Posts in ‘Flexible Focus’

Time For a Change #15: Finding Your 80/20 Path

by William Reed on May 18, 2012

The unlikely economist turned philosopher

It seems unlikely that an economist would have an insight that ultimately inspired a philosophy of living, but that is exactly what happened. In 1906 an Italian economist named Vilfredo Pareto observed that 80% of the land was owned by 20% of the population, and that this ratio seemed to recur with regularity even in nature. This observation was picked up by management consultant Joseph M. Juran, who named it the 80-20 Rule, or Pareto Principle. Also know as the law of the vital few, it has become an accepted phenomenon that in business 80% of your sales come from 20% of your clients.

This was taken up as a core theme by Richard Koch, a successful management consultant, entrepreneur, and author, who wrote a series of books such as Living the 80/20 Way, centering on the law of the vital few as a Way of Life. He provides lots of anecdotal evidence on how the principle occurs and recurs in business, in nature, and in our experience, but also provides practical advice on how to get better results for much less effort.

The promise of his philosophy is a way to work less, worry less, succeed more often, and enjoy life more. It is a practical philosophy, one which focuses on getting results, not through the conventional approach of working harder or more efficiently, but by thoughtfully focussing on the 20% of your ideas, contacts, and activities that will yield 80% of your results. He speaks convincingly to business audiences on how most people work too hard for meager results, when they could accomplish and enjoy more by learning how to find and focus on the vital few.

Avoiding digital distraction

It is hard to fathom the degree to which digital technologies and computers have transformed our world. We can now virtually transcend space and time. New economies of scale bring goods from the world to our doorstep the same day. Computers give us windows on the world and affordable access to information, education, media, and entertainment. Through our smart phones and tablets the digital window points in so many directions, it feels as if we have the world at our fingertips.

For all of its fascination, fun and convenience, we should not forget that the world at our fingertips is actually a world under glass, a virtual reflection of what actually exists elsewhere in analog form. Moreover, since we are not actually there, we can easily go somewhere else. We are always just a click away from zillions of choices! Even if your mind is only preoccupied with 3 or 4 choices, that is already enough to cause you to become digitally distracted and lose your 80/20 bearings, losing sight of the vital few.

Bret Victor wrote A Brief Rant on the Future of Interaction Design, an article which raises questions few people seem to be asking; about what we are giving up when we limit the many dextrous functions of our hands to the simple action of swiping our fingers or tapping on a screen. He believes that our future is in our hands, our ability to feel, manipulate and make things, and not in pictures under glass.

In our digital dreams we should not forget the importance of focus, the analog world of sensory experience, the world of sensory serendipity, the world which to appreciate you have to have been there.

Finding fun in focus

In his book, The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success, Carmine Gallo attributes the success of Steve Jobs in part to his ability to “Say no to 1000 things.” Apple’s ability to focus has resulted in game changing innovation, making it one of the most profitable companies in the world today.

For most of us it boils down to the art of time management, which in fact is really the art of self-management. Edwin Bliss is an internationally known consultant on time management, and although his books were written in the 1970s, they as timely today as they were when they first came out. Written in brief chapters with practical advice on everything from managing your schedule to increasing your energy and focus, they are also illustrated with amusing illustrations that depict the dilemmas that we all face in time management. For a wealth of tips on how to manage your time and increase your productivity, is well worth reading his two classic titles on time management, Getting Things Done and Doing it Now.

Your path of least resistance

It is not only digital distraction and poor time management that take us off of the 80/20 Path. One of the most fundamental mistakes that you can make is to spend your precious life energy working hard on something that does not come naturally to you. Sadly, many people find themselves stuck in  a job or career in which they spend years developing an average level of competence, when they could truly excel at something else in a much shorter time if they found the right path.

This is not just the classic dilemma of the would-be artist who works at a detestable day job just to pay the bills and get by. It can apply equally well to anyone in any line of work. It is more a matter of finding your flow, according to Roger J. Hamilton your Wealth Dynamics profile. There is no sense in putting this off. It is one of the most important things you should know about yourself, if you wish to succeed on the 80/20 Path.

One of the hardest lessons to learn is that only a few things matter. How tragic if you look back at the end of your career or life, and feel as if you frittered away your life pursuing things that did not really matter. Take an 80/20 inventory of your life now, and focus on your few true friends, gifts, and goals.

For a visual summary of these ideas and approaches download here the 80/20 MANDALA. Catch up on other articles and Mandala downloads in this series by accessing the Time for a Change file on GOALSCAPE Connect.

“Nature has given us two ears, two eyes, and but one tongue—

to the end that we should hear and see more than we speak.”

~Socrates (c. 469 BC – 399 BC)

There is nothing more timely than ancient wisdom. What was true in Socrates time over 2400 years ago, must be even truer today in our age of Internet, Satellite television, Skype, Facebook, smart phones, and talking heads shouting in our ears. Those who seek sanctuary to meditate and quiet the mind find it next to impossible in a world in which constant chatter invades our private space. To avoid drowning in the noise, people talk back in self-defense, until all the world is talking, and very few are actually listening. It is comical to see this happening sometimes in cafes when everyone at the table is talking at once, a mini-drama enacting out the larger drama happening on the world stage.

Getting back on the same page

We have gotten so distracted that we are not no longer on the same page, we are not even on the same channel. Remote control and easy access to unlimited channels has seduced us into making this easy escape any time we get distracted or bored. This problem is serious in schools, where flitting minds outrun teachers like jackrabbits. The modern attention span is so short, that the average visitor to a website makes the decision to stay or click away in just 3 seconds. That is ten times shorter than the already super-brief 30-second elevator speech.

