People Are Different - Business Take Note!

According to Martin Davidson, a professor of business administration at the University of Virginia, business culture can tend to weed out the weird! This can be a big mistake because it is ‘weird’ people or certain kinds of weird people that create potency and innovation which enable businesses to thrive. This can be expressed in a variety of ways, but the most obvious is perhaps in the need to avoid cloning people into the culture they join; a situation in which they have to adapt (and adopt to) the mores and social norms of what passes for normal or even acceptable behaviour. We are not talking here about table manners, but modes of thinking, aspects of deference (so readily leading into the dead-end called group-think), and business as usual, meaning ‘not invented here’ and ‘this is how we’ve always done it’. These ‘norms’ invariably cost businesses, and ultimately lead to their demise.

So business leaders should not see diversity as being some sort of distraction imposed on them by a cost centre called HR! Rather diversity within the workforce can provide competitive advantage; we need people who can be constructively disruptive, who can consistently challenge group-think, and who’re not addicted to conflict avoidance, who, in short, pre-empt the devastating fate of those organizations who are little more than a comfortable country club where received opinion is indeed received. We need at a deep level challenge, if only because 70% of the decisions we make are wrong; with challenge, with weirdness, that figure might reduce; without it, then it is almost certainly going to increase. Can we afford that level of error?

One of the most powerful tools to assist us in this area is Motivational Maps. The reason this is so powerful is because the maps establish what people really want. In other words in selecting the new member of the team we have the opportunity to review what we really want in the team member and to ask ourselves the question: is this kind of selection criteria really in the best interests of the team achieving its remit? All too often people are selected on the basis of their qualifications, skills and ‘fit’ where fit means fitting in – not rocking the boat. But what if not fitting, rocking the boat is really what this team needs?

This is not a decision to be made lightly, but it is a decision to be made where appropriate, and it requires skill and insight to do it. For in talking about rocking the boat, we don’t mean a rough and ready character who is always taking on everyone and generating conflict wherever they go; we mean the kind of person whose energies are directed in ways that ‘conflict’ with the team, but in such a way that they throw light on an overarching problem the team has.

Suppose, for example, that we have a team that is extremely risk-friendly (e.g.. A sales team) – excessively so, and this has created a series of impulsive deals that the organisation as a whole has had a chance to repent of at leisure. In that situation, installing a suitably qualified candidate in every way, including risk-aversion, would be ideal. And the reverse too: suppose we have a fuddy-duddy team who are extremely change-averse (e.g. a finance team), then we might want to appoint a suitable candidate who is also risk-friendly as a maverick in the pack. It is precisely in these areas that Motivational Maps can direct with authority – given a fully trained and experienced practitioner.

Of course, to other team members, to the management itself, somebody with different energies, different motivators, is going to appear ‘weird’, and not like us; but that is the challenge we face all the time – accepting difference and building on it.

Martin Orridge gives five reasons why there is poor creativity – or innovation – within an organisation. They are: looking for logical solutions, basing solutions on the past, too analytical, approach too formal, and liking to focus on detail. All these are classic organisational traits! They are what we expect people to do: be logical, son! Today is the like the past, dear daughter! Analyse, analyse, analyse; and don’t let your hair down! It’s all in the details … but what if?

What if we could find and use a tool that would help break free of these constrictions? That valued intuition whilst at the same time understood the power of logic, yet too knew that relationships are key. What if - ?

And yes, the tool exists – it’s called Motivational Maps and so it invites you to enter its weird and wonderful world.




Valuing Yourself

My friend Howard told me a great story recently, and whilst I can’t vouch for its precise historical accuracy, I know this happens all the time.

A man has a fridge in his house which he wants to replace, as he has bought a brand spanking new and better model. So he rationalises that the best way to get rid of it is to put it outside his house in the front garden that extends to a passing street. And on the fridge he puts a sign: “Free Fridge: please take it if you want it”. Pretty clear cut, you think? He thought so too.

A fortnight later the fridge is still there and the man has that uneasy feeling that it will still be there two years later if he leaves things as they are. But what to do? What would you do? Think about it before you read the next paragraph: what would you do?

What he does is, he changes the sign and it now reads: “Second hand fridge, only £20, please call to purchase”. Next time he looks the fridge is gone: stolen!

What is the message of this? Basically, if something is ‘free’ it has no value, despite what its intrinsic value might be. People take their cue from others: they value what you value, and if you say something is free, is valueless, they are highly disinclined to show any interest in it. This principle has happened to me many times in my professional and personal life. I remember many years ago moving house and needing to dispose of some 1000+ books that I could no longer accommodate. If I had individually priced and photographed many of them, and posted them on EBay, I could have made some money. But hey, I was moving, I had other priorities, this was not my business. What happened? I gave away – with great difficulty! – over a 1000 books that I previously over a twenty year period had purchased!

But the more serious implications of what I am saying occur in the professional market and in the arena where I, and many like me, make our living: we provide professional services, but the question is – how much are you worth? I have seen time and time again coaches and consultants give away their expertise for virtually nothing, and all apparently for good reasons at the time. Yet there is never a good reason in my experience, and for one reason: when the recipient receives the ‘free’ advice, expertise or whatever, they never appreciate and furthermore, they are not inclined to act on advice either. They haven’t paid, so why would they feel impelled to act? They lack the commitment that paying engenders!

The most vivid times for me when I have made and subsequently resisted this mistake have been to do with charity type organisations. These organisations are often sublime at being able to bleed sympathy out of service providers for their righteous or suffering cause: you know, it’s for the kids, the victims, the whoever in the world they represent, and why wouldn’t you then contribute?

As part of an advanced PR campaign I guess you might, but if you are small company or sole trader, then I think it’s usually a hiding to nothing: all of the work with none of the satisfaction. Satisfaction of what? Well, satisfaction of income for one thing – this is not free - but more than that: the satisfaction of knowing what you do is really valued. That’s a deep satisfaction and it shows – to yourself most of all – what you’re really worth.

Nine Ways to Boost Staff Productivity

To do anything effectively usually requires hard work. But here are 9 simple ideas to help you increase people productivity. Idea number one: explain clearly what you want from them. One of the biggest problems that obstructs productivity is that people do not know what they're really trying to do, what they're trying to achieve, or even why they are doing what they do. So clarity about what it is they're doing is absolutely essential; therefore, in simple terms, communicate, communicate, communicate.

Point number two sounds quite obvious: if you want staff to be productive, then you need to motivate the leaders, the team leaders. Without the team leaders themselves being motivated it is highly unlikely staff will be. The best way of all of motivating the team leaders is to run a programme initially profiling them using Motivational Maps.

Point number three, and while we're passing the topic of motivating your team leaders, think about the staff themselves and ask them for ideas on improving productivity. If they are asked and their ideas are subsequently implemented, this becomes very motivational as they feel ownership. This makes them more productive. So how effectively are you drawing on the expertise and ideas of your own staff? Could you do more?

Point number four: having explained clearly what you want - in other words, communicated effectively - we need to think about simplifying all processes. That we use complicated processes confuses staff, confuses customers.  How can we simplify them and how can we make them more user friendly? Another way of putting it would be making our processes fit for purpose; people like it and are happy when things work the way they are supposed. That happiness translates into bee-hive hums of productivity!

Another good way of boosting productivity, point number five, is to try to define what your customer needs. This has several benefits. First, it stops what might be called mission creep, which is very demoralising for staff. Staff want to satisfy the customer but with mission creep there is never an end in sight where this might occur! This is very demotivating and leads to a drop in productivity. Furthermore, defining the customer need more exactly also leads to greater profitability for the company as the waste of mission creep is avoided. Finally, the more tightly defined the need is, the clearer the objective, and this allows staff a greater chance to deliver it – hence, to be more productive.

Following on from simplifying all processes, point number six, is to invest in technology, not for the sake of technology, but for the sake of the productivity it can produce. We all know that technology is moving forward a cracking pace, and we’ve all seen organisations using old technology on the unstated premise that they are getting a full return on the initial capital investment. But in getting the most from it, and by carrying on using an old technology, which really doesn't serve the customer or the staff well,  we find customer move away and staff become less productive. A classic example of this occurred to me recently when I entered a shop of a major brand and was kept waiting while my card was being processed – waiting for about 5 minutes. Eventually, the assistant apologised, embarrassed, and informed me that the card processing was still being run on a Windows 95 system even though the company made millions in profits. How did that look? How did he feel?

Another good idea, is to introduce flexitime into the working environment. One of the issues of primary concern to me is the idea that is not the length of time that people work that is really important or measuring how long they spend at the job, rather how productive they are, or what results they achieve. Clearly we have to draw a line here because some jobs do require time duration rather than simple results: people need to be there for example in manning a shop for certain times. However, that said, it is important to understand that we can give people some flexibility in their time commitment to the organisation; this can be extremely motivating for them because it increase their internal locus of control – this is a major contribution to their sense of freedom and well-being and produces greater levels of productivity.

And penultimately, one central issue, is the correlation between pay and performance. I don't wish to be hard-line about this, but it is true that many companies seem to think performance is a secondary reason for why they are paying people; indeed the truth of the matter is that performance is essential. The performance is what drives greater productivity and this, if the strategy is correct, is what leads to enhanced profitability. So the question is: do we have a clear link between pay and performance, one that is fair, equitable, and transparent? Because we need to have.

Finally, point number nine, look at revamping the working environment. This can make such a massive difference to the psychology of people working for you. If your environment is dark, boring, grey, and all these other attributes, then you can only expect non-stimulation in your staff, which creates lacklustre performance, and furthermore, and ultimately, a lack of productivity. Investing in a great working environment is investing in them. What do people like? Nature, art, music, colour and general stimulation  - the lighting, the quality of air, and so on. What is your environment like? What can you do to improve it? You might want to measure the difference it makes – before and after.



Words Cannot Express It

There is so much bad press out there today for religions, believers, and generally people of faith (except of course for people believing that all beliefs are equal or equally absurd, which almost appears a consensus view) that it is important reasons why this is so, and examine whether it is justified.

A primary cause comes from the use of words and the general failure to understand them; by which I mean literalism. There is an ironic paradox that those most likely to accuse religious believers of ‘fundamentalism’ are themselves most guilty of it. Personally I disapprove of religious fundamentalism – ‘thou shalt burn the witch in your midst and not suffer her to live’ – is just such an extreme case. Take one line of scripture or a holy book, out of context, out of its environment, and out of comparison with other lines, and take extreme action on the basis of it. Wow – recipe for disaster and man’s inhumanity to man.

On the other hand this is precisely what the critics and atheists of religion do: they start taking literally the idea that God is a Father Christmas like figure in the sky who does all sorts of literal and preposterous things. Then, from mocking God as some image from popular folklore, they switch to attacking abstruse lines from one of the Creeds, thus making no effort to discriminate and understand what is really being said.

And what is being said, at its clearest, is the first line of the Tao Te Ching: "The Tao that can be spoken of is not the eternal Tao". Or, that words completely fail to express the invisible world that underpins the visible one we live in. Words are not truth, but signs. Signs can point in the right or in the wrong direction. Signs are not the destination, but pointers to it or away from it, depending on how they are used. Words, too, by their nature are metaphorical, and that is how we understand reality – as little as we can describe or apprehend it.

Thus it is that people use words in two basic ways: either they arrange their ‘signs’ in such a way that overtly or covertly the direction is back to them, which we call egocentric; or they use the signs to point to something bigger, something more, something that is not comprehendible, but which is more real than the words that are doing the pointing. And this is to use words to discover more about the spiritual path, or the way.

This, then, is true humility: to stand aside from the ego and the continual pointing at oneself, in order to say that there is something bigger, bigger by far, and more important than the self; and the universal testimony of mankind is that it is real and it is there. To accept this humility – to accept (and that also means not to be dogmatic about it or to start wrangling and killing people over words ) this humility is to begin the true path towards peace.

Emotional Intelligence and Educating People

Emotional intelligence is certainly a breakthrough concept of the last twenty years or so; it helps explain why so many high IQ or highly intelligent people make spectacularly bad decisions and crash. Further, it also gives us a new agenda and language that can be used to help all managers and teachers and coaches develop their people. But having said that, teaching it is one thing; living it is another.

Teachers, employers/managers, coaches need not only to 'teach', but more compellingly, to walk the talk. Emotional intelligence, as the name implies, is something that is felt before it is understood – we feel, for example, that somebody cares for us and this renders us pliable, even desirous, to learn from them.

I am always amazed by stories of teachers who seem not to have the first idea about 'how' to teach - and this 'how' is intimately connected with emotional intelligence. Similarly, we talk of empathy and what it does in the commercial world; the flipside of what it does is described by Demming in his account of kaisen: namely, it drives out fear. When you drive out fear, people really can learn at the deepest level; but in saying this we have to concede that most schools, like most institutions, like most authorities, derive their legitimacy by creating fear. Hence, the spectacle of all the failed initiatives in recent years – target (and so fear-) driven - which inevitably achieve the opposite effect of what was intended. The UK National Curriculum is a case in point - twenty years of fear-driven 'learning' - which has failed to deliver and which now is dismantled.

But this is equally true in business: create a culture of fear, even fear around emotional intelligence, and the result is failure - if not some other unintended or debilitating consequence. There is when we come to the root of this issue a vexed problem.  I can state it like this: I am in the personal development game because I passionately believe people can change, can improve, can achieve more and get more from their lives. Why do I believe that? Well, for one reason, I believe it of myself: I can change! I have changed, and this is for the good. And I know that learning from others, training and teaching and coaching and mentoring, are all good avenues to this outcome. But that said, it does not seem to be true that training people on these emotional elements is always or inevitably successful. Indeed, like leadership itself, some people experience all the training in the world, have PhDs in emotional intelligence and yet seem incapable of holding a simple conversation with anybody without alienating them at a profound level. Why is this?

Probably it is to do with self-esteem and an early grief that has never been resolved or forgotten, such that all future encounters are filtered through this initial negativity. But the real learning point of all this is to remember at all times what the busy world we are in wants us to forget: namely, that being qualified as a teacher, or a coach, or a manager, is no guarantee that we have those emotional skills we are presumed to have by reason of our role. Indeed, and bleakly, there is every reason to suspect that those who are drawn to such qualifications are precisely those who lack that necessary emotional strength. The question then is: has the training helped them become that new person they want to be? How will we know? That’s something to think about, isn’t it?

The Real Purpose of Motivational Maps

My wife recently had a piece of her art work selected by Amnesty International for an exhibition in the wonderful Christchurch Priory – apparently the largest parish church in the country. Naturally, that led us to see all the other art work exhibited there and some of the remarkable stories surrounding them, including the horrors of torture and what some human beings have had to undergo at the hands of others. This got us thinking in the way these things do about how it was to have an organisation like Amnesty – and others – fighting against these dreadful forms of repression.

Indeed, when you consider them one unintended consequence is invariably the feeling that one is not really doing anything important in one’s own life; it’s just business and home, and what difference does it make? Amnesty, Greenpeace, and the others are where the action is – shouldn’t we just sell up and join them? Such would be a superficial rating of the situation as it is; for when one comes to look at things more closely, one sees that what one is doing is significant. It may not be as big as Amnesty, but in its own way it too can be transformative, which is the key thing.

How, then, does running a business like Motivational Maps become transformative? Is it because we make money, and so that feeds into the economy? Hmm, may be, but that’s not enough. Is that the lots of people are involved and are doing useful things, and that must be good? Hmm, may be, but that seems quite ordinary. Is it because everyone likes doing a Map and it makes them feel good? Hmm, but they like eating sweets too, and in the long term that isn’t so good.

No, the real significance of Motivational Maps resides in its core purpose: namely, to change the way that management works in the world. In fact the Maps can only work as a product if that occurs. What change is this? Basically, shifting management style from a top-down to a bottom-up approach. Maps insists that if you want to get the best from people you have to start where they are, and feed that. Probably, and realistically, only 20% of organisations worldwide will ever get to that advanced state, but Maps is there to help them do so.

For here’s the thing: if organisations genuinely start operating on a bottom-up approach a number of things occur. First, staff empowerment and autonomy increase. Second, confrontations are reduced and minimised through access to the shared language. And third, value differences are recognised and there is less of the square peg forced into round holes kind of mentality – and management.

In short, what the Motivational Maps project is really about is democracy and participation at the organisational level! Now is that significant or not? And bizarrely, and especially since Maps are now in twelve countries worldwide, this of course is relevant to the mistreatment and torture of others. If more and more organisations can find benefits in true democracy and participation, it makes the job of evil rulers more difficult to accomplish.

So, yes, we have a purpose: we are a fighting to promote a way of life, that is inclusive, democratic, empathic and rooted in the individual. Long live Motivational Maps!

The Meaning of Life

We have this double problem, don’t we? The first is: what is the meaning of life? That’s pretty tricky to answer; and if that weren’t enough we have the compounded problem here in the West: we are not allowed to ask that question, or at most we are expected to skirt around it. Why is this? Because a bunch of useless philosophers, building on a long-standing anti-spiritual tradition, in the middle of the last century decided that it was a meaningless question, and so there was no point in asking it as there was no meaningful answer. With retrospect this seems like assuming the answer before we have fully investigated the question. This suits people who don’t want life to have a meaning since it enables them to keep ‘transcendence’ safely locked away in the deepest ocean of their sub-conscious, never to disturb their perfect lives. However, it fitted the zeitgeist of the time and so the most important question of all, the question that has absorbed philosophers and human beings before and since Plato for thousands of years, was relegated to an historical footnote – better that than having people seriously attempting to grapple with and answer this profound challenge.

