Previous month:
June 2010
Next month:
August 2010

July 2010

Three tools for personal development

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.

 One, desire itself: seeing our own condition we desire to improve, rectify, and enhance it. Desire is not motivation but it precedes it. The consequence of this, then, is that our emotions are vital to our development, and are not playing some subordinate role to our thought and logical processes.

 Two, imagination: the self produces images that begin a process of manifestation. The etymology of the word manifestation is from the Latin for “hand” - we can ‘handle’ thoughts via manifestation. Manifestation, then, is the process by which material reality comes into existence as a concretization of what the mind has ‘seen’. Hence, it is too that we find that the visible things depend upon the invisible things for their existence. There is a wonderful line from the Ancient Egyptian Book of the Dead which expresses this: “All the world which lies below has been set in order and filled in contents by the things which are placed above; for the things below have not the power to set in order the world above”.

 Three, expectations: our beliefs in future outcomes, or in short, faith. What we believe, especially about the future, has an inordinate effect upon that future and upon the outcomes (of life) for us. So much so, our belief – faith – may be considered a self-fulfilling prophecy.

 Meditation is the process and the objective by which self-awareness is maximized. This leads to the interesting reflection that altered brain wave patterns – not the everyday beta brain way patterns (c. 13-40 Hz) - are intimately connected with developing self awareness.

 Two corollaries of this are: first, relaxation is therefore essential to human happiness and development. Secondly, the ultimate relaxation is in sleep, and sleep itself requires both the non-being (as it were) state of non-consciousness AND the dream state. In fact the dream state is every bit as essential as the non-conscious state. Why? Possibly because dreams themselves, remembered or otherwise, are primary agents shaping our desires, imagination and expectations.

 Bizarrely, then, the real changes we want in our life, and even the fact we want them, derive from the invisible, intangible, insubstantial and nebulous world within us.


Magic, Morag, motivation and Alex's café

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: or go back one to May – how did I know that Marcel and Marianne would become our first international licensees in South Africa? Obviously because Marcel and Marianne are M and M and Motivational Maps are M and M! Simple really. So when Morag McGill (M and M) who runs a company in Italy called Motus Mentis (M and M) wanted to have a Map license to practise in Europe, then the Magic and Momentum was inevitable. (I don’t of course wish to exclude people and companies who are not M and M as I am sure we can make the magic ‘fit’ – today, for example, I drove Morag in my Honda Hautomobile to Heathrow Hairport).


Anyway, Morag and I had a wonderful two days together training and stuff in Bournemouth. We investigated in depth how Maps can be used with enhancing people performance in real world situations and with highly demanding companies. Morag is a seriously successful world class coach and I was really impressed by her depth of knowledge and research into all things contributing to personal development and performance. She is certainly one of the most highly qualified coaches I have ever met, and as such working with her was a motivational joy.


By Wednesday 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 Bournemouth: – and if you are in the area, go there! What a brilliant and motivating experience this was. You get food, conversation and Alex!


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!

Lessons will be learnt 2

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!

 Second, having established not talking about the Tao – the Way – the One because to do so was itself self-defeating, we come on to the real profoundity: from One comes Two, from Two comes Three, and from Three comes Ten Thousand things. What does this mean: the immortal, invisible, ineffable One produces Two – Yin and Yang – and Yin and Yang produce Three – Heaven, Earth and Humans – and these Three create all things that are. Oh my!

 You can see, as you say this, people thinking – is he off his trolley? What has this to do with business? Everything. Let’s just take one point: if we understood the Two – Yin and Yang – and their ceaseless opposition, we would have known the economic downturn had to happen. The Yang of success had reached such overblown proportions that a Yin correction was inevitable – a correction, incidentally, of the same magnitude as the bubble which spawned it. So this means, if we understand the nature of the universe, the recession is far from over: we have a lot further down to go. But knowing this is reassuring, because we are no longer acting in uncertainty, but preparing for the storm.

 The lessons from this are simple and come in the form of three pressing questions: first, how do we make people truly central in our organisations? How do we develop leadership at the highest levels? And how do we educate people so that they ‘see’ more?

 No one said, of course, learning was easy!

Lessons will be learnt 1

The other night I did a 20 minute talk at Bournemouth University for the RSA Fellows in the area (of which I am one). This had been initiated by my friend, Tim Bullock, who has the foresight to realise that with the imminent shut-down of quango-business services there may be an opportunity for organisations like the RSA to fill an important gap. Part of the RSA’s remit is about ‘manufactures and commerce’ as well as society and art.

