Sat Nav for your life

Sat Nav for your life

Do you sometimes feel downhearted, overwhelmed or disenfranchised with modern life in a fast-paced city? Are you losing your sense of yourself, your place and community?

“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Activist.

We rely on Sat Nav to get us places we want to go in our lives. What if there were a Sat Nav for your life: a simple wellbeing solution to help you become more open-hearted and open-minded and to find the wonder in the everyday, every day?

Take a walk

“Go for a walk – you could discover the meaning of life.” The Guardian.

I’m currently reading Wanderful, by David Pearl. He is the founder of Street Wisdom, a global not-for-profit with a mission to bring inspiration to every street on earth. Several years ago, I experienced my very first Walkshop, and I’ve been running them ever since for groups of people who are looking for fresh answers to their challenges.

It’s a simple technique that anybody can do for themselves, once they’ve been introduced to it.

As part of Leeds Wellbeing Week (March 30th – April 5th, 2020), I am running two such Walkshops:

  • A full, immersive, three-hour version on Tuesday March 30, 13:00 – 16:00, meet at on Leeds Art Gallery steps. Get tickets
  • A shorter introductory Walkshop on Wednesday April 1, 12:30 – 13:30, meet in the Leeds City Art Gallery foyer. This one even fits into your lunchtime! Get tickets

Tune in, slow down, wander

“Find all the answers you need on your doorstep.” The Telegraph.

Both Walkshops involve tuning our senses in to the city streets. Answers are everywhere, you only have to look. In fact, you’ll learn how to look and so you can repeat the technique as a self-coaching exercise in the future.

You will experience heightened awareness emotionally and cognitively, in how you choose to move and of your creativity. That is, we tune up you heart, mind, body and soul to be more aware of the messages the city streets are sending you.

Answers are everywhere… you just have to look

“[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.

If you are seeking inspiration and fresh direction: in work, in life, as you’ll discover, the answers to our questions are right in front of our eyes. We walk past them every day.

Learn how to be your own best helper.

Discover the wisdom of the streets.

Turn on the Sat Nav for your life.

Get tickets: 3-hour Walkshop 1-hour Walkshop

10 things I wish I had known before starting my independent consulting and coaching career

Since 2014, I have had what I consider to be a successful independent career. It has been a rollercoaster and I wouldn’t change it for any alternative. I’m currently a self-employed OD consultant, executive coach and facilitator, a part-time lecturer, an occasional DJ, a volunteer Street Wizard and a trustee of a small charity. Just now, I’m also launching my new coach supervisor brand, Grow the Coach.

Setting up your own business and all that goes with it can be daunting. I did it six years ago and with Grow the Coach I’m doing it again now. Here are the 10 things I wish someone had told me as I look back over my journey so far…

Who is you target client, what do they need and what can you do for them?

  1. Be VERY clear about the skills and experience you have to offer. How can you best utilise them to solve problems for potential clients in a way that allows you to spend time doing more of the work you most enjoy?
  2. Be EVEN MORE clear about who your ideal client is – if you target everyone, you target no one. You can spend many long days, weeks and even months chasing the wrong clients.
  3. If you can match client needs with your offer, you can decide what this means for how you work: part-time, contract, interim, consultant, etc. It may be several similar roles, or a mix of different roles at the same time. This mix is likely to change over time, so be prepared to be flexible. I was staunchly a “freelance consultant” when I started. I’ve since been an associate for other firms, an employee, part-time interim, won bids with my own brand and sub-contracted work to others, taken on a zero-hours contract, volunteered, offered pro bono professional services and now I’m establishing a self-employed brand with no company. You do what is right for you and your prospective clients.

Working hours and pricing

  1. Start by calculating many hours you are committed to work and how many of these are likely to be paid. Then think about your charging rates. How much income do you need to live? Divide this by the number of paid hours you expect to work and see how the resulting hourly or day rate compares to the market. Another method is to take your headline final annualised full-time equivalent salary and knock two zeros off the end. That’s roughly your starting day rate. £50k translates to £500 per day as an independent; £80k to £800; etc.

