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Genuis Power and Magic

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Are you putting off starting a project or making changes? The reasons we invent for not doing something often outweigh the motivation for getting started. When I've been in this position I've always found the words of W.H. Murray inspiring and have shared them with a number of my clients over the years -

"Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.

All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issue from the decision, raising in one's favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way.

I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe's couplets:
'Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it.' " (W.H. Murray 'The Scottish Himalayan Expedition' 1951)


Unfortunately many dreams and well formed plans do remain unrealised and whether or not this is due to a lack of 'boldness' these four techniques are ones that I've found helpful in a variety of contexts.



Lower the threshold

Make the first step a small one rather than a giant leap. Shawn Achor ('The Happiness Advantage' 2010) writes about reducing the 'activation energy' required to start a project by gathering all the necessary resources and removing any foreseeable hurdles before you begin. Take control of what you can control and don't worry about what you can't!

Strengthen the goal

Goals that are aligned with a compelling vision and a strong sense of purpose, expressed in rich sensory language will sustain your motivation when the going gets tough.

Ditch the baggage

Be aware of limiting beliefs and habitual behaviours that are no longer fit for purpose and replace them with the 'right tools for the job'. Be mindful of what you’re thinking (internal dialogue) which may reveal the undermining influence of your 'self saboteur’. Thinking like a 'hero' will counter the saboteur's arguments, especially if you can think of three positive reasons for going ahead for every one for delaying or abandoning the project.

Focus on the doing

Sometimes we can become so focussed on achieving the 'end' (goal) and the need for guaranteed success that we pay insufficient attention to the 'means' (actions) required to achieve it. When we actively engage in 'doing' we move into a dynamic environment which brings with it changing perspectives, emergent opportunities and even a little 'genius, power and magic!'

(Adapted from my LinkedIn article 27/09/2014)


Spring Clean your Plans and Plant New Goals

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Spring is here so now is a good time to polish up some of those plans and aspirations that have been gathering dust over the winter. You will have a much better chance of achieving your goals if you follow these guidelines.

Make your goal positive. What do you want or what would you rather have? Knowing what you want (rather than what you don't want) makes it easier to decide what actions you need to take to achieve it.

Consider the context. When, where, how and with who do you want it? The more pieces of the jigsaw you have when you start will help to eliminate unwanted surprises later.

Generate a clear vision. What will you see, hear and feel when you have achieved this goal? How will you know you are achieving your goal? What will you be doing when you get it?

Project your thinking into the future by writing a statement that starts - "It is (date when will have reached your goal) and I am (where you are / what you are doing) and I can see / hear / smell / taste (whatever is appropriate) and I feel (the emotions you feel having achieved your ambition). Make it as 'real' as you can. Keep your 'vision' in a safe place and visit it from time to time to remind you of your goal.

Understand your role. Are you in charge of the changes required? Are you doing this for yourself or for someone else? Is there anything in the world that gets in the way of your goal?

What resources will you need? These may be material resources, skills, or personal attributes (resilience, determination, courage etc.) If you think about the changes you are planning as going on an expedition what would you need to pack to ensure your survival and success?

Will you be able to retain positive aspects from your present situation? Will you have to give up things that you value to achieve your goal? How could you avoid giving up aspects of the present that are important to you?

Will it all be worthwhile? Is the outcome worth what it will take to get it? On a scale of 1 to 10 (where 1 is low) how important to you is achieving your goal? If your answer is less than 8 are you sure you have the motivation you need? What would have to happen for your score to be 8, 9 or even 10? Is the outcome representative of who you are and who you want to be?

What will be the positive consequences for you and others when you achieve your goal? How will your life be different? How will other people's lives be different? What can you do to minimise any negative consequences?

What will happen (in 2 months, 1 year, 5 years ,10 years) if you don’t achieve your goal?

What is the first step? When you are sure that you have considered all the aspects you will be ready to TAKE ACTION. Now it’s time to draw up an action plan and most importantly -TAKE THE FIRST STEP!

Remember - "A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step". (Lau Tzu)

(Adapted from the NLP model - 'Well Formed Outcomes')


C.H.R.I.S.T.M.A.S

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Don’t let the festive season leave you as frazzled as the turkey, manage your way through it using the EMST Christmas survival guide.

