Category Archives: Blog

Being a Leader : An Ontological Model

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While ontology as a general subject is concerned with the being of anything, here we are concerned with the ontology of human beings (the nature and function of being for human beings). Specifically, as a coach, I am concerned with the ontology of leaders and leadership (the nature and function of being for a leader and the actions of effective leadership). Who one is being when being a leader shapes one’s perceptions, emotions, creative imagination, thinking, planning, and consequently one’s actions in the exercise of leadership.

Being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership as one’s natural self-expression does not come from learning and trying to emulate the characteristics or styles of noteworthy leaders, or learning what effective leaders do and trying to emulate them (and most certainly not from merely being in a leadership position, or position of authority). If you are not being a leader, and you try to act like a leader, you are likely to fail. That’s called being inauthentic (playing a role or pretending to be a leader), deadly in any attempt to exercise leadership.

HOW TO HAVE A HAPPY 2019?

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At this time of year people reflect upon their dreams and goals for 2019.  A good place to start is this time last year, January 2018.  What was important to you, what were your dreams and goals?

Taking the time to reflect on 2018 gives you the opportunity to be more intentional in the year ahead.  This is not about making resolutions (which usually don’t last anyway), but about deciding how you want to participatein your life and start living it out now to make 2019 a year of achievement.

Most people never give themselves the opportunity to step back and see where they are in life. Like an artist stepping back from his easel, it’s a fundamental part of assessing how far you’ve come, and where you want to go.

If you’ve never heard of a ‘life audit’ then there’s a good chance you’ll really benefit from one. Put simply, it’s an exercise in self-reflection, allowing us to really look at every single area of our lives, taking stock of things like our goals and distractions, and assessing our overall fulfilment.

Now most of us have a pretty good idea of our goals and downfalls anyway, and that self-awareness is certainly necessary for personal growth. What makes a life audit really beneficial however, is that it lets us look at the bigger picture in a much more objective way. This in turn allows us to formulate plans for achieving our goals, improve areas of our lives that may have been neglected, and chase the things that make us feel fulfilled. It’s essentially a status report for your soul – and there’s plenty of ways in which you can do it. Here’s one.

 

1) 2018

The first step is to reflect on your goals and dreams for 2018.  Did you achieve them?  For the things you achieved you can give yourself a pat on the back.  The things that didn’t happen, where were you stopped? Did you even get started?  Write a list of unfulfilled goals, next to them write down what happened. Then lastly, what have you learned and what could you have done differently?

 

2) The Wheel of Life

Simple visual tools are fantastic for this sort of thing, because they keep your audit from become overwhelmingly complicated. ‘The Wheel of Life’ is arguably the most effective way to gauge the balance in your life and your fulfilment in each key area. It covers all the important things, including self-image, work, friends, romance, and personal growth.

Base

 

 

Each colour represents a different area of life, while the concentric circles mark satisfaction levels, from 0 to 10, with 10 being the highest. When you’ve got a few moments print out a copy, and colour in the levels that apply to you. The areas are only suggested ones.  You can change them to be more relevant to you. For example, if you wish to focus on your business you can change them to the areas of business important to you. Keep it honest. It only takes a short time to do and this exercise can really highlight imbalances that may not have otherwise occurred to you. These are the difficult areas to focus on when you are setting your goals for 2019.

Excuses and loopholes

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Excuses and loopholes that hold us back achieving what we want from life.

1. False choice loophole - “I can’t do this, because I’m so busy doing that” – this is one I often use, myself
2. Moral licensing loophole - “I’ve been so good, it’s okay for me to do this”
3. Tomorrow loophole - “It’s okay to skip today, because I’m going to do this tomorrow”
4. Lack of control loophole - “I can’t help myself”
5. Planning to fail loophole - formerly known as the “Apparently irrelevant decision loophole”
6. “This doesn’t count” loophole - “I’m on vacation” “I’m sick” “It’s the weekend”
7. Questionable assumption loophole -“Look, it says it’s healthy on the label”
8. Concern for others loophole - “I can’t do this because it might make other people uncomfortable”
9. Fake self-actualisation loophole - “You only live once! Embrace the moment!”
10. One-coin loophole -“What difference does it make if I break my habit this one time?”

What stops breakthroughs

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Brain Lightbulb

Our brain want to keep us safe and so we often approach life counting on a certain order of things, thinking that predictability and control will keep us safe. Then we encounter the experience of uncertainty, often with chaos close hard on its heels. This ambiguity and randomness can sometimes be disconcerting, as we struggle to understand and make sense of what is happening. 

