Posts Tagged ‘management’

I woke up from a dream this morning that made me question: “Really?” It was only the last few seconds of the dream that seemed so profound. It was a children’s choir – all boys, and they were singing a Christmas song. The only lyric I heard was:  “Gift me with my enemies and my ministers.” This is a pretty profound phrase, especially for a group of youngsters to be singing as a Christmas song.

My Enemies

My enemies infuse me with intense emotions – rage, hatred, vile condemnation and contempt. Judgments are automatic, so much so I don’t even know that I’m judging. How I respond, more often than not is a knee jerk reaction. I’m inflamed and my actions inflammatory. I want to violate them as they have violated me based on my sense of what’s right and wrong, good and bad. I want to wipe them off the planet so that I can live peacefully. However …

What I know is that my enemies are my best teachers. They reflect what I most hate in the world and most likely (like about 100%) they reflect aspects of myself that I do not wish to acknowledge or own. When my enemies are around, I have no doubt, I have something to learn.

My Ministers

Ministers are also my teachers, my coaches and counselors. They are my thinking partners, who also reflect back to me, through deep listening and questioning, how aligned I am with my highest truths and how I may be ignoring or distracting myself from the ways I’ve contributed to the very violence I hate in my adversaries. These wise beings bring my attention to the learnings so available for me by embracing the enemy as my long lost lover.

Sometimes, though, in the company of my enemies I retreat, hide and disappear into a myriad of disguises to protect myself from harm and from looking bad. I may throw stones from behind a barrier and pretend it’s not me at all who is engaged in warfare. I disown my anger, my feelings of righteousness and indignation. “It wasn’t me!” I exclaim with defensiveness and contempt for having been accused unjustly.

My ministers inquire regarding my actions, curious as to the origins of my behavior and the thoughts that precipitated them. What has me be blinded to my own truth – in denial (Don’t Even Know I am Lying) of my barbarous attitude and position?

We need our adversaries – our enemies to confront us. They bring out the worst in us and provide opportunities for us to truly reflect on the importance, value and priorities of our hierarchy of desires. We need our ministers, counselors, therapists and coaches to reflect what gifts are available for us by engaging with our enemies.

The Dilemma

Many of us love to hate! It makes us feel good to think violent thoughts and even go to war for what we believe to be right and true. How can we get even, or better yet, how can we be victorious? What if I consider the possibility that my enemies are gifts? What would that mean – what are the consequences of such a consideration?

I’ll tell you right now, I hate the thought of giving up my armor of righteousness and entitlement, because I feel safe, powerful and in control when I can wield them with stealth accuracy. Without them, I believe myself to be defenseless, exposed and vulnerable.

I ask myself – what is considered right? What is considered wrong? Who is responsible for the woes of the world? My ministers smile and with their eyes they inquire into my soul’s wisdom for what is true; and I then, for that moment comprehend that I am an accomplice in all acts of violence on the planet. Only by recognizing the seed of vengeance within me I’m able to receive the gifts of freedom from my enemy.

Through deep discernment and with the support and empowering nature of my ministers am I able to choose to choose to see myself and my enemies differently. Through the annihilation of my own pretence and the shattering of the barriers of them vs. us, am I truly allowed to realize I am my brother/sister’s keeper, and they are mine.

The dilemma as a choice-point shifts when I choose to honor my highest truth and risk losing my attachments, my position, my identity – perhaps even life itself for something much larger than me. I’m working on it!

We, at Active Garage had run this promotion for the free eBook earlier in the year and we are running this again, now. If you find yourself wondering that if the eBook has been available for free download since then, why are we saying we are “running the promotion again”? Valid point.

Here’s why.

The author of the eBook, Mark McGuinness, is opening doors to folks interested in Creative Success, once again, for his amazingly valuable course “The Creative Entrepreneur Roadmap”, for a limited period and seats are limited.

Before you go ahead with making a decision of if this course if for you or not, I would suggest reviewing the blog I had written in January about what being Creative means and who this book (and subsequently, the course) is for (yes, it is not for everyone… ).

There are some great success stories form real folks who have taken this course and produced magical results by directly applying what they have learnt from the course. For instance, there is:

Since the course is now open for only a limited time, you could also directly go to the opt-in page to check it out and register.

To your Continued Success…

Self-Published Authors Need Developmental Editing, Too!

by Roger Parker on October 31, 2011

Self-published authors need developmental editing as much as authors working with trade publishers. No one is immune to the need for a fresh perspective and reality check by an experienced editor.

