28 Apr

What do you bring to the world?

What is your centre? What do you bring to the world?  If you ask yourself these questions what is your first reaction? Do you feel content? Are you happy with your answer or do you feel that you need some work?

Whilst pondering these questions I read an article written by one of my favourite authors and public speakers,  Patrick Lencioni. “Make your values mean something” was published in the Harvard Business Review. His article was directed at business, discussing the many mistakes companies make when they create company values. He pointed out some key issues that businesses should be aware of if they want to be successful with a company values initiative.

I wondered if his advice for creating corporate values could also be applied to personal values? Two of his points felt particularly applicable to personal values.

1. Understand the different types of values

I’ve always thought of the concept of values as being pretty simple. You either have them or you don’t. And depending on where you are in your life, certain values will be more important than others. According to Patrick, values are not as one-dimensional as I thought. He differentiates between core, aspirational, permission-to-play and accidental values. That lead me to some questions…

Starting with the most sacrosanct values of all – core values. “Do you have values that are so deeply ingrained in your core that they would never be compromised  no matter what happens in your life?”

“Do you have aspirational values?” If there is a change that you are making in your life and you aspire to behave in a certain way, does your value system portray that desire and need?

Permission-to-play values simply reflect the minimal behaviour and social standards required by any person. These values would be something deeper than the core. Values that are the foundation of our very being. So how do these values differ from one’s core values or even one’s aspirational values? Values such as honesty, kindness and integrity come to mind. Values that should be shared by every human being. Core values are then values that define you as a unique individual. Separate you from the crowd.

Accidental values I feel are very relevant to the question of “What do you bring to the world?”. These are spontaneously cultivated over time. They reflect the true personality and behaviour of you. Accidental values can be positive and negative. These are the values that your family, friends, peers and society sees. These are the values that you bring to the world. Are you satisfied with what you see?

Are your core values your accidental values? Or is what you perceive to be the “real you” just a pretty dream of make-believe, and the values that you think you project are completely opposite to what you actually portray to the outside world?

It takes guts to look at yourself in the mirror and point out your own flaws. This bring me to the second point, which is a way to make your values real.

2. Weave core values into everything

If you are thinking about changing or improving what you bring to this world, start with re-evaluating your values and then commit to living by them.

By weaving your values into your everyday tasks, decisions and thinking, they become part of who you are.  Through practice we create new habits. What we believe and treasure most is then reflected in what we bring to the world.

21 Apr

What would your replacement do?

Many of us have gone through a phase of being in a slump or disengaged at work. Your routine gets, well, too routine.

In the beginning things are fresh and exciting! Every day is filled with promise and grand opportunities! But now every day feels like Ground Hog Day. Daily activities blend into one another. Conversations sound the same. Small tasks become overwhelming and too hard to complete.  You wake up one day and it just feels like you have lost your mojo!

How did this happen? What went wrong?

Unfortunately this happens easily. To avoid it we need to recognise the “moving-into-a-slump-phase” signs.  A little trick that can help to pre-empt this situation, is to ask this question from Andy Stanley, leadership author: “What would your replacement do?

It can be hard to imagine yourself as dispensable,  however a simple visualisation technique like this can allow you to see your situation through fresh eyes. Things will seem less emotional, draining or overwhelming. By taking a step backwards and looking at your position from a different perspective, you give space for fresh ideas to be born. The weight lifts off your shoulders. Things seem clearer. Your motivation levels start to lift and everything and anything seems possible.

Even more effective is if you apply this technique on a regular basis. This can help you to avoid hitting the slump phase completely. Looking at life from a different perspective will keep you objective, it keeps you curious and open for new ideas.



14 Apr

Are you enjoying the journey?

Over the past year I have been very conscious of the concept of being happy. Not to be happy for happiness sake, but being conscious of what makes me happy.

The tricky thing is that happiness means something different for everyone. You need to find what makes you happy. For me it is the idea of enjoying the journey.

In our pursuit of happiness do we take the time to stop and smell the roses? Do we appreciate all the highs and lows along the way? Do we look for happy moments in our everyday routines and mundane tasks or are we so preoccupied about getting stuff done that we don’t take notice?

Happiness is not a goal that you achieve after completing an action plan within a pre-determined deadline. Happiness or lack of happiness is a by-product of your continued actions. Like Viktor E. Frankl said in his book Man’s Search for Meaning, “Happiness cannot be pursued; it must ensue.”  Happiness is the result of what you practise. What are you practising?

Life’s journey has inevitable highs and lows. Summoning the strength to take charge of the lows is especially rewarding. Your confidence and self-esteem will grow after successfully dealing with the difficult times, and this will provide space for happiness to re-appear.

Enjoying the journey is about appreciating the good, the bad and the ugly. Be mindful about your thoughts, actions and choices. This helps you to grow, move forward and prevent those moments from being repeated.

In my journey, I find that my happiness levels increase when I am able to put a label on reasons for things that are going right or wrong. I am able to own the success and the failure. Being accountable and in control of the next step brings me happiness.

If happiness or unhappiness is a result of our everyday actions, what are you doing to control those actions to allow for positive results? What are you doing to enjoy the journey?