Friday, May 16, 2014

Get your lottery tickets for life

The odds of winning a million dollar lottery are next to impossible yet many people play them. What I find interesting is the conversations amongst people discussing the lottery and the potential of winning.

"What would you do if you won?"  is a common question and the responses vary so much.

What I find most interesting is the common theme, beyond living a more expensive lifestyle, is the statements regarding people doing "what they really want to do" with their life.

We judge ourselves by the people we see and wish we were. The hope for lottery winnings give some people hope that they could conquer their situation and exceed all those in their envious gaze.

We desire to do, and be, something that we are not, and yet we do not strive to actually change ourselves, our plans and our actions to achieve those goals. We instead leave that vista of success up to chance. 

I believe our first step to taking back control of our destiny is gaining control of our time. Honestly, this is not a step but a whole category unto itself. We need to evaluate our
  • entertainment time, 
  • our complaining time, 
  • our time spent earning money that goes into trivial pleasures that evaporate a thousand times faster than the time it took to earn the money to pay for them, 
  • our time spent dreaming about change but not taking even the tiniest step towards that change, 
  • our time spent trying "easy" and "free" solutions to achieving our change and 
  • our time spent with those people, organization, situations that build us up so that we can build on the change we want to be.
Who or what are the places/things/people where you need to spend time building up your strength for change? 

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Achieving Engagement

A recent gallup poll got me thinking about the engagement challenges we face.

The 2012 poll revealed that while in America there is a more engaged workforce (30%) than the rest of the world (13%) there is still a staggering 52% that are not engaged and 18% that are actively disengaged. 

Interestingly Canada had only 16% engagement, 70% not engaged with 14% actively dis-engaged. I assumed Canada would be similiar to the USA

Source: Gallup

To assess engagement, they ask these 12 questions:
  • I know what is expected of me at work.
  • At work, my opinions seem to count.
  • I have the materials and equipment I need to do my work right.
  • The mission or purpose of my company makes me feel my job is important.
  • At work, I have the opportunity to do what I do best every day.
  • My associates or fellow employees are committed to doing quality work.
  • In the last seven days, I have received recognition or praise for doing good work.
  • I have a best friend at work.
  • My supervisor, or someone at work, seems to care about me as a person.
  • In the last six months, someone at work has talked to me about my progress.
  • There is someone at work who encourages my development.
  • This last year, I have had opportunities at work to learn and grow.
For some, reading these questions, you might wonder what this has to do with productivitiy and ask the question: why does engagment matter? I will let you read the full story in the Gallup Report: State of the Global Workplace but essentially engaged workers are more productive, happier workers.

The full report talks about factors of life satisfaction and if you read the 12 questions being asked you will understand that people are actually having to think about their answers.  

One particular area of their work that I find interesting is that of the mismatch between engagement and education. As a father of two young sons I often think about in what direction I should encourage their personal development. Is university or college the path to a satisfying career that provides sufficient income to be satisifed with your non-work time? How can they avoid the soul-sucking job that leaves little energy/spirit for truly enjoyable non-work time and relationships? Should I encourage certain traits that will help them become entrepreneurs or nurture others that will make them a solid employee? When I look at the Gallup Report  I am left with many questions about my guidance and influence with them as well as questions related to my own income earning ahead of myself.

I recently reconnected with a friend who purchased a small business and it was so refreshing to hear about her journey, the energy was contagious what with her excitement (and obvious engagement) in what she was doing for herself and her family.  Did she choose to take a passion of hers and turn it into a business, not at all, she chose to go into a business and made its success her passion. Ironically taking the time to nurture this connection created new potential for rewards in myself, independant of the connection because I gained a better understanding of myself.

In my own situation in the information technology (IT) business I am aware that I am not in it because I enjoy it but because I do it well and as a result their is a good income. I think I do it well because I have made it my passion to empower other IT workers to provide good results for their team and clients, not because its my hobby or personal interest.

It is interesting to see others in their own journey and learn from it. I think its an incredibly important task for us to do regularly. We need to observe the world to learn from others, not to judge, but to see how their own unique character traits, envirorment and circumstances have led to their life journey being what it is.