Unfortunately, many self-published authors don’t get the developmental editing help they need…and their book deserves. There are several reasons for this:

  • Don’t consider it important. Sometimes, self-published authors, especially subject area experts, may feel their experience working in their field eliminates the need for developmental editing. Often, this belief is coupled with offers from family members and friends to “proof” their book for free. A willingness to accept professional input is often based on a misunderstanding of what developmental editing is all about.
  • Don’t know where to get it. Many first-time authors don’t know where to locate developmental editors or how to find a local editor. Even if they search on Google and explore some of the websites that appear, they don’t know what to expect, what to ask, or how to evaluate candidates.
  • Can’t afford it. Finally, many developmental editors simply can’t afford an experienced editor, and avoid the whole issue—rather than exploring what they can do on their own.

What is developmental editing?

Let’s start by analyzing what developmental editing isn’t, and, from there, explore what it is.

Developmental editing is not:

  • Prooreading. Developmental editing isn’t searching for spelling errors, incomplete sentences, misused words, or misspelled words.
  • Checking for grammatical errors. Developmental editing also isn’t grammar checking, i.e., checking for agreement between subjects and verbs, run-on sentences, passive verbs, or overuse of exclamation points! g)
  • Fact checking. Developmental editing also doesn’t get involved with verifying details, ideas, or suggestions.

So, what is developmental editing?

I view developmental editing as pre-publication, multi-step search for coherence, or alignment, between:

  • Books & author goals. Nonfiction, brand-building books aren’t written for creative expression. They’re written to establish the author’s credibility and contribute to future profits. Developmental editing can provide a reality check increasing the likelihood that the author’s writing and publishing goals will be achieved.
  • Books & reader needs. Readers don’t buy business and personal-growth related nonfiction for entertainment or writing style. Books are purchased to solve problems and achieve goals. Developmental editing provides another reality check that tests the ability of the book to help its intended market.
  • Books & their competition. Developmental editing provides an independent perspective on the other books competing for reader attention. The goal is to identify the “missing book,” or the book that’s wanted, but hasn’t been written yet.
  • Coherence within the book. Finally, development editing provides an fresh perspective on how the contents of the book, and its various parts, work together serving the author and reader’s needs.

Basically, pre-publication developmental editing provides a “big picture view” to replace the myopia that authors face writing about topics they know and love.

Developmental editing provides focus and saves time and energy because avoiding mistakes is a lot more efficient than fixing them after they show up.

Developmental editing process

The goal of developmental editing is to save you time, reduce stress and sell more books by working as efficiently as possible. It involves making the right decisions as you plan and write your book.

The best developmental editing approach involves asking, and answering, the questions associated with the 7 key areas involved in writing, marketing, and self-publishing books:

  • Goals. What are your writing and self-publishing goals? How are you going to profit from your book?
  • Readers. Who are your ideal readers, firms and individuals you want to build lasting relationships with?
  • Competition. What are the leading books that your book will be competing with?
  • Position. How can you make your book distinctively different from existing books on your topic?
  • Efficiency. What’s the easiest and fastest way you can get your book into your reader’s hands?
  • Demand. How can you build demand for your book…while you’re writing it?
  • Profit. What are some of the ways you can leverage your book into new opportunities and profits after it’s published?

The power of questions. Questions are powerful developmental editing tools because each time you answer a question, it’s likely to lead to additional questions… This forces you to question your assumptions and explore new options and alternatives.

Do-it-yourself developmental editing resources

Here are some of the ways you can enjoy the benefits developmental editing if you’re not ready to work on a 1-to-1 basis with a developmental editor, or take advantage of the benefits of group coaching.

  • Free do-it-yourself resources. Many developmental editors offer free checklists, podcasts, worksheets and white papers containing valuable ideas. While its still available as a proof, you can also download a copy of my 99 Questions to Ask Before You Write and Self-publish a Brand-building Book. This hands-on PDF workbook provides a step-by-step framework to answering the questions that must be addressed before you start planning and writing your book, guiding you as you create a content plan and business plan for your book.
  • Premium developmental editing resources. There are numerous free online resources that you can search for using terms like “book coach,” “developmental editing,” or “help writing a book and getting published.” You’ll probably find that the problem isn’t locating resources, but keeping track of them, and implementing the ideas you encounter. There are also low-cost, paid online resources that provide a “guided tour” approach to the tasks involved in planning, writing, promoting, and profiting from a book. Often, these resources include online group coaching for subscribing members. 500 pages of articles, checklists, author interviews, and worksheets.

