03 Nov

Bullying or wearing blinkers?

If you were in New Zealand in the 80s then you may recall the “unfortunate experiment” which cast a very dark shadow over the National Women’s Hospital at that time. Last week I attended an incredibly inspirational talk by Dr Ron Jones, author of Doctors in Denial: The forgotten women of the unfortunate experiment, which spoke about the doctors and women involved. It is a painful reminder of what happens when people in power allow their egos to get in the way of sound judgement and good decision making. This “experiment” caused thousands of women to lose their lives from cancer that could have been cured. Dr Jones was one of the very few whistle blowers in this story and it is his mission in life, aside from a tribute to the women who passed away in this experiment, to educate New Zealanders about the truth of this outrageous and very preventable disaster.
Dr Jones’ story highlighted a number of characters who played significant roles in this experiment and at some point it sounded more like a horror fairytale than a true event. As Dr Jones spoke I realised that the characters he referred to in this story are also ones that we are all very familiar with and may engage with in our work and personal lives on an ongoing basis. Two main characters really stood out for me.
1) The “EGO character” – Dr Jones spoke of two main individuals in his story who were driving this experiment from the beginning. He called them bullies. Bullies with big egos are probably the most dangerous and destructive character trait I can think of. It doesn’t matter how wrong these people are, they will always dig their heels in and never admit failure. For these people self-preservation will always trump the will to be honest and prevent others from suffering.
2) The “BLINKERS character” – The blinker wearers in Dr Jones’ story, were highly qualified, world renowned and respected individuals at the peak of their careers. They did absolutely nothing, except turn a blind eye to what was going on. By not getting involved they allowed the bullies to take over.
So what can we learn from this horrific story? What can we do to prevent this type of behaviour from sneaking into our lives?
One thing that I have learned over the years, is that it is not about trying to control other people’s behaviours. It’s all about being aware of our own behaviours and controlling how we portray ourselves in the world. Learning from these stereotypical character traits will not just help us become better human beings, but by having a strong self-awareness it will positively influence our immediate environment and the people around us. Lead by example and keep the following in mind.
1) No one is perfect, we all make mistakes. Learn to be humble.
2) Never let your ego get in the way and cause you to develop tunnel vision.
3) It’s okay to be wrong and to admit your failure.
4) Use your voice and stand up against bullies when others cannot.
5) Leaders are responsible and accountable for their teams.
To be safe, how can we double-check that we are not turning into bullies or blinkers? We can learn to develop “self-checking-in” systems. Just like jumping on a scale to check on our weight, we can jump on the self-awareness scale and actively check behaviours and habits by asking ourselves questions, or if need be, ask a trusted colleague or friend to provide some honest feedback.
1) Did I listen to the other party?
2) The decisions that I am making, do they align to my business values?
3) Am I respectful in my approach?
4) Do I display ethical behaviour?
5) Will the decision that I am making benefit my business or just my personal needs and desires?
 These lessons are not new and we hear these statements all the time, but how often do you really apply these lessons? Perhaps today is a good time to start.
16 Feb

Successful businesses are flexible businesses

Many people can think ahead three, five or maybe even ten years, and talk about what they hope their life will look like at that point. Some will also have a specific business or personal long term goal. Even fewer though, will have a plan as to how they will achieve those goals.

Why does this occur? Why do people become less confident with their action plans? It is as if they have put all their eggs into one basket and then start praying that they don’t drop or lose the basket. Why do so many people follow this high-risk strategy?

The challenge lies in the action planning. There is never just one way of achieving something. People become set in their ways of how they can achieve their long term goals that they put on their blinkers, dig in their heels and convince themselves that the one plan they have come up with is the only way to achieve their end goal.

Picture yourself taking  a road trip to your favourite beach holiday home. On the way you encounter road works and unfortunately a detour. It will add 30 minutes  to your trip, but you will still get to the holiday house, just a bit later than expected.

This above example is the reality of the situation and what actually happens with goal setting and planning the way forward. The holiday home is your end goal and the road route is your plan. Sometimes there will be detours and roadblocks in the road, but there will always be an alternative route. You just have to be open to the idea of looking for alternatives and accepting that deviations do occur.

The slippery slope to becoming unsuccessful in achieving the end goal starts when people refuse to see alternatives. They get stuck at the road block and instead of following the detour route they wait, expecting the roadblock to magically disappear so they can continue on the set route.

By becoming so set in your ways and believing in only one route you can prevent yourself from ever achieving your goal. That’s why people often give up quickly. The first plan didn’t work, so they convince themselves that they have failed and the long term goal goes back to being a beautiful dream of something they would like to have, but deep down feel they will never achieve.

