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Month: February 2008

We didn’t start the fire!

Thanks to Jodee Bock for flagging this video of Billy Joel’s song: We didn’t start the fire! from Jasonrb07.

Indeed, the challenge is not who started the fire.  When we are in blaming or one-up-man-ship mode, we are narrowing our lives horribly.

It would be an excellent exercise in so many contexts to put together a video of everything that has happened in our lives, whether we were directly involved or not, what is magnificent and what is not,  and to include the negative with the positive, without acrimony and without hubris.  Hard to do.  A good challenge for 2008!

Thanks Jasonrb07 for the wonderful visuals and the opportunity to view the ups-and-downs and the remarkable vigor, optimism and engagement of the 20th century with appreciation.

UPDATE: Sadly the video has been removed.  It was good.

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Deciding what you want to do is the really hard part, doing it is easy

Fascinated by our capacity for inactivity

I have just discovered Jodee Bock’s blog. As I was whizzing down her latest posts, I found her piece on New Year Resolutions – aren’t we fascinated by our capacity for inactivity?  She reminded me of David Whyte and I have taken the liberty of quoting what she says with two lines from one of David Whyte’s poems.

“If the WHY is big enough, the HOW will take care of itself. The WHY is the PURPOSE. When we’re clear on the WHY, then we can set the vision, which will break the WHY down, maybe into time chunks, for example. Then goals will take a bite out of the vision, and allow us those measurable milestones.” Jodee Bock

“What you can plan is too small for you to live. What you can live wholeheartedly will make plans enough . . .” From “What to Remember When Waking” in River Flow (p. 351).

And is doing it easy?  I’ll write on that another day.

If the WHY  is big enough  .  .  .

Ask not the meaning your life give to you.  Ask what meaning you give to life!

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Employee priorities under high inflation

Zimbabwe has inflation of 150 000%. Yep, that is right. Prices go up about 2.7% per day. As fast as prices go up in most countries per year.

What are employees’ priorities under these circumstance? Here is a survey from a Zimbabwean HR consultancy firm, OEC.

We asked employees through our website surveys on their views concerning the question below.

(250 people responded)

I not leaving my current employer because I am enjoying

Percentage

Free Fuel

13.33 %

Company Car

10.00 %

Good Basic Salary

6.67 %

The working environment

13.33 %

Relationships with work colleagues

86.67 %

Educational Loan/Assistance

6.67 %

School Fees

6.67 %

Could be because the pecuniary benefits aren’t there. Must ask them!

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Are leaders made by followers?

The first time I encountered this idea, around 25 years ago now, I found it an assault to my classical training as a psychologist.  Over time though, I have come to understand that the question of whether leaders are born or made is the wrong question.  The right question is a sociological and anthropological question:  what role does “leadership” play in organizing society and what are the different ways we use the concept?

At an organizational level, I have become convinced that leadership resides in the followers.  There are times when someone is in the right place at the right time and it all comes together.

The process begins with the people talking to each other in a bounded space, such as an organization.  These people talking together look for a leader, not to tell them what to do, but to represent who and what they want as a kind of shorthand to themselves and to the world.

The day a leader stops being representative of their collective wishes, either because s/he has stopped listening or because s/he no longer is what they want, then the relationship all falls apart and force needs to be used to maintain the position of “leadership”.

I suppose another sociological/anthropological question is the circumstances in which we allow leaders to run away with power and to use force against us.

It has long been agreed in the democratic English speaking world that the essence of good government is replacing leaders in an orderly way.  I wish we could see the same as the standard in business organizations.  The use of force against employees is a sign that something has gone wrong.  Alarm bells should go off.  And HR should be on the scene in a flash trying to understand why the leader believes so little in his or her people that s/he feels the need to bully them.

Young managers often don’t trust their subordinates.  A skill that is rarely talked about is the skill of believing in one’s people and seeing their strengths.

I would love to collaborate with someone on this.   It could make a great 2.0 app.

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To centre our sense of self in our relationships

Feeling stuck?  Not looking forward to 2010?

From guru to psychologist, all the people who know about this sort of thing say the same thing.  Start close in.  Begin with everything and everybody right here in life with you now.

“Arrgh,” you say, “That is exactly what I am trying to get away from!”

Uh-uh.  You are trying to get away from the feelings of frustration, irritation and stuck-ness.  You simply need some places to push off against.

Ask some questions

This is what I want you to do ~ ask some questions.

  • Who is around me?  What is around me?
  • What does my relationship with [these things/people] want more of?
  • What’s working, and what should I be celebrate?
  • What would help create a sense of fun and ease in this relationship?

and . . .

The checklist where I found these questions is at WidgetWonder.  I just worked through the whole list checklist for reviewing 2009 and thinking about 2010.  It asks much deeper questions than most goal setting and life purpose blogs.

