Personal leadership: Answer the moral challenge of our age

Psychology blossomed in the noughties

Positive psychology, appreciative inquiry, and mytho-poetic tradition are well understood and taught in psychology and management classrooms in all corners of the world.

But we need a name

Paradoxically though, the technical names for these fields are relatively unintelligible to lay people. If there is anything we want to achieve in this field, it is to be intelligible to ordinary people.

Would personal leadership do as name?

Eventually, I settled on the term personal leadership.

We are concerned about styles of leadership that are personal.  What I do, for example is not strictly relevant to what you do.  And what I do today, has little bearing on what is relevant tomorrow.

And does the name contribute to our understanding?

Having described the rationale of this new field in these words, is it truly a discipline that belongs in the professions?

How can this definition of leadership generate a theory that is useful in practice? After all, if what is relevant today and is not relevant tomorrow, what use is that theory?

We have an ontological challenge

The difficulty is less in the epistemology, that is in the way we study leadership, than in the ontology, the nature of leadership.

We used to think of leadership as something we do.

Now we look at ourselves in context. Our unit of analysis, as researchers say, is “ourself in context”.

What are the practical implications of defining leadership as ourselves in context?

We don’t exist when we don’t see

David Whyte refers to attention. “When my eyes are tired the world is tired also”. We are our habits of attention. We are what we attend to. We are our capacity to pay attention.  When our way is lost, we find ourselves by paying attention. By becoming mindful and “touching and feeling” what is around us.

The big change in our understanding of leadership

Who we are is not what we do repeatedly and well.

Who we are is our frontier. Who we are is the place where we are curious about the world. Who we are is the frontier we cannot ignore.

Paradoxically, often when we feel tired, it is not because we are at our frontier, it is because we are not. We are not at a place where we are confronting the unknown carried by the energy of compulsive curiosity.

Leadership is not a spectator sport

We feel alive when we are in a place where “we want to know”. We are leaders when our curiosity about a situation leads us to ask questions. We are leaders when our compulsive curiosity asks questions which holds a mirror up to a situation.

We are leaders when our questions allow people to ask their questions.

How can we understand leadership in a way that allows us to share knowledge?

This question has two goals.

#1  What is the knowledge I can share?

There are many ways of sharing knowledge and we know stories are much more effectual than dry statistics answering questions that were unlikely from the outset to produce a practically significant answer.

We also know that knowledge is also more likely to be absorbed when people trust the presenter – when the presenter shares the journey of the students.

#2  What can I charge for my knowledge?

And probably more important is the heretical question of what can we charge for our knowledge. How can we claim and sustain status for our knowledge?

It is this question that personal leadership answers. We share knowledge not because we are right, but because we are willing to share in the gains and losses of a decision.

It is here that the field of personal leadership enters into the spirit of our age. Authority comes from being willing to share the gains and losses of a decision.

Are we so curious about the people we are with that they are willing to be changed by them ~ without notice and without guarantee?

That is knowledge to be passed on. Am I willing to act with you right now?

Can you stand up in front of 1000 people and state your personal elevator speech in 20 seconds?

A personal elevator speech

When I taught at the University of Canterbury, my colleague Peter Cammock, would ask our class of 900 or so students, whether they could stand up and state their life purpose in a 20 second elevator speech.

Elevator speeches are hard to write at the best of times. When they are yours too, they are really hard.

Crafting our elevator speech

There are perhaps 5 things that are helpful to understand about elevator speeches that help us in this task

  • Structure
  • Resonance with our deepest beliefs
  • The story of where we have come from and where we are going
  • Our immediate influences
  • And what we are still not sure about

Structure of an elevator speech

An elevator speech is a mini-business plan. Or a mini-operational order. It has five parts.

  • Situation – the story that is bigger than us
  • Mission – that part of the collective story that we will write
  • Execution – the chunks of our mission that can be fulfilled as sub-missions
  • Administration – the resources that we need
  • Communication – how will we know how well we are doing and who should we tell

[SMEAC]

Resonance with our deepest beliefs

Our elevator speech is not about what we must do, or what other people expect us to do. Duty wears us out and is sure to wear out anyone who is listening!

Our elevator speech is about those dearly held beliefs that are vital and engaging. Our elevator speech is about what brings us alive, what we quickens our pulse, and what brings a light to our eyes. If only we could see that!

The key to finding this magical place is to look at our relationship with others. What is that we love to to do and others love us to do?

