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Attending My Funeral

August 1, 2017 4:54 pm

I attended a funeral last week of a man who left an indelible mark in the area of which I reside. The words that were spoken by his family and friends were heart warming; the effect that this man’s life had on the broader community and his belief in others were impacting.

As I sat through the service I envisioned that I was given the opportunity to attend my own funeral.

  • What would my children/family be saying about me? Would they have to rummage around in the corners of their memories for a few good things to say or would history be replete with examples of love, tenderness, kindness and fun of which they could easily recall?
  • Would my friends have significant things to say about how I impacted their lives for good?
  • Would people say I loved them more than my work, my successes, my things?
  • Would any of my work colleagues/employees attend the funeral and what would they have to say about me?
  • Did anyone from the broader community attend?

It was pause for reflection to contemplate what I want to be known for and what I would like people to be saying on my day, along with the realisation that my time here is but brief yet I can still make it count.

What do you want people to say about you? What lasting impact would you like to have?  We can let things take their course or we can purposefully go about ensuring the course is how we would like it to be.

And lastly, when we pass from this earth, it won’t be the luxury cars we drove, the houses we owned, the businesses we built, the material things we acquired that will be in attendance at our funeral. It will be the people we loved and who loved us in return.

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It’s Monday!!! How to achieve more this week.

July 24, 2017 3:48 am

Arriving at work on Monday can find us immediately immersed in a mountain load of to – do’s, meetings and demands that we are not quite prepared for and for many, Friday appears and we think “I feel like I’ve achieved nothing all week.”

If you find yourself facing a lot on your plate I would suggest that you take 10-15 minutes today, to list 3 – 7 major things that you would like to achieve this week and then block time into your diary for their accomplishment.

Focused managed task completion is much more effective than bouncing from item to item in a reactive style with your to-do list more likely to become the have-done list by weeks end.

You might also like…
Time Analysis Planner – Free Template
Priority Identification – Article

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Finding Your Way Back Home

July 17, 2017 6:00 am

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Most of us get personally lost at least once in our lifetime. Some are disorientated for a matter of weeks,  others months, and for others, years or even decades. Being lost is an awful place to be. We feel disorientated, disillusioned, aimless, uncertain with accompanying effects of fatigue, boredom and depression for some.

One of the gifts of our lostness is that we discover things about ourselves, others and life that we didn’t know existed in our prior state. When things change in our lives, we change – it’s the nature of life’s course and often, we have to get lost in order to truly find ourselves.

I experienced a period of lostness for around three years. After my separation/ divorce, the landscape was incredibly different. Trying to navigate new roads in unfamiliar territory was incredibly challenging, to say the least.

On one dense foggy night as I was driving home from a friend’s home in the country, I had to keep my eye on the white line given I could see only a few metres ahead. I knew that if I simply followed the line it would lead me home. I realised that in my current personal fog, all I had to do was find that life line that would lead me out into the light of day.  I couldn’t see very far ahead but if I simply did one thing at a time, moving forward with at least some semblance of future direction, I would eventually find my way home.

From that point, I took the time to re-create a picture of what I wanted my life to look like in five years time. I then created some individual goals in order to help me arrive at my ideal destination. I then took those goals and created start dates and then placed those particular activities into my diary to be completed on a regular basis. Doing this accomplished the following:

  • Gave me a sense of my future destination/home (which I can change anytime I want to)
  • Clarified the white lines – the next thing to do in order to get me one step closer to home
  • Provided some metrics in order to assess progress
  • Gave me a return point due to the high likelihood I would go off course. i.e I can go back to the white line – my action plan

If you’re out on foggy roads or in unfamiliar terrain, stop, locate your ideal destination, design how to get there and then follow one step at a time. And, try to enjoy the mystical experience of the fog on the way. Sometimes that in itself can inspire even the most lost soul.

Ray

PS. Here is a link to a document (My Little BIG Dream Planner) that I created to help me find my way. Also, click here to go to the related video

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Growth Spurts: The Osgood-Schlatter Disease of Business

July 11, 2017 5:58 pm

Businessman bending the knee in front of Doillar currency symbol.I recall being in my early teens and having to cease playing football due to falling prey to the Osgood-Schlatter Disease – a disease that often occurs from growth spurts when muscles, bones and tendons are experiencing a rapidity of change. Pulling back from strenuous activity, rest and exercise were the measures I had to put in place at the time for my body to cope with the growth.

I meet with many business owners and managers who are experiencing growth spurts in their organisations. A constant stream of work and its correlated demands pour in the front end pushing their revenues/sales up significantly. They take on more work and as a result have to feed that front end demand with extra people, plant and equipment and so forth. While these are exciting phases to be in, the growing pains can be significant and I have seen firsthand the effects that some these periods cause. Some of these have been:

  • Disgruntled customers
  • Unhappy staff who are stretched to breaking point
  • Personal exhaustion of the business owner
  • Cashflow being smashed
  • Running well behind schedule
  • Going into liquidation

My recommendation is that if you are in a growth phase or know one is potentially on the horizon, that you give equal attention in your planning to both the front end and back end. While you resource the front end growth, give strong consideration to what is required to support that growth – people, managerial processes, systems, cashflow management, your own personal rest requirements etc.

My personal growth pains in my knees couldn’t be planned for but business is different. It’s much better to take a small hit on profit to resource the back end than to boost sales and go out of business altogether.

 

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I Want Another Drink

July 5, 2017 2:33 pm

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When I first starting consulting, my first client was an exceptional Life Coach. We arranged that I would consult with him in return for his coaching me. He was very gracious in being my first client. We agreed that when the coaching came to an end, we would share a bottle of Penfolds Grange. We arranged to have dinner and purchased a bottle for a small princely sum. Apart from the wine being the best I have had to date, the one thing I shall never forget is that upon every mouthful, it created the intense longing for the next sip. It stimulated my senses in such a way that I just wanted more.

One of the things I have noticed in my own life and those that I work with is that when we enjoy the tasks and activities (the Grange experiences) that we are engaged in, we are energised in the process. We do a bit, and we just want more – sometimes losing ourselves in the process.  We enter a state of ‘flow’, the term used by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi in his profound book Flow – The Psychology of Optimal Experience.

The converse is also true. If our lives are filled with things that are laborious and that we don’t enjoy, our energy is depleted, stress increases and happiness is what belonged to another era. We procrastinate and avoid those areas as much as possible.