All books require developmental editing

Self-published books need developmental editing as much as books written for large trade publishers. Whether you do the work yourself, or engage a professional developmental editor, you’ll find that developmental editing before and during writing will save you time, reduce stress, and increase the likelihood of your book’s success. What have been your experiences reading self-published books by others or self-publishing your own books? Share your experiences and questions below, as comments.

Leader driven Harmony #42: Working in the Big City

by Mack McKinney on October 29, 2011

It seemed like a small thing but once I finished it, I realized that it was actually a really big deal!  A friend recently left her job in New York City (NYC) and moved to a much smaller city in the southern US.  Today at lunch I saw her file in my Outlook Contacts and when I opened it, noticed that her NYC work address was still there.  As I deleted that address, one character at a time on my Blackberry, I got the most delightful feeling of relief when the last number of the NYC zip code disappeared into the ether!  It was as if I closed a chapter of her life.

I recalled the stress that the City levies on her residents, the constant fear of violent street crime, the challenge of grocery shopping without a car, just the general uneasiness my friend seemed to have whenever I visited her there or we talked on the phone.  She and I watched a drug deal go down across the street from her apartment one summer night.  And the cost of living in Brooklyn was surprisingly high – – -it took almost everything she made to buy the $5 boxes of cereal and the $3 quarts of milk.  And she was always sick.  Sinus infections, a bout of MRSA in a knee that she nicked shaving, a chest cold that wouldn’t go away: There was always something going on with her health.  A physician’s assistant friend told her “Yep, you’ll STAY sick for your first year in NYC because of all the germs that exists there and nowhere else, and the constant influx of immigrants from all over the world – – – nobody has immunity when they first arrive and it takes at least a year to build up a resistance to the bugs”.  We will never know if that would have been true in my friend’s case because she left at the one-year point.

She said the idea of renewing her apartment lease and living another year there was not at all appealing.  She enjoyed the work there as a TV producer and she really liked the company she worked with.  And she liked most of the social life and she loved the restaurants.  But she said the final straw for her was being so tightly packed in a subway car one morning that, with every breath, she inhaled into her mouth the stranger’s hair in front of her.  And she was too tightly sardined to move.  Turning her head helped a little but she apparently made a decision to change jobs (and cities) that morning.  I don’t blame her at all.  I wouldn’t have lasted a month there.  Maybe not a week.

So here’s the deal:

  1. Have some respect for people who endure the City.  They put up with a lot.  And if you need them in your business, as a supplier to you for example, or a customer, be thankful they put up with life there.  It isn’t easy.
  2. Try it yourself sometime.  If your industry/career values time spent in a major metro area, consider NYC for a 6-18 month stint.  You might even like it.  And lastly, well, I don’t have a third point – – –  I’m just VERY glad my friend is out of there and in a friendlier, slower-paced city in America’s southland.

No place is perfect, there is some crime everywhere and she may have issues what some facets of life in Charlotte in the years ahead but the big cities come with their own challenges, which sometimes, get the best of even the bravest and the most enduring!

In Summary: When you conduct business with what seems to be someone who is a little irate, or cold or unapproachable… be patient; you never know what they have endured just to get to that meeting or to make to that conference call…

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

What do you do when there is never enough time to do everything thoroughly? In resilience engineering (RE) there is a concept called the efficiency-thoroughness trade off (ETTO). What does one do? Let’s look.

First thing required is identifying the environment. This is easily done when talking with a new hire. If you find yourself saying or hearing something like the following you are in an ETTO environment:

“It will take a while but you’ll get the hang of it. We have plenty of policies and procedures. The trick, though, is knowing which ones to apply on any given day. Things change around here pretty rapidly and you’ll have to learn how to keep up.”

That daily change can lead to erratic behavior. Why? What is defined as “efficient” changes from day-to-day based on what goal management is chasing. One day the focus is on everyone getting his or her documentation current. On another it is billable hours. Still another the focus is on proposal generation. It goes on-and-on and end dates never move.

So why write about something so obvious? Simple. I’ve found that in technical environments the organization can be biased heavily towards task-oriented people. What this means is there is inherent insensitivity towards the politics of the situation and the shifting priorities. There is something else that occurs that is rather insidious.

“Those who are task-oriented can run the risk of being so close to the work they have a very short time horizon. This leads to inability to look ahead and confront early potential trade-off situations where thoroughness is so lacking that rework and additional expense are guaranteed.”

