Tuesday, 22 December 2015

A personal motto

I will be starting 2016 with a high performing team workshop. Right now I have all participants completing a personal introduction sheet which includes letting everyone know their personal motto.

Why personal motto? I have found in my coaching business that I come across a number of people that just need a bit of help to shape their thinking. They feel overwhelmed by the demands of modern life and with limited time and energy they so often feel, after periods of working long hours, very little personal satisfaction. As their coach I will help them to clarify their reason for being. In the words of Mark Twain 'there are two important days in our lives, the day we are born and the day we understand why'.

Without this real sense of purpose we can so easily drift and sleepwalk into middle age. Often the early part of our careers is taken care of by others, we work hard, we get recognised and new jobs and promotions just come our way. At this point we haven't thought too deeply about what we want in life, but nice to know others seem to have ideas for us. Then around about our early 40s the promotions run out and at this point you might be excused feeling powerless to shape the next stage of your life. 

If you can come up with a simple motto that encapsulates what you are about, then you are well on the way to making sense of your life.

eHow sums it up as....
A motto is a word or words that sum up your beliefs or outlook on life. When you choose personal motto, you are actually delving into your own mind to find what makes you tick or what drives you to make the choices you make. Look into yourself, and figure out your theme and you can find a personal motto.

  • Live every day to the fullest, because it may be your last
  • Don't live your life full of revenge, if you do that makes you no better than the one you are getting revenge on
  • Treat others as you would treat yourself
  • Every day is a new day , act as if its a second chance
  • Life is to short to fix all the errors, if you have true friends and family you shouldn't need, to they should understand 
  • Don't hide behind the shadows of others come out and forge your own destiny
  • Respect, in order to get it you have to give it
  • Live well, laugh often, love much. 
  • True contentment is not in having everything, but in being satisfied with everything you have.
  • Never let defeat rob you of success. 
  • The best things in life aren't things.
  • Treasure your relationships, not your possessions.
  • Forgiving someone is a sign of strength.
  • Begin your day with friendliness and only friends you will find. 
  • Wear out, don't rust out. 
  • Have character - don't be one. 
  • Be a change you wish to see in the world. 
  • The greatest blessing comes to the one who freely gives and expects nothing in return. 
  • The harder you work at what you should be, the less you will try to hide what you are. 
  • If you don't feel like being pleasant, courteous and kind, act that way and the feelings will come.

Thursday, 17 December 2015

Flip the classroom

I have an interesting challenge going into next year. One client, a school, has flagged that they will not be able to release their teachers for training during the day. Instead we will have to make do with a series of 2.5 hour twilight sessions, from 4:00 pm to 6:30 pm. We are teaching teachers how to coach, so we have decided to flip the classroom. Participants will learn the theory prior to attending a twilight session so that we can devote these sessions to practicing coaching.

For me who doesn't have a great deal of faith in the ability of participants to do the prework prior to a workshop this is a huge act of faith! So my starting point is to understand what is meant by flipping a classroom.

Definition of a flipped classroom:
The flipped classroom is a pedagogical model in which the typical lecture and homework elements of a course are reversed. Short video lectures are viewed by students at home before the class session, while in-class time is devoted to exercises, projects, or discussions.

This video provided me with a very good understanding of what to do.

So I am now working on an 18 week programme that will use Moodle to deliver online videos and other material plus provide participants with the resource to update their learning blogs.

Happy Days!!!

Friday, 6 November 2015

Summary of James Kerr's book Legacy

All Blacks
Sweep the Sheds Never be too big to do the small things that need to be done
Before leaving the dressing room at the end of a game, some of the top players in the team – including Richie McCaw and Dan Carter – stop and tidy up. They literally and figuratively ‘sweep the sheds’. It is an example of personal humility, a cardinal All Blacks value. Though it might seem strange for a team of imperious dominance, humility is core to their culture. The All Blacks believe that it’s impossible to achieve success without having your feet planted firmly on the ground.

Humility is taught in all things. It is an attractive but uncommon virtue in business.
Go for the Gap When you’re on top of your game, change your game
It is the philosophy and focus on continual improvement and continuous learning environment that is at the core of All Black culture. When you’re on top of your game, change your game. Adaptation is not a reaction, but an everyday action.

A winning organisation is an environment of professional and personal development in which each individual takes responsibility and shares ownership. Build the ability to change your cultural and commercial processes. Even when at the pinnacle of success, look to regenerate.