We are likely to find this place in our our work, which even if solitary, like painting, is sociable ~ it is for others to use and enjoy.

Who are these others? What were we hoping when we started our work? How do we, or how do we hope to bring the light to other people’s eyes that we want in our own?

It is here, a unique place for each of us, where we feel totally at home. It is here that we live wholeheartedly and we don’t have to plan. It is here that “our deep gladness and the world’s hunger meets”!

Our story

The curious thing about our stories is that so much of our lives are disappointing. What would you feel if you were a graduate in today’s UK facing 20% unemployment and debts from your education?

How would you feel if you were like me? Your country gone. Your house gone. Your career gone. Your life in disarray.

Well, whatever we feel, we should not disown our stories. Our stories give us perspective and the more we have lost, the more perspective we have. As a noobe in the UK, my rich paste and perspective is a gift to people in my new home. My very disappointment is what I have to enrich the lives of others.

Our influences

As I arrived in a new country, I felt muddled. Any disruption ~ a new job, a new house, new friends ~ might have confused me. Losing a country is just an extreme mutation of a general theme!

Slowly, we begin to make sense of what we contribute through our interactions. I do a lot of work on the internet and I was helped on my way by reading the Chief Happiness Officer, Steve Roesler, and Barbara Sliter.

My mission is to be happy

From the Chief Happiness Officer, I learned that my job is to be happy. I felt a bit silly, I must tell you, until I realised that happiness isn’t my vision. My happiness isn’t the bigger story or the shared story. My happiness is my mission.

My happiness is how I contribute to the shared story because happiness is contagious. Because I am a noobe. Because I have a rich past and my perspective on what is good and true at this time and in this place helps people around me fulfil their missions, whatever those missions may be.

My vision is a world where we are confident of our countries

I learned my vision from Barbara Sliter.

“We are ready for more: more meaning, more challenge, better environments, interesting work, balance of life. We are ready to be co-creators”.

I want to contribute to the world where our search for meaning is more legitimate, easier, likelier, just fun. Less hassle and more fun.

My vision, which I think is widely shared, is a world where people wake up with curiosity about what the day holds and sure that their contribution today makes their country great and their community great, their workplaces, schools and colleges thrive, and their families happy and warm places to be.

The execution

And I learned how to execute my mission from Steve Roesler. Steve suggested that employees must start the conversation. I am a work psychologist, so this is important to me.

My specific task in the next year or so is to learn, with other people, how to have these conversations, what it means to have these conversations, what are our choices when we have these conversations, and ultimately of course, what we have learned from these conversations and how they have evolved.

My immediate task, or rule-of-thumb, is to attend to my own conversation with work and people I work with ~”The way we hold the conversation” as David Whyte says.

I am not going to worry about what other people are doing. I am going to ask: does the way I hold my conversation about my work make me happy?

And then I will ask, if changing the way I hold the conversation makes me happy, does the conversation become better, fuller, richer, for other people around me? Do I fullfil my mission of being contagiously happy?

Our uncertainties

Like most people, I don’t say aloud, or post, what is really important to me. I wrote this post a good 18 months ago and I didn’t post it! But it was still in my drafts. Thank goodness for blogging! I wish I had posted it though. This is how far I have come.

I have pursued the vision and mission OK but I didn’t follow through the execution in a focused way. Imagine where I would be now if I had done so? Of course, I can do that now! With a little bit of thought, I can add the steps to be executed to other work that I am doing now!

Elevator speeches in brief!

And there we have it. Elevator speeches have a standard structure. We find out who and what we are in conversations including our work. Some people help us pinpoint what we are doing and where we are going.

We bring in our own story ~ as it is. Often our very disappointments which give us the perspective that others find valuable.

And then we must be bold enough to say what we are doing aloud!

Possibly I should add a step under execution:

Find more places to say my elevator speech aloud so that it gets better and crisper, shorter and more relevant.

I want to bring a light to other people’s eyes.

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Surprise! US is not overborrowed. But does it have Growth Story?

If you have even the slightest interest in living in the manner to which you have become accustomed, can I recommend you find 5 hours to watch these three videos of 12 economists talking what is happening in the US financial system and its dealings with the rest of the world?

I am just a lowly psychologist so I try to boil down economics to actionable rules of thumbs that we can use.  When you are done, I’d be interested in your take of mine.

1.  Find your growth story . . . and stick to it!

Find an industry that you enjoy, find the bit that is growing, and grow with it, wherever it takes you.

