Riding the Wave of Life.

Riding the Wave of Life.

By Madisyn Taylor

While riding the wave of life you must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Our lives are continually in motion, buoyed by the wave that is the universe’s flow. As the wave rises and falls, we are carried forward, through life’s high and low points. The universe’s flow may take us to a place in life where we would rather not be.

As tempting as it can be to fight the direction and size of this wave that propels us, riding the wave is intended to make life easier. When you ride the wave, your life can evolve naturally and with minimal effort.

Riding the wave, however, is not a passive experience. It is an active process that requires you to be attentive, centered, and awake. You must also practice stillness so you can flow with, rather than resist the wave’s motion.

Because life is dynamic and always changing, it is when we try to make the wave stand still or resist its direction that we are likely to get pulled under by its weight. If you try to move against the wave, you may feel as if you are trapped by it and have no control over your destiny.

When you reach a low point while riding the wave and find your feet touching bottom, remember to stay standing so that you can leap forward along with the wave the next time it rises. Trying to resist life’s flow is a losing proposition and costly because you waste energy.

Riding the wave allows you to move forward without expending too much of your own efforts. When you ride the wave, you are carried by it and your head can “stay above water” as you go wherever it takes you.

It can be difficult to trust the universe and let go of the urge to fight life’s flow, and you may find it easier to ride the wave if you can stay calm and relaxed.

Riding the wave will always take you where you need to go.
You have been offered a first-class ticket — so why are you still traveling in coach?

You have been offered a first-class ticket — so why are you still traveling in coach?

By Agapi Stassinopoulos | Author, Speaker, Thrive Global Faciitator

I was facilitating a Thrive seminar a few days ago. One of the things we always address at these seminars is “negative beliefs” — how they hold us back and undermine our thriving, productive, creative, and happy selves. Participants never fail to share beliefs such as “I’m not good enough,” “No matter how hard I work, I can do better,” “I don’t deserve success,” “I can’t be happy unless other people around me are happy,” or “I need others’ approval to speak my truth,” etc. When we ask them to think about when those beliefs first sunk in, the answer always comes back to limiting decisions they made about themselves in the earlier stages of their lives.

These beliefs spread like mold under the foundation of your home. You can’t see it until you start to feel sick. You feel depleted and off, like something is wrong, but you keep going and driving forward from one thing to the next. You can’t stop — you’re operating on survival. So you simply don’t have the time or space to dig underneath. And then one day, you decide to call an expert, and they tell you that your home is filled with mold, and it’s affecting your health and your life.

Just as this mold impacts our day-to-day actions and all our relationships, so do our beliefs — so it’s very important to take an inventory, to have the courage to look at each one and ask the fundamental questions: When did it start? Is it true? Can I let go of it? And can I upgrade myself to today?

It’s like we have a first-class ticket, but we’re still traveling coach — and some of us are even choosing to sit in the middle seat! I promise you, if you look in your pocket, you’ll find a first-class ticket, good for life. So it’s time to upgrade your life. Here’s how to get started.

1. Identify the source of the negative belief that’s limiting you.

You may have built a belief that is holding you back from who you can be. Once you identify it, bring it to the forefront, review it, and feel the feeling of contraction it had created in your self-expression. Then you have to see the judgments you made about yourself, others, and the situation, and start to forgive it, them, and yourself. You may even want to write it down and burn it. 

2. Now let it go, and tell yourself: “That was then, and this is now.”

It’s important to remind yourself that this belief is no longer accurate. You can literally see a clean slate in front of you: i.e. Agapi’s life: Scene 1, Take 1. You no longer have to run your life based on this old belief. You’d bought into it some time ago, but it simply does not apply today. You are free to be and own who you’ve now become. Sure, we’re all still a work in progress — and we’ll always be expanding and growing and letting go — but when we let go of our fundamental limiting beliefs that have been running our lives, we then can put ourselves on the right track and remove our self-imposed roadblocks. It will become easier over time, and with meditation, to see the destination more clearly and enjoy the scenery along the way. 