While it is definitely harder to get and keep people’s attention today, it is even more important in business to connect with the people who matter most, your customers and your collaboration partners. The first thing to do is to get back on the same channel, then at regular intervals to get on the same page and communicate about what you see. The channel might be Skype or your smart phone, but the page is more likely to be a document, a slide presentation, a spreadsheet. The challenge is that information can get so complicated spread across multiple documents, that it is easy to lose track of the big picture. GOALSCAPE Connect is a perfect way to get and stay on the same channel and page with your collaboration partner on any project, and any level of detail. And you can show the Big Picture to others in presentations on a big screen or a tablet, enabling them to join you on the same page.

Beware the memory trap

Memory is fallible. It can even be called ephemeral, because the details fade quickly. We tend to fill them in with different details which we think are right, which we have selected as important, or simply because the wires got crossed. Memory can be a trap.

Memory is deceptive because things seem so clear at the time, we feel so certain we will remember them just as clearly. Hansel and Gretel could teach us a lesson, for he laid breadcrumbs on the path so that he and his sister could find their way back out of the forest, not realizing that the birds had eaten them, every one. Understanding does not equal recall. There is false security in a paper trail, or an e-mail trail, particularly when you try to retrieve it among shifting subject lines. What started out as RE: abc, over time under the same subject line can turn into talk about xyz. More snares for the memory trap.

The Art of Active Listening

One of the best ways to become an active listener, and to improve your memory, is to become a great notetaker. This is an art in itself, but without active listening your notes will suffer from a lack of discoveries, insights, and original observations.

Given that active listening is an essential skill for students to become active learners, Joe Landsberger created a site called Study Guides and Strategies, which contains excellent advice on active listening and other learning skills. His active listener matrix shows four factors that affect the quality of listening, Subject Complexity, Speaker, Environment, and Presentation. The accompanying questions reveal how highly interactive active listening can be. They also show how important face to face conversation is compared to the on screen or text message communication which has become so common today.

Tell to Win: Connect, Persuade, and Triumph with the Hidden Power of Story, by Peter Guber is a bestseller that has won high praise from people like President Bill Clinton, Daniel Pink, and Muhammed Yunus. Movie producer, sports team owner, and professor at UCLA, Peter Guber shows how story has the power to melt resistance, move hearts, and catalyze business success. Even this master storyteller highlights the importance of active listening in communication saying, “…the more time I spend getting them to do the talking—to tell me their story or, as it may be, their problem—the better able I am to reshape my story to address their specific challenge.”

Now retired University of Maine researcher Dr. Marisue Pickering articulated 10 skills for active listening, skills which a person so intended can learn, practice, and master.

  1. Attending, Acknowledging
  2. Restating, Paraphrasing
  3. Reflecting
  4. Interpreting
  5. Summarizing, synthesizing
  6. Probing
  7. Giving feedback
  8. Supporting
  9. Checking perceptions
  10.  Being quiet

Research on the techniques and attitudes required for active listening show it to be a skill as engaging as playing a sport. This should be good news for people whose mind is so active that they often end up talking more than they listen. It is possible to get better at both.

A New Age for Collaboration

Howard Rheingold, writer, artist and designer, theorist and community builder, delivered a humorous and insightful talk on TED.com called The New Power of Collaboration. A long-time observer of technology and its implications for communities, he will get you thinking about what all of the coming technology might mean for you in terms of collaboration. Particularly appealing is his idea that evolution, or at least our understanding of it, is moving away from competition for domination, and toward cooperation for survival.

You can download an ACTIVE LISTENING MANDALA, summarizing ideas in this article. All of the articles and downloads in the series can be found on Time For a Change GOALSCAPE Connect.

Find a worthy person as a collaboration partner, open your ears, your mind, and your notebook, and see how incredibly much there is to learn.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

According to neuroscientists, vision is central to our senses, and is closely integrated with our other senses in terms of spatial orientation, balance, and other ways in which we navigate our environment. Thomas Politzer, O.D., wrote in an article entitled Vision is Our Dominant Sense,  that “Research estimates that eighty to eighty five percent of our perception, learning, cognition and activities are mediated through vision.”

If that be the case, it makes enormous sense that we integrate more visual elements into our note taking and communications. Visual communication has far more bandwidth than text, and is the fast lane to better memory, enhanced emotion, and greater influence.

Image training is an integral part of goal achievement and enhanced performance in sports, music, and business. Ask any golfer, violinist, or entrepreneur if they use visualization in practice and performance. Better yet, ask them if they could even perform at all without it!

GOALSCAPE software is designed to improve focus, accelerate action, and achieve goals. Would you like to know how to increase its power by many orders of magnitude?

Enhance your Goalscapes with images!

There are nine basic graphical elements that you can add to a Goalscape file by using the attachment function under the paperclip icon tab in the Notes view.

I have created a Chart called Visually Dynamic Goalscapes on GOALSCAPE Connect, which includes each of the following elements. First read what they are, then click on the link below to go inside the chart to see what they look like, and how they relate to the text in the Notes view.

  • Video. Clicking on the center of the Goalscape, Visually Dynamic Goalscapes, opens the Notes view that contains links to my 33 minute Video interview of Guy Kawasaki.
  • Photo. Clicking on the section of the Goalscape called Photos opens the Notes view with a brief description of the man and the interview. Under the Paperclip tab you can find a Photo taken during that SKYPE interview.
  • Sketch. Clicking on the section of the Goalscape called Sketches opens the Notes view with a description of one of the scenes from the interview, for which I drew a Sketch of Guy Kawasaki that you can find under the Paperclip tab.
  • Mind Map. The interview got me thinking about style and originality, so I created a Mind Map exploring how you can go about generating original ideas to give your presentations more style and originality, which you can view or download as a PNG or PDF file under the Paperclip tab.
  • Matrix Chart. In this section are further thoughts on how our personality type gives us our natural strengths and talents, and how this is depicted in the Wealth Dynamics Square Matrix Chart, which you view under the Paperclip tab.
  • 3D Timeline. Even time can be depicted in a graphic way. Under this section, I posted a Beedocs 3D Timeline of my own life path in developing original ideas, which you can view under the Paperclip tab.
  • Numbers Graph. The experience of Flow is essential in developing original ideas, as well as in enjoying life! Under Numbers Graph section you can find a brief description, and under the Paperclip tab a 3D Graph of the Flow experience working for another company vs being self-employed.
  • Flow Chart. In this section I posted a description of how to create a Life Map using the visual elements described in a Flow Chart, posted under the Paperclip tab.
  • Mandala Chart. And we return to the Mother of all Matrices, the Mandala Chart, which is briefly described as a summary of this article, and posted for downloading under the Paperclip tab of this section.

