Street Wisdom at Leeds Wellbeing Week, March 24, 2018 – FREE (booking essential)

Discover the wisdom of the streets

We are running Street Wisdom at Leeds Wellbeing Week, March 24, 2018 – FREE (booking essential)

“[People] must necessarily be the active agents of their own well-being and well-doing… they themselves must in the very nature of things be their own best helpers.”

–      Samuel Smiles, author of Self Help , 1859

What is the purpose of being if not to discover truths and insights that are obscured by day-to-day concerns?  Street Wisdom gives participants the skills to see the urban environment in a new way, ask a question and use the answers they discover to move forwards in life with a greater sense of wellbeing.

“The concept of creativeness and the concept of the healthy, self-actualizing, fully human person seem to be coming closer and closer together and may perhaps turn out to be the same thing”

–      Abraham Maslow, Psychologist

What is the purpose of being if not to be happy and inspired in our own lives?  Street Wisdom is a global, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth.

“Recognising that you are not where you want to be is a starting point to begin changing your life”

–      Deborah Day, Author of Be Happy Now, 2010

Led by Jeremy Lewis, an experienced coach and professional Street Wizard, Street Wisdom will enable you to find inspiration by wandering through the City’s streets.  Why wait for escape to exotic destinations when inspiration can be found on your own doorstep? Street Wisdom shows you how.

How it works

It’s very simple – that’s because Street Wisdom have been refining the process for years.

Tune Up. Quest. Share.

  1. First, your Street Guide helps you and your group tune up your senses so you can pick up much more information from the urban environment that you would normally.
  2. Then you’re off on a journey by yourself – your street quest – where you ask a question and see what answers present themselves.
  3. Finally, you gather together again to share what happened and, more often than not, wonder at how magical an ordinary street can become when you’re really aware of those hidden messages, chance meetings and unexpected discoveries.

 

The whole event lasts three hours.  Meet on the steps of Leeds Art Gallery, The Headrow, at 13:00.

Book now

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/street-wisdom-at-leedswellbeingweek-tickets-42527718551

http://streetwisdom.org               www.leedswellbeingweek.co.uk

Discover the wisdom of the streets

Street Wisdom, November 4, Leeds, FREE, booking essential

Discover the wisdom of the streets

“[People] must necessarily be the active agents of their own well-being and well-doing… they themselves must in the very nature of things be their own best helpers.”

–      Samuel Smiles, author of Self Help , 1859

 

What is the purpose of being if not to discover truths and insights that are obscured by day-to-day concerns?  Street Wisdom gives participants the skills to see the urban environment in a new way, ask a question and use the answers they discover to move forwards in life with a greater sense of wellbeing.

“The concept of creativeness and the concept of the healthy, self-actualizing, fully human person seem to be coming closer and closer together and may perhaps turn out to be the same thing”

–      Abraham Maslow, Psychologist

 

What is the purpose of being if not to be happy and inspired in our own lives?  Street Wisdom is a global, not-for-profit social enterprise with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth.

“Recognising that you are not where you want to be is a starting point to begin changing your life”

–      Deborah Day, Author of Be Happy Now, 2010

 

Led by Jeremy Lewis, an experienced coach and professional Street Wizard, Street Wisdom will enable you to find inspiration by wandering through the City’s streets.  Why wait for escape to exotic destinations when inspiration can be found on your own doorstep? Street Wisdom shows you how.

Book now for FREE.

Coaching others

Coaching others to improve performance

Coaching others improves performance

In SMEs and charities, coaching others is probably the most cost-effective thing you can do to improve performance.   It helps identify solutions to specific work-related issues.  It allows fuller use of people’s talents.  And it demonstrates your commitment to the individuals in your team and their personal development.

This half-day workshop will help you develop coaching skills as a management style.  It is ideal for anyone interested in understanding how to use coaching or a coaching style to improve performance and help people develop in their own organisation.