In my own life I’ve worked with the belief “I’m not safe,” which was rooted in my early years around my father, who was a concentration camp survivor and had a very erratic temper. I would often witness his explosive reactions to his employees, my mother, and in general the people around him. They could flare up at any time, out of the blue. That was a difficult thing to witness as a little girl, so I became on guard and began adjusting myself in the hope that I would help him stay calm. To this day, I always have to remind myself that that was then, and this is now. I’ve come a long way, and I know how to take care of myself and keep myself safe. 

I deeply encourage you today to find one of your key limiting beliefs (there may be more than one) and replace it with a positive one, i.e. “Even if other people around me are unhappy, I have a right to my own happiness,” “I deserve and enjoy my success,” “I now give myself permission to express my truth and my feelings,” etc. Remove the mold from your foundation, lay in new floors, repaint the walls, and you can even redecorate.

Please share with me the one thing you’ll do today to move forward to your first-class seat. It’s a much better ride, and you deserve it.

The Wonderment of Life.

The Wonderment of Life.

Stopping to feel a moment of gratitude for the miracles of life on earth, can be what you need to shift your day.

Most of us begin our days with a continuous list of things we need to do to keep our lives running smoothly, but we rarely take time to note all the things we don’t need to do.

For example, we don’t need to figure out how to breathe. We don’t need to find a way to make sure the earth continues to revolve around the sun. We don’t need to concentrate to ensure that our heart beats and our cells regenerate.

All of these things, and many more, take care of themselves without our having to think or do anything at all. This is the miracle of life on earth.

Beyond the wonder of the natural world, we have the wonder of human-created conditions such as indoor plumbing, electricity, automobiles, airplanes, telephones, and the Internet to name a few. Someone living just a hundred years ago would be overwhelmed by the ease with which we can communicate with people all over the world.

When you wake up tomorrow, take time to notice how many things are running smoothly, how many small miracles compose your day.

As you take in your world, you might feel a moment of gratitude for the basic fact that, once again, the sun has risen to illuminate the abundant earth, and the earth’s gravitational field holds you and all that you hold dear in a tight, life-affirming embrace.

By Madisyn Taylor
Recognizing the limitations of your knowledge.

Recognizing the limitations of your knowledge.

Why does intellectual humility matter?

When you approach life with intellectual humility, you open your mind to learning. You are able to learn from opposing views and have more constructive discussions, even when you disagree. No matter how old you are, with intellectual humility you become wiser. It helps you be less judgmental of others, learn more in school, and be a better leader.

Pulse Check

Think about yourself. How many of these things are true?

  • I question my own opinions, positions, and viewpoints because they could be wrong.
  • I reconsider my opinions when presented with new evidence.
  • I recognize the value in opinions that are different from my own.
  • I accept that my beliefs and attitudes may be wrong.
  • In the face of conflicting evidence, I am open to changing my opinions.
  • I like finding out new information that differs from what I already think is true.

How do I encourage intellectual humility in others?

Model it. Admit when you do not know or understand something: “That’s a good question. I don’t know the answer, but let’s look it up.” Appreciate others’ insights and let them know when they raise a point that you hadn’t considered: “I never thought of it that way, so it’s interesting to hear what you have to say.” Be willing to change your mind and let people know when you do: “I’m convinced by articles I’ve read about the problem, so my views have shifted.”

Celebrate it. Recognize when someone demonstrates intellectual humility: “I appreciate how open you’ve been to learning more about all sides of this issue.” Look for examples of intellectual humility in science, politics, and other areas; highlight these on social media.

Enable it.Value learning and point out that learning happens when you acknowledge what you don’t know. At dinner, make a habit of sharing a question you have or one new thing you learned. Keep media from diverse perspectives in the house. Establish a birthday ritual of noting how you have changed your mind over the past year.

Tenelle Porter is a Character Lab scientist-in-residence and a post-doctoral researcher at the University of California, Davis where she studies intellectual humility, motivation, and learning. Her work has been featured in Vox, NY Magazine’s The Science of Us segment, and won an Open Mind Award from the Heterodox Academy. She has also written about intellectual humility for Behavioral ScientistShe has a PhD from Stanford University, and a Master’s degree from the University of Oxford.

