“I just need to get out of my own way” such a common phrase when someone’s stuck in something they think they don’t like or want. And yet this act of getting out of our own way can seem so hard.
Sounds annoying doesn’t it! But really it’s the best design in the world.
For thousands of years we’ve gradually separated ourselves form nature, believing we’re better than it. We need to wake up.
The image above is from David Attenborough’s latest production on Netflix, highlighting the brilliance of nature in all its wonderful glory.
“#Upstream is a place where we can go before we think about the transformation we are being invited to consider.” This quote from Perry’s piece really strikes a chord with me. In three client sessions yesterday when we went upstream, each client came back to the downstream challenges they walked in with and saw a simple and clear way forward and, in some instances, the challenge had all but disappeared into the ether.
I’ve started writing on Medium. Jump over there to follow me if you’d like. And I’ll keep posting intros to those pieces here too so you can see what might be of interest.
This piece is about how we’re all looking in the wrong place to find our best selves, and the security and freedom we seek.
I was with a Board team last week who were talking about change. How it takes courage and can be hard because we’re having to lose something of us to adopt something new or move to something different.
This is true but only when we attach to our personal thoughts
When we attach to our personal thoughts it’s like putting square wheels on a racing car. We clunk along. Sometimes stopping all together, unable to move forward. Certainly not able to quickly change direction when needed. But we believe in these wheels, we created them. Even if “horrible” or “negative” there’s a familiarity about them that brings comfort. We know where we are. We’ve adapted ourselves to drive with these wheels, forgetting how things used to be before we had them.
Then we start to consider maybe this isn’t ideal. Maybe I would benefit from a smoother ride. Normally we start working hard to change the wheels. Intellectually analysing how they were fitted, what they are made of. But some of the bolts seem stuck. Or maybe there’s a square wheel we subconsciously like the look of so we find a justifiable reason not to change it.
Now we’re driving with 2 square and 2 round wheels. Better but not exactly a smooth ride. Then you meet someone who glides on round wheels. You’re fascinated & slightly freaked out by their difference. It reminds you of glimmers in your life when you’ve glided, when smooth wheels suddenly appeared and for that short while you enjoyed it! Thinking it must have been what you were doing at the time that created that feeling, you repeat the activity, repeating the external conditions to create the smooth-ride magic as often as you can.
Maybe you didn’t realise that you brushed off the truth of what was going on because it seemed so simple and we all know simple doesn’t win kudos prizes.
The truth is that round wheels are our natural state. Round wheels are what we are born with. We just acquired the square as we grew up & blindly followed the square-creating rules of the world. Once we really see the truth of how the square are created, moment-to-moment, and what they really mean, then our attachment to them drops away with a natural ease and we slip into the round. The natural place we fall back to. Our innate state of clarity, wisdom and wellbeing. From here we glide round the corners, speed along the straights and rediscover a life of richness and fulfilment. All the while connected to our innate brilliance.
If you’re curious to learn more, this is what we’re going to be exploring through LearnConnctDo this year. The thread that’s going to weave through all the sessions.
We’re starting on 14th March* with an introduction to the psychological understanding that underpins this smooth-wheel place. The Eventbrite will be up very soon on this page – if you don’t want to miss it jump on the mailing list by getting in touch with me here. As last year, all ticket profits will be going to Twenty:Twenty as we continue our partnership with this wonderful charity. Thank you to PKF for continuing to host us so we can maximise how much we donate.
*3-6pm at PKF Cooper Parry’s East Mids offices (near East Mids Airport).
This has been a new realisation for me thanks to learning about the Three Principles with Piers Thurston and this particular realisation has helped to settle a paradox that I used to just accept I had to hold both ends of.
That paradox was that I would hear people say “you’re good enough just as you are” but then I would hear and see others doing or saying things – maybe about their own work or feeding back to me – which would suggest I “should” be doing or behaving in a different way. So…I’m good enough as I am…..except when others (or me to myself) lay down a judgement and then I’m not good enough, I’m imperfect in some way and I “should” change and do something different.
Now…..the paradox has dissolved.
One is that I had a deep whole-body realisation that I’m actually, deeply, fundamentally OK. I am already a whole person. Good enough just as I am. I truly “see” that. I don’t just hear the words at an intellectual level.