How we hold the conversation

It is how we hold the conversation.

Consider the space

  • The list helped me put my finger about what I will be doing to contribute to my relationships with others and allow them to be more enjoyable

Store away what is no longer needed

  • The list helped me put my finger on what I feel is ‘done and dusted’ and what I still need to resolve, one way or another. It was amazing how quickly I could resolve things once I had put things like that.

Include more people!

  • The list reminded me that all my plans for 2010 depend upon other people.   What support do I need?  How is this a community project?  The list helped me identify where I was trying to take 100% responsibility when the project is not my responsibility alone.  The responsibility is mutual.  Taking a step back and asking what support do we need to make this happen together has been an invaluable for me.

Clearing our minds for 2010

I strongly recommend you print out the list at Widgetwonder and work through it.

It will help you clear your mind, relax, and enjoy 2010 no matter what it brings.

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Tough concepts in positive psychology: whose competence is being tested in an interview

We’ve been trained to think that we know what must be done

One of the hardest concepts to grasp in positive existential psychology, is the idea of open endedness.  It is an anathema to the soul of a psychologist trained in positivist thinking and to a manager trained in “gap techniques”.

In the old school, we are supposed to define a goal or an outcome and achieve what we say we are going to achieve.  We are supposed to be competent and confident that what we say will work, will work.  We are supposed to be able to make more things work than our neighbor.

Yet, the most important skill is to tolerate uncertainty

David Whyte talks of frontier conversations where we do not know the outcome and of places where we are not certain of our competence.

We need to change our methods of selection to allow for not knowing what must be done

If we insist on defining things as competencies, then we need to check whether the people joining our organization can tolerate being in a situation where they do not know if they understand or will ever understand.

Equally, if tolerating uncertainty is a competence important to the organization, the interviewer needs to be in a likewise situation.

A new definition of a good selection interview

Great! Two people don’t know what they are doing.  So my definition of a good interview is when I have learned something from the person I am interviewing!

Here is a quotation of David Whyte reprinted by Inner Edge.

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The biggest challenge for positive psychology is dealing with dark times

Sometimes the glass is half-full .  .  . of poison

When we are faced with brutality, cruelty, perversion, etc., it is NOT wise to dismiss it in with superficial optimism. Sometimes the glass is not just half-full, it is half-full of poison. Realism is important.

Real life can be awfully depressing

Unfortunately realistic attitudes are associated with depression. Not only do we have to confront exceptional nastiness on occasion, or for some unlucky people day-after-day, experiencing extreme unpleasantness tends to close use down psychologically.

Positive psychology requires us to recognize evil for what it is and to recognize opportunity, however minute

Positive psychology is about the processes that allow us to recognize what is evil and keep a clear mind, and conversely, to keep a clear mind and yet recognize evil for what it is. It is also about how to recognize opportunity, even if it is minute, when opportunity seems to have deserted us.

Today, I came across this quotation on Inner Edge on how to maintain some mental balance and perspective when life horrifies.

“Let fear soften us rather than harden us into resistance”

This is also a very attractive blog of poems with beautiful accompanying photos.

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Reminding myself of the importance of recreation through Steve Pavlina’s personal development forum

I’ve just joined Steve Pavlina‘s personal development forum. The posts are a bit reminiscent of “Dear Auntie Jane” though the younger people in the group won’t remember the one-to-many days when people wrote in to a newspaper or magazine. This is truly many-to-many in 2.0 spirit and people who join are knowledgeable about personal development and willing to share their ideas.

I posted a few replies to youngsters who felt disoriented and benefited in 2.0 spirit from reflections on my own life. I moved countries last year having done so five years earlier (so fourth city in five years). I was well aware how much time I was spending networking professionally and attending to functional things.

It’s really important to lead a full life with relationships close and social, casual and professional. Everyone should be pursuing a good range of sport, cultural and social activity. It reminds me of David Whyte quoting Rainer Rilke’s poem about the fire and the night. We don’t want to concentrate on the fire. It ignores the night. We want to look at the night which holds everything including the fire.

Hard as it can be when we are under pressure of immediate things-to-do, we need to cherish our wider night of activities we hold dear. Mindtools has an database system for building goals in all areas of our lives – though you can do it on paper too. It is well worth an annual springclean to check through our appreciation of the fullness of life and let the mundane details and work take their place in the wider scheme of things.

Minutes after  I drafted this post, I discovered MindGym, a coaching site with a fresh approach.  Oddly, they think it is a good thing to be taking work home with you.  Sure, we all do – but a good thing?  Must take that up with them.  And folks, the MindGym is British! Yeah!  Must definitely get in touch with them.

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