Author Archives: Sharon

I’m familiar with gratitude diaries, giving thanks for my blessings and many other versions of this concept …and … Chade-Meng Tan has just put the icing on the cake, so to speak, in his new book Joy on Demand.

As he describes it: in every day there are tiny moments of joy. Here are just a few of mine: a pinky-orange sunrise, the feel of the sun on my back, the aroma of coffee, the feel of a warm hand in mine, the satisfaction of helping someone, the way my body moves to a well-loved tune, an internet story about people doing good in the world, the athleticism of Roger Federer, Continue reading

The value of the little actions

What we call our nature, our personality, is a whole series of habits of thinking and feeling. For example habits of initiating, reacting or responding to others.

For many of us, our thoughts may be easy to shift but the behavioural aspect may take longer to shift. For others the opposite is true.

You CAN change your personality but there’s a vulnerable phase going from something that you know – the habit of being yourself – through this phase of not knowing, to a more stable new you.  And it is a similar journey for organisations wanting to change their culture.

It’s hard to hold someone’s hand through the phase of wanting but not knowing if it will work.  There are certain people who can’t handle the ‘agony’ of wanting something really badly and fearing they may not get it, so they resolve the tension by talking themselves out of wanting it.  They learn to argue for their limitations. To argue for the negatives. To assume it won’t work.  Then it is sensible not to want.

But it’s just a habit.

Want we want to learn is how to honour that habit and acknowledge that is going to take a while to change the ‘habit’.  But if everyday I practice being a bit more hopeful, I move from having a belief that I can change, a conceptual understanding to a very embodied knowing that I have changed in the past and can change again now, or in the future.

we move from ‘I hope it’s true’, through little actions to ‘I know it’s true’.

Is it accompanied by a felt sense in the body when I am thinking that thought?

Sometimes when well acknowledged, it will reveal more about it’s fear and show you what it’s protecting you from.

Questions that keep me up at night:
What are the business practices that encourage enterprises to grow?
How/can we breakdown bureaucracies – where the people exist to serve the system / their manager, not the customer?
Is more growth always better?

In today’s webinar at the Starting Good Virtual Summit, Kari Enge, founder of Rank&File Magazine told us a salutary tale about how a focus on dollars and efficiency can kill a people-focused culture in less than six months. To avoid this, she says it’s crucial at an early stage for entrepreneurs, especially social entrepreneurs, “to decide their leadership philosophy … and imagine their perfect culture”.

So who is already doing this well?

We have good role models in a number of tech enterprises. Google used its data analytics power in Project Aristotle to find out what makes a successful team and concludes that psychological safety as well as purposeful work, are two of the five success factors keys. The CEO of Menlo Innovations and author of Joy Inc. says his mission is to “emancipate the heart of the engineers…which is to serve others. He thinks that there is a limit to the size of a business if it wants to bring joy to its customers.  And home-grown enterprises such as Atlassian, tell us that healthy teams embrace continuous improvement. They also say the dirty secret is that team work is ‘very’ hard and tools are not the ‘fix-it’. They contribute their team playbook to the world, because they know it will be ‘very’ hard to emulate, especially for competitors who have an ‘efficiency and dollars must prevail’ philosophy.

We need even more examples of those who are doing good for customers as well as for employees and especially those in the social sphere.

Whom do you admire? What are they doing differently from the ‘norm’? Where can we find them and highlight the good practices they have developed?

We are all made of carbon – let’s do this together

Fabulous phrase from Paul Hawken – “carbon is the element that holds hands and collaborates”.  Listen to Hawken as he launches the new playbook, Drawdown. Drawdown shows us, in a very visual and practical way, the actions we can each take to reduce future climate warming. It also “does the math” and shows what we should be supporting in our communities and countries, in order to ensure a future for our youth on this planet.

And who would have known that one of the top solutions is educating girls worldwide?

And another surprise is LEDs. IN fact, LED’s as a service would make a fantastic and profitable social enterprise.

Get your copy on April 18th, then get together, hold hands and get into action.

Reading for more than Pleasure

As part of my intention to become a ‘maker’ more than a ‘consumer’ of information and stories, I appreciate James Clear’s advice today on How to Read Better.

The article suggests that if we want to become better readers we need firstly, to find a way to make our thoughts visible – by making notes – and then searchable.  I agree that the best tool is Evernote and I am intrigued to find out more about Clippings for Kindle.  I also make a note of the author and the concept, in the header section of my written journal so I can track down comments, though it’s still a manual process to flip through the pages. One day I will explore how to scan my journals.