2.  Help you kids find their growth story

Invest in the things they love to do and take them on holiday to parts of the world where growth is happening.

Think abut a good trip to Brazil, Russia, China or India once in three years, rather than a time-wasting, resource-frittering holiday every year.

And if they have any inclination for languages, help them by doing their homework with them.   It may help when you talk to you grand-children who might be living in another country!

And may be include Arabic on you list of possibles.  Bang on the door of the mosque in your neighbourhood and ask them to include your children in their after-school activities?

3.  Remember that money is losing value as much as houses are losing value

Unless you have a lot of it hanging around, this is a good news story for you. Investors will want to invest in your growth story.

Don’t be desperate for their money. You have something as rare as hens’ teeth.

Bring in investors who believe in your story as strongly as they believe in returns on their capital.

And then write a tight contract for them!  This is a borrower’s market, whatever the mass media tells you.

4.  Learn the numbers and ask your MP and business leaders hard questions

The more we show that we know the numbers, the quicker they will get down and dirty with them too.

Let them watch 5 hours of videos on economic more often than we do.  That’s their job, after all. Let’s get our money’s worth!

5.  Vote with your ballot and your feet for people and firms with growth stories

Question the panic about government borrowing.

It may be different here in the UK – I wish we had a forum like these 12 economists here.  Common sense tells us, though, that we will only get out of our mess with a plan – a plan for getting out and moving along with growth stories in Brazil Russia India and China.

We don’t have to eat and drink ourselves silly to keep up. But starving ourselves and living in sack cloth won’t make us any richer either.

Government borrowing is only a problem when don’t have a plan to make businesses better over the next 5, 10, 20 years.

We want a growth story!  Can we start a fashion?  What will happen if we ask everyone you meet, what is your growth story!

Learning about leadership from bankers :)

How do you greet a banker?

I did the two-step shuffle down the aisle of the aircraft, muttering apologies here and there, bobbed and weaved like Muhammed Ali  determined to get to my seat quickly, without being run over by bags-on-wheels, or clouted over the head with duty free wine as someone swings it into an overhead locker.

Blessed relief.  My seat!  Unfold the seat belt.  Move the blanket and pillow.  Plop myself down.  Greet my neighor.  Start chatting civilly.

It turn’s out my neighbor is an ex-banker.  I catch my breath for a moment, feel my pupils dilate slightly, and I burst out laughing.  A test of social skills, perhaps?

How do you greet a banker who helped design the Titanic of the UK economy – the ship that would never sink?

He’s a idiot, he’s a fool, he’s knave  .  .  . do I greet him with contempt, anger or curiosity?  Sell him something perhaps. He’s gullible after all.

Behind my impulse to laugh is a mix of embarrassment (for him) and traces of British irony – can’t fix it so you may as well live with it.

The natural born salesman, on the other hand, approaches life differently.  He understands that everyone should take initiative – all the time, every day, where ever we find ourselves.

These three attitudes correspond to three prominent ways of we talk about leadership.

Heroic

In the heroic idea of leadership, which we often associate with American movies, an individual leader rises to the fore, points to the horizon, and carries us off to our salvation.  It’s deemed hard to do.  That, of course, is just a belief to justify rewarding some people a lot more than others.

We have this idea in British culture too.  In the biography of Winston Churchill, Gathering Storm, it is clear that Winston had strong ideas about saving his country, long before there was any call to do so.

The trouble with heroism is that outside the moment of heroism, we look more than a little batty.

Ironic

The ironic story line of leadership runs a little differently.  It goes like this.  I tried.  It didn’t work out.  What a plonker I turned out to be.  So I will go back to the status quo.  It is not so bad after all.

We come together at the end of the story in a ‘group hug’, where no one wins or loses, and there is no challenge at all to distribution of rewards.  We celebrate the status quo.  Very British, of course.

Irony is funny when it is done well, and often awesome in its execution.   But it is a form of narcissism.  We do so love preening ourselves in the mirror.  It is such a good excuse to do nothing!

Personal

Personal leadership is a new label for understanding leadership in the networked world.  The salesman who promptly sells something to the ex-banker (a new job or a new Caribbean island, perhaps), sees the world as a network where everyone is influencing everyone else in their small way.  Tacky when I talk about a salesman, but very important as the world becomes more networked.