I recently stumbled upon one individual by the name of Jamie McDonald who is running across Canada to raise awareness and funding for Children's hospitals. He is running without a support crew (or vehicle) and is literally living out of jogger and sleeping in sheds and wherever he is offered.  His fundraising goals are modest but his personal challenge, which includes a Canadian winter, is incredible. In addition to the obvious effort of running across Canada, if you read through his stories on facebook, you will see that he has had health challenges and he has interacted with thousands of people across Canada. What struck me with Jamie's story is the incredible level of personal engagement required by Jamie to see this through.

Let's assume that Jamie started his adventure in March because it sounded exciting, he would get bragging rights and the celebrity status would be wonderful (in reality it's a much more compassionate reason/rationale). 

If Jamie had been actively-disengaged (he likely wouldn't have started anyhow but...) he may have given up weeks ago at the first sign of challenge and in fact would be telling others that personal sacrifice is a ridiculous waste of time and one person can't change the world. 
If he was just not-engaged in his task he might have found a way to quietly change his plan so he had a support team and it was easier, or take care rides to lighten the load or quit all together and provide a wonderful story on why his effort was good and that was enough.
Jamie was however, very engaged in his journey, and so he was making progress on his fundraising, working through the distance (despite health issues) and inspiring others to do good things/works too.  Jamie is an example of genuine engagement that is not the result of some formula, training or program.
Its obvious that Jamie has used tools to develop and manage himself but the tools don't stand out, his level of engagement does. When you read his story you think it impossible that someone like him could ever not be engaged or actively disengaged but it happens to all of us at some point in our journey, we just need to catch ourselves and work on it.
Are there enough "Jamies" in the world in the right places that help others become engaged through their actions, words and leadership? Are you the Jamie McDonald in your workplace who is actively engaged in their work or are you looking at the 12 questions and find that you are missing postive answers to them?

I encourage you to read Jamie's adventures and see the genuine engagement within them. I would also encourage you to read up on tools, like I have posted on this blog, and build your capacity to challenge your own engagement levels and of those around you. 
 Look to stories of real people with real stories (good and the bad) to get you thinking, inspire you and find you own way.

Thanks for reading.

Have a good day.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Connection - Potential - Rewards

for great Rewards

I have had the good fortune to learn from leaders in the world of people coaching. I have found my own ideas/styles emerging as I add my own experience and knowledge into the recipe that I have gained from these awesome influences.

Of late my perspective on how we get to a place with another person where we more easily see rewards and results has brought me to the following formula which is an adaptation of something I learned.

Essentially what I find is that where I can build a strong CONNECTION with someone it builds POTENTIAL that more easily generates REWARDS (or results). 

I need to make time to make a connection where I can better understand the person I am working with. This doesn't mean you have to become friends with them but rather know what is important to them, what drives them and where their own personality might be a factor in you both getting a good result.

I find that out of this good people connection I see potential emerge.  Potential being the good will, energy, space....whatever you want to call that knowledge that you and the other person share on how you will work together. 

Of course in every connection we make with other people we always have an expectation of some sort of reward, or result. It's why we engage in relationship with people in the first place. What I find is that once we have the connection and established potential we can get to action on getting to that reward. Without the established potential, we can't get to the reward and without the connection we don't even know what is potential is possible.

Bottom Line......
Make time to build solid connections. Maintain a steady state of monitoring/tracking on the potential that exists in that connection and build stronger connections where potential is falling short. Only move to action and achieving your rewards and results when you can build on the work you have done.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Giving Feedback - Option 1

Another one of the tools that I have come across is a technique for how you give someone feedback.

Firstly, organize your feedback. In preparation to give your feedback, organize your thoughts into:
  • What went well,
  • What was not quite right and
  • What would you do differently
 Then, when you are ready meet with the person to whom you wish to give feedack:
  1. Ask them, about the situation related to the feedback, what went well? 
  2. What was not quite right for them and was a little tricky? 
  3. What would they do differently if they could do it again? 
That's right, you ask them to answer these questions first.

When you meet with them they already have feedback in their brains themselves on how it went. You provide the opportunity for them to say it out loud and then they are ready to receive your feedback. Not to mention the fact that you will not give them feedback that they clearly already know and creating tension around that "obvious" fact.

After they have answered the three questions you then ask them if they would like feedback.

