You are your behaviour. Choose wisely

You are your behaviour. Choose wisely

A reporter is investigating your life (you can decide why).

She visits your friends to get the lowdown. What will they say?
She then visits your family.
Your boss.
The cashier in the local shop.
The bus driver.
The trainer at the gym.
Your neighbour.

What will they say?

Whoever you think you are, the world decides based on the behaviour it sees. In any situation, you can decide who you want to be – just choose your behaviours. But choose wisely – the world is watching.

Do you really know your values?

Do you really know your values?

Most people don’t have a clue.

Which is a bit of a problem because it is our values that anchor us. When we feel uneasy with something it is usually because we are violating a value in some way. When we are feeling fulfilled and purposeful it is usually because we are living a life aligned to our values. So, if we don’t know our values how can we check in and rebalance ourselves?

My advice – spend some time figuring them out, keep them front of mind and refer to them every day. As you do that you will refine them and really home in on what they actually are. Only then will you be able to make decisions from a place of clarity.

Oh, and before you start reeling off a load of generalisations such as honesty, kindness and family, challenge yourself to get real, and go deeper – far deeper. It will pay off in spades.

Don’t you just love a good drama?

Don’t you just love a good drama?

We’re not short of a crisis or two to satisfy our need for drama. You can get a quick fix from the latest celebrity scandal, the missed penalty, the disgraced politician. Or get a longer lasting hit from climate disaster, government corruption, the threat of terrorism, war.

The drama channel is so darn compelling. We can’t help it. We get sucked in, and once we’re in, we’re really in. We start thinking the drama, feeling the drama, craving the drama, living the drama.

There are horrendous things happening; there are huge challenges we’re facing. But, as long as we’re caught up in the drama, we won’t find the answers. If we’re serious about change, we need to choose a different channel. There are channels that inspire and empower, and it is there that we will find new ways forward. So, what will you be watching tomorrow?

How do you feel when others disapprove?

How do you feel when others disapprove?

You make a decision and you know others disagree. You worry, and become concerned they judge you because of your decision. In fact, it occupies a lot of your thinking time. You veer between being angry at their ‘assumed judgement’ and trying to work out how to get them around to your way of thinking. And, if you can’t do that, at the very last resort you want to get them to respect your decision.

How much time in your head does all that take? How do those thoughts make you feel?

The only judgement that should occupy us is ours. True freedom comes when we make decisions based on our values system and accept that others may have made a different decision. We ACCEPT that people think and behave differently and we move on.

Spend your time making decisions that support your value system, and then just be you.

Which conversations are you avoiding?

Which conversations are you avoiding?

Think for a moment about a conversation you really should have – with a friend that upset you, a team member that repeatedly under-delivers, a partner you don’t love any more. Are you avoiding it because you assume it will be difficult? You may be right – these conversations often are difficult. And sometimes they’re not.

There are all sorts of wonderful skills and techniques you can learn that have a massive impact on how you have ‘difficult’ conversations but if I were to pick the one thing that makes all the difference it would be your intent. Try this…

Before you tackle something tricky, have a really honest chat with yourself. What is your true intent for the conversation? Is it to get back at your friend and upset them – albeit in a subtle way – OR, is to let them know their comments hurt you and to work together to make it better for both of you? Is your intent with the team member to lay down the law OR to find out what is behind their underperformance and see how you can support them to get better or move on? What about your partner? Is your intent to make them feel responsible for the deterioration of the relationship or to tell them how you feel and end things respectfully between you?

I can’t promise that all these conversations will be easy. What I can tell you is that if you really push yourself to ensure the good of your intent for any difficult conversation, and you share it from the start, it will make a huge difference. Try it.

Are you memorable?

Are you memorable?

Toddlers have character. My daughter used to dance wildly whenever and wherever she heard music. In a shopping centre, at church, in a lift, at her eldest sister’s Christmas concert – if she heard music she had to move. But somewhere along the line she stopped. She also stopped wearing head to toe rainbow colours, and painting a daily heart on her cheek. I guess she figured out ‘that’s not what people do.’

If I asked her now what makes her unique, I wonder if she could answer. Leaders embrace things that make them unique – it could be their dry northern wit, their unbridled passion for discovering new bands, the habit of asking profoundly deep questions in the middle of a seemingly everyday conversations. These traits become part of the stories others tell of them, their humanness – and, it makes them memorable. Being memorable matters.

Hold your opinion lightly

Hold your opinion lightly

Just because you think something doesn’t make it right. I hate to be the one to tell you but your particular lens on the world isn’t the holy one – the one through which all truth is seen.

With this in mind we all need to hold our opinions lightly. Because, you know, that is all it is. An opinion. And your opinion is merely the result of the life experience you have had, the data, the beliefs, and the values you have been exposed to, and the aspects you have chosen to focus on.

Your opinion is formed through your lens and it is different to every other lens out there. It is unique but that doesn’t make it right.

Are you scared of honest conversations?

Are you scared of honest conversations?

One of the most profound things you can ever learn to do is connect with what you are thinking and feeling. The next is to learn to share these thoughts and feelings with the people that matter – lovers, friends, bosses, team members. Most people are truly scared to do this. They fear being found out and judged because of their vulnerabilities; they worry about hurting others; they fear not being liked.

Now turn this around. Which relationships do you value most? Do you prefer people who share their fears and vulnerabilities, or do you like it when they say ‘everything is fine’ even when you know it isn’t? Do you like people to be open and honest, or do you prefer they hold back their truth and say what they think you will like?

And what do you want to be? Real or fake?

If not you, then who?

If not you, then who?

One of the kickbacks I get from clients on a regular basis is “but you don’t understand how things work around here”. What they really mean is they know it’s wrong but don’t know how to handle it. They tell themselves that if they ‘call it’ they will lose their jobs. And you know what, they may be right.

This is a major challenge that many face. There are organisations and industries where dysfunctional behaviour has become so accepted and challenge so unacceptable that no one calls it out anymore. But there is a way out of this.

Firstly, make a decision to hold on to your ‘beginner’s mind’ – the ability to stay objective as you look at what is going on around you. You will have to work hard at this as it is easy to get dragged in so it may be worth enlisting some colleagues to support you. Secondly, take time to learn the skills of effective dialogue. Ineffective dialogue ‘difficult conversations’ become conversations where ‘difference’ is discussed. When you combine an objective lens with the ability to discuss what is seen in a helpful way, not only do you get to keep your job, you get to keep your integrity.

The plague of institutional blindness

The plague of institutional blindness

I have a couple of soap box subjects and institutional blindness is one of them. Every organisation has it – I think it would be impossible not to catch but OMG is it dangerous. It is what has led us from one leadership crisis to the next.

Do you think people didn’t see exactly what was going on with Libor, BHS, the whole Financial Services crisis? Of course they did. Do you think people don’t see the bullying, blaming, lying and lack of accountability playing out in their organisations today? They do. But often they are so ‘in it’ they have lost their sense of perspective.

The challenge is this. How do you keep your lens clean? As a young emerging leader you are busy trying to impress the people above you – don’t lose your moral fibre as you do it.