Friday, 27 March 2015

Life as Life or death or sustainability

Don't you just love metaphors :-)
How do you see life - ie what is it like?
  • An up hill battle
  • Plain sailing
  • A fight for life or death
  • Like a rose
  • A battle to be won at all costs
  • An open road
  • Being captain of the star ship Enterprise
  • A war - with constant battles 
  • A race - and if so is it the 100m or a marathon
  • A river - and if so where in the river are you - high in the mountains, moving through the rapids or headed for the edge of a waterfall or just arriving at the ocean
I promise it's not that daft a question.

If you've not read anything yet that resonates please have a think before reading further. You might even want to have a look at my Pinterest board with other suggestions on metaphors we use for life including:
  • A garden
  • A cup of tea
  • Noah's Arc
  • An echo
  • A flute
  • A machine
  • A musical 
  • A vacation
  • A canvas
I promise its not a daft question.

To make sense of the world we relate to life in terms of metaphors. It's these metaphors that set the tone for our lives and our relationships with others. They're a bit like our own in-built operating manual.

So let's compare the difference between 3 very different metaphors and notice the impact they might have on how we live our life:

Life as a War
Life as a Machine
Life as a Garden
   Alarm clock
Battle cry for immediate action
Whistle to start work
Would waken with sun and birds
   Objective for the day
To win the battle and beat the opposition
Efficiency and to keep going
To grow and flourish alongside others
   Objective for the year
To win the war
Minimal down time and maximise output
To sow your seeds
Energy for short term benefit
Energy but people are easily replaceable
Nourishment for long term growth
   Working with others
Control and command
Everyone doing their bit as prescribed
A necessity to be kept to a minimum
Unnecessary people are replaceable
A part of a 24 hour cycle
To be embraced
Bad planning
To be avoided
   Solving problems
For highest ranking officers to decide
Resort to manual
Left to specialists to decide
Useless activity
Part of the necessary cycle of life
Sign of weakness
Bad selection
Sign of disease

Of course my own internal metaphor(s) will be impacting how I present the above. In other words you may have found yourself disagreeing with my interpretation, and putting a different slant on them.

The point is we do have metaphors (scripts) that determine how we tackle our day, the decisions we make and how we do what we do and relate to and judge others. It's how we are able make so many decisions so quickly every day ie simply deciding what action best fits the metaphor we’re operating within. For example: 
  • Someone usually operating within a war metaphor could find compassion very difficult and possibly even a sign of weakness. If forced to do so their interpretation would be made using the metaphor – so compassion could either be explained away as doing it under duress, or even as purely a tactic to win the war!
  • Someone operating within a machine metaphor would be unlikely to be able to show any compassion - as it's not a facet able to be fitted into the metaphor. 
  • Compassion would however come much more easily and naturally to someone operating within a garden metaphor.
The key is knowing the preferences you have for certain metaphors within certain contexts, and understanding the strengths and weaknesses they bring with them.

For example my preference for a garden metaphor means I back off from competition, conflict and don't like to be told what to do about things I'm an expert in, nor having too many processes and procedures to follow. At times all things I need to be able to effectively handle and flex my metaphor to be able to do.

Funny how our filters work – having started to write this blog last night I saw reference to a book entitled ‘flat army’ - that I assume tries to amend the conventional metaphor of an army to make it more applicable to the 21st century. Although with my garden preferences I can't help but feel it still involves winning at all costs.

What metaphor(s) do you operate within, and how does it support or hinder you on a daily basis? 


Alison Smith
Inspiring Change inside and out

Metaphors used in our language are a common theme to my coaching sessions with clients, with those using nature and landscaping your life also a frequent visitor. My most popular blog Making mountains out of molehills is a great example of how the metaphors we use can also provide the solution to the very challenges they're describing. 

Of course organisations have operating metaphors too.

An index of blogs written about the many different tools I use in coaching can be found here.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

Build on success

Simon Heath ran a #mydoodleday session today and I couldn't help but to join in vicariously from afar.

I was looking through my NLP trainer notes - the last time I thought about drawing images to support learning - and came across this image.

A great example that pictures can really paint a thousand words, and also means this blog is so very short and sweet - yes I know for a change. Something I've noticed when blogging about the collage cards or Landscaping your life too.

How can you build on success today?


Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

I may need to go an a workshop to improve my stick men and woman! 