  • Control – What aspects of Christmas can you control or influence? Stay focussed on what you can control, don’t get involved with things you can’t.
  • Hang-ups – What limiting beliefs do you hold about Christmas? Limiting beliefs can be changed, replace them with empowering thoughts.
  • Resilience – What are you doing to maintain your own wellbeing during this hectic time of year? Don’t burn too many candles ‘at both ends’.
  • Indecision – What are you undecided about or putting off? Decide, commit and move on.
  • Share – What tasks could you delegate to other people? You don’t have to do it all on your own.
  • Time – How are you planning to use your available time? Leaving things to ‘chance’ can be stressful.
  • Money – How much can you afford to spend? Set a realistic budget and stick to it, expensive doesn’t always mean valued.
  • Action – You know what you need to do so what’s stopping you? Ticking off items on your ‘to do list’ will make you feel good and keep you motivated.
  • Simplicity – What can you do to make the whole Christmas experience simpler? Give it a big Christmas K.I.S.S. - Keep It Splendidly Simple!

..and when you’ve done all that sit back with a mince pie in one hand, a glass of your favourite tipple in the other and ENJOY!!


It doesn't have to be like this - try the 'remote' alternative

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If you are tired of the daily commute or are struggling with organizing your life around your work it doesn’t have to be like this. The introduction of ‘out of office’ or remote working into an organisation provides benefits for both employers and employees but to be successful consideration has to be given to the technical, management and legal aspects. EMST Development in collaboration with SharePoint Studio offers organisations bespoke planning, implementation and ongoing support. Benefits include:

  • Reduced office costs
  • Reduced commuting time and costs
  • Reduced carbon footprint
  • Increased flexibility for employees
  • Increased productivity
  • Happier employees and happier customers

Remote working is most effective when it is not seen as an 'either or' situation and is often a combination of working out of the office maybe for two or three days and being office based for the remainder of the week.

Each of the many different words used to describe out of office working (remote, mobile, home, telecomuting, agile, flexible etc.) has a slightly different meaning and there is no ‘one size fits all’ model for organisations wishing to introduce alternative working systems.

One of the main considerations when designing a programme is the proportion of employees who correspond to these profiles.

Office based staff – e.g. receptionists, factory workers, cleaners etc. These workers are required in the office.

Mobile workers – A typical mobile worker will work from client sites, coffee shops, coworking spaces, trains home etc. These workers are typically ‘out on the road’ for the majority of their working week.

Knowledge workers – These workers are usually office based and deal in ‘information’ and produce ‘documentation’ as their primary output. They collaborate with their team and host or attend meetings. Knowledge workers generally commute to the office on a daily basis and experience difficulties such as:

  • Wasted time driving in cars
  • Sitting in traffic jams during so called ‘rush’ hours
  • Waiting in the cold for crowded trains
  • Expensive fuel costs and increased carbon footprint
  • Difficulties when dependants (young and old) need to be cared for

Remote / Off-shore workers

These are typically either whole teams serving a particular service to the business based in an office in a remote location or remote experts engaged to work on a particular project. The hardware and software required to support remote working are now readily available but often the biggest challenge for organisations is the change from a control and command culture to one of empowerment and trust. Management focus has to move away from valuing presenteeism towards valuing productivity and results. Managers need to be aware of issues that may arise such as overworking, isolation, lack of visibility and health and safety, however:

“By learning to manage by results rather than activity, improving communication and nurturing trust between managers and employees the whole organisation benefits. In fact virtual team mangers have reported that their overall management skills increased for both on and off-site workers” Phillip Montero

If you are looking for a better way of working or need to revitalise your organisation remote working could make the difference you seek to your work, your life and the planet.


I don't belieeeeeeeve it - do you?

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A few days ago I overheard two mothers discussing whether or not their children believed in Father Christmas. One mother said “I think he has a few doubts but he’s worried that if he doesn’t believe he won’t get any presents.” This started me thinking about beliefs in the wider sense and how as a coach I often have to raise client’s awareness of their beliefs.

