Monthly Archives: June 2015

Choose your attitude!


Some things in life are bad
They can really make you mad
Other things just make you swear and curse
When you’re chewing on life’s gristle
Don’t grumble, give a whistle
And this’ll help things turn out for the best…

Okay so life isn’t going the way you want it to but here’s the thing – we need to understand that we can’t always control what life throws at us but we can always choose how we react! We can always choose our attitude.

We are in constant dialogue with our inner self. That inner dialogue is just like a software program that is running through our brains and just like any software it can be programmed – the name of the software program is “Attitude”!

So have you programmed your software to predominantly respond positively or negatively?

Try this – the next time someone asks you “How you are doing?”; how did you respond? Positively…”I’m doing great”, “Brilliant”, Fantastic” or was it more neutral/negative… “I’m okay”, “Not too bad”, “Surviving”, “Meh!” etc.

The good news is that this is software so you can re-program a negative attitude so that it becomes a positive mental attitude. How?

Three simple steps: –

  1. LISTEN to your inner dialogue. Are you having a positive dialogue or is the dialogue full of self-pity, self-defeat and constantly blaming others for what is happening to you?
  2. STOP it! If the dialogue is negative then stop it!
  3. START a positive conversation with your inner self! “I can do this!”, “I’m doing great!”.

Okay, I lied, it may not be that simple because in reality the “Attitude” program can be difficult to change and may take time. Constant positive affirmation is key.  Keep telling yourself how good you are, how you can achieve anything if you want to, if you fail then that it is a great opportunity to learn, when you hit an obstacle its just an opportunity to find a way over, around it or under it etc….you get the picture!

Remember this is primarily an inner dialogue….there’s no need to keep telling others how good you are (even though you are, right!).

An inner dialogue it may be but positive mental attitude changes the way you engage with others, it alters your body language, it soon becomes noticeable and that in itself can lead to some very positive outcomes!

So when you next encounter something that doesn’t quite go your way in life what are you going to be saying to your inner self…

“It’s not fair!”, “I can’t win!”, “I never win!”

or perhaps…..

“What can I learn from this?”, “I can turn this around”, “Next time I’ll win!”

And….. “Always look on the bright side of life!”

We choose to go to the Moon!


“We choose to go to the Moon! … We choose to go to the Moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard; because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one we are unwilling to postpone, and one we intend to win …” JFK 12th September 1962

When John F. Kennedy made his bold statement in 1962 NASA did not have all the resources to achieve this vision and some of the technology required did not even exist at the time. On the 20th of July 1969, nearly seven years later, the Eagle landed and Neil Armstrong took one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.

Back on earth…a little real life anecdote about a programme manager (PM) brought into an organisation to rescue an ailing multi-million programme. The PM oozed sell-confidence and made a lasting first impression. Shortly after arriving in the organisation the PM made a statement that the programme would, without question or doubt, deliver by a given date. So certain was the PM that they took a permanent marker pen crawled under the board room table and wrote the date that the programme would deliver its first release!

Not quite as bold or as visionary as JFK perhaps but I guess the PM was seeking to lay down a marker and impress the audience with their unwavering confidence and determination. You can guess the outcome….

Way before that delivery date was reached it became obvious that: –

  • the PM had not gained the confidence of the programme team
  • had lost the confidence of the board
  • stood no chance of delivering the first release on time

The PM subsequently left the organisation.

So what’s my point?

Bold and visionary statements cannot in themselves achieve the desired outcomes…..

JFK had used Lyndon B. Johnson, the then Vice President, to consult extensively with NASA. The NASA geeks knew that with the right investment in resources and with technology developments already in the pipeline the target, though hard, was realistic and achievable. JFK had a strong base of support and had the necessary authority to ensure that NASA received all the resources required to turn his words into reality.

Contrast that with the PM:-

  1. The PM did not consult extensively prior to making their statement.
  2. The PM had not taken appropriate steps to understand what were the real or perceived obstacles and how they might be overcome.
  3. The PM had not established themselves within the organisation and didn’t have a strong support base.
  4. The PM did not necessarily have all the authority and backing to ensure that the required resources were in place even if they had known what they were!

In short the PM believed that through sheer force of personality and their supreme confidence they could ensure that the delivery date would be met.

If the PM had taken the time to listen to credible concerns while filtering out the naysayers and prophets of doom then they may have understood the real size of the challenge that the programme faced.

With the challenge, opportunities, dependencies, risks and issues more visible (to all) there would have been a much better chance of constructing a realistic and achievable plan. With a realistic and achievable plan, there would have been more buy-in and confidence that the delivery date would be met would have risen across the organisation.

Who knows, instead of the PM writing the delivery date on the underside of the board room table the CEO may have been inclined to write the delivery date on the reception wall!