The Hero’s Journey

This genre, with its understated label, is a version of the heroic – where we are each our own hero traveling our own hero’s journey. It’s inspired by author Joseph Campbell, who believed that all good stories have a heroic structure.  We set off on a quest, meet a number of challenges on the way, overcome them, and return home in triumph to a new challenge – how to integrate our new life with the old.

In the cloud

Though this genre is a simple heroic form, and individualistic to boot, it fits neatly into our every increasingly networked world, where each person really does influence the world, and can influence the world.

I imagine Earth from outer space with a blanket of mist around it, cocooned in a mohair mesh of internet messages.  Anyone with an internet has free access to the cloud.  They need skills, but little is stopping them entering, and influencing, that space.

Swirling with others

But, of course, others are doing that too.  At the same time.  So, it is an ever evolving space and requires a new way of thinking.

Life becomes less a matter of right and wrong.  To predict an outcome requires the world to change slowly.  At the minute you believe you are doing the right thing, someone, maybe a ten year old in a rural village in India, does his own thing, and changes conditions and renderes your calculations incorrect.

To play in the new connected world, we have to play.  We have to be ever present. This bothers people who are not used to taking into account what a ten year old is doing in rural India.  It scares the pants off the old guard.

Learning about personal leadership in the cloud

Well, I might be squirming on behalf of the banker sitting next to me.  And maybe he is a fool or knave. But just maybe, he also understands banking sufficiently to see where banking is going.

Maybe, he will straighten out the mess and be our new hero of tomorrow?

Let me ask.

So where is banking going?  Where do you see banks in the future?

[And if he is heading towards his Caribbean island, maybe I can cadge a invitation for a holiday.  Have I lived in England too long?  Well, this will be an interesting flight, anyway.  I always talk to people on planes.]

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A Plan Big Enough To Include Now: We Call It Mindfulness

I am tidying up my blog and I like this post that I wrote in January about Obama’s arrival at the White House.  Obama’s worldwind activity foreshadows how we will all work in future. Fast, decisive and above all, very dependent on our colleagues.

I am an Obama-fan.  You may not be.  But then it is all the more important to study the effectiveness of ‘his machinery’.  Read carefully!

For psychologists, coaches and aspiring leaders, I’d be interested in your comments on the four points of effective living in the networked age the summaries that I added in italics and how life has changed.

I’ve also highlighted in red the work of leading a huge immensely talented team. Since I wrote this in January, I have become convinced that management and leadership will not change much in the networked age.  It will just rest less on command-and-control and more on orientation, synthesis and coordination.  I’d love your thoughts.

Learning from Barack

Day Two, Barack Obama continues with his extraordinary pace.  With Hillary Clinton, on her first day, he appoints experienced Special Envoys to the Middle East and Afghanistan and Pakistan.  His Communications Director gives the first press briefing, and he tours the Press Room personally in a surprise visit.  He signs Executive Orders, closing Guatanamo, and reinforcing the Freedom of Information Act (or US equivalent).

Importantly, he has done all of this in public view.  For many of us, this is a welcome inclusion in the process of government.  For others, this is a useful preview of work, leadership and management in the decades ahead.

Networking our work

We are seeing networked government in action.

Obama’s Blackberry is its symbol.  He uses rapid, brief electronic communication, but his communications are neither thoughtless nor ephemeral.  Indeed, as President, all his communications are recorded.

Everyone in the network was invited in for their experience and professionalism.  They are able to assimilate new information quickly, point out what they don’t know, and act accordingly.  Not everyone is old.  His Director of Speech Writing is 27 and has acquired experience, confidence and judgment through successive elections.

The network moves with dazzling speed.  Though they were able to prepare for these two days, they have been moving office, moving house, and waiting for confirmation of some senior people.

Networking our work

All work is going the same way, and we have questions.

How do young people get experience to join in at this level?  How do we work with a leader whose vision is different to ours?

There seem to be 4 rules to this new way of living and working.

#1  Find our own vision

We have to find our own vision, build our own networks, and develop the mindful working skills to work with very skilled people in networks that are forever reforming and reshaping as they responding to world events.

Even the youngest among us needs to adopt a posture of leadership.  We all need to be bold enough to work out our vision and identify the best people to take us there.

#2  Act

Dreaming is not enough.  We need to reach out and be the bridge between people who are part of our vision.

#3  Be present

Personally and electronically, monitoring and nurturing involvement and direction.

#4  And because we need to be present, we can only pursue “one vision at a time”.

Whatever we pursue should be big enough and important enough for us to spend all our time with it.

