Courageous Conversations

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Courageous Conversations

If you are a product of the leadership thinking that was prevalent in the second half of the twentieth century, you will probably have been taught that a leader needs to keep some distance from their team. In other words, it’s lonely at the top.

Today we see loneliness in leadership as a personality flaw in the leader and not part of the job description.  If it’s lonely at the top you are doing somethings wrong. And one of those things is almost certainly failing to engage in the leadership conversation with your team.

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Foundations of Leadership

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Foundations of Leadership

What every IT Manager needs to know - so they can manage their people as well as they manage their servers. There are 5 key ideas that every technician needs to master in order to successfully make the leap from a technical career track into leadership. If you want to go from Sys Admin to CTO, then these are for you.

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Design lessons from the M5

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Design lessons from the M5

During the recent Arctic cold weather snap, I really appreciated the 4 wheel drive on my beloved Volvo.  It may be getting long in the tooth but it handles the ice and snow with a sure-footed assurance – which I was especially grateful for this weekend as it meant all the band equipment arrived at Church on Sunday morning and number 1 daughter arrived safely back at University in Nottingham on Monday.

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A day with the High Flyers

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A day with the High Flyers

When the pressure is on and deadlines loom or disaster strikes, it can be very tempting to want to do something - anything -  to start working on the solution as soon as possible.  And, all things being equal, this is the right thing to do - we should have a bias to action.

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Is your Leader-ship sinking?

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Is your Leader-ship sinking?

Last week the news was full of the disruption caused by the WannaCry Ransomware which has hit over 300,000 computers in 150 countries (as of 20th May).  Some have blamed Microsoft, others the NSA, still others the Government.  They are all wrong.

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Crashing the Terror Barrier

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Crashing the Terror Barrier

There comes a point in any journey of personal growth and development where the next step we need or want to take suddenly feels way bigger than all the others taken so far. You might be embarking on your biggest ever project at work, preparing your first public speaking gig, creating your first presentation for work, starting a business or turning up to join a local sports team or theatre club for the first time. Whatever it is, it is something that is taking you out of your comfort zone.

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It's all in the process

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It's all in the process

It was one of those good-news / bad-news days. 

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The good news was that my beloved Swiss Army knife, personalised with my name in silver, bought for me by my mammy way back in the 1980s had been found – the bad news was that it had been found during a routine security check of my bag as I entered the UK Houses of Parliament for a meeting. (No weapons allowed – I’m sure you understand why).

So, there I stood looking embarrassed as the police woman smiled and assured me it was not a problem – she would keep my knife safe at her desk and I could collect it on the way out after my meeting.  I don’t know what made me feel more uncomfortable – the embarrassment of trying to sneak a weapon in to the home of democracy or the fact that it clearly happened so often the police had a well-oiled process for dealing with the situation…

A well-oiled process – consistency – the right things happening at the right time – these are all keys to success in any business and in our personal growth.

I spent the last two days in a hotel in the Costwolds with Christian Simpson’s Entrepreneurial Elite Think Tank – quite a mouthful I know – but it was a valuable learning experience for me.  The room was full of around 50 entrepreneurs at various stages of growth from start-ups to multi-millionaires and they were all there to help each other and provide advice and mentoring to each other. Iron sharpens iron, as the proverb goes.  One recurring theme over the two days was the need to create and follow processes as any business grows.  It’s a sign of maturity and of transition – marking the move from a small business to a medium business as you grow up the SME scale.  Having a process stops you needing to keep re-inventing the wheel, it helps you be consistent and efficient.

All these truths apply equally to our personal growth and development.  In the 15 Laws of Growth, John Maxwell speaks about the Law of Design: to maximise growth, develop strategies.  I agree with John when he says that systems make extraordinary results predictable - and they can range from the very simple: such as- what time of day do you work best – morning or afternoon – so do your most important work then; to the more complex such as systems like Getting Things Done (link: http://amzn.to/2lGvCwD ) or apps like OmniFocus (link: https://www.omnigroup.com/omnifocus ) which help you plan and priorities your schedule.