In my practice probably the most common thing heard is, “I hate politics.” To tell the truth, I do too. I came to it kicking and screaming. “Just let me build my brainchild,” was my mantra. Others can do the politics. Now, the huge payoff associated with understanding and using politics is obvious and a big part of Center for Managing Change’s work. By understanding politics one can get a feel for the ETTO and how to manage the situation.

Look at it this way. List all the work-related issues you talk with peers about at the lunch table or over coffee. See if you can take the conversation further by brainstorming ways to approach the people and situations that are so frustrating. When you do this you’ll find that personalities start coming into play almost immediately. This is where the work begins.

List your frustrations regarding ETTO. See if the group can brainstorm what key players’ hot buttons are. Determine how those hot buttons can be pushed to get the movement you want (which is usually more time and resources to get the job done right the first time.) Then take it up a notch. Try connecting all those hot buttons and see if a strategy can be developed for talking with your stakeholder population so they will see the benefit of giving you the time to be sufficiently thorough. That last phrase, “sufficiently thorough,” is the key. It’s not about perfection. It’s about getting enough time to give the customer what they need and not have to revisit the deliverable in order to get it right.

So, remember. If you want the time do the politics.  Now, if it were only as easy to do as it is to say!

I was visiting with one of my friends on the phone this morning.  He told me about a former client, Jill, who had won the lottery.  The after tax payment to Jill was a lump sum of $13,000,000.  Where I grew up, that’s a sizeable lump.

Before I could say, “Yeah, but you know most lottery winners are worse off two years after they win the lottery than they were before,” my friend said Jill had told him the lottery curse was complete nonsense.  Almost 10 years after winning the lottery, Jill and her husband were living fun and fulfilling lives.  They didn’t buy mansions and they didn’t adopt any bad habits.  Each year they harvested 6% income from the $13,000,000 (which according to my math is closing in on $800,000), they traveled and they did pretty much what they damn well pleased.

That story got my friend and I talking about the question:  How much is enough?  How we answer that question has a profound impact on the joy and satisfaction we experience, and perhaps even on the level of success we attain.  My friend also shared some advice from a source he didn’t name (or that I don’t remember).  It went like this:

“Give away the first 10% you earn.  Save the next 10%.  Pay taxes and live on the balance.  If you do this, you’ll never be sorry and you’ll never be broke.”

That simple suggestion and its remarkable promise took my breath away.  Of course, many religions teach the practice of tithing and charity toward others.  And we’ve all, no doubt, received the admonition from one of the many financial gurus to save, save, save.  Both of which are sound ideas to my mind.  But when you add the promise, you’ll never be sorry and you’ll never be broke – somehow that ramps the power of these ideas up exponentially.

What if we followed this practice in our businesses?  What if we donated the first 10% – to the church or school of our choice, to the many wonderful private agencies that serve the disadvantaged, to an incubator for new business start-ups, or to the arts?  And then, what if we saved the next 10%?  What would it be like, after a time, to be sitting on a stack of cash?  Wouldn’t that allow us to weather the inevitable storms?  Wouldn’t that allow us to make decisions based on what was really best for our business – without feeling like there was a gun to our head?  Wouldn’t we feel better about ourselves and sleep a bit more soundly at night?

But then I wonder, what would it take to give away the first 10%save the next 10%?  Do we have the will, the generosity, the courage?  If not 10%, how about 5%?  If not 5%, how about 2%?  Could it be this idea is better than winning the lottery?  I’m not sure.  But I am 100% convinced it is more likely than winning the lottery and that the payoff could be huge!

Corporate Communication: Shoot in all Directions

by Matthew Carmen on August 29, 2011

Any company – whether it’s two people or 200,000 – must have a coherent internal communications system in place, enabling it to thrive on every level within the organization.  As with many things, it all begins with a plan. A good communications plan will include processes that allow all employees to both hear the message and be heard as well.  Succeeding with that communications plan also means the senior management team must fully comprehend and embrace the ‘message’ related to corporate policy and new strategic initiatives to all employees in a way that they will understand.

Corporate communications can take many forms: email, memos, website announcements, manager conversations and town hall meetings, and the like.

Let’s look at an example: A company needing to implement a revised strategy for growth.  The first method of communications will likely be in the form of senior management explaining the new plan to their direct reports – the VP and director-level management staff – in a management town hall-type format. Other useful first methods might be an offsite management retreat, or a memo explaining the new strategy and what the responsibilities of certain corporate functions will be. This first communication must be followed by other reinforcing communications, such as the ones that were mentioned above , if the new strategy is to become successful.