Play with Purpose Ask ‘Why?’
When Richie McCaw got his first All Blacks shirt, he spent a minute with his head buried in the jersey. The person with a narrow vision sees a narrow horizon. The person with a wider vision sees a wider horizon.
Better people make better All Blacks is the core belief, and understanding Why? identifies the purpose of being an All Black.

Our fundamental human drive comes from within, from intrinsic rather than extrinsic motivations. The power of purpose galvanises individuals, and alignment in group behaviours. What’s the purpose of your business?
Pass the Ball Leaders create leaders
Central to the All Blacks belief is the development of leaders and the nurturing of character off the field, to deliver results on it. This involves a literal and metaphorical handing over of responsibility from management to players, so that by game day the team consists of one captain, and 15 leaders.

Ownership, accountability and trust. Shared responsibility in your business means shared ownership, a sense of inclusion means uniting individuals, and more collaboration means advancement as a team.
Create a Learning Environment Leaders are teachers
Former head coach Graham Henry made pre-match time the team’s own, as part of his devolved leadership plan. He left the players alone as a group to do what they had to do.
Mastery, autonomy and purpose are three drivers of All Blacks success, where success is defined as modest improvement, consistently done. For the All Blacks, leaders are learners, are teachers, as Jack Hobbs, former captain said: Get up everyday and be the best you can be. Never let the music die in you.

No Dickheads Follow the spearhead
In Maori, whanau means ‘extended family’. It’s symbolised by the spearhead. Though a spearhead has three tips, to be effective all of its force must move in one direction. The All Blacks select on character over talent, which means some of New Zealand’s most promising players never pull on the black jersey – because they don’t have the right character, they’re considered dickheads, and their inclusion would be detrimental to the whanau. Like all the great teams the All Blacks seek to replace the ‘me’ with the ‘we’. No one is bigger than the team. The team always comes first.

Individual commitment to a group effort is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilisation work. You need to build and maintain a high level of trust in your business, so that individuals connect together and strive towards a common goal. If that is lacking, the competition will punish you.
Embrace Expectations Aim for the highest cloud
A culture of expectation enables the asking and re-asking fundamental questions, in order to achieve clarity. Humility allows us ask a simple question: how can we do better?
Go Forward! Recast your challenges into proactive goals. You have to be pro-active at all times, taking risks and responsibilities is one of the many skills you learn from rugby. This sounds militaristic, but in its core it is true, rugby, at the end of the day, is a contest of strength, skill and intelligence.
Judge yourself against the best, create for yourself a narrative of extreme, even unrealistic ambitions and benchmark yourself to the ultimate. Make it an epic of what is possible
Train to Win Practice under pressure
Brad Thorn’s mantra, Champions Do Extra, helped him become one of the most successful players in rugby history. The philosophy simply means finding incremental ways to do more by preparation and practice. There’s a Maori saying: the way the sapling is shaped determines how the tree grows.
All foundation for success on a rugby field is built in training. You win games in training. The ugly truth is that in most cases you get the results of your weekly training efforts and commitments in the game at the weekend.
The All Blacks run on individual integrity. This means total accountability, and by actions not words. No one is ever late for training, players set their watches ten minutes fast. A collection of talented individuals will fail without personal discipline. Ultimately character triumphs over talent, and for the All Blacks it is about training to win, practising under intensity to replicate playing conditions.

In business, training is often seen as a soft option, a day out of the business. Make practice your test, make it intense, it should be central to your culture. Training with intensity accelerates personal growth.
Keep a Blue Head Control your attention
One minute can decide the outcome of a game, as it can the outcome of a business situation. Avoiding poor decision making under pressure is vital.
Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence. Under pressure, your thinking can be diverted. Bad decisions are made because of an inability to handle pressure at a pivotal moment.
In 2010, founding partners of Gazing Performance, Ceri Evans and Renzie Hanham, assisted in mentally preparing the All Blacks, providing a framework to think clearly and correctly under pressure:
·         Red Head is a state in which you are off task, tight, results oriented, panicked and ineffective.
·         Blue Head, on the other hand, is an optimal state in which you are on task and performing to your best ability, expressive, calm, in the moment.
·         In moments of pressure, the All Blacks use triggers to switch from Red to Blue. Richie McCaw grasps his wrists and stamps his feet, literally grounding himself. Using these triggers, the players aim to achieve clarity and accuracy, so they can perform under pressure.