To fully appreciate the power of uploading visual content to your Goalscape, I encourage you to take the mini-tour and experience the potential of telling your story with visual elements.

You can view and download the contents for this article on GOALSCAPE Connect by clicking on Visually Dynamic Goalscapes.

[NOTE: this file can only be viewed with a Flash enabled browser, so you will not yet be able to view it on an iPhone or iPad, but you can on a Mac or PC browser]

Download the VISUALLY DYNAMIC GOALSCAPE MANDALA to get an overview of the various types of graphics and images which you can attach to Goalscape for viewing or sharing.

Don’t STOP there!

It is one thing to appreciate the potential of visual thinking and Goalscape by looking at an example. It is another, and far more valuable thing to experience the process for yourself. Moreover, you can do so by downloading a trial version of the GOALSCAPE software with full functionality. Try creating and uploading some images of your own. It is best to create your own, but if the file is for your own private use you can easily find images on the Internet. Try to connect them to telling a story, making a point, or helping you to visualize and reach a goal. Taking that action may be all the catalyst you need to set your project in motion.

Time For a Change #12: Get More Done in Less Time

by William Reed on April 26, 2012

Rethinking Time

The characters in Japanese for the word time (時間 jikan) literally mean time-interval, or space of time. This is an interesting perspective, because it joins two concepts that in English are treated as separate things. Einstein spoke of space-time in the context of the Principle of Relativity, but that branch of Physics is still beyond the average person’s comprehension. For most people, time is something more closely associated with the clock and the calendar.

Consequently, when people think about how to get more done in less time, they usually focus on how to work faster or more efficiently, as if productivity against the clock was the ultimate objective measure. The production line mentality still holds sway over the way many people experience time. It is high time that we rethink that proposition.

From one perspective, time matters a lot. You may have noticed that time seems to fly faster as you get older. I remember commenting to a friend on my 16th birthday that the year seemed to have gone by quickly. My friend’s father, who must have been in his 50s, overheard me say that and said to us, “Boys, when you get to be my age, the decades just fly by.” The usual explanation for this is that one year is a smaller fraction of the whole for a 50 year old than for a 5 year old. Nevertheless, as time goes by you tend to appreciate how much it matters. Whether or not time is on your side depends a lot on how well you appreciate and use time. If you look back on what has gone well in your life, you realize that timing is everything.

From another perspective, time doesn’t matter much at all. It isn’t the quantity of time that you spend with people so much as the quality that you remember. The way we experience time is a lot more relative than the way it is measured in minutes and hours. If you are having fun and deeply engaged then 8 hours can pass very quickly, whereas if you are stuck in a boring job the minutes seem like hours.

Synchronicity is the phenomenon in which things occur simultaneously that cannot be explained with any apparent connection. A person suddenly mentions a thing that you were just thinking about. A friend calls you just as you pick up the phone to call them. A discovery or invention is made by two people at the same time living in different countries, despite having no apparent connection or communication between them. We are connected in mysterious ways that are  not bound by time and space.

The art of getting things done

If you want to get more done in less time, a good strategy is actually to do less, but to focus on doing the things that matter most. This is the thinking behind the 80/20 rule, which states that 80% of your results come from 20% of your activities. Manage the things that make a difference, and you will see that small efforts can produce big results.

If you focus too much on perfection your work will never be done. Better to focus on the process, leaving yourself room to breathe. It is not worth sacrificing your days for the sake of filling up all of the time you have with work.

The oriental game of Go has a fascinating strategy that can apply to life as well. Black and white stones are placed on the intersections of vertical and horizontal lines on the Go board, the purpose being to surround territory by surrounding and capturing the opponent’s stones, while maintaining breathing space for your own stones. Go strategy involves playing the whole board and connecting your stone groups across the board. If you play too tightly by concentrating on one of the corners, you end up missing the big picture and losing the game. The connections are not obvious until the mid-game, except to the experienced eye, which sees time in terms of space, not in local logical steps.

In his book Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell refers to the “10,000 hour rule,” which applies in many endeavors from sports to music, whereby world class success seems to depend in part on quantity, not years of practice but the number of hours of deep practice, focused, intentional, quality practice time. Such people not only practice, but also perform more consistently in a Flow state, described in Flow Psychology as a state of full immersion and joy in the task. One of the characteristics of being in Flow is a distortion of the sense of time. Hours can pass like minutes, making you wonder where did the time go? Time can also slow down, in sports when the ball seems to travel in slow motion. It is accompanied by a feeling of spontaneous joy, and freedom from the clock. People in the Flow state are also more likely to be successful, and get better results.

Common sense

Voltaire said that “Common sense is not so common.” It is therefore worth reviewing a few common sense approaches when it comes to getting more done in less time.