Secondly, Clear suggests we need to connect the dots between the various ideas that we read. I do a lot of this already – asking myself “hmmm what does this remind me of?” and I can always improve by asking this question. E.g. applying my recent reading from BJ Fogg and his Tiny Habits, I wonder how I can set a tiny habit to capture one idea after each article / book / podcast?

Thirdly, summarise the main idea/s in a paragraph.  In Clear’s article the main ideas are to practice making your reading memorable via searchable notes and by connecting the ideas with other things you’ve written. Then look for one thing you can apply immediately, even if application is writing a summary and sending it to someone who will benefit.

And I will add a fourth – appreciation for the author – so thanks James for your article and your ongoing improvement endeavours.  You are a good role model.

 

Doing something new – make it simpler to start

It’s February already.  Time for a quick review: How are you doing with your New Year’s intentions?

My intention is to become more of a ‘maker’ than a consumer of information.  For me this means writing book reviews – which I did and for which I won a prize from the local library – and writing more blogs.

Looking at my blog posts, I notice I haven’t posted since November, so I haven’t yet progressed with that intention. But I do have a number of posts in drafts.

One was about Tiny Habits and the great work BJ Fogg.  I loved doing his Tiny Habits email program, so I re-read his article on the New Rules of Persuasion.  It’s about persuasion in relation to behaviour change. His proven Behavior Model comprises three elements:

Motivation
Ability and
a Trigger.

Given that I am motivated to do this, and I have the ability, the missing ingredient must be the trigger – remembering to do it. Rather than rely on memory, I know that I can set up regular reminders in my calendar.

OK. Calendar reminders – done.

But wait, Fogg has an additional distinction, which is a key breakthrough for me. He suggests that designers often assume people are more capable that we really are. To increase ability we can make the starting behavior simpler. Even though I have the ability, I often don’t have the time to write a thoughtful piece. But I can easily spend two minutes to say “just read BJ Fogg’s article and liked it because …”  Or just read x and it left me wondering y”.

So my new intention for this month is to write a short ‘reaction’ blog once a week and then make time for a thoughtful piece once a month.

Week one – thoughtful piece – Done.

Week two here we come.

Helpful, healthy language

A good reminder from James Clear on a simple shift in language that can help with healthy eating and with moving our ‘locus of control’ from external to more internal.  When we say “I can’t”, we are using externally focused language – something is preventing us.  When we say “I don’t”, we are making a choice – an internally focused choice.

I’ve used this latter language successfully for a number of years.  When I go out during the week, my standard response to being offered a drink is “Thanks, I don’t drink (alcohol) Monday to Thursday”.  It’s both a habit – I don’t even think about it – and it’s a healthy life choice.

Now I could take it even further, from negative to positive.  Instead of saying what I don’t do – drink alcohol – I could say what I do.  I could say “I abstain”, or perhaps “I drink water Monday to Thursday”, to make it easier for my hosts to know what to serve me.

The learning about helpful language is ongoing.

Will you stay or will you leave?

Fascinating article from researcher  Irit Alony, of Wollongong University, published in the Conversation today. She and her colleagues applied the successful divorce-prediction criteria of John Gottman, from the University of Washington, to see if it could predict which employees were more likely to leave their organisations.

If I understand the research study correctly, those who express negativity such as: “disappointment, withdrawal, hostility, or contempt” (Alony, Hasan & Sense, 2015) are more likely to leave both a marriage and a workplace.  In contrast, those of us who learn the following coping mechanisms are more likely to stay (in both a marriage and a workplace):
– Balancing the good with the bad (e.g. with at least a 2:1 ratio of two positive comments for every negative, aiming towards a thriving relationship ratio of 5:1)
– Genuinely accepting that bad things (e.g. annoying people and systems and rules) are just part of work life
– Avoiding lengthy discussions of the negatives (e.g. learning to shift conversations to focus on how they coped or what they learned so that we/they can do better or differently next time)
– Expressing hope (e.g. that you can directly influence and/or you can cope with whatever happens to you).

And the best way to increase the positives, is to thank others for their contribution, rather than just assuming “that’s what they are paid to do”.

So ‘thank you’ to my Thought Ratio colleague, MIchelle Carlyle for this link.