funky is

the business of thinking differently

Routines and Rituals

I haven’t written for some time and yet I know I need to. I wonder why we stop doing what we need to do? The different routines and rituals that we create in our life should support us to be our best. They provide a consistency that basically nurtures us. Yet when we are tired or stressed or overworked we give up these routines that are the very thing that supports us.

For example you might find that your favourite routine begins with how you start your day. You may begin with some exercise, a great walk or a bike ride or even some yoga and then you move into having the kind of breakfast that nurtures every part of your body. Now you are ready to begin the day. Your next step is to do anything that requires creativity, whether it be meditating, or coming up with new ideas or reflecting on the previous day to consider what you have learnt to build upon it. If you began each day doing what makes you feel amazing then you will feel that way for the day.

It is a bit like setting out what you wish to create. If you want to create a fun exciting day then you must create this sensation and experience within yourself to set the tone for the day. It will be quite contagious and before you know it fun and excitement will surround you. On other days you may want to be more reflective and quiet. Again this is something you create. The only way to know what to create is to really know yourself, to be in touch with how you are feeling and what you are needing in the moment. 

Bill Ford and Rupert Murdoch – What do they have in common?

What do Bill Ford and Rupert Murdoch have in common? They both meditate. Some perspectives  about what meditation is, are based on seeing it as part of spiritual practices, as something relating to alternative practices that are not for the business minded. So here’s another perspective. Your brain has many neurons that over time create pathways based on how you think. When we experience challenging times in our life it requires us to think differently. This requires creating new pathways and opening ourselves up to new ways of thinking. Meditation is the process in which to create new pathways.

Every person experiences tough or challenging times in their life. For some it may result in failure or what feels like complete demise. Failure is a part of learning. If you fail then you know that at least you attempted or were doing something, you tried something new. The step after this is to learn from it. This requires thinking differently. To move out of highly stressful times, requires releasing stress and moving forward. However in the middle of a stressful situation we often feel unable to move or we are so consumed by fear that we demobilise ourselves. It is again in this moment that you can make a choice, either fight through and shift out of the situation or take flight. Taking flight basically is running away from the situation or taking no responsibility to change it. The fear factor is so great you choose not to confront it and to learn from it. Fear is a sign very kindly given to us to become aware of something, not to ignore it. Taking flight means ignoring the situation and continuing to stay stressed. Over time you get used to a certain level of stress. However  your body does not like this as it is not natural and so it starts to react.

Meditation removes stress, as the only way to move forward, out of a challenging situation, is to go within yourself and to search deeply for the answers. This is difficult as there are so many environmental or external pressures coming down upon you and the desire will be to try and meet external needs first. But this will not work. The first step is to bring about a feeling of calm within yourself so you are then able to think differently, to learn and reflect from what has occurred and to move forward stress free. So why don’t we meditate more given there is so much evidence available to us to show it works. Fear! Going within ourselves can be scary as we fear that perhaps we are not living in the way we should be. Remember fear is there as a sign to address something not to ignore it. To ignore it means the fear grows. To address it removes the fear and you have an opportunity to learn something.

The correlation between hope and powerfulness

Being hopeful is critical to success. Hope is about believing something is possible. To lose hope is to lose a belief that something is possible. Powerfulness is our individual ability to utilise our sense of power. This is our ability to be resilient in tough times, to be loving, strong, focused, disciplined, trusting and so forth. If we weaken our sense of powerfulness disappears through a range of ways, i.e. fear, doubt, anxiety etc, then we become powerless. Is it usually in this state of mind that we begin to look externally for someone or something to blame. The moment we move outside of ourselves is the moment we become powerless. So if you weaken your powerfulness do you also remove hope?

Powerfulness and hope, when in abundance, makes us feel incredible. It is a bit like watching a superhero in a movie. They have the power internally to help the world and they believe they can and they feel that using this power will bring about a change for the better. Basically it is through using the powerfulness and having hope for a better outcome that they embark on their purpose in life. But what happens if they lose their power and start to doubt? This combination of lose of power and hope can result in extreme demise. Sometimes the only hope for a person in this situation is that their situation will b become so dire they are shocked or forced into making a change. They must change themselves. They must find their power.

