What can dishwashing teach us ?

What can dishwashing teach us ?

Original publication in Medium.com on June 27th 2019

A monk told Joshu, “I have just entered the monastery. Please teach me.”

Joshu asked, “Have you eaten your rice porridge?

The monk replied, “I have eaten.”

Joshu said, “Then you had better wash your bowl.”

At that moment the monk was enlightened.

One night, I used a plate and a bowl for dinner. The next morning, they were still sitting on the counter. I was about to leave when I realized: I should wash these.

As I was rinsing the bowl, I remembered this story. I found it years ago. Leo Babauta shared it. He says:

“Remembering to do these things when we’re done with the activity isn’t just about neatness. It’s about mindfulness, about completing what we started, about being present in all we do instead of rushing to the next activity.”

I’ve always liked doing dishes. I think this story explains why. It’s comforting. Satisfying. Mindful. There’s the water, the scrubbing, and you always get an immediate result. Then, it’s on to the next item. Nothing more, nothing less.

Still, there is something deeper to this story. A much more profound message.

“It’s: don’t get your head caught up in all this thinking about the meaning of life … instead, just do. Just wash your bowl. And in the washing, you’ll find all you need.”

What if washing dishes isn’t a chore at all? What if it’s a refuge? A ladder out of the fuss of everyday life and into our hideaway. A sanctuary. A little pocket of peace, where all you have to do is be. Where no stress can reach you. No looming deadline, no existential fear, no weighty decisions to make.

When I chose to clean my bowl, I thought it was a small gesture. A sign of tidiness. But when I did it, I found it was so much more. In fact, it was everything. Enough. All I had to do was wash the bowl.

Nothing more, nothing less.

I’m not a monk and I’m definitely not Joshu. But I know this: We can transfer this enough-ness to all our activities. Folding laundry. Sending an email. Getting coffee with a friend.

Some tasks feel inherently comforting, but all tasks offer comfort if we let them be enough. Whatever we do, if we do it with intention, if we put in our whole heart, the outcome won’t matter. Because we did what we could. Because we were there. What more could we ask from ourselves than that?

Life is big, but it’s made of small moments. Small interactions, situations, and many small tasks. We can spend our days worrying about the incomplete parts of the puzzle or we can choose to look intensely at each piece. Zoom in. Get a close-up. And shape it until it fits.

Like the puzzle, we’ll never be perfect. We have just entered the monastery. But every day is a new chance to be there. And every day, when we’re done eating, we’ll need to wash our bowl.

Written by Niklas Göke

What HR needs to look for hiring new leaders ? Check what defines the “3C’s leaders”!

What HR needs to look for hiring new leaders ? Check what defines the “3C’s leaders”!

Original publication in InsideHR on October 18th 2019

The leader of the future is the antithesis of many current leaders who focus on their silos to achieve results, writes Jerome Parisse-Brassens, who explains that HR needs the appropriate tools to support the development of new culture leaders

There is a significant shift occurring in organisational cultures, in response to the VUCA world we live in and the coming-of-age of digital and artificial intelligence (AI). What I find interesting is that this is happening in every market, regardless of their levels of maturity. And this has big implications for leaders and HR professionals.

Over the past twenty years or so, businesses have increased their focus on results, achieving significant profit, establishing a strong reputation and setting fast track records in growth. Successful cultures were centred on achievement, with environments in which accountability is king, people keep their promises, KPIs are clearly established, and little room for error. Achievement cultures required leaders to take personal responsibility, drive accountability, and manage large teams of people who knew what they had to do.

Side-effects of achievement cultures
While this enabled growth, it also reinforced silos at all levels and limited cross-collaboration. For HR teams, this meant they had to recruit leaders who were experts, had delivered results before and could lead teams in fairly predictable environments.

An unexcepted consequence of the strong pressure on results has also been a sharp increase in burnout and staff disengagement, leading to increased absenteeism and sick leave and higher recruitment costs. In the race for results, people were often forgotten.