What is really funny about you?

What is really funny about you?

“You grow up the day you have the first real laugh – at yourself.”~Ethel Barrymore

By Chatsworth Consulting Group

I don’t know about you, but I take myself way, way too seriously at times. If I’m not acutely focused on all the things that are happening to and around me (and how to make them go the way I want them to) then I’m critically concentrating on how to be better, improve myself, live more of what I teach…the list goes on. I can be seriously determined and single-minded – to the point of my distraction and the irritation of others.

I notice the same approach in those around me. It makes sense. From the moment we enter this world it revolves around us, at least in our own minds. We are the center of our universe and everything, but everything, is translated through our filter of needs, wants, perceptions, and memories. People understandably take themselves, their organizations and lives, and their issues very seriously. People “know” that the happenings of their lives are essential and significant.

All this self-seriousness yields its damage. We get worry lines, gain weight, lose friends, lose business, and lose arguments – all from taking ourselves way too seriously. On the other side, I have seen laughter at oneself – what I call “self-laughter” – ease tensions and resolve issues. 

Self-laughter brings lightness into situations and relationships, thereby allowing for better resolutions and interactions.

Self-laughter somehow makes my life easier. 

Self-laughter makes burdens easier to bear and solutions easier to find.

Self-laughter helps those around me feel more comfortable with me and become more willing to partner with me.

Self-laughter helps me grow up and see that the world does not revolve around me…at least not completely.

What is really, really funny about you and/or your situation? Find something about yourself to laugh at – and laugh hard.

Where are you taking yourself too seriously? Where could you laugh at yourself?

Leaders fit for the Future.

Leaders fit for the Future.

Lee Waller, Viki Culpin, Sona Sharratt, Paula Bradbury

The path from a successful functional role to organizational leadership is well trodden and well known. In recent years though, navigating this path has begun to require an increasingly sophisticated set of skills, as the environment in which leaders lead has become significantly more complex and fluid. With the coming era of AI – when interaction between humans and machines will be critical, the skillsets leaders require will become more sophisticated still.

The generation of leaders whose skills and outlook were honed in the pre-digital, pre-globalization age, were operating in a relatively stable environment. Computer power and the internet had made life easier, but technology had not yet brought the market and societal disruptions heralded by the tech pioneers of the early 2000s and heightened during the past decade.  

Our recent research, culminating in our report Learning to Lead in the 21st Centuryfocuses on the capabilities and skills, and the forward-looking mindset, that today’s leaders need to succeed in a world characterized by rapid technological advance, globalization, changes in societal attitudes, and market disruption, not to mention economic and political volatility. It also considers the most effective means of developing those skills – which we will touch upon here.

What Today’s Leaders Wish They’d Known

528 executives, of diverse ages and experience were asked what cognitive, social, emotional and behavioural skills they wished they had gained ten years previously, that would have most increased their effectiveness as leaders now.

In order of prevalence, these were the top five capabilities perceived as important:

Relational SkillsLeading OthersEmotional IntelligenceTechnical SkillsConfidence

Participants also described critical incidents and events that had taught them valuable lessons. These were the top five mentioned:

ExperienceFailurePersonal DevelopmentTechnologyMajor Life Events

Participants also divulged that they didn’t know enough about, or didn’t possess enough of, the following:

Technical KnowledgeTraining & EducationUnderstanding of the OrganizationLeadership      SkillsCommunication &  Negotiation

These were the top five ways participants believed they might be able to develop their skills for the future:

Learning by DoingLearning through PeopleFormal LearningExtra-Curricular LearningA Growth Mindset

These were the five things participants thought most likely to derail career progression:

Lack of Knowledge & ExpertiseLow Emotional IntelligenceLack of ConfidenceNot Adapting to New Technology Poor   Communication   Skills

The Leadership Skills Needed Today

The participants point to a number of capabilities, essential for those now learning to lead, which they wish they had acquired ten years ago. Above all else they highlight the need for strong relational skills and the ability to communicate effectively in order to lead others. Acquisition of knowledge and expertise as well the development of greater emotional intelligence and confidence were key factors.