Tuesday, 24 March 2015

EQ Summit (The leader's mind and its potential)

I attended the EQ summit in London last week and these are just my notes for future reference with links to other blogs/YouTube clips, and other references relating to the content and speakers.

I share it here for ease, and in case anyone else is interested too.

Although please note this is the conference seen through my filters - others attending may have taken something totally different away from the sessions.

So why all the fuss about EQ?

Leaders with EQ:
  • Bring out the best in others
  • Super charge the capability in the organisation and unlock 'discretionary' effort
  • Go with the human grain not against it
  • Have people working for them who are 3 times as likely to stay
  • Achieve extraordinary things as a result

The main sponsors/organisers and joint developers of the emotional capital report (ECR)
  • Roche Martin
  • Sheffield Hallam University
  • Sheffield Business School
10 elements of the emotional capital report, and therefore the building blocks of EQ are:
  • Self reliance
  • Straightforwardness 
  • Optimism 
  • Self actualisation
  • Self confidence
  • Self knowing
  • Relationship skills
  • Adaptability
  • Self Control
  • Empathy
With excellent graphic facilitation from @simonheath1 - whose website can be found here and also wrote a pre summit summary of who would be talking, and did a great job of selling the event (Simon was the only reason I found out about the event).

The Speakers

Welcome - Amy Bernstein - editor at HBR

Emotional Capital - the asset on the balance sheet you can't afford to ignore - Dr Martyn Newman - author and MD at RocheMartin
  • A great summary of a similar talk by Martyn, and a wonderfully animated video too, Emotional Capitalist - the new leaders.
  • Emotional Capitalists - the ultimate guide to developing emotional intelligence for leaders - Martyn's book on the subject
  • "We are profoundly connected to others and influenced by them"
  • He told a great story about Apple's business success over Sony - due to Apple's ability to collaborate and work together, and Sony's lack of emotional capital. Something I'm sure Sony regret to this day. 
  • Firms of endearment - a book on how world class companies profit from passion and purpose
  • Understanding values of ourselves and others is key (ie our motivators)
  • "What ever you find (when you look at yourself) you have to like"
"What lies before us and what lies behind us 
are but small matter compared to what lies within us. 
And when we bring what is within us into the world, 
miracles happen!" 

Better self, better leadership, better business
Jeremy Darroch - Sky CEO
  • "EQ potential super charges the capability we have and unlocks 'discretionary' effort"
  • CIPD article from the session - Empathy is the top leadership skill says SKY CEO 
  • "EQ delivers a high performing environment - rejects complacency and embraces the new"

Grant Thornton - leadership EQ's impact on revenue
Breakout with Anne Blackie and Jenny Kidby

Programme to introduce EQ across the business to move from technical experts offering solutions (often short term) to transformational leaders co-creating solutions (longer term too).

That is put the expert's ego to one side and bring our wholeness to work (the emotional and real person).

Motivation, performance and purpose
Dan Pink - author
  • "Reward of carrot and/or stick is outdated for the 21st century"
  • "3 main motivators - autonomy, mastery and purpose"
  • "Mastery - making progress in meaningful work" 
  • "Purpose - Making a contribution or difference"
  • "When asked 'tell me about your best boss' you never hear 'pathologically controlling' in the answer"
  • HBR article on purpose/how/why - trying to find what my notes meant on this - will come back when I know more, and if you can shed any light I'd much appreciate comments below - thank you
  • "Aim to tell people 2 less 'how's and 2 more 'why's" (links to the last comment)
  • "The profit motive can be an engine for good"
  • "You can go against the human grain, or with it"
  • Dan Pink's talk has been animated by RSA see 'Drive - the surprising truth about what motivates us', also his book on the same subject and HBR article.
  • Sukh Pabial's blog on the talk - Motivation, Dan Pink and EQ

Mindfulness for leaders
B Alan Wallace

Those that know me would expect me to already be into mindfulness and meditation. It's certainly the language I'm comfortable with. After all I've seen the Dalai Lama speak, and I even have the headspace app on my phone (even if I've hardly used it). 

However this is the first time I have EVER understood the benefit of mindfulness practices!  

The premise is - mindfulness helps focus attention at the same time as retaining a sense of ease. Which means after achieving this state of mindfulness we don't get stressed or strained when we do what we do afterwards. How wonderful is that!!

