sense of being able to move beyond the dole, no sense of the generational poverty that many people live with. She may have however, been able to stimulate her imagination enough to start to develop some empathy for them. At least she gave it a go.
So what does it take for us to truly have empathy, or to truly imagine what another person’s life is like?
We are certainly not being given many positive role models from our political leaders in Australia in empathy at the moment.
The veil of secrecy surrounding the asylum seekers plight at the hands of the Australian government is testament to that. There is no imagination at work here. There is no compassion and there is no empathy. There is abuse and there is vilification. There is injustice and there is downright anti-human behaviour.
As the world is getting smaller from some perspectives – we can be in touch with other people so easily; we can see through the power of video and interact through social media. It seems to me that the chasms between the haves and the have nots and the righteous and those without rights has grown to the point that we are blinkered to even start to understand what another person is going through, let alone open our hearts to have compassion, let alone imagine how that might feel enough to have empathy.
I’ve never been homeless. I have never had to flee from anywhere for fear of my life. I have been in a couple of hairy situations, but I have always thought that the county I lived in and the system that I lived under supported at least my rights to be alive (if not my right to marry, but that’s another story). I can, even if only slightly and a little bit, imagine what that must feel like. I can’t imagine what it must be like, but I can imagine how it might feel, and I strive to do just that. I want to actively stimulate my imagination. I want to stretch it and exercise it, bend it and grow it. I want to expose myself to many different people so that I can inform my imagination with more 3 dimensional tactileness. I want to expose myself to new things, to different things, to other opinions, to other adventures, listen to stories and join in on conversations about topics I know nothing about. I want to grow my imagination – not for me – but so I can grow my empathy, so that I can make more of a difference.
"You’ve been criticising yourself for years. Try approving of yourself and see what happens." Louise Hay.
How does behavioural change really happen? We are so conditioned to believe that to make adjustments and grow ourselves we have to find the things that we are ‘bad’ at, or that are not working for us and do less of them…easy isn’t it? We spend such a lot of our lives being down on ourselves, and criticising our every little action. How’s that working out for you? Not so great? Are you still down on yourself, still doing those things? What if we started focusing somewhere else?
Our attention is one of our most valuable assets. Did you get that? Attention is one of our most valuable assets. Whatever we give our attention to is what will grow and flourish. So if we are focussing on what we are doing wrong, then chances are we will see more and do more of that. Hang on…wasn’t that supposed to help us do less?? I suggest not. If, on the other hand, we choose to give our attention to what is already working for us and focus on that, then chances are we will find ourselves doing more of that…and maybe even enjoying ourselves in the process!
We are all motivated to be competent and to become more competent. A feeling of competence contributes to our well being. But how is this best developed?
In corporatesville, there is a thing called the Pareto principle. This basically says that 80% of my income is coming from 20% of my customers; So – If you focus your very valuable attention on the 80% of your customers that is giving you only 20% of your income and try and grow them, there is a real possibility that the 20% that are your loyal clients or customers and your real bread and butter are going to lose out. So spending less time on focussing on what is not working, and more time on making the 20% more prosperous, could that take less effort, be more profitable and perhaps be a good strategy?…yes?
The same goes for personal development. Let’s look at this from a public speaking perspective. I am wanting to be a great public speaker. If my valuable attention is where I perceive my downfalls are – counting how many times I say Ummmm, focussing on how nervous I am, the stain on my shirt from lunch etc, then I will no doubt finish the presentation knowing that I said Ummm 12 times, that my hands shook and that the stain is still there. I will walk away with that as a focus and as the relationship that I have just built with my audience; all of that attention that I could have been giving to them, not me.
How about I change that around? The feedback is that I know I am good at some things, like building rapport, eye contact, and storytelling. So if I can change where I put my attention and start focussing on more of what is already working for me, then I can start to build my relationship with myself and my audience from a positive perspective.
Constructive criticism is often ‘back handed’ compliments, designed to undermine our self value. Think about everything that happens in a sentence before a ‘but’. I loved your presentation, but I think…..Did I really love the presentation? What happens after the ‘but’ is going to be the thing we listen to the most. We love to hear negative things – we have heard them all our lives and that is what we are used to. It comes down to self-esteem. We all seek to verify our own perceptions of ourselves, so if we have low self-esteem we will look for the criticism and be comfortable/comforted with that. We will often not believe a compliment when it is paid; not even receive it, let alone believe it! Negative events have a greater impact on your brain than positive events do. This is because negative events pose a chance of danger and we become hypersensitive to them at the level of instinct, the spiral is that we then have a hard time seeing, hearing or feeling positive.