Business structure, regulatory and legal implications

  1. Decide on the most appropriate business structure – whether to operate as a limited company or on a self- employed basis – and understand the tax implications, including IR35. Some roles might be on a PAYE basis. I’ve done them all.
  2. Professional indemnity and other insurances may be necessary. I use Hiscox, many other providers are available.

Finding work is a multi-channel approach

  1. Networking – maintain contact with your existing networks and get out there to explore new ones. Get ready to kiss a lot of toads – it really is a numbers game, especially to start with. Also leverage your social media networks: I have secured work through LinkedIn and Twitter just by getting into the right conversations. Then get your elevator pitch ready. I find asking questions is more powerful than pitching your offer. Sort your LinkedIn profile out. Do you need a website? How will you interact with social media channels, for example will you be blogging, tweeting, etc.? The key to networking is to offer something of value even if you can’t see an immediate return. You are building your profile and reputation as someone who can make a difference.
  2. For employed roles, use job boards and for contract work and interim placements only, use recruitment agents. You’ll kiss a lot of toads here too. Agents are not the people to help you find part-time work or genuine consulting work, IMHO. You can also bid for public sector contracts using portals, if you have the energy to submit to the laborious application processes. I’ve bid for several, won one and now given up even looking.
  3. Seek out associate relationships – where larger firms sell work and sub-contract it out to independents. This is still a large part of my business, although after a few years, my own work took over in terms of relative income and the work’s importance to me.

Keep on top of your game

  1. It’s even more important than ever to keep up to date with your discipline, so consider taking more memberships of industry groups and professional practice forums, get a coach, mentor or supervisor, and consider your continuing professional development. Write some articles.

And finally, three more things that are useful to know and remember…

  • You will feel lost, vulnerable and exhilarated … often all at once!
  • Don’t underestimate the amount of time you will spend on admin and unpaid business development.
  • Learn to say “No” if it the work offered is not in your sweet spot. Only when you say “No” does your “Yes” mean something.

It’s a rollercoaster. Get ready for the ride of your life!

Jeremy J Lewis

The Journey to Calm

Today, I welcome Justine Shaw, People & Culture Director at CPP Group, to reflect on the recently completed artwork – The Journey to Calm – that was created on a development programme she commissioned for her colleagues in Leeds.  To find out more about the programme, please follow @corpartworks on Instagram or Twitter,  and message us directly.

________

There is a piece of Artwork in my head office. Beautifully conceived and multi-layered in the experience, transient and thoughtful, taking the consumer on ‘The Journey to Calm’. You can interact, experience and note your reactions in the journal. This is art.

“Much is made of our modern lifestyle ‐ its fast‐paced, non‐stop, ever accessible nature. At times, we struggle to resist and to escape the constant threat of sensory overload. Through the introduction of visual prompts in the urban landscape this piece explores the need to take time out. To not be afraid of granting ourselves permission; to stop; to pause, to reflect, to fully re‐engage with the world around us”

The Project

The artwork was conceived and created by eight colleagues.

Surprised?

I think it’s fair to say, so are they. Our colleagues took part in an experimental project called Corporate Artworks, working with Jeremy Lewis (a coach) and Gary Winters (an artist) to explore art and innovation, to learn lessons for the corporate world from the artist’s creative toolbox and mindset; and to go on a journey of discovery over four modules.

At times it has been challenging, at times dramatic and at times a liberating experience. As I watched from the side-lines, I have seen transformational changes in thinking, changes in perspective, changes in the view of self and an increase in confidence.

There was no predetermined outcome or requirement for an outcome. What was produced supported by a conceptual document, is thought provoking, deep and meaningful. It is multi-layered and allows space for the individual experience.

Why Corporate Artworks?

How does this fit with the corporate world, why is this part of our culture?

