Sunday, 30 November 2014

Humility In Leadership

Humility In Leadership
Humility is defined as the quality or state of not thinking you are better than other people: the quality or state of being humble.
I’d like to focus on the words quality and humble because those two words are the essence of what true leadership is all about.
I’m amazed to read stories of how people who rose to a leadership position start behaving differently and end up mistreating their constituents. Here are some of the examples in recent times:
  1. Dominique Strauss-Kahn, former head of the International Monetary Fund and a leading French politician, was arraigned on charges of sexual assault.
  2. Hewlett-Packard CEO Mark Hurd resigned for submitting false expense reports concerning his relationship with a contractor.
  3. US Senator John Ensign resigned after covering up an extramarital affair with monetary payoffs.
  4. Tiger Woods extra-marital affairs that caused his decline.
  5. Just last week, Bubba Watson was in the news for his behavior on how he treated his caddy and his boorish attitude at the PGA.
One can argue that the degree of severity is different, but the root cause of their behavior is the same. They all starting feeling they are entitled and are above everyone else.
I understand that there are a lot of demands on a leader day in and day out, but it is not an excuse to lose their humility. Here are some methods I believe would help you stay grounded:
  • Practice Self-Reflection – This will enable you to step back and reflect on your activities for the week and see where you did not do well and identify room for improvement.
  • Ensure You Have An Inner Circle – Your inner circle will be your confidant. They will be the people that guide you through the process.
  • Prune Your Inner Circle – Make sure none of your inner circle are pushing you in the wrong direction and giving you the wrong information. If they do, let them go. Make sure you’re not surrounded by a “yes man”.
  • Make Tough Decisions – Leaders always make tough decisions. Sometimes it means letting someone go because you don’t share the same vision.
As C.S. Lewis said: “Humility is not thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.
It means focusing on others and practicing the servant leadership. True leaders always aim to serve rather than be served. Sometimes what causes us to stray from our path is our thinking that we need to act tough.
As Simon Sinek said: “Great leaders don’t need to act tough. Their confidence and humility serve to underscore their toughness.

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Will Smith - Ultimate Motivational Speeches

Handling Conflict – It’s for Your Own Good

onflict is not inherently bad – I know this theoretically. I’ve heard it taught in workshops, I’ve even taught it myself. Regardless of that head knowledge, my visceral response to real or perceived conflict is not unlike the dog in the car who just realized the joy ride has led to the vet. Whether the conflict is interpersonal, professional, or with my own demons, I begin to sweat, crouch in defense, and fear the encounter before me.

What do we tell our proverbial pet in the face of so much fear? “It’s going to be okay. It’s for your own good. The doctor has treats.” Which is why I wanted to examine exactly how conflict is indeed for my own good.

It can expand your worldview. If you let it.

Without conflict, there is no growth.
In conflict situations, we can be so immersed in fight or flight responses that we can’t respond rationally. We can lose the best parts of ourselves in such moments; those parts of ourselves that can help us be the person we want to be, rather than the person we cringe in memory of after the fact.
So how do we access that? Sometimes all it takes is a deep breath. Sometimes ten or twenty. Sometimes it means stepping away from the situation momentarily to return to our senses. Giving yourself enough time and space to consider who you want to be in the conflict, rather than just what you want out of it, opens the possibility for constructive communication. Our conflicts often find themselves following the same pathways; the bickering may sound different, but it’s always about the same thing. Constructive communication instead creates the possibility of forging a new path.
So, how to begin? By asking questions. Start with yourself: What is this triggering for you? Why is it so important? What buttons are being pushed by this situation? By taking a stance of curiosity in the face of conflict, we create the possibility of a mutually positive outcome. Routinely, during this step is when I realize just how much the conflict is not really about what’s happening on the surface. It’s about something much more fundamental; feeling respected, feeling heard, a sense of fear that something is being taken from me. Simply by naming it, I’m able to diffuse the visceral response just enough to begin the next critical step: Applying that same curiosity to the person I’m in conflict with.
The surprises possible here are countless. This is the true opportunity for my worldview to expand. If I let it. Understanding the underlying positions, interests, and values from the other person’s point of view never fails to highlight similarities and differences. The similarities may come from universal truths (i.e., I’m not the only one who feels a need to be respected), while differences illuminate a whole way of being in the world I may never have considered before. The conflict has enriched my life, simply by making me see more of life. It can create greater self-awareness, and deepen my understanding of others.