To act rather than react, move from volatility and an ambiguous space to having mental clarity, control your attention. Clear thought, clear talk, clear task is McCaw’s mantra.
Know Thyself Keep it real
Honesty drives better performance for the All Blacks: Honesty=Integrity=Authenticity=Resilience= Performance
Often attributed to Socrates, the phrase know thy self, is a key tenet of the All Blacks philosophy, believing that development of the authentic self is essential to performance.

High performance teams promote a culture of honesty, integrity, authenticity. The All Blacks’ socials deliberately hark back to the local rugby culture each player came from, reminding them of why and how they came to be here. No international superstar status, they simply keep it real. Better people make better All Blacks, is an All Black credo.
Sacrifice Find something you would die for and give your life to it
Focus is vital for the All Blacks, and there is no paradox – play to win, don’t play not to lose. Don’t be a good All Black, be a great All Black.

As highlighted earlier, Champions do extra, give everything you have – then a little bit more. What do you offer the team? What are you prepared to sacrifice? Champions give the extra, discretionary effort and sacrifice it takes to do something extraordinary. Give your best, treading water is drowning. What is the extra that will make your business extraordinary?

Invent your own language Sing your world into existence
There is a ‘black book’, which was for a time, for All Blacks eyes only. Its collected wisdom in the form of aphorisms still informs the culture:
·         No one is bigger than the team
·         Leave the jersey in a better place
·         It’s not good enough to be good, it’s about being great
·         Leave it all out on the field
·         It’s not the All Black jersey, it’s the All Black man
·         Front up – or fuck off!
It was a system of meanings that everyone understood, a language and vocabulary, a set of beliefs that bind the group together. These have subsequently evolved to Humility, Excellence, Respect as the three words at the core of the All Blacks ethos.

Apple under Steve Jobs had the same approach to developing a credo:
·         Stay hungry stay foolish
·         Why join the navy when you can be a pirate
·         Insanely great
·         Think different

Develop strong resonant values using a common language in your business, it connects personal meaning to the business vision of the future.
Ritualise to Actualise Create a culture
A key factor in the All Blacks success was the development of the new haka, Kapa o Pango. Rituals reflect, remind and reinforce the belief system to reignite their collective identity and purpose.
In business, team spirit, pride and respect create effective relationship bonds. Building a great team requires individuals who enjoy a deep degree of trust in one another, the trust that colleagues are not just dedicated but also up to the task.
Au, au, aue bā! – It’s our time! It’s our moment! the final line of the haka. www.youtube.com/watch?v=We77jlAHzI8

Be a Good Ancestor Plant trees you’ll never see
The All Blacks task is to represent all those who have come before them, and all those who follow.
There’s a fundamental Maori spiritual concept called whakapapa – the rope of mankind, an unbroken chain of humans standing arm in arm from the beginning of time to the end of eternity. As the sun shines on you for this moment, this is your time, it’s your obligation and responsibility to add to the legacy – to leave the jersey in a better place.
In 1999 Adidas ran a commercial starting with Charlie Saxton, then the oldest living former All Blacks captain, pulling a jersey over his head and is ‘reincarnated’ as Fred Allen, the greatest All Blacks captain and coach. In chronological and successive jerseys it created a lineage of leadership to the then captain, Taine Rendell. The legacy is more intimidating than any opposition. This captures the essence of leading for sustainability.
Take stewardship of your business as responsibility to add to the legacy. Be a good ancestor, this is your footprint, your time in the business.

Write Your Legacy This is your time
When a player makes the All Blacks, they’re given a small black book. The first page shows a jersey from the 1905 Originals, the first tour. On the next page is another jersey, that of the 1924 Invincibles, and thereafter, pages of other jerseys until the present day, and pages with principles, heroes, values, the ethos, the character of the team. And then the rest of the pages are blank, waiting to be filled by the player.
Those organisations that know what they stand for – and most importantly, why – consistently outperform those who are just going through the motions. They create better commercial results, generate more sales, deliver higher shareholder value, attract better talent, and retain it.
The First XV shows how the All Blacks hold a values-led, purpose-driven high-performance culture and use the power of storytelling to give it personal resonance. The result of this extraordinary environment is extraordinary results.
In business, if we align our people, resources and effort around a singular and compelling central narrative, and reinforce that story through communications, resourcing and training, the results will come.
If your leadership focuses on culture, vision, identity – the ‘who are we, what are we really all about, and how do we live that with integrity’, you will create a special business – the competitive and the collaborative. The desire to achieve and the desire to be part of something bigger.
It’s easy to be cynical about the soft stuff – story and values and vision and purpose – compared to shareholder returns or sales figures. Often the numbers people win because they have hard metrics. However, the All Blacks narrative proves that the soft stuff delivers hard results. The culture creates competitive advantage. By focussing on story and purpose and vision and the human aspects of your business architecture you’re able to deliver better business – and better people.


