New Year: A Dialogue
by Ella Wheeler Wilcox (1909)
THE NEW YEAR:
THE NEW YEAR:
THE NEW YEAR:
THE NEW YEAR:
THE NEW YEAR:
Wishing all readers of Thursday Thoughts
Good Cheer, Hope, Success, Good Health and Love in 2016
….on this, the last Thursday of 2015!
Poem by Clinton Scollard
Had I the power
To cast a bell that should from some grand tower,
At the first Christmas hour,
A jubilant message wide,
The forged metals should be thus allied:-
No iron Pride,
But soft Humility, and rich-veined Hope
Cleft from a sunny slope;
And there should be
And silvery Love, that knows not Doubt nor Fear,
To make the peal more clear;
And then to firmly fix the fine alloy,
There should be Joy!
A very happy Christmas
and Joyful New Year
to all readers of Thursday Thoughts!
Yesterday I flew from the UK to Germany to have the first meeting this year with a client that I last worked for ten years ago. Getting up at 4.00am and struggling through the security gates which reminded me of a cattle ranch and then twisting and turning through the duty-free glitter path that is the only way to get to the plane at Stanstead Airport, I took a short 20-minute taxi ride to the client’s office that turned out to be more expensive than the flight itself! It was a beautiful day and I had a good two hours before the meeting to walk down memory lane. I needed to make sure I was energised and that my mind was clear.
The most surprising thing for me was that the client faced pretty much exactly the same challenges that they faced when I was last there. It was like seeing an old friend in the street that I had not seen for a while and saying “Wow! You haven’t changed a bit!” They were stuck in a rut. And what is more, they acknowledged the fact. It got me thinking: how difficult it is for all of us (and large organisations in particular) to adapt and change.
Whilst chatting to a friend today, the exact same thought arose in a different way. We were reflecting on what we had achieved in 2015 and what 2016 holds in store for us. Like wine, we tend to describe the past year as a “good year” or a “difficult year” or even an “annus horribilis” – depending on what has happened.
I think I would call 2015 a year of transition. What one word would describe this year for you?
Yet another friend said that their work has gone very well in the past year (to the detriment of everything else) and that he was way off on the objectives he had set himself which were to spend more time with his family. Success is both personal and relative – not just from individual to individual – but also in terms of the emphasis we put on specific relationships and projects. Everything has an opportunity cost associated with it. Life is a balancing act.
For example, in the first six months of this year, I became very distracted by a project which meant that I took my eye off the ball for several other things in my life – both personal and business. Setting a balanced set of aims and objectives at the start of the year is so important. Reflecting on the objectives that I set myself at this time last year, I completely underestimated the passion that I had for this unplanned distraction.
Understanding the dependencies and trade-offs that need to be made is so important. Yet we are emotional creatures and can often be overtaken by distractions and unpredictable events that come at us from stage left. Planning for unexpected turns is also important. As the great Peter Drucker said: “It’s not the plan that’s important, it’s the planning.”
But perhaps the most difficult thing in all of this is to break old habits. This is the case with my client in Germany – and is also so true of myself as we move into 2016. In order to change, you need to jump out of an existing pattern and create a new pattern – like the goldfish jumping from one bowl into another in the picture.
Some say that if you practice a new habit for 30 days, then it will stick. I tried that by giving up alcohol for 6 weeks in mid-October. Those friends who got a bit worried need concern themselves no more! I started again last week. Which just proves that the 30-day rule doesn’t work!
The creation of a new habit requires the displacement of other habits that you need to stop. And it needs to happen so that the new pattern becomes unconscious behaviour. Yet, when you jump to a new habit pattern, it can be quite lonely for a while.
Unless you can create a substitute pattern that is more fulfilling and purposeful, the tendency is to jump back to what is familiar. All the 12-step programmes understand that. The first step is always to admit that you are powerless to the particular addiction or pattern. In doing so, you become conscious of it and can change it.