  • Our culture is about open honest conversations, the ability to be your authentic self and to cut down the spaces for misunderstanding.
  • We work and collaborate together, to challenge and to understand our behaviours and the behaviours of those around us. Every interaction we have is an opportunity to have a positive impact on these around us.
  • Every time we make a request of each other is a touch point and a moment we make someone’s job mean more, make them appreciate their colleagues more and want to help more; or it can be a moment when people can feel underappreciated or not valued.
  • Our culture is about adapting not coping in a transformation business and a turbulent world. Part of this is understanding ourselves and knowing how to have a good day that brings out the best in us.

The outcomes

This journey allowed our people to develop, understand themselves and grow in ways they are just starting to understand. It has changed them and allowed them to see different perspectives, to consider innovation and creation in new ways. It has taken them on a journey. Let me share their words with you.

“It has been emotional. I have been so far out of my comfort zone … I’ve struggled, I’ve loved it, I’ve nearly quit and I’ve enjoyed it. I don’t understand my journey yet but … let go or be dragged.”

“It has stripped away layers so I could get back to me. I had lost me but this allowed me to Stop-Pause-Reflect. I’ve made big changes personally and professionally. The journey back to calm has reduced my anxiety.”

“I was listening but now I am hearing. The journey is important, it’s weird and fulfilling. We share so much and we are all not so different. It has been a leap of faith but I feel proud and connected.”

“I found a space for myself, I can rest, I can sit with uncertainty and if you look reinvention is everywhere.”

“I feel confident to be me, an introvert in workplaces that don’t work for introverts. I take time to think, to immerse and concentrate. I’m not scared to daydream because it’s productive. The personal impact is I now take time for myself.”

“I enjoyed it, working with different people. It’s been emotional, it’s been scary as you need to be vulnerable, and you are no longer the expert. I view things differently and I’m still moving forward and finding out about me. I now ask myself, what is the message?”

“Collaboration works, but it can be really hard to truly collaborate. You can’t control how somebody reacts to something. You have to give your all, be authentic and genuine in your intention and put it out there and not worry about the reaction. We helped each other. We worked through our uncomfortableness and practiced our creativity. We are all artists.”

“I thought I was the wrong person to be here because I don’t have a creative bone in my body. Then I thought about art and I thought. This is something that will follow you home, this is something that we can share, this is something that will never be the same, and this is something that will evolve. This is something.  This has changed my thinking; art has got so many possibilities and I can see me in a lot of them. At work I look at things in a different way, through a different lens, through a different window. This journey really has been … something.”

Finally I asked what advice they would give their former selves just joining the programme:

  • Trust the process
  • You don’t know yet, how or when, but it will change you and help you at work
  • Let go or be dragged!

Justine Shaw, People & Culture Director, CPP Group

Past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance… but it is a good place to start

We are told that past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance, especially when making personal financial investments.  That’s why, in organisations, we write business cases to prove to ourselves we will get a return on investment.  How does this apply to transformational change, when it’s not just finances, but relationships between people that need to change?  We are told that past performance is not necessarily a guide to future performance… but it is a good place to start.

 Past – Present – Future … where do you tend to start?

“I want to change the culture,” is something I hear a lot from potential clients.  They have an idea of what is NOT working and a vague notion that “empowerment”, more accountability” or “better collaboration” are the ways to change things.  They then immediately set about defining what the future will look like and writing their business case.  If this sounds familiar, chances are you are already on the path to failure.  That is because you have over-rationalised it and are trying to make a purely financial case for investment.

 The Future is unwritten

I’m not going to bore you with facts and figures about the failure of change programmes.  You’ll know yourself that organisations often choose to invest in tangible things that can be measured in financial terms.  Thing like restructuring, new systems and business processes.  They tend to spend less effort investing in building truly collaborative way of working, innovating and problem-solving.  Because these are hard to do.   Also, writing business cases forces you down that path.  It is often a logical place to start, but it is not the whole story.

 Let the Future remain unwritten for a little longer

In my experience, organisations that over rely on these rational aspects of change tend to achieve limited success, smaller business benefits and alienate their people.  Those organisations that consider the softer, relationship-orientated, people aspects of change achieve better results.  Sometimes.  A major issue, even when culture is properly considered, is that those seeking the change only look forwards to envision a brighter future.