Take time to do a flow – happiness inventory. What are those things that you engage in with ease and that you WANT to do? Some of those I work with have found meaning and joy in varied activities. One works on his cars;  meditation inspires another; my accountant absolutely loves business analysis and for another, it’s time in the garden. When it comes to our actual daily work, what are the elements of it that you truly enjoy doing? Identify these and seek to work 80% of your time in those areas – outsourcing, delegating or stopping altogether the rest. It may take you some time to get there but is worth making the journey.

Similarly for employees. If you can work increasingly on having your people work in their strengths and what they enjoy doing – their happiness and engagement levels will increase thus their productivity and your profitability.

Where our greatest enjoyment is located is often an indicator of where our greatest strengths lie and ultimately our gift to the world – our purpose beyond ourselves.

Whatever it is for you, find those Grange experiences – the one or two things that inspire you and that create happiness and joy in the process, creating a longing for more. Life like wine is to be savoured and enjoyed. And after all, drinking bad wine for the rest of life is not a very pleasant thought.

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Empathy. The Leadership Performance Driver

June 30, 2017 12:41 pm

In last week’s edition, I talked about the importance of validation. The day after I wrote that piece I was reflecting on a conversation with someone I had just met with and realised that I neglected to validate their current experience. Easy to write about, easy to agree with but much harder to do in practice – but absolutely worth the journey.

Validation is expressing to another that it’s OK; you’re allowed to experience, think and feel that – after all, you are only human. When I, on the odd occasion, am in a shitty mood and I choose to be vulnerable and disclose my feelings to a trusted other, their validation strengthens me, helping shore up my inner emotional foundation. It shows me that I’m normal and provides perspective – “you’ve travelled all week, worked 80 hours and then danced all night – no wonder you’re out of sorts with yourself today.” And interestingly, the origin of the word validation means strong, effective, powerful, active. It also forms the basis of the word valiant.

This week, a friend of mine sent me a report compiled by Development Dimensions International (DDI) which is the analysis of 15,000 leaders from 300 organisations in 18 different countries. The findings from the research indicate that EMPATHY is the leading driver that contributes to high performing leadership stating that “Overwhelmingly, empathy tops the list as the most critical driver of overall performance.”

Whether your leadership is in the home, in social settings or at work, if you want to increase your effectiveness it might pay to visit the empathy factor. Empathy is a learned skill and is derived from the ancient Greek word empatheia. This is made up of two words which mean “in or at” and “passion or suffering.” If we take empathy directly from its origin it effectively means that we enter into another person’s emotional state.

And this entering into another’s emotional state is the leading driver of effective leadership? Who would have guessed?

While validation says “it’s OK – you’re allowed to experience that,” empathy says “I get you. I feel what you feel. I hurt your hurt. Your excitement and joy are mine too – let’s go celebrate.”

Leadership isn’t just about vision, planning, focus, inspiring and the host of other traits that exemplify good leadership. At the core of it are the people we are leading – those who are following us. And it makes sense that when those following our leadership know they are important to us, are valued, that we take time to connect with them personally, validate their experiences and walk an empathetic journey them…this creates followers who will largely produce more, stay with us longer, go the extra mile and demonstrate increased loyalty.

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Validation

June 30, 2017 12:34 pm

Speaking with an acquaintance recently they asked me how I was doing. Given they had asked I thought I’d give them an honest answer. I chose to disclose a certain personal area that I was challenged with but instead of acknowledging it they continued talking about themselves.

In this case, my disclosure, the way I was feeling and the challenge I shared were not validated – it was passed over.

When someone chooses to share something of a personal nature, they are trusting us with their stuff. Their vulnerability says something about the relationship you have with them – they trust you.

Validating a personal disclosure happens intentionally. We have to be present in the conversation and then responsive. No response, no validation. The power of validation is empathy without judgement.

That must be difficult for you
I can’t imagine what you’re going through
How are you coping with that pressure?
How is that working for you?
I don’t understand your situation but I can imagine it would be painful.

No judgements but simple statements and questions that validate the disclosure.
And sometimes, people just want someone to listen – the act of being fully present and simply listening validating the person’s situation.

From validation, trust is increasingly built. From increased trust, (and particularly when the discloser asks for it) direction can be provided. Direction and solutions too soon can invalidate the person’s disclosure.

Validation… a powerful connection tool with those in the workplace, home and community and interestingly, my observation would be that those we lead in the workplace stay in their jobs longer and are more productive when validation is evident.

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Wanky Marketing

June 28, 2017 12:48 pm

Garbage bins

No doubt you would have been approached by salespeople or marketing material that just didn’t seem to ring true.

I recently received a message from someone I don’t know personally who started by saying “you truly are a consultant with rare opportunity to be successful doing lucrative workshops. Have you ever considered doing your own…?” He’s obviously never read my website where there are two workshop related pages. He then went on to say “I find myself really motivated to help you here Ray. So much so that I’d even go ahead and invite you to my …workshop…as my VIP guest.” And I’m guessing, the same message went to all his contacts – that everyone was remarkable and everyone was VIP status.

Another marketing email I received once started with “I’m sitting here writing this email barefoot on the sand in front of my beach house.”

Two words that define wanky (used in the title here) are worthless and stupid.

My suggestion is that when you market yourself or your business; when you are meeting with a potential buyer to discuss their purchase of your product or service; when you are in negotiations, you do it in a manner that has the seal of authenticity stamped on it. Otherwise, apart from being assigned to the rubbish dump of the worthless and stupid, the delete button is within easy reach.

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When Listening IS The Solution

June 15, 2017 2:47 pm

At the end of a discussion with a friend yesterday after we had plumbed the depths of simple topics such as death, life and depression they said “I like talking with you. You don’t tell me how to fix things, you simply listen.”

It was a good reminder…

People simply want to be heard. Sometimes, listening IS the solution – all that’s required in the moment.

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Leadership Lessons: When Leaders Act Like Children

May 25, 2017 4:22 pm

happy child kids group have fun and play at kindergarden indoor preschool education concept with teacher

Leadership education comes in a myriad of forms – from Universities to Kindergartens with children often overlooked as being those we can learn from.