The key to a successful corporate communications plan is that all employees must: a) receive the message, b) understand the message, c) understand how the message will affect their way of doing their job, and d) know that they can communicate back up the chain of command when needed.  This last point is very important in order for a new strategy or other initiative to be successful.  Employees who are actually doing required work are closest to the actual processes involved with that work, and thus tend to know – better than those in leadership – what does and what doesn’t work well.  Therefore, a successful corporate communications program allows employees to communicate their issues and ideas up the chain of command and allow for more successful implementations or provide more timely knowledge that can change a failing program.

So whether we’re talking implementation of a broad-reaching corporate strategy, or a successful personal relationship, communications is the name of any successful game.  Either way, in order for everyone involved to be on the same page and work towards the same goals, communications needs smart planning and must go in all. Ready…aim…

Flexible Focus #66: Change the World, Change Yourself

by William Reed on August 26, 2011

In the last eight articles we have looked at themes related to significance and focus, finding what matters most. Revisiting these articles will help you re-explore the territories where we have been, and see also how they fit together. These selections also correspond to the primary eight categories covered in the series, so this review provides an overview of one trip around the wheel, and also reflects the amazing range of topics possible to address with the Mandala Chart.

The images are assembled in the Mandala shown here, referenced from the articles and downloads below. In the conventional Mandala fashion, they are marked A (bottom center), B (left center), C (top center), D (right center), E (bottom left), F (top left), G (top right), F (bottom right)

Here are a few notes to set your thoughts in motion. For easy reference, and to trigger new insights, download the Mandala Charts and review the original articles from each of the links below.

THE BOX OF PERCEPTION (From Flexible Focus #57: Unlocking the Box of Perception)

A recurring theme in the Mandala Chart is the use of frames for flexible focus…One of the benefits of flexible focus is mental health and resilience.

We refer to a frame of reference, the belief system or perspective which frames our perception and values. Reframing is a core concept in psychology, both in the ability to reinterpret a problem as an opportunity, or the ability to listen to differing opinions with an open mind. It is one of the principles behind meditation and hypnosis, where silence and suggestion reframe the way we see and experience the world. Reframing is what moves our mind in art and in advertising.

Leonardo DaVinci frequently would draw the same object from at least 3 different perspectives. We should not be so quick to think that our current perspective is the only one. This folly is magnified when we try to impose our limited point of view on others, whether it is through education, propaganda, or persuasion.

Scientists, artists, and inventors develop the ability to change perspective in visualizing solutions and solving problems. In business and training, creativity is encouraged through games that help the group achieve a new perspective.

 

A LENS ON LIFE (From Flexible Focus #58: The Principle of Objectivity)

The Mandala Chart is a multi-faceted lens through which we can observe ourselves and all phenomena…Flexible focus is fast moving, physical, and multi-dimensional.

The Principle of Objectivity, the 7th of 8 principles for the Mandala Chart, takes this process into a deeper, more reflective mode, in which you gain crystal clarity of perception and insight by examining things from multiple perspectives. Like the crystal cube shown in the illustration, which could also be called a Mandala cube, when the laser beam passes through, it refracts and reveals new surfaces both inside and outside the box. When the light of insight passes through our mind, the Mandala Chart acts in like a lens to reveal new facets and perspectives. This becomes a driving force for creativity and innovation.

Objective thinking is usually associated with science, observation, and experimentation. The effort to measure and get repeatable results works well under controlled laboratory circumstances, but is far less predictable in real life. Complex systems are impossible to describe in terms of linear cause and effect. Hence the quote attributed to MIT Meteorologist Edward Lorenz, “When a butterfly flaps its wings in one part of the world, it can cause a hurricane in another part of the world.”

Instead of the phrase, cause a hurricane, it might be easier to understand if we say it is connected to a hurricane in another part of the world. Ancient Greek philosopher Heraclitus recognized this in saying that, “A hidden connection is stronger than an obvious one.”

 

LEARNING IS FOR LIFE (From Flexible Focus #59: The 8 Frames of Life: Learning)

“Tell me and I’ll forget; show me and I may remember; involve me and I’ll understand.”

In the Mandala Chart, the 7th Frame of Life is Learning. The problem that has plagued both students and educators from the beginning of time is that learning is hard to come by. It doesn’t seem to stick very well. Perhaps this is because learning is often imposed on us more or less by force. The lucky ones discover that learning is not for school; learning is for life.