The 3 Basic Stages of Change

butterflyIn Lewin’s Change Management Model, Lewin describes the three phases as unfreeze, change and freeze but here’s a different way of looking at it…

Stage 1. Contemplation – where we think about why we want to change something, what we hope to achieve through that change and how we would go about it.

Stage 2. Decision – having thought through the options, the issues, the risks and the desired outcomes at the contemplation stage it’s now time to decide – do or do not (there is no try!).

Stage 3. Action – We’ve decided, now we act. Our action will be successful, not successful or perhaps partially successful in achieving our desired outcomes. Depending on the outcome of the action it may be necessary to loop back to stage 1 – contemplation.

Easy and logical right? We probably go through this process instinctively hundreds of times each day for the basic stuff. For example, I’m thirsty and I want to enact a change so that I’m no longer thirsty. But do I want coffee, tea or water (contemplation); I want tea (decision); I go and make a cup of tea and I drink the tea (action) and I’m no longer thirsty! If I was still thirsty I’d loop back around to contemplation – do I want another cuppa or will water do a better job this time around?

But what about when it’s not just about you or a cup of tea? What about when it’s a major complex change involving a team, a department or even the whole organisation? The stages are the same but things just got a lot harder…..

“But you can’t expect everyone to contemplate or decide surely?” No? Think national referendums or general elections – it is possible to put in place mechanisms to contemplate and decide on a large scale. I’m not advocating that the workplace should be a democracy but recognise this – the more people that have to act that feel involved in the contemplation and the decision process then the greater the chance of the change being a success.

So where it is practical consult as widely as possible. Harness the brain power of your team, your department, your organisation at the contemplation stage and you may be surprised at the golden nuggets you’ll discover.

Of course the ultimate decision (unless you do hold a referendum!) is still likely to be made by an individual or a small group of individuals. The Chair, the CEO, the department head, the team leader – no matter how wide you consult, you remain accountable for the decision. Not fair…tough…suck it up…it’s what we get paid for!

So now the decision has been made how do we get people, lots of people to act? There needs to be a plan, the detail of the plan will depend on the scale of the change but it should never be vague and it needs to clearly identify who is doing what and when and what dependancies there are across the plan or external to the plan.

It is essential where major transformational change is desired, even before we get into the detail of who is doing what and when, to get as much buy-in as possible from those who you need to act. A great way to do this is through the construction of stories or blueprints.

A story or blueprint is a high-level vision of the future state that is desired after the change has taken place. The clearer the vision, the more descriptive of what things will be like or how we will do things, the more understanding we will attain. Understanding doesn’t equal buy-in so try to ensure that all stakeholders, particularly those who are involved in the ‘Act’ stage have a stake in reaching that future state.

A great companion of the story is the alternative story or blueprint. The alternative story describes what things will be like if we do not make the change. Usually it describes an outcome that is not desired (otherwise why do the change!). The alternative story can sometimes be a stronger motivator than the story!

So who’d like a cuppa? (Let the contemplation begin!).

I am not liked by everyone and I’m okay with that!

Lone WolfWe all like to be liked. We’re programmed that way, if we are liked by the pack the pack won’t turn on us, the pack will protect us. Some people will do anything to be liked even if this means compromising values, beliefs and standards just to please, just to be liked. But think about this…

We live in a diverse world. Nurture, environment and experiences will have shaped our view of the world. My nurture, environment and experience will be unique, as is yours and as is the other seven billion people that share our planet. So not everyone is going to agree with you and some people, if you reveal the real you, are not going to like you. So what can you do about it?

Option 1: Become a chameleon and change your views, your opinion, your standards to please as many people as you possibly can. But this option will not work 100% because you will soon be seen for what you are doing and that in itself will be cause for some to dislike you.

Option 2 : Just be yourself! You have an opinion, you have a voice. Develop and nurture yourself to be the best that you can be and if that causes someone to dislike you then that probably says more about them than you. You can still be tactful, diplomatic and even conciliatory but stay true to your core beliefs, standards and integrity. Also keep an open mind to constructive criticism and realise you still have lots to learn no matter how old or experienced you are.

Fact 1 : Some people will dislike you no matter what you do.

Fact 2 : If you worry and care too much about what others will think of you it will constrain your development as an individual and you will never reach your true potential.

Fact 3 : It’s okay to disagree with someone on many things and still like and respect them as an individual and for them to like and respect you. Chances are both of you have chosen option 2 and are emotionally intelligent!

Fact 4 : Compromising is often a positive thing to do but also sometimes taking an unpopular stance is just the right thing to do.

Fact 5 : If you can’t be yourself then you are nobody!

So if the above sounds simple, easy and obvious remember it isn’t, we are all wired to want to be liked and most of us worry too much about what others will think about us. So what if by being yourself the pack turns on you, stops protecting you? Sure you should reflect as to what it is about you that has caused the pack to turn on you but also consider this – maybe you are in the wrong pack!