It’s better than the alternative.

You can handle conflict. Or it can handle you.
A key idea in approaching conflict collaboratively is to make sure concerns are aired early on according to the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument. This is true in client-vendor relationships, friendships, and even your own health. Think about that last visit to your doctor. Did you have a worry nagging at you that you felt you shouldn’t bring up because it probably was nothing/the doctor was busy/you didn’t want to look like a hypochondriac? And yet, when you voice your concerns, you are taking ownership of your health and advocating for your very life. Conflict can be an opportunity to speak up for yourself.
A life without conflict is not a life. To breathe is to experience conflict. It makes for eye-catching news headlines, and overcoming it is the basis of all great stories. To exist in the world is to live in the midst of competing priorities and agendas, of people having bad days and making them yours. In the workplace there are strong personalities, hard-crunching deadlines, and quickly shifting needs. Conflict is never far behind in such circumstances.
Conflict can remind us about the fundamental needs we have. I often have to remind myself that the fact that life is messy is not a bad thing. To be honest, I usually prefer things to be neat. I like knowing what’s expected and what to expect. And I prefer my drama on screen. But life inserts itself, with its ambiguity, challenges, and driving needs. And those are the moments, as resistant as I may be at times, that I feel really alive. As Maurice Chevalier once said, “Old age isn’t so bad when you consider the alternative.

It can create necessary change.

I have long loved this quote by Anaïs Nin: “And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom.” Sometimes, what finally drives us to make a change we’ve been putting off because it seemed too hard, or too scary, is conflict. Perhaps the inner conflict of being out of sync with your own values finally makes you take an important career step. Perhaps a festering conflict with a friend comes to a head and makes you realize the relationship is more important than winning and you take a new approach to the conversation. Perhaps the conflict is imposed on you; a merger, rents raised, failing health. And your response is an opportunity to become more than you were before.
There really should be merit badges for adults in my opinion. I know I would like one for every time I’ve consciously entered into a conflict situation rather than cowered away from it. But even if I’m not awarded a Handling Conflict Effectively badge, I do feel a sense of hard-won wisdom and some new tools for the next encounter. Despite my visceral response and loathing of conflict, every moment of it that I’ve entered has created just a little more courage for the next occasion.

Tips for handling the inevitable conflict that life throws at you.

1) Take a deep breath. Our animal brain takes over when conflict arises and shoves aside logic, empathy, even oxygen. Taking a deep breath (or ten) literally and metaphorically allows you to calm your animal brain long enough to figure out how you want to approach the conflict. You can do this in the moment, or if in a particularly heated conflict, you can do this by removing yourself from the situation just long enough to be able to think clearly, rather than reactively.
2) Get curious. Sometimes I pretend I’m an anthropologist, studying myself and others for greater understanding of the world. It can be particularly helpful to take a respectfully curious look at yourself – your motivations, positions, and interests – in the conflict at hand. Ask yourself questions: Why is this so important to me? What is this making me think and feel? Does this connect to something else in a way that the person I’m in conflict with couldn’t possibly anticipate? And in turn, taking that same approach of curiosity with the person you are in conflict with gets you that much closer to mutual understanding.
3) Ask yourself, “Who do I want to be in this conflict? Ultimately, you don’t have absolute control over the outcome of the situation. You can only control who you are trying to be while you are in it. And that is often enough. As Samuel Beckett famously wrote: “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.”

