Stuck in a coaching rut? Shake it off!

“I‘ve got this stupid song in my head and I can’t get rid of it,” one of my kids said to me the other day.

“I’ve always got a song in my head,” I replied. And it’s true, I do. If you know me at all, you’ll know music is a very important aspect of my life.

For some reason, today’s song – or perhaps I should say ‘guilty pleasure’ – is Shake it Off by Taylor Swift. You know the one:

’Cause the players gonna play, (play, play, play play), and the haters gonna hate, (hate, hate hate, hate). I’m just gonna shake (shake, shake, shake, shake). Shake it off! Shake it off!

And it’s got me thinking about coaching.

No, really.

It’s got me thinking about coaching because at a seminar last week someone said to coach at your developmental edge, you’ve got to “shake off” your existing coaching paradigm. And that is when the song kinda lodged in my brain. Reflecting on their own self-development, they actually said something like this, “As a coach I need to develop reflexive self-awareness to go to the edge of my practice – to a place I’ve not been before, and yet intuitively I know I can. I need to shake off my own paradigm.”

Using creative devices for our own development

And so I thought about the song’s lyrics. It’s amazing how a creative device – such as a song, a picture or some sort of creative process – can shed new light on our thinking and self-reflection.

Consider this lyric from Shake it Off and think for a moment about how your coaching clients experience you as a coach:

Never miss a beat; Lightning on my feet; That’s what they don’t see.

Now consider the next stanza and think for a moment about how you experience yourself when coaching:

Dancing on my own; Make the moves up as I go; That’s what they don’t know.

That seems like flow to me, ease if you will. You are dancing in-the-moment, using your intuition to move to the beat emerging from the coaching dialogue, and your client doesn’t really know what you are doing, how much work you are doing or how much artistry is involved. Rather, they simply experience a great, helpful conversation. Going with the flow, making it up as you go along to suit the music; this is working at your edge.

The risk is that we play it safe

The risk is that we do not find this special place often enough, or even at all. Instead, from fear of being out of our depth, we reach for trusted coaching tools and techniques, or retreat into a defensive position – fight or flight, appease them, collude with them, interpret others’ behaviour from our own biases or slip into ‘rescue’ mode. This is not working at our edge. This is playing it safe.

Tips for working at your edge

Firstly, recognise this defence is a normal response to fear. Slow yourself down. Breathe. I use a mantra to centre and ground myself. Stay curious – be okay with not knowing. Notice what is happening and name it. Take responsibility for your shameful feelings of not being good enough.

You are good enough.

Shake off your coaching paradigm and try something different. You need to practice self-reflection to go to your edge. Take it to supervision – that’s the best place for developing reflexive practice. Supervision can help you build inner strength, see your blind spots and learn through shame.

Trust your intuition and know that you will be okay. Trust yourself.

Or as Ms Swift might say:

I got this music in my mind, singing it’s gonna be alright.

(scroll down)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

And now you’ve got that stupid song stuck in your head, am I right?

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

Are you a fox or a cat… can you keep coaching simple?

What is coaching? What does it entail? Is it necessarily complicated? Or can you keep coaching simple?

As professional coaches, we have studied coaching and we continue to study it to enhance our practice and professional development.

What is coaching?

As such, we encounter many techniques and approaches. Here’s a few that come to mind: clean language, balance, life coaching, goal planning, self-belief, neuro-linguistic programming, transactional analysis, co-active coaching, GROW, OSKAR, SIMPLE, the differences between executive coaching and life coaching, business coaching and performance coaching, career coaching, evoking choice, generating responsibility, provocative coaching, Theory U, The Wheel of Life, being a thinking partner, the reality check, well-formed outcomes, neurological levels, parallel processes, projection, transference, resilience, incisive questioning, Level III listening, mirroring, reflecting, mindfulness, paradoxical intentions, therapy, Street Wisdom, the Gestalt cycle of experience, MBIT, Mindfulness, Total Dutch Coaching, …

Okay I made that last one up, but you see my point? There’s potentially a lot to consider.

Also, whilst deliberating all these choices that might inform the killer coaching question to ask next, the coach must also remain humble, calm and highly self-aware; a curious, focused, expert helper who models aspects of what she is coaching (performance, life balance, resilience, etc).

Blimey!

