Bringing together my own and other people's visions, thoughts, and beliefs on matters like leadership, change, and personal development. Featuring essays, quotes, book reviews and more. Drawing from people around the globe, known and unknown, alive and deceased,all wise or inspiring in one way or another. Integrating management, psychology, philosophy, taoism, nature, science, art forms, current affairs and not to forget: daily life. The best life to live!
If you do not adapt, if you do not learn, you will wither, you will die.
We all have those conversations and collaborations that seem challenging because intentions are misunderstood, parties rush to judgment, styles are clashing, or objectives are misaligned. Other relationships are strong and secure yet you may still experience an unexpected twist in the conversation, one you didn't see coming. And there are situations in which trust and credibility are harmed and you have to move forward together. For any of these scenarios, whether in a group setting or a personal meeting, the following sentences, from Covey's Trust Action Cards, I find very helpful. Give them a well-intentioned try and add your own examples - there are many more.
things differently from me. I want to learn more about your perspective.
do this, the impact on me (the team, the client) is …
make sure I understand what you are trying to say.
to act, get on with things, and work on solutions. In school, in business, and in
other contexts we are rewarded for being active and busy. Yet … have you ever
heard of the expression ‘Too much of a good thing can turn into a bad thing?’ Our
action bias is supposed to be in service of meaningful achievement, which it
often accomplishes. Yet in a world in which everything and everyone is super
connected, the pace is high, change is the new normal, and the environment is
complex, it is wise to make time for slow thinking, reflection, and
highly likely know this. You highly likely don’t practice it enough.
Regular reflection practices ensure that you take
deliberate pauses. These pauses can help you free some of your cluttered mind,
adopt an open perspective, and facilitate deeper thinking. If you use
reflection practices strategically, you will strengthen your capacity for
metacognition, meaning you will become better at monitoring, understanding, and
controlling your reasoning processes. So you basically improve your thinking
about your thinking, which limits the effects of hasty conclusions, limited
perspectives, and cognitive biases that too often lead to misreading people and
So if you are one of the many people who find themselves busy
fighting fires, moving from problem to problem, switching between a variety of events,
with little time for thoughtful, quiet reflection, please try this:
1. Journaling about experiences, thoughts,
doubts, feelings, progress.
2. Asking reflection questions
starting with whereto, what else, why not.
3. Actively inviting people who think
differently for feedback and input.
4. Monthly reflection session
with someone who guides the introspection.
5. Mindfulness training to which many books and
websites are dedicated.
more on mindfulness or training the mind: It is an intervention in the neural
networking of your brain and a simple way to become more present, focused, and effective
in the moment. Mindfulness helps you to face people and events with an open
mind, greater creativity and flexibility, and more freedom from your habitual
thought pattern while experiencing less stress.
examples of reflective questions think about questions such as:
- What do I/we really know?
- What if I am (partially) wrong?
- What may I be projecting onto
- Which are my assumptions in this
- What is it that I/they a really
need or fear right now?
- Which perspectives may I not be
soliciting or entertaining?
You can also use the “What
– So What – Now What” model.
The ‘What?’ is descriptive and about facts,
‘So what?’ is a shift from descriptive to interpretive, what it all means, and involves feelings
and lessons learned, and ‘Now what?’ helps you to see the situation in it’s
context, to get a big-picture perspective, and to mine wisdom from experience
to set future goals and create or adjust a plan.
may have said it best: “The unexamined life is not worth living.” Strategic self-reflection
can help you pause and contemplate, expand your viewpoint, acknowledge
alternative beliefs, create a bridge between information and wisdom, and improve your decision-making capability. As
stated in the Talmud, one of the central works of Rabbinic Judaism: “We do not see things as they
are; but as we are.” So make sure you add other people’s perspectives, especially those of contrarians. Many people fail to look through
the lens of opposing viewpoints. This limits the quality of your decisions
since you are projecting your own thoughts, insights and experiences into a
situation, without acknowledging alternative assumptions or angles.
January 2018 Harvard Business Review article called “Self-awareness can help
leaders more than an MBA can” by Hougaard, Carter, and Afton, the authors take
a very similar perspective on doing and
awareness and reflection.
is the end of my plea for not-doing, at least for now.
accountability is a challenging task. You may work in a cross-functional team,
a virtual team, a matrix situation, or in a more traditional, stable team setting.