Friday, 28 November 2014

The Real Leadership Lessons of Steve Jobs

His saga is the entrepreneurial creation myth writ large: Steve Jobs cofounded Apple in his parents’ garage in 1976, was ousted in 1985, returned to rescue it from near bankruptcy in 1997, and by the time he died, in October 2011, had built it into the world’s most valuable company. Along the way he helped to transform seven industries: personal computing, animated movies, music, phones, tablet computing, retail stores, and digital publishing. He thus belongs in the pantheon of America’s great innovators, along with Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, and Walt Disney. None of these men was a saint, but long after their personalities are forgotten, history will remember how they applied imagination to technology and business. 
In the months since my biography of Jobs came out, countless commentators have tried to draw management lessons from it. Some of those readers have been insightful, but I think that many of them (especially those with no experience in entrepreneurship) fixate too much on the rough edges of his personality. The essence of Jobs, I think, is that his personality was integral to his way of doing business. He acted as if the normal rules didn’t apply to him, and the passion, intensity, and extreme emotionalism he brought to everyday life were things he also poured into the products he made. His petulance and impatience were part and parcel of his perfectionism.
One of the last times I saw him, after I had finished writing most of the book, I asked him again about his tendency to be rough on people. “Look at the results,” he replied. “These are all smart people I work with, and any of them could get a top job at another place if they were truly feeling brutalized. But they don’t.” Then he paused for a few moments and said, almost wistfully, “And we got some amazing things done.” Indeed, he and Apple had had a string of hits over the past dozen years that was greater than that of any other innovative company in modern times: iMac, iPod, iPod nano, iTunes Store, Apple Stores, MacBook, iPhone, iPad, App Store, OS X Lion—not to mention every Pixar film. And as he battled his final illness, Jobs was surrounded by an intensely loyal cadre of colleagues who had been inspired by him for years and a very loving wife, sister, and four children.
So I think the real lessons from Steve Jobs have to be drawn from looking at what he actually accomplished. I once asked him what he thought was his most important creation, thinking he would answer the iPad or the Macintosh. Instead he said it was Apple the company. Making an enduring company, he said, was both far harder and more important than making a great product. How did he do it? Business schools will be studying that question a century from now. Here are what I consider the keys to his success.
When Jobs returned to Apple in 1997, it was producing a random array of computers and peripherals, including a dozen different versions of the Macintosh. After a few weeks of product review sessions, he’d finally had enough. “Stop!” he shouted. “This is crazy.” He grabbed a Magic Marker, padded in his bare feet to a whiteboard, and drew a two-by-two grid. “Here’s what we need,” he declared. Atop the two columns, he wrote “Consumer” and “Pro.” He labeled the two rows “Desktop” and “Portable.” Their job, he told his team members, was to focus on four great products, one for each quadrant. All other products should be canceled. There was a stunned silence. But by getting Apple to focus on making just four computers, he saved the company. “Deciding what not to do is as important as deciding what to do,” he told me. “That’s true for companies, and it’s true for products.”
After he righted the company, Jobs began taking his “top 100” people on a retreat each year. On the last day, he would stand in front of a whiteboard (he loved whiteboards, because they gave him complete control of a situation and they engendered focus) and ask, “What are the 10 things we should be doing next?” People would fight to get their suggestions on the list. Jobs would write them down—and then cross off the ones he decreed dumb. After much jockeying, the group would come up with a list of 10. Then Jobs would slash the bottom seven and announce, “We can only do three.”
Focus was ingrained in Jobs’s personality and had been honed by his Zen training. He relentlessly filtered out what he considered distractions. Colleagues and family members would at times be exasperated as they tried to get him to deal with issues—a legal problem, a medical diagnosis—they considered important. But he would give a cold stare and refuse to shift his laserlike focus until he was ready.
Near the end of his life, Jobs was visited at home by Larry Page, who was about to resume control of Google, the company he had cofounded. Even though their companies were feuding, Jobs was willing to give some advice. “The main thing I stressed was focus,” he recalled. Figure out what Google wants to be when it grows up, he told Page. “It’s now all over the map. What are the five products you want to focus on? Get rid of the rest, because they’re dragging you down. They’re turning you into Microsoft. They’re causing you to turn out products that are adequate but not great.” Page followed the advice. In January 2012 he told employees to focus on just a few priorities, such as Android and Google+, and to make them “beautiful,” the way Jobs would have done.

Thursday, 27 November 2014

5 Tips To Improve Your Public Speaking

Loyalty Programs Provide "Longitudinal Insight"