Personal belief systems are incredibly complex and because they define ‘who we are’ they need to be handled with enormous care and respect. Beliefs are based on decisions we make in relation to the world and our place in it at a given time. These decisions are based on our perception of the evidence around us, the resources we have available and what we know at that time.

Sociologist Morris Massey identified different types of beliefs that form at different stages of our development;

Ages 0-7 Imprinting: These are the most deeply held beliefs. They are self fulfilling because they influence our perception of later experiences. Many issues encountered in adult life have their roots embedded in beliefs acquired at this age. This is where I ‘found out’ that ‘I can’t sing’ and ‘I can’t do maths!’

Age 8 – 14 Modelling: Beliefs during this period are modelled on persons we consider to be heroes or heroines, fictitious or real.

Age 15 -21 Socialising: These beliefs are the least enduring and are modelled on the social culture we are living and working in.

  • Beliefs are not facts and are not true in and of themselves.
  • Beliefs are closely linked to our values i.e. the rules by which we lead our lives, those concepts that are important to us in a particular context and therefore have a significant impact on our behaviour.
  • Beliefs can be either ‘limiting’ or ‘empowering’ in relation to a particular goal or outcome.
  • Empowering beliefs provide vision and motivation whereas limiting beliefs restrict development and limit the fulfilment of potential.
  • As Henry Ford said, “Whether you believe you can or you can’t, you are right.”

The good news is that although beliefs that once were useful can exist beyond their sell-by date unhelpful limiting beliefs can be changed and replaced by an empowering belief. Belief identification and change is a personal development area where a coach can be extremely helpful.

And finally…..whether or not Father Christmas will be visiting your home this year, (I’ll be leaving a mince pie, glass of sherry and a carrot on the kitchen table – just in case!) I hope you have a wonderful time and lots of empowering beliefs to help you achieve your goals in 2013.


Step over the line for success

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Whether you are a glass half full or half empty person most people are aware of the link between positivity or happiness and success. Logic would seem to indicate that success brings with it happiness and a more positive outlook on life however, research shows that success is actually a product of happiness. In his book 'The Happiness Advantage' Shawn Achor outlines seven principles that fuel success and performance at work. One of the most direct illustrations of the benefits of a positive culture is demonstrated by the work of Marcial Losada. Following the observation of countless examples and extensive mathematical modelling Losada found that:

  • 2.9013 is the ratio of positive to negative interactions necessary to make a corporate team successful and is known as the Losada line.
  • Teams produce their best work when the ratio rises to 6:1.
  • If the ratio of positive to negative dips below 3:1 then performance declines.

Losada worked with a mining company suffering process losses greater than 10% whose positivity ratio was only 1.15. When managers were encouraged to give more positive feedback the positivity ratio increased to 3.56% and productivity increased by over 40%. The company's CEO is reported as commenting to Losada "You untied the knots that imprisoned us: Today we look at each other differently, we trust each other more, we learned to disagree without being disagreeable. We care not only about our personal success, but also the success of others. Most important, we obtain tangible results".

The Losada Line gives us a convenient benchmark against which we can assess our individual and organisational positivity ratio. This awareness is the first step towards either planning to celebrate more 'half full' moments or maintaining the happiness - and success - that we already have.

(extracted from "The Happiness Advantage", Shawn Achor, 2010)


There aren't enough hours in the day!

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We all have 24 hours in every day, so why is it that some people seem to have plenty of time and for others 24 hours just isn't enough?

Much of the language associated with time is the same as that connected with money i.e "save", "spend", "invest", "lose", "waste", "disposable". We can spend less time on an activity but we can't accumulate or "bank" time.

Our businesses wouldn't survive if we didn't regularly scrutinise our finances. How often do we check our time "budget" to see how effectively we are investing our time?

To understand where your time "goes" record everything you do for at least one week, two weeks or even a month. Do this two or three times a year, the more time you invest the better the return.