Yes, you ask for their permission so that they further accepting that they want this and will listen and be engaged in that moment.

Then you provide your responses to those three questions, you support their own feedback in a constructive way and, you may have to think on your feet, you add anything that they missed that you thought of while they were providing their own feedback.

Think of it this way. Your capacity for feedback is limited to a cup. When you are about to get feedback, your own ideas are already filling up that cup. If you don't get the opportunity to empty that cup, the feedback from the other person is just spilling over onto the floor and being wasted.

So, when giving feedback, keep yourself organized and provide the opportunity for your recipient to empy their cup, before you attempt to fill it.

Make sense?

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Missing something?

OK,  so someone is stuck. You, or someone you are assisting, has the making of a simple problem you can't seem to get unstuck from. You need a quick practice to assist yourself(s) to finding the answer that likely already lies within the deep reaches of your mind. This tool is another I have learned that helps you to figure out what is missing from your plan to achieve success in the situation.

The challenge is to break down the situation to determine if what is missing is

a) your willingness to get done what is necessary to pull through to success or
b) your skills, abilities, aptitude, understanding, knowledge of the subject matter at hand or
c) the circumstances, situation, environment, schedule that would enable you to reach for success.

If someone is not really willing to put in the effort require, sometimes called commitment, then the discussion that follows is around determining why?

Skills and abilities can be the easiest of the three because it comes down to finding a plan to get those skills through training or some other course of learning.

For the environment, it might mean redefining the rules and talking with others about the situation to layout the space to succeed.

A couple examples:
My kids participated in a athletic program which started off with success but after a few evenings there seemed to be a problem with their participation. When I applied this practice to the situation I determined that they had the skills to participate, the environment for success but they were not 100% willing to put in the effort to make it work. In this case they thought if they didn't participate they could instead play video games. Once they realized that the other option instead of participating would be less fun than the program, and not video games, suddenly their commitment was back.

Later we experienced another lull in their participation and what I found that time was that they were still willing, still skilled but in fact now the circumstances in the program had changed. The instructors had slacked off their early rigour with a solid schedule to more of a "guys hanging out" kinda program where they bragged about their accomplishments. For our kids who were hoping to do cool things sitting around listening to cool stories was boring. I spoke to the instructors, and their boss, and in a very short order the kids were excited to be participating.

So, what is missing, the will, the how or the way?

Thursday, August 1, 2013

with risk comes rewards?

In trying to teach my 11 year old son how someone can become financially wealthy I had to really think about how I wanted to explain myself to him. I could have used any number of stories of how people work hard, study hard, and then it all pays off but I found myself looking for something simpler to try to convey how I see the climb to success.

I began looking at what I define as the "bottom". All of us have earning potential. If we choose to share our effort with another we can expect compensation.


I called this service. We can earn rewards from providing a service to an employer or a customer. The amount of the reward is in a range with some minimum with a theoretical limit without having greater learned capacity or risk taking.


The next layer in the climb to wealth that I thought of was our ability to use our mind and our choices to develop it. I realize that everyone has intelligence, and I am not suggesting that some do not, but I believe that everyone makes a choice to develop their intellectual capacity differently. I think without choosing to develop your intellectual capacity puts limits on your potential for rewards and is factor in the final product of your effort.

$$$ RISK

The last layer is the tricky one because it is about how much of your money, time, reputation, etc are you willing to risk on your intelligence in making decisions with your service. The greater risks you take, the greater the potential reward but also the greater potential lost. It is this element that is the clearly defining factor for the super wealthy. In some cases the personal risk is managed by finding others who put more stake in risk than they have in their own intelligence and look to share the reward. In the end, no one gets rich on their own and thus risk is about collaboration with others to build but it can also be about loss as relationships can be jeopardized with the process of risk taking.

My question to myself then was whether the statement that


is a) accurate, b) sufficient for an 11 year old and c) whether I am comfortable with my own plans for the future with this formula or not.

I think personally I am at a phase in my life where my risk taking is low because I do not want to risk my time with my family. I respect others who choose that or choose not to risk their personal time for their hobbies or entertainment but I struggle with those who expect rewards but neither develop themselves or take risks.

Anyhow, this is just one person's thoughts, out loud, on the internet......