Learning outcomes include:

Δ       Understand what a coaching style means and how it might be used every day

Δ       Review some key frameworks and tools so you can start managing people differently

Δ       Practise the skills needed to coach effectively at work.

Booking

Venue:

Hurol Ozcan Enterprise Centre
Leeds Trinity University
Brownberrie Lane
Horsforth
Leeds
LS18 5HD

Date:                      1st November 2017

Time:                     09:30 – 12:45 (arrival from 09:00)

Price:                     FREE

Directions:

Use LS18 5HD for SatNav, free parking if attending the Leeds Trinity Business Network, otherwise pay and display charges apply

Book now on Eventbrite

https://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/coaching-others-to-improve-performance-workshop-tickets-38280574228

Click here to read more about our coaching offer.

Silence: there is now a Level Zero

I had the pleasure of exploring silence with a group of fellow coaches recently, facilitated ably by my colleague Ian Smith.  We concluded silence can be a gift, as it is received and understood by different people differently.

We experimented with silence to reflect on what silence meant, and then shared our thinking.  For the most part, the participants in this reflective discussion viewed silence as a positive thing, as it gives others time and space to think and reflect.  I was curious.  I see certain instances of silence as being quite destructive; those uncomfortable silences, when something needs to be said, but no one is saying it.  Like the silence that is taken as acquiescence in a meeting, but as soon as the meeting is over, people rebel and do not follow through with what was “agreed”.  Like the silence that leads to Groupthink.  Perhaps like the silence that ignores the ‘elephant in the room’.

Three levels of silence

This inspired me to research the current thinking out there in the blogosphere about silence.  I only found positive interpretations of silence.  Silence is often categorised into several levels.  I found examples of up to 12 levels.  This I find excessive, although I also find it excessive that the Eskimo-Aleut languages have 50 words for snow.

Sensible categorisations of silence appear to fall into three levels:

  1. The absence of sound
  2. A disinterest in external activity, where the mind is focused inwards
  3. A deep inner silence brought on through meditation, in pursuit of oneness and total contentment.

There is now a Level Zero

[Children’s movie spoiler alert]

Po: Lets just start at zero; Level Zero.
Shifu: Oh no. There is no such thing as Level Zero.
Thus starts the scene in Kung Fu Panda, where our hero, the overweight panda Po, begins his journey to enlightenment.  After Po hits a children’s punchbag and is sent flying into moving ropes and swinging pendulums, he endures being deposited into a tilting bowl, where he hits his head several times until the bowl tips over and sets off a chain reaction that causes swinging arms to smack him in the groin and then knock him violently into a fire pit. He slumps over next to his Sensei, Shifu, burned and charred.

Po: How did I do?
Shifu: There is now a Level Zero.

I propose four levels of silence for your consideration:

0. Uncomfortable silence

1. Comfortable silence

2. Reflective silence

3. Deep silence.

Level 0: uncomfortable silence

Uncomfortable silence arises through fear of being isolated because you have a different opinion from the majority.  This is closely aligned to Elisabeth Noelle-Neumann’s ideas in the Spiral of Silence.  People tend to remain silent for fear of social exclusion when they have a minority opinion that might challenge the group’s dominant idea.  They must constantly use energy to assess the climate in a social group and may choose to remain silent or ‘lose their voice’, especially if they have been criticised in the past.  This does not apply to those (at the top of Noelle-Neumann’s spiral) who are hardcore nonconformists or who represent the Avant-Garde.  Such people are less likely to remain silent.

The advent of the Internet has also arguably lowered this type of silence online, where people with minority (often extremist) views are likely to seek out others of similar views and use chat rooms to find their voice.  Such folk can also benefit from the anonymity of the Internet, which lowers the fear of reprisal, and has led to an uprising in airtime for controversial views.

In a workplace context, uncomfortable silence represents a denial of responsibility, allowing undiscussable topics to remain undiscussable, and ultimately degenerates into a ‘snakepit’ organisation, where people retreat into their silos and protect themselves against attack from each other.