  1. Children are inclusive.
    I watch how kids include one another until they learn the art of rejection. They see one of their own playing individually and will often initiate contact and make friends easily. They work together to accomplish tasks.
    Good Leadership is about personnel inclusivity and fostering team participation
  2. Children are curious.
    Children have a penchant for learning, for asking a million ‘why’ questions – they’re curious about what things are and how things work.
    Leadership is about continuous learning and curiosity.
  3. Children attempt new things. 
    Not given to mundane living, children are willing to try new things. From lifting the impossible to taking a first step to jumping on (and falling off) their first bike.
    Leadership is pushing the boundaries of ‘what is’ to ‘what could be.’
  4. Children help others.
    Until they learn the art of selfishness, kids are prone to help where they can even if they can’t really be of assistance. It’s an active demonstration of generosity on their part coming from an innate desire to be helpful.
    Employees respect Leaders who are seen to be helpful; who demonstrate a willingness to upgrade their (employees) skills, provide additional assistance in whatever area is required.
  5. Children are playful.
    It seems that we were born to play but as we grow older we sometimes lose the art of having fun. One of my children grabbed a stick, held it skywards and yelled: “God, touch the end of this stick.” I’m not sure whether God did but it was sure fun to watch. There is a simplicity in the way they have fun without regard for what others are thinking. They’re not concerned with looking cool.
    Leadership is about being responsible AND having fun along the way – both in our personal lives and with the people we lead.
  6. Children are dreamers.
    While kids entertain unrealistic daydreams at times, their little minds are free to explore.
    Leaders don’t allow the past or present to determine the future. They intentionally allow their minds to wander in order to discover. 

Children. Little people who have much to teach us big people about life and leadership.

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Self Awareness, Lifestyle Design and Career/ Leadership Connectivity

May 18, 2017 5:18 pm

   Self Awareness – Lifestyle Design – Career, Leadership Effectiveness

The above graphic demonstrates the connection between:

  • one’s self and the related personal growth
  • the design of, and living out a satisfying and meaningful personal life
  • a career that is aligned with who we are at the core with enhanced Leadership effectiveness.

Connection and Authenticity are central to the process.

Self-awareness is about connection. As I grow in my understanding of who I am, my likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses, my gifts and talents, behaviors, personality and so forth, it connects me emotionally and pragmatically to who I am. I am self-connected and in this awareness, I am better able to connect with others.

Authenticity is a life lived congruent to our growing self-awareness. When I understand who I am, I am better equipped to not subject myself to the shoulds and expectations of others. I live a life that is increasingly congruent and authentic in all areas.

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What Is, May Not Be For Always

May 18, 2017 4:25 pm

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The popular Brunetti Cafe in Swanston Street, Melbourne is being torn down to make way for the Metro Rail, an $11 billion rail project. Some of the words used in one of the articles about the various businesses affected were disappointed, struggle, relocation, disruption and in the dark.

When things change in our lives these words can reflect what is experienced on the new journey. Whether we have chosen the change or it has been forced upon us, there is disruption and often a prolonged disconcerting uncertainty. We long for what was. We sometimes mistakenly assume that our current life situation, our success, dreams, and aspirations are the way it will be for the rest of our lives – but life has a way of changing. And then when the building starts to get torn down, we attempt to revert to past methodologies and thought patterns to deal with the disruption. But as I have found, disruption, disappointment and the shattering of what was, demand new ways of thinking, being and acting. What served us historically won’t necessarily serve us in a new future. And, while the current season can change dramatically overnight, the future season can take a significant amount of time to adjust to.

If you or those you know are going through seasons of displacement, be gentle on yourself, on them. Allow time for adjustment – there is no time frame.

And often the tearing down of what was, is making way for a greater what is to come.
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When was the last time?

April 6, 2017 9:59 am

Lifestyle reflection

When was the last time you:

  • did something for you?
  • played with a child?
  •  ‘wasted’ time on meaningless activities?
  • laughed so hard that tears ran down your face?
  • were truly grateful for your lot in life no matter how good or shitty it appears to be?
  • heard the birds singing in the morning?
  • went below the surface in conversation?
  • felt vulnerable in connecting with another?
  • didn’t agree with someone yet were empathetic and non-judging toward them?
  • had a decent nights sleep?
  • asked questions in order to learn from another who has a totally different point of view?
  • played like you did when you were a child?
  • took a risk?
  • ‘wasted’ money on someone you love?
  • gave thought to your life and your future?
  • enjoyed a work day?
  • sat with a teenager or a homeless person and learned something new?
  • purposefully expressed gratitude to those you work with?
  • drove the long way around or walked a different way?
  • reflected on your lifestyle i.e the style of life you want to be living

When was the last time you made yourself a coffee, closed the door, put your feet up on the desk and stared out the window? Maybe now is a perfect time.

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Thinking about Thinking

March 10, 2017 10:53 am

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Today I visited the inspiring Victorian location of Healesville – a town nestled in the wine region of the Yarra Valley. I went to catch up on some work, particularly to write but found myself sitting for a long time, staring at the landscape in front of me – doing nothing but thinking.

I recall the story of a group of business students being taken on a tour through a factory. As the tour progressed they came across an older gentleman sitting on a chair staring into space. As the story goes, one of the students asked the factory tour guide, “what is that man doing?” The guide’s response was “he is paid to think.”

Thinking creatively, reflectively or futuristically can be hard work. If we are acting, moving fast and ticking things off our to-do list we feel that we are contributing meaningfully and getting somewhere (even if we are on a road that is leading us down to a dead end). Being busy can be an illusion of productivity and profitability.   If we take time out, however, to think long, hard and purposefully we tend to feel we are not being productive.

I think that thinking purposefully, while being one of the more challenging activities for many,  can be one of the most rewarding in the longer term.

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Melbourne Heartbreak. A Personal Reflection

January 30, 2017 6:39 pm

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For those of us who live in Melbourne Australia and no doubt for many across the world, the recent senseless killing of five innocent victims by a man speeding up the footpath into lunch time crowds is simply judged as abhorrent.

Last week, I went to dine and work in the RACV Club of which I am a member. Outside were two separate memorials made up of flowers, teddy bears, cards, photos and notes. Those passing slowed their walk, sometimes stopping – quietly absorbing the scene confronting them. They shared in the grief of loved ones who for most, the victims are personally unknown. It was apparent that many walked away with heavy hearts and falling tears.

My primary reflection as I moved between the two memorials was two-fold.