  • Eliminate. Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Shorten your To Do List, and just focus on those things that matter most. Don’t get caught up in trying to do a task more efficiently, without first asking if it is the right task. Free your mind by striving first to be more effective.
  • Outsource. Trying to do everything yourself is not only futile, it is downright foolish. Just because you can is not always the best reason that you should do something yourself. Look for ways to free up your time by paying or training someone else to do the task for you. Instead of yielding to the seductive lure of routine, look for shortcuts that can save you time.
  • Right Tools. A good craftsperson is very particular about their tools. One of the most effective ways to get more done in less time is to select the right tools, and leverage them to accomplish more. Whatever your trade, tools save you time.

No regrets

A Catholic Priest once commented that of the many last rites he had performed for dying people, most of them expressed far more regret for what they did not do in life, than what they had done. Their primary regret was for a life not fully lived, dreams left unattended, words left unsaid.

If you want to live life with no regrets, it is important to attend to your dreams and work on your chosen goals. Your dream calls to you constantly, if you can just free yourself from the illusions of time which pull you away from it. When you are selecting your tools, be sure to consider GOALSCAPE as the tool of tools, because it helps you gain perspective and focus on those things which matter most.

Download a TIME MANDALA as a reminder of the attitudes and approaches that can help you get more done in less time.

The Curse of Linear Thinking

Goal directed thinking is useful, but can cause problems when pursued in a linear fashion. Linear thinking is easier because it ignores complexity and chaos. The future is seen as a simple extension from the past through the present in the same direction. This is behind our ideas of progress, our system of step by step education ending in graduation, and climbing the ladder of success.

The problem is that life is rarely so simple, people are seldom so cooperative, and even nature itself seems averse to straight lines. Chinese tradition held that demons traveled in straight lines. Curved rooftops were designed to ward off evil, Chinese laborers wildly resisted the laying of railway tracks in straight lines.

A new perspective makes us consider that the shortest distance between two points may in fact not be a straight line.

Big promises and hidden agendas

Have you ever taken on a job or a project that was promised to be a certain way, but turned out to be quite different, and in fact significantly harder or less pleasant than promised? Things promised in a straight line fashion often end up seriously misrepresenting the reality of the situation. Look out for the hidden agenda.

Whether you are choosing a college major, making a career decision, or enrolling in professional training, these programs are often delivered with a promise of a predictable path. Think carefully before you commit to such a path. What assumptions are they making? Do they clearly show where they are taking you? You can get a better idea if you ask what kind of changes they anticipate. Awareness of change ahead implies flexibility in steering. Ignorance of change reveals a one track mind.

Have an exit strategy

It the job does turn out to be other than promised, instead of Career Promised Land, you may find yourself in Career Purgatory, or worse. You may have started out on the straight track, but somewhere along the line someone pulled a railroad switch, and you ended up on a track traveling in another direction altogether. This has happened to me, and perhaps to you as well.

Rather than wasting energy assigning blame, better to have a plan for getting out or moving on. Do you have a safety net and a clear idea of where you want to go? If not, you may find yourself jumping out of the frying pan and right into the fire.

In planning your exit strategy it can be helpful to speak to the veterans who have been there, as well as to those who may have already left. Of course their experience is not the same as yours, but it can help you see the situation more clearly.

Stairway to…?

Beware the lure of linear thinking. Success is not a ladder to climb, but rather finding happiness in the pursuit of goals that really matter to you. It is easy to become persuaded that you need to take intermediate steps first to eventually reach your goal. However, these steps may not lead you where you want to go, but instead on a detour toward something else.

From where you stand now, you may not be able to see very well what is ahead. Rather than gazing hard in one direction, you may find more clarity by getting into in a new environment altogether. A walk in the woods, a conversation in a cafe, a getaway vacation, a change in your routine can give you a different vantage point from which to view your current situation.

Get a fresh perspective

The best cure for linear thinking is 360-degree awareness, taking in the whole rather than looking in a single direction. The character 観 (kan) means vision or perspective. It depicts a stork standing in a state of awareness, not staring but seeing with great clarity. It is this commanding view that gives you a better vantage, an advantage.

This viewing point can take the form of stories, even parallel situations from another time and place. Keep alert and you can learn lessons without getting lost in linear thinking, or ending up on someone else’s track.

An excellent way to step out of linear thinking but remain goal focused is to use GOALSCAPE software, which helps you visualize, track, and achieve your goals with 360-degree awareness.

Download a PERSPECTIVE MANDALA to review these ideas, and free yourself from the trap of linear thinking as you pursue your goals in life.

Editor’s Note: Self-Portrait and Calligraphy by William Reed. 観 (kan) means vision or perspective.

Melodius Beans

The character shown here is the word for Abundance (豊 yutaka), and interestingly is made of two radicals, the upper radical meaning melody (曲) and the lower radical meaning bean (豆).

It may take a stretch of the imagination to connect melodious beans to abundance, wealth, and richness, but it is a happy image, and abundance is different from the scarcity mentality which leads to winner-takes-all competition.

Beans take on a magical quality also in the classic children’s tale Jack and the Beanstalk, in which Jack is first portrayed as a fool giving away the family cow for a set of “magic” beans, which however then grow into a giant beanstalk towering above the clouds, and eventually to great riches stolen from the ogre’s cave. You can probably still recite the ogre’s lines from the tale, “Fee-Fi-Fo-Fum, I smell the blood of an Englishman.” This is a moral tale of trust and courage eventually leading to great reward, lessons that apply as much to adults as to children.

In Japanese there is an expression called mame ni hataraku, which is often understood to mean work like a bean, that is diligently and full focus. Although the word mame does mean bean, in this expression it is written with characters that give it an interesting nuance. 忠実 (chūjitsu, mame) means loyal or fully engaged, being made of the radicals for centered 中 mind 心 and to bear fruit or results 実. This expresses the wisdom that although the bean appears small and humble, it can grow into something great. Although our work may appear to be small and humble, with a centered focused mind it can also produce something great.