Two is that I see that everything I have ever experienced has been from the inside out. So all those times when I’ve thought I “should” be doing something because of what someone else is telling me or what I’m enviously seeing others do, have been created by me. Self-imposed “should’s”.
And the result. The paradox is gone. I am deeply, fundamentally, good enough as I am and I know I have an innate capacity to be creative and resourceful which means I will keep moving forward, learning, improving and creating with the goal of making a positive difference. But not because I “should”, instead because it feels like the most natural and obvious thing to do.
[Photo credit : https://unsplash.com/@rohanmakhecha]
One of the topics we had some debate around was that of power in work. Power so often has negative connotations. In the same way the word conflict does. If I’d used that word instead of “debate”, what image would have come to mind about our conversation? How would you have felt about it? And what about “power”? What do you think and feel when you hear that word?
Despite our emotional responses to these words, both conflict and power are essential in the workplace. Healthy conflict based on strong trust and with an intent to improve the organisation – not to have a personal dig at someone (see Patrick Lencioni’s work). And influencing through power, again with the intent to improve things for the collective – rather than for personal gain.
And no matter what influencing style you use, you will influence people in your life right now. You will have power over somebody, somewhere. That’s how things change. This theory of the 5 Forms of Power might help you start to recognise your preferred approach and what you might benefit from doing more of.
Having been at the CIPD Learning & Development Show a couple of weeks ago there were lots of conversations about influencing the business agenda, about getting L&D the attention it needs from senior leaders. Chatting to Peter Cheese, he told me that he believes a shift has begun with organisations realising that their success relies on people. And I also hear more people professionals talking about knowing their business to be able to provide solutions that deliver the strategy. This is all good.
However I’ve also had lots of conversations at the show and since, with colleagues continuing to struggle to get the people stuff taken seriously.
Leaders who say they believe in this people stuff but don’t follow through with commitments to make decisions at board meetings. Or who keep the people stuff until the end of the agenda so that it’s squeezed into the remaining minutes or left off completely. Or who say they want to do things but then don’t support their teams with conversations about it, or who don’t support them to re-prioritise so they can invest their time in it.
Leaders and unions who are so caught up in their own priorities, and protection of their position, that they aren’t open to others’ ideas or insights in case it shows up their knowledge gap or shows them something they don’t want to see. Putting their proverbial fingers in their ears and la la la’ing.
Businesses so focused on task and deliver, deliver, deliver that they’re afraid to stop to look at another way in case everything comes crashing down in the meantime, therefore impacting on shareholder / owner value and their own career prospects.
Because often this behaviour we see isn’t through malicious intent. It’s often just because it’s the way things have been done for ages, or because there’s a lack of understanding and therefore a fear of being found out, or a fear of business failure and fingers being pointed and careers ended.
So what’s the solution? Well, that’s what Learn > Connect > Do is about on the 16th June. It’s a relaxed, interactive, conversation-based event to work together and figure out challenges we all face. For June, the focus is how to influence effectively and, starting with this event, all profits go to an East Midlands charity. The first to be chosen is LOROS who are a fantastic Leicester-based end of life hospice – so not only do you get great personal development and meet great people, you’re also doing good for others at the same time!
So what’s bothering you in work? What’s not happening that’s feeling hard work? What needs to change but isn’t? Do you feel like you’re talking to yourself? Do the people you need on side not ‘get it’? Bring your challenges with you in June and we can collaborate together so you’ll leave with a way forward that works for you in your context.
To start your thinking, here’s a blog post from the L&D Show and a session where we heard from ATS Euromaster and Rackspace about how they’ve influenced leaders to embrace the modern learning agenda.
Book your place before they all go (only 20 people can join us!)
And we look forward to seeing you there!
Founded by Helen Amery (owner of Wild Fig Solutions Ltd), the Purpose of Learn > Connect > Do is to bring together people professionals who care about work being better. And we do that by focussing on a different topic each quarter, facilitated with a different tool or approach each time. Aiming for maximum learning – both about the topic and about the approach. Plus getting to meet other professionals who care about the same things as you. And giving to charity too!