Think about it. Which patterns do you want to dissolve or move away from in 2016 to give yourself more time to do the things you really want to do? What entrenched (perhaps unconscious) patterns do you want to jump out of? Write them down and share them with a close friend or relative. Get some support on the shift to a new pattern. It is much easier like that!
That’s what I hope to do with my German client. Given that they are conscious and want to change, we will start by describing the new fish tank. All the good things about the new environment and the benefits of being there. Then finding one or two fish that will make the first jump. A bit like “Finding Nemo”. The good news is that there are plenty of fish to choose from and I believe that, 10 years on, the temperature in the current tank is a bit too warm for comfort.
Please comment if you see any other analogies or have any relevant stories to tell! In particular, let us know what patterns you want to jump out of and let us know how you are thinking of doing it!
Picture the scene. A young child who has done something wrong. A parent standing tall over the child looking on in disgust or anger. The young child cowering, knowing that they should not have done it – whatever the act was. The parent erupting: “You did it on purpose, didn’t you?”
Doing something on purpose, in this case, is doubly bad. It adds to the criminal act because it was “on purpose”. It is the difference between manslaughter and premeditated murder. Somehow, when a crime is committed, when it is done “on purpose”, then it is so much worse and carries a heavier penalty.
Picture another scene. A company gets amazing results. Profits are up. Revenues are up. The workforce has high morale. The CEO is asked: “Why are you are doing so well? How did you make so much profit” He or she answers “Our primary objective isn’t to make a profit – although it is nice to make a profit so we can develop better services for you. The main reason that we are doing so well is that we are all in service for a higher purpose”.
Think of some recent technology successes: Google and Apple. Each one highly profitable, yet much more importantly, each one serves a higher purpose. “Do no evil”. “Putting a ding in the Universe”. Interestingly, in its early days, Microsoft had the mission of putting “a computer on every desk and in every home”. In 2013, Microsoft changed its mission to “morph from a software company to a devices and services company”. In doing so, their purpose became clouded (literally) in confused corporate-speak and financial engineering. As soon as the purpose (or mission) is framed in terms of profit or puts shareholder returns above everything else, the writing is on the wall that the organisation to become less successful.
Such a powerful phrase it is, then. “On Purpose”. It shows premeditated intent. Driven by purposeful desire, it can create extraordinarily beautiful things. It also drives people to follow great leaders – not because of the ego or personality of the leader, but because the whole tribe/team/organisation believes in a higher purpose beyond the power of a single human being. It is why great religions have such enormous followings. Abraham, Buddha, Christ and Mohammed. Each, in their own way, started a religion which today still have many followers.
Purpose also drives revolution and could be seen as the lifeblood of change. The events in Paris last week were a tragedy, attacking the French libertarian belief system to its core. The repercussions are still to be played out in terms of hardening European borders, increasing the checks on people travelling to and from Europe as well as the need to control the mass migration to Europe from North Africa and the Middle East. In some cases, it is a cash of ideas, ideals and purposeful intent. In another, it is driven by a desire to find a better life for yourself and those who depend upon you.
However hard it is to imagine a cause is so strong for someone to want to blow themselves up in martyrdom, history shows that there is nothing new to such an extreme act. Religions are full of martyrs – often given god-like attributes after their demise. For someone to die “on purpose” or in total alignment with their belief system is somehow at the extreme end of heroism and martyrdom.
Back to the first scene that I started with at the start of this piece. What is most interesting is whether you saw yourself as the child, the parent or an onlooker? Think about it!
At an individual level, many of my close friends in their late forties or early-mid fifties are in transition from a full-time career in corporate life to a much less secure “portfolio career” in post-corporate life. Is it at times like this that you really do question your own purpose in life. You think “what is this all about?”. “Why did I spend over 10/20/30 years working for such-and-such a cause and end up with …..?” It is a time for reflection and searching for a deeper meaning in your own life so that it can become more purposeful.