One of the greatest exponents of this view was the philosopher, Professor AJ Ayer, responsible for promoting an ideology called Logical Positivism, which essentially did what I have outlined in my first paragraph: namely, it debunked any kind of knowledge that wasn’t or isn’t scientific and open to that sort of discipline’s validation. Curiously with Ayer, towards the end of his life he had a near death experience and one of the medical consultants attending him reported Ayer as saying: "I saw a Divine Being. I'm afraid I'm going to have to revise all my books and opinions". Unfortunately he never had time to, and the ‘believers’ in Ayer’s sort of meaninglessness sprang into action to attempt to invalidate the reported words of the medic. Mostly they seemed to have used more great logic: he couldn’t possibly have said those words, could he? And so he couldn’t have.

Of course Ayer was wrong – except possibly in having seen a Divine Being – in his views, particularly about knowledge and what is and isn’t valid. Without being a philosopher myself I can state with complete confidence that science and logic are both coherent and powerful forms of understanding; but they are not the only forms available to human beings. Indeed, to gain a truer picture of what it means to be human we have to realise that ethics and beauty have their respective disciplines which are not science, but are equally true. And truth itself – hence philosophy, the love of wisdom – is a discipline that is not valid in any objective sense. The prioritisation of science and the scientific method has led to an appalling deprivation in our understanding of the world and what the world means. Ah! – ‘means’, that word again.

So what is the meaning of life? Curiously, and as a first pass on the question, the answer is closer than one might expect. We might expect the answer to trot off the tongue in a sentence like: The meaning of life is … God, Om, happiness, my family, love, human progress, the survival of the fittest, and so on. And it might be these things if we go for the second pass, and delve more deeply. But before we do that, let’s get to reality. The meaning of life is … meaning. Yea, that’s it – meaning.

Carl Jung put it this way: "When people feel that they are living the symbolic life, that they are actors in the divine drama, that gives the only meaning to human life; everything else is banal and you can dismiss it. A career, producing children, all are Maya compared with that one thing, that your life is meaningful". So not only is it about being meaningful, but also Jung gives us the mechanism by which this occurs: to feel that our lives are symbolic, especially in a divine drama. Wow – that charges us. Another way of putting that is: we are all on a hero’s journey, but so many of us in the West has put to port and stayed at the very first obstacle that beset the great hero, Odysseus. They are on the land of the Lotos-eaters, imbibing the lotus of logical positivism and all the other negative philosophies and ideologies that lead to despair and inertia.

The truth is, as Eric Idle once sang, when you are part of the divine drama, as Brian was, you can ‘Always look on the bright side of life’ and journey on, for you have a destination.





Being Able and Breaking Compulsions

It was Vivekenanda who said, "That man who has no faith in himself can never have faith in God." And as with faith, so with love: we cannot not love ourselves and yet think we can love another.  Loving oneself is not a selfish act, but a healthy one;  at root it is an affirmation that the universe is good, for the divine spirit – ‘that of God in us’ that the Quakers like to cite – is lovable. If that is not so, then why pretend we can reject ourselves but somehow find another lovable?

Yet, in a bizarre way, that is what many effectively do, although they are ‘good’ people. It is really the story of Mary and Martha in John’s gospel. Martha, you will recall, is busy doing all the housework and preparation whereas Mary is enjoying Christ’s company and listening to him speak. Martha gets so fed-up with this that she asks Christ to support her, criticise her sister, and get her sister off her rump and working! But Christ declines to do this, noting the importance of what Mary is doing, or rather not doing. What Mary is doing is loving herself, putting herself in the way of spiritual refreshment, and recharging her batteries.

Martha, on the other hand, is doing what she ‘ought’ to do, complying with an inner critic to be a good person, and almost certainly too is experiencing persistent feelings of guilt because she will not have done ‘enough’ to be good. As a friend of mine observed, we really must resist severe restrictions of the "oughteries"!

And this leads on to St Augustine’s profound theological observation about the nature of Jesus Christ. What is profound here is not merely the theology, which many can take or leave, depending on their beliefs, but the deep psychological insight that the observation makes on us as human beings. St Augustine said, We must not say that Christ was unable to sin, but rather that he was able not to sin.  All the difference in the world.

If he were unable to sin, then he had no choice; if he were able not to sin, then he could have chosen to do so, but chose not to. The former means we can scarcely give Christ credit for being so flawless, so perfect, so … sinless: he was some sort of robot man that couldn’t fail. The latter means that, like us, he could choose to take responsibility or not.

But why is this so profound for us psychologically? Because while we see addictions and compulsions as primarily about negative life style choices like alcohol or gambling or drugs and so on, there are also more socially acceptable compulsions that are almost as debilitating: namely, the addiction or compulsion to help people! Have we all not met the person who cannot stand still, cannot sit down, is always helping others? A sort of living saint. Yes, and many of these people are unable to stop doing good; they are driven by guilt, by fear, by the need for approval, by other negative messages they learnt when they were very young. So OK, it’s nice – for a while - to have people around who do everything for you, but what about them? Are they loving themselves? And the answer is clearly not.

What then is important to understand is that the mature personality, the one that breaks compulsions, is the one who is able not to, rather than the one who is unable. Another way of putting this is maturity is about taking responsibility and first and foremost of all responsibilities is to love oneself. As Christ said, We need to love our neighbour as our self, but notice the implied given – we love our self first, then the neighbour.  For those, then, in that restless state of always ‘doing’ good (always ‘being’ good, of course, is different) – examine yourself and your motives, and affirm with St Augustine that with or like Christ you too are able not to.


Revenue Model for Coaches and Consultants

To be successful as a coach or consultant (or indeed as a trainer) in today’s competitive market is a tall order; the reality is there is so much competition, and so many ‘me-too’ coaches and consultants out there. The net effect of all the down-sizing, delayering, and simply the ‘I’ve had it with corporate life-itis’, means there are seemingly millions of coaches and consultants everywhere. Organisations that provide training and accreditation in this area have a field day: they are able to accurately state that this is one of the fastest growing sectors in the world, and yet ignore the implications of what this means when so many are scrambling to get on board the gravy train.

What it means is that it is difficult to make serious money doing it and only a few will, may be 4%. Most of the rest will be working hard and increasingly billing less to do more. I well remember some 12 years ago when I discovered from a client who declined – on this occasion – to buy into my open time management half-day training course for the modest fee of £99. Why? Because the local Further Education College were running just such a course for £49 and theirs was a whole day! I need hardly explain why this struck me as a no-win competition for me: I had become a commodity, had not properly positioned myself and the value of what I provided, and frankly was about to lose out to a whole bunch of salaried people who were never going to be paid on results.

But that was twelve years ago and since then one has learnt a lot, especially using a wonderful Revenue generation model which is really powerful if you want to become a coach or consultant who has leverage and makes money. I learnt this from my friend, the great Steve Jones. There are seven stages.

First, you need a clear vision of what you want your business to be and to become. Begin with the end in mind in fact. This includes factors like the life style you wish to embrace, as well as the level of revenue you wish to generate, and the kind of quality you want to provide to a defined audience. Have you defined all these things?

Second, you need to be clear about what your ‘product’ is. This means answering the question: what solution am I providing (and to whom)? And if your solution is entirely ‘service’ driven, as many coach and consultancies are, then how do you derive residual income from its delivery? Put another way: are you simply trading your time for money? If you are, then you haven’t really got a business: you are self-employed. That may be what you want – but go back to Vision.  Is that what you want? Using a product like Motivational Maps as part of your service offering can make a huge difference to revenue generation using what we call the IMPs process: in other words creating Internal Map Practitioners within organisations who then go on purchasing maps from you. This simple technique led me from an average 4 month tenure working with a client to a 4 year span instead!! How much extra income was that?

Third, you need a strong position in the market place. Another way of putting this is: a brand. What do you stand for, what are your values? Above everything I like Jay Abraham’s take on ‘position’, which is so relevant to coaches and consultants: be pre-eminent in your niche. Here again having a unique product like the Map can make big difference in how the client perceives you; the language and the metrics automatically start positioning you as a deep expert in motivation and performance.

Fourth, you need to have an effective process to generate and manage leads. Of course, without a strong solution-offering and compelling position in the market, lead generation will be wasted. But lead generation is absolutely central. Who are your champions? What databases do you have? What is possible via the web and social media? What networks do you belong to? And what about ‘supermarkets’ – have you found any that can distribute your tin of beans?

But having got the leads, we need to convert them into sales, and immediately we have a problem: many coaches and consultants whilst technically good at what they do find they cannot sell effectively. This then requires study, practice and emulation of others who are best in class. Of course getting leads to complete a Map before seeing you is a brilliant tactic for understanding what the prospect wants at a sub-conscious level and so pitching the service in those terms that most appeal and meet their hot buttons.

Then sixth you need, all being successful in the first five stages, to manage the factory! You have so much work on, the problem of coping with it becomes pressing. Quality issues arise, short-cuts occur. Do we employ others? Have associates? How do we build a sustainable system of capable delivery? One aspect of the Maps that is relevant here is the sub-licensing capacity that enables coaches and consultants to bring on board associates, a team even, and which gets them to ‘stick’ – basically because you have become the primary source of Maps and its expertise.

And finally, how do we exceed client expectations so they buy again, so they provide referrals (back to lead generation), so that they experience the wow factor and we are well beyond the commodity game? This is about quality, the very issue that success and expansion at point six compromises. But this is our challenge. Maps are a premium product that wow virtually any open-minded prospect who does one; this again is a massive competitive advantage in the market place.

If you are a coach or a consultant, then, or even just somebody running your own business, ask yourself these seven questions. Rate yourself, out of ten for each one. How are you doing? What do you need to focus on if you are going to have a thriving business that generates residual income even when you are not working? If you are looking for ‘more’ from your coaching or consultancy business, then you can really benefit from using Motivational Maps in your toolkit.

Maslow and Motivational Maps

My friend Ivo recently on a Maps training session asked me about the strange anomaly of the eight levels of the Maslow Hierarchy, according to the version that we refer to,  and the way we fit the nine motivators into it. How does that work, he asked? A good question and he is the first to ask me it. It may be as well then to put this down.

To refresh your memory, the eight Maslow levels of need are from the bottom up: biological and physiological, safety, belongingness and love, esteem, cognitive, aesthetic, self-actualisation, and transcendence. These are eight levels of need; and to make things more complex, from the Maps point of view we discount the lowest need. We do this because it is a basic need and not a want. There are people who are at that level of existence, and when they are this need is so powerful it overrides any other motivator. Usually, it is not found in business or most organisations; when it is, you have a person who will be a game player – the Map may be accurate, but their survival instinct at level one will render their other wants obsolete or irrelevant – they are in the grip of a more primitive need or emotion.

Thus, we now have seven levels in which nine motivators fit! How does that work? You will know from our diagram that each of the motivators correlates especially with one level. We start then with safety needs and this correlates with the Defender motivator. How we solve the problem is at the esteem need level; for here we suggest that three motivators are involved: the Star motivator, wanting recognition, the Director motivator, wanting control, and the Builder motivator, wanting material possessions. Why should that be?

Two powerful reasons. The first is that if we consider our own wellbeing and our own effectiveness, then the self-esteem is invariably considered to be the single more important factor. Indeed, Dr Nathaniel Brandon, a foremost authority in this area, said self-esteem is the single most powerful force in our existence: on it everything depends. And he goes on to say: "Of all the judgments we pass in life, none is more important than the judgment we pass on ourselves." Thus esteem is core to motivation and wide-ranging; therefore, should it surprise us if more than one motivator fell within its orbit?

But the second reason explores terminology. For I am of the view that what is meant here by self-esteem is actually the self-concept, which of course incorporates self-esteem, but also more beside. The self-concept has three components: the self-esteem (or how we feel about ourselves), the self-image (or how we see ourselves) and the ideal self (how we want to be in the future).

These three elements or components, then, each have their own motivator as it were. The self-esteem is very much connected to our internal locus of control, and this is related in a sort of inverted way to the Director motivator where we project the control outwards. Similarly, our self-image is about how we see our self and this finds a correlation in the Star motivator where we – projecting outwards – want others to see us in a certain way, to recognise us if you will. Finally, we have the ideal-self that wants to grow, to become, to be successful in the future, and so needs nutrients to do that – in other words, the soil of material possessions that enable this to happen even if one finally becomes a St Francis or a Buddha or a St Thomas Aquinas. I mention these three in particular because they all started from wealthy backgrounds which enabled them finally to eschew material things and transcend; but they started there.

So we see that the fourth level, half way up the hierarchy, is quite pivotal in terms of moving towards self-actualisation and beyond, but also pivotal in motivational terms. There really is a correlation between Motivational Maps and the Maslow model.

The RAG in Motivation

People today talk of the Work-Life Balance, which is good, but not entirely accurate; it suggests a split between work and life, a choice between the two which can be remedied by information or techniques that will enable them to co-exist in harmony: you can have work and life! However, work is part of life and the split is not two ways, but three, and it is the invisible 'third' element that makes all the difference in the world to the other two.

As we think about it, for all our lives, there are three core elements: there is Achievement (normally designated work), in which we struggle to achieve something, or impose our signature on the external environment; there is Relationship or are relationships, in which we yearn to love and be loved by others, and gain their respect and co-operation; and finally, there is Growth (or self – our self, our real self) in which we seek to grow through self-awareness and self-development, and this imposes some sort of order on our internal environment.  Hence RAG.

These elements are dynamically interacting all the time. The most obvious example of this is when a colleague at work, known for their commitment and skills and quality output, suddenly loses interest in what they are doing, or becomes positively obstructive. Nobody can understand why this has happened, but upon investigation the root problem turns out to be nothing to do with work – turns out to be, for example, their partner has left them, or a parent has suddenly died. Thus, relationships outside work affect the work.

If this is true, as most obviously it is, it stands to reason that the self, too, will also affect both work and relationships, as they affect the self. The problem is: very few people seem to understand that they have a 'self' and that therefore they need to tend it! Tend it as you would a garden. The exception to this general stricture would the physical self and physical health. Because they can see and feel their physical bodies, people will take action to promote its well being – join the gym, do yoga, eat well and so on. Far fewer pay attention to their mental self, their emotional self, and their spiritual self. This is a tragedy because it is the self that primarily fuels work and relationships as we shall see.

However, before we discuss this in more detail, let's briefly look at how the three life elements express themselves in our lives. If we were to sum up their content in one question, then it would be:

Work (Achievement) asks: what do I do?

Relationship asks: how do I get strokes?

Self (Growth) asks: what does this mean?

All three questions are vital to us as human beings, but it should be clear that if we consider anybody, including ourself, then we all have predilections. Some people regard the question, ‘What do I do?’ as far more important than the other two. And what we see is how this manifests itself in the world: in fact this question is particularly pertinent to men and can lead to the often observed work-life imbalance that is so characteristic of them. A form of workaholic-ism emerges, whereby work becomes the be all and end all of their existence – and of some women's too.

Again, some people, and probably more women than men here, regard, ‘How do I get strokes round here?’ as the core issue of their lives. Relationships are everything, and in a way they are right. There is a familiar adage, 'all for love', and another which says that nobody on their deathbed wishes they had spent more time in the office. No, they wish they'd spent more time with the people they allegedly loved. But for all the power of love, the need for 'strokes' can have a dangerous sting in its tail: it can lead to compliance, co-dependence, and a loss of personal identity in the mad desire to have strokes come whatever may.

Finally, then, the third question, which seems cerebral and academic, but upon which so much depends: ‘What does this mean?’ In his book Man's Search for Meaning the noted psychologist, Vicktor Frankel, concluded that the meaning question was at the core of our existence. Man simply could not live without it, but with it could endure almost anything. This is fine and philosophical, but so many are too busy to pay any attention to the question, and so to themselves, until it is too late. They mistake the customs, habits and values of civilisation as a given font of meaning, and then do not have the internal equipment to deal with pressure when the cracks appear, as they always do to a greater or lesser extent.

So, to return to an earlier point, it is knowing the self, it is allowing for personal growth, that is the key to both success at work and in relationships; further, it is the fuel that provides 'energy', motivation if you will, to these other two elements. Ultimately, the person who is either so busy working or so busy in a relationship – say, caring for a child – or both burns out because there is no 'time for myself'. Time for the self, or Growth, is critical, but using it wisely is a different matter for it is in those spaces between the work and the relationships that many find being on their own, with their self, unbearable and we need narcotics and stimulants of one sort of another to cope. As Pascal, perhaps rhetorically, put it, 'All man’s evil comes from a single cause, his inability to sit still in a room.'

Psychometric Flowers

Sometimes things occur which are so typical and so representative of a problem that one has to comment on it. I am referring to the Paul Flowers case in the UK. For my international readers not familiar with this, the basic facts of the case are that a man called Paul Flowers was appointed to become chairman of the Co-operative Bank in the UK. Mr Flowers attracted attention in two ways last year. The Co-operative Bank is a well-known ‘ethical’ bank in the UK and was led (by Mr Flowers and the Board) to require a £1.5B bailout (and so become a minority stakeholder in itself, only owning 30%) when it dramatically and financially over-extended itself. Further, Mr Flowers was then caught in a newspaper ‘sting’ and found to be extensively using illegal drugs.

