Slipping up for good

It’s the 25th anniversary of the opening of the Freud Museum in London this week. Freud is famous for his study of Psychoanalysis and the Freudian Slip is a principle he came up with that says that when you slip up and say the opposite of what you meant to say or contrary, to what you meant to say, it’s because it’s what you really meant to say.

Has this ever happened to you? It’s not very authentic is it? Saying the opposite of what you actually mean to say. But then again like Jim Carey in the movie Liar Liar, you probably don’t want to walk around saying every thought you have. Or would you? Perhaps if you only had good thoughts then it would be okay, but inside me I humour myself with irony and absurdity that I see wherever I go. You don’t want to hear all that!

But sometimes slipping up with the truth is the right thing to do. Actually I’m not happy that this is not been attended to, rather than okay, let’s get onto this tomorrow.

After being away in Martinborough for most of the week last week running a leadership programme, I turned up to a mountain of stuff to be done. I worked rapidly and with intent. I said exactly what needed to be done and when it needed to be done. Someone said they hadn’t seen me like that before.

Authenticity is about your strengths and where you come from. Empathy is about seeing others’ perspectives. Can they co-exist? Yes, but sometimes you need to let Freud take over and say it as you authentically mean it. Others might need to see you perspectives very clearly!

Stephen

It’s the weekend (nearly)

I’m back at the specialist at Milford this morning to complete my testing. I was already awake at 6.00am when Mum emailed to say they had another wake-up call in Canterbury this morning registering 5.1. People probably didn’t even need to check on-line, they’ve had so many they can tell the force instantly within two or three points. Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers talks about 10,000 hours of experience to become truly expert at something. I wonder if 7,500 earthquakes in 10 months is getting close to qualifying for expert status. I have a sense that after this series of tests I’m going to become expert at something to do with my diet. It looks like I might be Fructose intolerant and this morning’s testing is about Lactose. The friendly man next to me is also on his third testing and we agreed that being intolerant to Lactose, living in dairy-loving NZ, wouldn’t be ideal. I’m tolerant to most things in life, except intolerance.

Sitting here for a morning is very productive and quite reflective too. I’ve one more week of a very intensive work period and I’m taking a few days off the following week to rebalance myself. So I have a sense of anticipation looking forward to some refresh time. Which is a a bit like the staff who have been arriving at the specialist rooms this morning with TGIF said in many different ways!

We like the weekend, or more particularly, we like some time away from our usual routine to recharge.  But if we’ve done the 10,000 hours there’s a good chance we’ve had more than our fair share of wake-up calls on the way through, but those experiences will have given us the resilience and experience to keep going. As we gain expertise in our area we also become more tolerant of those around us as it’s less about proving yourself, but rather enjoying the strength that comes from experience and, for leaders I hope, growing others.

So enjoy the weekend, make it a time to refresh and enjoy why we exist. To be happy. Monday will be work, but if it’s work you are passionate about, not only is that a happy place, it’s a chance to grow some more.

Stephen

Muscle up for the good times

“So Dad, if I bought some dumb bells and a swiss ball I could probably do most of the weights I need to, do you think?”. “That’s right Thomas, as I’ve said many times you might be taller but it’s winning the arm wrestle that counts!”.  The race is on, I’ll just have to keep running so I’m not tested as I’m pretty sure the day will come…..

I keep thinking about story telling. When group members want stories from each other what always comes out are stories that are positive. I see that people have a desire to talk to their strengths and they take the positive experiences from what they have got from life. Not every part of every story is positive – there are tragedies and negative experiences on the way through – but (am I allowed to say But!) the building of leadership experiences is in this sort of forum based on strengths and positives.

Dad was contemplating with me today about how he could write up his childhood as two stories, both believable, both in part true.