In thinking about your own purpose, I like to think of an analogy with the Global Positioning System or GPS. I used to do offshore sailing back in the 1980s and early ‘90s – when the navigation was all based on charts using pencils and compasses and triangulation to work out where you are. How the world has changed! Via the GPS system, you can now know exactly where you are – even if it is thick fog outside. A Guiding Purpose Statement (or GPS) should do the same for you at major transitions in your life.
Over the next few weeks, I am creating a programme to go deeper into some of these ideas. If you would like to find out more, please do email me at: lorne(at)objectivedesigners(dot)com and I will send you an outline of what I am thinking about – plus a few questions that might help us create something that is a bit different and special.
The main purpose is to create a group that can support folk as they transition from a more structured (corporate) part of their lives to a portfolio career where you have to take more personal risks and seek deeper meaning in what it is you do and how you express yourself. I’ve been through it myself – and have some lessons I would like to share – but I am sure many readers will also have equally valid ideas and suggestions to help others through this period of their lives.
By the way, on my search for more meaning and purpose, I have come up with my own GPS: “To help people communicate more effectively”. It helps me to bridge my interests in telecommunications, media, marketing and conversational flow between systems. I’m currently refining it to be a little more tangible, but it will do for the moment. If I can help you in this mission – or, indeed if you can help me become more effective in my mission, please also email me!
This week’s “Thursday Thoughts” is one in a series on Product Launches – a subject that I find fascinating and so important to growing a successful business.
So, what is the single most important ingredient of a great product launch? We need to look no further than the film (or movie) industry – and to a quote Shawn Amos:
“Every major summer blockbuster that is released is essentially a product line being launched across multiple verticals. However, the centerpiece of the product launch is a big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain.”
I believe that the single most important ingredient for any successful launch is to frame a “big, beautiful story whose job is to entertain”. Think about it. A story that describes a personal journey. Your personal journey with all the ups-and-downs and trials and triumphs that go to make us all human.
And so, in the closing two days of Jeff Walker’s Product Launch Formula (a once-in-a-year opportunity to see the master in action), Jeff has offered two personal but quite different stories that show how changing the way you think about a product by re-framing it around a product launch can literally transform people’s lives.
The first story is from Barry who overcame a life-changing accident to go on and organise and teach those who make a living from entertaining.
The second is from Shelly – a very different story of a mother trying to juggle the three forces of family, paying work and passion.
Watch the videos and work out what you can learn from each of them. See how the personal stories create a different way of thinking. By building your business around a series of launches (and great stories), rather than flogging a me-too product, you can create a new sense of drive and momentum. Think hard about how you can apply the learnings to (re-)launch your own products and services and create a new sense of purpose and heartbeat to your marketing campaigns.
Of all the research I have done into this area, Jeff’s strategies and teachings are second-to-none. And it can be applied to book launches too!
If you think that there is value in digging deeper into the Product Launch Formula, then I thoroughly recommend that you sign up for Jeff’s programme – which will only be available for the next day or two. Otherwise, you will have to wait another year for the offer to come around again!
Sometimes you get stuck. You can’t think of a way out.
Well, it’s not the first time! Mankind has a long history of innovation.
This video explains it beautifully – and gives us seven questions to ask when you get stuck:
Go on! Try it! Ask the seven questions:
1. What can we imagine?
2. What can we look at differently?
3. What can we use differently?
4. What can we move?
5. What can we interconnect?
6. What can we alter?
7. What can we make?
That’s all very well if you are a guy (like me) and trying to fix things to make things better. But what about the emotional side of the equation? Jason Headley has another (perhaps much more brilliant video) which should amuse those that find communication skills between the sexes more challenging:
Last Sunday, I took my friend Sam to visit my bees. He has been trying to keep bees for three years – but to no avail. The last swarm that I gave him on his birthday two years died off the first winter he had them.
And so it was, I was completely charmed that, on Tuesday morning, he rang me to say that a swarm had gathered on the window of his office – exactly above the desk he works at! We set about to catch them later that day – and yesterday we installed the swarm in one of his new hives not so many miles from here. I’m sure the bees will stay with him now.
