Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Ah Ha!!! - caught myself out!!!

The deadly trap of the un-noticed ego!!!

Blogging's new to me. I've been getting myself going but not entirely happy with the product. I say what I want to, but it doesn't seem quite genuine.

It dawned on me the other day, - then got confirmed by my friend Mary Hughes (thanks Mary) . As I've been writing, I've been wanting to sound clever, - profound, - and a whole load of things which get in the way of honesty & integrety. Just like every activity, blogging benefits from mindfulness, from being able to separate out the 'real me' from the egoic mask that I and just about everyone else wears most of the time.

This is what we struggle with so much of the time, - and what lies at the heart of my beliefs around leadership and organisational development. We spend most of our time playing the part of ourselves, - presenting ourselves in the way we think we should, being "profound", or "tough" or "caring" or whatever role our ego feels most protected by. This creates a falsehood that others see, and that reduces our ability to add value to our lives. our colleagues and our organisations.

The challenge is to find a way of leaving our egos on the hanger with out coat when we get in in the morning so they can't stop us saying and doing what is right for the circumstance we find ourselves in!

Do take a look at Nick Smith's blog Life2point0 - and in particular, download "The little Book of Flow"

Saturday, 23 May 2009

Small Creative Ideas

Jon Harvey has set up a great blog dedicated to colleacing & sharing ideas for change and improvement. I know that many of my contacts from the Welsh public service would have a lot to offer this initiative (and a lot to show off about!) Do have a look and subscribe to his blog - or even better, share some of the great things we've been doing!

Sunday, 17 May 2009

Make the most of who you are!

"You do not become good by trying to be good, but by finding the goodness that is already within you, and allowing that goodness to emerge."
Eckhart Tolle - A New Earth. Penguin 2005.

We can become truely happy through recognising and manifesting our inner reality, our true-self, our un-restricted insight. Personally, I hold this to be a fundamental truth.

Yet we spend so much time trying to be the person we think others want us to be, - and trying to create in others what we desire of them that we can loose sight of the real creative talent in ourselves and in our co-workers.

This has big implications for the way we design organisations and position people to be the cogs in our corporate machines. Do I have the answer? - Mmm, I think I'll have to reflect on this a bit more!

Can anyone help me out?

Saturday, 16 May 2009

Human Infection

The other day I was doing the daily lunchtime sandwich ritual with a few dozen other office workers at Marks & Spencer’s. The ritual involves choosing your sandwich, sushi, drink or whatever without saying anything to fellow shoppers, - without even making any eye contact – (keep your eyes down for fear that you might have a human interaction by accident!). Skilled lunchtime shoppers develop extra long, very flexible arms so they can reach round others to the back of the bottom shelf without running the risk of any human engagement!

As this solitary dance was being performed a mother came round the corner followed by her children. A young lad of 4 or so was holding the hand of his toddler brother who in the other hand was carrying (but only just managing) an empty shopping basket.

The toddler was having so much fun, revelling in the experience of shopping, having his own basket and walking with his very own feet! He was laughing and laughing and laughing and laughing! Great big out of control belly laughs! Barely up to my knee, this little one filled the store with his uncontrolled all-encompassing joy!

As he walked past the sandwich counter and along to the far end of the shop his laughter followed him, - and rippling out behind him, so did a very visible human wake. Those introverted office workers lifted their eyes from the floor and smiled. They caught each other’s gaze and smiled. They made ‘how wonderful’ noises to each other, they relaxed, they became human.

A little toddler, living in his moment and experiencing the wonder of life made a difference to the life experience of 30 or 40 people who had just popped out for a sandwich!

I wonder how long it lasted. I’d like to think that this contact with humanity walked back to the various offices with those people. Did they have a better afternoon? Did something rub off on their colleagues? Were they more productive? Of course I don’t know and perhaps I’m just being fanciful, but I can’t believe that an experience so obviously powerful had no impact.

I was left with a reminder of just how powerful happiness can be; how it can change things in an instant. I wonder what difference it would make if we spent as much time working on happiness as we do monitoring performance targets!

Friday, 15 May 2009

Morals, values and learning from politicians!

In the UK right now we have a huge row about our politicians claiming for all sorts of inappropriate things on their parliamentary expenses. As I remember, it started with the revelation of a claim for purchase of pornography, but has moved on to newspaper allegations about, vast sums for decorating, mortgage expenses, luxury items and so on.

What’s really interesting to me is how so many of them use the “I was complying with the rules, my conscience is clear” defence with absolute confidence and apparently with no understanding that there are other benchmarks for behaviour that are more powerful than rule compliance. Now these guys were all elected on tickets that are value derived. They understand principles, they understand values, they understand ethics; and I truly believe that they genuinely believe in the values they stand for (or at least most of them!)

It’s extraordinary therefore that so many of them seem to have missed the point that it’s not compliance with rules that’s important, it’s doing the right thing, behaving in the value-based ethical way that they would ordinarily expect of themselves and others.

Isn't it easy just to get swept away?

In my view, there’s some powerful learning for all sorts of organisations in this. If people employed for their ability to communicate and enthuse others with their values and moral beliefs can, almost without realising it, drift into morally redundant behaviours, how easy is that drift for all employees, - and for all leaders? Whether we’re talking about politicians, bankers, teenage gangs or the foot soldiers of genocide, we have plenty of evidence that people can so easily fall in to “following the rules” of the society they find themselves in.

To me, this emphasises how vital it is that organisations keep reminding their people of the values that are held dear, and that they need to generate new and innovative way of keeping the message fresh. I feel that the danger to an organisation of staff sleep walking into a moral and ethical vacuum is far greater than the relatively small number of the deliberately and intentionally corrupt.

So lets think of ways we can remind our staff (and ourselves) of what’s really important about how we do our business in ways that retain freshness and avoid preaching!