For many businesses, one of the most significant benefits provided by a loyalty program is tracking the purchases made by individual customers over time. This generates what you might call “longitudinal customer insight.” All marketers need longitudinal insight to see how their business is actually affected by the experiences their customers have with their products, but some business models won't naturally provide that insight without a tool like a loyalty program. 
If you operate a chain of retail stores, for instance, your customers come in and buy your products, pay for them at the cash register, and leave. Without a loyalty program or some other customer-specific mechanism (for instance, a membership requirement), you have no way to connect a customer's purchases today with what that particular customer purchased yesterday or last week. 
So let’s say your merchandising manager wants to manage the shelf space you allocate to various products carried in the store. She’d like to reduce the space allocated to the least profitable products, while increasing the amount of space allocated to more heavily bought products. To make this decision, she relies on your point-of-sale (POS) data. The problem is, while POS data will give her an accurate snapshot of sales at any one point in time, the data won't show how any individual customers' purchases have varied over time.
To see how crippling this is, suppose the POS data your merchandising manager sees for three different products stocked in one category show this:
From this table of data, it certainly appears as if Product A is your best seller. At $99 per store, each week it generates 50% more revenue than Product C, while Product B is somewhere in between. Based on this "snapshot" of each week’s sales, if any product ought to be de-emphasized or even discontinued, it would be Product C.
The problem with a data shapshot like this, however, is that it gives you no insight into how many of your customers have actually tried each of these products, or how happy they have been with them. To see this, you need to be able to view a "movie" of how your customers' behaviors are changing, over time. You need longitudinal insight.
So now let’s suppose that, in addition to POS data, your merchandising manager also has access to individual customer data, as provided by a loyalty card linking every customer’s transactions from week to week and month to month. This new data would give her a longitudinal view of your customers' behaviors, so she can see the number of customers who have tried each of these products at least once, as well as the number who have re-purchased each one. The new table of data, based on customer-specific tracking, might look like this:
From this new data, providing a longitudinal view, she can see that Product C is actually your stores' star performer in this category, while Product A is the dog. Product C is repurchased by consumers almost four times as frequently as Product A, but revenue per store is low because less than one in 200 of your customers has even sampled it yet.
So rather than discontinuing Product C, your merchandising manager might consider promoting trial with some coupons or two-for-one deals (offered through the loyalty program to those customers who haven’t yet bought it). After all, the more customers buy this product, the more loyalty and revenue it will generate.
If you don’t have customer-specific data you can’t get a realistic view of how your customers buy from you. And if your business model is one where customers have traditionally bought without providing any form of identification, then a loyalty program is a great way to acquire this kind of insight.

Wednesday, 26 November 2014

Starbucks Reminds Brands to Innovate or Die

Starbucks latest news about its delivery service may seem odd to anyone familiar with the brand's brick and mortar ubiquity. At last count, Starbucks is the largest coffeehouse company in the world, with 20,891 stores in 64 countries -- 13,279 in the United States alone.
But investors are quick to remind any brand that ubiquity is a temporary state - a journey and not a destination. Starbucks has to keep growing...its profits. So its delivery service concept is among a few new initiatives to help the Moby Dick-inspired brand keep moving forward.
Innovate or Die
The brand's size lends itself to challenges and opportunities when it comes to marketing innovation. At my employer's annual client event, author Andrew Razeghiwalked through steps brands can take to innovate, including thinking about innovation more broadly.

A variety of approaches can lead to innovation, Razeghi notes.
Focusing on what you do (the product or service) usually gets the most time and attention. However expanding this focus to consider HOW you do it is equally important to get customers to choose you. 
And that's exactly what Starbucks did. After enough growth to fuel a joke about "a Starbucks on every corner," the brand asked how else it might serve their customers. Changing how they do it, no matter how unintuitive, is how Starbucks is looking to innovate next.
So look at your brand's products and services and think more broadly about innovation. Focusing on how partnerships, your offering, your operations or the customer might help you achieve a new point of difference.