This evening, I came across a beautiful piece by Tolstoy about the ultimate purpose of the honeybee – which I thought I would share with you.
It has been a magical and charmed week and the honeybees have truly touched my friend, Sam and me with this amazing encounter. Long may the honeybees swarm into people’s lives as they did for me so many years ago.
“As the sun and each atom of ether is a sphere complete in itself, and yet at the same time only a part of a whole too immense for man to comprehend, so each individual has within himself his own aims and yet has them to serve a general purpose incomprehensible to man.
A bee settling on a flower has stung a child. And the child is afraid of bees and declares that bees exist to sting people.
A poet admires the bee sucking from the chalice of a flower and says it exists to suck the fragrance of flowers.
A beekeeper, seeing the bee collect pollen from flowers and carry it to the hive, says that it exists to gather honey.
Another beekeeper who has studied the life of the hive more closely says that the bee gathers pollen dust to feed the young bees and rear a queen, and that it exists to perpetuate its race.
A botanist notices that the bee flying with the pollen of a male flower to a pistil fertilizes the latter, and sees in this the purpose of the bee’s existence.
Another, observing the migration of plants, notices that the bee helps in this work, and may say that in this lies the purpose of the bee.
But the ultimate purpose of the bee is not exhausted by the first, the second, or any of the processes the human mind can discern.
The higher the human intellect rises in the discovery of these purposes, the more obvious it becomes, that the ultimate purpose is beyond our comprehension.
All that is accessible to man is the relation of the life of the bee to other manifestations of life. And so it is with the purpose of historic characters and nations.”
Extracted rom Leo Tolstoy’s War & Peace: Chapter IV
You can also find this, and other bee stories on one of my other blogs – http://beelore.com/2007/08/07/the-ultimate-purpose-of-the-bee/
Photo from iStockphoto
I had to introduce a workshop last week with a bunch of folk who were trying to take on the “big guys”. I opened the workshop with a story which, for me, gives great hope to the small guys who are toiling away to take on the big guys.
Some say the big guys have gotten the world into the mess that it is currently in. So here’s a story to cheer those up who are ploughing their furrow as a “small guy”!
There is an old Celtic legend, a story of two lumberjacks.
Both men were skilled woodsmen although the first, called Angus, was much bigger, welding a powerful axe. He was so strong that he didn’t have to be as accurate for he still produced due to his sheer size. He was known far and wide for his ability to produce great quantities of raw material. Many hired him just because he was bigger. After all, his customers reasoned, everyone knows that bigger is always better!
In spite of his size, the fame of the second woodsman’s (who was called Hamish) was spreading for his skill was in his accuracy. There was very little waste in his efforts so his customers ended up with a better product for their money. Soon the word spread that Hamish’s work was even better than his larger competitor, Angus.
Upon hearing this, Angus became concerned. He wondered, “How could this be? I am so much bigger that I MUST be better!” He proposed that the two compete with a full day of chopping trees to see who was more productive. The winner would be declared ”The Greatest Lumberjack in all the land.” Hamish agreed and the date for the bout was set.
The townsfolk began talking. They placed their bets. Angus was the favorite to win with a 20 to 1 advantage. After all, bigger is better! The evening before the bout, both men sharpened their blades. Hamish strategized to win the bout. He knew he would never win because of his size. He needed a competitive advantage. Each man went to bed confident that he would be declared the winner.
Morning broke with the entire town showing up to cheer on the lumberjacks. The competition started with a the judge’s shout, “GO!” Angus, strong and broad, leaped into action. He chopped vigorously and continuously, without stopping, knowing that every tree he felled brought him closer to his coveted title.
Hamish, wasting no time, jumped into action as well, attacking his trees with every intention of winning the distinguished title. But unlike his larger competitor, he stopped every forty five minutes to rest and sharpen his blade.