It’s recently become obvious that the siloed, results-focused model is not sufficient anymore, and the concept of agility made its appearance as a technology enabler, tool, and cultural attribute. True agility is a step change from the previous business model.

“It’s recently become obvious that the siloed, results-focused model is not sufficient anymore”

Beyond customer-centricity as the anchor, agile cultures are requiring leaders to be open, lose the fear of mistakes and not knowing, adopt a learning mindset and the ability to establish collaborative networks across the business. The silos still exist, but new bridges are being built.

What HR needs to look for in leaders
What this change means for HR is the need to recruit and develop leaders who are curious, have courage, and display a collaborative mindset. The significant shift in culture today is not a shift away from a focus on achievement and results (this has to remain strong in the current competitive environment) but the dialing up of the people lever.

Organisations have realised that the next step-change cannot come solely from more pressure, but from utilising the strengths, the skills and the capabilities of their people. This translates into increased empowerment, enhanced work/life balance and wellbeing, more trust and caring, and loosening the top-down approach. Many of my clients are working on just that – but this is easier said than done.

Putting people at the centre of AI and digital transformation
Unfortunately, this is not enough. With the coming-of-age of digital and AI, organisations have to reinvent themselves. AI’s power comes from the amount of data at our disposal and the speed at which machines can analyse it to make faster decisions than us humans could ever do.

The big difference between today and tomorrow is the sheer amount of data available and its connectedness. Silos do not exist with data and this is where the true power of AI lies. It is breaking down barriers. The good news, which the most fearful of us have not yet understood, is that digital transformation and AI are putting the human at the centre. It is the human who will teach machines how to make decisions based on the data they receive, it is the human who will clarify ethics and arbitrate between values, it is the human who will feed the machine data and rules and tell it what to do, how to learn, and how to surpass us in many of the tasks we care currently performing.

So, how does translate for tomorrow’s culture leaders?

“The next step-change cannot come solely from more pressure, but from utilising the strengths, the skills and the capabilities of their people”

What the culture leader of tomorrow looks like
The culture leader of tomorrow is a connected leader. They have to let go of their need to control and their fears of not knowing. They have transitioned from a “command-and-control” mindset to one of trusting and serving people to help them be their best. They have a whole-of-organisation approach to thinking, which allows them to connect data, processes, customer, people and results beyond traditional boundaries.

They are curious, responsible, and learn from their mistakes. They are not experts, but they can find the expertise where it resides, from customers through to employees and machines.  Their vision is clear, and they can flex the roadmap along the way. To be effective as a networked leader, they have developed openness, caring and listening skills. And everything they do adds value to the customer. I call them “3C leaders”: customer-centric, connected and caring.

What this means for HR
Understanding this shift is critical for HR teams. This new kind of leader is the antithesis of many current leaders who focus on their silos to achieve results. The keys to tomorrow’s success are not the keys employed today. This has strong implications for recruitment, learning and development, performance management and communications. Each of those systems needs a complete overhaul, a new perspective, and the appropriate tools to support the development of the new culture leader.

Written by  

Is it possible to achieve both performance and wellbeing ?

Is it possible to achieve both performance and wellbeing ?

Original publication in The HR Director in October 2019

Do you experience stress, frustration or a sense of stuckness in your organisation? This may be nothing to do with resistance from staff, but rather a normalisation of a low resilience level.

Whilst 95% really care about their performance in work, 77% compromise their wellbeing to deliver that. The aspects of wellbeing compromised most are mental energy, exercise and quality time with others. We know from previous research that the demand for resilience is high and rising, and this compromise of wellbeing is rising also.

The juggle, the busy-busy-busy, not having enough time with family, the over-coffee’d, sleep-deprived executive; these are issues we have normalised. They are only part of the equation. More seriously at the dangerous end of stress, there is a chronic long-hours culture, fear of being at risk of losing the job and the fear of damaged reputation especially amongst those who have been off already with stress.  These effects of long term stress are dangerous for wellbeing and of course to the individual’s performance in work. 