We tend to focus more on what they think went wrong or what we did badly. We are very quick to criticise ourselves and need to be encouraged to see the positives first. If we focus on the negatives first, we will have a really hard time giving ANY attention to the positives.
Powerful change can be achieved when we focus on identifying what is already working. What are your good and great attributes? Celebrate them and then apply them and grow them.
Once again…in corporatesville… the phrase for this is called Appreciative Inquiry. It is about building on the strengths to transform an organisation. According to Peter Drucker of the Drucker School of Management, change comes from an alignment of attention on strengths that makes a systems’ weaknesses irrelevant. I believe this applies in a similar way to personal change. Elevate your strengths and your perceived weaknesses become irrelevant. Enquire of yourself – what is already working for you? Now work to amplify that.
Your ATTENTION is POWERFUL. Choose what part of your experience you want to see more of, focus on that, and more of it will flow into your life. Guaranteed!
It is not the horse that draws the cart, but the oats. −Russian proverb
http://youtu.be/QzW22wwh1J4 for a cute look at Appreciative Inquiry
Change is constant or as Heraclitus, Greek philosopher said "Change is the only constant." So if it is the only constant, if that is true, why do we still find it so hard to navigate? Or even initiate? A friend of mine says that we never change until we have to or are forced to! Wouldn’t it be great to be in the driver’s seat? In business there are numerous models that look at organisational change. I’m wondering if using these models would help for change that is happening on a more personal and individual level.
In his 1995 book "Leading Change”, Harvard Business school professor, John P Kotter introduced his eight-step change process. Using these 8 steps as our guide, let’s take a look and see if we can develop them into a personal 8 step guide?
Step 1: Create Urgency
From a business point of view, this helps to spark motivation to get things moving. This is done by developing scenarios about what would happen if we didn’t change, or working to really build a convincing argument that this needs to happen now. Kotter talks here of making the connection based on values. Connecting with the heart….strange talk for a business guru? Not so much. On a personal level this speaks to values alignment. What are your values? Is the change you are looking for aligning to your values…truly? There are some great tools for value setting around to help. Here’s a great values clarification exercise developed by Amanda Fleming. A perfect place to start.
Kotter suggests that for change to be successful, 75 percent of a company's management needs to "buy into" the change. Or in other words, we need to be on board and committed to our own change….lets aim for 100%. Put the work in here and the rest will follow.
Step 2: Form a Powerful Coalition
From a business perspective this is about strong leadership and visible support from key people within an organisation. Managing change isn't enough – it has to be lead.
So – on a personal level, find your tribe. Find those people out there who believe in you 100% and get them on board. You can find effective change leaders, mentors and helpers anywhere and often in the most unexpected places. Don’t underestimate the value of people you don’t actually know, yet you hold a high admiration for. Who could you choose to follow on twitter or facebook?. In this crazy age of connection, the more coalitions and networks you can tap into the better. Who is doing what you want to do? Who are the leaders in the field? Who do you admire, who do you align to?
Step 3: Create a Vision for Change
Businesses thrive on vision. Clarity of the vision makes for stronger ambassadors for the change.
I think from a personal perspective here, there is opportunity to expand on just having a vision. This is about clarity of purpose. What is your purpose? What are you here to achieve? What is the change you want? Once you have this clear it can be developed into a vision.
What is your personal vision? What are you imagining of yourself in 3 years, 5 years time? What are you saying of yourself in 3 years, 5 years time? Practice your "vision speech" often – make sure it rolls off your tongue and that you can embody it. Putting it down in pictures can help as well.
The next step of this is to create the strategy to execute the vision. This is the step by step approach to assisting life to conspire to create the vision that you are holding.
Step 4: Communicate the Vision
In a business sense this is really important – to keep modelling the vision and walking the talk. Not so different when thinking on a personal level. How well the vision is held, after you create it, is the key. Watch your ‘self talk’. How often do you hear yourself boo-hooing your vision. Your vision can be embedded in everything that you do. Here is the opportunity to stay focussed. Keep your ‘self talk’ positive and encouraging.
Use the vision to inform your daily decisions.
It's also important to "walk the talk." The more you work and do things towards the change you imagine, the more real it becomes, the more you will believe it to be possible.
Step 5: Remove Obstacles
There are always going to be obstacles. Obstacles can be seen as opportunities. They can also be sign posts and reminders. Obstacles in business can be those staff who want to derail the change process. In life obstacles can be people as well. Who are the people in your life that are holding you back from manifesting the change? Who are the non-believers?