 Opportunities lie in the Past as well as the Future

This is, I fear, only half the story.  By looking at how your organisation got to where it is today, you will understand what aspects of your current culture are already working well and need preserving.  Reflect on the journey taken to get to where you are today, the successes, the failures, what has been learned (and what has not).  This will give you a better understanding of what makes your organisation tick, and what might be holding it back.

 Now is all there is

By achieving a deeper understanding of the Past, you allow yourself, collectively with your people, to let it go.  You will become more intently focused on the Present.  I believe the Present is really all that truly exists.  Looking to the Past helps us understand the Present.  Looking to the future tries to hi-Jack the Present and force it into something it is not ready to be. 

 Be right here, right now with your people and allow your Future Intention to emerge collectively from collaborative sense-making and reflecting on learnings from the Past.  Pay attention to the Present to make your Future Intention a reality.  There are a few simple, practical techniques and ways of working that can be applied every day to do this.  The result is transformational.  The result is the culture change you are seeking.

 Jeremy J Lewis, committed to making a difference in embedding sustainable change

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.

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

Does your organisation pay attention to its heart, mind, body and soul?

First posted on LinkedIn June 16, 2016

A whole person is made up of heart, mind, body and soul.  Okay it’s a metaphor, I know a whole person comprises blood, organs, flesh and bones, but go with me for a moment.  I believe an organisation (which is a human system after all) has a heart, a mind, a body and a soul too.  People need to attend to their hearts, minds, bodies and souls to stay healthy and to thrive, especially in times of change.  So, why don’t organisations do the same?  Making changes stick requires you pay attention to your organisation’s heart, mind, body and soul.

The power to organise defines the organisational mind

Let’s start with the mind, the appeal to logic (or logos as the Greek philosophers would have it) so prevalent in how organisations are designed.  Why is paying attention to the organisational mind important?  People are rational and need security and recognition for their work.  Paying attention to the organisational mind connects your business processes to your strategy and it demonstrates a thought through design for efficiency and effectiveness.  The power to organise defines the organisational mind.  It is attended to through org structures, planning processes and performance management.

Organisations demonstrate heart through engagement

Then there’s the heart of the organisation, the appeal to emotions (or pathos).  Pathos is important in decision making (as now evidenced through neuroscience).  It connects people to your strategy and demonstrates a developmental approach to help people fulfil their potential.  Organisations demonstrate heart by how well they engage their people.  This requires clarity of communication, offering support and nurturing people to develop their careers in pursuit of their aspirations.

Actions speak louder than words

The body of an organisation is its people.  It is how they undertake your business processes to deliver the strategy.  It is, as Herb Kelleher, Chairman of Southwest Airlines puts it, “what people do when no one is looking”.  More than anything else, this defines your organisation’s culture.  It’s what connects people to your business processes.  Attending to culture demonstrates you value the real life internal workings of your organisation.  Developing this enables you to keep it simple, get it right first time and truly create a customer-focused culture.

You need soul to turns ideas into actions

The organisational soul is what holds all the other parts together.  It balances the needs of the organisational heart, mind and body.  It connects strategy, process and people, and it demonstrates the ability to turn ideas into actions to deliver the strategy.  The organisational soul is leadership; leadership that gives clarity of direction, support to develop skills and behaviours and reinforce those behaviours day-to-day, and ensures there are consequences for success or failure to deliver.

I work with clients who know they need to develop their organisations, but who are frustrated by the change they want to make not sticking.  I believe to make change stick you need to attend to the heart, mind body and soul of your organisation.  How does your organisation fair?  Does it pay attention to its heart, mind, body and soul?