I'm busy reading Legacy (about the All Blacks) and they refer to a VUCA world, so I thought I would just post the meaning in my blog as a reminder.

The deeper meaning of each element of VUCA serves to enhance the strategic significance of VUCA foresight and insight as well as the behavior of groups and individuals in organizations. It talks on systemic failures and behavioral failures, which are imperative to organizational failure.

  • V = Volatility. The nature and dynamics of change, and the nature and speed of change forces and change catalysts.
  • U = Uncertainty. The lack of predictability, the prospects for surprise, and the sense of awareness and understanding of issues and events.
  • C = Complexity. The multiplex of forces, the confounding of issues and the chaos and confusion that surround an organization.
  • A = Ambiguity. The haziness of reality, the potential for misreads, and the mixed meanings of conditions; cause-and-effect confusion.

These elements present the context in which organizations view their current and future state. They present boundaries for planning and policy management. They come together in ways that either confound decisions or sharpen the capacity to look ahead, plan ahead and move ahead. VUCA sets the stage for managing and leading.

The particular meaning and relevance of VUCA often relates to how people view the conditions under which they make decisions, plan forward, manage risks, foster change and solve problems. In general, the premises of VUCA tend to shape an organization's capacity to:

  • Anticipate the Issues that Shape Conditions
  • Understand the Consequences of Issues and Actions
  • Appreciate the Interdependence of Variables
  • Prepare for Alternative Realities and Challenges
  • Interpret and Address Relevant Opportunities

For most contemporary organizations – business, the military, education, government and others – VUCA is a practical code for awareness and readiness. Beyond the simple acronym is a body of knowledge that deals with learning models for VUCA preparedness, anticipation, evolution and intervention.

Monday, 10 August 2015

The three coaching tools

I've now finalised the Rapid-Learning-Chunks for the 3 key coaching tools as described on the graphic below.

Tuesday, 4 August 2015

The scaling tool

I love the scaling tool because to me it is such a positive way of helping people to master their problems!

Monday, 20 July 2015

Overcoming blockers

Quite often when you are looking to develop someone you find that there appears to be a barrier to them learning through conventional training. An example is where someone struggles with time management, but doesn't seem to learn from time management training. This tool gets to the deeper reasons why some people struggle to change.

Tuesday, 14 July 2015

How to develop productivity rituals

After an appaisal or coaching session you will have identified at least one behaviour that you need to work on. At this point you will feel very motivated to make the change but not too sure how to do this, Tony Schwartz talks about introducing daily rituals as a way of developing a good habit. So for example if one of the areas you want to work on is your contribution at meetings. Perhaps you are quiet by nature, more reflective than others and you tend to want to observe first and make up your mind before speaking. You have been told by your boss that you need to contribute more. The next meeting you attend you try and talk but the noisy extroverts drown you out and after a few tries you just give up. So you decide that your ritual (that you will ruthlessly stick to) will be to be the first person to speak at every meeting and you will prepare a statement/ question / observation before each meeting. If you follow this ritual you will find by breaking the ice early you will feed a great deal more relaxed and you will continue to contribute with ease.

This is how Tony Schwartz explain:-
Highly specific behaviours, done at precise times, so they eventually become automatic and no longer require conscious will or discipline.

Tony Schwarz's rituals:-

  • Abiding by a specific bedtime to ensure that I get 8 hours of sleep. Nothing is more critical to the way I feel every day. If I'm flying somewhere and know I'll arrive too late to get my 8 hours, I make it a priority to make up the hours I need on the plane.
  • Work out as soon as I wake up. I've long since learned it has a huge impact all day long on how I feel, even if I don't initially feel like doing it.
  • Launching my work day by focusing first on whatever I've decided the night before is the most important activity I can do that day. Then taking a break after 90 minutes to refuel. Today — which happens to be a Sunday — this blog was my priority. My break was playing tennis for an hour. During the week it might be just to breathe for five minutes, or get something to eat.
  • Immediately writing down on a list any idea or task that occurs to me over the course of the day. Once it's on paper, it means I don't walk around feeling preoccupied by it — or risk forgetting it.
  • Asking myself the following question any time I feel triggered by someone or something,: "What's the story I'm telling myself here and how could I tell a more hopeful and empowering story about this same set of facts?"