Or put another way - all our busyness, over attention or even boredom will stress our mind and body and therefore mean we're less effective - its also unsustainable for any period.

The alchemy of empathy - transforming stress into meaning
Eve Ekman
  • "There's a correlation between a lack of feeling of emotion in our body and lack of empathy with others"
  • "It's about emotional regulation"
  • Here's a video of a similar talk by Eve at the Mind and it's potential conference - cultivating emotional balance at work

Why the future begins - using EQ to optimise the future
Magnus Lindkvist

Sorry the last train north (and yes I mean very much north of Watford) was calling so I didn't hear Magnus speak. Tweets suggested he finished the day very humorously but I couldn't find any blogs or vlogs to link to - any suggestions most welcome.

As I made links to the content and my own passions I tweeted links to a few of my blogs:

Hope you found this helpful - I know I'll be back when I'm trying to recall what someone said, or to find that YouTube vlog.


Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out

I  did suggest on twitter half way through the session that this collage depicts life without EQ - ie without our humanness!

Wednesday, 18 March 2015

Decision Making: mind or heart?

I read with interest Tanveer Naseer's guest blog by Dianna Booher entitled 'Speak to the heart to lead change'. It certainly aligns with a previous post of mine entitled 'winning hearts and minds'.

The premise of both blogs is: we shouldn't leave our heart and humanity at the front door of our office - we need to take it in with us and use it. Particularly when motivating others - ie it is our values that determine what we will and wont do, and they are determined by our heart and emotions - not our mind and thoughts. If we want to motivate and engage someone therefore, we have to engage their heart to do that, and ours too.

However the assumption I made in my blog was the decision had been made logically (ie with our mind), and therefore to get support for it we now needed to use our heart/emotions.

During an exchange on twitter about the blogs with Ian Berry I was asked to consider making decisions from the heart (for those not twitter literate the conversation runs from the bottom up).

This blog is an exploration of that challenge.

When making decisions for myself I often rely on intuition/emotions to help me - for example:
  • Do I accept this or that piece of work, 
  • Do I go on this/or that holiday 
  • Which restaurant shall I go to
  • What dress(es) shall I buy :-)
  • Determining which question to ask coaching clients, and when to push forward, and when to pull back and so on.
  • To decide which house to buy. Although I did follow a more logical process to develop the possible options 10 years ago. So yes for me logic certainly seems to play more of a part in bigger decisions - even if the final decision was made on 'does it feel right'.
Use of my heart to make decisions therefore is something I'm very familiar with - but these are decisions I make on my own.

When I make decisions with others it feels like I need the logic to back up the intuition/emotion. I wrote a blog entitled strategies need evidence to suggest the same.

As a purchasing consultant I'm often faced with stakeholders using their heart and emotions to tell me why the current supplier is the best choice. If left to hearts alone we'd get nowhere fast - with everyone involved often preferring to stay with what they're already doing, and purchasing pushing for potentially new and shiney suppliers :-).

Often my role therefore is to help stakeholders understand why their heart's choice might not be the only option. This is achieved by uncovering the reasons (business requirements) their heart wants to stay with the current supplier, and demonstrating that alternative suppliers/options are also able to meet these business needs. (Although yes of course - sometimes it's about staying with the current supplier too).

That is Procurement follow a logical process to pull together the relevant facts and data. This in turn enables us to develop a strategy that meets the business requirements and also releases value to the organisation.

There are certainly times when heart may play a part in the decision making - with criteria for selecting options, and certainly selecting suppliers, often including - do we trust them, cultural fit etc.

Decisions are also checked against what our hearts feel. With our hearts' reservations being addressed by asking more questions and gathering more data. Because unless I can provide the evidence to support a decision how will I be able to convince the senior management of the efficacy of our strategy.

In summary our intuition and emotions can play a big part in decision making. It's generally used however to guide us to find more data to support our beliefs - in those instances where these beliefs are still counter to the current facts and data. (NB the more thorough your research and analysis the less likely you are to find a mismatch at the strategy development stage - ie all the hearts concerns and reasons are out on the table and have been addressed in the analysis undertaken)

I would love to hear your thoughts on this subject - in business can you easily use heart alone or does logic also play a part?


Alison Smith
Inspiring change inside and out - when what you're doing isn't working