Think about this:
How many people in your life have put you down, or really pulled the rug out from under you? How many have really had a negative and lasting impression on you?
Conversely – how many people have you met that have had a positive effect on you, or people who truly believe in you, or people who simply like you?
I bet that more people believe in you than not. In fact Brendon Burchard reckons the ratio is around 1000 to 5. That is 1000 people think you’re great, 5 are yet to be convinced. The crazy thing is we tend to give more credence to the non-believers. So here’s something to change – who are you really going to listen to?
Surround yourself with believers, focus on them and the obstacles will diminish.
What are the other obstacles? What are the personal beliefs that you are holding on to that are pot holes in your path? The feelings of: “not good enough”; too fat, too skinny, too old, too young. Become aware of your thoughts and beliefs, name them and notice them and work to view yourself differently.
Step 6: Create Short-term Wins
Nothing motivates more than success. Give yourself a taste of victory early. Within a short time frame (this could be a month or a year, depending on the type of change), you'll want to have results that you can see and feel. This could be as simple as actioning and completing one goal. Doing something everyday towards your vision by creating short-term targets that can help you feel like there is progress. Each small target needs to be achievable.
Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small they seem.
There is a great and easy process that really helps this along.
Start your day by making a short list (3 can be good to start) of things you will achieve on that day. Make sure everything on the list is absolutely doable. Make sure these short term wins are heading in the direction of the change you want to make. Also make sure there is always something lovely that you are doing for yourself and only for yourself. Like buying a bunch of flowers, taking a walk on the beach. Whatever it is, once you have completed it, cross it off. The goal is to have everything crossed off at the end of the day and then you can celebrate….and make sure you do!
Step 7: Build on the Change
There is a Japanese word and theory called kaizen that is about continuous incremental improvement. This is a great idea to put into practice here. It is about the art of making great and lasting change through small, steady increments, which is so often used in business settings. A great resource here is One Small Step Can Change Your Life: The Kaizen Way by Robert Maurer, who proposes that kaizen can be also be a powerful personal change development tool. It champions the idea of starting small to create lasting change. Start with one less mouthful, with one more minute. Big discoveries are in the detail, and the detail is small. So, starting to do the ‘small win’, wins. Crossing off achievements every day, wins. Each of these successes provides an opportunity to build on what felt right and identify where you can improve.
Step 8: Anchor the Changes in Corporate Culture
Kotter talks here of corporate culture needing the change so it becomes part of the core of the organizational culture. Our opportunity here is to see our lives as our culture and the change we are striving for as a reflection of that culture. How we operate in the world, will by definition, need to change to achieve the shifts we are after.
Make continuous efforts to ensure that the change is seen in every aspect of your life. This will help give that change a solid place in your life’s culture.
Things that help this process are telling your story. Be proud of the changes you have implemented and tell your success story, loudly and often. Make sure you listen out for and hear the compliments and positive strokes that are coming your way about the changes you are making.
Remember that stepping out of your comfort zone is where learning and change happens. It isn't always easy, but it's always worth it!
So fresh from an Essentially Speaking weekend, I thought we could take a bit of a look at why Mind Mapping works so well as a tool for content creation.
I’m a big fan. I do love thinking in a non-linear way. I use it in so many ways where some clearer thinking can help overcome all sorts of issues or perceived obstacles.
It is certainly invaluable when creating content for a presentation, a book, an article or even a blog.
A couple of questions came up on the weekend about the why’s of certain pointers that Tony Buzan, the creator of Mind Mapping.
A good resource is here…straight from the horse’s mouth. The why’s of using colour, using curvy lines and thick to thinner lines all comes down to keeping your brain engaged. Using images is a good stimulator as well. Given Buzan designed this concept in the 60’s it is wonderful to find that he has brought the tool into the 21st Century with a new book – Modern Mind Mapping for Smarter Thinking Amanda Fleming in her book I Can Speak Clearly Now the Pain Has Gone also describes using sticky notes as a ‘data dumping’ tool. Writing one idea on each note and then they can be moved around later. She says: “Let the silliest, really really unworthy ideas come forth. You never know when they will come in handy even as an example of how silly the ideas can be when it comes to unleashing creative energy! There simply are no rules when it comes to creativity – that’s the whole point so let yourself fly a little when you data dump.”
Practise using Mind Mapping and sticky note data dumping every day on any topic to stimulate your imagination and creativity.