The spiral effect of hope and power is that if you lose power, you lose hope and so you start to believe that perhaps it is never possible to again be powerful. This begins to create a very negative spiraling downward emotional effect. Depending on the depth of the downward spiraling will depend on whether at some time you will make a choice to either regain your power or submit to being powerless and create imaginative stories to justify this lose of power, which overtime you will shift from being imaginative stories to truths. This appears to give you the permission or jusfifcation to stay in a state of powerlessness.

The greatest way to avoid this situation it to keep a powerfulness monitor. This means to determine what behaviours you would want to see yourself have if you were powerful. Write them down and put them somewhere that you can see them. Commit to these behaviours, stay focused on achieving and practicing them and be disciplined as powerfulness brings about hope and with this brings certainty.

If you choose success – then you must choose change.

Marshall Goldsmith’s book, ‘What got you here won’t get you there’, resonates very strongly. We have a belief, when we have achieved success, that if we keep doing the same thing we should continue to be successful. Of course the reverse happens, we actually start to fail. If you think back to your time of feeling great success it is because you were moving forward in unchartered waters and you were having to adapt as you went along, managing things in the moment, making decisions, trying to see as clearly as possible what was really happening. You had to change your thoughts, your expectations, your behaviours. You didn’t look through rose coloured success glasses, you looked clearly and plainly at what was happening before you. You didn’t tell yourself stories of the past successes, you didn’t reengineer the present to look like the past and you didn’t tell yourself convincing stories.

All of these behaviours occur when we have achieved success. In a sense achieving success is a wonderful thing but it shifts the view of our world. Before success there was a plan and a desire, a willingness to create something and to perhaps make a difference. It wasn’t done for self gratification, it was done to achieve a goal. Once success arrived and you were surrounded with flashing lights you begin to like the feeling of this. Overtime the lights die down but you go in search of the headlines that still talk of your success. The greatest challenge of success is how to move forward and achieve continued success. Firstly there is an expectation that you can do it again, this is called pressure or stress. It’s a bit like the author of a book who sat down and creatively expressed themselves resulting in a best seller. This was not their initial motivation for writing, it was initially to be creative. They achieve huge recognition. Publishers rush to them and ask when their next book will be out and then writers block hits because suddenly they feel like they need to recreate the past, which as we all know is not possible.

To step out of the past and to get back into the game or the present is very challenging and difficult. It requires at least two things. The first to be very open and honest about the connection between what you believe and what you experience. Don’t go looking for success go looking for clarity and honesty. Identify what really made you a success, luck, chance, a moment where you had great clarity about a specific thing and you expressed it. Perhaps there is no follow up novel. The second thing is to be open to change. Sometime ago everyone knew that Blackberry phones were the greatest and most popular phone. How quickly success can fade and reinvention needs to take place. To reinvent, requires change. Success reinforces the great feelings, the status quo, it doesn’t create change. Success should give you the confidence to know you can achieve something you set out to do, if that is what created the success. Use your confidence to open up and bring about the next change you need to make to change you!

What do you think?

Our actions are limited by our thinking! Our ability to see new opportunities is limited to our thinking and our perception. On the pathway to being our personal best, we may sometimes lack the courage or not even see opportunities along the way. Our plans are limited to what we fear and our fears limit our thinking. To achieve your best, we need to open our minds to continuously learn and reflect. We need to recognise what our fears are and how they hold us back. We need to aim high, not maintain the status quo.

In the process of creating a plan or in identifying a goal that you want to strive for, think about how great your goal is. Is it really extending you and pushing your forward? Goals are not designed to reinforce failure or to create failure they are designed to stretch up and to be attainable, building our confidence through the achievement of them. Some people perceive making goals as too rigid and they believe that setting a goal is only for the regimentally minded. However if you don’t set a goal then how will you know if your are growing and developing. How will you know if you are continuously improving and moving yourself outside of the status quo. There is a notion that those that survive are not the strongest but rather those people that can adapt the quickest. Adaptation is about change, maintaining the status quo is not about change.