It’s no wonder coaches are still and reflective. They are sitting there processing all of that!

Oh yes, and remember coaches are usually highly experienced professionals who have mountains of advice, anecdotes and experience to share, but No! You aren’t allowed to do that as it would be directive and might cross a professional boundary into counselling, consulting or management. Nor can you become a crutch or a buddy or friend.

Have you stopped to consider these challenges recently? Do we need to have all these choices in our heads or should we focus on one approach, one type of coaching? Perhaps listening is enough.

I am reminded of Aesop’s fable The Fox and The Cat: A fox and a cat are discussing their approach for evading danger. The fox, known for his cunning, boasts of having hundreds of tricks and deceptions, whereas the cat confesses to having only one. When the hunters and hounds arrive, the cat quickly runs up a tree. The fox is caught out deliberating which of his clever strategies to pursue and falls prey to the dogs.

Perhaps, like the fox, you have many techniques in your coaching kitbag; perhaps our challenge as coaches is to “be more cat”, and rely on ourselves in-the-moment?

Methinks there is a lot to be said for keeping things simple.

The A to Z of OD: R is for Reflective Practitioner

In which I outline three steps to become a reflective practitioner.

In his seminal work The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, Dr Stephen R. Covey uses an example of a woodcutter felling trees with a blunt saw. The workman believes he is far too busy felling trees to take time out to sharpen the saw.

There are three levels of reflection: (1) taking time out to reflect, (2) reflection-in-action and (3) becoming a reflective practitioner. Each represents a more evolved application of reflection and each level of evolution aids organisational development to a greater and greater extent.

1. Taking time out to reflect

You are a busy professional – just like the woodcutter. You have been trained in the rigour required for your own profession, whatever your profession may be. How do you go about a task? Well, you probably draw of your professional training, expertise in your subject matter and experience in the real world. You may well have particular preferences in how you go about your work; you have become a great problem solver, and yet you may become stuck in your ways; you may also find there is tension between the professional rigour you seek to apply and the relevance of your specialist knowledge in the real world.

When I run facilitated learning sessions, individual coaching and group coaching sessions, the most significant benefit managers and leaders tell me they feel is finding space and time to think; to talk and listen to others with similar challenges. They are pining for more time out to reflect so they can become more effective when they are back at work.

2. Reflection-in-action

Taking time out to reflect, think and plan is great; it can really help you get perspective. However, a lot can happen during the time you are taking out, meaning you go back to work with even more to do – even more trees to fell, if you will. You have taken time out to sharpen your saw, however it can blunt again very quickly when there is so much to do.

Reflection-in-action represents the next level. This is reflecting on your actions in-the-moment. It is like being a fly on the wall, watching you at work. You are doing and reflecting simultaneously. This takes practice. That said, it is the route to mastery of applying your professional discipline in the workplace because it helps you become aware of your implicit knowledge and to learn from your experience as it happens. It resolves the rigour versus relevance paradox.

3. The reflective practitioner

Professional mastery goes beyond rigorous problem solving using the science of your discipline. It requires what Donald Schon (author of The Reflective Practitioner) calls a “reflective conversation with the situation”. It enables thinking and doing to feed each other so that every action gives pause for reflection. Doing this requires practice and the benefits are enormous. For the professional in business, it equates to wisdom and influence and calmness. You not only act with discipline, mindfulness and mastery, you are also aware at every moment why you have acted that way and are more likely to get the outcomes you intend.

Mastery of OD practice, where you are intervening in organisational systems to effect change, requires this level of reflection.

Summary

You do not need to do leave the office for a day’s workshop to reflect; you can build time into your daily or weekly routine to do it, right at your desk, in a break-out area, over lunch, going for a walk, whatever suits you; you are not too busy to look after yourself.

Practise reflection-in-action; be the fly on the wall observing you in action, sense the dynamic between you and others. When you can do this, you are on your way to becoming a reflective practitioner.

OD thought leader: George Ritzer (b. 1940)

Not strictly an OD thought leader, American social theorist George Ritzer examined the rationalization of society and coined the term McDonaldization. His thinking has profound implications for organisational development.

Following Henry Ford and McDonalds Restaurants lead, many organisations have reengineered their processes for efficiency. McDonaldization is rationalisation taken to its logical conclusion. Efficient, logical sequences of business processes produce results that are predictable in quality, calculable in quantity and controlled. These are the hallmarks of McDonaldization: efficiency, predictability, calculability and control.