Time is Money

Benjamin Franklin is famous for having penned the phrase that Time is Money, though the earliest known appearance of the phrase was in the book Maxim (430 BC), by the Greek orator Antiphon. This is ancient acknowledgement that time is precious, and not to be wasted.

It is not just idleness that wastes time. Dealing with the wrong people and spending your energy on the wrong activities can also waste your time. From another perspective, time wrongly spent can leave a person wasted. This applies of course not just to money and health, but also that if we let time slip by, opportunity can be missed or wasted.

Despite the associations of this phrase with diligence, real opportunities often come in short spaces of time. Opportunity knocks, but doesn’t linger long waiting for a reply. Significant change often comes about in quantum bursts, triggered by decision and action. Perhaps in the broader meaning you could say that time is opportunity.

Wealth Network vs Poverty Network

Roger J. Hamilton, founder of Wealth Dynamics, says that we create wealth by leveraging our value, and this is done largely through the people that we associate with. He further describes the anatomy of our network as consisting of 3 tiers and 12 types of people who ultimately determine how our fortunes rise or fall.

Our Resource Network consists of Advisors, Opportunists, and Financiers; the people who can most significantly lend power, energy, and ideas to our projects, and help launch us to a new level. More closely we are surrounded by our Support Network, consisting of Advocates, Peers, and Supporters; the people who provide us with encouragement, endorsement, and emotional support.

Often not recognized because they may include friends and family, we also have a Poverty Network; consisting of Doomsayers, Doubters, Passengers, and Distractors. They may be friendly and well-meaning, but ultimately they can drag you down or keep you in poverty because they carry  with them a scarcity mentality that is contagious as a cold. Help them if you can, but take care that you do not share in the attitude that you must somehow slave for a living.

Craig Valentine, the founder of World Class Speaking, describes how you can take the lid off of a barrel full of crabs and none will escape. Whenever one crab tries to climb out, it is immediately pulled back down by the other crabs in the barrel. Crabby people do the same, because misery loves company.

We also have a Production Network, consisting of Managers, and our Team. These are the people who help make things happen. In order to generate wealth you need to have products or a service that you can sell. What is your product? Do you have a production process that can help you create and deliver your value to others? Consider who the people in your network are, and what position they occupy in your Wealth Network.

4 C’s in Opportunity

Once you have identified the people in your network, then you can find ways to engage them by clarifying your content, and then connecting with them through communication and collaboration. Here are 4 C’s to help you make the most of your opportunities with other people.

Collect your resources

Find containers to collect your output over time. This can be a blog, a diary, a book, a product, anything which takes a shape that remains over time for other people to recognize its value and potential. And that value will grow over time as the contents become increasingly relevant.

Connect with people

Find networks to connect with people over space. This can be a group or association, online or offline, any group that regularly communicates and trades through a system over the same channels, and one which grows stronger by association. That value too will grow over time as your contribution to the network becomes increasingly evident.

Collaborate on projects

Form partnerships to collaborate with others whose resources and networks complement and enhance your own. This can be a project, a product, a company, or even volunteer venture based on trust, similar values, and mutual merit, a bond which strengthens through action. The value of this too will increase through synergy, as the value of the partnership exceeds the value of the separate partners.

Celebrate by sharing

Make commitments to share the benefits with others who recognize your value and want to share in the process. This can be a social enterprise, donation of money or services, teaching process, or rally of support, one which gains momentum through inspiration and gratitude.

If you can value and use time in this way, you will never lack for ideas or support.

Make a Difference

At the end of the day, and throughout your life, the important question is did you leave the world a better place than you found it? Did you make a positive difference? Your real legacy is the influence that you have and have had on other people.

Ask yourself how you will be remembered, and how you want to be remembered? It is never too late to do something about it.

Carpe Diem: seize the day. This ancient advice still rings true, but it doesn’t contain any instructions  as to how it is done. Each person must find that answer for himself or herself. Whatever your answer you will be more successful if you have clear goals and keep focused.

The 80/20 principle states that 80% of the results come from 20% of the activities, the ones that matter most. For this we recommend a powerful software tool called GOALSCAPE, which can help you visualize, track, and achieve your Goals, and really make a difference in a way that most matters to you and other people.

You can download a WEALTH NETWORK MANDALA which summaries each of these ideas and strategies in key phrases for review and application. Take care the company you keep, and take care of the people you care about. As you feed and provide for your network, it will feed and provide for you.

Growing into Interdependence

In the Flexible Focus Series we looked at the first principle of the Mandala Chart, Interdependence. That article looked at the 3 stages of growth, from dependence, to independence, to interdependence, and six steps to continuous improvement which can facilitate this growth process.

Once you begin to grow through Interdependence, a whole new set of factors come into play which enable you to cultivate and strengthen your relationships with other people, and with the universe itself.

To a small child the world revives around the self in a state of dependence. The baby cries when unhappy, and like magic mother takes care of all needs. This is a natural and healthy way for a baby to grow. However, in some people although the physical growth process continues, psychologically they remain needy and dependent, creating all kinds of problems for themselves and others.

At some stage before or after the age of 20, we come to seek independence. This is an important stage of growth, and essential to survival. However, it is also possible to become stuck in the appealing misconception that everything that happens depends on you. This is the world of the lone wolf entrepreneur, the rebel, the self-made man, and the independent woman. It can wear you down and end in a state of total exhaustion. Like Atlas trying to carry the entire world on his shoulders, in the end the burden is to great to bear.

Ultimately, and according to Carl Jung usually before or after the age of 50, you grow to seek interdependence. This is a more mature state, but unlike the two previous stages, there is no limit or limitation to the degree of connectivity you can have to the universe you live in. It is as limitless and inexhaustible as the universe itself.

That being said, the challenge is how you go about proactively and creatively cultivating this connectivity.