The key here- is to have a plan.  I find that when I don’t have a clear plan, I tend to wander (and wonder) and I focus on doing the things that I find the most fun or easy which is rarely the same as the things which are important or urgent and then I get caught out when a deadline that I was not mindful of sneaks up on me.

Jim Rohn said: If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you'll fall into someone else's plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much!

 

So, what is your life plan?  Do you have a plan for personal growth?  How do you intend to add more value (or make yourself more valuable) to your family and clients or employer?

 

A growth plan which includes a system to help you apply it might be just what you are looking for.

My HIGH FLYERS course will challenge you to change your attitude and thinking in 10 key areas of your life and deliver this training in a unique scheduled way which will really help you apply each lesson and embed it into your daily routine before moving on to the next lesson.

Continuous growth and development is not only an attitude I take to my personal growth, but it applies to my products and services as well.  Next week I will be releasing a major update to the HIGH FLYERS course, and upgrading the course from being audio only to being a video based course (and I will still keeping the option to download an MP3 of each lesson as many people like the opportunity to listen on their dog walks and commutes on their phone). This isn’t just a simple conversion of the existing audio and adding some slides – every lessons is being re-recorded from scratch and the content for each lesson is being updated and expanded.  The new HIGH FLYERS course will delivery significantly more content and value and with the upgrade will come a modest price increase.  The new course price will be £197, but all existing students will receive the upgrade for free as part of my usual ‘lifetime access guarantee.’

So if you are not already enrolled in HIGH FLYERS you may want to secure your lifetime access at the current price and enjoy the upgrade for free next week.  Act today- don’t miss out!  Enrol in HIGH FLYERS today:  www.cool-waters.co.uk/highflyers  

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Adjust your trim - Lessons in leadership from Concorde

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Adjust your trim - Lessons in leadership from Concorde

 By Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Eduard Marmet [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

One of my favourite stories told by my father, was of his time working on the prototype of Concorde – the stunning, futuristic supersonic airliner.   Dad was working for aircraft manufacturer BAC at Filton near Bristol when the second prototype Concorde 002 first flew in 1969. 

The wings of an aircraft produce lift, and the focal point of that lift – the place where the imaginary string would attach that lifts the plane into the air – is called the centre of pressure or lift point.  If the lift point coincides with the centre of gravity of the plane it makes the whole thing easier to fly and control.   When Concorde 002 flew the test pilot noticed that the handling of the aircraft change significantly during the flight. The engineers soon realised this was due to the centre of gravity of the plane ‘moving’ as the weight of the fuel in the tanks changed as the jet fuel was consumed.  The solution to the problem was to pump the fuel around the various tanks in the plane to keep it balanced – but how could the pilot know ‘where’ the centre of gravity was on the plane in order to know what fuel to shift where?  This was my father’s job – to invent a centre-of-gravity-o-meter which the pilot could use from the cockpit.

All planes need adjustments during flight – this is called adjusting the ‘trim’ and it helps keep the aircraft balanced and on course.

The pilot keeps adjusting the trim of the aircraft, tilting the nose up or down, steering the rudder left or right to take into account the winds that are blowing on the plane, any turbulence the plane is passing through and changes in the aircraft itself as fuel is consumed and the metal of the aircraft heats up and expands or cools and contracts.  The pilot knows the destination they are aiming for and keeps on making the necessary corrections and adjustments in order to get there.  You could say it is the same with us- during turbulent times, when winds of change are blowing, when the heat is on – we need to make adjustments to our behaviour and plans if we want to stay on course.  We need to keep adjusting our trim.