However, over-rationalizing processes has unintended consequences: in McDonalds, the term fast food is literally a misnomer: the over-rationalized process requires customers to order via self-serve terminals and wait in long queues to be served relatively unhealthy, unappetizing food.

In our desire for the components of rational organisational systems, we have allowed unintended consequences that do not serve our human interests:

  • Efficiency does not allow for individuality and sneakily turns customers into workers. This has now happened in supermarkets too, where we are expected to self-check out
  • Predictability means uniformity. You only need look at the typical high street to see the same rows of brand names, limiting both our choice and the expression of creativity
  • Calculability favours quantity over quality. Two-for the price of one on all-but-rotting fruit, anyone?
  • Control means deskilling the workforce, automation and loss of jobs.

We have inadvertently dehumanised our workplaces and our society.

Back in 1993, Ritzer saw the move to over-rationalized systems as inexorable. We have somehow found a way to cope with all this rationalization – nay crave it – as it reduces risk to us as individuals in society. Why risk an independent coffee shop when you can guarantee a certain quality from Starbucks?

Some 25 years later and the robots are coming. Is this simply the next step in over-rationalizing our organisations and society? Or perhaps we might find a way deploy digital solutions to deal with the rationalized elements of organisational life without dehumanising our workplaces and free human potential by inviting creativity and innovation into our working lives?

In the digital age, I believe OD can help systematically create workplaces that are more human. Stop tinkering with processes for efficiency and control and start working on the whole system; put customers at heart of what we do and enable and empower staff to be creative.

Suggested reading: Ritzer, G. (1993) The McDonaldization of Society, Thousand Oaks, CA., Pine Forge.

Next time: S is for Supervision

The A to Z of OD: Q is for Questions

Is consulting about offering your own solutions, or working collaboratively with clients to generate solutions jointly? The former involves telling, advising, recommending. The latter involves asking, diagnosing, exploring possibilities. I guess the answer depends on what sort of consulting you are offering. Perhaps you are an IT expert and there really is one best way of implementing a solution. More likely, you are engaged in collaborative consulting. OD is collaborative consulting. The A to Z of OD continues. Q is for Questions.

The Paradoxical nature of change

The paradox of change is that if you push too hard, it resists. If you let go, often it comes more easily. It’s the same with OD. If you seek tightly-defined solutions, elegant models, rigorous frameworks or SMART outcomes, people can become sceptical and resist.

OD is the planned approach to change, and yet it is equally invested in the process-centred journey as it is in the destination-focused goal. “What we need is better practice,” muses management guru Henry Mintzberg. “Not neater theory.” What he is saying is, “What we need is better questions, not neater solutions.”

Self as instrument of change

The practice of OD is the practice of asking questions. And it seems we’re in fashion: mansplaining is out, humble inquiry is in. It requires offering our vulnerability that we do not know the answers and that we might just find a path toward change by working together.

And by asking a question, the OD practitioner is intervening in the system – he is using himself as an instrument of change. OD scholar Ed Schein offers suggestions for some opening questions in his 2013 book Humble Inquiry:

“So…” (with an expectant look)

“What’s happening?”

“How are things going for you?”
(Note: not “Hi, how are you?”, which is likely to elicit a closed response, “Fine.”

“What brings you here?”

“Go on…” (or my personal favourite version of it, “Can you say more about that?”)

“Can you give me an example?”

The critical point here is to remain curious. To “seek first and then to be understood” as Dr Stephen Covey would have it. Yes, have an opinion, and yet at the same time hold it lightly. Explore everybody’s ideas equally, sincerely and with humility.

Some types of questions

There are good uses for open questions to explore issues, “What is keeping you awake at night?”, closed questions to focus, “So you are saying…, is that right?”, and choice questions, “on a scale from 1-10, how would you rate the current situation?”

There are several useful facilitative questions, used by people chairing or facilitating meetings to generate accountability in the other people present and move the conversation on, from, “What happened?”, to exploring root causes (why?) and possibilities, “How can we improve?”