To be your best and to do better than just survive, set a goal that you want to achieve, that will stretch you. Then check in to see if your goal is to narrow, as it may be limiting if your fears are great and your confidence is low. To ensure you are aiming high enough tell someone your goal and ask them if they think you have the capability and if it is a big enough stretch based on what they have observed about you. Then take one step at a time, don’t focus on the enormity of everything, just begin. Everyday take one step closer to the achievement of your goal. With each step you achieve, acknowledge yourself or congratulate yourself on achieving this step. Then sit back and watch your confidence and trust in yourself grow.

Challenges of a newly appointed CEO

Being promoted to the leader of an organisation or the leader of a business unit is a great achievement but with it comes many challenges. The challenges are usually based on a couple of things. The first is the area of expertise or where the newly appointed leader has transitioned from. If they have an engineering background, then they will have a particular way of doing things, verses someone who has an operation background or a sales and marketing background. These previous experiences bring challenges because stepping into leadership requires different thinking and skills. A person from an engineering background might find working with teams and people challenging as they prefer to create systems to remove human error. Whereas people from an operational background might value teams and the importance of people in an organisation but are challenged when they need to make tough decisions about downsizing.

Whatever the persons experience they need to understand it in the context of their new role which now means that different results are required. To be successful at the top requires taking time out to reflect and to plan and strategise. If you have an operational background you might prefer to be more hands on, which doesn’t provide time for reflection. If you have an engineering background then you might like spending time reflecting and thinking through concepts. However the next step is to share the vision of the organisation with the people and to enthuse them to come along with you and believe in the vision. Impelementing strategies requires getting buyin from everyone and this requires supporting people to align their personal vision with the organisation’s vision. This requires spending time with people and recognising their importance in achieving the vision, something that is perhaps new to engineers.

In addition to the daily challenges CEO’s also have different stakeholders they need to be accountable to. Perhaps before they were accountable to a system or a team. Now they have shareholders, boards, executive teams or other key stakeholders. This presents different challenges that need to be focused on and managed.

Whatever background a CEO comes from, basically the transition to their new role is enormous. They need huge support and assistance to make the transition work successfully. Yet how often do we hear CEO’s say that it is lonely at the top. The feel isolated and pressured to be able to hit the ground running and make an impact as quickly as possible to the top and bottom line of a company. Financial pressures create demands and more and more boards expect results immediately. So if you are newly promoted or considering taking on a new role as a CEO ensure to ask for the support that you need to be successful. A company that invests in you, is more likely to be realistic about the challenges that lay ahead and how they need to support you. This sounds like a good organisation to be a part of.


Judgement of others = lack of Confidence

Great leaders are great because they have a very good understanding of what they can and cannot do. They work on their strengths and continuously develop them. This process gives them confidence. In addition they recognise that to be your best requires working with someone who supports you. A great tennis player would not exist without a coach, nor any other sports person. However in business we don’t connect or ensure that the pathway to great leadership requires working with a coach. Having a coach means you have to be open to discussing and knowing how you behave, think and feel. Having a coach holds you accountable in the areas you have nominated to work on. Achieving these areas makes you feel confident.

A lack of confidence often results in looking outwards rather than inwards. It is easy to default to looking at others and their weaknesses to measure yourself against and to feel better, for a moment or so only. Judging others is a sign of dissatisfaction with self. The only way to feel satisfied with yourself is to become more aware of what you are dissatisfied of and to make changes. Judging others just postpones this process and makes confidence even more unattainable.

If you think back to the great tennis players. If they stop in the middle of the game and focus on the other player and judge them then they are taking their eye off the ball so to speak. It is at a challenging moment in a game that a tennis player must look more closely at themselves and become more focused and disciplined. Looking at their opponent results in losing the game. So remember when you are looking at others and judging them you are losing the game of self confidence. So get back into the game and have fun learning more about who you are and how you can be your best.

It’s Been a While

Over the last few months many things have been occurring and as a result I haven’t posted. It is interesting in reflecting on this period of change, how easy it is to remove the things the support us through change rather than keeping them. Change seems to throw all things in the air and it is not until things are a little more settled that you begin to start to see the pieces and where they have fallen.