Level 1: comfortable silence

The main problem with silence is that we do not know what it means when it happens.  Is the silence uncomfortable: a denial of responsibility, or comfortable: a true agreement to what is being discussed?

Comfortable silence happens when we are happy together, perhaps lost in our own thoughts and not needing to fill the silence with words.  We are comfortable with the people we are with.  This is a passive silence.

I suggest this is only possible if there are no hidden assumptions.  Very close friends and life partners can achieve this level of silence.

In the workplace, achieving this level of silence requires good facilitation to reveal hidden assumptions, discuss the undiscussables, explore the elephant in the room, etc.  This is necessarily not a silent activity and such facilitation may well move people quickly to level 2 silence.

Level 2: Reflective silence

Reflective silence is when you have the space and time to think.  As an individual, you would be well-advised to carve out time in your busy schedule to do this, or perhaps to use the services of a coach to gift you such time and space.

Level 2 silence becomes timeless, lost in your own thoughts.  You become disinterested in external activity, your mind is turned inwards.  You achieve a quietness inside, regardless of the external sounds.  It requires stillness, and yet is an active silence.

In the workplace, a good facilitator or group coach can gift you time and space to think as a team.

Level 3: Deep silence

Deep silence has its traditions in several ancient world religions, such as Zen Practice and Monastic Silence.  It is a silence that can be achieved through deep meditation.  You may well practise mindful meditation already, focusing on what is happening right now.  This does not require external silence.  In fact, deep silence is the pursuit of total oneness, total contentment and inner silence, regardless of any external sounds.  It is also possible regardless of what you are doing.  Deep silence does not require stillness, and yet is a passive silence

Conclusion

I tentatively suggest the following framework:

In the workplace, issues arise when silence is misunderstood.  When people push their own views, they demonstrate a ‘stay in control’ or ‘win, don’t lose’ mindset.  When silence follows, they may incorrectly assume agreement.  A more purposive mindset is to stay curious, adopt the ‘and’ stance (rather than the ‘but’ stance).  This can help to surface hidden assumptions, and allow people the space and time to find their voice.

The workplace goal is to move silence from being an active pursuit of denial, towards awareness of the silence and active pursuit of renewal.  This moves people’s energy from denying responsibility to surfacing hidden assumptions, to discussing the undiscussable.  It requires meetings to include the space and time to think, so that people can engage in the meaningful activity aligned to the organisation’s purpose.  It means people can find their voice and take more accountability.

Silence can help you make every meeting matter.

Jeremy J Lewis

Committed to making every meeting matter

Why do you do what you do?

First published on LinkedIn, December 21, 2016.

I wrote a post around Christmastime last year saying I believe in Father Christmas, which received a comment about aligning what we do with what we believe in, and that if we could align what we do with what we believe in, then wouldn’t the world be a better place?

Today, I had a great conversation with a colleague concerning why we do the things we do, which got me thinking about why I do the things I do, and whether it is about aligning what I want with what I believe in.  My conclusion is that there is a third dimension – what I do.  Bringing all three of these together might perhaps uncover why I do what I do.

A framework to help you align your thinking

I present this thinking here for no other purpose than to suggest it as a framework for thinking about what you believe in, what you want and what you do.  You might just uncover why you do what you do, and if not, give pause for thought as we approach a New Year and those resolutions to choose something new or different.

I believe in people; I help people be the leaders they want to be; it makes me happy and fulfilled.  These are the ‘whats’ in the Venn diagram.  The intersections are, I believe, the ‘hows’:

  • I believe in people and I help people. I do that by consulting, coaching and facilitating. That is how I align what I believe with what I do
  • I do it with a non-judgmental attitude. I accept the leader you are now, confront the challenges you have and support you to make better choices, so that you become more potent as a leader.  This how I align what I want with what I believe in
  • Being part of a larger corporate machine would not make me happy or fulfilled. So, I do it as a freelance, self-employed consultant – coach – facilitator.  This aligns what I do with what I want.