The first was that relationships matter. It often takes events like this to drive home the importance and appreciation of those we have in our lives.
To hold each other a bit longer
To encourage each other a little more
To express appreciation more often
To give of ourselves and our resources more freely

Secondly, I was mindful that none of us knows when our last day might finally arrive. Those who died were aged from three months to their early thirties – all non-deserving of a premature earthly departure. Both they and their loved ones never suspected that this particular Friday would be that day – the day that would cause them to sleep in the blankets of death rather than returning to the warm beds of home. It served to remind me that while we have breath it is a life to be lived fully with gratitude, with purpose and intent. To enjoy what we have and those around us. To make a meaningful contribution to the lives of others, to the society we live in – just as those Melburnians exemplified for us in assisting the injured and dying – some in their last moments. It served to remind me how often I find myself complaining and getting worked up over things that in light of this tragedy count for absolutely nothing.

Loving wholeheartedly with gratitude; living a thankful purposeful life that contributes to the betterment of all those in our relational circle, our organisations and our broader world is I think, at the heart of humanity.

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The Open Home Christmas Poem

December 24, 2016 10:30 am

The children woke early only to find
Their parents still asleep,
“Wake up, wake up you sleepy heads,
for today, is Christmas Day.”
With eager expectation
They gathered round the tree,
In laughter, shrieks and heartfelt thanks
They gave and they received.

Immersed in littered paper,
The children suddenly squealed,
“It’s time to open the door,
to let all the people in.”
And as they said the words,
A knock on the door it came,
It was Jane the next door neighbour
The one who lived in pain.

Then Bobby he came after
Whose wife had recently died,
Then Sarah, Tom and Samantha
All friends who lived alone.
And one by one the home was filled
With grateful sounds of love,
At times it sounded like angel song
Descending from above.

For the parents had schooled their children well
That Christmas was for all,
A time to give and to receive
It wasn’t just about themselves.
So if you know those who might this day
Be spending it on their own,
Open the door as the children did
So that nobody eats alone.

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3 Reasons Why Goals Are Not Achieved – A Personal Perspective

December 14, 2016 8:38 pm

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At the end of every year, I take the time to reflect on the progress I made, both at a personal level and in my business. I list all the achievements, all the challenges – what was accomplished and that which was unmet. When I review the list I take note of the unmet goals asking myself “why?”

Here are a three realisations that might be useful

  1. They weren’t my goals
    Even though I wrote the goal down and I apparently desired to achieve it, it wasn’t ‘my’ goal. I was motivated by someone else’s goal e.g. my mentor earns $1,0000.000 per annum so if he can do it so can I. I have also seen this corporately where goals are handed down from the top or someone who I respect says “you need to achieve this.” When there is no personal ownership there is no corresponding drive to fulfil that goal.
  2. The desire was faint
    As I have learned more about myself in respect to goal fulfilment I have come to understand that goals must represent something that I really really really want to achieve. The stronger the desire the more likely it will be ticked off at year’s end.
  3. Lack of discipline
    If I have someone else’s goal and my desire is slight, disciplined actions may or may not fulfil that goal. If however it is my goal and my desire is strong, discipline is more likely to follow and it will be a joy to work hard toward it. Sometimes though, we get sidetracked. Good ideas pop out from everywhere of which we sometimes follow, taking our eyes off our core annual objectives. Sometimes adjustment is needed yes, but often these good ideas caused undisciplined and unfocused actions toward goal fulfilment.

What Would I Really Like?
These days, when looking at the year ahead I ask myself “what would I really like?” The reason for this question is that it then becomes self-directed, not other-directed. It’s all about bringing it back to what interests me, what I would love to see at year’s end.  This generates personal enthusiasm around creating a future that is important to me. The outcomes can be other centred in the sense that this year I will sign up to volunteer with the Salvation Army and help the homeless but firstly it must be derived from our personal drivers and interests.

Intrinsic  Motivation
When I pursue things which interest me, that which fires my heart and my mind, motivation comes from within whereas if it is someone else’s goal or simply a good idea, being motivated to achieve the goal is a hell of a lot harder and generally, the objective remains unfulfilled at year’s end.

As you cast your eyes forward, see if you can catch those horizonal glimpses that spark something within your heart. If you’ve had unmet goals for years consider whether they were really your goals and if they weren’t, don’t write them down for the year ahead. Create instead, a few goals that if achieved you will feel like a million dollars even though you may not have earned it in cash.

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Introducing My Acquaintance, Depression

November 28, 2016 9:28 am

During the last couple of years I met a person called Depression of whom I’d like to introduce you to.

Our initial introduction was at a time of significant personal loss when, quite unexpectedly, he dropped in and offered his quiet consoling presence in order to remove me from my present pain into a numbing darkness. It was in some ways attractive – that removal from the confusing world I knew at the time. He anaesthetised my brain and my soul, painting my world a comforting dark grey. When the pain persisted he would recommend other numbing activities such as loveless sex and the sedation of alcohol. I know others experienced various recommendations that were unique to them however, these were my tailor made remedies. I followed his advice and while he was right (in that these things helped for a short period of time), the after effects pushed me further into reliance upon him. It was a bottomless downward spiral – from grey to black. While he promised comfort it turned out he was a liar and a thief, seeking only companionship for himself and not giving a shit about my personal well being.

That was some time ago.

Occasionally to this day he still visits me, particularly in times of vulnerability. I have got to know his particular insistent rapping on my door and sometimes, in these times of weakness, I am persuaded to walk through that door and take his hand – all the while knowing this will lead to nowhere good. He reminds me to not hope for a better day because this is as good as it gets. He encourages me to not share my pain with my life giving friends; to not dance, not read, not laugh, to procrastinate, not attempt to love again, not go to work, not go out, not eat, not seek new enlightening experiences. Sometimes he even suggests that life is really not worth living at all. And if I follow him out that door… instead of leading me into the open sunshine (which he indeeds promises every single time) he guides me back into that dark and dank cave that I know only too well. And once I get there I realise I have yet again been fooled once more.

If you have Depression in your circle of acquaintances, you might at present be arm in arm with him and if not, one day in the future you may experience as I do, his unannounced visit or that quiet yet insistent tapping on your door. As I have got to know him I have come to understand that he is deaf. Despite me telling him I never want him to revisit he doesn’t seem to hear. He just keeps dropping in from time to time. I have come to accept this and now have strategies in place for when he does. Simply hoping he would never visit never kept him away.