This worried the onlooking townspeople greatly. They murmured among themselves. Surely, he could never win if he didn’t work longer and harder than his competitor. His friends pleaded with him to increase his speed, to work harder – but to no avail. This pattern continued throughout the day when both men heard the judge yell “TIME!”, signaling the end of the match.
Angus stood, winded and exhausted, yet also proud by his pile of trees knowing he had given his best having chopped almost continuously since the start of the match. Surely, he was the winner!
Hamish also stood by his pile of trees – though, unlike his competitor, he was still fresh, ready to continue if necessary. He also stood confident in knowing that he had also given of his best and that his tactics would pay off.
When all the trees were counted, it was announced that Hamish had, indeed, felled more trees than Angus and he was granted title of “The Greatest Lumberjack in all the Land!”. He happily shook the judge’s hand and gripped his newly won axe made of the finest steel in the land. Angus (and most of the townspeople) stood in stunned silence at the announcement – for he was far greater reputation, was far stronger and had a much heavier axe!
But Hamish was not that surprised by the result. For he knew that, in order to win against his larger competitor, his instrument had to be continually sharpened. His axe was smaller and therefore each swing must be more accurate in order to produce the better product. By stopping the sharpen his instrument, he had proven, once and for all, that he was the better man for the job. He also knew that, with regular rests, he would be able to endure his technique far longer.
Frame of story and pictures from: http://www.capstonemedia.com/sharpen-the-saw/
The ability to seek and identify structures, patterns and designs below the apparent surface of experience is the secret to success in communication, relationships, accelerated learning, languages, and many other things besides.
Someone asked me the other day why I chose to call myself a designer, rather than a consultant and I told them the story of the Tinsmith. The story originally came from an order of the Sufi’s called the Naqshbandi Order. Naqushbandi quite literally means “designer”.
“Once upon a time in a city far far away in a time long gone, a tinsmith was falsely accused of a crime he had not committed. Being poor and without any powerful friends to influence the judge, he was imprisoned.
He was given a wish before being sent to the cells and he asked that he be allowed to receive a rug which should be woven by his wife. In due course, the rug was made and delivered to the prison. Upon receiving the rug, the tinsmith prostrated himself upon the rug, day after day, to say his prayers.
After some time, he said to his jailers: “I am poor and without hope and you are wretchedly paid. But I am a tinsmith. Bring me some tin and tools to work with and I shall make small artifacts which you can sell in the market – and we will both benefit.”
The guards agreed to this and presently they and the tinsmith were both making a profit from which they bought food and comforts for themselves.
Then, one day, when the guards awoke to find that the cell door was open and the tinsmith was gone. Some spoke of magic or perhaps a miracle because no prison in this kingdom had ever been escaped from.
Many years later, a convicted thief confessed to the crime that the tinsmith had been accused of. As a result, the tinsmith was pardoned and two weeks later the tinsmith and his family reappeared in the city. The governor of the province heard of the tinsmith’s return and summoned him to his palace.
The governor asked the tinsmith what magic he had used to make such an impossible escape.
The tinsmith replied “My wife is a weaver. She designs rugs, mats and carpets. She weaves patterns into the wefts and warps of her fabric.”
“By design, she found the man who had made the locks of the cell door and got it from him, by design.”
“She wove the design into the rug at the spot where my head touched in prayer five times a day. I am a metal-worker and this design looked to me like the inside of a lock. But I lacked the materials to make a key, so I made a business proposition to the guards, by design. I then used the materials that the guards provided me to make many small artifacts, including a key that would unlock the cell door.”
So, by design, I escaped.”
“We are all born with a brain”, said the tinsmith. “When we begin to understand the patterns and structures of our thinking, we can start to liberate ourselves from the enslavement of our limitations.”
Story adapted from the book: Sufis: The People of the Path: The Royal Way by Osho – Chapter 5 – Design within Design
Picture from Museum of London
Once in a while you see a viral video that makes you laugh so much you want to cry!
It is also BRILLIANT marketing!
My thought for this Thursday is:
Could you create a short video with with such simplicity and humour?
Doubt it! Go on, surprise me!