Tuesday, 25 November 2014

How to be happy

Why big businesses need to embrace start-up culture

Traditionally, marketers, businesses and agencies have thought of innovation as new product development (NPD). New and positively disruptive product or service launches that generate exponential sales growth by either bringing in new customers or getting a greater share of existing customers’ spend, or better still, both. And, at least in the world of consumer packaged goods, there is growing evidence that product development (60%) has a substantially larger relative effect on sales growth over the long run than discounting (2%) or advertising (6%). 
A recent study we commissioned of New Zealand marketers and business leaders found that as a result of increasing customer empowerment and transparency this inventive or new product focus of innovation is broadening. Yes, traditional NPD is important, but increasingly innovation is viewed as a process rather than an output; a mindset of continuously enhancing the customer experience. As Alex Bogusky of Crispin Porter Bogusky fame puts it: “The best brands will be those that will give an accurate and real picture of what they are doing in the interests of the customer, at any given time”. This is why many marketers we spoke to talk about thinking and behaving like a start-up, even if they’re not. 
There is a perceived openness about start-ups, an ability to adapt quickly to improve experiences that many established businesses recognise as critical in the world of empowered customers. And questions like ‘how are we enhancing the customer’s experience, how can we make using our product or service better, what is the customer engagement process like and how do we simplify or improve it?’ are occupying marketers’ thinking about innovation. 
From pretty marketers to digital geeks
As one leading marketer put it: “Ten years ago you’d have had a whole lot of preppy marketers on your team. Now we’ve got a whole lot of design and digital experience geeks.” They recognise that creating rewarding customer experiences is the secret to successful growth, and it is this focus on the reality of using their product or service that will lead to successful innovation. In this context, innovation requires an honest and holistic view of the purchase and user experience. For services, this goes all the way from research and enquiry through to the first bill or statement they receive, or the first time something goes wrong. For packaged goods this means from the shelf right back to disposing of the packaging in the home. How easy is it to open one-handed or to recycle once used?
There are two obvious challenges about this that marketers are wrestling with.
Firstly, you have to get really close to the reality of your customers’ experience and be brutally honest about it. And secondly, it requires a new marketing and business model; a way of doing business that goes beyond family tree organisation charts and innovation as a department. Innovation needs to be an attitude of cross-functional collaboration and absolute clarity of purpose and values.
From talking to marketers, these challenges are not insignificant. You have to be really frank about the experience of your product or service and while data helps, it’s not necessarily the panacea. And you also have to be willing to push the boundaries to change it, try new things or “seed and develop” as one managing director we spoke to put it. You can’t fall prey to sameness, hyperbole or obfuscation.
Innovation isn't a big white space
From this work it is clear many marketers and business leaders are increasingly recognising innovation isn’t just about big white space breakthroughs. It can be small enhancements that deliver significant customer benefits. However, the ongoing challenge is that small enhancements are often not as sexy as the big inventive breakthrough.  
Taking a live example, is Spark’s offering of free Spotify premium for some mobile customers more or less innovative than launching its subscription video on demand service Lightbox? To the customer, both can be equally beneficial, both can potentially enhance the experience of being a customer.
However, traditionally the risk is that Lightbox-like initiatives often get all the attention and resources, while Spotify-like opportunities can get overlooked, because they don’t seem as big. The key thing marketers are increasingly realising though is that you don’t want to overlook one in the pursuit of the other. It’s a significant shift in thinking, a shift to a much more holistic or customer-centric view.
As designers you have to take this outside-view-in every day, mainly because of the permanent nature of design, but also because often the spaces you have to communicate in are relatively small and fixed. As one of the senior marketers we spoke to put it “the design process is all about simplification and clarification, taking away the barriers. Isn’t that what marketing is supposed to do anyway?” Increasingly, taking away the barriers to creating great customer experiences is the focus of innovation inside many businesses. And this is recognised as being just as valuable as inventing new ones, if not more.  
The future
We feature below some innovation trends from the Marketers’ World Insights Study, by The Providence Report for Dow Design. 
Food is the new gold
There is a global financialisation of food going on, from Berkshire Hathaway investing in Heinz Wattie’s to Silicon Valley venture capitalists making bets on food. Why? Because to feed ourselves in the next 40 years we will need to produce more food than the entire agricultural output of the past 10,000 years combined. 
Right Place, Right Time
From our productive land to our rich marine waters, from Fonterra to a new breed of artisanal food start-ups, there’s a consistent feeling that New Zealand is ideally placed for the food revolution. It has never been a better time to be a New Zealand business with the expertise to build great food products. 
Think like a start-up
There’s broad recognition that innovation and entrepreneurialism are the worlds you now have to win in. Marketers feel things are changing fast so the ability to react quickly is a distinct competitive advantage. Many are closely studying the start-up community and experimenting with new and different models, such as Mondelez’s Project Sprout. Article about Project Sprout
Seamless experiences
Marketers are feeling increasing pressure to ensure their customers’ outcomes are consistent and distinctive across all touch points, and that can’t be mere puffery. It’s about making stuff better, which is why they see design playing a greater role.
Design in a digital age
Everything communicates. That’s a problem if you only apply traditional marketing techniques, but it’s a solution if you design for distinctive experiences from the bottom-up. Marketers increasingly see design as playing a role in this; and as Linda Tischler, senior editor at Fast Company points out, “design is as much about coming up with a really sustainable business model as a new red stripe”. 
Read more;