The Interface Connection

The character for 縁 (en) means interface, connection, and karma. It is often used to express a lucky meeting of people, an auspicious mingling of minds that produces blessings and benefits for those who become connected. It is often considered to be serendipitous, unsought but extremely lucky, and somehow meant to happen. You can have this connection with people, ideas, and places. It is a wonderful thing to experience, and one of the great mysteries of life.

While it happens through seemingly coincidental events, in fact synchronicity is deeply connected below the surface of awareness, and is not as accidental as it appears. It is possible to facilitate this process of positive change through mindful living, and paying attention to eight important factors in the interface connection.

  • Attitude. Our experience and even what we see or do not see is conditioned to a large degree by what how we look at things. This has been proved in psychology experiments such as the Invisible Gorilla Experiment, which shows how people not only overlook the obvious, but even completely miss the totally outrageous when it stares them in the face. It is also well known that a positive disposition will make you happy, whereas a gloomy outlook casts a pall over everything and everyone. You find what you look for, so it only makes sense to cultivate a positive attitude.
  • Gratitude.  When you become aware of interdependence there is a dawning awareness that all of the things that you have, all the things that you have become, depend in some important way on the help you received from other people. You didn’t do it all by yourself, and therefore it is only natural to appreciate and show your gratitude, not only in your heart by in your words and deeds. Find deeper ways to show your appreciation, and you will deepen your connection to other people.
  • Association.  Of all of the people who can help you grow and increase your connectivity, it is the great teachers in your life who can create the most change. You most likely will not find them in school, though there are lucky exceptions. One reason why you are more likely to find a great teacher outside of school is that you have to seek them out, and the awareness and desire to fill the gap in your knowledge and skills is also an important part of interdependence. Choose carefully the people that you spend your time with, as they can either buoy you up or drag you down. Energy is what guides the relationship, so keep your energy positive and alive.
  • Communication.  Many self-proclaimed great communicators are in fact poor listeners. So anxious to convey their own message, they forget to find out whether or in what way the other person might care. It is important to catch the atmosphere and mood of the people you are with, whether it is a small group or a large audience. A good way to gauge this is to ask great questions. Not only will you learn more, but good questions will open up hearts and minds. Once the flow of communication is there, you can enhance it wonderfully with the art of telling a story. This is what keeps people there, and makes them want to come back for more.
  • Collaboration.  The notion of accumulating resources is based on the independent mentality, storing up for the future so that you will have enough for yourself. The interdependent mentality thinks differently. Rather than adding resources, it jumps to a new level by multiplying resources, matching your own resources with those of another through collaboration. However, it is vitally important to choose the right collaboration partner. If you have something good, many people will be attracted to it, but not all of them have the best intentions. If you have money, beware the gold diggers. If you have talent, beware the agents and producers. Work with people whose resources complement but do not compete with yours. The real test of a good collaboration is that all parties are essential to the partnership. Otherwise they will suck out of you what they can, and then leave the relationship which never existed in the first place, no matter how friendly the early approach may have been.
  • Spaces.  Pay attention to ambience, the power of the place and the way it influences the people in it. Of course the place itself can be transformed by the energy of the people present. Ambience is enhanced through the five senses, plus the sixth sense of intuition. A space is like a stage, which can be set with lighting, color, and furniture, and enhanced through music, food, plants, even pets. It is a small universe that responds and creates response. A highly enjoyable way to increase your connectivity. Develop your own sense of presence so that you can be the master of the space wherever you travel.
  • Words.  The power of words is magic. Words can captivate, entrance, enrage, or engage. The power of the Word is recognized in all religions, and is the driving force of culture. Choose your words and phrases in such a way to enhance and reinforce your relationships, as well as remember your experiences. Words can be expressed in multiple dimensions. The tone and quality of the voice carries words when spoken or sung. There is the power of the written word in literature, and the transformational effect of brush calligraphy in art. Words are a wonderful bridge to the world.
  • Anchors.  We anchor our experiences in various ways, through imagery, metaphors, anecdotes, emotions. Those which are well anchored can be triggered through the smallest of reminders, a scent, a melody, a phrase. When you are centered you have more impact in your communication. It is as if you words have more weight, more substance, greater power to spread and take root. Anchors can be reinforced by going back to relive, revive, and remember your experiences. This is the power of a diary, and one of the driving forces behind social media.

You can download a CONNECTION MANDALA which summarizes these ideas as a reminder and a gauge of your level of connectivity through Interdependence.

Editor’s Note: The image (provided by www.toyouke.co.jp) depicts character for 縁 (en, connection), painted by William Reed on a charcoal egg.

Time For a Change #8: Health For Life

by William Reed on March 29, 2012

As long as you shall live

Isn’t this as long as you would like to have health? As long as you deserve health? Is it possible at least to have better control and more choice in experiencing ongoing health?

Look at the list of theoretically preventable diseases induced by chronic stress, ailments and illnesses which are cardiovascular, immune related, respiratory, digestive, headaches, backaches, and even cancer. Given the commonality of these ailments, and the huge medical and pharmaceutical industry that has sprung up around them, it would seem that it is difficult to navigate the labyrinth of life without falling prey to one or another of these. And that is if you can also avoid accidents, natural or unnatural disasters. Moreover, in the conventional “wisdom” there is always a second opinion, and a third…

Rather than succumbing to statistics, or conditioning ourselves to attract the things we most fear, perhaps we can forget all of that and take a fresh new perspective. What if we saw health not as something defined by the doctor, but as the feeling of being alive? What if we could develop the ability to partake of the life force just as we breathe air and drink water?

We can free ourselves from the conventional customs that have created so many of these ailments, including our own bad habits and behaviors. It is possible to experience health as never before, if you approach it in a new way.

