What am I working on?

I believe that wisdom can only be created through our own action and effort. We do that by exhausting our own resources working on problems, ideas, and asking ourselves tough questions. Here you will find (almost) daily posts of the things I'm trying to figure out for myself. Have a quick scroll through and see if you can find something that interests you :)

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How to ask for, give and receive feedback…

How to ask for helpful feedback:

  • Be specific about what you’re asking for
  • Choose the right people to ask
  • Make it easy by posing incisive questions

How to give helpful feedback:

  • Wait until it’s asked for
  • Ask any clarifying questions
  • Give it privately where possible
  • Be specific and actionable
  • Get to the point
  • Don’t justify or make excuses
  • Be honest

How to receive helpful feedback:

  • Take it as advice, not a criticism
  • Keep an open mind
  • Listen to understand
  • You don’t have to turn it into a ‘thing’
  • You get to choose what you do with it
  • Follow up with gratitude

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What got you here is EXACTLY what will get you there:

  1. Seeing yourself as a continual work in progress.
  2. Developing stronger connections with great people.
  3. Improving your work ethic and your abilities as a team player.
  4. Creating value for others through your work.
  5. Continually improving your skills as a leader and communicator.
  6. Developing and improving self-awareness and self-confidence.
  7. Making decisions within your known values and principles.

Interestingly, these are factors we all have complete control over.

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On having tough conversations…

Much of my work involves facilitating tough conversations.

Sometimes I initiate them, and sometimes I’m invited to join them.

Sometimes they go well. Sometimes not so much.

In most cases, I know when it’s coming. Occasionally, if I’m not paying attention, it will sneak up on me.

Regardless, having the ability to navigate complicated and difficult conversations is something I’m continually working on being better at.

Here’s an example of how I remind myself of who I want to be during difficult conversations:

  1. Lead with questions.
  2. Be genuinely curious.
  3. Be friendly.
  4. Listen to understand.
  5. Pay attention.
  6. Don’t make assumptions.
  7. Don’t take it personally.
  8. Don’t get defensive.
  9. Clear is kind. Unclear is unkind.
  10. Treat feedback as advice, not criticism.
  11. Stay within my integrity.
  12. Don’t compromise on my standards.
  13. Remember, we’re all born to work together.

I don’t always know when a difficult conversation may arise, but when I know it’s going to be tough I find it helpful to literally write this list out prior to meetings so I can be in the best frame of mind.

I’d love to know how you set yourself up to be a great communicator in difficult circumstances.

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Help others while helping yourself

I ask a lot of questions, and occasionally people will ask me where these questions come from.

What I’ve found to be true is that if I’m working through something myself, there’s a really good chance that other people have the need to work on that thing too.

And so, I turn my personal challenges into questions.

Here are a few incisive questions I’ve been asking recently:

  1. Why does your work matter?
  2. What excites you the most about your work?
  3. How does your work help you to feel fulfilled?
  4. In what ways does your work inspire you to do your best work?

These questions have opened up some incredible conversations with individuals and teams, and have not only helped me to learn more about the people I’m working with, but others are learning things about themselves and their teammates that they weren’t aware of before.

The added bonus is that these conversations help me to get more clear on the answers I’m looking for, too. I can help others while also helping myself.

That’s the power of great questions combined with genuine curiosity.

Over to you:

  1. What are you struggling with or working on right now?
  2. Is it possible turn that into a question?
  3. Can you see how you can help others, and help yourself at the same time?

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On turning up…

We all have bad days.

Just because you have a plan and routine for what a good day looks like, doesn’t mean you always get to have it.

On the not-so-good days, ‘turning up’ becomes my simple strategy.

That way I:

  1. don’t break the chain
  2. move in the right direction
  3. keep the momentum
  4. feel a little better
  5. confirm my identity

And…I typically end up doing more than I thought I would.

You might not feel like turning up, it might not feel like enough, you might not hit your goal…but on the bad days, it might be all you can do.