Learning from the master

I am glad we can watch the President at work.  He helps me pinpoint 3 challenges to ask myself at any moment.

#1 Those of us who grew up in hierarchical systems at home, school and work, may find it difficult to imagine a system where we are all leaders and that we are actually guiding an entire network at the moment when ‘the ball passes to us’.

At this moment, I am holding the ball.  I am mistress of the universe. Quick!  What is my vision?  What do want for the world and what am I promising to work at with all my heart and all my might?

#2 Before the internet, we were able to compartmentalize our lives, putting on a mask as we went to work, and taking it off again on the way home.  In this interconnected world, like the President in the gold fish bowl of the White House, we need to live as we mean to live, wherever we are, and whatever we are doing.

Is what I am doing ‘so together’ that I am happy for everyone to see it?  If not, why am I wasting time and energy on it?

#3 And hardest of all, the old systems allowed us to ‘sleepwalk’ and blame the inadequacies of our lives on the ‘owners of the vision’.  There was no need to be fully present, and it was probably better not to be.

Networked work requires us to be mindful.  Just as we are part of a large fast moving network, today is part of a seamless stream of yesterday, today and tomorrow, and for today to play its part, we need to revere today and live it fully.

If this place that I have come to is not where I want to be,  what must I attend to fully to take me on my way?

Day Three

So today is Day Three.  The President will have another tight schedule.  He relies on the many competent people he has brought in to play their part without minute direction, but with minute coordination.

His role and contribution is to keep the common vision alive, to acknowledge and value the smallest contributions, and to ensure that the network gets rapid feedback about the way the world receives our actions, so we are able to respond effectively and appropriately in real time.

Our Day Three

Networked times have come and take some readjustment of our thinking.  It is good to watch Obama in a White House that seems to have developed a glass front.

Our role is to start to take part.  And our first step is to work on a personal vision, which is important enough to pursue with all our heart and all our mind, beginning in the situation in which we find ourselves today.

It is a big task.  I am on to it.  Are you?

Buzzing with expectation?

5 contemporary concepts for understanding why some groups buzz with expectation

Self-styled vagabond, Sam Brannon, asked a good question last weekend on Linkedin.  Are we in a state of learned helplessness?

I’m an inveterate shaper so I am always asking “is what we do important and are we doing the important things?” Because I ask these questions, it is possible I sense learned helplessness more than do others.   But, I am also much more interested in the the opposite of learned helplessness.

  • I love the crowd singing their local hero to victory.
  • I love the buzz of getting a group project done on time.
  • I love the feeling of belonging to an institution worth belonging to.

Indeed my love of that community buzz is key to my professional interest in work psychology and university teaching.  Sam’s post led me to list 5 contemporary concepts from psychology and management that, I think, are key to creating the spiral of group buzz and efficacy.

1 Collective efficacy

If we believe in each other, we add 5-10% on our effective results.  Collective efficacy is a simple yet powerful idea.  When the teachers in a school believe in each other, the school outperforms other schools who have equal resources!

Rule one:  The CEO needs to believe genuinely in his or her direct reports.  That process kicks off their belief in each other and in their direct reports, etc. etc.

P.S Faking doesn’t work.  The pre-requisite of leadership is genuine, heart-felt belief in one’s followers.

2 Solidarity

Rejection is enormously destructive.  Roy Baumeister, who blogs at Psychology Today,  has shown that being rejected by a computer (not even a person) is sufficient to stop us looking in a mirror.   Someone who feels rejected is not going to be feeling efficacious!

Rule two:  Don’t just walk around!  Walk around with a mission to create a sense of belonging.

P. S.  Be hyper-alert to the small minute and accidental ways in which we exclude people.  They are devastating to moral and self-confidence.

3 Personal Leadership

Social media (like LinkeIn) has awakened our sense of being at the centre of our own network.  Everyone is a leader.  The personal leader ‘school’ supports the development of individual leadership (see poet David Whyte).  I am also interested in organizations that recognise that everyone is a leader.

Rule three:  Tell our own ‘stories’ to show how the organization fits in to our personal destinies, and write an organizational story that depends upon our differences and uniqueness.

P.S.  A story that depends on us mimicking the boss defines us as irrelevant (a hole below the waterline for the organization!)

4 Positive psychology/positive organizational scholarship.

The work of Martin Seligman and David Cooperrider has shown the power of gratitude and appreciation.  Positive whatever-whatever sounds like touchy-feely stuff but it is pretty hard core.  Basically, it is an approach where we focus on what works and works well and we discard the rest.