If this weren’t enough, two more things: when Parliament came to investigate what happened via its Treasury committee, it found that Mr Flowers had no qualifications or experience to be a banker and when asked directly what he estimated the size of the Bank’s assets to be, Flowers replied £3B when in fact it turned out to be £47B – a pretty incredible discrepancy for somebody at the top. But worse, we learn from Rodney Baker-Bates, the bank’s former deputy chairman, who voted against and then resigned over the bank’s disastrous efforts to overreach itself (the acquisition of 630 Lloyd’s Banking Group branches), that the appointment of Mr Flowers was on the basis of he "did well in psychometric tests"! As the Treasury committee chairman Andrew Tyrie observed: Flowers proved to be "psychologically unbalanced but psychometrically brilliant".

Think about that: be "psychologically unbalanced but psychometrically brilliant" and consider how corporates rely on this tool, and indeed how HR rabbits on about its – or their (since there are many flavours) validity. Next time you hear an HR or other director go on about the validity of psychometric, do remember to point out: so if I understand what you are saying about validity, then who we are looking to appoint may be somebody who is be "psychologically unbalanced but psychometrically brilliant"? Look out for the withering scorn with which that is greeted. But why not?

The thing is: this is not likely to be an isolated case. The banks are famous for using psychometrics and spending a fortune on them, and to what end? We know from the financial crisis all about ‘Fred the Shred’ and the other less, or lesser known psychopaths and ego maniacs who captained their ships – dreadfully – over that turbulent period. And doubtless, they were appointed on the same basis. Indeed Sir David Walker,  now chairman of Barclays, recommends that institutions use just such ‘objective’ methods of analysing candidates. Frankly, if that’s what objectivity achieves, might not subjectivity be better?

Of course the psychometric industry has already gone into overdrive to limit the damage of this most damaging revelation. Dr Mark Parkinson, a business psychologist who works on senior level recruitment in the City, told the Financial Times that "responsible employers would never use the psychometric tests in isolation … one would expect due diligence". Well, I guess he would say that, wouldn’t he? Common sense perhaps might precede even due diligence! What we have with these psychometrics is fundamentally a lazy form of stereotyping. We pigeon-hole people and then imagine we know all there is to know about them. The tests produce a static sort of result. As long as we realise that the result is a model, is a map (and not the territory, not the ‘thing’ or the ‘person’) then all is well. But that, is almost beyond human capability; the capability of busy people with jobs to do, reputations to establish, and easy knowledge – like psychometric knowledge - to demonstrate.

It is for this reason too I have an axe to grind. Namely, it would be far more difficult to appoint Mr Flowers following his completion of a Motivational Map, a self-perception inventory, than a psychometric. Built into the Map is the notion of change, that motivators change, and so there is not a stereotypical profile of anybody, only a profile valid at one point in time, and its relevance is always contextual. We have to think about the role, the candidate and the profile if we are going to make an informed and effective choice.

The good news is that Psychometric Flowers points to the need for a new dawn in tools we need to evaluate candidates, and Motivational Maps is waiting in the wings, its time rapidly about to dawn.

America and Motivational Maps

Motivational Maps are operating in 12 countries but not the United States of America, which is clearly a tragedy. Why? Because I – with reservations (and the same is true of England, my home!) – love America. Oddly, I have never been there; yes, I have been to Canada (and they have Maps), and yes, stood at the Niagara Falls with the border just there in front of me. But no, I never crossed. My wife has been; my two sons have been; and my youngest son was the only Brit to win an award at the Empire Bar Mock Trials in New York in 2010. What an experience he had there, which he loved – but, I digress.

As I was saying, but I haven’t been. But so many of my heroes are American. I watched Rawhide in the Sixties and Clint Eastwood has been a hero ever since. The first pop album I ever bought was Pet Sounds and the Beach Boys have been one of my all-time favourite music bands ever since. And as for poetry and literature, where do I start? And more importantly for this discussion the influence of the great American personal development gurus on me.

First, Brian Tracy – a master teacher (admittedly, he started off a Canadian) – but then there’s Joan Borysenko, Wayne Dyer and a host more. And this leads to the Maps because in my studies of some of these incredible people I came across Abraham Maslow and Edgar Schein, two great academics whose work has profoundly affected so many, and who became for me the root of developing Motivational Maps. It was looking at their work, together with the Enneagram, that enabled me to see how to construct a motivational profiling tool.

And having said the Enneagram: that 3000 year old personality diagnostic may well have remained invisible if not for the pioneering work of Americans like Helen Palmer and Richard Riso who disseminated what Claudio Naranjo brought to California in 1971. In the good ‘ol American way they systematised what was an oral tradition, and in doing so made it available to millions. I was one of those millions, and when I saw it I realised how the pieces fit for motivation.

Thus America and Motivational Maps are really partners; they go together like a hand in a glove; they fit because the core ideas of the Maps actually derived from America itself and I am proud of that fact. And so as I now through Hugh Liddle, the superb sales coaching guru, get interviewed on blog radio for America I am almost in America – I am coming across some airwave or internet ether and I can almost smell America. So close.

Now all we need is one or two or three of those truly enterprising American spirits, those self-starters, those indomitable commercial warriors to try the Map, realise that yes America does indeed need it, and then begin the journey to convert the country and bring Motivational Maps home. A dream? Of course, but that’s exactly why it’s perfect for America, isn’t it?

Finding Three Reasons Why Anyone Should Buy from You

It is certainly true that the life blood of any company is its sales; I would not want to make a fetish of this as some companies do to the extent that everybody else is made to feel a second class citizen. Clearly, the well run organisation focuses on sales and sees all the other departments as crucial in supporting that activity. Equally, and more pertinently for this debate, I don’t want to fall into the other trap either: namely, of subordinating sales to the marketing function. So far as all non- web businesses are concerned it seems to me that there can be a massive over-reliance on marketing that can be fatal in the long and not so long run.

What do I mean by this? I mean that there is a lot of theory and academia around marketing that can bamboozle the unwary into thinking they are making progress, thinking they are working on the business, when all they are doing is crossing ‘i’ and dotting ‘t’s in trying to formulate the perfect brand and ideal marketing collateral. Don’t get me wrong, getting a great brand, and getting first-rate collateral is a major spur to sales, on or off the web. But I have seen individuals and companies spend so much time trying to get all this right, they go bust before the sales occur that might have saved them.

Compared with marketing, sales is dirty and practical. Yes, there are some theories and models which are useful, but ultimately it’s as simple, and as challenging, as having a product or service and asking someone else if they wish to purchase it.

There is one question I have found that constantly helps the sales process, however, and which I have also found that marketers frequently have no good answer to. It is for a company or an individual to ask themselves this: give yourself three reasons why anybody should buy from you? And I have found that in answering this question, 95% of the time individuals and organisations make the classic mistake of talking features rather than benefits and outcomes. Further, they frequently too relapse into talking about themselves and their own greatness rather than having any sense of what’s in it for the purchaser. I guess this is a natural enough tendency: we get excited by what we are offering, failing to see how we need to see it from the consumer’s point of view.

So, typically, when I ask individuals why should I buy from you the answers I get are: because I/we are the best, because I/we have been in business for 25 years, because I/we are certified/qualified/have an MBA/PhD, because I/we are quality, even because I/we go the extra mile for our customers. Yes, but what does going the extra mile actually mean?

There are five great words that everyone in sales needs to engrave within their sentence structures if they want to hit benefits: improve, increase, gain, save, and reduce. And these five words need to link to true benefits, not to features. In the case of my own business, which is about motivation, it is easy to make this mistake: we increase the motivation of your staff. Is that good? Or, is this better: we increase the motivation of your staff, typically by 10-25% when we run our programs. Yet neither are any real good, since motivation is mostly a feature for companies and not a benefit they really seek.

The benefit of motivation is either performance, or productivity or profit. Those are what the leader is interested in. And so I do have three reason why somebody should buy from me and the first is, because I can increase the productivity of your staff, typically when I run the program, by 10-25%. Now, that grabs the attention of the leader if that  - lack of productivity – is the specific pain they are experiencing.

Coming back, then to the five words: we link them (increase, improve, gain) with performance, productivity or profits (or sales), or we link them (reduce, save) with efficiencies and cost-cuttings.

Why should I buy from you? I can typically increase your sales by 15% within 6 months; I can improve the quality of delivery of your key staff by 10% in three months; I can help you gain 20% more productive time in a week to work on more important elements of your business; I can reduce your average staff turnover by some 50%, thus saving you £‘000s in one year; I can save you from losing your top 10 key staff to competitors by implementing this engagement process I use.

Clearly, all these benefit type statements have one thing in common: they are solution to a problem that the boss or MD or leader has. Your having an MBA, or being in business for 25 years,or being a great guy (or gal), isn’t. So ask yourself this question before you leave this blog – and if you are in business – and make sure you answer it if you want a great 2014: what three reasons are there why anyone should buy from me?

Motivational Maps and Selling

Our product, Motivational Maps, has many applications and some of them are pretty obvious: motivation, performance, productivity, team building, appraisal, and recruitment to mention the most obvious. But selling? How is Motivational Maps relevant to selling and increasing sales? The good news is that Motivational Maps is highly relevant to sales and there are three areas that I briefly want to consider.

First, and most directly, let’s remind ourselves of that great truism that Brian Tracy, one of the world’s leading sales trainers, observed: “50% of any sale is a transfer of enthusiasm”. That’s right! And what does that mean? It means that you can train people on every identifiable sales skill available: how to present, how to close, how to handle objections and so on and so forth, and you can make them encyclopaedias of knowledge about selling, but at the end of the day without that enthusiasm, they are likely – 50% likely - to fail. So what is enthusiasm? It’s an infectious energy that comes from belief and love and purpose – and it’s the brother or sister of motivation, that other word for profound levels of energy that get things done. In short, Tracy is saying that selling is 50% down to motivation.

In any situation there is a logical and an emotional component to buying. The logical component is effectively the ‘spec’ – what we need to buy to advance our business whether it be a management information system,  a CRM, some software, a computer, a phone, a stapler, office paper and paper clips – and we have various criteria of which price is one component. Only a foolish business always buys the ‘cheapest’ product or service: do you want the best price or the best value is a great question to rebut the cheapo mind-set. Given the spec, and of course different sectors and industries can widely variant stances on how flexible their buyers can be, it should be the case that purchases are made on a logical basis. Yea! Should be – but are they?

Of course not, emotion always creeps into the equation, and in some instances, including some of the most senior buying decisions, the emotional decision trumps any logical choice. For my own part KLT is vital: I need to Know someone, Like someone, Trust someone, first, and then I’ll consider their logical offering second. So knowing someone,  and getting them to like you as a pre-requisite to a successful sales pitch is vital.

I am not a particularly great sales person but using Motivational Maps I can get to know people and assist them in their efforts to like me! How – by getting them to do a Map. Let me paint a typical scenario. I get a call from a business association asking me to be the guest speaker talking about motivation at a business breakfast. There are 50 or Managing Directors, Finance Directors, HR specialists in attendance. I do my thing. At the end I say, “And if you like what you’ve heard and would like to do a complimentary map, give me your business card before I go with the word MAP written on it. Somewhere between 10 and 20 – let’s say 15 – people do just that. And then about 10 do a map. Immediately I know exactly what the motivational hot buttons of ten people who have qualified themselves and expressed an interest. I follow the trail and convert 3 or 4 of the 10 into clients. But the conversion is based on pitching the solution to their problem within the language of their motivators – in other words, what they want. So this is not manipulative; it’s simply giving people what they want. Or as Dr Tony Alessandra puts it in his great book, The Platinum Rule: it’s doing to others as they want to be done by!

Allowing people to do Motivational Maps, therefore, is a wonderful way of getting underneath their skin and really understanding what they want at an emotional level. But that’s just the start. There are two other important applications of Motivational Maps to sales.

The first is working with sales managers; for the truth is most managers, including sales managers, do not even know what motivates their self, never mind their team members. We see time and time again what we call wrong reward strategies applied that have the opposite effect on a sales team and eventually lead to under-performance. One of the worst examples of this is the blind assumption that everyone is motivated by money, so money is the only reward. This is firstly palpably untrue, and secondly desperately damaging to the long term effectiveness of any sales team. So Motivational Maps here are invaluable.

And finally, Motivational Maps is brilliant for giving the owners and senior people in an organisation an immediate fix on how the sales team is really doing; for, if Tracy is right, measuring the total motivational score of a sales team, or division even, is going to provide a massive insight in how things really are. One might argue that this would be apparent from the targets; but not so, except when a company is on an exceptional roll. The truth is, many companies have sales forces that blind them with monthly numbers and prospects and leads and jam tomorrow that it can literally takes years to work out that all the activity and promises were, after all, smoke and mirrors, and another Sales Director bites the dust yet with his CV intact for his next appointment!! Motivational Maps can see through all that. How? By measuring the motivations of these team: there needs to be a correlation between high performance and motivation? Is there?

I have covered these areas in brief, but I hope you can see from my analysis just how profoundly Motivational Maps and selling are related. Perhaps the next question is: are you using Motivational Maps in your sales force or process? If not, then contact me for a complimentary Map, but remember if you do I will see what you really want, yes, YOU!

New Year's Resolutions or Intentions for 2014

Here I am again at the end of the year contemplating what has been, and what may appear in 2014. This year has a particular blessed, although my tumour reappeared in a CT scan earlier in the year. Somehow, though, I believe that all is well and will be well.
But let me ask you?  Are you setting yourself a New Year's Resolution this year? Will this be a positive boost to you in 2014 or will you find your resolution starts well and fizzles after a week or two?

What has been your experience in previous years? How well are you setting yourself up for success when you create your New Year's resolutions?

I think New Year’s resolutions are imperfect, but not having resolutions is worse. As Brian Tracy says, they are conscious decisions - and this can frighten and paralyse us at a sub-conscious level.
Two approaches to this may help. One is the simple substitution of the word ‘intention’ for resolution. Let’s make intentions as these are a lot less frightening, and don’t create that same onerous sense of commitment – and hence potential failure.

The second idea is to use the well-known Kaizen technique, which is really incredibly powerful. When we make resolutions, because they are Resolutions, on New Year’s Eve – notice all the capitals – they tend to be big (to lose a stone, make a million) or absolute (stop drinking altogether), and this too disturbs us.

Kaizen technique replaces all this angst by asking the simple question: what is the smallest possible step I could take towards my destination? Do that for as long as it comfortable. Then, increase – do more - at that point. So, for example, instead of resolving to lose a stone in weight, the kaizen might be: to climb one flight of stairs to my office every day/once a week instead of using the lift all the way.

Finally, to do anything new one should consider, what then do I stop doing? And that leads on to – what do I do more of and what should I do less of? Finally, there are some things which are just fine – and I need to continue doing them just as I always have. I call this process the Stop-Start Review and it is an ideal way to help people get a handle on controlling their time and their priorities.

For me then, as I trust for you, 2014 is a year of hope and opportunity. I have made five resolutions – intentions - for the year in discussion with my family, and I intend to ‘kaisen’ all of them. I hope this time next year to be able to tell you that I have achieved them all. So please accept my best wishes to you all and your intentions for 2014!

Being 100 and Wholly Distracted

Governments have two main ways to control their people. One, and obviously, are the Police, Judiciary, Armed Forces and so on. Overuse of the 'assets' and people sooner or later (Tunisia) get fed up and rebel. No, these 'assets' are heavy handed and really can only be 20 or 30% of the solution if society is to survive at all.

The real power lies in the second major 'way' of controlling people: namely, 'bread and circuses'. We had 13 years of 'bread' from the previous Labour administration, corrupting by virtually buying the vote of the people through its absurd and fiscally irresponsible policies. And now we have more of the same from the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.

At the bottom end of the circus food chain, of course, we have permission to broadcast degenerate TV – reality TV, designed to abuse and degrade people in the name of entertainment. But more seriously is the constant, continual, and dare I say it, criminal stream of misinformation that excites, attracts, diverts the public's attention from what is really happening. It's something like Vedanta's 'non-dualism' view of reality: reality is Self/Consciousness, and only that; what appears to be reality is only 'maya', illusion.

So it is that we are fed illusions to keep us from the reality. On a large scale, for example, we have the issue of the banker's bonuses. As Tim Price in Money Week truly observed: “...the main reason monetary institutions were created was to 'allow an alliance of politicians and bankers to enrich themselves at the expense of all other strata of society'”. This is pretty serious stuff – the politicians are in it with the bankers – at our expense. We were hoping that the new Coalition was really going to deal with this … For, if this were repeated and explicated enough times in the 'establishment' publications like the Economist, the FT, the BBC and so on, the dissent  we already 'feel' would boil over into open revolution. Because the reality is quite sickening. For now, however, it's the small independents like Money Week that really show the picture, albeit in a non-political way.

Thus, we come to the small scale dissemination of information – constant, continual and criminal – and this one I particularly love – that distracts the mind from pain and reality. I mean, of course, the announcement from the Works and Pension Ministry that 1 in 6 of us, 17% of the population, 10.6 million people, are going to live to 100 – live to get a telegram from the Queen! What could be further from the truth than this fatuous piece of information?

Before commenting on why it is utterly fatuous, we need to remind ourselves why it is has been disseminated and taken up so much air space in the first place. First, it is wonderfully optimistic; we are being fed hope without actually being given anything – it costs nothing to tell us this. Second, it fuels the ignorant worship of the god Science and its only begotten son, Progress; the world is getting better, and we are its beneficiaries – now that, as I think Gandalf said, is 'an encouraging thought, isn't it'? The reasons given for this miraculous and unparalleled achievement (at least unparalleled since the time of Methuselah, perhaps an equally mythical time) are improved diet, living conditions and medical technology (Science). Third, it creates a momentum for more of the same; because we are making such progress in the prospect of our life span (though not necessarily of course the quality of our lives, an important distinction), we should carry on with more of the same lest we jeopardise all these years we have yet to live and which the god Science promises us in advance. In short, we are kept in check from wanting anything different because we want the 'promise' – the 100 years, and 1 in 6 is as good as a dice throw. We can win!