Stress triggers all sorts of behaviours. Procrastination is the number one impact of stress.  Other negative effects include short-termism, a demand for clarity (rather than developing skills in navigating ambiguous, complex situations), and a drop in empathic decision making.  Stress directly undermines performance.

These effects cause  ‘the mediocrity loop’,  a continual loop of coping to not coping back to coping again, where an organisation wobbles between feeling out of control, galvanises immense focus to  get back in control which ends in relief, only for that to be knocked back and the whole cycle to be triggered again. It’s an exhausting loop to run around, and has little effect other than maintaining the status quo.

Mediocrity is what you get if drive performance at the expense of wellbeing. It needn’t be like that. It is entirely possible to have both performance and wellbeing, both without compromise. This is what resilience gives.  Resilience is your ability to adapt, or your capacity for change. It is dynamic, going up and down according to context. Supporting resilience within an organisation means enabling each staff member to understand and develop their own resilience potential versus the resilience demand upon them. It means enabling teams to foster the conditions for their own collective resilience. Resilience delivers successful change. Indeed it drives high performance. Resilient leaders have higher capacity, better and clearer prioritisation, perspective, and  surplus energy that releases creativity and innovation. All these are needed to navigate our VUCA world successfully.

High resilience requires an investment into a set of resilience-enhancing habits day to day. These habits are not rocket science but they are rigorous. If your organisation wants to stop the rot of compromise to wellbeing and the negative impacts of stress, investing in resilience is an assured path. It’s a pathway to psychological safety, autonomy, time to think and the release of capacity towards risk taking and innovation.  It means understanding what resilience is and what it offers, and creating a culture that supports and extends it.  The results are transformative.  23% of our survey participants do not compromise either performance or wellbeing. They know what it means to drive both at the top of their game:

“I have always felt work is important to me and I want to do the best that I can.”

 “I recognise that to perform well I have to look after myself.”

“It’s part of my pride in myself”

We think these quotes from our survey say it all.

Written by Jenny Campbell

OPTIMISM

OPTIMISM

Research Highlight: Optimism is a super skill

95% of the most successful 10% of people scored “I think and communicate with optimism” with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’ (in a sample of 21,000).

The human mind is Velcro for the negative. Based on a high threat environment, a negative and threatening explanation might have been advantageous. Today, pessimism disables you.

Only 9% of the least resilient people score optimism with ‘very often’ or ‘nearly always’.

Question: How can I explain this adversity in one enabling sentence?

Condition: Notice but reject the easy negative self-talk

Discipline: Think and express yourself with positive language

Caution: Our times are testing. This will take courage.

What you can do right now?

  1. Ask someone close if you are optimistic or pessimistic. Explore an example
  2. Watch the content of your thoughts. Notice the words you choose to make sense of a situation. For example: “This always happens to me”
  3. Explore different ways to express the situation. For example: “What could I do differently” Notice the shift from blame to responsibility.
  4. Be alert for positive news.  Some suggest that we aim to express at least three positive observations for every complaint.

In the background:

  • Fatigue, isolation and distress will reduce optimism
  • Sleep well, be social, relax and play
  • Nurture your positive emotions – joy, gratitude, appreciation, hope, kindness

Note: With the current social instability, political malaise and climate risk, the value and importance of optimism will increase. It is well proven that optimism can be learned and has wide ranging personal and economic benefits. Cognitive behaviour therapy (CBT) is proven an effective solution to depression. We use the term situational agility to describe the healthy and adaptive use of the optimism in key situations.

Own your joy!

When is your offline hour today ?

When is your offline hour today ?

Disconnecting incoming emails helps you to stay focused on the task at hand. While minimizing distractions, you are more productive. Working offline gives your immediate world – task or people – your undivided attention and supports your presence.

So here is a resilience practice we invite you to cultivate this week:
I plan to work offline one hour per day.