There are good reasons why haven’t focused on what works well as a matter of course.  Simply, if we define leadership as one person knowing what is best, and telling the rest of us what to do, then we are always focusing on a gap – on something negative.

Rule four:  Scrap all the “gap” technology on which management and HRM was built.  Pinpoint what works and do more of it! Then keep the conversation there.

P.S.  Its scary to abandon the idea that we know best.  But when we get the hang of it,  we find out all the good stuff that is happening that we didn’t know about.

5 Globalization

Globablization has changed economics and shifted where and how we can make a profit.  We have to work harder now to create value that produces a penny of profit.  Working with this constraint produces fantastic results as we see in V.J. Prahalad’s value at the bottom of the pyramid.

The principle used by large companies to rethink their process is this: abandon the idea of trying to sell more and more at a better and better price.  Rather, ask what is needed at what price, and work backwards to what we can supply.  The ability to ask questions about the world outside the organizations is a key aspect of successful business teams.

Rule 5:  Forget about being a leader!  Ask how to develop a community who are interested in what we do.

P.S.  We do need to honour the community’s needs and trust it to honour ours (complete the circle).  When we don’t have this loyalty to each other, a buzz is not possible.  We simply don’t have the conditions for a high performing organization.  This is not the day!

[CSPPG : cheerful squirrels prepare parties toGether]

Everyday use of these concepts

I use all these ideas in running everyday projects, like university courses. I know students do better when they believe in each other.  My job, as I see it, is replacing their initial dependence on me, with, a strong belief in each other, a belief in their project of studying together in this year & in this place, and a deep pride in how they came to be here and how they will move on together.

That is the buzz of expectation that the whole world feels tonight with the US galvanized to get out and vote (or is just to get a free cup of coffee from Starbucks?).  That is the buzz we get when our favourite team makes the finals.  That is the buzz we get when you couldn’t stop us going to work even if you tried!

Have a winning week!

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We can’t run our banks or trains BUT we have raised a fair and decent GEN Y?

Life in the 21st century is a little grim

One of the pleasures of living in the UK is long commutes on overfull trains.  I am not talking overcrowding Mumbai-style (aka Bombay) to be sure. But there is a more than 50-50 chance in the UK that I will find myself standing for an hour, or finding a free wall and sitting on the carpet – damn the higher dry cleaning bills.

Two trips back, I plonked my teaching file down on the aisle carpet and sat on it, embarrassing the 50-something who had a seat next to me.  When I declined his kind offer to change places, he retorted, so you can tell your friends about how things used to be better!

But I think it has got better

Actually, I don’t think things have got worse.  I’ve been away from UK and because I pop in and out, I see change intermittently and I think have a less distorted view.  UK is cleaner and quicker than it was 10 years ago and much cleaner and quicker than it was 20 years ago.

And more optimistic

I also don’t think things have got worse for another reason.  I teach (college).  And teaching brings me into contact with Gen Y twice a week.

Gen Y may be many things.  What you can count on is that they want to do a good job.  They ask questions.  They are knowledgeable about what they have been in contact with.  They want to run fair and decent businesses.  They are intensely interested in any curriculum to do with being a good manager or a good leader.  I can hear a pin drop when I get onto topics like charismatic leadership.  It may be narcissism on their part (and mine), but I like to think differently.

So why have we done so well?

So lets pose  a question.  We see so much shocking leadership and management in today’s world.   Steve Roesler pointed to the obvious today.  Many of our workplaces seem to reward bad leadership.  The collapse of the financial system seems to be a case in point.  The post mortems will tell us eventually.

How is it that

We cannot provide decent commuting trains in the 6th richest country in the world, or fair mortgages in the 1st richest country,

BUT

We have raised our children to be intensely interested in being decent, fair and engaging?

Why did we do so well? I am asking sincerely.  What did we do to bring up such a pleasant, decent, energetic, and fair generation of youngsters?

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Poetry and essays on the Hero’s Journey

Sometimes during the working day, I arrive at a website.  I have no idea how I got there and I have no idea why I have never been there before.  But there I am, at the place I want to be.

A site with essays and poetry about the Hero’s Journey.

For people new to the Hero’s Journey, the HJ is a narrative form, the structure of a story, that seems to be a suitable way of organizing our stories about our own lives.  Who else is the hero of our journey but ourselves.

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.