Why, then, is this so fatuous and so false? One, because it's an extrapolation from a graph – life expectancy has gone up in the last 100 years, that is true, but that it will continue to go up is highly unlikely. It is much more likely to revert to the mean. Share prices go up, house prices go up; but then they go down, and they go down to the degree to which they balance how far they went up in the first place. And we are seeing this already.

We are now in a situation where parents are likely to see the deaths of their children, and this will increase. One of the reasons for this is precisely the reason given for the increase in life: the diet. Diabetes is rampant in the West (and especially alcohol with the young) – the diet – to use a technical term – is 'sh**e', the food is corrupted, the food industry allowed to get away with massive contamination, and water tables all over the world are increasingly being compromised by chemical pollutants. Because we are watching Jamie and Nigella on TV are we seriously proposing that the diet is going to help us? The high water mark of longevity is already upon us – from now on it's probably down. Let's remember, the Edwardians in 1913, thought the future was assured;  1914 was 1 year away.

Similarly, with both other points: the living conditions – Jeez-us – has anyone seen the thousands of boxes, rabbit hutches, built in my town of Bournemouth and replicated even more ferociously across the whole country, for people to 'live' in. Prince Charles has a point about architecture. Dogs would probably develop mental problems living in them.

And as for medical technology, it will doubtless side and throw its weight behind assisted suicide  - on the grounds of course of democratic 'choice' - as it looks in despair at the artificial longevity and its consequences that it has promiscuously propagated – as if merely existing were life.

And Nature too has set its face against us: what happens when global warming happens? The oceans – two thirds of the planet – get warmer, water evaporates, clouds form (we get colder) and then the rain falls. And lots of rain means what? Floods. This sounds familiar – ring a recent bell? Yeh? Expect more.

Finally, and besides, none of all this longevity is economic – and when that happens, as we are in crisis in the West now – people have to die. That is the imperative – we can't afford it – so one way or another, die we will, and – alas! How noble is man, how infinite in faculty - revert to the mean.

Peace on Earth and Peace more generally

The time to be jolly, and the time of peace on Earth: it’s Christmas! What’s this all about then? Simply one thing: the ultimate benefit we are all looking for in this life, and which all benefits boil down to – peace of mind. That’s why, even commercially, companies give ‘peace of mind’ guarantees and warranties and so take – sometimes - the worry out of purchasing. Of course there is an irony in that at this time of year, the time of peace on Earth, that many people are going to purchase so much, and rack up so many bills that their peace of mind is assuredly not going to happen any time soon!

But what is this peace of mind that we all want? I think there are three distinct components of it that we may review.

The first is specifically relevant to Christmas in that it is what might be termed a spiritual peace of mind. In the Western tradition this is clearly to do with alienation from God and what is sometimes called ‘sin’; however, I think it would be a mistake to think of this as something peculiarly Western and only relevant to patriarchal notions of an angry God. That would be to miss the point of all the world religions; for basically they all exist – including Buddhism – to solve a central dilemma that humans beings have recognised from the beginning. Namely, that human life is imperfect and that we need some system to get us back into balance and into a right relationship with the universe. There is alongside this a general understanding that at the start of history, human beings were involved in some aboriginal error that contributed to their misery. Pandora, if you will, opened the box and we all ever since have struggled to find … peace of mind. The question, then, is: how do we get back to God? Christmas is one, but not the only answer.

The second component of creating peace of mind is to do with our neighbours and our relationship with them. Clearly, it is difficult to have peace of mind if we are always quarrelling with them, be they our immediate family and friends, our next door neighbours, our fellow citizens, or indeed that country across the way that seems belligerent and hostile to us. How do we create a right relationship with our neighbours? Planning to harm them isn’t going to work, and neither is building an arsenal of weaponry in case they strike first. We have seen all this before – most spectacularly in the years prior to World War One – and it does not work. Why can’t we learn the lessons of history and try another way? Who is our neighbour, asked Christ? And then pinpointed what needed to happen: we help them. In that is peace of mind.

Finally, and perhaps most difficult of all, the third component of peace of mind requires us to make peace with our self; for the reality is that most people have a FAG addiction that is worse than nicotine. By which I mean they are prey to one at least of three acute emotional dysfunctions: Fear, Anger, and Guilt. People too frightened to step out of their houses or to be intimate with others; people always angry with anybody else over anything, no matter how trivial; and people always beating themselves up about what they did or how they should feel now. How they live in constant turmoil and peace of mind a million miles away and inaccessible.

But it is Christmas. Whether we are Christians or not, let us remember the baby and all babies, and how – until they are ruined by adults – they want to laugh and play and enjoy life, how they want to trust and be nourished, how they hope in their inarticulate way for growth and the future. To be childlike is not to be childish; indeed, it is to replenish our inner strengths and reserves, and especially to receive the gift of peace as we feel the joy of life.

Happy Christmas to my readers!

Creeds, Incarnation and the Trinity

Here we are again – at Christmas time. Bliss! A holiday. A time to reflect on what is important. And what is more important, more important than virtually anything else, is what we believe. Why? Because what we believe affects all the outcomes of our life. Famously James Allen cited the Bible and virtually launched the Personal Development movement when he said at the beginning of the Twentieth Century: ‘As a man thinketh, so is he’. Thinking here means believing.

I belong to religious group of people called Quakers, The Society of Friends. God bless them all, but there are some who seem to think – to believe – what many secular people believe: that belief is unimportant, and it is what you do that counts. As long as we do good, so their thinking goes, then all is well: we do not need creeds, especially religious ones, to be good people. In one obvious way it’s a sad position for a Quaker to adopt, since why be part of a religion at all if that were the case: we can do good as the secular society of friends! But it is much more misguided than that.

What is most misguided is the underlying assumption that there is such a position or indeed such a human being who is without beliefs, or without their own personal creed(s). People who claim that they dislike creeds are in the act of proclamation creating their own creed! The word creed itself comes from the Latin ‘credo’ and means, I believe. We all believe something, and this something can always be stated as a proposition; however, some people refuse to admit that even to themselves. They seem to want to congratulate themselves with moral brownie points for being ‘free’ of the constriction of beliefs, as this this were a freedom. Indeed, the reverse is true: the person who acts under the delusion that they have no beliefs and no creed is some acting under a subconscious constraint the more damaging because it is invisible to their conscious mind.

With that in mind then we can return to Christmas and the incarnation: the notion that is offensive to so many people that God became human and a divine child. Do we believe that? Many do and many regard it as preposterous, although for myself I take the view that anything that has endured – like the Pyramids – needs to be treated with massive respect before we dismiss it as an historical curiosity. But let’s lay aside the incarnation for a moment, for Christianity has an even more momentous and awkward belief to explain or justify. One that has caused even more division and acrimony than the ‘sonship’ of Jesus Christ: namely, the Trinity itself, which is not even mentioned as a concept in the Bible, so how can this be a valid belief as opposed to some priestly jiggery-pokery designed to befuddle the masses?

Again, I was at a point of dismissing this idea, this belief myself for a while, but one thing held me back: the strange properties of nature which consistently seem to reveal a three-in-one quality. For examples, time, which is past, present and future; space, which is length, height and breadth; matter, which is solid, liquid and gaseous; and beyond this arcane and yet essential concepts like ‘narrative’, which is beginning, middle and end, and which in some profound way is how we get to understand anything - through narrative, through story. So, whilst God cannot be explained, what metaphor best depicts this trinity and enables one to grasp something of its power?

For me as I wrestled with this concept the best metaphor that approximates to it is the human mind itself. God the Father, the first person of the Trinity, is LIKE our own thoughts: forever invisible to others. People cannot read our thoughts and we cannot read theirs; they are, as it were, encased or enclosed in some sort of inaccessible light. I say light because thoughts enable us to ‘see’. But, should the thought choose to reveal itself, then it does so via the word: we speak, and lo! Our thoughts are manifested. Here, however, we need to bear in mind two things: the thought precedes the word, and yet the thought and the word are inseparable. There is no sense in which a word is an independent creation of the thought (of course, bearing in mind that humans lie, whereas here we are talking of a perfect correspondence between the ‘thought’ of God and the ‘word’ of God); they are ‘one’ but they are distinct.

And so to the third person of the Trinity, which in this model becomes the enaction of the thought/word. If we see someone about to cross the road and we yell, ‘Stop’, there is some possibility that that is exactly what they will do. Indeed, in our every day and mundane lives we speak to and with people and we either follow their direction or advice or they follow ours, or both. The words we speak have a power to move reality. The Holy Spirit, then, is the energising agent that effects the consequence of the spoken word. Again, just as the word follows from the thought, so too the action follows the expression of the word: it is not different from it, but a natural continuation of it, and so the three are all ‘one’ in some essential sense.

If we were perfect human beings, then our thoughts would correspond with our words, and our actions would follow suit. This in business language is what we call having integrity! The whole of our history is about the struggle to find consistency and truth in other human beings and when we can find it, we have a role model. Nelson Mandela died recently. He said he’d stand for President and then step down after five years. What did he do? He stepped down – remarkably for an African president! – after five years, and we see his consistency and we think: wow! What a man, what a person!

Thus, we are at Christmas – let’s enjoy it and do good. But let’s not forget the Christ child and who he is – who we believe he is. And let’s remember, what we believe has huge implications for our own future and who we are.

Happy Christmas to my readers!

Why Go to a Conference?

Tomorrow we kick off with another Motivational Maps conference at the Elstead Hotel in Bournemouth and I am really looking forward to it. Why do people go to Conferences? What is the point? And what do they take from them?

People go to Conferences, I think, to belong: to be part of something bigger than themselves, and the fact that other people are there lends validity to their own commitment to the topic and ostensible purpose of the specific conference. In our case it is Motivational Maps: it is not enough that more than 20,000 Maps have been done in over 12 countries; we need to see the whites of the eyes of the people who are creating this, who are marketing and selling this, and we need to hear the siren notes of future possibilities. Plus, we need to know there are others who believe as strongly as we do, and that this is not all wishful thinking or a delusion that we have had.

Of course, as a sidebar, it is inevitable for some people that the ‘topic of the conference’ is a delusion. People invest their time, energy and money in things which sometimes don’t work out for them, and Motivational Maps is not immune from this phenomenon. But that said, finding others who believe, strengthens belief and furthermore leads to point two.

Namely, what is the point? To belong yes, but also to explore, to learn and to develop one’s capacity for what is possible. We all of us look to others who can give us insight and perspective, who can provide ideas and leadership that can help us safely and effectively traverse our way into a successful future. As one stone sharpens another, so we go to Conference to pick up that key piece of information that will make a difference in our own practice. And this ‘key’ can come in many different ways, such is the unbelievable nature of the universe.

Again, as another sidebar, Motivational Maps recognises in its very construction in the unpredictable nature of the universe. The whole map is a self-perception inventory – objectively constructed and mathematically regulated and exactly controlled; and yet on the last page of the individual report is the ‘cledon’. The what, you ask? The cledon. A cledon is a concept from ancient Greece. Basically, a cledon is when someone walks down the street and passes two old people in an alleyway who are talking, and one says to the other something that the passer-by hears. And that ‘something’ exactly applies to their situation and they recognise a god has spoken to them. So it is with the Map and the large database of random quotations that may speak to one’s condition. To apply this to the Conference then: anybody, at any time, may say something that provides you with the key to unlock a problem or issue that you have. And you need to expect that to happen!

And finally, what do they take from conferences? Rarely nothing, usually lots; and the more they expect to gain, the more they will take. At its deepest level, their beliefs about the value of the ‘topic’ will strengthen; strengthened beliefs result in greater motivation, more energy, and an even more profound bias for action. At another level, they will take practical ideas, good suggestions, even useful insights that will enable them to function more effectively. Plus, they will network and they will belong; they will be part of the bigger picture and will feel in themselves even stronger, even more able, and for some it might well be that they date their real progress from attending just some event.

So if you want to know more about motivation, about recruitment, about Motivational Maps, then you have only one day left to book on. It will be worth it – that I can guarantee! Go to https://mapsnovconference.eventbrite.co.uk to get on board.

Engagement - What about Encouragement?

Increasingly, organisations are beginning to wise up to the idea that change management is one thing. Let’s improve the structure, the strategy or the system, or all these things in tandem. But unless the people can ‘perform’ all their labour is in vain.

 And frankly, people performing begins at the top. As the great Quality guru, Crosby, once put it: ‘Good ideas and solid concepts have a great deal of difficulty being understood by those who earn their living by doing it some other way.’ Those at the top can be the most averse to realistically appraising themselves. But if they don’t, as sure as night follows days, neither will their staff!

 Furthermore, given the importance of people to our long-term success, it really does pay off to consider recruitment, retention and reward in depth, and go on considering it. Paraphrasing Sun Tzu, Krause observes: ‘Leaders who complain about morale of their employees evidently do not realise that employee’s morale is a mirror of confidence in their leadership’ Phew! Heavy stuff.

 I am sometimes asked what is the single most important quality in an employee. That’s difficult to answer with total certainty, but I like this story.

 The Devil realised he was never going to win in his battle against God, so he decided to throw in the towel. To this end he held a car boot sale in order to flog off all his tools and assets.

 The day came - it had been well advertised - and various colleagues and peers turned up looking for bargains. And, boy! were there some bargains.

 There was this sharp, shiny, pointy spear - pride - that could shatter anyone’s armour. Very expensive, but a tasty piece of equipment.

 Alongside this there was a multi-pronged mace - very menacing - that had a curious magnetic property, drawing things to it and destroying them at the same time. This was envy - really cool. Very expensive.

 All in all, the Devil had some fantastic, high tech equipment - stuff that could really get in you and mess you up. All very expensive. His colleagues were standing there drooling over it, wondering which pieces they could afford to buy.

 But in the centre of the collection was a large, nondescript, blunt, lustreless piece of metallic tubing – its only possible use was as leverage.

 Beelzebub said, ‘How much is that old piece of junk?’

 The Devil smiled and quoted a price. There was a gasp all round - the price he asked was worth more than all the other pieces put together.

 ‘That’s outrageous!’ said Beelzebub, ‘that’s just a piece of junk’.

 ‘That,’ said the Devil, ‘is Discouragement. Without it none of the other tools work. When I want to tempt someone I always start with Discouragement. Buy it and you’ll see.’

 Ever seen the effects of discouragement on members of staff?  It’s far worse than lack of skill.

 So I guess as managers we must work on encouragement – in the structure, strategy, and systems and in everything we do. May be then we can sustain that enthusiasm that is oh-so vital.

Becoming a Business Practitioner of Motivational Maps

At Motivational Maps we have two levels of Practitioners or licensees and sometimes I am asked what is the difference. Clearly, you get more for the more expensive license, but is it just that – you get more? Not really, there is a fundamental difference in thinking between the two levels and they are correlated with the needs of the prospects who have their own business agendas and objectives.

At the less expensive end, we have the Licensed Practitioner, or LP. This is typically for coaches, trainers or consultants who have a vibrant business and service their clients well with their own expertise and toolkit. But they realise that motivation is a special area that they do not fully or adequately cover with their existing technologies. Thus, buying into Motivational Maps at an LP level is acquiring new know-how, a new technology, and with the primary purpose of adding extra value to those prospects and clients. Because it is a product, it has the added benefit from the service providers’ point of view of being an extremely useful sales and marketing tool: anyone can say what they supply as a service but this does require high levels of trust and credibility to enable buy-in; a product can seriously shorten the lead-in time for a sale precisely it demonstrates immediate and replicable results. It’s easy to see what you are getting.

On the other hand, we have our more expensive Business Practitioner, or BP, package. It would appear initially that this is just the same but with more bells and whistle. In particular that the BP can sub-license, has unlimited Map access and so on – so what’s qualitatively different? Everything! The whole point of being a Business Practitioner is that your business is built around this core product. And this works in a number of ways.

First, the whole idea of sub-licensing is so that you can create residual income: in other words so that you can create and maintain a group of practitioners who are licensed and dependent on you. Because they are in business, then they continually use maps; this is quite different often from an organisation who uses maps for a one-off purpose, say, team building, and then desists once the objective is achieved. And because the maps are a product and your practitioners need them, this builds buy-in and long-term loyalty. This in turn produces regularity and steadiness of income.

Secondly, just as sub-licensing creates residual income because Map sales are increased, there is another startlingly effect. Basically, the team not only acts as a sales force for you, but as a marketing one too. This obviously takes longer and is less immediate but in a way can be more significant. I have lost count of the number of times I am contacted in a positive way because somebody in the area has run into one of my licensees; it’s like a continual form of advertising – your presence is in the market even when you are not. Eventually, the Maps become a brand and people buy you because you are part of that brand even when it may be that the Map itself is not the product they need at that moment. In other words, the Maps position you in the market place and enhance your validity.

Thirdly, as this also follows naturally from what we’ve said before: the team creates increased sales, it provides a natural form of marketing, and then it acts as a centre of intelligence: you learn so much about what is going on in an area or a sector as a direct result of your licensees talking about it. Knowledge is power, as they say, and that’s certainly true if one uses it. And the use of it is what I call the exponential effect: realising that the individual has a certain capability and capacity for work, but that’s it – they are limited by being single. You, the BP at the centre of their web, gets to know all the individual narratives can see how by combining different people, the group can punch seriously above its actual weight. Currently, as I speak, two independent teams of licensees who did not know each other were introduced by me to focus on one major high street retailer – and lo! What they could not have achieved separately has now become a major contract to deliver Maps.