In John Maxwell’s 15 Laws of Growth, John talks about the Law of Intentionality.  He says growth does not just happen – it is not an automatic process.  If we want to grow, to improve, if we want to better ourselves and our circumstance and change our situation – we have to do something about it – it wont happen by itself.  And it won’t ever be a single thing we need to do – it will be a process that may take days, weeks or even months to achieve the improvements and changes we desire.  And while we are on that journey – we will need to keep adjusting our trim in order to stay on course.  And by adjusting our trim I mean adjusting our scheduling, keeping our focus and ensuring we are on course to achieve what we desire.  I find that having a clear set of goals and priorities written down really helps.

I’ve just finished an upgrade to my popular course on Goals that will help you avoid the 3 mistakes people often make when setting goals. During the course I will share how goals can help you clarify your priorities and take back control of your schedule, why we set goals that are easy but still fail to achieve them and also reflect on how we get changed by the goals we set – using an example from my own life involving a TV talent show.  I’m sure you will find it as interesting and useful as I did when I first learned these principles.

When I first developed this course on Goals, it was an audio only course but the new version has been upgraded to be a video course with improved and expanded teaching. (You can also download the new course as an mp3 if you want to listen to it on your phone or MP3 player as well) I’m pleased with it and I hope you will find it useful.  The course is still free and you can enrol right now by going to www.cool-waters.co.uk/goals   

One of the things I love about my job as a coach and trainer, is that I am always learning new things that help me to grow and improve – even on subjects where I thought I already knew all I needed to know.

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Leadership lessons from puppies - living in a world of poop

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Leadership lessons from puppies - living in a world of poop

This morning, my world was a world of poo.  That isn’t a metaphorical way to say anything had gone wrong – quite the opposite in fact.  I simply mean that we have five new girl puppies in the house (they are 5 weeks old), and last night was my turn to be the puppy-sitter.  It was all going rather well, with no cries for food until gone 06:30 am which is when I let the puppy-mummy Grace into the puppy-pen to feed them.

Great, thought I, the pups are being looked after by their mum so I can stumble into the kitchen and make myself a delicious Earl Grey tea to get my day off to a perfect start.  By the time the tea was made I returned to the living room to find Grace had finished feeding the pups and wanted to get out of the puppy pen- those little pups are cute but they have got very tiny but very sharp teeth so the days of having a ‘comfort suckle’ on mum are over! I let Grace out of the pen and put some chew toys in for the pups to play with and decided to tackle the dishwasher back in the kitchen as the pups scampered about the pen and played – content and full of milk (the pups not me…).

This morning I learned something about synchronisation.  Before the SAS or Navy Seals go into battle, they synchronise their watches.  When lovers walk, they synchronise their steps.  My little pups – they synchronise their poos! 

I returned to the living room to a scene of carnage so stomach churning and disgusting that even HBO would not be brazen enough show it in Game of Thrones – it made the Red Wedding look like a family picnic.  The pups were still scampering and rolling around the pen – but they had all been for a poo.  And as any of my pups will tell you – there is no point in doing a poo unless you have a dance in it (which some did) – although some don’t dance, but they do paint – so they had painted little puppy paw prints on the wall, and made trails across the paper on the floor of the pen.  And they are jolly and inquisitive little girls, these pups, so when I get over my shock and awe and get in the pen to try to start cleaning up- they scamper over to me to so they can see what I am doing, and try to help.  One started to drag some ‘decorated’ paper over to show me what she had made for me – another stuck her face into the open packet of baby wipes I was using to clean another pup’s feet – one started to nibble my toes, another tried to climb up me and the fifth lay dozing with a smug grin on her face – I’m sure she was the one who painted the wall.

In his book, The Ideal Team Player, Patrick Lencioni talks about a type of person he calls: The Accidental Mess-Maker.  These are individuals who don’t have great people skills but they do have a realistic view of themselves and others and they are driven.  As a result: they want to help – they do get involved and volunteer for things but their colleagues and leaders have to spend time following them around apologising to all the people they offend, upset or misunderstood.  That’s my pups right there – accident mess-makers the lot of them!