The ability to understand and adapt to new technology was a priority stressed by many. The importance of learning from failure and the value of feedback were also highlighted, both being seen as confidence-boosting (and confidence being something a great many participants wish they had had more of, earlier in their careers).

To operate effectively in a volatile, fast changing environment, two other key capabilities were suggested by the research. First, the need to have a ‘growth mindset’ – one that enjoys a challenge, seeks new opportunities and constantly seeks to learn. And secondly, the importance of ‘learning agility’ – which can be defined as curiosity and the ability to adapt well to change and new ideas. Both these capabilities, which rely heavily on learning from experience and from the evolving environment, are capabilities which embrace and welcome innovation and change, and are thus clearly essential for leadership success in the 21st Century.

Acquiring Skills and Learning to Lead

In our research we found that the development being offered needs to be tailored, both in terms of seniority and gender. Younger leaders and less senior leaders emphasised a need or preference for formal development, whereas older or more senior leaders emphasised on-the-job learning.

The 70:20:10 principle – the idea that development comes 70% from on-the-job experiences; 20% from feedback from colleagues and the boss; and 10% from formal training – may need rethinking. In today’s fast paced environment, where keeping up-to-speed with the latest knowledge, technologies, and expertise are key, formal development may have a greater role to play. For the younger participants, formal development came out as the top theme, with first line and middle managers reporting education and training as the most valuable factor supporting their career success.

L&D professionals should consider offering more formal development opportunities directed towards junior and middle level roles within organizations. Whereas to develop older and more senior leaders, emphasis should be placed on identifying experiential, on-the-job learning opportunities and coaching.

Gender differences were also present here, in terms of the skills participants considered important to future success. Perhaps counter-intuitively, female participants were more concerned about a lack of emotional intelligence while male leaders were most concerned about a lack of knowledge and expertise.

Conclusions

A number of lessons can be drawn from our research: the importance of relational skills to performance throughout a leadership career; the need for a growth mindset and learning agility; and the ever-present need to up-date knowledge, and adapt to new technology; the importance of experiential learning; and the need for formal development – perhaps more than is generally given.

Learning these lessons successfully relies of course on individual application – with the support of L&D professionals tailoring learning. Paramount even to that though, is organizational culture. An organization able to address these issues is one that encourages the development of agile learning and growth mindsets by developing a culture that fosters trust, respect and psychological safety, supports risk taking and entrepreneurial behavior, and emphasizes continuous learning.

Playing the infinite game.

Playing the infinite game.

From Simon Sinek’s “The infinite game”.

If there are at least two players, a game exists. And there are two kinds of games: finite games and infinite games.

Finite games are played by known players. They have fixed rules. And there is an agreed-upon objective that, when reached, ends the game. Football, for example, is a finite game.

Infinite games, in contrast, are played by known and unknown players. There are no exact or agreed-upon rules. Though there may be conventions or laws that govern how the players conduct themselves, within those broad boundaries, the players can operate however they want. And if they choose to break with convention, they can. The manner in which each player chooses to play is entirely up to them. And they can change how they play the game at any time, for any reason.

Infinite games have infinite time horizons. And because there is no finish line, no practical end to the game, there is no such thing as “winning” an infinite game. In an infinite game, the primary objective is to keep playing, to perpetuate the game.

If we listen to the language of so many of our leaders today, it’s as if they don’t know the game in which they are playing.

My understanding of these two types of games comes from the master himself, Professor James P. Carse, who penned a little treatise called Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility in 1986. The more I looked at our world through Carse’s lens of finite and infinite games, the more I started to see infinite games all around us, games with no finish lines and no winners. There is no such thing as coming in first in marriage or friendship, for example. We can beat out other candidates for a job or promotion, but no one is ever crowned the winner of careers. Though nations may compete on a global scale with other nations for land, influence, or economic advantage, there is no such thing as winning global politics. No matter how successful we are in life, when we die, none of us will be declared the winner of life. And there is certainly no such thing as winning business. All of these things are journeys, not events.