Jeremy J Lewis

@growthepig

A two-step programme to give yourself time to #JustBe

First posted on LinkedIn March 16, 2016

Busy, busy, busy

It strikes me that we fill our lives with stuff to do: reports to write, meetings to attend, emails to send, phone calls to make, presentations to prepare, endless lists of things to do…  And when we’re not at work, there’s endless lists of things to do too: our fitness regimes to maintain, our food to cook, our homes to clean, our children to drop off, our children to pick up, other people’s children to pick up, …

We allow ourselves to self-persecute; we allow our diaries persecute us; we allow our to-do lists persecute us.  I know people who love making to-do lists.  Their to-do lists even include “Get up” and, “Have breakfast” so that they can tick them off with a sense of achievement.  This I fear is a step too far.  You know it’s really gone too far when you start off a new to-do list with the item, “See other to-do list”.

Striving for efficiency

And even when you know this self-persecutory doing behaviour has gone too far, the only solutions out there appear to be aimed at doing things more efficiently: Smart Phone Apps that get you organised so you can do more, books that help you create an efficiency programme so you can do more, methods to take control of your email inbox so you can do even more…

I remember one of those personal efficiency type training courses I attended as a junior manager many years ago; we were shown how to categorise tasks into three types: ‘A’ tasks – those that our performance was measured against, ‘C’ tasks – those that were just stuff that came across our desks and ‘B tasks, which covered pretty much everything in between.  Then we were told that personal efficiency sprang from scheduling ‘A’ tasks into our diaries.  Who knew?  A colleague and I were paired up at the end of the course to keep in touch and check in with each other to see how we were getting on with scheduling ‘A’ tasks into our demanding work schedules.  So, I rang him a few weeks later to inquire into his progress.  “I’m far too busy to start with all that crap,” he replied.

We become victims entirely of our own making.

Finding time to #JustBe

What if you could find a way to balance all this doing with more of the being we need to rediscover ourselves.  It is said we are human beings after all, not human doings.  What if you could find the time to #JustBe.  Then you might just discover your life’s purpose, your Dharma.  This requires us to reject being a victim and to choose being vulnerable instead.  To choose our own potency over self-persecution.

And this starts with giving yourself permission to #JustBe.  There is a time to do and a time to be.  I like to think of each day as having three parts – a morning, an afternoon and an evening.  That’s 21 parts to a week.  Many of us are contracted to work for 10 of those, that’s less than half.  In reality, many of us are conditioned into working a lot more of them.

Step 1: Make a list of the things that help you #JustBe.  My list includes go for a walk, take a bath, play music.  Then schedule some #JustBe time in your diary.  Your diary will still be full of things to do, but now there’ll also be space to be too.

Step 2: Here’s the biggie.  Clear your diary.  I dare you.  Just thinking about doing it can be scary, vulnerable.  Liberating, isn’t it?  Your diary becomes an ocean of space to #JustBe.  You now have the choice to schedule in some things to do.  A choice.  All life is a choice.

Choose wisely.

 

Jeremy J Lewis

@growthepig

When did this journey truly begin?

First posted on LinkedIn March 2, 2016

There’s an old folk tale of a tourist visiting a monastery, where he was greeted by an ageing monk and invited in for tea.  While the old man prepared the tea, the tourist asked about the monk’s humble lifestyle – a simple bed, chairs and a table, a few books and a prayer mat, a basic cooker and no fridge.  “How do you manage to live like this?” asked the visitor. “No telephone, only a few clothes and no radio, let alone a TV or computer?”

The old man replied with a question of his own. “Where are your possessions?”

“Oh, I’m travelling”, the man responded.  “I’m just passing through.”

“We are all just passing through,” replied the monk.

I chose to spend much of the day today walking and reflecting.  With my partner by my side, I trekked through the moorland near my home, setting down some fresh tracks in the snow.  We had an idea of where we were heading, but the snow obscured the footpaths and we took several wrong turns as we passed through the glorious Yorkshire countryside.  We eventually descended the moor, found a pub for some lunch and later took a train back home again.

I feel blessed to be able to take a day out every now and again and just be.  Pause.  Reflect. Are we following our own path or someone else’s?  When did this journey truly begin?

And so it seems there are no such things as wrong turns, only paths we never thought we’d take.  And in the end, we’re all just passing through.

Jeremy J Lewis

@growthepig