All growth and personal development begins with self-awareness: the self being aware of itself, becoming aware of dissatisfactions with its self, and projecting, therefore, changes that will enable it to ‘improve’. There are three primary tools of personal development that follow from this self-awareness.
People sometimes ask me why there are 9 motivators. I usually reply that it is because 9 is a magic number. They look perplexed; so I explain further: it’s 3 times 3, you see – 3 is a magic number too. They may give up with me at that point.
But I can go on –
magic is everywhere. Take Morag: www.motusmentis.it
or go back one to May – how did I know that Marcel and Marianne would become
our first international licensees in
Anyway, Morag and I
had a wonderful two days together training and stuff in
evening we had reached the end and I wanted with my life, Linda, to celebrate
with Morag. We decided to take her to Alex’s Café/Restaurant in
This restaurant is truly unlike most others. For a start, you are on a journey. We had a three course meal but in response to the question (as there was no evening menu), What is there to eat? The answer was: it’s a surprise! So, the innate human quality of curiosity was invoked.
The starter was an avocado soup, followed by … you find out for yourself. Suffice to say, it was all fresh, cooked superbly, and exactly in the right proportions. Alex appeared somewhat dramatically after we had been going for half an hour, stood casually by our table, and picked up on Morag’s interest in a certain type of Portuguese music. Wow – we were then treated to explanations, histories, CD collections, and You-Tube clips all demonstrating and enhancing the music.
All of us were then involved in the multi-sensory experience of eating, drinking, listening, watching, laughing and learning that constitutes having a fantastic meal, which goes way beyond merely ‘eating’. In short we were in a community; at moments like this time stands still and we are in the now. It’s in the ‘now’ that we can garner and generate more of our energies – we can replenish ourselves.
In some strange way all this motivation comes from another important M word: mission. Whether we are making a meal or making meaning or mending the fractures in our mental constructs, we can be on our mission.
John Henry Newman, whom Pope Benedict is over to beatify in September, made the most wonderful statement about mission in his Meditations and Devotions: ‘God has created me to do Him some definite service; He has committed some work to me which he has not committed to another. I have my mission – I may never know it in this life, but I shall be told it in the next. Somehow I am necessary for His purposes … I have a part in this great work; I am a link in a chain, a bond, a connection between persons. He has not created me for naught. I shall do good. I shall do His work.’
Now that, surely, is mind-blowing and motivating – we are all on our missions!
I explained to my audience very simply that if we understood the Tao Te Ching we might understand something about the universe. First, we needed to move away from fruitless speculation on the nature of God: as the first line says, The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao. What wisdom is there!
The other night I
did a 20 minute talk at
Thus, getting direction right is critical, honing skills to perfection is obligatory to be a great sports person, but I think it was Linford Christie who said that at the Olympic level the training was all much of a muchness: everyone had trained the same, more or less. So, it was mental attitude that made the difference.
In other words, to use the kung fu vocabulary, it’s the courage. And to use our favourite word, it’s the motivation: how motivated are you? What is driving you to succeed?
We are currently saturated with sporting events. Sport needs management and leadership like any organisation does; and more visibly than most, professional sports people need to perform. Of course performance is exactly what my company is about, although we don’t normally deal with ‘sport’. That is, until now: the great athlete and motivational speaker Kriss Akabusi recently became a licensee of our product, and I guess this is a portent of the times! Kriss can speak for himself but it is time for us perhaps to talk of performance in sport.
"What's your definition of success?” – is a question all coaches are asked at some time or another. Often the people asking this question claim that "no one has a satisfactory answer". In other words because they can’t answer the question no-one can. Or, probably more accurately, everyone’s answer is entirely subjective, and so invalid.
That said, I think we must insist that whatever success is cannot be merely subjective, no matter how many people brainwash themselves into believing so. One useful thing to do to establish what success may be is to ask a room full of delegates/friends what they think it is. You will find that most people have at most 3 concepts. But take somebody who says, ‘It’s achieving goals’ and you write that down. Another says, ‘It’s about family’. When you then ask the person who said ‘goals’, so family is not important to you (or the other way, ask the ‘family’ person why goals are not important to them) they invariably concede, ‘Why, yes, family is important to success as well’. It’s just that most people never fully think through what success means, or – more cruelly – haven’t got the memory to remember more than either two or one things!
Success, then, is not a smorgasbord of one or two things, but seven areas in which we need to achieve a result; and each of these seven things are interdependent. At different points in our life one or more might be highlighted and become critical for us.
What are these seven areas? They are: self-esteem, energy, loving relationships, wealth, meaning, growth and self-awareness. The bare headings can easily lead to misunderstandings, and with more space I would say a lot more specifically about each one of these. For example, by wealth I do not mean being rich. And by self-esteem – which incidentally breaks down into 3 major components – I am including the ultimate success benefit of life - Peace of Mind - since this is clearly correlated to our feelings about ourselves.
One good coaching exercise is to ask the client to rate themselves out of ten on each of these 7 areas, having first contextualized exactly what you mean by them. Then, you really have identified a core issue to work on – for the lowest score is the weak link in their life situation at this moment.
I have a one page summary/template to use for this purpose – it is astonishingly powerful. If anybody would like a free copy of it, then email me and I will arrange to send it to you on the understanding that credit is given to the source.
Is creativity at the heart of leadership? Well, my own view would be that it is deeper than that: creativity is at the heart of being a human being. We are all familiar with the various attempts to locate in what exactly the essence of being human is. Man (kind) is the thinking animal (homo sapiens); or man is the laughing animal (homo ludens); or some other quality that differentiates us.
I am not a Roman Catholic myself but I love the observation that Dorothy L Sayers, the famous crime writer (and Catholic), made in her book, The Mind of the Maker: in the Genesis narrative we are told that man is made in the image of God. But actually, she asks, what is that God – at that point in the narrative (up to the end of Chapter 2) – what do we really know of ‘God’? For example, that he/she is powerful, all-powerful, knowing, loving? No, she argues; we know one thing (other stuff comes later): God creates. Thus she reasons the essence of being human is being creative.
This makes a lot of sense: time stands still – we are in eternity – when we are being creative. In fact when we are really being creative we are aware of nothing except the creation, and the act of being creative energizes and fills us. Children incidentally call this ‘play’. The opposite – we are not being creative – means routines, habits, and the everyday. We need some routines clearly, but ultimately too much of that leads to boredom – which leads to a desperate life.
So whoever and whatever we are, if creativity is not integral to our life, then we are not living, we are existing, and enduring the tedium of time.
Thus, the true leader can never be somebody who is passing time: time is too precious to waste. On the contrary, the leader is busy creating the change that is necessary and envisioned. Interestingly, the word ‘education’ in English comes from the Latin word, educare, meaning ‘to lead’. Leaders then take a pro-active stance in educating – the learning of – their people.
A good exercise is to examine the springs of creativity in our self in order to be sure that we are really using this ‘god-given’ ability in every single one of us. And this leads on to the missing ingredient that connects leadership with creativity – namely, self-awareness. The foundation of all growth is our self-awareness, which fuels creativity, which in turn develops leadership.
Thus, in reviewing the creativity in us we need to enhance our self-awareness. This is a tall order – most of us are busy! But it is essential.
There are five really great concepts that can be used to develop self-awareness. I have jotted them down in a two page PDF. If anyone would like a free copy – as long as they are prepared to acknowledge the source - then let me know and I will email it to you – but give me your email address so that I can do so!