Becoming a BP is not for every coach, consultant and trainer, since their business model may already be effective, and this is unnecessary. But for those who want something that can take their business to another level the Maps are an amazing opportunity, and the good news is: Motivational Maps needs more Business Practitioners all over the globe!

The Enneagram and Motivational Maps

I sometimes get asked what is the connection between the Enneagram and Motivational Maps? This is a great question since the Enneagram is one of the three foundation blocks on which I constructed Motivational Maps. Before answering, then, the question directly, let me detour to explain to those who have never heard of the Enneagram what it is and what it does.

Basically, the Enneagram (a word of Greek origin meaning ‘nine points’) is a personality profiling tool. It is in my view the best personality tool available by far; it is quite different from the others, like Myers-Briggs, which categorize people into groups of four and sixteen; there are nine basic types of person, divided into three triads of three, and you can only be one type. What is so powerful about the Enneagram is that it describes what the fundamental motivator of each type is – what they are at root, and most often, looking for in life; and with this goes the predominant ‘vice’, or problem, that besets each number and which, if they are to grow, they need to overcome.

Different writers call the numbers by different names, so the names of each number are not standard. Webb, for example, calls a 1, The Perfectionist, whereas Hurley calls 1s The Achievers; the key thing is the number.
Thus, the first thing that the Enneagram has in common with Maps is the number 9: there are nine personality types and nine motivators at work. That there are nine motivators at work was discovered by follow-on research validating Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors model. Schein suggested that there were eight career drivers; research in Israel validated his model, but amended it to nine drivers: “The construct validity of Schein's career anchors orientation inventory” (Nira Danziger, Dalia Rachman-Moore,  Rony Valency, Rishon Lezion). That there are nine personality goes back to the origins of the Enneagram and its oral tradition, which is at least two thousand years old. It’s difficult to argue with the validity of something that has been road-tested for so long; and in the Twentieth Century leading thinkers and psychologists such as Ouspensky, Ichazo, Naranjo have added their weight to its relevance and validity. This was a great encouragement to me to proceed with the Map model.

Second, the nine Enneagram types are classified in three triads of three. There are three  types of personality that are affect or relational orientated (2, 3 and 4), three types that are theory or thinking orientated (5, 6 and 7), and three types that are effect or doing orientated (8, 9 and 1).This corresponds to the three primary modes of perception: feeling with the heart, thinking with the head, and knowing with the gut (as in gut-instinct, which obviously is involved in decisive actions and decisions). In looking at the motivational drivers I realized that the same division applied to them: that there were three motivators that were clearly relationship driven: security, belonging and recognition That three motivators were theory or thinking driven: control, money and expertise. And finally that three motivators were more instinctual: creativity, autonomy and purpose. Thus, this Enneagram model of the three triads exactly fitted the nine motivators.

And this is important: there is an underlying question for each of the three triads that applies to the maps equally as to the Enneagram. Namely, the relationship triad is asking: Am I lovable? The Theory triad is asking: Am I capable? And the instinctual triad is asking: Am I important? These three questions underpin our existence; they are ‘anxiety’ questions for us all on a motivational and a personality level. What Maps and the Enneagram teach us is that we have strengths, but also weaknesses, including blind spots, and unless these are addressed they are going to trip us up in the long run.

Finally, it needs to be said that the numbers of the Enneagram do not provide an exact correlation with the Map motivators and this is for a very good reason: motivation is only partially derived from our personalities. There is, if you will, the given of personality that forms, in Enneagram terms, within the first five years of life. That supplies some 20 or 30% of our motivational profile; but the other 70-80% is down to two other core factors: our self-concept and our expectations. In simple words, the former are our beliefs about our self, and the latter are our beliefs about future outcomes. In short, our beliefs inwardly and outwardly directed affect some 70% or so of our motivation at any given moment, and our beliefs are variables, which means they can change, and so can our motivation.

Both tools then are superb but they measure different things. In an ideal world we would be looking at and studying both. The Enneagram is far more complex than the Motivational Map and in one important sense is much less relevant to the world of work: it is uncovering personality at the deepest level and inviting one to go on a serious spiritual journey of growth. That is admirable, but have businesses got time for the full monty of personal development? The Map, by contrast, addresses the immediate issue of energy and its direction; plus it gives ways for individuals, teams and organizations to increase that energy and to link it in to performance. The Maps, then, are about personal development, too, but scaled down to a level where business can function and benefit. Ultimately, it is a question of choice and I certainly recommend Enneagram studies to everyone.

I sometimes get asked what is the connection between the Enneagram and Motivational Maps? This is a great question since the Enneagram is one of the three foundation blocks on which I constructed Motivational Maps. Before answering, then, the question directly, let me detour to explain to those who have never heard of the Enneagram what it is and what it does.

Basically, the Enneagram (a word of Greek origin meaning ‘nine points’) is a personality profiling tool. It is in my view the best personality tool available by far; it is quite different from the others, like Myers-Briggs, which categorize people into groups of four and sixteen; there are nine basic types of person, divided into three triads of three, and you can only be one type. What is so powerful about the Enneagram is that it describes what the fundamental motivator of each type is – what they are at root, and most often, looking for in life; and with this goes the predominant ‘vice’, or problem, that besets each number and which, if they are to grow, they need to overcome.

Different writers call the numbers by different names, so the names of each number are not standard. Webb, for example, calls a 1, The Perfectionist, whereas Hurley calls 1s The Achievers; the key thing is the number.
Thus, the first thing that the Enneagram has in common with Maps is the number 9: there are nine personality types and nine motivators at work. That there are nine motivators at work was discovered by follow-on research validating Edgar Schein’s Career Anchors model. Schein suggested that there were eight career drivers; research in Israel validated his model, but amended it to nine drivers: “The construct validity of Schein's career anchors orientation inventory” (Nira Danziger, Dalia Rachman-Moore,  Rony Valency, Rishon Lezion). That there are nine personality goes back to the origins of the Enneagram and its oral tradition, which is at least two thousand years old. It’s difficult to argue with the validity of something that has been road-tested for so long; and in the Twentieth Century leading thinkers and psychologists such as Ouspensky, Ichazo, Naranjo have added their weight to its relevance and validity. This was a great encouragement to me to proceed with the Map model.

Second, the nine Enneagram types are classified in three triads of three. There are three  types of personality that are affect or relational orientated (2, 3 and 4), three types that are theory or thinking orientated (5, 6 and 7), and three types that are effect or doing orientated (8, 9 and 1).This corresponds to the three primary modes of perception: feeling with the heart, thinking with the head, and knowing with the gut (as in gut-instinct, which obviously is involved in decisive actions and decisions). In looking at the motivational drivers I realized that the same division applied to them: that there were three motivators that were clearly relationship driven: security, belonging and recognition That three motivators were theory or thinking driven: control, money and expertise. And finally that three motivators were more instinctual: creativity, autonomy and purpose. Thus, this Enneagram model of the three triads exactly fitted the nine motivators.

And this is important: there is an underlying question for each of the three triads that applies to the maps equally as to the Enneagram. Namely, the relationship triad is asking: Am I lovable? The Theory triad is asking: Am I capable? And the instinctual triad is asking: Am I important? These three questions underpin our existence; they are ‘anxiety’ questions for us all on a motivational and a personality level. What Maps and the Enneagram teach us is that we have strengths, but also weaknesses, including blind spots, and unless these are addressed they are going to trip us up in the long run.

Finally, it needs to be said that the numbers of the Enneagram do not provide an exact correlation with the Map motivators and this is for a very good reason: motivation is only partially derived from our personalities. There is, if you will, the given of personality that forms, in Enneagram terms, within the first five years of life. That supplies some 20 or 30% of our motivational profile; but the other 70-80% is down to two other core factors: our self-concept and our expectations. In simple words, the former are our beliefs about our self, and the latter are our beliefs about future outcomes. In short, our beliefs inwardly and outwardly directed affect some 70% or so of our motivation at any given moment, and our beliefs are variables, which means they can change, and so can our motivation.

Both tools then are superb but they measure different things. In an ideal world we would be looking at and studying both. The Enneagram is far more complex than the Motivational Map and in one important sense is much less relevant to the world of work: it is uncovering personality at the deepest level and inviting one to go on a serious spiritual journey of growth. That is admirable, but have businesses got time for the full monty of personal development? The Map, by contrast, addresses the immediate issue of energy and its direction; plus it gives ways for individuals, teams and organizations to increase that energy and to link it in to performance. The Maps, then, are about personal development, too, but scaled down to a level where business can function and benefit. Ultimately, it is a question of choice and I certainly recommend Enneagram studies to everyone.


Introducing Motivational Maps to Staff

Motivational Maps  is a very flexible product and its many practitioners have their own various ways of introducing it to their clients and the staff. But is there a best way or a preferable way? I think the answer is yes, although I freely concede that I myself have not been consistent in how I introduce it, if only because the client is always king, and therefore one must take cognizance of their requirements and their superior knowledge of their staff.

That said, what is the best way to introduce Motivational Maps  to staff? The first thing to realize is Motivational Maps  is a bottom-up tool: it works by virtue of management (or senior management) realizing that they have to ‘get in the shoes’, get to understand their staff at a deeper level and thus do things for them that have not been done heretofore. This is an important point, for the opposite of this is a top-down approach: which is tantamount to saying, We are going to motivate you whether you will or not – you will be motivated! That cannot work – people will comply as a matter of job security, but it will not generate real motivation.

This leads to a second point: true motivation is always self-motivation, and so management has to understand that motivation cannot be compelled (any more than love can be compelled; in fact love is not love which is forced). Management, indeed, can only create the right environment, the favorable conditions, the appropriate sweeteners that may enable motivation to flourish in the individual. But here is a numbers’ game; for if you do create those conditions most people become motivated, and those few who don’t never would be – and that too is valuable information about your organization and their place in it.

Given, then, that management have bought into the concept of Motivational Maps, the question becomes how best to implement a programme? And the key issue here is introducing the staff to Motivational Maps via a qualified or trained practitioner. This is because it is highly likely that if only management introduce it, they will either fail to grasp what’s in it for the staff or simply will make it sound just like any other ‘new’ management imitative. In short, it will sound just like another feather in the cap of the manager’s career aspirations: it’s all about the management and the manager, and really divorced from the interests of the staff.

Thus it is imperative that some time is given to allow a proper presentation of Motivational Maps to staff with a focus on the benefits to them. And these benefits are massive and considerable. When they ‘get’ just how important motivation is on their lives at work and beyond their enthusiasm really does start sparking.

Often the problem is releasing staff at the same time as the ‘decks’ have to be manned. This, however, should not be allowed to be an excuse. The practitioner needs to argue for shifts or relays of staff in which a group or team can be addressed for at least 30 minutes and preferably an hour. Or technologies like webinars (even a recording is better than nothing) can be used, and in this way they can get a chance to listen and to ask questions.

3 Business Lessons I learnt from Cancer

Some of you may remember the story of Noah’s Ark. Noah was building an ark and while he did so people were eating and drinking and marrying and being given in marriage. Then, one day, he entered the Ark, battened down the hatches and it started to rain. It rained for another 150 days and when Noah finally unbattened the hatches and stepped out again into the world, it was a completely different world that he stepped into. The old world had gone and could never return; whatever was to happen now would be new.

That is exactly what happened to me. There was this old world that I was part of; then, I had two malignant tumours in my small intestine, went into hospital for 3 months (my Ark, Ward 17!), had two major operations, nearly died, but emerged into the land of the living, the new world, in late October 2011, about 2 years ago. And I would argue that this experience happens to everyone who has a serious illness: there is before the event and there is after the event. Two different worlds that never meet. It’s not only, of course, just those who are privileged to be seriously ill! Those, too, who mind some loved one who is seriously ill; and those who have lost someone extremely dear to them. For all of us there is before and after the Flood.

But these experiences do provide us with opportunities to think about life and its meaning, and I think if we are sensible, we can learn something from it. I certainly did. What I learnt personally I have discussed elsewhere, but what did I learn from a business perspective? What did my cancer teach me about my business? Has it made a difference? The answers are ‘lots’ and ‘yes’!

Three big lessons emerged for me from my illness. The first, as I lay there, was the realization that if I died my business would fold. In other I realized that I had not any succession plan in place and furthermore that I had not begun my business with the end in mind. On the contrary, I had run the business as a life style choice and when people asked me when I intended to retire I had replied, in all seriousness, ‘Never’. Somehow I thought that having been in business for 18 years that I could just carry on indefinitely. Wow! This illness certainly brought that assumption into sharp relief.

Since escaping hospital we now have 3 new directors on our Board with a CEO-designate, a new vision and a new 5 year plan. Is that making a difference? You bet.

Second, I also realized that although I had created a great product, the Motivational Map, I hadn’t productized enough. That as Peter Drucker said, only two things make money for a business: marketing and innovation, all else is a cost. The innovation of our product needed to be taken to a new level.

Since escaping hospital we now have Motivational Maps versions 2.0 and more recently version 2.1; these are massive upgrades on the original. We have also had the Map translated into 5 European languages. Plus we have detailed plans for a Recruitment Map, a superior Organizational Map, and more beside. Is that making a difference? You bet.

Finally, I realized the full force of the Michael Gerber ‘e-myth’ philosophy. I had spent 18 years being a fabulous trainer, coach and mentor and I liked doing it. But I was spending too much time working ‘in’ and not ‘on’ the business. Put another way, I was too operational and not strategic enough. And this meant not only insufficient attention being paid to the marketing, but also not enough was being spent on the productization, the innovation stuff, on which the long-term security rested.

Since escaping hospital we now have made the decision to retire me from training, coaching and mentoring permanently at the end of this year. It’s hard, but it’s necessary. There are very good people who can take my place.

And what has all this business learning done for the business? Masses! But just to headline a few points. We have sold almost as many maps in one year as we sold in six years before! We were operating in five countries and in just over a year we have doubled that to twelve countries. Plus, we have attracted serious corporate attention and more.  So, there is no doubt, these have been valuable lessons.

I wouldn’t wish anyone to be as ill as I was in order to learn these lessons, but the reality is that good came from my illness. Perhaps this article will help you get to achieving your business objectives sooner rather than later – at least, try to avoid the illness teaching you! Learn from my pain.

Why Switch to Motivational Maps?

We often with Motivational Maps find that when we talk about them to potential clients and prospects they often comment that they ‘know about that’. ‘That’ meaning the Maps themselves; of course they often know nothing about the Maps but they do know about personality tests and psychometrical profiling tools and the assumption is that these things are all one and the same. It’s a mistake that’s easy to make: after all, you go on-line, answer a bunch of questions and get a report, right?

Unfortunately, so very wrong; but the situation is even worse when I tell you that Motivational Maps are not even in competition with personality and psychometric tools because it does something fundamentally different; yet alas it is in competition with them because at the end of the day most organizations can only afford to use one tool – the cost for one thing and the learning curve for another – and so in a real competitive sense Motivational Maps is the ‘same as’ these other products.

But given this background, why am I insisting that Maps are so different, and why should any organization consider switching to Maps from their old product? There are three compelling reasons and the first is very simple: namely, we must insist, the Maps are doing – describing, measuring, monitoring, maximizing – something quite different from personality and behaviours. They provide feedback on motivation and although one’s personality contributes to one’s motivational profile, it is not the same thing. One key difference that needs to be borne in mind is this: your personality is more or less fixed, it does not change. But your motivators do. The implications of this for any organization are profound.  The first being that personality tools are ‘static’ whereas the Maps are ‘dynamic’ – they change over time and in a way this is more like people really are: they do change, for various reasons, and we need to be aware of these changes, these shifts in their energies and its directions.

Second, and following from the first point, is that because Map profiles do change that means that they pre-empt stereotyping. You are never just one or even three motivators, because next time you do the Map that profile may have changed. This is exactly the reverse of the personality tool; its validity is very much geared to it providing the same result each time the same person does it. And of course this means that you get that ‘pigeon-holing’ (stereotyping ) that so frequently accompanies people when they have had the test and get back into the office: everything they do suddenly being accounted for by their profile. This ultimately demeans people and also starts creating a hierarchy of ‘good’ profile types versus the lesser ones – that’s why you’re in ‘admin’, dear!

However, perhaps the most important thing of all is the third reason and this is less obvious. But once you realize that the stereotyping creates hierarchies, you begin to see that personality and psychometric tools are essentially top-down in their nature. ‘We’ understand your personality now, so we can control you now; and we can recruit just as we want with the added benefit of feeling more certain we can control you then, too!

Motivational Maps, on the other hand, is a bottom-up tool. Yes, management uses it, but can only use it by feeding the desires and wants of the member of staff AND by being attentive to shifts in that member of staff’s profile. We are not saying of course that a wholly bottom-up approach to management is THE solution; but it is clear that there is not enough of it about. If organizations want to find and release creativity and potential in their staff, then the bottom-up approach is the way to go. And Maps are quintessentially built on that premise.

Thus it is that organisations need to realise that not all these tools are the same, and where a budget is limited – and you want staff to get their mojo back – Maps is probably the best product on the market.


Very Good or Perfect?