In each of these situations, holding each other accountable to team goals and
commitments is challenging, especially since you are not the person’s boss. Even
though these conversations may are difficult, below suggestions address how to
conduct an accountability conversation with a team member in a structured, respectful,
transparent and problem-solving manner.
for an accountability conversation – 5 tips
1.Assess the level of safety for
this conversation, defined as: Do we both perceive the relationship as
respectful? Can we speak our minds freely without concern about damaging the
relationship or other possible negative consequences? If not, you have trust
building work to do.
2.Assure that the timing of the
conversation fits you both. Overly strong emotions and feeling time-pressured
will most likely negatively impact the interaction. Be present there and then
and be ready for anything, expected or not, that may come your way.
3.Keep an open mind. First about how
the conversation may develop and what the emotional intensity might be.
Regardless of your preparation, positive intent, and approach, you never know
nor control what’s going on at the other end of the table. Second, be open to
the idea that you could be wrong. Ask yourself: What may I be missing or
4.Know your internal chatter. Ask: What
story am I telling myself about this person, their intentions, and the
circumstances? Is it a victim story, a villain story, a helplessness story etc.
Where’s the proof? How do I know? Could I be totally wrong? Will this story
help or hurt the conversation?
5.Reflect on your own possible role
in the present situation: What may I be not willing to address myself? How may
I be contributing to the performance / delivery gap?
of the accountability conversation – 5 tips
6.Describe the situation: ‘What
happened as I see it.’ Focus on the gap between expectation and reality as you
see it. In this stage separate ‘What happened’ from ‘Why’ it happened. Refrain
from speculation and judgment. Move away from blame and focus on understanding
7.Ask for the person’s response, for
their version of what happened. Remain focused even if you are confronted with
an emotional response. Respond empathetically yet keep focused on the facts. Be
ready to listen intently and ask questions to clarify. Refrain from jumping to
conclusions and from judgment – for many the hardest thing to do. Work towards
agreement on where the stories align and where they do not.
8.Identify impacts - Explain what
you see as the consequences of not meeting expectations. What are the results
of what happened or didn't happen and of what was not accomplished? Ask/address:
What’s the impact? Ask/address: Why does this matter? Ask/address: What are
some potential implications? Also consider which of these consequences may the
person care about most?
9.Explore the barriers – What is
getting in the way of this person delivering and performing up to expectations?
a.Content – Knowledge – Information
b.Ability – Skills – Coaching
c.Motivation – Drive – Values
d.Relationships – Influence – Style
e.Processes – Procedures – Resources
10.Collaboratively explore possible
remedies and move to action:
a.How can barriers be removed?
b.What does the person need to
c.Who can help, support?
d.Is the person truly committed to
e.What is the time frame?
f.How will you both know there’s
improvement – success?
g.How will you follow up? When?
but actually firstly, a safe and transparent climate where fact finding
outweighs fault finding, where learning from mistakes prevails covering up
mistakes, is the only way for people to openly admit to and share near misses,
small mistakes, and big failures.
be the topic of one of the upcoming blog posts.
feeling busy? Tired? Unfocused? If not, please contact me so I can listen to
you, mine your wisdom, and share it with family, friends, and clients.
answer is ‘yes’, try the following four easy practices for 7 days straight and
see what it does for you. They each take 30 seconds or less:
1. Every time you realize you’re
frowning, switch to a smile and hold it for at least 30 seconds.
2. Every time you feel rushed, pause
for 15 seconds and either close your eyes or look at something pleasant.
3. Every time you detect a negative
thought, switch to a credible constructive thought and repeat the thought
silently 4 times.
4. Every time you feel upset with
someone, before you address the person, send her or him a silent, not spoken, ‘I wish you [name] well’ message (with
credit to Mayo Clinic’s dr. Amid Soot.)
practices are examples of what I call ‘taking out the head trash’ and of relaxing
just a little more.
experience it – that much you owe yourself. And you have to admit, it’s
impossible not to have a couple of 30 seconds in your day to spend on something
healthy. Lets just agree: You have nothing to lose.