4 tips to leverage EQ as a leader

4 tips to leverage EQ as a leader

Original publication in Forbes, October 17th, 2019

The Western world has largely been shaped by an admiration of logic versus emotion. Yet as humans, it’s impossible to operate with just one or the other. In today’s world, where artificial intelligence and digitization rule, many leaders and organizations are expected to adhere to a new social and environmental way of thinking, a more human way of thinking. Qualities like empathy and sensitivity, which used to be viewed by many as weaknesses, are now often seen as strengths. Emotional intelligence (EQ) has become more than a buzz phrase — it’s now a widely practiced tool embraced by progressive executives to increase their companies’ bottom lines and improve corporate culture.

I see the benefits of EQ every day in my work with executives and teams. Over the course of my career as a therapist, I’ve learned that many of the interpersonal skills we use to strengthen our personal relationships are the same skills needed to fuel success in the workplace.

However, the questions remain: How did we get here, and are we prepared for what’s to come?

The Origins Of EQ

Great philosophers like Aristotle studied the effects of emotions, what triggers them and how to deal with them. Aristotle is believed to have once said, “Anyone can become angry — that is easy; but to be angry with the right person, and to the right degree, and at the right time, and for the right purpose, and in the right way — that is not within everybody’s power and is not easy.” This statement demonstrates an early understanding of EQ, yet this way of thinking didn’t take off until much later. In fact, it wasn’t until around the 1980s that companies started to take notice of the effects of a positive work culture on employees. During this time, Reuven Bar-On, a clinical psychologist whose assessment tool I’m certified to use, began studying the answers to two questions: What makes people successful, and what makes people happy? The results of those studies started a journey of conceptualizing, researching and applying EQ.

Peter Salovey and John D. Mayer coined the term “emotional intelligence” in 1990, defining it as “the subset of social intelligence that involves the ability to monitor one’s own and others’ feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions.” Salovey and Mayer worked together to clearly define and measure the effects of EQ, which piqued the interest of larger corporations concerned with hiring and retaining top talent.

Clinical psychologist and author Steven Stein, who co-founded a business that publishes computerized psychological assessments, also contributed to the study and spread of EQ. In 1994, he met Bar-On, who asked him to publish his EQ assessment tool. Today, many coaches (myself included) use this tool in their work with clients.

Later, Daniel Goleman popularized the concept of EQ and helped spread the idea throughout mainstream culture.

The Modern And Future Leader

Today, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a leading company that doesn’t have a focus on EQ. Organizations all over the world have turned to EQ to help them hire, promote and develop their employees. They recognize that a positive work environment can help attract top talent, drive employee engagement and affect profitability and performance — and the right leaders understand this too.

Leveraging EQ

The modern and future leader integrates the realms of both logic and emotion. They leverage EQ in a way that goes beyond gauging how employees are feeling and toward successfully navigating complex business situations. They can nurture our strengths rather than pick apart our weaknesses. They create and foster meaningful relationships with a multigenerational and diverse workforce. And while they’re no less focused on strategy and competition, the modern leader operates with adaptiveness, compassion and mindfulness.

Here are some tips for how to leverage EQ as a leader.

• Practice self-awareness. Take stock of how you feel and react to certain stressors throughout the day. Notice how your emotions contribute to your actions. In order to understand the emotions of others, you first have to be in tune with yourself.

• Listen carefully. This is surprisingly difficult for some leaders. It can be tempting to think that listening is merely following rather than leading. However, in order to make and sustain more meaningful connections and tailor communication styles to the right people, learn to become a better listener.

• Be open and embrace conflict. A good leader is willing to problem-solve and dive into disagreements rather than run away from conflict. A leader with a high EQ level is much more likely to problem-solve effectively, rationally and with a certain level of poise and composure.

• Make culture a priority. Purpose-driven leaders understand what engages and excites employees and work to cultivate an environment that fosters their creativity and engagement.

Living In The Present And Learning From The Past

Today, smart leaders are driven by opportunities and the future rather than by the past or their egos. They might learn valuable lessons from past triumphs, but they don’t attempt to preserve the status quo. Instead of worrying about looking good or staying consistent, stay vigilant and on top of future trends, and don’t be afraid to embrace the flow of new ideas.

Written by Roberta Moore