As I was cleaning up the puppy poop, I thought that it was a great metaphor for leadership.  John Maxwell calls it the Law of Addition: Leaders add value by serving others.  Being a leader is not about being served- it is serving others.  I once worked for a business in the city of London where all the directors took their turn to clean the kitchen and collect the cups off everyone’s desk at the end of the day.  I once worshipped in a church where the senior pastors were the ones who cleaned the offices and the toilets each week.   Eleanor Roosevelt said: “It is not fair to ask of others what you are not willing to do yourself.” Leaders lead the way- they show how it should be done. Show, not tell.  Tell can come after show but tell on its own does not work.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed some danger signs in my attitudes – warnings that I need to look out for.  They tell me that I’m not living the Law of Addition in the way that I should if I want to be an effective leader.  Things like:

 

  • Getting impatient or resentful with other people
  • Thinking certain tasks are beneath my position – and usually this is hidden inside the thought – why am I having to do this – Bob should, not me.
  • And finally – not knowing what those around me really value. 

Let me explain what I mean in that last one: If I don’t know what you value, how can I help you achieve it? If I don’t know what you value – how can I give it to you?  If I don’t know what you value – I don’t really know you.  And IF I don’t really know you, then my attitude towards you as your leader is wrong.  I can’t add value to you if I don’t know what you value or what you need!

Attitude is everything.  When I am interviewing people to join me team – I care much more about their attitude than I do about their aptitude.  It’s much easier to teach people new skills than it is to change or correct their attitude. It’s attitude that governs how we respond to stress, it’s attitude that determines how we respond to failure – and success. I believe it’s attitude, above all things, that determines our success levels.  Having a teachable attitude, a willingness to learn from mistakes and so on… 

Some people have good attitudes, and as a result they fly high in their careers – they succeed and lead well.  Attitude determines our confidence levels and charisma. 

The attitudes that successful people chose the take – and it is a choice – is the subject of my course HIGH FLYERS.  I have found, and perhaps you will too, that working on my attitude not only improves how I feel but also how others respond to me and as a result this affects how successful I am.

Until the end of January HIGH FLYERS is 33% off in our January sale – go to www.cool-waters.co.uk/highflyers to find out more.  Use the coupon code 33OFF before the end of January to save a third off the price of this ten part course.

If you agree that attitude is everything, HIGH FLYERS will help you develop winning attitudes.

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HIGH FLYERS takes off today

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HIGH FLYERS takes off today

Today we're launching our new 10 part audio course called HIGH FLYERS and through it I'm going to share with you the 10 principles used every day by High Flyers.

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Make every day count

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Make every day count

Everyone is given the same hours each day - make every day of yours worthwhile

The ability to do things in the right order, to work out what is really the thing that is most important and what will contribute the most value (however you decide to measure value) is a skill that separates life’s high flyers from the rest of the pack.

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Excuses and Decisions

Good intentions never achieved anything – it is action not intentions that produce results. 

 

When we decide to take action and move our mind and our heart from the place of intentions to actually taking action then – and only then – are we able to make the changes in ourselves that we desire.

Decide is an interesting word, it comes from two Latin words meaning to cut off. So, when you decide to do something, you cut off all other possibilities!

In 296 the Roman Praetorian prefect Julius Asclepiodotus landed on the south coast of Britain with his fleet to re-take the country for Rome. He ordered his men to burn their ships.  Now they had cut off any chance of escape - that had only victory or death before them. They had decided to conquer Britain -  committed their lives to that goal- and they did!

Often we think we have decided to do something, but then fail to follow through - because all we have done in reality is make a choice or voice an intention. We haven’t committed to our decision and cut-off all other possibilities and that is why we fail to follow through.

I challenge you today to decide to stop making excuses and to decide to do that thing you have been wanting to do for months or even years.  You know what I mean – it has come to your mind just now!

If you would appreciate some help working out the stepping stones to take you from where you are today to where you need to be, may I suggest my free course on goal setting: http://cool-waters.teachable.com

For free weekly resources to help you develop as a leader, sign up to Team Awesome here: www.cool-waters.co.uk/awesome

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