Work out how much time you spend on the three main areas of your life i.e. working - family - yourself. (Yes it is OK to spend time on yourself!). Ask yourself -

  • What are my goals for each of the three areas of my life?
  • Which area of my life is the most important?
  • Is the time I spend on a particular activity helping or preventing me to achieve my goals?
  • How does achieving any of my goals affect my most important goal?
  • Which parts of my time budget do I control?
  • Who or what steals my time?
  • What would happen if I didn't do a particular activity?
  • Could any of the things I spend my time on be done by someone else?
  • What tools could I use to save time?

When you have identified your disposable time consider carefully where you are going to invest it. You can only spend it once!


Effective Communication or 'I thought you meant...'

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As a management coach and mentor I’m often engaged by business owners and managers to help them explore issues around internal and external communication. The following ideas are taken largely from NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) and I hope you will find them helpful. If you would like further explanation of any of the points below please send me an email emstdevelopment@yahoo.co.uk.

  • Communication is a two way process and the ‘meaning’ of your communication to the recipient is indicated by the response you get back.
  • People respond according to their map of the world i.e. they interpret your communication according to their own experience.
  • 7% of your communication is through the words you use i.e. the content, 38% of your communication is conveyed through the qualities of your voice; its tone, volume, speed & pitch and 55% of communication is based on your posture, movements, gestures, facial expression and skin colour changes. (Birdwhistell - Kinesics and Context 1970).
  • You cannot not communicate.
  • Our conscious mind can only deal with around seven (plus or minus two) bits of information at any one time so it’s good to break down information into ‘bite sized chunks’.
  • If the recipients don’t respond to the way you communicate you need to change the way you communicate.
  • People are more likely to respond favourably if your style of communication is similar to their own. An important element of creating rapport is the subtle mirroring of another person’s communication style.
  • Everyday language is full of deletions, distortions and generalisations. This can lead to misunderstandings and confusion in a management context.
  • We gather information about our world through our senses. Story telling and the use of metaphor, makes messages more ‘real’ and memorable.

Mindset - The Secret of Success

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As a child I grew up in an education system that appeared to be dominated by ‘intelligence’ and passing the ’11 plus exam’. In my primary school, intelligence tests were used to grade pupils and even determine the seating position in class, the more intelligent pupils were seated near the front and my friends and I were left to ‘paddle our own canoes’ somewhere near the back. My parents did however instil into me that whatever tasks I undertook I should always strive do my best and given time and effort I would succeed. If something didn’t work the first time it was not seen as a failure simply a setback to be overcome.

The full significance of these contrasting belief systems became apparent when I read ‘Mindset’ by Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. According to Dweck most of the teachers I encountered demonstrated a ‘fixed mindset’ whereas my parents believed in the ‘growth mindset’. In simple terms characteristics and beliefs of a fixed mindset are:

  • New things can be learnt but individuals can’t really alter their basic intelligence
  • Individuals can do things differently but the important parts of ‘who you are’ can’t be changed
  • Talents and abilities are set in stone and individuals feel the need to repeatedly prove themselves leading to little or no development
  • The fixed mindset is reinforced by rewarding achievement
  • Individuals react badly to failure considering it a measure of their competence or worth

Characteristics and beliefs within the growth mindset include:
  • Intelligence can be developed
  • Basic things about the kind of person you are can be changed
  • Talents and abilities can be developed over time which will lead to opportunities and success
  • The growth mindset is reinforced by rewarding effort
  • Individuals with the growth mindset may feel distressed by failure but would see it as an opportunity to learn, confront the challenge and keeping working at the problem.

It is only too apparent that the mindset we develop during our childhood has a profound effect on every aspect of our later lives. If you identify yourself as having a tendency towards a fixed mindset do not despair. Dweck demonstrates that mindsets are developed more through ‘nurture’ than ‘nature’ and can be changed. My work as a coach and mentor continues to confirm my belief that all individuals have the ability to change and develop by maintaining a ‘growth’ mindset as they are guided towards achieving their goals.

Extracted from ‘Mindset – the New Psychology of Success’ by Carol S. Dweck Ph.D. 2006 Random House


Are You Going To Keep Your 2012 New Year's Resolution?

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Are you still on track to achieve your New Year resolutions or have you abandoned them already? We may start with ‘good intentions’, but how many times have our good intentions been ambushed by our old adversary ‘self saboteur’? I’ll be using the following questions to help me during 2012 – you might find them helpful.