 I started my talk by saying that I had been in business for 15 years, had trained thousands of people, worked with hundreds of businesses, and mentored literally dozens and dozens of directors and managers. Thus, what had I learnt from all this experience?

 My talk, then, was about the three things I had learnt. First, I had learnt that people are not the most important asset in organisations. That’s right, they’re not. There is a mantra, of course, that says they are – one sees directors beaming with moral self-satisfaction as they repeat – with that rabbit in a headlight look on their faces – ‘People are our …’.

 There are organisations where they are, but they are few and far between. The game is given away by the phrase Human Resource management and Human Resource Managers. People don’t want to be a Human Resource (or ‘Asset’) – they want to be people. And they want to be treated as people should be treated. One of the core principles underscoring the development of healthy self-esteem is respect. Whether we are children or adults we need to be treated with respect.

 The core skill that delivers ‘respect’ is listening. As we look round the waste of top-down management styles – the ‘Fred Goodwin Effect’ as its latest incarnation might be called – where do we see the listening? The tragedy is that after a while people become inured to being treated badly – even get to expect and like it. An addiction to punishment sets in: the public sector is especially aware of this.

 The second thing I have learnt is that leaders don’t lead. Yes, there is a lot of management going on, but although management is necessary it is not leadership. At the top level it is not management we need, but leadership. Part of the reason for this is that most people are secretly crying out to be led – and for a good reason: leadership removes uncertainty and creates stability and security, a primary human need.

 Management - all operational stuff. We need a leadership that is genuinely visionary – that creates those images that inspire people to give of their best. Leaders – to be a leader – must engage people, and engagement is what people want.

 Finally, the third thing I have learnt is that managers know little or nothing about the nature of the universe, and so ‘go astray’. Why wouldn’t they? Imagine being transported to the most fertile farm land in the world and told to till the ground, but you know nothing of farming. Of course you could expect disastrous results despite the fact that you create ten thousand amazing Excel spreadsheets.

 Perhaps part of the problem is the specialism of the education system: the process by which we come out ‘qualified’ but not educated. 

Motivating England's sport 2

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?

 And here we come to the revelation of the day. We at Motivational Maps establish the motivations of thousands of employees, and as often as we do it we find the same thing that flies in the face of conventional wisdom. We even find this contrariness when we ‘map’ the motivations of sales forces. What is it? That people who work in corporations are all motivated by money. Not ALL are. In fact most aren’t.

 My bet is: not ALL sports people are motivated by the gold medal, as paradoxical as that sounds. Some, for example, may see ‘sport’ as their flight to security; others as a route to wealth; and yet still others may simply love their chosen sport for the sheer skill they can develop in practising it – one thinks of how George Best started playing. And there are more motivators besides these.

 Perhaps, then, if England is to go forward with developing its talent and its sporting prowess, it might like to take a long hard look at how sports people are really motivated, and whether the reward strategies in place really motivate or merely maintain the status quo. We don’t want, after all, the status quo – what England wants, what England expects, is the holy grail of victory – courage, then, or call it motivation, massively!

Motivating England's sport 1

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.

 We have a very simple formula that sums up the three core components of performance in any walk of life: first, direction; second, skills and knowledge; and third, motivation.

 Direction is our homely word for what at corporate level is called something else: strategy. The business needs a strategy. On a personal level we call ‘direction’ our career. And it can be summed up by reflecting on the vision, the goals and objectives, and the process and methods of how we achieve these.

 Not all sports are equal. In some, the strategy is of necessity relatively simple. There is a world of difference between darts and fencing; the former can virtually be won on skill alone, whereas the latter is far more complex – skill is vital, but so are a host of other factors – including environment, psychology, understanding the referee, choice of blade, stamina, style, even left or right-handedness - and judging the correct response to an opponent is critical.

 In one-on-one sports the great Chinese kung fu masters summed up a profound truth: to win, first is courage (mind set and passion), second is strength (think - the tennis marathon of Isner and Mahut – who weakens first?), and third is kung fu (technical ability). That is the priority order.

 A further complication arises with team sports like football. Here the problem is compounded because each individual’s ability has to be leveraged with every member of the team. So management, perhaps, is even more critical than simply having a ‘coach’.

Definitions of success

"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. 

Creativity and leadership

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!