The final intersection, right in the centre of the diagram, which brings together these ‘whats’ and ‘hows’ is, of course, the ‘why’: why do I do what I do?  And for me, that is the higher purpose of making a difference.

And so, I’m curious, why do you do what you do?

Jeremy J Lewis

CMdeltaConsulting

“Committed to making a difference”

Take Alan’s advice: a three-step approach to become a trusted business adviser

First published on LinkedIn July 13, 2016

To paraphrase Alan Partridge, “Lynn’s not my wife.  She’s my accountant.  Hard-worker, but there’s no affection.”

The work of corporate support functions has changed.  This applies to accounting, human resources, learning and development, legal services, risk, IT, corporate strategy and planning, financial and systems analysis, project and change managers and more.  In fact for anyone who has professional experience, limited direct authority over the use of their expertise and the desire to have some impact at an organisational level.

Regardless of Alan’s view, the traditional role of hard-working expert represents only half the story.  You must be able to have that expertise listened to and used.  To do this, you require a commercial ‘business-like’ mindset, a collaborative partnering approach and the skills to develop trusted adviser relationships.  Dare I say it, to develop a certain affection?

The most effective way for professionals in corporate functions to gain respect, lead change and add value to their organisations is to develop these skills.  I have helped the corporate functions of B2B and B2C private service sector clients and clients in the Health sector do this.  Whilst each of the organisations I’ve worked with is unique, with its own unique set of circumstances, they often share similar challenges, i.e. how to:

  • Find the time to cut down on doing the work in order to build relationships?
  • Get business managers to take accountability for its finances, people, IT investment, etc?
  • Prevent the professionals from ‘going native’?
“Knowing me, Alan Partridge; knowing you, my trusted business adviser; Aha!”

You start by adopting a new professional mindset (‘Knowing me’), and go on to develop deeper relationships (‘Knowing you’) and then consistently apply these fundamentals in your role (‘Aha!’).

Knowing me

Professionals are increasingly anxious within organisations.  Two examples of the risks corporate functions face from their customer-facing colleagues are continual downsizing of the ‘back office’ and the democratisation of information through technology.  Professionals in corporate functions must continually demonstrate their worth to the organisation.  And be seen to do so.

Unfortunately, professionals have an unconscious tendency to pay more attention to their own discipline than the direct strategic goals of the organisations they work for.  We call this ‘basic-assumption’ mentality.  In this mode, the corporate function’s directs its behaviour at meeting the unconscious needs of its members by reducing anxiety.  However, professionals have been trained to use their basic-assumption mentality in a sophisticated way that supports the organisation’s strategic objectives.  This sounds confusing, so let me give a few examples[1]

Finance

Chartered accountant firms require their junior staff to be dependent on senior staff while they are training.  This approach delivers a qualified accountant who insists on being independent and behaves hierarchically to juniors.   They review all their subordinates’ work and hold on to decision-making.  This is the basic assumption of dependency, which is sensibly deployed to manage risk.  Remember the partners of the accounting firm are personally liable and stand to lose their all their worldly possessions if things go wrong.

There is a high risk of this behaviour degenerating into an insistence for freedom for its own sake.  This leads to a lack of accountability to the organisation.  It can lead to a culture of subordination and hierarchical power requiring unquestioning obedience from juniors (and business managers).

Human Resources

The HR professional deploys collaboration with management as the best way to deliver change.  We call this the basic assumption of pairing.  Pairing is a psychological coping strategy where a helpless person assumes two other people will come together to create a messiah baby to save their world.

If overplayed, such a collaborative approach can lead to colluding with the business, whilst simultaneously refusing to examine whether HR interventions help or support the organisation’s strategic objectives.  This can lead to a culture of ‘soft’ HR outputs without the requisite action required to make the change.  For example, creating future-oriented organisational vision and values statements that end up merely as posters on the office wall.