We try to deal with things dealing rationally, sometimes emotionally. Neuroscientist David Eagleman captures the duality: “There is an ongoing conversation among the different factions in [our] brain, each competing to control the single output channel of [our] behaviour. The rational system is one that cares about the analysis of things in the outside world, while the emotional system monitors the internal state….”

Because we don’t see a ready way to relate powerfully with these dual realities, we attempt to apply patterns of order and the more we do that, the less effective we become. Predictability and control in a world where you are moving to the next level. There is no certainty as an inevitability or predictability of an outcome. We are the ones saying something and looking for a breakthrough to make it happen. Real power occurs when we know we have something to say about the way things are. Recognising that shifts the horizon of what’s possible, and it’s from there the full range available in being human can be explored and lived.

What does it take to be a leader?

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Being a leader and the effective exercise of leadership as one’s natural self-expression does not come from learning and trying to emulate the characteristics or styles of noteworthy leaders, or learning what effective leaders do and trying to emulate them (and most certainly not from merely being in a leadership position, or position of authority).

If you are not being a leader, and you try to act like a leader, you are likely to fail. That’s called being inauthentic (playing a role or pretending to be a leader), deadly in any attempt to exercise leadership.

Imagine someone who wants to be a great leader?

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Imagine someone who wants to be a great leader. In the normal course of events, such a man or woman would start off by, let’s say, studying leadership, perhaps in school, in books, or as an apprentice. Eventually, he or she would collect all the things that great leaders hav, degrees, credentials, diplomas, great track records, and great biographies. Then, at that point, we say, “Well, Mr. or Ms. X is a great leader!” Later, we send our children to the same schools so that they can become great leaders too.
 
Except, most of the children who go to those schools never do become great leaders. And we explain that failure on the basis of genes, environment, intelligence, opportunity, and the like. It never occurs to us that our template for becoming a great leader, or, more accurately, for becoming a great anything, is backwards. Never do we consider that what makes a great leader is NOT the school, books, or education, but simply BEING a great leader.
 
Now, I know that statement looks absurd at first, but it’s a very interesting possibility. If you discipline yourself to look for what’s present, for what is occurring in the moment, then you can ask yourself, “When someone is being a great leader, what is present?” What’s present (and all that is present, really) is being a great leader. What produces greatness, at the moment when greatness shows up, is being great, period. All the credentials follow from that, not the reverse.

What’s Really Holding Back Your Success (You’ll Be Surprised)

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glass_celing

What is it that high achievers DO to get ahead in life?

Do you…

▪ take control and make sure everything goes exactly how you know it needs to?

▪ play the hard ass to get people in line?

▪ know how to make everyone like you?

▪ swoop in at the very last minute and fix everything?

▪ question everything and leave no stone unturned?

▪ act agreeable and be the ultimate team player?

▪ pride yourself in being organised and disciplined to get things done?

▪ look for opportunities to debate, and win every time?

Think about it for a second and consider this, that part you admire in yourself that keeps you “winning” is exactly what’s defining what is possible and impossible for you.  It’s exactly this thing that keeps you from taking your business, your career of you personal life to the next level.

For the sake of this conversation, let’s call this thing your “winning strategy”.

WHAT’S YOUR WINNING STRATEGY?

You’re the type of person everyone likes.

There’s a lot you can accomplish with this way of being: you’re totally on board with the team player stuff, you probably get great reviews, and you’re consistently considered for projects. Good stuff.

However, as long as you continue to rely on people pleasing as a way of succeeding, you’ll never become the CEO you wildly dream of being. If how you get ahead is getting everyone to like you then making the hard calls, taking risks that compromise other’s feelings, and calling shots that concern others are out of your realm of comfort and experience. Those actions will be out of reach as long as you choose people pleasing to get ahead.

You’re that detail-oriented control freak.

It’s caused you to earn a crazy amount of respect and create a successful work persona that you’re proud to have. You always expect the promotions and others look to you for expertise. BUT, the impossible for you is to move into executive level management where strategy and vision are focused on, not the nitty gritty. To be considered for that type of leap would require an uncomfortable step back from the control you wield on a daily basis. You’d have to move away from your successful way of being and begin to do the opposite of what’s familiar: strategise and delegate.

You’re the tireless leader.

You work very hard and achieve great things. You’re the executive type that excels at taking risks. Your impossible is probably having a harmonious balance between family, work, and play. To continue succeeding in your career, you believe you need that unapologetic, all-or-nothing focus that got you here. But it’s this way of being that makes balance impossible. So as long as you choose it, you’ll never achieve an easy flow between family, play and work.

You’re an entrepreneur

You are a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of success and profit.  You identify the business as your possession and thus get a huge amount of self-worth from its success.  The drawback is that you inadvertently put a ceiling on how big the business can grow and end up working long hours.  Your reluctance to share the business means you will never employ or enter in to partnership with one who threatens your position.