Monday, 24 November 2014

What is learning and how to learn

Don't panic! How to deal with disruptions to your business

So what is disruption?  According to The Disruption Machine, New Yorker, 2014, “it’s a rebellious instinct to discard old business clichés and remake the market landscape. They come from nowhere and instantly are everywhere.”
A disruption is an innovation so important that it forces change. It means you must adapt and do so quickly.  It’s not just about markets and's about our thinking, our ideas, our work, our careers and our mind-sets.
Technological disruptions are moving so quickly it’s become difficult to even pay attention (‘next new bright shiny object’ fatigue)! But technology advancement continues to drive economic growth and unleash disruptive change.
Three Disruptions to Note
Disruption #1: Social Media
Not ‘hot off the press new’, but social media is still definitely worthy of mention as many organisations aren’t on top of their social strategy. Traditionally, companies controlled their message and their brand through well-defined media channels. But, not anymore!
Social media lets your customers, your employees, and your competitors all converse in open communities. Using social media they define and redefine corporate and personal brands—in real time.  Companies caught out in their response to social media are seen to have spectacular meltdowns…followed eagerly by thousands.
As a business, your online social brand needs to be controlled. If you’re not in the conversation around your own products, then your customers and competitors will define your brand for you.
This extends to being attractive to, and attracting, high calibre talent. Your online presence is vital for your talent armoury. Without an online presence you are literally gifting your competition the best in the market. 
Disruption # 2: Wearables – ready for the business
Wearable technology has many forms, such as glasses, watches, smart badges, and bracelets. The potential is tremendous: hands-free, heads-up technology to reshape how work gets done, how decisions are made, and how you engage with employees, customers, and partners.
Wearables are entering areas of previously prohibitive scenarios where safety, logistics, or even etiquette constrained the usage of technology. With wearables definitely in the spotlight today, we can expect more businesses to drive acceptance and use these devices – and add to the headaches of the CIO.  BYOD [bring your own device] is about to be stretched to new limits!
The potential uses for wearables are staggering. In Australia, firefighters are being outfitted with a data-transmitting pill that can detect early signs of heat stress. Might health care insurance companies offer policy discounts for members who quantify their healthy lifestyles by wearing fitness-tracking devices?
Disruption #3: 3D printing
Until now, 3D printing has largely been used by product designers and hobbyists and for a few select manufacturing applications, but the performance of this machinery is improving and the price point is declining rapidly. Using 3D printing, an idea can go directly from a 3D design file to a finished part or product, potentially skipping many traditional manufacturing steps. 
Its uses are mind-bending; anything from makeup, food and even ‘bio-printed’ organs are being created using 3D print technology. It has major disruptive potential and it’s growing fast. (TJ McCue predicts 3D Printing will be a $3 Billion industry by 2016).

Question: ‘Should We Panic?’
No. Bring in the creatives! Employ people who will shake the tree, look for new ways, ask questions and offer suggestions that will result in the development of breakthrough solutions. 
Being naturally curious they will look for patterns and apply them to your business. They will interpret trends, use outward thinking, challenge outmoded practices and develop successful responses to outsmart the competition.
Embedding the creative thinking process allows an organisation to protect itself against the onslaught of disruption. The secret lies in an organisations’ ability to identify, hire and house creative thinkers within its walls.
We recently discovered an office in Amsterdam where all furniture is connected to wires and pulleys. By day - a groovy office, by night and weekends (with the furniture raised to the ceiling) - a dance, yoga or community space. Workplace disruption at its best! 
Read more;