Information Technology

IT professionals have the capacity for sophisticated use of the fight/flight basic assumption mentality.  They sell their proposed technology solutions to clients whilst defending against alternative solutions with doomsday premonitions of catastrophic outcomes if they are not heeded.

Frustratingly often, IT projects do not deliver the purported benefits.  When that happens, the fight/flight mentality degenerates into denial of responsibility, assertion that the IT professional is still right and that the business managers need to change to exploit the technology in full.  Projecting responsibility in this way disables the professional/client relationship from productively devising a course of action to resolve issues.  This can lead to a culture of paranoia and aggressive competitiveness.  It can also lead to a preoccupation with the ‘enemy within’ as well as perceived external enemies.   And it can lead to the promulgation of complex and bewildering rules to control these dangers.

Professionals really need to look at themselves and recognise the approach they are prone to taking.  Only then can they choose a new professional role and identity.

Knowing you

When professionals have gained a deeper understanding of themselves, they can choose a productive professional identity (i.e. one of collaborative business partner).  They are then better placed to notice what drives and motivates the business managers they are seeking to partner.  Developing relationships is probably the most important single thing a professional can do.  In this way they can avoid the dual risks of (a) being treated like a ‘pair of hands’ to do the tasks their business colleagues cannot or do not want to do and (b) being treated like a specialist expert who sits outside the workgroup and can only comment from the sidelines.  Importantly, avoiding these risks actually saves time.

Not only can professionals avoid these risks, but they can transcend them to become a trusted business adviser.  They do this by sitting within the workgroup and operating collaboratively (read: high support and high challenge).  This allows them the opportunity to help the business take accountability.

It also allows them to develop into the strategic partner that not only turns data into insight, but also brings perspective and commerciality.  This enables them to retain their professional integrity without going ‘native’.

Aha!

These skills are neither magical nor mysterious, but come about by mastering the basics of ‘knowing me, knowing you’ and practising the skills needed to deepen relationships.

I often run business simulations and action learning sets with clients so they can practise and reflect on their progress in developing their collaborative partnering skills.

And so the penny finally drops.  As Jim Rohn once said, “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practised every day”.

And I agree.

And even, I suspect, would Alan Partridge.

 

Jeremy J Lewis

@growthepig

[1] These examples have been adapted from the work of Jon Stokes (1994). The Unconscious at work in Groups and Teams: Contributions from the Work of Wilfred Bion, in Anton OBHOLZER and Vega Z. ROBERTS (Eds.) The Unconscious at Work. London, Routledge.

 

I am not a four-letter acronym, I am a free man

Updated copy of a post first published on LinkedIn July 6, 2016

The 1960s TV series, The Prisoner, invited viewers to consider the psychological implications of being labelled and conforming to collectivist ideals, versus being a free-willed individual.  “I am not a number, I am a free man,” proclaimed protagonist Number 6 (Patrick McGoohan).

Well, I have decided I am not an ISFP, or whatever my personality type says I am.

“An ISF-who’s-doing-what, now?” I hear you cry.

Millions of people across the world have undertaken an assessment to determine their personality type.  There are other behavioural and personality type psychometric instruments out there.  However, one of the most recognised and commonly used is the psychology of Carl Jung, as adapted and interpreted by one Isabel Briggs-Myers and one Katharine Cook Briggs (aka the Myers-Briggs thing).

Personality types

Here comes the “science”.  In a nutshell, four dichotomies determine your personality.  Firstly, how you take in (or Perceive) information, which you can do in a detailed, sequential sort of way (Sensing) or a big picture, snapshot sort of way (iNtuition).  Then, you need to consider how you make decisions (or Judgements) based on that information, which you can do objectively (Thinking) or empathetically (Feeling).  One of these Perceiving or Judging dichotomies will dominate your approach to dealing with the world.  Finally, you will put your energy into your dominant approach either by focusing on the external world (Extraversion) or by internalising it (Introversion).  The answers to these four dichotomies yield 16 personality types, each identified by a four-letter acronym.  Only it’s not “science”, it’s just a metaphor for observable behaviour.  you might as well refer to the Native American Medicine Wheel or even Astrology to determine your personality.