Eight degrees of freedom

I suggest 8 categories you can use for Health: Food, Movement, Breathing, Sleep, Skinship, Resilience, Humor, and Love. Download a HEALTH MANDALA featuring each of these categories, so that you can begin to create your own customized approach to a healthy lifestyle. I selected these categories because they are broad enough to contain both traditional and alternative approaches to health. They have all been demonstrated to have an impact on our health and well-being. Each category covers an area over which you have some control, and in which you can make improvements. Follow these eight degrees of freedom and it will release you from the path of the beaten.

Remember that no one pattern fits all. The results you get depend on the actions you take. Health is ultimately a combination of your genetic predisposition, the cumulative effects of your lifestyle and discipline, and your mental attitude. All of these combine to make the difference, so it makes sense to take a comprehensive approach.

Without recommending any particular health method or system, here are some of the factors to consider when you incorporate these elements in your lifestyle.

  1. Food: The quality and quantity of what you eat, food combinations, preparation, diet, cuisine, as well as your enjoyment and beliefs about food.
  2. Movement: How you use and treat your body, the quality and frequency of your movement, how you practice, enjoy, and improve, as well as the mind-body connection.
  3. Breathing: The quality and depth of your breathing, how you use your breath in movement and speaking, as well as the connection between breathing and awareness.
  4. Sleep: Your sleep patterns and comfort, regularity, depth, and quality of your sleep, short naps, dreams, as well as relaxation and recovery.
  5. Skinship: Connection to your environment and to other people, hygiene, sensory experience, sexuality, as well as your aura and radiant energy.
  6. Resilience: Your ability to survive experiences unscathed, to make a comeback physically and mentally, as well as your spirit of continuous engagement.
  7. Humor: Laughter as a sign of a relaxed attitude, an open heart and a positive spirit, as well as the ability to enjoy life and make others feel good.
  8. Love: Taking good care of yourself and the ones you love, the spirit of giving and protection, as well as the power of healing.

Beating the odds

Here is a way of beating the odds presented in conventional “wisdom” which dictate the way most people think about health. Don’t build the platform for your health on a single idea. Diet will not save you, nor exercise, nor supplements, nor clean air. The strength of a chain is measured by its weakest link. Even if you manage to follow a nearly ideal regimen in one area, there is no guarantee that it will be strong enough to support your overall health. Let the elements you assemble in the eight areas of health form a far stronger safety net.

Assess your health by looking at the areas in which you hold the trump cards. Use them to help you overcome stress and even illness when you need to. Look also at the areas in which you can improve through training, changes in behavior, or specific action steps. Get coaching in the areas where you want to learn and when you need help. A positive attitude toward health over time can come to your rescue by tapping into deeper sources of energy. These are the resources that help in overcoming environmental influences and genetic predispositions, and help turn the odds in your favor.

Science is not as certain as it seems, as good scientists readily admit. There are many factors at work which we cannot see, for we do not live in a laboratory. We can encourage a healthy mix of elements that make us feel alive.

Health is life energy

Strive to increase it and share your energy of health with others. The goal is not to pretend that you can live forever, but rather to be full of energy and life as long as you live.

Time For a Change #7: Resolving Your Dilemma

by William Reed on March 22, 2012

Make up Your Mind

One thing is certain, at some time in your life you have had and will have trouble making a decision about something important. In your career, in a relationship, a financial decision, or your health, sooner or later you will face the dilemma of a difficult decision.

A dilemma is a choice between equally undesirable alternatives, or a choice that implies sacrificing something you want to keep. Boxed in a corner, facing a predicament, damned if you do and damned if you don’t, our language is filled with expressions that describe this unpleasant bind.

Going back and forth in your mind, you end up going nowhere. This can exhaust your energy with worry, and excessive analysis can lead to paralysis. It is like sitting on a railroad track with the train coming, and wondering whether you should get off the tracks on the right side or the left! The real problem is not which side you choose, but the greater risk of postponing the decision at all.

What appears to be a complex decision is often just a complex state of mind. In the light of day circumstances are simple. There is no need to press the panic button. Better to cultivate a bias for action.

The matrix makes you smarter

When you cannot make an immediate decision, it can be helpful to map out your problem on a 2×2 matrix. Eight Archetypal Dilemmas are described in The Power of the 2 x 2 Matrix: Using 2 x 2 Thinking to Solve Business Problems and Make Better Decisions, by Alex Lowy and Phil Hood. Each of these dilemmas can be put into perspective using a 2×2 matrix.

  • Head vs Heart. The dilemma of being caught between thoughts and feelings is central to the human drama. This theme runs throughout literature and mythology. A matrix allows you to separate the two opposites into four quadrants by matching thought and feeling in terms of whether you give it a higher or lower priority.
  • Inside vs Outside. This can apply to families, to organizations, or any entity that separates itself from other entities. The difference is what defines the identity of the group, and at the same time creates tension when the difference is pronounced. A common theme is where the rate or type of change differs inside and out, and what impact it has.
  • Cost vs Benefit. The key to solving this dilemma is determining whether the benefits outweight the costs, or more subtly, if a cost should actually be seen as an investment that can bring benefits over time. That depends on many factors, such as whether or not the investment is cultivated to create benefits, or simply ends up as a wasteful expense. In the absence of an absolute answer, the decision is often influenced by personal preference.
  • Product vs. Market. Needs and wants are hard to predict. The popularity of a product may depend as much on how well it is promoted as on how well it actually meets consumer needs. The key to making sense of this is to use a matrix that matches product and market in terms of what exists and what is new.
  • Change vs. Stability. Who can say whether it is better to change, or to maintain the status quo? Conservative and progressive are relative terms, and over time one can look very much like the other, as people swing between one extreme to the other.
  • Know vs. Don’t Know. The benefit of mapping issues of known vs unknown is that it can clarify whether or not you actually know something. Knowledge is often a mask for ignorance. People who achieve deep mastery in a field may come to a realization of how little they actually know, approaching the Zen state of the Beginner’s Mind, open to new discovery rather than closed in conclusion.
  • Competing Priorities. A common dilemma is the experience of the pressure to be in two places at the same time, or to dedicate equal time when time is scarce. Both require attention, both are important, and yet there are not enough hours in the day. It takes a creative mind to have both-and rather than deciding between either-or.
  • Content vs. Process. Do you follow the manual, or go on your experience? If what was more important than how then anyone could be a master chef. Knowing the recipe is not the same as being able to cook a masterful meal. And yet processes must be standardized to some degree or they cannot be repeated. Like each of the other archetypes, it is not choosing one or the other, but rather both of the opposites balanced in an yin and yang embrace.