Sunday, 23 November 2014

Communication Skills Training

10 Indicators You Have no Margin in your Life

In Richard Swenson’s seminal book, Margin: Restoring Emotional, Physical, Financial, and Time Reserves to Overloaded Lives, he defines margin this way. Margin is the space between our load and our limits.
He says it is related to our reserves and resilience. He calls it a buffer, a place where we can recharge our batteries, and a space where we can focus on what matters most. I highly recommend the book. Unfortunately, those in ministry often lack margin. Here are 10 signs that may indicate you lack margin and 5 steps to gain more of it.
margin vice grip
  1. I’m always mentally and physically exhausted.
  2. Small things more easily get under my skin. I can’t turn my anxious thoughts off.
  3. I don’t seem to have the joy for ministry I once did.
  4. I count down the days until my day off. Yet even on my day off I’m still anxiously thinking about ministry stuff.
  5. Those who love me most tell me to slow down yet I always have a comeback excuse.
  6. I often worry about what others think of my performance.
  7. I too easily take things personally.
  8. I find that I can’t focus as well as I once did.
  9. I get easily distracted and try to multi-task more often.
  10. My devotional times with God are mostly dry.
If a few of these are consistently true of you, you may need more margin in your life.
If that’s so, what should you do?
When I’ve found myself with little margin, it hasn’t been easy to change things, but these steps have helped.
  1. Admit that you life is too full and that it’s not good, pleasing to God, or healthy for you.
  2. Learn the art of mindfulness, being aware of and in the present moment without being harsh on yourself or worrying about what happened yesterday or fretting about what might happen tomorrow. Meditate on the words of Jesus in Matthew 6.
  3. Take a day off, really. Turn off your phone and don’t check email. Do something that refreshes your soul.
  4. Turn your mind off earlier in the day than you do now. Perhaps you need to decrease night meetings. Maybe you need to establish hard stops for those evening meetings.
  5. Remind your self that if you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of others.
  6. After all, Jesus did say something about loving yourself.
What has helped you gain better margin?
Read more;

Saturday, 22 November 2014

3 Ways to Improve Your Communication Skills

6 Small Changes to Your Morning Routine Will Transform Your Entire Day

The first few minutes of your morning are the most important of your day and can set the tone for positivity and productivity. Ideally, you have an app or clock that taps into your natural circadian rhythm and wakes you during your "best time" within a certain window. Getting jarred out of a deep REM slumber to the sound of a blaring alarm clock sets you up for a negative day brimming with fatigue and crankiness.
But getting the right alarm clock is only part of the battle.
Here are six ways to start your morning better while kicking bad habits that destroy good sleep hygiene.

1. Give yourself at least 15 minutes of no screen time

Besides turning off an alarm that might be on your phone, resist the urge to check your email or social media. It sets you up for a day of being enslaved to technology, and your morning time should be reserved just for you. This might mean disabling notifications on your home screen so you're not tempted by that Facebook update or mounting emails.

2. Swap out the coffee for lemon water

Lukewarm water with a fresh lemon squeezed into it has numerous benefits--but you need to drink it first thing in the morning. It starts your metabolism, which burns fat while sustaining muscle, cleanses your mouth and throat, and gives you a boost of energy. Then wait at least 30 minutes before brushing your teeth, drinking, or eating. This might be a toughie for caffeine addicts, but you can manage 30 minutes and it's a great way to reduce the need for a coffee fix.

3. Sit up correctly

There are many "bad ways" to get out of bed, but only one best way, if your body allows for it: Roll over onto your right side, then push yourself up into a sitting position before standing with a straight back (no hunching). It's the gentlest way to get up, takes the pressure off your heart and back, and is a great, easy ritual to start your morning right.

4. Set and affirm your goals for the day

While stretching in bed or prepping your lemon water, set some feasible goals for the day, but limit them to three. This might include packing your lunch instead of eating out to save money, committing to that noon yoga class, or scheduling the doctor's appointment you've been putting off.

5. Stretch

It seems so obvious, and yet so many people ignore it. You can do this in bed, using a simple stretched-out-legs-and-arms-overhead movement. You can indulge in a supine twist on a padded floor, or you can practice whatever feels right for as little or as long as you like. Your body's just been booted down for hours--you can't expect it to be warmed up, energized, and raring to go right away.