Turn up, see what happens…you may surprise yourself. 🙂

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Stop trying to ‘manage time’ and do this instead…

Time management and productivity hacks are mostly useless if you don’t firstly know WHY your time truly matters to you.

Here’s what I’ve learned over the past 20 years of my career:

  1. Accept that you can’t manage time, but you can manage your choices and decisions.
  2. Work on getting crystal clear on why your time matters to you.
  3. Figure out what you’re really good at and the value you bring.
  4. Say no to what you shouldn’t be doing.
  5. Be honest with yourself about what you can’t do well (harder than you think!).
  6. Stop saying yes; to save other people, for recognition, to feel important.
  7. Resist the craving to be busy. Any fool can be busy.
  8. Continually increase the amount of control you have of your schedule (you have more control than you believe).
  9. Block out more thinking time for yourself.
  10. Create some non-negotiable boundaries.
  11. Delegate and ask for help. Other people grow when they get to do what they’re good at.
  12. Stop trying to do everything in one day.
  13. Your work will be waiting for you tomorrow.

Know that when you get clear on WHY your time matters, you can start to make better choices and decisions about where you spend your time. More importantly, you can say NO with confidence, kindness and integrity.

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Don’t do it for success. Do it to SUCK LESS!

Suck Less

What could you get better at if you did it every day for 100 days?

Pretty much anything, right?

This is Austin Kleon’s philosophy and I love it!

I pick up my guitar every day anyway, but I’ve picked a very particular song to practice every day so I can SUCK LESS at it.

I’ve got the chart on my wall, I’m checking off the numbers, it only takes a few days to build up a chain…and now it’s up to me not to break it!

What would you like to SUCK LESS at over the next 100 days?

Go get the printable chart from Austin’s website here.

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Where is there certainty?

There are a lot of posts on LinkedIn about ‘these uncertain times’ and people are freaking out.

And rightly so.

There’s a lot of change happening on the daily and we feel threatened by these changes. Much of it is completely outside of our control.

It creates an unbalance in our lives, and it’s exhausting.

What I know is that it’s difficult to cope with change on a daily basis if you only focus on what’s changing.

So, for today, grab some pen and paper and write out a list of what’s not changing.

Where is there certainty in these uncertain times?

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Here’s my quick list of things that are certain:

  • Today. Right now.
  • Making my bed.
  • Reading my book.
  • Writing this list.
  • Nothing is unending.
  • Things will change. For the better. For the worse.
  • There will be both good and bad.
  • I am alive.
  • What I choose to do.
  • What I choose not to do.
  • A smile.
  • My thoughts.
  • A conversation.
  • A phone call.
  • Electricity.
  • Notepad and pen.
  • Ink comes out of my pen.
  • I will need to go to the bathroom.
  • Water out of the tap.
  • Wind. Clouds. Rain.
  • The trees in the park.
  • The grass on the ground.
  • Ice. Puddles.
  • Ducks. Swans. Coots.
  • Coffee in my mug.
  • I wake up. I go to sleep.
  • Tomorrow. (Mostly certain)
  • Hope. Regret. Apologies.
  • Questions. Answers. Solutions to problems.
  • Happiness. Anger. Frustration. Joy.
  • Kindness.
  • Time.
  • Love for my children.
  • I have my mind. I can see, hear, feel.
  • Tidying up after my kids. Bricks. Food. Jam.
  • Everything dies. (Certain)

How to read books…

  1. Choose your books deliberately
  2. Read every day
  3. Don’t go anywhere without a book
  4. Don’t suffer shite books
  5. Don’t lend out your books
  6. Buy your books (from an independent) and build your library
  7. Build your ‘antilibrary’ (source)
  8. Stick with great writers
  9. Build a re-reading list
  10. Make a plan for what you want to read
  11. Don’t get distracted by new books
  12. Don’t get distracted by what or how many books other people are reading
  13. Make sure your kids see you reading physical books

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