The next time he pops in on you, instead of opening the door and instead of allowing the falsely comforting numbness to take hold – take a step the other way and reach out to a true friend to let them know what you are feeling and experiencing, as I did this morning to my friend Jo. Not all my friends are aware of my acquaintance Depression and that’s okay. They’ve never been introduced to him and some even deny his existence. I am happy for them (as I wish I had never met him either); so these friends never get to know of his presence in my life. I am very selective in this process.

Reaching out to others in these times, in order to bounce into the light  is counter intuitive as the easy route is take our acquaintances hand and progress into the counterfeit comfort of darkness.

But reach out we must.

Cultivate friends who care for you, who have your best interests at heart. Build a life giving circle of a few that might include a therapist as I have had in my circle at times. Create and live a life where your soul is regularly refreshed and happy, for Depression detests healthy joyful people. And finally, create a simple strategy so that if Depression does happen to knock on your door, you know exactly what to do and who to call in order to ward off his advances.

Copyright 2016 Ray Hodge
Illustration by Bekky Halls. 
http://saintdamascus.blogspot.com.au/ 
Used with permission

Note to the reader.
If you are currently struggling with depression or you’ve realised that you’ve lost your happiness and life is mundane, may I encourage you to reach out to a trusted friend and/or seek professional help. As my beautiful daughter keeps reminding me, we are only as sick as our darkest secret – thus the light of admission and open conversation helps reduce the power of soul darkness and assists us in moving forward one step at a time.

Feel free to also get in touch with me. A large part of my daily work is with business owners, executives and employees – assisting them to be happy and productive in their work and personal lives. I can be contacted directly on +61 403 341105 or at ray@rayhodge.com.au

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Fresh or Stagnate

November 7, 2016 2:05 am

untitled-design-2

Over the years I have enjoyed drinking from crystal clear flowing mountain streams avoiding the stagnate murky waters in favour of the fresh.

Keeping ourselves fresh is essential if we want to be life givers and by that I mean, those who others enjoy being around and whose lives are refreshed for simply being in our presence.

Having a positive mental outlook, physically at ease and rested, emotionally aware and connected, growing and learning – are some of the components for freshness. And whether our work colleagues, our families, our relationships… others will benefit from drinking from the fresh stream of who we are.

Whenever I have been challenged in any area of life or need to get perspective I reach out to those who represent a fresh stream. Those I can sit with are those who:

  • Believe in me
  • Impart wisdom and positivity
  • Embrace me as I am – not judging me for what I was yesterday but accept me for who I am today and express hope in my future
  • Are questioners and listeners not tellers
  • Are insightful

One stream has fresh incoming water with solid flow, the other an inert pond. Fresh or stagnate. Choose the former as both your life and the life of others will be all the richer for it.

 

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100 Percent from 10 Percent

October 4, 2016 11:23 pm

Living in Melbourne’s West has been an incredible experience this past weekend with the Western Bulldogs winning their first grand final in 62 years. The passion, the belief, the palpable emotions and excitement of fans has been infectious. Not only for a team to win after such a long drought but to win from behind is a credit to their belief and hard work.

When captain Bob Murphy was sidelined for the year with a knee injury in round 3, the senior coach Luke Beveridge said the club had not panicked and stated “The probability of that time we didn’t make it here (to the Grand Final) is probably really high, probably 90 percent – even higher,” he said. “So there’s a 10 percent possibility that we get there. We’re 100 percent on the possibility. And I suppose that’s what the boys did. We attacked the possibility. So if we were 100 percent of 10 percent, we ended up being 100 percent of everything. That’s the thing – you’ve got to stay glass half full…” *

Attacking the possibility.
Whatever the arena, we all suffer injuries and can often feel like we start from behind. They might include the death of a child or marriage, significant downturns in business, career ending events, mental or physical health challenges, financial issues, the sense of talent lack and so forth. The comment from Beveridge relates to most of us at one point or another on lifes journey. To do our absolute best with what we feel we have (or have left) – whether that be 10%, 50% or 80%; to stay the course with the view of the glass half full; to at times absorb the pain of discipline and hard work rather than the pain of defeat – all keys to pushing forward to victory.

If you feel that you are starting from behind, that you’ve suffered setbacks of one kind or another, you’re in good company. Build on what you have and attack it with 100 percent focus. You never know… you just might, like the Doggies, end up passing all the others who seemed closer to 100%.

* Quoted from the Sun Herald Oct 2, 2016

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Universe Offloading

August 25, 2016 1:45 am

“There is a reason for everything” I hear people say. When things go wrong, when the consequences are painful others comfort us with these words. The other sentence is “the universe sent this along to teach me”.

I think there are reasons. Sometimes the reason is our own stupidity for creating the shitty situation in the first place. Other times we have worked hard and struck gold along the way. Other times there seems to be no real reason when external incoming bombs came in from left field and blew us of our feet.

Can we learn from everything?  YES.  Is there a gift in everything? YES.

To credit the universe for our pain or pleasure; to offload our stupid actions and resulting situations into the expanse of cosmic escapism I’m not sure is correct. Personal ownership and perseverance in it all is paramount. But that’s just me offloading!

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Closing The Door On The Day

April 25, 2016 8:13 pm

Those of us who care about our work with the added fortune of an active mind find it difficult to not have the brain whirring of an evening or a weekend on work matters. Here is one suggestion with two physical variants that might be useful.

15-30 minute prior to leaving work, jot down your key tasks for tomorrow and enter them onto your calendar. Once complete, slowly review the list, your day tomorrow – signing off on the day just done. Then (and here is the key) physically close the door to your office and mentally leave your work there as you head home.

The variant to this if you are in an open plan office and don’t have a door is the physical closing or shutting down of your computer or the cover on your day pad.

Closing the door on work enables us to not only be more effective when we show up at the office next day but also when we show up at home that night.

 

 

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Depression: When Blokes Talk

March 21, 2016 3:07 am

Women seem to disclose their challenges quite naturally. If they are having a tough time of it,  they will more readily confide in their girlfriends and lean on others for support. Guys on the other hand tend to be closed books. Lots of things written on the internal pages but shut tight with lock and key.

Watching a band on the edge of a dance floor in Perth last week I got talking to a guy I’ve got to know over the last few years. The conversation led to the point where I told him I had struggled with depression recently. He then opened up and shared about the loss of his son and the journey he had been on. All this while the band was playing and the dancers were dancing.