Learning by doing is the shortest route to retention. Once you learn to ride a bicycle, you will still be able to do it even ten years later without any practice. However, it is likely that you have forgotten most of what you learned for tests in school, often within hours of taking the test!

In his book, Outliers: The Story of Success, Malcolm Gladwell gives numerous examples of what he calls the 10,000-Hour Rule, for which he claims that the key to success in any field is largely a matter of extensive deliberate practice. It certainly makes sense in fields like music or the martial arts, but turns out to be true in just about anything we call talent. Even those gifted with a natural genius often turn out to have been at it in one form or another since they were small children.

Clearly though, it is not just a matter of clocking in 10,000 hours, or we would all be geniuses in our field after just 5 years of work experience. It isn’t about hard work, which is another word for hard won experience. It is the quality of experience and engagement that makes the magic happen.

 

PUT YOUR PASSION ON A PLATFORM (From Flexible Focus #60: Writing Tips and Tools)

If we don’t stand for something, we shall fall for anything.”~Peter Marshall, Chaplain (1947)

One of the best ways to develop a platform is to write. Whether it is a diary meant for your eyes only, or a published platform for the world to see, the very act of putting your thoughts in writing gives your thoughts wings, and sets your mind in motion. Writing not only gives shape to your thoughts, but the process of writing makes you a proactive producer, rather than a passive consumer. Writing puts things in perspective by requiring you to take a point of view, while at the same time considering the points of view of your readers, an excellent recipe for flexible focus.

Although we all learn to write in school, few people continue to write, and many resist the process as a tiresome task. Even people who want to write often experience writer’s block, a state of mental congestion in which words jam and fail to communicate what is inside wanting to come out.

Oddly, chances are that you are never more fluent when it comes to talking about your passions. But when you try to write about them, you often find that your thoughts have clipped wings.And yet putting your thoughts on paper is one of the best ways to put your passion on a platform, because it is lasting, and reaches much further than your voice. Your writing can be the core element of your personal brand.

 

ANATOMY OF A FAN (From Flexible Focus #61: The Art of Folding Time)

The Mandala Chart can free you from the tyranny of living by the illusory objectivity of the clock and the calendar.

One of the best representations of flexible focus in Japanese culture is the folding fan, invented in Japan between the 6th and 8th centuries. The folding fan can open as a fan, or fold for easy storage. Its radial form is symbolic of opening out to new possibilities, of victory, and of good fortune. It is a product of the same culture which invented origami, the art of paper folding, the quintessential art of Folding the Square.

The anatomy of a folding fan is work of genius. It is both simple and complex, an enigma of Japanese design. It fits in the fingers as an organic extension of the hand. It was used in Japanese dance, and could double as a weapon for the samurai. The range of designs and materials available make it a perfect product for infinite variations on a common theme. Moreover, the art of folding has been applied in Japan to everything from umbrellas, bicycles, eyeglasses, to keyboards, as well as clothing, and even the joints of the human body in the martial arts.

Pay closer attention to your experience, and show greater appreciation for what you have. Lend a helping hand to others in need. Open the fan.

 

MONKEY MIND (From Flexible Focus #62: Discipline Your Thinking)

The practice of Zazen is a discipline for mind and body, but one which joins them in a higher degree of freedom.

One of the most delightful, and most confounding aspects of our mind is that it is undisciplined. The mind is so susceptible to distraction, so easily seduced by its surroundings, that this aspect of the mind is referred to in Zen as the monkey mind. While it is very much a part of our everyday experience, we rarely sit down to confront and discipline this creature of consciousness. Try sitting still for even 10 minutes without any purpose other than to sit, and you may come face to face with the monkey, who will try to distract, persuade, or plead with you to let it run free.

However, this freedom is an illusion, because the monkey is in fact bound and attached to anything and everything that comes along. One purpose of Zazen, or Zen meditation, is to discipline the mind so that you actually realize more by thinking less. This seems counter-intuitive when convention dictates that you have to think more to understand more, and do more to achieve more. However, you can set that concern aside by realizing that much of what we call thinking, is actually mental flotsam and jetsam, unoriginal and unproductive. It is worthwhile to spend some time each day freeing yourself from this by entering a deeper level of mindfulness.

 

SEE YOURSELF ONE YEAR FROM NOW (From Flexible Focus #64: The One Year Plan)

Taking care of what is important in one area can make life easier in another. Likewise, neglecting one area can negatively affect another.