The last three months of change for me have been great. I would be untruthful if I said it was great everyday but overall it has been a period of great learning and taking things, mainly myself, to the next level of where I want to go. Clarity is a wonderful thing, greatly needed to be able to be focused and disciplined.

And so I begin what always feels necessary and thoroughly enjoyable, writing each day again. Each post is a reflection of what I have observed. These observations fascinate me and I hope that you find some insight into them too. I believe that reflection is the greatest way to learn and to grow. So here is today’s reflection.

I have observed that one of the greatest things that create stress is when we start to make assumptions and over time believe them to be truths. At the start of a process of change we begin with a blank sheet and create what we want and as we begin to make this change reality  or elements of life and the environment around us enter into it. We cannot remove these elements but rather learn to live with them. And so as our plan unfolds and we begin to build the change we want to see hurdles begin to occur. What I have observed is that hurdles occur because we have started to make some assumptions and now we believe that we must have these elements in the plan. They weren’t there initially but now there feels a great dependence on them. Overtime these assumptions start to grow and before we know it we have many expectations that we must achieve. To achieve them we must clarify these assumptions as they will create conflict for us.

As the assumptions grow so too does the stress until we start to feel a little out of control. If you haven’t already stopped and returned to your initial plan then now it is critical to do so. First remove all the assumptions, all those that didn’t exist on that blank canvas you started to work on. Simplify the picture, remove complexity. When you do this you can again see the beauty in the picture and your vision will have returned and you can again move forward in a disciplined focused way.

The key is to catch yourself every time you make an assumption or create an expectation. Clarify these and stress will simply dissipate.

Reinventing Yourself

The notion of reinventing oneself has become a bit of a buzz word. Basically what it means is keep developing and growing. Staying fixed or even regressing is not healthy or a great way to live. From the perspective of an employer, people who reinvent themselves means they have an awareness about who they, what their strengths are and where they want to go in life. Managing people like this can be quite confronting if you are not doing the same. You may even become envious or jealous of the person as they appear powerful, disciplined and focused. 

Reinvention is like giving yourself a makeover. Not because you don’t like who you are but rather because you want to be your best. In an article written by Dan Gallagher, he outlines a model for reinventing oneself when you are a leader. To get started you need to have a strong sense of self awareness. This means really knowing everything about yourself, how you think, what you believe, your strengths and so on. Part of being at the top requires you to have the social skills to be able to network with develop a great support system. Great leaders have a coach and many others who support them.

Having strong support ensures you can step out and question the status quo. This can be achieved by creating a very brilliant strategic plan, outlining how you think the company should move forward. To be able to successfully do this you need to really know the context your in and also have a great global and political awareness. Being open minded is critical in this step. And finally an element of social responsibility and humility where you have the courage to  to realise that life is greater than self and bringing about the good of others is a higher calling or bigger vision.

When you imagine yourself doing all of these things you can see how success would follow. You would feel incredibly confident and this would give you the courage to keep reinventing yourself or a notion that I prefer,  being the greatest you can possibly be.

Living in the Future

I read a quote recently which said if you live in the future you live in uncertainty but if you live in the present then all is fine or something along those lines. Living in the future does make you feel uncertain but if you never think about the future and where you want to go then you will not reach your destination. It is a little like planning a long trip, you need a map, supplies etc and you need to know where you are going. Once you know you start to path out the way forward. What is more concerning is living in the present and being uncertain. Not having a goal or a focus point will make everyday feel uncertain. This is a really stressful way to live.

When you think about the future and the direction you would like to go in, remember that just like planning a trip to a new destination, you need to work out a plan and imagine yourself going there. The excitement that comes from planning a trip is exhilarating and you can feel the intensity of the excitement grow as you approach your departure in anticipation of your destination. This is how life should be. Work out the goal, plan for it and start preparing for it. You cannot get from destination A to B by waiting for someone to do it for you. Neither can you expect someone else to make you a success or do the work for you. This is your life.

So feel the excitement, relish in it, and begin the journey. Putting off the achievement of your goal for another day will cause your energy to dissipate and it will make your destination seem never possible. Don’t let that happen. As John Wayne once said in an old cowboy movie, “Get off your horse and drink your milk,” in other words get into action and make it happen.