You can make sense of these eight archetypes by downloading here a DECISION MATRIX Mandala that summarizes the 2×2 matices on a 3×3 matrix.

Unity of thought and action

The Mandala Chart, or 3×3 matrix helps you step up to a higher perspective. To paraphrase Einstein, it shows that a dilemma cannot be solved at the same level it was created. The insight which solves your problem is often the realization that it cannot be solved just by thinking about it. The Japanese word 覚悟 (kakugo) means to resolve, literally to wake up 覚 and realize 悟. An awakening triggers the resolution to action.

The confusion clears when you are decisive enough to no longer separate thought and action. Variations on the philosophy of unity of thought and action can be found in the culture of the Samurai, in the life and works of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Leonardo da Vinci, and Peter Drucker.

The next time you face a dilemma, give it some thought but take some action, and it will be much better for you if you maintain a blend of the two.

Time For a Change #6: Meeting Your Agenda

by William Reed on March 15, 2012

Raising the energy level of your meetings

We usually assume that an agenda is something prepared for a meeting, but unless the goals of the meeting are quite clear, it is likely that we will not meet our agenda.

A meeting can be a form of successful collaboration, or it can be a mindless ritual that saps your energy and time. What makes the difference is clarity of purpose, and a commitment to work as effectively as possible within the time available.

To truly meet your agenda you need to understand your circumstances and your objectives, and not simply pile on a list of things to do. The essential ingredient which determines the success or failure of any meeting is communication.

A highly practical model to understand communication was developed by Roger J. Hamilton, the founder of Wealth Dynamics, and Asia’s leading Wealth Consultant. Roger makes the distinction that communication contains a spectrum of four energy levels: Exchange, Connect, Motivate, and Inspire. While meetings are organized with best intentions, ask yourself at what level are most corporate meetings conducted? How often have you attended a meeting at which information is exchanged in a strange volley of suggesting and then shooting down each new idea that is presented?

The idea generators focus on possibilities, and suggest new things to do, or new ways of doing things. The idea critics focus on reasons why those ideas would not work, and therefore should be abandoned. This is demotivating for both sides. Mere idea exchange is a form of corporate wheel spinning, because without achieving any traction, there can be no effective action.

People connect when they get the goals at a gut level. Something clicks when the ideas and actions presented make sense not only at a logical level, but also at an emotional and intuitive level. Still nothing changes until people take this connection and do something with it.

Although the energy improves when people at the meeting become motivated, problems occur when the motivation is not shared by other members of the team, or when it lasts only as long as the meeting, and is soon forgotten on returning to the daily grind.

The reason we aspire to inspire is that inspiration lights the fire of internal motivation, and leads to action that does not need to be driven from the outside. Inspiration is self-sustaining.

Improving your LUCK

O, Fortuna! Since Ancient Greece and before humankind have been interested in improving its fortune. And yet the Wheel of Fortune is often portrayed as something whimsical, to which you need a magical connection for it to shine on you. Las Vegas thrives on the theme of Luck be a Lady Tonight! And yet when you look closely at those who are considered lucky in love, in business, and in life, you see that there are elements at work over which we all have some control.

One of the tenets of Wealth Dynamics is that LUCK is no accident. It is constructed of four elements that are easy to remember, yet not so easy to practice.

LOCATION

Location is the mantra in retail sales as the secret to success, but location is extremely important to success in any endeavor in life. The mood of a place can kindle or kill your enthusiasm. The decor of a room can affect how well you learn and what you remember. Environment is very important, and fortunately we can often do something about it, even if it means changing your physical location. In Japanese it is called 場 (ba) and is the primary focus when people set about trying to make improvements.

UNDERSTANDING

Understanding starts with seeing, not just on the surface, but deep behind the obvious. The character for 観 (kan) depicts a stork silent but fully aware of any movement. We need awareness, and an openness to see with the eyes of understanding, rather than judging the situation with blind eyes.

CONNECTIONS

Rather than starting a meeting with what you want to say, find out what information, experience, and emotions you have in common that are connected to the meeting agenda. Make sure that everyone feels connected and involved at some level. The character for 縁 (en) means edge, interface, connection, or relationship. It is frequently used to highlight how you are connected to another person, often in a surprising or synchronistic way.

KNOWLEDGE

The lowest component in communication is data, which can be assembled to create knowledge. However, knowledge only becomes useful when it is transformed into experience and wisdom. People easily assume that they know something just having heard about it. Socrates said that the beginning of wisdom was the realization that you know next to nothing. There is always more to learn, if you have the qualities of humility and curiosity in the right blend. The character for 知 (chi) means knowledge, but knowing at a deeper level. When you have this kind of knowledge you earn peoples’ trust through your natural authority and authenticity. Knowledge must then transform into action.

Download a Mandala Chart which summarizes these ideas with questions that will help you in Improving Your LUCK.

These words go deeper than their superficial meanings, and when you can combine them you get the magic winning hand! Your LUCK will naturally improve, and your meetings will meet the agenda with action and results.