Using a traditional linear To Do List puts you at risk of achieving one set of goals at the expense of another, succeeding in your job, only to ruin your health. Or you might set yourself an unrealistic task list, and end up giving up before you make progress on your truly significant goals. In other words, this format gives you perspective as well a focus, something not easy to achieve with traditional goal setting tools. You may also wish to set a theme for each of the 8 fields, a short phrase or key words which helps you focus on the big picture for that field.

Ideally you do this at the beginning of each year, but even if you start late in the calendar year you can still use it, though your focus may be on a more immediate set of objectives. It is still worthwhile, because it gives you practice in thinking in this way, and each year you will get better at it.

The image in Step 3 is quite important as well, because it gives you a visual anchor, a point of mental focus. It also breaks the monotony of pure text. When you create your One Year Template, be sure to leave enough room to list 5 to 8 phrases, as well as to illustrate your goal. You can write small, but you don’t want to feel cramped in when thinking about your future.

 

SEE YOURSELF ONE YEAR FROM NOW (From Flexible Focus #65: Shaping Your Future)

Therefore why not create images of beauty and abundance in your mind’s eye, awaken the sleeping statue, and see your dreams come to life?

We have seen how abundance, as well as lack, can be experienced in each of the 8 fields of life: Health, Business, Finance, Home, Society, Personal, Learning, and Leisure. The Mandala Chart can help you gain perspective in each of these areas, as well as in how they enhance and complement each other. In effect, we tell our life story in the way in which we integrate and excel in each of these areas. Without a tool such as the Mandala Chart for viewing and balancing our life, it is all too easy to get caught up in the challenges of one or two areas, at the expense of the others. No wonder it takes a lifetime, maybe several, to get it right.

The first step is to seek continuous improvement, not perfection. Living is a dynamic process, and balance is achieved by continual adjustment, not holding on to a status quo. Think of how you keep your balance on a bicycle. At first you wobble, but gradually your adjustments become so smooth that the wobble seems to disappear. Balance is easier to maintain in motion than in standing still. After you learn to steer, the next question is where do you want to go?

So much of our experience is conditioned by our expectations, that we sometimes mistake them for reality itself. The first step to leading a life of abundance starts with your mental outlook. The way our expectations condition our experience is known as the Pygmalion Effect.

NOTE: The articles in the Flexible Focus series are updated with graphics, links, and attachments on the FLEXIBLE FOCUS Webbrain, a dynamic and navigable map of the entire series. It has a searchable visual index, and is updated each week as the series develops.

Leader driven Harmony #37: Eating, Drinking & Business

by Mack McKinney on August 12, 2011

What should you eat at a business meal or social gathering?  Do cultural sensitivities really matter these days?  Here are some basic, common-sense rules for business dining etiquette:

  • Don’t eat sushi around squeamish people whose faces turn fainting-white when you mention that raw fish is on the menu.  Those people are as rare as the fish, thank goodness (I love sushi and sashimi).  Just be sensitive and watch their facial expressions when the menu is discussed.
  • Don’t eat pork when dining with Jews or Moslems (or with both – – – yes, it has happened to me).  Just the idea of pigs can make some people nauseous.

Should you drink alcohol at business functions?  Some business gurus say drinking is OK and then others advise total alcohol abstinence!  My answer is . . .  yes, you can drink, but with a few caveats.  First let’s discuss the cultural issue.  In many cultures, business meals are occasions to get to know people.  Alcohol is viewed as the universal social lubricant.  And only after the other party gets to know you and likes you, will they have meaningful business discussions with you.

If you are dining with people from Western Europe, the Slavic countries of Eastern Europe, the Scandinavian countries, Japan, Korea or China, bring a spare liver!  Drinking alcohol is likely to be an accepted part of the business experience and you’ll seem odd if you don’t partake at least a little.  Sorry but I don’t make the rules of international business.

With other groups of people, in the US for example, you have more options.  Here are some basic guidelines:

  • If everyone else is drinking and if you would like a drink, then have one.  But limit it to one or two drinks throughout the activity.
  • If you don’t drink, say so and don’t drink!  You don’t owe anyone a detailed explanation but if you feel obligated to explain, say you are slightly allergic to alcohol and it upsets your stomach.  That should settle it.
  • But if you are hosting a guest at a business dinner (prospective employee, client, possible teammate, etc.), you should order a glass of wine.  Period.  Do this either when initially seated or with the meal but do it.  Do this whether you drink alcohol or not.  You do this to clearly indicate to your guest(s) that their having a drink is fine with you.  Words won’t communicate that point nearly as well as your $7 glass of red wine.  And if there is a toast, you have something to toast with (you can put it up to your lips and then set it down).  If you don’t drink, let it sit and get tossed after the meal.  If asked why you didn’t drink it, say that you didn’t like the taste (they won’t know if you tried it or not).