6. Meditate

Don't skip over this one just because it sounds boring or like you don't have time for it. Meditation is only as strict, long, short, boring, or annoying as you make it. A "successful" meditation in an entire lifetime might be only a few seconds. However, sitting in a comfortable position and focusing on clearing your mind--even if it's for less than a minute--can help your mental clarity and spiritual well-being and set the stage for the day.
You probably already know which morning habits aren't serving you, so why keep doing them? Instead, focus on what really makes your mornings better and prioritize them.
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Friday, 21 November 2014

Three Star Leadership

The Story of Three Star Leadership

In the late 1980s I got a call from the Oakland, California Police Department. They were looking for someone to do supervisory training for newly promoted Sergeants. I did a needs assessment, determined that I could do some things that would be helpful, and wound up getting the contract. I assumed that there would be plenty of good written material on what makes a good Police supervisor. That was just one more time that I was wrong.
There was next to nothing. The books, at the time, were either weighty academic tomes, filled with theory and little else, or “This is how I did it” stories of experienced supervisors. If I was going to do good training, I couldn’t use those and I’d have to come up with something different.
That turned out to be a good thing. As I developed the training, I also embarked on a multi-year research project to define what great supervisors do that sets them apart from their peers. In the training world, that’s called “Competency-based Training.”
The principle is pretty simple. You find out what top performers do. You train others to do what they do, and they become top performers, as well.

Why it’s called “Three Star”

To find top supervisors to study I did what I thought was logical. I contacted organizations and asked to spend time with their best supervisors. But some of them turned out to be not very good at all.
I found that there are three groups with a distinct view of a supervisor and how he or she performs. Obviously, their boss and the power structure made up one group. But a supervisor’s peers had a different view and the members of the supervisor’s team had one, too.
The supervisors’ bosses tended to give top ratings to supervisors who accomplished the mission, made the numbers, and kept things on track. The supervisors’ peers had a clear-eyed view of how the supervisor worked every day and whether he or she was a good team player. And the other members of the supervisor’s team cared most about whether he or she supported them and helped them grow, develop, and thrive.
The people I studied in depth were the supervisors who got star ratings from all three groups, not just one or two. That’s why I called it “Three Star Leadership.”

Thursday, 20 November 2014

The Approachable Leader

If you’re a very high level leader in a mid to large size organization you live a good part of your life in a bubble. The higher in your organization you are the bigger, and stronger, the bubble.
You may disagree with that but that’s because you live in a bubble, apparently the bubble can’t be seen from the inside but it is pretty obvious to anyone looking at it from the outside.
The bubble causes lots of issues for leaders. Generally speaking the bubble makes it more challenging to be an effective leader. That’s because not only can you not see the bubble, you can’t see the haze the bubble puts around everything you do see. The bubble also muffles the voices of a good many people you talk with.
Now, it’s not anything that a leader does that causes the bubble. A bit of the bubble is caused by people’s almost natural fear of being themselves around what I’ll call an “authority figure.” When you’re the boss you have a measure of control over a big part of your people’s lives and that tends to make a lot of them a bit skittish.
The biggest cause of the bubble however is what leaders don’t do. They don’t take concrete steps to escape the bubble or better yet, simply destroy the bubble entirely. They do not make themselves an approachable leader.
So, how does a leader get outside the bubble or eliminate it completely?
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Transparent, consistent, honest, open, frequent, wide-ranging, real, two-way communication. Communication is a great way to bring downs walls and burst bubbles. There are many ways to effectively communicate these days, even if your team is very large.
Nothing will ever replace face-to face conversations. No matter what anybody says, nothing will replace the personal touch. So as I suggest a couple of alternatives to live, personal interactions please understand that I’m not suggesting you use these instead of personal communication, I’m suggesting to use these along with your frequent human interactions.
Write a company or organization blog. Don’t have it written, write it yourself. Seriously, a blog post saying hey, here’s what happening lately should take less than 30 minutes to write. Once or twice a month is enough and a reply or two can be done on the fly.
Obviously you can’t share proprietary information or make anyone an inside trader but you can stay more visible. The reality today is that people read blogs, your people will most certainly read yours. You can share your weekend plans, tell a story about your family, discuss a topic in the news. You may wonder why your people would care but know this: they do. You had better hope they do because if they don’t care about you as a person they can’t care about you as a leader. Let them know you’re human, just like them.
Do a weekly Podcast. A two or three minute podcast with current information and a shot of motivation delivered straight to your team’s email each Monday morning. Again, it’s purely conversational, personal and connecting. A two or three minute podcast shouldn’t take much longer to record than, well than, two or three minutes.
Both of these ideas require time. The question is does interacting with your people seem like an expense of your time or an investment of your time? As a leader, remaining close to the people who make-up your organization is priceless. It costs so little yet means so much.
This is an investment that will pay returns almost immediately, and unlike most investments this one is almost a sure thing. Why wouldn’t a leader make this investment today?