What do I want to achieve?

Your resolution will be more powerful if you make it something you do want rather than something you do not want. On a scale of 1(lowest) to 10, how important to you is it that you achieve your ‘resolution’? If your answer is less than 8 it isn’t important enough! If you had a low score on the importance scale ask yourself these two questions several times and see if the level of importance increases.

  • What will achieving your resolution give you?
  • How important is that?

What am I personally going to do?

This is about you taking control of your actions. Simply paying your annual gym membership fee won’t make you fitter but you will lose a few ‘pounds’. It’s easier to make your action plan if you work backwards from your goal and break down what you need to do into bite sized chunks. Imagine you have achieved your goal…….

  • What does it feel like? (use your senses to make it as real as possible).
  • What was the very last thing you did before success?
  • What was the step before the last one? etc. etc.

How will I stay motivated?

You may want to choose from a ‘stick’, a ‘carrot’ or timely reminders (nudges in the ribs) from a ‘friend’ or a combination of all three. What worked for you in the past?

and finally...remember to celebrate every time you achieve a ‘mile post’ along the way – you deserve it!


Are You Focusing Your Attention In The Right Place?

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I was recently talking to a group of business colleagues and someone raised the issue of negative messages from the Government about the state of the economy and how this together with news of wars and natural disasters was limiting business confidence. Opinion within the group was divided with some people feeling that although times were hard there were still plenty of opportunities. At the other end of the spectrum a couple of folks felt that it was only a matter of time before they would have to ‘throw in the towel’ and could only envisage a bleak future.

Later in the week I met a friend who had just got back from a foreign holiday which apparently had been a disaster. This response was predictable because he never has a good holiday – he must be one of the unluckiest holidaymakers I have ever met! After several minutes of questioning it emerged that the weather had been good on more than half the days, the price of food and drink was less than he had anticipated and although his hotel room was small it was clean. He eventually agreed that it wasn’t all bad.

Every minute of every day our senses receive much more information than our conscious minds can cope with so we focus on that which we consider to be important and filter out the rest. When I decided to change my car from a Vauxhall Vectra to a Ford Fiesta the roads suddenly appeared to be full of Fiestas. They’d been there all the time of course, but I’d been filtering them out. It doesn’t matter whether you are a ‘half full’ or ‘half empty’ thinker understanding your default settings and trying out different ones will be time well spent.

In any particular context (work, home, health, relationships, money etc.) it is helpful to consider these questions:

  • What am I focussing on?
  • What am I filtering out?
  • Is it helpful or unhelpful?
  • What happens when I change my focus / filter settings?


Top 10 Tools to Build Effective Management and a Better Business

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1. EFFECTIVE COMMUNICATION

Reduce conflicts and misunderstandings by understanding difference, flexible influencing, building rapport and a climate of trust. The key to transformational management.


2. COMPELLING GOAL SETTING

Make goals meaningful and motivational throughout the organisation.


3. ENGAGING WITH CHANGE

Overcome resistance and anxiety by using effective and appropriate communication, understanding thinking patterns and creative thinking.


4. PERFORMANCE IMPROVEMENT

Remove the fear of ‘appraisal’ through relevant and timely feedback supported by a coaching culture. Use feedback to improve quality.


5. THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB

Make better appointments by asking questions that will reveal the candidates working styles, motivations, values and beliefs. Maximise the effectiveness of people already in post.


6. RETAINING TALENT

Keep your most effective employees by providing an environment for growth and development.


7. ENCOURAGING INNOVATION AND CREATIVITY

Empower people to generate their own solutions to problems and suggestions for improvement.


8. IMPROVING TEAMWORKING AND CO-OPERATION

Maximise the effectiveness of working within teams and between teams by developing an understanding of individual differences, strengths, roles and goals.


9. MOTIVATE AND ENERGISE

Use language to inspire and engage people. Celebrate effort as well as achievement.


10. FASTER RESPONSE

Respond more quickly to unexpected challenges by encouraging flexible thinking and a free flow of ideas at all levels of your business.