There are also some very special types of questions, such as Nancy Kline’s incisive question, “If you know that you are [positive assumption, e.g. highly regarded by your client], what will you do differently?”, or the agreement frame from NLP, “I appreciate you want to [insert other person’s desire], how can we do that and [insert your own desire]?”, e.g. “I appreciate you want to dramatically increase sales; how can we do that through influence rather than pushing our clients too hard?”

Of course OD practitioners need to have insight too. There is a time to inquire and a time to advocate your opinion. Usually in that order.

OD thought leader: Robert E Quinn (b. 1946)

Robert E Quinn is a professor at the University of Michigan School of Business, specialising in HR management and organisational behaviour.

He believes organisational change cannot happen without deep individual change. He believes everyone in an organisation has the power to change the organisation. These ideas are set out in Deep Change, in which Quinn articulates a set of principles for personal transformation.

He suggests too many people are living their lives out as a version of ‘slow death’ for fear of rocking the boat. He suggest you choose deep change over slow death. This requires courage, sacrifice and hard work. It requires reflection and self-inquiry, looking inwards to ask yourself what you really, really want, what you believe, and how you will find the strength to begin to change. You might well need the support of a coach yourself. It is worth it. Avoid slow, creeping death and discover the new you through deep change. The new you can change your world.

Recommended reading: Quinn, Robert E., (1996) Deep Change: discovering the leader within, Wiley, NY.

Next time: R is for Reflective Practice.

The A to Z of OD (Part I)

This is the first part in a series of articles that will set out the A to Z of organisation development.  The series will consider the principles and practices, the tools and techniques and the past and present thought leaders that have shaped the field.  I don’t know exactly what will be included under each letter of the alphabet.  That will emerge.  If you have any thoughts on what you think should be included, get in touch and we’ll discover together where this goes!

But first, we must discover what is OD.  And to do that, we must first decide what is an organisation.

What is an organisation?

An organisation is a group of people who come together to achieve a common purpose.  They establish a collection of systems and processes that produces more together than the sum of their parts.  These components continually impact on each other, depend on each other to thrive and collectively contribute as a ‘whole system’ towards achieving the organisation’s purpose.

Different parts of any organisation perform different functions and can become highly specialised.  This specialisation creates a need for coordination at a ‘whole system’ level, i.e. the need for more and more sophisticated leadership and organisation.

What is organisation development?

Organisation development is an ongoing, systematic process of implementing sustainable change that recognises and draws on this ‘whole system’ thinking.  It also uses applied behavioural science to understand organisational and team dynamics.  After all, organisations are human systems – they only exist as a collection of people coming together to achieve a common purpose.

The goal of organisation development is to maximise the organisation’s effectiveness at serving its purpose.

A is for Action Learning

Action learning is a process whereby participants study their own actions and experiences to improve their performance.  You do it in conjunction with others in small groups called action learning sets, typically using the services of a facilitator.

Action learning propels your personal development further and faster in the real world.  This is because your peers are helping you reflect on your interactions with other people and the learning points arising.  This guides future action and develops real-world wisdom rather than traditional educational processes that focus purely on knowledge.  It is particularly suited to leadership development in organisations, where participants are working on real problems in the real world that affect real people.

OD thought leader: Chris Argyris

Chris Argyris (1923-2013) was a founding father of organisation development.  He is known for seminal work on developing learning organisations.  He pioneered Action Science – the study of how people choose their actions in difficult situations.

Action Learning and Action Science are related.  There is a risk the former may inadvertently encourage ‘single-loop’ learning: you act, you reflect on the outcome of that action and then make practical adjustments so that you revise the action you take next time.

Argyris argued that humans are overwhelmingly programmed to act based of defensive thinking.  Organisations reinforce this defensive behaviour through institutionalised routines.  Such routines prevent individuals expressing concerns, encourage avoiding behaviour and promote a lack of authenticity.  It is hard to break this vicious cycle.

Argyris proposed a double-loop of learning.  Double-loop learning means to be reflective in-the-moment, to continuously pay attention to the present to make your positive future intention a reality.  We must continue to learn, and we must continually relearn how to learn.  For me, reflective double-loop learning is one of the cornerstones of organisation development.

Recommended reading: Argyris, C. (2000). Flawed Advice and The Management Trap: How Managers Can Know When They’re Getting Good Advice and When They’re Not. New York, Oxford.

Next time: B is for Behaviours

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

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

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

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