Confused?  You should be!  Yet we are told how these four dichotomies apply most often to you determines your personality type.  This in turn determines how you are likely to respond to external stimuli.

The problem with all of this is that people are, well, people.  We are just trying to categorise certain observable behaviours.  Neuroscience now shows that our rational and emotional minds are quite able to be trained to respond in whatever way we choose to any given situation.  So why straight-jacket us with a “type”?  And why make that type so darned complicated?

The concept of preference

What if we viewed some of these types simply as behavioural preferences?  What would these preferences be?  It turns out four such behavioural modes will suffice.  It seems having 16 types really does seem excessive.

What if we could recognise we already have relatively easy access to more than one behavioural mode, say two or even three of these modes?  Would personality typing continue to be appropriate to define us?  I suggest not.

I know I extravert my perceptions and introvert my feelings (apparently this means I work with bursts of energy and makes me a P), but I am quite able to plan out my day too (J).  I’m also happy taking in information in different ways (S and N) and applying both rational thinking and emotional feelings (T and F) to make decisions.  I spend long periods of time focusing on others’ needs and taking in others’ perspectives (E) and I spend long periods of time on my own reflecting and making sense of that data (I).

I am all these things and more.  We need a behavioural psychometric that understands people.  I believe I have found one such tool, called MiRo.  I use it a lot in my organisation development consulting, coaching and facilitation practice.  I’m so excited about it, I have recently become accredited to provide training to others to become MiRo Practitioners.

If you think there’s a better way to help people understand and adapt their behaviour, then I’d like to hear about it.  Get in touch to share your thoughts.  Alternatively, click here to find out more about the MiRo behavioural psychometric.

Jeremy J Lewis

@growthepig

How to build a better multi-agency leadership team through group coaching

First posted on LinkedIn June 7, 2016

Last week, I was working with a multi-agency leadership team comprising local government, health, police, private and third sector partners.  They are grappling with some particularly acerbic social issues; those so-called ‘wicked’ problems that defy linear, planned change and disregard ordinary leadership techniques.

Strategic focus

This group seeks strategic alignment across multiple agencies each with its own agenda.  They want to agree ways of integrated working and to shift their collective mindset to build their understanding of a very complex issue.  The fledgling team are building the capability to deal with it across organisational boundaries and, most importantly of all, they want to build trust to lead a borough of several hundred thousand citizens towards a brighter future.  They are operating at the cutting edge of societal leadership.

Group coaching

Colleagues and I have offered several coaching sessions.  We commenced with exploring how the members of the group would work together and quickly, possibly too quickly, moved into detailed action planning.  As coaches, we noticed how the group all too readily opted to work on a detailed, task focused agenda; one which was probably too ‘safe’.

Thankfully, we recognised and surfaced what we had observed and challenged the group to occupy a more strategic place; one of challenge and support; one of leading complexity.  Our coachees then started to experience a sense of togetherness.  At last week’s session, the fifth in the series, agreed no less than 27 individual actions focused on what they want to achieve, how they are going to progress them and how they will build trusting relationships between themselves.

Breakthrough performance

I have seen this group grow through the forming-storming-norming-performing stages of Bruce Tuckman’s famous teamwork theory (Tuckman, BW, 1965, Developmental Sequence in Small Groups, Psychological Bulletin 63, pp384-399) in a matter of weeks.

This I believe vindicates the approach the coaches took in the early days of focusing on the ‘how’, resisting moving into tasks until the group was ready.  It also goes to show the importance of a group coach whose presence is at once essential to the group’s development and is also irrelevant to the group’s purpose.  This is because (s)he is but one who facilitates the discussion.

Undisciplined problems disrespect conventional leadership development.  Group coaching is far from conventional and I believe offers a disciplined focus that is most appropriate to such wicked issues.

Jeremy J Lewis

@growthepig