Reviewing different plans or routes  is not a sign of failure, it is a sign of being comfortable with change and being open to alternative thinking. Those are the traits of successful people. Its not just about the plan.

Need professional coaching assistance? Contact Nicole nicole@tikumu.co.nz

10 Sep

It’s not always about winning

“If we are brave enough often enough, we will fall; this is the physics of vulnerability.”  Brene Brown discusses this in her latest book, Rising Strong.

When I first read this quote I felt extremely relieved and a whole lot more confident with my own journey. As I mulled over the concept of what it is to be brave I decided to add to this quote by saying, ” The braver you are the more opportunities there are to fail and that’s okay.”

Why would  I be relieved? Well, in some bizarre way we may sometimes justify to ourselves that if we are brave and take a leap of faith by moving out of our comfort zones it is purely a once-off occurrence. “Right, I’ve been brave. I can tick off  “brave” in the check box and move back into my comfort zone and carry on with my life”.

However, in reality in order to grow and develop and move forward in life, you have to continuously be brave. Bravery is not a once-off action. You have to continuously deal with being uncomfortable and yes, feeling vulnerable. The relief then comes when you know that you don’t have to win every time that you are brave. Success is not the only end result of being brave. You can actually fail and that’s okay too.

We can put such pressure on ourselves to win and to be successful, so that if we are not 100% certain of a rosy outcome it, makes us think twice about being brave. Instead of just realising that the act of bravery in itself is a success.

So, when last did you stop yourself from doing something brave because you weren’t 100% sure of a successful outcome?

Did you regret your decision?

It’s okay not to win sometimes,  just knowing that you are brave is a win all on its own.

23 Jul

When last did you stop to discover the treasure?

Have you ever experienced disappointment? That sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach, when your hopes seem to evaporate into thin air?

Most of us have been disappointed, and there is no doubt that we will be disappointed again in the future. Such is life; full of swings and roundabouts. I don’t want to start a pity party and pay unnecessary attention to the “what ifs”  and “could haves”. My focus here is on “What are your actions after you have experienced disappointment?’

Do you sink into the failure and bury your head in the sand or do you steamroll ahead and start planning your comeback?

What would happen if you did neither? What would happen if you lifted your head out of the sand or just stopped for a second, stepped back and took some time to really looked at the so-called unwanted end result?

So often we don’t look at and accept the end result for what it is. We are so set on a pre-determined outcome that if the end result is slightly off the mark, it is deemed a failure and rejected.

The following questions could assist you in discovering buried treasures.

  • When last did you look at a failure and ask yourself how did it benefit your life?
  • What were the lessons learnt from this “failure”?
  • Due to the unforeseen end results, how did your life change for the good?
  • Why did the plan fail? What caused the failure? 

Do not hang on to what went wrong. Stop beating yourself up, its not worth it. Rather try to understand the lessons of why it happened and use that to move forward.

Treasures come in many packages and most of the time not how we envisioned them to be. Just be open-minded and seek to understand the lessons and stop with quick dismissive judgments.



05 May

Are you preventing yourself from succeeding?

We have the capacity to dream big and create amazing worlds in our minds, where we are happy, successful and life is wonderful! So why do these amazing dreams remain just dreams for some of us?

One of the biggest reasons I find is that people become their own worst enemy and procrastinate. The skilful art of putting important stuff off and replacing  precious time with miscellaneous rubbish!

So why do people procrastinate?

People procrastinate for many reasons, the one reason that I see appearing over and over again is the fear of failure.

So, if you are fearing the worst and have decided to go with the safer option of sticking it out in your comfort zone and thinking better the devil you know, then just think about this.

What would you do if you knew you could not fail? Try using the Disney Creativity Strategy to guide you through this exercise. Think and picture what your success would look like without being the critic. Yes, you don’t get to ruin your success before you have gotten out of the starting gates! Once you have created this amazing successful visual, change hats and become the realist.  A  realist only thinks about how the dream can be achieved. Remember to resist the urge to criticise  and think like a realist. There are only ways of succeeding, not failing. For some of us this is a hard pill to swallow as we are serial critics, but humour yourself and give it a try.

As Jim Carrey so wisely stated in his 2014 commencement address at Maharishi University “You can fail at something you don’t want, so you might as well take a chance doing what you love.” 

Step out of  your comfort zone. Dream big and get comfortable  playing the realist role as opposed to the critic role, you might just like it.

Why be your own worst enemy? Why stop yourself from succeeding?