However, if we listen to the language of so many of our leaders today, it’s as if they don’t know the game in which they are playing. They talk constantly about “winning.” They obsess about “beating their competition.” They announce to the world that they are “the best.” They state that their vision is to “be number one.” Except that in games without finish lines, all of these things are impossible.

When we lead with a finite mindset in an infinite game, it leads to all kinds of problems, the most common of which includes the decline of trust, cooperation, and innovation. Leading with an infinite mindset in an infinite game, in contrast, really does move us in a better direction.

The game of business fits the very definition of an infinite game. We may not know all the other players, and new ones can join the game at any time. All the players determine their own strategies and tactics, and there is no set of fixed rules to which everyone has agreed, other than the law (and even that can vary from country to country). Unlike a finite game, there is no predetermined beginning, middle, or end to business. Although many of us agree to certain time frames for evaluating our own performance relative to that of other players — the financial year, for example — those time frames represent markers within the course of the game; none marks the end of the game itself. The game of business has no finish line.

In a finite game, the game ends when its time is up and the players live on to play another day (unless it was a duel, of course). In an infinite game, it’s the opposite. It is the game that lives on, and it is the players whose time runs out. Because there is no such thing as winning or losing in an infinite game, the players simply drop out of the game when they run out of the will and resources to keep playing. In business, we call this bankruptcy or sometimes merger or acquisition. Which means that to succeed in the infinite game of business, we have to stop thinking about who wins or who’s the best and start thinking about how to build organizations that are strong enough and healthy enough to stay in the game for many generations to come. The benefits of which, ironically, often make companies stronger in the near-term as well.

Victorinox, the Swiss company that made the Swiss Army knife famous, saw its business dramatically affected by the events of September 11, 2001. In an instant, the ubiquitous corporate promotional item and standard gift for retirements, birthdays, and graduations was banned from our hand luggage. Whereas most companies would take a defensive posture — fixating on the blow to their traditional model and how much it was going to cost them — Victorinox took the offense. They embraced the surprise as an opportunity rather than a threat — a characteristic move of an infinite-minded player. Rather than employing extreme cost cutting and laying off their workforce, the leaders of Victorinox came up with innovative ways to save jobs (they made no layoffs at all), increased investment in new product development, and inspired their people to imagine how they could leverage the brand into new markets.

In good times, Victorinox built up reserves of cash, knowing that, at some point, there would be more difficult times. As CEO Carl Elsener says, “When you look at the history of world economics, it was always like this. Always! And in the future, it will always be like this. It will never go only up. It will never go only down. It will go up and down and up and down… We do not think in quarters. We think in generations.” This kind of infinite thinking put Victorinox in a position where it was both philosophically and financially ready to face what for another company might have been a fatal crisis. And the result was astonishing. Victorinox is now a different and even stronger company than it was before September 11. Knives used to account for 95% of the company’s total sales. (Swiss Army knives alone accounted for 80%.) Today, Swiss Army knives account for only 35% of total revenue, but sales of travel gear, watches, and fragrances have helped Victorinox nearly double its revenues compared to the days before September 11. Victorinox is not a stable company—it is a resilient one.

In the infinite game, the true value of an organization cannot be measured by the success it has achieved based on a set of arbitrary metrics over arbitrary time frames. The true value of an organization is measured by the desire others have to contribute to that organization’s ability to keep succeeding, not just during the time they are there, but well beyond their own tenure. While a finite-minded leader works to get something from their employees, customers, and shareholders in order to meet arbitrary metrics, the infinite-minded leader works to ensure that their employees, customers, and shareholders remain inspired to continue contributing with their effort, their wallets, and their investments.

Players with an infinite mindset want to leave their organizations in better shape than they found them. They play to keep playing. In business, that means building an organization that can survive its leaders.


From The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, published by Portfolio, an imprint of Penguin Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House, LLC. Copyright © 2019 by Sinek Partners, LLC.