He finished off the conversation by affirming the importance of guys talking to each other through the tough times and then questioned, “How often would two blokes have an honest discussion like this?”

I have learned over time that if I drop my guard and share something personal it then frees the other person to open up, even if only marginally – but its a start. Our start in life was into community – a family. As men, we then tend to grow up and live in locked up emotional isolation.

Whether it’s a hotel, dance floor, restaurant or your home; to a mate, significant other or therapist start the process of allowing people you trust into your life. You will travel the healing process through tough times more effectively and be the richer for it – and so will others from your vulnerability.

 

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Five Cents

March 15, 2016 1:09 am

Over the years I have had a collection of five cent pieces that was growing by the day. A couple of years back, upon moving house, I threw them into a suitcase forgetting their existence. This week, after moving house again I discovered them. They were held in an enclosed box and were dirty and grimy. I decided to make use of them by washing them to take to the bank in order to convert them to dollar notes. The pieces on their own are worth little but collectively they are of significant value.

When we look back over the years, the isolated experiences and learnings that we’ve been involved in are seemingly insignificant – amounting to not much more than five cents. Whether they be falling in love, raising children, a work promotion or demotion, meaningful friendships, being educated in a certain field, misdemeanours and conduct failure, crisis and pain… all of these and more, are isolated incidences of seemingly small value collectively growing over the years. They may seem of no value at all but collectively, every single experience amounts to something.

The value of time and the passing of years builds this wealth slowly. We can choose to lock them away in the suitcase of our mind and emotions or we can take them out and cash them in for something of higher value.

Some of the coins are clean. These represent the positive life experiences like falling in love or a new challenging career. Other coins are dirty and grimy. These are the perceived negative experiences we’d prefer not come to light, not to deal with, to stay locked away.
I have come to see that both the clean and the grimy all have value. Nothing is wasted.

Take time to reflect on the five cent experiences of your life. What were they? What are they saying? Who are you now because of them? With the individual experiences of your history, what do they tell you about the present and where you possibly should be heading in the future?

Take time to cash them in. The value could be enormous.

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The Town Called Confusion

February 15, 2016 12:32 am

Given the busy lives many of us lead, there invariably arrives frequent states of confusion. Some live in its constant state, others daily, others less frequently. At least once a week (and sometimes more) I arrive at such a place.

The Latin root for confusion is confundere meaning to mingle together. It later developed to mean rout or bring to ruin.

The Latin root for fusion means to pour or melt – the process or result of joining two or more things together to form a single entity.

Confusion often results from intermingled thoughts and feelings, overloaded schedules and demands.  The fight we had with our partner before work; the ten calls and two quotes needed to be actioned this morning; the urgent travel arrangements; the seven messages and fifteen emails to be responded to. Once this intermingling occurs productivity goes down, blood pressure goes up, our fuse gets shorter and the to do list seems longer.

Fusion on the other hand is the ability of melting all of these conflicting tasks and thoughts into one streamlined process.

Stepping back is the key. My practice for many years, when I arrive at the town called confusion is to cease driving and take a break. It may only be for fifteen minutes but I stop, jump out of the car, have a coffee and review my tasks. I then batch these into blocks of time on the calendar while striking off non essential items and delegating some to others. It is the taking of single items and streamlining them into my day that brings the fusion. Where emotional angst is at play, I will allocate time in the diary to deal with it (yes, cold hearted scheduling) or, if I have the time, I will jot some notes in my journal about how I am feeling and attempt to get some perspective on it.

Creating fusion doesn’t just happen. It’s all about getting out from underneath the crushing weight of confusion in order to gain perspective, control and taking our power back.

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Interest Buttons

January 27, 2016 12:01 am

Talking to a woman at the Australia Day celebrations yesterday, we landed on the topic of personal change and psychology. It was a stimulating conversation. Soon after the subject of dancing came up. I once again engaged in lively discussion and subsequently had a request from a woman at the table to teach her Rumba which happened on the spot with more dancing to come afterwards.  It was fun and energetic – an enriching day.

The point here is the importance of self observation. Heightened response to an interest button being pushed is an indicator of an area that needs to be explored further. These interest buttons contain varying degrees of passion behind them. They often assist in identifying our current happiness or how to increase it; hobby development possibilities; life purpose clarity; furthering our studies or vocational confirmation and/or shifts required.

Find the interest buttons and just keep pushing them. You never know who you might end up dancing with.

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The Origin of Inefficiency

January 25, 2016 5:04 am

Speaking with the administration officer at a client’s business last week, she mentioned her frequent calls to the director to check invoicing with him. I then asked “why do you have to check them off with him?” Her response – “because the inventory is wrong and I am not sure I have got the appropriate catalogue item.”

When the director arrived at the office this had become an agenda item. After discussions it then became a short term goal to correct the inventory.

The key to creating increased efficiencies within your business (and your personal life for that matter) is:

  1. Observe the behaviour and ask “how can we do this better, faster, or do we need to do it at all?”
  2. Where there is apparent inefficiency ask “what is causing this?”
  3. Correct the cause

Locate and correct the cause and increased efficiency  will be the result.

© 2016 Ray Hodge

Make this year, your year – Ignition Coaching Program

 

 

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Merry Christmas and Reflection Thoughts

December 14, 2015 11:31 pm

Firstly I would like to wish you a merry Christmas and a refreshing break over the New Year.  I trust it is a replenishing time for you.

As this time of year lends itself quite easily to a period of reflection, I have provided some questions to entertain over the holiday season in relation to the year that has been. I find that we often get caught in looking at the lack in our lives rather than supply – what went wrong rather than what went well. Here are the supply questions…

  • what did you do well? Where were you successful? Did you spend more time with your children; save more money; be kinder to your co-workers?
  • how are your relationships better off?
  • what are the key things you have learned and integrated into your life?
  • what fun things did you do?
  • what new disciplines did you develop?
  • where have you travelled?
  • who has contributed to your world this year? Who are you grateful for? (think of sending a note to these people expressing your gratitude).
  • how you are you stronger, mentally, physically, emotionally?
  • how are you different to this time last year?

Looking at the supply side of life doesn’t negate the work required on strengthening ourselves. However, when we see ourselves in light of our successes and strengths we are more able to make the changes that both ourselves, co-workers, significant others, family etc. would like to see. In a paradoxical way, the best way to deal with issues, strengthen weaknesses and create disciplines is to come from the perspective of celebrating who we are already – thus looking at the supply side first.