God, it says in Genesis, created the world, the cosmos, the universe, and the interesting question is: what is the first thing He (speaking anthropomorphically here of course) does after the creation? Well, quite naturally, he does what I did on the birth of my son: I wanted immediately to look at him and then touch him. So it says that God saw – beholds – what he has done and comments on it: the creation is ‘very good’.

That’s great news because if you read the papers for long enough, or watch the news on TV for any length of time, you’d reach a diametrically opposite conclusion: that the world was very bad! And we need to remind ourselves periodically that the media exists, like most journalists and most politicians, in order to preserve the status quo by instilling fear in people. Indeed, they do this easily because most of them are congenital liars and they refuse to witness to the goodness of the world. What we see, for example, in the human face divine, or in the beauty of nature, or in the love or fellowship we have with others – all this good surrounds us, and yet all we hear is bad news and people seeking to put even worse ‘spins’ on badness.

Putting that aside, however, and returning to the words of God: they are interesting also for what God did not say, but could have. Why, for crying out loud, did God not say as he observed creation in its first moment of existence that it was ‘perfect’ – not just ‘very good’, but perfect? Would it have been that difficult for God to have made a perfect world first time round? After all, nothing is too difficult for God, according to the scriptures.

I work as a consultant and coach and have dealt with hundreds of people. Often I find myself sharing a favourite mantra with them when I find they are stuck in a certain way. For example, I have lost count of the number of women and men in their forties, still unmarried, still trying to suggest that this is a good thing (no flies on them, free and easy), but who at root are still waiting for the perfect mate. Yes, the perfect mate: they live in fear of making a mistake. And let’s be frank – mistakes are costly. But then never having had that partner by the time you reach your end is surely going to seem like a mistake too?

And then there are those stuck in dead-end jobs, waiting it out for the pension or the redundancy package. They won’t step out to do what they have always wanted to do – at least they won’t until the circumstances are ideal – perfect in fact – meaning, there is no risk at all. And then there are those who won’t ride a bike because they can’t be Bradley Wiggins or won’t start playing a piano because they’ll never surpass Glenn Gould. So it goes on. See what I mean?

The mantra I teach is simply this: "Perfection is the enemy of progress". If we wait until everything is right before we act, then we will never act and we will always fall short of what we could have been, or could have done, or could have enjoyed.

Thus it is that God made the world ‘very good’ and for a very good reason: so that we can make it better. And we also have a responsibility to make our own self better. This is the challenge of this world. If it were perfect, what would there be to do? How would we come to stretch ourselves and know more fully our potential? In a very real sense God does to us what we do to our own children – if we really love them. Namely, enable them to develop and be autonomous creators of their own worlds.

Atheists are always pointing out the imperfections of this world and blaming God – if  God really were there, they like to say, He could – being all-powerful – have done a better job – made a perfect world. Yea, right – no, it’s better this way: ‘very good’ and we all on course to improve it further and as we do so to feel the growth within ourselves.




Quiet Gardens and our Life

I have long thought that it would be a good idea to teach young and old people through metaphors, then at least they might understand something and be in a position to act on that understanding. Instead of which we barrage people with facts and figures and often useless data masquerading as educational material. Also, when we try to discern what is our life and what should we do about it, we are inevitably confused by the barrage of materialism around us, and the lack of any model that stand for much.

The other day attended a quiet garden near the centre of Bournemouth. The whole point of the day was to experience the garden and silence, but before that kicked off a facilitator gave us some questions to contemplate – if we wanted to. Questions like ‘Imagine your life as a garden … How would you describe it?’ So simple, isn’t it? But so profound.

It was James Allen in As a Man Thinketh who observed that our mind is like a garden. Then he went on to profoundly comment that we needed to cultivate flowers in it. A primary school child could understand that – how are you going to cultivate flowers in your life? And what else are you going to grow? The thing is, as Allen noted, that if we don’t cultivate flowers the weeds grow anyway! Yes, as all religions seem to have realized, there’s always a fly in the honey or always poop in paradise. The weeds grow anyway. Again, any primary school child can understand that: what are the weeds in your life that need removing or pruning?

Of course it is the essence of the spiritual life to remove weeds; or better, the essence to transform the garden. Removing the weeds is an endless and thankless task, and by works no-one is justified. Rather, the spiritual life requires that we embrace the weeds because we understand with deepest insight that they are healing herbs. That, for example, dandelions promote and protect the liver; and that all that God created without beauty, God may have imbued with power, health and healing.

What is your garden like? Like a desert, someone cries. And the beauty of the desert is that somewhere hidden in it lies a well. There is water in the most desolate places. Like a dark, impenetrable forest, another shouts. Lost? May be, but to the spiritual vision the forest knows where you are, for all things are connected. As the Bhuddist sage Nagarjuna puts it: "Things derive their being and nature by mutual dependence and are nothing in themselves".

This, surely, is what education should be about – the connectedness of everything, and it is that which makes metaphor possible: the imagination sees how two dissimilar things, notions, concepts are in reality linked by an inner logic or meaning.

Let’s start with our own garden: what does yours look like? What do you want it to look like?



Motivational Maps and Axioms

It was the great GK Chesterton who observed: "In so far as religion is gone, reason is going.  For they are both of the same primary and authoritative kind. They are both methods of proof which cannot themselves be proved."  What this powerfully reminds us of in the modern period is that it is not only ‘faith’ that lacks proof – reason itself lacks proof in that we cannot prove reason by reasoning alone because if we do we have a circular argument. In a way this is similar to the ideal requirement in a court of law: one person can testify that they are speaking the truth and witnessed a certain event, but this is only convincing when other witnesses, particularly independent witnesses, corroborate that testimony. What could demonstrate that reason was reason-able? It would be like proving that a circle is round or curved; it is a tautology.

The only thing we can say about why we want to use reason is that it is self-evident, self-evidently right, or that by using it we obtain good empirical results: in other words the outcomes justify our confidence in the process. This is not, of course, ‘proof’ that reason is right, but merely that it works, a subtly different proposition. Ultimately, with reason as with faith we have to believe that they are right – it’s an emotional commitment, bizarrely, to what is a logical process. Naturally, many highly logical people utterly repudiate that statement, because for them they cannot accept the emotional or belief side of believing in reason or logic.

What has this got to do with Motivational Maps – the world’s number motivational diagnostic? Quite a lot. Everybody in the market place wants proof, wants certainty, wants validation, and this is good, but oftentimes it over-reaches itself and becomes a request for something that is inappropriate.

One technical question about the Maps that came to me recently asked what was the evidence – the proof! -  that fast and slow decision making is correlated with the 9 motivators of the Maps? And I could only answer this in two ways.

First, by referring to the fact that some 20,000+ maps have already been done and when people and teams are fed back their profiles and this issue is covered then everyone recognizes the relevance or the truth in the description. In other words, this is the outcome justification.

And the second reason is the self-evident reason, which, to give it a posher title, is that it is axiomatic! Why is this? Because it is not something that can be proved, it is something that arises from the descriptors themselves.

To take an example, if we define the motivator Defender as being the motivator of security, safety, and predictability, then it follows that anyone who has this motivator at their core will be risk-averse, change-averse, and - in order to be secure - slower in making decisions in order to make the right one. Thus, as night follows day, it is inevitable that in taking that extra time to make a decision - to be secure - they will be 'slower': compared with a motivator higher up the chain.

At the other end of the 9 motivator chain and the Maslow Hierarchy with which it is correlated, we have the Searcher who seeks making a difference, mission and purpose. Thus in the very structure of being a Searcher we have somebody who seeks to change the status quo – make a difference – and who will, therefore, take a risk to do so. They will be risk-friendly, change-friendly and that orientation means they will tend to make quick or fast decisions, since they will not be preoccupied by getting things wrong – or ensuring they are right.

This, then, does not require ‘proof’ – it is axiomatic – it is built into what it means to have these definitions in place in the first place! One brilliant aspect of Motivational Maps is that they can tell us – can tell you – not just what motivates but how relatively quickly or slowly you will make decisions, and also how risk and change averse or friendly you or your team or whole organization is! Simples? Axiomatic, Watson.




Improving Productivity

Productivity is a people issue. People make things happen, or not. This seems to be a revelation to some managers, as if merely pushing people around and simply paying them a wage leads to high productivity. The reality is that this approach leads to subtle sabotage and non-vocal resistance: lip-service to the organizations and its goals, but at root a deep dislike and resentment. Eventually, of course, it leads to outright hostility and then we go down the line of cost: somebody quits and we have to start all over again. Alternatively, bad managers take the view that they can discount their people because technology will do it all – how misguided can one be?

People are in one sense like bees: they like being productive, they like being in a well-tuned hive where everyone and everything has its place and all is purposeful. It produces honey and sweetness, and the sense of a life well spent. But what is productivity and where is it in the scheme of things? Now that’s the interesting thing; that’s the thing which if all managers understood they might get real about leading their staff instead of just paying them.

Productivity is what it says it is: it is the ability of the individual (and teams) to produce something – to create: be that a product (a thing), a service, or value. In short, productivity is about adding to the sum of existence: something that wasn’t there before is now there, and as a direct result of the individual’s efforts. You’d think everybody would want to be productive, not least because it boosts one’s own self-esteem; but if you think so, you’d be wrong. That said, however, the important thing to grasp is the position of productivity in the scheme of organizational activities.

For productivity sits midway between the two other vital ‘P’s: performance and profit! Yes, that’s right – productivity is the bridge to profits! Now do I have your attention?

We need high performing people to start with. These are the people who will produce. How much? According to the Pareto Principle they will produce four times more than your average worker and sixteen times more than your poor worker. Once that level of productivity kicks in, then profits (or value in a non-profit making organization) are inevitable – but with one caveat. The caveat is simple: if the organization has adopted or created the correct strategy for the market it’s in; for it should be apparent  to anyone that one might be massively productive producing 10 billion one inch widgets, but if the Continental market demands metric measurement, then one cannot sell these superb widgets at any price! But given the right strategy, increased productivity leads to increased profits. This is perfectly expressed by Dr Alex Krauer when he said, "When people grow, profits grow".

The issue, then, of productivity involves performance. If we are not happy with our current levels of productivity, how are we going to change the situation? By thinking about the performance of our individuals. This can be done on an individual level and the organizational level. Here is a quick, personal aide-memoir to ask yourself and then ask about your staff: what one skill, if you had it now, would make the greatest impact on your productivity? This could be anything - a technical, or interpersonal, or strategic skill. Whatever it is, now you’ve identified it, how are you going to bridge the gap?

This question leads on to the more general point about training or learning - nobody stays highly productive for very long. We all need updates and inputs to remain effective. This is true of knowledge as well as skills. It is reckoned that currently information has a half-life of 2.5 years. This means 50% of what we know will be redundant every 2.5 years, and this half-life period is decreasing! To improve productivity, therefore, you must have a mechanism in place to audit the knowledge, skills and attitudes (or competencies) of all staff.

But that is only half the equation on the individual level – skills are not enough on their own. Staff need to be motivated, and for this too we need an audit – we need Motivational Maps, the world-proven methodology for looking at individual and team motivation.

Nobody is saying these audits are easy; what is? If you want results, then you need to drill down into the granular detail of what is happening with your staff, especially at a motivational – that is, I want – level.

And isn’t it strange? We want to go straight to profits: they are real, they are tangible, they are our goal. But to get there we have to explore the mushy soup of motivation, of feelings and wants and people; but if we can do that, the rewards are vast because the productivity will be enormous.









The Power of Prayer

Those of you who have followed my blogs over a number of years will have no doubt that I believe in prayer; by which I mean, that prayer is efficacious and effective and, in short, works! Quite apart from anything else, my time in hospital with my life-threatening illness and the power of prayer then, some of my earlier blogs have depicted. But it is not only when we pray that things happen; other people pray and the Earth moves in some way.

A seemingly trivial yet startling event occurred to me last Monday, my wife’s birthday, when I took her to London for the day. We visited the Royal Academy – for a wonderful exhibition of contemporary art – and then moved on to The Royal Portrait Gallery and spent a long time in the Tudor and Jacobean section: wow! How good was that? My wife loved it and so did I. Finally, we ended up at the Azzurro Restaurant just under the arches beside Waterloo Station. There we met two old friends and celebrated, and all this was massively convenient as Waterloo, so close by, was where we’d take the evening train back home.

So, after a deeply satisfying day – being together, sharing great art and meeting friends we hadn’t seen in a while – we said goodbye to our friends and wandered across to the station as we’ve done dozens of times before. And as before the same old same old greets you: the taxis zooming across  your path, the too many people under your feet, the free newspaper stands distributing the Evening Standard blocking your passage, and the beggars by the steps as you start the ascent into the station. What was new?

There she was: the beggar, seated in a quasi-lotus posture, her hands in a prayerful position pointing upwards just in front of her nose, and her eyes closed – closed in supplication as if to the God and not to the passerby and their wallets. In front of her was the open purse inviting contributions to her vigil. She was an Asian – probably of Indian origin - and seemed to be a Hindu. How different all this seemed to the usual begging scenario.

I’ll be frank: I don’t usually contribute to this kind of begging and find it incredible when I see beggars with dogs, ciggies, alcohol, mobiles and other assorted bits and pieces whilst apparently claiming abject poverty. Perhaps a better me might be prepared to give benefit of the doubt, but the me-that-is thinks that contributing simply fuels the behaviour, so it is better to contribute to charities where structured support is given to people with difficulties.

Naturally, then, with that view I simply walked past with my wife. She, I think, hadn’t even seen the woman: it was dark now, she was small and to one side, and was making no noise or moving gesture. How could my wife see her? But we were half way up the stairs towards the station and I stopped. I said to my wife,

"I have to go back".

"Why?" she said, perplexed. I looked at her.

"I believe in prayer," I said. Then exasperated – with myself – "I can’t ignore this woman: she’s praying".

"What woman?" my wife said. I turned and strode back. I put some money in her open purse. She didn’t open her eyes, but she heard it and a gentle smile crossed her face.

I forgot one thing: to say, ‘Pray for me’, but then I knew she knew that anyway.

Self-fulfilling prophecy? Placebo effect? Yes, maybe – but also a connection with the source underlying all these things - and the Will that makes all things work together for good.








Discerning Friendship

Having lived to the ripe old age of 60, having been a teacher for 15 years and observed extensive playground behavior, having been a trainer for over 20 years and seen thousands of people interact, and having been a mentor or coach to hundreds of people, having watched my son grow up and interact with his friends, and at the same time having experienced friendship myself in all sorts of flavors, including being a Quaker (The Society of Friends!) I think it is true to say that friendship is one of the most problematic aspects of human life. Simultaneously, it is one of life’s crowning joys. Why, then, is it so difficult?

Of course, the other thing about this observation is that most people don’t see the problem at all: they live without self-awareness, although often there is a dull ache that they feel but do not realize what is its cause. They have friends – they think they have friends, and so all is well, all is normal, but is it? What exactly is the problem I am alluding to?

Quite simply, this: many friends that we acquire during the course of our life are not really our friends at all. The trouble is, once we have defined somebody as our ‘friend’ we have an awful problem ridding our self of this belief, or of a feeling of guilt that arises if we decide to act in a way that is not consistent with ‘friendliness’ towards that person. And we need to be very clear about what is happening here: parasites – mosquitoes for example – are creatures looking for other, and different, creatures that supply them with the warm blood they need. The exchange is one way: for a light opening touch – some flattery perhaps, a useful exchange, an endorsement of some value you hold dear – they have landed in your life (on your arm in fact), and from then on proceed to suck your blood; but they are your ‘friend’.

It was Pythagoras who said that "friendship is equality" and that is the essence of it. Friendship is a 50-50 thing and you see it in a number of ways, especially in the flow of conversation – it’s 50% about the one friend, and then 50% about the other. Have you noticed those so-called friends for whom seeing you is always about them? About their problems, or about foregrounding their importance and in particular, as they begin to take liberties, their superiority to you?

The great thing about the equality principle is that it is liberating: it is marvelous being with a true friend where you don’t have to prove anything, or do anything to impress. This is so different from being at work where you have to prove yourself, or even sometimes being with your family where you are expected to know your place. Because you are ‘equal’ everything is as it should be; once inequality seeps in the relationship is no longer one of friendship – it starts becoming co-dependent and asymmetrical. What you get from it is much less than what they are deriving from the relationship.

I have said it before but must say it again: the cure for dealing with bad friendship is to pay attention to your feelings. A good friend, a real friend, a true friend is the kind of person that when you have spent any time in their company you feel energized, you feel better, your self-esteem has risen. Can you feel that – can you pay attention to it? And conversely, somebody who is not really your friend but faking it for their own purposes always when they have spent any time with you leaves you feeling drained, exhausted even; often self-esteem seriously impaired.

Thus it is that we must pay attention to our friendships and weed out the non-friends; not aggressively, not unkindly, but in the sense that we mustn’t let them into our inner lives where they will play wolf and thoroughly debilitate us from being ourselves and even from being able to help others. Before we can love other people, we need to remember, that we need to love ourselves, and this mean valuing ourselves, and not allowing ourselves to be abused by the parasites that exist and are really out there. They need help, perhaps, but true friendship is probably not it – it’s more like a kind of therapy.

Pay attention, friends, to your feelings at all times – they do not lie!