Continually relying on your winning strategy keeps the impossible exactly that… impossible.

TELL ME SOMETHING I DON’T KNOW

This might seem obvious but I share this because I have countless conversations about the things that hold people back. Most people believe it’s a thing, or person, or circumstance that keeps them from breaking through to the next level of greatness or happiness.

“If only I had more support from my spouse.”

“If only I had more money to invest.”

“If only I had more time.”

While addressing these things could help, it won’t SOLVE the underlying issue.

YOUR WINNING STRATEGY PRODUCES THE POSSIBLE ONLY

The possible is deemed possible because of your winning strategy. But as there is a realm of possible, there’s the realm of impossible. Continuing to deploy your winning strategy to succeed further defines and strengthens the boundary of the impossible. So as long as you continue to rely on your winning strategy to succeed, you’ll never break through.

What now?

Most of the challenge is recognising that your “best” ability could be keeping you from realising your biggest desires. So look within, question that coveted part of you and ask what the impact of constantly relying on your winning strategy really is. When you find yourself playing it out believing it’s getting you ahead, see if you can determine the cost.

I’ll admit, I’m engrossed with concern for people’s feelings. My unspoken mission in life is to make sure everyone feels fulfilled. While this “best trait” keeps me moving forward, it takes a toll on my bigger vision. To break through I have to step away from a fear-based focus on everyone else and stand for something larger. It’s uncomfortable. It’s unfamiliar. But I know it’s very possible with willingness and practice.

I’d like you to tell me what your winning strategy is. Do you rely on your best trait to get you ahead? How might it be keeping your impossible from becoming a reality? If this article has you re-thinking your relationship to your winning strategy and you’d like to further the conversation, feel free to reach out anytime. 

David

Note: This article was inspired by the book: The Last Word on Power, by Tracy Goss.

 

Focus on what you are doing not how you are doing.

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When you are focused on how you are doing not what you are doing you are operating out of self-consciousness, this promotes fear and insecurity. It stops you being in the present moment, making it difficult to get in touch with that still and powerful place in your brain.

What is the purpose of your life?

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What is the purpose of your life? It’s a big question, a question some people say they don’t know the answer to.  Often it is because they haven’t spent enough time listening to themselves carefully and in silence. Deep listening is very useful here.  Deep listening is the practice of listening  without judgement or advice. Before you can listen deeply to someone else you need to listen to yourself.  Sit down, clear your mind and ask yourself in silence “What do I really want what is my life for?” Intention will emerge if you go deep enough.

The Psychology of Sport

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Sports

 

Tony Robbins says “In sport I’ve found success is 80 percent psychology and 20 percent skills,”

All sports are a mental game, especially elite sports.  For this reason it is important for people involved in sport to develop a strong inner game or mental toughness.  You see all the time, those who have “great talent”, but rarely play up to their full potential. The problem is that in sport people are not educated about the mental game mostly because their instructors or coaches didn’t stress the importance of mental toughness when their student’s were learning to play.

In Golf your decisions, thoughts, images, and feelings set up each swing. Mental training helps players develop key mental skills to compliment the mechanics or physical aspects of their game. What most people do not know is that mental training isn’t just for players who have challenges with their game, but also for players who want to improve their overall performance. Coaches and players have used mental training for years to gain a competitive edge.  Confidence, trust, focus, and composure are the everyday lessons I teach my clients.  Understanding these components allows players to become mindful and improve their performance.

To develop mindfulness in sport there are several mental skills that you can learn. Sports people playing in the zone are composed, in control, confident, and focused. Most have experienced “the zone”, if only for a short time. And everyone can learn to develop a mindset that helps them enter “the zone” more frequently by learning how to be confident, focused, and in control of game.

Mentally tough sports people are at an advantage in competition because they have…

  • An awareness of the zone and the feelings associated with playing in the zone.
  • High self-confidence or a strong belief in their skills or ability to play well.
  • The ability to fully immersed in the task or totally concentrate in the present.
  • A narrow focus of attention or the ability to focus on one specific thought without distraction.
  • The ability to perform effortlessly or let it happen when it counts.
  • Emotional control or the ability to remain calm under pressure.
  • Clear and decisive mind or not over thinking and doubting their decisions.
  • The ability to refocus or collect themselves after mistake.
  • Fun, whether they are 10th or 1st.

A strong mental game is crucial for all. To develop a strong mental game it takes commitment, learning how your brain works and what drives you.  Through mindfulness you can then learn to be in the moment, without distractions.  Be in “the zone” and be your best. The key is to find access to your mental game, then apply it, practice it and use it on a daily basis.

 

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