Here are some considerations to reflect upon:

  • what areas do I need to strengthen this year? (This can relate to health, business, financial, relational, spiritual, intellectual etc.)
  • write your story. Begin with “It is now the end of 2016 and this past year has seen me grow in…. master the area of …. give up…. .” Write your story and place it somewhere that you can review it daily. When we own something mentally and emotionally there is a higher chance of converting from the ideal to the real.
  • if I could do one thing this year that would have a significant impact on other areas, what would that one thing be?

Again, all the best for the Christmas season and looking forward to the 2016 journey with you.

Ray

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Letting Go

December 8, 2015 2:31 am

Leaves

Enjoying a stunning spring morning a couple of weeks back I noticed the final lingering leaves of autumn finally letting go – being blown free of their hold.  The new lush verdant leaves with the surrounding abundance of spring was a magical sensory experience. Yet, hiding away within the new seasons growth were the leaves that until then had never yielded. It was only due to a strong wind that they were released from their grasp.

Sometimes, we see things for what they are and willingly let go. Other times have us holding on for dear life, thinking that we could never allow the departure of what has served us well for so long. But there often comes a point where what has indeed served us holds us back from future progress.

A friend of mine said it this way – “to grow something new you must get rid of something old.”

Growth seasons beckon us to let go while embracing the new.

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My Good Friend Called Journal

November 26, 2015 12:37 am

I met Journal (a weird name I know) in 1984 and since then have become the best of friends. I have connected with her most days and rarely go a week without engaging with her. She listens, provides insight and holds me accountable to what I said I would do. She is non judgemental, never criticises but kindly absorbs my highs and lows and points the way forward.

You have probably guessed that my friend called Journal is an actual book in which I engage in the process of journalling and yes, in many ways it is a like a daily catch up with a good friend.

What I Write

  • The events of yesterday
  • How I am feeling today (emotionally)
  • What I am grateful for
  • What I am challenged with
  • My prayers for the day
  • My dreams, goals and plans
  • Concepts, reflections, learning’s, reframing events and challenges

The Benefits

  • I gain a sense of how my yesterdays (the choices and responses to events) are creating my todays
  • Tunes me in to myself, assisting in understanding the authentic me
  • Hones me in to the deep seated causes that are affecting me emotionally – both the highs and lows
  • Helps me see perceived negative events in a positive light (the art of re-framing)
  • Promotes my spiritual journey
  • Broader perspective on time periods. I might read the last month, the last quarter or a period of time from many years ago where I recall I was challenged with something similar or was progressing through a similar stage of life.
  • Assists in celebrating my personal growth and wins
  • Increased gratitude for my life and what it consists of

My friend Journal is willing to be your friend to. She is available for purchase at any stationary outlet. My Journal these days is a moleskin with blank pages. I use a quality pen to write with. I generally write first thing in the morning and always travel with her. I have found it difficult at times to consistently meet with her but as with every habit, discipline always precedes it.

I trust you find her friendship as beneficial as I have.

 

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Driving Forward While Looking Behind

November 9, 2015 11:07 pm

Attempting to move into the right hand lane I had to squeeze in between two moving vehicles. I was heading forward while looking back – being more concerned with being hit in the backside than running into the car in front. Fortunately I realised my mistake before any collision occurred but it illustrated for me how often, in our attempt to navigate our way forward, we are more concerned about what is behind.

When we get caught up in the mistakes and failures of the past it can hinder us from truly moving forward. We opt for perfection instead of success; safety instead of risk; locking in rather than looking up.

Gazing back has one benefit. To learn what we did well and what we could have done better. Using this historical resource  assists us in our forward journey, providing us with the wisdom to build upon our strengths, make better choices thus navigating the road ahead more effectively.

The continual looking back while trying to move forward both slows down forward momentum and clouds judgement. Better to drive looking into the future than living in the fear of being run up from behind.

 

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Increasing Employee Engagement and Productivity

November 1, 2015 11:08 am

Most companies and organisations desire increased employee engagement and productivity yet, given the busyness and full schedules of management employees often feel left in the dark and uncared for. They are unsure whether their contribution is valued. Team meetings are helpful and necessary but here is another activity that is largely neglected – that being the taking interest in, and thanking employees at an individual level.

A business owner I was coaching, frequently told me how highly they valued their senior office administrator. She (the administrator) asked me one day, “am I doing a good job as I don’t get any feedback?” That is one of the many employees that have asked me the same question over the years. While the owner valued the person and their contribution highly, they had neglected to communicate it personally.

It doesn’t take much. To stop briefly. Look at someone and say “thank you for what you do here. It really does makes a difference.”

 

 

 

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The Gift Behind The Challenge

October 28, 2015 12:33 am

Often, when confronted with challenges and tough times – in our personal worlds, our careers, our businesses, we tend to see them as singular events. Something simply to overcome, not yielded to but pushed through.

Another, perhaps more beneficial approach to these times is to see them in a broader way that allows us to look for the potential gift in the circumstances that are presenting themselves.

For example, if we are faced with a cash flow crisis, rather than ranting and raving, getting depressed and yelling at the kids (I have done all of these) another approach would be to ask “What can I learn from this?” “What are the gifts contained within this situation?” The gifts in the cash flow crunch might be:

  • You see the lack of current financial management that you hadn’t see prior
  • The realisation of too many overheads
  • Some employees are not producing effectively
  • Discovery of new markets and clients
  • Greater emphasis  on Creativity and Innovation

I think the other key here is to step back and ask “What can I learn from this?” These learnings are also the gift.

Tough times if approached in this manner can lead us into new disciplines and discoveries that we had not known existed in our worlds before they arrived. We experience life from death; gain from loss; resilience from challenge; clarity from uncertainty.

Look for the gift behind the challenge. You never know what you will find unless you have a peek around the corner.

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Purpose and Intrinsic Motivation

October 6, 2015 1:57 am

All of us have been designed to have a purpose that contributes beyond the regions of ourselves.

Individual Purpose
Understanding ourselves and our individual team members in terms of purpose and then linking our daily work activities to this purpose creates a powerful intrinsic motivation. One persons purpose might simply be to provide for their family and raise them in a loving environment. The person who sits beside them might be driven to free children from sex slavery in Cambodia. Taking the time to understand each of our employees greater purpose, demonstrating interest and belief in these will go a long way to increasing highly engaged, performing staff.