How Success Turns to Failure

We all want to be successful, don’t we? There are certainly many benefits to it: prestige, status, power, money and more! Success we want but it is too easy to forget the old Chinese philosophy of Yin and Yang; that for every success we have there is likely to be a corresponding dark side, there are unforeseen and unintended consequences, and nothing is ever quite what it seems. Add to that the ultimate issues, as perhaps most brilliantly described in WB Yeats’ poem "What Then?" This poem describes achievement and success piled on each other stanza by stanza as like decade by decade of his life. And at the end of every stanza comes Plato’s ghost with the simple refrain: ‘what then?’ The final stanza runs:

The work is done,' grown old he thought,

'According to my boyish plan;

Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught,

Something to perfection brought';

But louder sang that ghost, 'What then?' 

Yet for all these existential questions we prefer success to living without it. For some people, not having success is inconceivable; it is their very raison d’etre. Why is it, then, that so often organizations in particular reach spectacular successes then fade and die? We have recently with the recession across the world and in the UK had a spate of household names, some organizations virtually a 100 years old, and yet who have ‘like chimney sweepers come to dust’. What are the key factors that are, as it were, the inherent dangers that turn the tide of prosperity backwards?

What I am about to say, six points, concerns organizations foremost, but anyone can see that these apply almost equally to the individual. Ask yourself – is this me, is this my organization? And if so what am I going to do about it!

First, successful practices that built the organization up are crying out to be codified, to be enshrined in writings, in policies and procedures and laws about ‘this is the way we do things here’. This has two potent adverse effects: first, it requires an army of people who are employed to produce, effectively, paperwork. This is pure cost, not revenue. But more significantly still: what were once informal procedures have now become rigid policies – creativity and innovation are thus inexorably driven out. Creativity itself, incidentally, becomes something to legislate for. When bodies become rigid, they become dead.

Second, with the increasing army of non-productive people working within the organization, the focus becomes more internally-driven, and external threats are ignored. A collective group-think emerges in which what is going on internally is clearly identified as more important than what is going on in the market.

This leads, then, to arrogance and complacency and a sense that competitive problems are only temporary and minor inconveniences rather than issues that need to be addressed strategically and coherently.

Arrogance produces its own rich fruit: complexity and an obsession with internal politics. A preservation of one’s own power becomes not only the primary objective of senior staff but of middle management. One of the most spectacular examples this occurred at the end of the Second World War – Hitler was dead, and defeat was imminent, and yet Hitler’s top echelon were still jostling for position, as if, as Germany faced Armageddon, that were important! But we see the same thing in organizations all over the world.

Fifth, a deep conservatism kicks in that is pre-eminently risk-averse; this is the antidote to entrepreneurialism and the creativity and energy so necessary to all great organizations and, for that matter, empires and civilizations. People begin to believe that taking risks is foolish and so they stand still, no progress is made; and the task of leadership is forgotten: to make remaining in the status quo appear to be more risky than venturing into the unknown.

Finally, new learning is disabled. For a start off, they already have – courtesy of the codification – incorporated all the learning they need into their rules and regs; there’s hardly space for new stuff. New insights are, then, bypassed and not incorporated into organizational memory. Without new learning organizations attempt to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s intelligence. Very large organizations have lots of resources but even they cannot do this for very long; for the competition who is learning is stealing their lunch and their nutrition and their best staff on a daily basis.

Thus it is that being successful is just the start; we need to think about how we are going to stay successful, and how we are going to avoid the six pitfalls that I have outlined. Do contact me to talk about this further.

How to Handle Difficult People - 5 Steps

There are in any organisations difficult situations which fall short of either grievance or disciplinary procedures against the staff who create the difficulties. Possibly all managers and senior managers can identify certain members of their organisation whom they find awkward, and whom they secretly dread having to deal with; it’s as if that particular person, or sometimes even small group of like-minded people, have identified the one Achilles’ heel of the manager, and continually jab at it.

Often the Achilles’ heel is quite simply emotional. For example, the manager who in the three years since his appointment has been given two substantial increases in funding over and above other departments, who has had re-furbished accommodation, who has been given more than their fair share of extra support, and so on - and yet who continually complains of under-resourcing and unfairness, and who is known to broadcast this fact and foment dissatisfaction. What irks is the ingratitude; and every time the senior manager encounters such a person, it is difficult to stifle the hostility that arises because the sense of ingratitude - as the nasal whining starts - immediately starts to foam to the surface! As has been truly observed: 90% of the frictions in daily life derive from tone of voice.

Ingratitude is one galling situation. But there are many others: the coterie within the staff  generally known as the ‘awkward squad’, the shirkers and the apathetic, Mr and Mrs Angry and the confrontational brigade, Mr and Ms Clever at Meetings and the well-known Lord and Lady Catch-you-outs, then the Sir Sam-the-withering-Remark; add the Timekeeper family, the Always-Construe-you-Wrong and the every-where-you-go Nit-Picks. And so on. Initially, one has patience to deal with them; but after a period of time their continual attitudes and negative contributions begin to wear. What, then, is to be done?

The first thing is to realise that conflict is endemic - that handling such situations is why you are a manager. Why would we need managers if people naturally co-operated and worked towards common goals effortlessly? Thus it is crucial that one sees conflict and difficult situations as the ground of opportunity for the exercise of management skills rather than as a ‘problem’. To say this is not to say that we are engaging in empty management semantics – ‘problems equals opportunities’, so problem solved? It is for each manager or boss to re-think their view of what is going on. It is essentially, then, to re-view.

Given that standing back for re-view, the second thing to do is to sharpen management skills. There are a number that we might consider (e.g. assertiveness, active listening, appraising, persuading etc.) but for now, I wish to focus on one skill which is pretty critical for successful outcomes with difficult people and which does incorporate many other skills: negotiation. One can, if one has developed negotiating skills, always reach a positive result - even if that result is only to know that something further, and more serious, must be done. Fundamentally, we are thinking here about negotiating with ‘difficult’ staff so that they become less difficult!

Roger Fisher (in his book, Getting to Yes) identified five useful processes in negotiation, and all together or any of these separately can be extremely powerful in dealing with difficult people.

First, he suggested, separate the person from the problem: in one sense the person is the problem, or rather, their perception is the problem. We need, then, to avoid taking comments personally and reacting to them. We need to withhold judgement and to attempt to stand in their shoes: if I were that difficult person .... what is it that is actually driving me? Do not retaliate, avoid head-on confrontation, listen actively and try to build a Yes-momentum into the conversation. The phrase ‘Yes-but’ is always negative, and so avoid it: try ‘Yes, however’ or ‘Yes, and’. Make sure you deal with feelings - yours and theirs.  These are probably at the root of the problem anyway - remember that the acknowledgement of emotion is incredibly powerful as a persuasive tool, and cannot be gainsaid. Who can deny your feelings? Thus, ‘I think you’re a male chauvinist (pig stated or implied)’ is not helpful, will irritate and provoke, and can be easily denied; ‘I feel that women (in the team) are not given the same chances’ is much more powerful, because who can deny that is how YOU feel? Be open, then, with your feelings, but do not make the problem a personal issue. Finally, ask open questions in order to dig deeply into the situation, and when you feel that you are being boxed in with counter-arguments, play for time: ‘Can I think about that and get back to you tomorrow?’ or ‘I need to consult X - can I get back?’

Second, identify common interests: working in an organisation together means you must have common commercial or professional interests at least. One rock bottom one is: we must do what is best for the customer or patient. Any employee who denied that would immediately be signaling that they are not in the right occupation or career. So managers need to explore and look for common commercial or professional interests - these motivate people and limit difficult attitudes. Equally, if we can identify common personal interests (so long as these do not supplant professional ones - thus creating a cosy Country Club effect) then the chances are we can really have a dynamic team. Of course, such personal common interests need to be real and not synthetic: developing a passion for football in order to suck up to an avid but difficult Liverpool supporter in your company is not going to endear you. From my own experience I well remember long ago, as a head of department, I seemed to be constantly in conflict at committee meetings with a member of another department, and it clearly seemed to be a question of ‘hate at first sight’. What curiously resolved this was the accidental discovery one day that we were both fans/nerds of the cult singer Scot Walker! Immediately as we exchanged tapes and chat, our professional relationship blossomed, and we liked each other. That discovery was accidental, but the message, perhaps, is to consider how much time is spent on relationship processes - if the organisation is so task-orientated (as, to be frank, so many are) that it has little time for processes, then difficult people are bound to be the corollary.

Thirdly, generate options: once one has identified - through the kinds of negotiation outlined above - what the real problem is, then one moves towards a solution. It is a good idea never to leap to the first answer, but to consider widely. Brainstorming is a good technique for producing a number of options. The rules of brainstorming are well-known. One thing to bear in mind: when brainstorming with the difficult person, sit side by side, not facing each other - physically face the problem together, rather than facing each other.

Fourthly, establish criteria of fairness: one of the commonest, if not the most common, cause of difficult people is their perception, rightly or wrongly, of unfairness: they have been treated badly, their talents have not been appreciated, they have been overlooked. All leaders recognise this phenomenon and these people. Thus it is vital in dealing with the problem that fairness is at the heart of the solution. However, fairness means what it says: the fairness must not be at your expense, because that will create a worse situation than the difficulty you are currently encountering. So, insist on fairness, but be open to what it actually might be. No-one has a monopoly on fairness and this needs to be established by negotiation. Remember, if one cuts the pie, the other chooses the slice!

Finally, and most critically of all in my opinion and experience, be aware of what your BATNA is. Your BATNA? Yes, your Best Alternative To a Negotiated Settlement! This really is asking the question - if I don’t reach agreement with this difficult person, what happens? If I abandon agreement, what happens for me? What happens for that person? Basically, the person with the best BATNA has the most power.

Look at it from the manager’s point of view: say, my sales manager is entirely disaffected - and has a core of ‘friends’ on the staff who listen to her poison. She constantly tries to belittle me with ambiguous but sarcastic remarks at senior meetings. So, if the negotiation is successful, this will cease, and the sales manager will focus more of her efforts on her role and the sales figures. I, in turn, will feel more positive towards her. This will manifest itself in greater support and more resources, including emotional and career, from me; certainly a better reference; and certainly a consideration for internal promotion should the opportunity arise. But if the negotiation should fail, what then? Who has it worse? The sales manager is in a difficult position should the I, the boss, seek to fault find and undermine her position, but may be able to weather it; certainly, the sales manager is trapped in her role and may be able to make the jump without a reference and support, but that too is risky. But I, the boss, also, suffer: a weak sales manager, a damaging dispute that eventually others will hear of - how much credibility does the sales manager have with them? I could fire her, but how much would that cost, and in any case if I have done that three times already in the last year, how am I beginning to appear? In short, who has the better BATNA? All leaders ought to consider this in dealing with difficult staff. It is relatively easy to win  a battle through position power, but one’s credibility may seriously be damaged as a result.

This is a brief account of a very difficult area. Finally, using third parties is always a good idea in highly sensitive situations, so long as the third-party has the support of both parties. But that is another story …



How To Say Sorry - Really!

As we all know only too well, it is very easy to offend people, especially at work. It is not so easy to put that offence right, especially if the offence is justified and we have made a mistake. There are basically four options we have.

We can not say sorry at all! This makes the situation worse. Eventually people feel aggrieved and will take revenge at a time of their choosing. Or, we can say sorry but in a distant, remote, and indifferent manner – as if this were not important to us. This simply rubs salt in the wound and leads to even greater hostility. Thirdly, we can say sorry but in an emotional, over-concerned way which suggests that we/you are vulnerable. This often leads to your being victimized at some future date as your weakness is noted and exploited.

And finally, we can say sorry in the right way! How, then, do we say sorry in the right way? There are four key rules you need to bear in mind.

First, use a strong, calm and evenly paced voice. Avoid whimpering, pleading tones; say sorry just once. And if you have time, practise before offering the apology; control your breathing if necessary, for it is in the nervous rush of the breath that we reveal our anxiety.

Second, explain only what is necessary; do not be bounced into shaming and ‘explaining yourself’. Understand, and be clear, that certain reasons may have a right to remain private. Too many people feel that they have to provide causal explanations that justify their faux pas; the sort of thing you hear when they say they had a late night, or a problem with their spouse over breakfast – this always sounds weak.

Thirdly, acknowledge the feelings of those who might have been upset or annoyed. It may sound corny, but empathise with them. Say, ‘I know how you feel’ and make it seem as if you do. Offer to put right whatever you can.

Finally, indicate what this mistake has taught you: about yourself or about the way you work. From that you can explain what you will do differently to try to prevent a recurrence. This is all very convincing – and necessary. But in all this you need to demonstrate one other key element: you need to be sincere – this is vital is the apology is to be acceptable and accepted.

Of course, we don’t want to keep on making mistakes we have to apologise for, and point four suggests that we are going to really and sincerely learn from our mistakes. To do that you might want to consider keeping a log of apologies you’ve made – and to chart the reactions and responses. In this way you really will learn from your mistakes as well as constantly being improving in terms of your performance. Make this a game you play with yourself. You’ll be amazed at your progress and how truly our mistakes can become our best teachers.

To Rhyme or Not to Rhyme?

Imagine that you were lost in a wilderness and had to find your way out. Fortunately, you have with you a number of things, or tools if you will. In the first instance you have a kitbag, which is itself useful. Within it are various articles: a bottle of water, a knife, fork and spoon, a map, lighter fuel, matches, a compass, a chocolate bar, some rope, scissors, a can opener, a wrap-up plastic mac, and a few more pieces too, like the watch on your wrist. The question I would ask you is simply this: would you, therefore, given that you are lost and are not sure where or how far the next safe port of call is, jettison any of these items or tools? Would you say, this item is irrelevant, and I don’t need it – I’ll never need it – get rid of it? And further, when you are safely back home and start writing of your experiences, will you be prescribing to other travellers in the wilderness: you must never take a bottle of water with you – it’s stupid, it’s cheating, it’s pointless? Or, argue having a map with you means that you are not really lost, so you are not really making a journey?

Sound somewhat fanciful? Not really, for this is precisely what happens in all areas of modern art, and especially poetry. We have three thousand years of tradition which has established a very useful toolkit in the armoury of poetry (and read the same for art and music). Techniques like metre and rhythm, using rhetorical devices such as onomatopoeia, metaphor, simile, allusion, anaphora and so on have been well established for millennia. And the reason for this is clear: these techniques, used judiciously, work! They create appropriate emotional (primarily) and intellectual effects in the listeners and readers of the work.

In English poetry rhyme is a special example of one such special effect. In fact rhyme is so ubiquitous that some less informed people seem to think that poetry is just that: rhymed couplets. But because some less informed people think erroneously about this topic does not invalidate its force. The truth is that rhyme is a massively powerful adjunct of poetry and this is demonstrated in two ways in the English speaking world: first, children universally love nursery rhymes, and such rhymes are a brilliant device for aiding memory and recall. But second, advertising itself regularly uses rhyme – why? Because it works. One only has to think of one of the most memorable ads of the last 40 years: "A Mars a day/Helps you work, rest and play." We get it and the message embeds itself in our consciousness.

Why, then, for heaven’s sake do we constantly get a stream of wannabe poets denigrating and banning rhyme, as if the use of rhyme were something no real poet would ever do? On the contrary, all significant poets have used it, and the very greatest poets do it a lot: Spenser, Shakespeare, Milton, Keats, Yeats – need I go on? Even the high apostle of free verse, TS Eliot, did quite a bit of it!

Of course, rhyming badly is not good. William McGonagall has become a by-word for bad poetry in which meaning has been wrenched by the necessity to find rhyme words. This in his case, however, has become comical – people still want to read him for the pleasure of the forced rhymes. And here’s the weird thing: I would predict more people read and enjoy McGonagall for all its incompetence (there is still a pleasure to be had in rhyme!) than ever read those stalwarts of serious ‘free verse’: the ‘Howl’ and the ‘Paterson’ and all this shapeless stuff that drones on in its own self-importance.

There is, as I discovered recently in a debate, a vociferous number of people for whom poetry is not poetry at all, but a political act. For them, ‘rhyme’ is some sort of bondage (and that of course has a creditable heritage in Milton’s eschewing rhyme in order to write Paradise Lost) and they need to be ‘free’ – to write whatever comes into their minds as it comes without any sense of form or structure or device or technique or tools. And the result, of course, is that they don’t write poetry at all, although they promote it as such. And they never improve. No verse is free, said TS Eliot, for the man (read ‘person’) who wants to do a good job. They just do not get – and cannot discipline themselves to study and practise – that the tools, the techniques are the very way we find our way out of the wilderness of emotional chaos (which is really their ‘freedom’) and get to the land of true meaning, which is our home.

All this requires patience, study and craft. But all politics is too short-term for that – we want our freedom and we want it now: look at this scribble – it’s art! Right! We need to move on from this infantilism. Rhyme is not necessary for poetry; but rhyme is an amazingly powerful technique when used appropriately and properly, and understanding the various aspects of rhyme which are possible is itself an education. So let’s not be put down by these political activists proclaiming ‘freedom’ and who the while are wasting poetry with their wanton graffiti. Use rhyme when you want to – you know, it can sound so good!



Charisma and Position

If you ask yourself the question who is the most charismatic person – and so leader, for charismatic people always lead and influence – who ever lived, then I think any sane list is bound to contain somewhere in its top five the name Jesus Christ. There are many debateable and disputable aspects of Christ’s existence, and more especially the Church’s interpretation of his life. For example, we may dispute whether he was or is the Son of God, whether he rose from the dead literally or symbolically, or whether even he actually performed any miracles at all. Yes, we can – and people have – argued over all these things. But can one seriously argue that Jesus Christ was not charismatic – in fact, charismatic on a scarcely imaginable scale? The testimonies from witnesses of the time all speak of it; it was a most noticeable feature of his presence and his speaking. Further, and perhaps more importantly still, the effect of his charisma is evident in his mark on all subsequent history since.