Being brilliant every single day

I happened to stumble over these brilliant TED videos. If you or the people you coach struggle to manage your emotions this is a must watch!

Part 1

Part 2

Learning to be more assertive

Many years ago a very good trainer introduced me to the concept of training people to be more assertive. Prior to that I believed assertiveness was a personality trait that you either had or if not you were pretty much destined to become someone else's dogsbody! We started training people and the results were excellent and a great lesson to many of us.

As part of our contribution to the community we worked in we developed a two day life skills course for 15 - 16 year old students and ran it in the Kingston  upon Thames area. It was very successful and ran for 8 years before someone pulled the plug on the programme. The reason I mention this is we built assertiveness training into the programme and it played a big part in getting these kids fired up to do more with their lives. After one run of the course I received a call from a health visitor who had been working with a young girl for 9 months, who struggled with anorexia and she had struggled to get her to communicate.She said a wonderful thing had happened as somehow our life skills programme had opened the door and this young girl was 'alive' again. This was am amazing moment which still brings tears to my eyes.

What I learnt over the years was assertiveness could most definitely be taught!

If you want to find out more we were using the superb work of Ken and Kate Back, please just click on the book to link to Amazon.

Wednesday, 8 July 2015

From a feeling of hopelessness to hopefulness

I am busy running our 'Coaching with Emotional Intelligence' programme with two clients at the moment and teaching them how to use the key tools of the programme. All the tools are important but there are three that I think are the most helpful.

In our coaching work we come across so many people that are overwhelmed by modern work. Too many meetings, never ending emails, less people but doing more work. Its little wonder that many people have a feeling of hopelessness! We have developed tools that take coachees from this feeling of hopelessness to a feeling of hopefulness.

The tools take you from the Forest, to the Tree and finally to the Roots. The first tool is The Coaching Wheel which is very simple to use and provides an incredibly powerful and insightful overview of the coachees work and life. The video below describes how you can prepare your Coaching Wheel in preparation for a coaching session.

Thursday, 4 June 2015

Making Training Work (how we wrote it!)

After a spring 2014 dog walk with my pal Roger we had the crazy idea of writing another book together. As two seasoned trainers that had experienced most things in getting as much as possible out of the budgets available to us, we thought we might be able to offer a few useful insights.

Having gone down the big publisher route last time where we had received little or no support and were expected to drum up the demand for at least the first 1,000 copies. Then when we received our annual royalty statement we really discovered how little we as authors actually received. The only real money we made was when the translations rights for  'Leadership Lessons from the Ancient World' were sold to publisher in Romania and South Korea.

So this time out we decided, for better or worse, that we would self-publish through Lulu.com and keep control of all the content. We discovered that this was called P.O.D. or print on demand. What this means is you decide right up front what type of book you want to write. Hard cover, softcover, perfect bound, coiled and A4, A5 or many more US formats. Once you have made this decision you download your Word template and get on with writing your book. FINALLY (as it's not that easy to get all your thoughts out of your brain onto a piece of paper) once you are happy with the content you upload your document as a pdf into a Lulu project file. Then you create a print ready cover and book and you have a book ready for publishing. The advantage of POD is you can just order 2 copies of the book which we did in December 2014. This gave us a chance to see what it looked like and do our final edits and improvements.

In May this year we finally clicked on the 'publish' button and limited the distribution to the Lulu on-line shop. This month we take the next step and click on the GetGlobalReach button and by the miracle of the internet our book gets listed on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Ingram!

One of the questions we had was on how long it would take to get published copies of our book and we put in an order for 20 copies late on a Monday afternoon and they were delivered to my home first thing on Thursday. AWESOME!!! 

The revenue model for unknown and short run authors is substantially better than using a major publisher. You pay Lulu for the cost of printing the book and then hand over 20% of the profit. You earn much less going down the global distribution route, but still not too bad. 

We now have the flexibility to tailor the book for specific clients who might want their own chapters and logos included in the book. If we had a request for a bulk order we are able to bypass the distribution network and buy the books ourselves at the cost of publishing. Then deliver them as part of (say) a train the trainer programme that we might be running for our client.

It has been a great learning experience and certainly has given us plenty of ideas for the future.

If you are interested in buying a copy of 'Making Training Work', or just want to see the Lulu sales web site, then please click here BUY ME :-)