Corporate Purpose
The other key here is helping your team see the greater reason for your business/organisation. You’ve no doubt come across the story of the Three Bricklayers. When the first one was asked what he was doing he simply stated the task outlined for him – “I’m laying bricks.” The second when asked the same question said “I’m putting up a wall.” The final bricklayer declared proudly “I’m building a cathedral.”

What are you building? What is your cathedral? What is the greater purpose for your life, your company? If you can unravel this and then instil it into your companies mission and values, it will help a greater number of team members jump on board with where you are going. It will also help the wrong people jump off.

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The Substance of Desire

August 31, 2015 1:57 am

I heard a public speaker recently state that in order for us to be successful we need to have goals and behind those goals sits the desire for their accomplishment. While this is correct it is the strength of desire that is the critical component.

Here is a case in point…

An annual world wide activity is the New Year’s resolution. We might have a desire to lose weight , set a goal and then on January 1 we launch into the resolution. Sure enough, a week or so later we have generally given up, postponing it till 358 days time. We’ve set a goal from the desire to lose weight, acted and set about making the change but alas – failure.

What is missing here is the substance of desire. Desire levels range from high to low. I can desire many things…to save money, visit New York, lose weight, give up smoking, eat vegetables and the like. It is the weight of this desire, the intensity of it that guarantees the success or failure of accomplishment.

All of us live according to the hierarchy of our values in that our lives reflect that which we value. If I place a high value on intellectual prowess, my time, thoughts,  energy and money will go towards increasing my personal capacity in this area. I am motivated toward intellectual competency because I value it highly, demonstrating the fire of passion and motivation for achievement. The adverse is also true. The lower the value the lower the desire and subsequent motivation. The strength of desire feeds motivation.

So, goals on their own are not enough but a good start. Simply setting a goal out of desire for change is not enough. It must have the intensity of desire behind it. The greater the desire the more likely we will fulfil the goal.

Link your goals to your highest values, feed the fire of desire and success is much more likely to come your way.

 

 

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The Sparrow

August 26, 2015 8:23 pm

Enjoying a late afternoon drink on the balcony of an elegant hotel there began a fight in front of me. Six sparrows were beating up on the smallest one. I immediately thought “why doesn’t he just fly away and avoid the pain?” Then it hit me. That’s what many of us do when pain comes into our life. Our initial instinct is often flight mode. Yes, the sparrow would have initially escaped the pain but the pain surely would have followed. When he got to his new destination there would have been another six birds to peck him endlessly. He was still a weak bird and pain – flight – pain – flight would have cycled endlessly.

But, if on the other hand he became a stronger bird he would have ended the cycle.

Best to allow times of pain, grief, challenge, chaos, unsurety and the many other bombs that life throws our way – to become a stronger person rather than the one who flies away, never learning, never growing.

And this is what makes a person a better person.  A manager a better manager. A business owner a better leader.

Become strong in the midst of challenge or keep flying and remain weak? Choice is ours but I would suggest the clipping of our wings at different times would serve us well.

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A Journey Into Authenticity

August 24, 2015 7:48 am

This week I am presenting a keynote speech at a national conference on the subject of Authentic Leadership. In my preparation  I realised that authentic leadership is about the authenticity of the leader as a person, not their role. This then led me to ask, “what then is an authentic person?”

Firstly, I looked at who I am. My values, skills, gifts and talents; wisdom gained; my history; behaviours; personality; self image; beliefs; goals; motivations, general traits; interests and passions etc.

I then made a list of all my actions that were incongruent with who I am, asking myself the question “is what I do aligned with who I am?” Very enlightening.

The last area I considered was “what are the stretch areas that take me beyond my authentic self.” These aren’t necessarily bad things but they do indicate the level of stretch required as a leader. For example, if I am a naturally assertive, driven, entrepreneurial individual and I am miserable in my data entry role at work, it is highly likely that my role is not congruent with who I am. Likewise, if one of my highest values is peacefulness yet all I seem to do at work is manage conflict then again, that can be a stretch.

When we live inauthentically we tend to live in a state of internal conflict and angst due to our actions not being in sync with our core person – our authentic self. Living out of the authentic self is a freeing experience and one worth taking time to discover. It will assist you in living with yourself, understanding your history more fully, ascertaining best career choices, the quality of your relationships with colleagues, friends and significant other and help you not to be a pain in the a$#^e to those you work with or who are closest to you.

I created an Authenticity-Congruency Table for the keynote which you are welcome to download here for your own journey into greater self awareness.

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Winter

August 15, 2015 2:05 am

Walking through the Melbourne Botanic Gardens today there was a beauty in the barrenness. Few people were out; cold and damp underfoot; the trees bare. Yet there was something therapeutic and restful about it. The vegetation on its own holidays from its busy seasons of spring and summer.

As I reflected on this I realised that trees cannot force growth. They have their growth seasons and their barren seasons. In winter they simply experience a dormancy that is exactly what nature intended.

All of us experience the winter seasons. Previous business growth slows; our children move out of home; financial upheaval; an illness takes us into a space we have not been before; the death of a loved one; the loss of someone special . Sometimes we create our own winters, sometimes they come in from left field.

If you are in a winter season do as the trees do. Relax in the current state of play. Just as trees must adapt in order to survive the change of season so too we need to adapt – to slow down and to cease from incessant and stress building activity. It’s a time of being kind to yourself and to your loved ones. Build up staff morale; do some reflective and personal development work; look at your overall business efficiencies while exploring new and creative opportunities – all the time being aware that sometimes, winter must takes its course.

We cannot force growth but we do take heart – spring is just around the corner.

IMG_1737 (1)

 

 

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Control

August 9, 2015 9:03 am

Watching my daughter play volleyball yesterday I was impressed by the teams ability to control the ball. Whether it was a fast incoming serve, an error made that they had to correct or simply the state of play, they were always seeking to bring the ball under control. The benefit… when they slowed the ball down, they were better able to position for the final hit (or spike as referred to in volleyball terms).

In business and indeed in life, we all encounter various forms of chaos and incomings – whether self made or from external sources. The challenge is to slow the state of play. Step back, gain control and then…spike.

The other interesting observation I made was that when they didn’t land that killer shot or when an error was made from one of the team, they encouraged the team member and then immediately refocused on the next play.

It wasn’t the errors and chaos that mattered, it was control. They went on to win the set.

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