One more rule here:  If you are a US defense contractor, you’ll need to deduct the cost of the alcohol from the total receipt, showing it separately.  It is not an allowable expense in most cases.  Your company may or may not reimburse you for your drink.  And they can only deduct half the value of the business meal anyway in most cases (thank you IRS).

Who should pay for the meal?

  • If the meal is with teammates (other firms) and they will have the chance to reciprocate rotationally at their facilities, then the host organization should pay.  This should be by prior arrangement among the principles.
  • You, personally, should pay if . . .
    • You invited the others to dinner and no Dutch Treat (each person/team pays) arrangement was discussed.
    • You are trying to win the business of the guests and they are not government employees.  Most US Federal and State government employees are prohibited from accepting meals or gifts of any kind.
    • You are trying to win the business of the guests, they are from other firms, and those firms do not prohibit their employees from accepting gifts (including meals) from potential suppliers (like you).  Some firms’ ethics policies prohibit their employees from accepting meals or “anything of value”.  Other firms prohibit anything above a dollar limit, $25.00 for example.  And some firms have no policy at all on this subject.
    • Split the check if your firms are of comparable size, you will benefit equally from any subsequent business, you are not on an expense account and are expected to be frugal with the company’s travel budget, the other side sincerely offers to help pay, and there is no expectation of future meals out like that one (no expectation of reciprocation “the next time”).

In short, use your common sense regarding eating and drinking at business functions.  And if you drink, limit yourself to one or two drinks.  When in doubt as to the appropriate behavior, ask the financial or legal people in your organization.  And I’d ask them either before or after a trip: Calling their cell phone, from the restaurant, late at night, might get you an answer you DON’T want!

Copyright: Solid Thinking Corporation

When I was in the seventh grade, during our school’s annual track and field day, I was assigned to the shot put event.  That was a bit of a problem.  Back then, I wasn’t what you would call skinny – I was downright scrawny.  I could barely pick up the shot put, let alone heave it across the field.  Let me tell you, I was definitely scrawny but I was scrappy too.  I practiced hard.  The gym teacher worked with me and, day-by-day, I got better.  It hurt and I hated it, but I got better.

After what seemed like an eternity of training, track and field day arrived and I threw the shot put farther than I had ever thrown it.  It was a personal best.  And I came in … dead last.  Thirty-seventh out of thirty-seven boys.  I had worked hard, I had gotten better, and I had gone from poor to just a little less poor.  My immense effort went largely unrewarded.  That’s what happens when the talent doesn’t match the task.

The truth is, many of us have been sold a bill of goods.  It started with Napoleon Hill when he said, “Anything the mind of man can conceive and believe, it can achieve.”  Which is just plain nonsense.  Think about this:  I can conceive of playing in the NBA, and with enough self-delusion I might even be able to believe it.  But I won’t achieve it because you can’t coach tall … or fast.  In other words, I don’t have the talent.

Talent is the capacity for near perfect performance.  It’s something you’re born with or that develops very early in life.  Talent can be cultivated, but it probably can’t be created.  The good news is, everyone has talent of some kind.  But each of us also has some non-talents – some things we just don’t do very well and probably won’t ever do very well.  (My list of non-talents includes anything requiring a power tool, math past the 8th grade level and throwing the shot put.)

If you want exceptional performance in your company (and who doesn’t?) there are two crucial activities that you and all your managers must engage in.

#1 – Identify the talent of each of your people

#2 – Match that talent with a task that needs to be accomplished

Identifying the talent of subordinates and matching that talent with a task that needs to be accomplished just might be the most important contribution to organizational success a manager can make. A wonderful, if somewhat awkward, question is:

Who Does What Well Around Here?

That question focuses on the right thing – it focuses on talent, on what a person can do.  Far too often, managers are in “cop mode”.  They’re on the lookout for what’s wrong.  Certainly there are times when a manager needs to take corrective action.  But great managers spend a lot of time looking for what’s right with people.  To find out more about what great managers do, spend a few minutes with our free online management development course, The Foundation of Management.