His words of what made him today: “the love and protection of my parents, feeling secure, school days and the friends there, play time after school, making our own kites and the thrill of getting them to fly in the park, the  kindly church people who took an interest in us boys, celebrating birthdays and Christmas, picnics, visiting Sumner beach by tram, going to the annual Industries Fair, etc. etc.“. He then said he could focus on the negative things – I’m sure sadness with his father dying while he was in his teens would feature, but would in the end be a source of strength. I notice that he didn’t give me any of this negative detail, and that’s common when people are asked for their stories in a growing and empowering environment.

I don’t subscribe to those  pearly white teeth TV host type feel-good yeah yeah yeah, think positive and you WILL be bullshit. I do subscribe to strength-based reflection such as Marcus Buckingham promotes.

As leaders, bringing the best out in our teams is part and parcel of authentic leadership. And to do that authentically, how about a dosage of stories, the lessons of which are part of the strengths we bring to the table?

If negativity is setting in, having the courage to stop and say “well that’s not my experience” when it’s sounding like a downward spiral of experience that isn’t going to help anyone grow or learn is sometimes all it needs to get back on track.

I’ll be running (scared!) from now on, seeing as Thomas has my swiss ball and all those weights.

We all have our strengths and the stories will reveal them if we choose. Maybe an ultra-marathon one day.

Stephen

Own yourself

I’ve had a busy time the last few weeks and over the next few weeks I have friends staying, the Authentic Leadership Course, my folks up, then Uncle Stan, more programmes and workshop and whew, the year will be almost done.

It could be the reflective mood that Dire Straights Telegraph Road is giving me, but I felt a sense of ownership tonight. Ownership of my own spacetime. It might also be something to do with having a productive afternoon at work, some more opportunities and seeing Tim enjoying his 18th birthday.

It’s not selfish to own yourself. In fact I say it’s selfish not to. If you don’t take care and grow yourself through reflection, enjoying your own thoughts and contemplating what has gone and what is to come (is that reflection!?) then you’re not caring for yourself. That’s selfish as you’re not going to be much good for anyone in your world.

According to psychometric testing and my own work I’m an extrovert. I get my energy from the external world. But I get lots from my internal world – the place where it is just me in my own spacetime.

We notice authentic leadership coming from within. It has that quality of depth and meaning that brings out the best in each of us. The authentic leader has ownership of self. When did you last renew it?

Stephen

Three times the energy

Last week I was asked “do you get it sometimes when you’re working that time seems to disappear and the work becomes effortless?”  I’m fortunate – this does happen to me – after all why would I be blogging on a Friday night?! A friend of mine in Christchurch and I have been talking recently about his career: “It doesn’t really matter what I do at work, in 50 years time someone will still be doing much the same, I’m not solving anything” he said.  Sounds like middle-aged purpose in life talk I said, let’s keep talking. And we did. A client said to me today “I have so much energy that I NEED to harness, if I don’t it will just go inside and defeat me”.

I liked that. Like the energy filled black star which has so much gravity, the light can’t escape. We can’t see a black hole and we can’t see the potential in someone who’s energy is turned inwards, when they have so much to offer. My colleague Jasbindar Singh has written about getting your grove back. Some people talk about their mojo.

As a leader what are you doing to harness the energy of those in your team? – allowing the passions to thrive and grow both the individual and the team and organisation. When it rains in the forest, it doesn’t matter where – everyone benefits (is that one metaphor too much for one blog!?), but I like the forest, and space, so you get them too.

What about yourself? Are you harnessing your energy to put you in that time-irrelevant space.  Three times I’ve been reminded of it in the last week. Three times the energy is what you’ll have if you do it. At least.

Stephen


Digg!

Are weaknesses back in fashion?

What we have here my friend are your strengths and over here, are what we call your “development opportunities”.  Does that sound like a Tui billboard to you? It’s starting to for me. Feedback surveys, personality profiles, our own development assessments all mention our development opportunities.  What they’re talking about of course are our weaknesses.

Strength-bases approaches to life have been around a while.  I’m reading Marcus Buckingham’s book Go put your strengths to work (actually I’m listening to the audio book in the car – please don’t interupt me Continue reading “Are weaknesses back in fashion?”