And what is this charisma? Today we mean by it any personality who seems to be inspired and influential; the original meaning referred to a gift or grace of God manifesting itself through a person, so that they became irresistibly powerful. Either way, one curious anomaly about charisma is that part of its power seems to stem from the sense of authenticity that it conveys; this is curious in that the source of the power is not in the person them self, but runs through them – almost externally as it were, and yet is so part of them it seems entirely them!

This charismatic power is authentic, compelling and sincere; we see many examples of people pretending to be charismatic, but who are engaged with a box of rhetorical tricks, and the charisma is only superficial and ultimately deceptive. This latter situation we need to avoid, but at the same time we should all want to be charismatic because being inspired is better than not. For one thing, it feels so good, because charisma is really outside of time, and so one is only and really present when one is being charismatic. And being charismatic is precisely that: the energy, the power, the source is always there, and available to being, and we need to tap into it and not get lost along the way as so many do.

But we need to understand too that charisma has a deadly enemy, and this we find all too readily in the real world: position and position power. Position power is the role you acquire in life that gives you ‘power’. Being a mother or father is a position – albeit weakened in its significance in the West – that gives power. More specifically, we are all aware that the vicar, the doctor, the nurse, the teacher, the manager, the MD, the CEO and so on all have position power. Everywhere we go we find people in positions of power, and often using that power to curb us in some way. And position power seems to loathe charismatic power, and very rarely are the two fused in one. An historical example of someone who had both would be Alexander the Great. Indeed, the combination dangerously expresses itself via military tyrants.

But to return to Christ we find written about him the quite specific remit that he abjured position power and seems solely to have relied on charismatic power. This is shown in a number of ways: his refusal to accept the crown of kingship that the crowd offered him and resort to force; and also too, for the theologically minded, there is that wonderful passage in Philippians 2.6 in which it’s said that Christ did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but instead "emptied Himself" and became a man, a servant. Put another way, Christ did not go around telling people what to do because he had a higher position than they; he eschewed that whole methodology – on which the rest of the world works.

Because, of course, we see what happens to the charismatic person. First, the highest authority condemns you, as Pontius Pilate condemned Christ. The lower authority has already condemned you of course: these were the Pharisees and the Scribes. They had positional power but also something extra, which Christ upset: expert power. To them was entrusted the law and its interpretation – how things should be done – and without being a pedant, Christ charismatically demolished their arguments.

Now here’s the really terrible thing: charismatic power meant even his own family tried to stop him, thought he was mad. So what about his disciples? Yep, they too also knew better, and it was to Peter that the most stinging rebuke of all was directed: "Get behind me Satan".

Charismatic power is like the wind – it blows where it wants to, and how it wants to; it has a source we do not know, and it convicts like a blast furnace. It destroys our comfort and our illusions about our little life – it asks for more. When Pericles spoke men applauded; when Demosthenes spoke, they marched. Who, then, was the charismatic one?

This is not something they teach us on an MBA course; this is not something with an easy agenda, yet for those with eyes to see, and ears to hear, there it is, available to each and every one of us, right now. So embrace it – and remember, those in position who won’t it and won’t like you! You are the agent of change when you are charismatic.

Motivation and Cats

I had a great experience recently when I got my two cats to do a Motivational Map. Over 20,000 maps have now been done on human beings and we are getting some deep understandings of the kind of things that the profiles reveal about people. We can see, for example, what a typical profile for a sales person might be and contrast that with, say, that for an accountant – wow, and are human beings different. But I think most people might regard cats as all the same; how wrong can you be?!

We have two cats – twins – from the same litter, but it is quite obvious that they are very different from their behaviours; then the maps revealed they were quite different from their root desires, their core motivations too.

Minnie, our female ginger cat, likes lounging round the house a lot. What was her profile? Well, her motivators were, in rank order from the top, Defender (Security), Star (Recognition), Builder (Material satisfactions), followed by Friend, (Belonging), Spirit (Freedom), Expert (Expertise), Director (Control), Creator (Innovation) and last of all, the top of the Maslow hierarchy in fact, Searcher (Making a Difference). This was so palpable in everything she does: the lounging for starters – avoiding the Toms in the garden; then the need for endless public strokes, almost equally scored with her desire for high quality food, and her constant goal of getting more. Somewhere lower in the list of motivators were her two conflicting motivators: yes, she wanted to be part of (Friend) the human family – when it suited her – but equally wanted to be completely independent (Spirit). Again, these latter two motivators were almost equally scored on her profile, and in real life that seemed exactly what it was like: one minute you couldn’t stop her circling round your legs for love nor money, and the next, where was she – she just won’t answer to calls?!

But then there’s her sister, Clio (short for Cliocatra), a twin, but not ginger! Her profile, when she completed it, began to explain her behaviours. First, she was a Spirit (Freedom) – of course, so independent; then she proved to be a Builder, a goal-directed materialist. In fact Builder was the only motivator she shared in her top 3 with her sister. But Star was not in the top three; instead she had Expert! Ah – that explained the skill, the finesse, and the success with which she hunted. Yes, Clio was a killer of small vermin and birds on an extraordinary scale, only deigning to rein in her freedom and her killing sprees when she got bored and there were easier pickings in the kitchen.

The full order of her other six motivators was: fourth, Defender (Security) – she is also extremely cautious, fifth, Creator (much more inventive than her sister), Star (Recognition), seventh Director (Control), eighth Friend (Belonging), and finally ninth, like her sister, Searcher (Making a Difference). Both cats exhibit no tendency to make a difference to their environment or the world more generally.

I don’t have a dog, but I guess they would be fascinating to understand more deeply too. If I were a betting man, I guess Friend (Belonging) might be their number one motivator. But then again, for some dogs – leaders of the pack – it might well be Director (Control). So different to a cat.

Certainly, this has been a fascinating experience for me and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it. If you think more work should be done on understanding the motivation of our pets, please comment accordingly on this blog, and perhaps too you might like to suggest whether or not you think we should devise more accurate Maps specifically for all kinds of animals that we love? Bear in mind, the Motivational Map already exists in 11 different forms, so I don’t see any reason why we can’t develop a specific version for a pony and – although it may sound ridiculous – but even a goldfish. Let me know what you think. Thanks.

Leadership and Technology

Leadership, as I often like to say, is the number 1 factor bar none that accounts for organisational success. Even if everything else is set-up to work, to be effective and to be efficient, a bad leader can screw up every advantage, natural or contrived. Nowadays we talk about the big three things driving organisations: People, Processes and Technology, and clearly leadership is in the first category.

My own company relies heavily on technology for its outcomes and its success. It would be true to say that even 15 years ago it would be difficult to conceive of how my company could have worked and functioned without the outstanding technological innovations of the last twenty years. So do I like technology? You bet! And yet I feel too that technology is becoming far too widely accepted without the scrutiny and critical analysis that properly belongs to a leader’s function (or one that the leader would and should commission). Put another way: there are at least three major problems with technology that leaders – in their rush to be successful – seem to conveniently ignore, and I would like to outline them here.

First, that technology has a dreadful habit of sponsoring co-dependence and ultimately servitude. We see this in the street or on the train: the men and women who cannot stop barking into a mobile phone; and those who cannot prevent themselves accessing their emails wherever they are, including at family socials. The great French writer Proust magisterially foresaw this as early as the late Nineteenth Century when a friend asked him to acquire a telephone and Proust asked what a telephone was. The friend patiently explained – it sat on your wall, it rang, you picked it up, you spoke with somebody miles away. But for Proust it was enough to know it rang – ‘I am the servant of that!’ he exclaimed. When bells rang, servants were summoned. He had no intention of being a servant to a bell ringing on his wall; he realised the essential infringement of his liberty that was contained in the very concept of a phone.

Which leads to the second point: the law of unintended consequences. We see technology as being a solution; but always with the solution there seems to be an accompanying deeper problem. After all, only thirty years ago the new technology was supposed to liberate us; we were only going to be working 2 or 3 day weeks as the technology and the robots took the strain. (Not much talk of that now, though, is there? – all conveniently shelved). But of course the precise opposite has happened. Now, with all this technology abounding, both partners HAVE to work, hours of work are massively extended, Sundays or days or rest barely exist in some sectors, and so it goes on. The technology that sets us free has enslaved us (and it has done other things as well when we consider the state of the Earth). What has the leader to say about this?

Finally, technology has subtly led to a belief system that is almost certainly false: the belief in ‘progress’, and in the utopia just round the corner. Just around the corner people will live to 150, just around the corner cancer will be cured, just around the corner there will be a better world in which everyone can chat on Facebook and they won’t need to fight anymore. Yea, just around the corner. As I said before, this belief has been going on for two hundred years, and it is a ‘belief’ – in the sense that it has no more substance than a dream. In many respects the Twentieth Century was the most horrific century in the whole history of the world – it’s difficult now to imagine it perhaps in the comfort of our Western armchairs – and technology played its full part in making it so horrific: the guns of World War One, the gas chambers of World War 2, the atomic bombs, the napalm and so it goes on.

Thus it is that leadership is about discrimination: the discrimination of ideas; of not accepting the prevailing wisdom and contemporary cant that passes for thought but is merely magazine fodder; of challenging the powers of orthodoxy who are bit by bit (and one may say, byte by byte) enslaving the world. We need leaders who harness technology on behalf of the people to empower them. So we are back to a fundamental distinction that many overlook who see technology as being an unlimited ‘good’: technology is good when it genuinely serves the interest of all the people, and technology is bad when it does the opposite – when dictators, plutocrats, oligarchs, ego-driven CEOs and MDs use it to exploit the last farthing out of people.

We need leaders who understand this.




How to Grow Roses and People!

The ancients were wise. They understood that there was no separation between mankind and nature, and that one extended the other; and that all things were part of one verse, the universe. Evidence of this comes in their predilection for fables and proverbs where the natural world has important messages for us. ‘Go to the ant, thou sluggard, and be wise!’ How wonderful as an antidote to laziness. One has only to look at ants to get the ‘message’ for us.

And today the same is true. I was thinking as I walked to my weekly meditation about all the flowers now blooming in Spring, and especially of roses. What does it take to make a perfect rose? Well, surprise, surprise, the same three things it takes to make a fully-functioning and effective human being. Which are?

First, a rose needs sunshine, and without it, it cannot grow; in fact, it cannot flower. Second, a rose needs water and associated nutrients; and without water it cannot grow at all, but only shrivel and die. Finally, and most interestingly, rose must be pruned, and without the pruning the rose becomes wild and chaotic and, in a sense, its beauty becomes ragged and dissipated - if it has any beauty at all.

How, then, do these three actions make a fully functioning human being? Simple.

Everyone one of us needs the sunshine of unconditional love and approval, initially from parents or carers; but even later we get energy and enthusiasm from the benign sunshine – attention – of others. In fact we talk of people with a ‘sunny disposition’ meaning that to be a good thing: sunshine is energy, and people either give us their energy or they drain it from us. As children, if we do not get that sunshine we are probably going to be irreparably damaged. The question for us now is: do we give people our sunshine or do we withhold it? How can we provide more sunshine for others around us?

Second, if sunshine is the invisible energy so necessary for life, the intangible as it were, water is the opposite: we all need security, a home, food on the table, the physical necessities of life to be met. Without these, we also cannot live a satisfying life, or even any life at all. This is the physical – the tangible – aspect of how we grow. There is a great line in the New Testament which says what father, if his son asks for bread, gives him a stone? We have to meet these tangible needs, or else all else is hopeless.

Finally, roses need pruning, and so do human beings! This may seem like the least important ingredient of growth, but it is fundamental. Another word for human pruning might be discipline, a word whose etymological root comes from the same word as disciple, meaning ‘learning’ or ‘teaching’. If you have ever had children you will know how vital this is: the child has, for whatever reasons, some negative as well as many positive traits, and you as a parent want and need to encourage the positive and curb and restrain the more negative tendencies. The earlier in life that you combat these negative traits the more likely you are to be effective in disabling them . And as a sidebar on this topic, we have all seen those who think that sunshine – unconditional ‘love’ (my child right or wrong) – combined with endless water (whatever it takes buy them it) – is proper parenting; they are blithely unaware of the long term damage they are doing their children by their manifest failure to ‘prune’ them, to provide boundaries, express and insist on limits. The result is always the restless and rootless adult who can never be satisfied by reality and whose expectations of life are consistently self-orientated and unreal.

The need to prune our children is, of course, just one aspect of our lives; equally important is our need to ‘prune’ ourselves – this is how we really grow. And how does this come about? By focusing on developing our self-awareness and by accepting legitimate feedback from those who care for us, and even sometimes from those who don’t. A harsh word or phrase can contain a nugget of truth even is our ego violently wishes to resist it and its source.

It sounds hippy-ish, and I am not a hippy, but we are flowers – and we need to grow into the full beauty of what a flower truly is in its essential nature; for all flowers are beautiful, but alas through lack of love, through the absence of physical security, and through the want of tending, many flowers are withered roots, subsisting, not living. Let’s therefore seek the sun, drink the water, and examine carefully how we can be the best we can be.




Two Plus One Reasons to Write Poetry - #3

People write from their ego and produce not-poetry; people write to heal themselves and this is good and meaningful; and thirdly, and more famously, people write poetry because they write poetry and produce art. And a number key factors come together when this happens.

First, the third desire – for beauty – comes into play (in every sense of the word). The writing is an aesthetic, an art, and a certain skill and knowledge comes into its construction which seeks to render meaning as it truly is: namely, beautiful. It is not a ‘gloss’ on meaning – that would be versification – but it reveals the essential nature of meaning and is often a kind of discovery. We read the poem and we see something, we hear something, we feel something that had not existed before – and this can surprise the poet his or herself. Meaning and truth are not abstractions anymore but are given form, symbolic, metaphoric and mimetic too, and this is beauty.

Beauty, as Thomas Aquinas observed, arrests motion: we encounter, we are bewitched by its magic, and in truly great poetry the beauty goes to an even higher level and reaches sublimity, by which we are astonished and stare in awe, amazed at this suspension of all critical or other faculty that would bid us stir. And if this seems incredible we need only reflect on the origins of the love of words – nursery rhymes, songs, and riddles when we were very young. How often did we demand our parent, ‘Tell me again, mum!’ We were, literally, spellbound.

And this leads on to the second point. Technique, thoroughly absorbed and engrained, is necessary to write poetry that is art, but it is not sufficient to produce it. For all the great and the less great - though still real - poets know: there is a Muse, and this Muse is not under our conscious control, although she can be invoked, and all of us may have rituals which enable her presence. For without her presence, the work may be clever, entertaining, right-on, politically correct, and many other ‘good’ things, but it won’t be the real thing, the real poem.

Thus, it should be obvious that reliance on the Muse is the exact opposite of writing from the ego, for in one important sense the poet abandons conscious control of the poem to this higher force. Later, perhaps, the output benefits from editing, but that is later – real poetry is, literally, inspired – comes from the deep breath, the inspiration, of the universe itself. Whosoever writes such poetry puts themselves in the way – the Tao – of the nature of things, and of course their poems live irrespective of fame or public opinion. Invoking the Muse does not depend on university degrees or professorships, as Shakespeare and Keats all too ably demonstrate.

And there is another important consequence of this: namely, that the Muse always creates beauty by showing the structure of meaning – making it visible, as it were. This is odd in the modern and post-modern world which majors on ugliness, formlessness and despair – and thinks in some morally superior manner that this is ‘reality’, this is how it is, that they are not deluded by effeminate notions such as ‘beauty’.

But of course they totally mistake what ‘beauty’ is in this context. To give one example of what I mean. There are few things worse in human history than the misery, degradation and suffering that the soldiers went through in World War One – the Western Front as it was called. For a prolonged period of time it was an arena that was so terrible that we can scarcely imagine its full horrors. So when Wilfred Owen writes poetry about it, he is not disguising or soft-soaping the nightmare; on the contrary, he confronts it head on. But, through the words and techniques he uses, something of primal beauty is created that simultaneously re-creates that horror in a way nothing else can or does and makes us feel it in a new way. It is quite extraordinary; in his poem Strange Meeting I would argue that he achieves sublimity – he is there with Homer, with Shakespeare, in creating a vision so intense that we are transported from ourselves to perceive conflict with a renewed heart inside us.

This final point – ‘renewed heart’ – also bears a brief comment. Poetry, at root, affects our feelings or it is hardly worth the name. The twentieth century has given rise to the dominance of an image-based poetry which is more head than heart-based, and in that sense is often (but not always) ineffective. Poetry begins with sound, not image, and the reason for this begins in the womb: our first sense is hearing – our mother’s heart beat. It is in the beat – the line – the rhythm and metric that the full capability to move us resides in the English language. English is in fact naturally iambic in constitution, and that is why something like 90% of great poetry is written in that form; and the form properly used enables infinite varieties of meaning and beauty. For an object lesson in this one has only to read Yeats, who was a modernist, but also a master of the iambic line, which he probably used to greater effect than any other poet in the last two hundred years.

The third primary reason, then, to write poetry is to create art: which is as much as to say, which is to create beauty, by using words to draw the inherent meaning in anything and everything, but especially in being a human being and all the richness that that means. We are not all going to be great poets, and it’s not a competition anyway; we are all dependent on the Muse and we need to wait in the silence till that voice speaks and that flow begins. If we can let the ego go, then we can write to heal ourselves and may be in time write some words that really do speak beauty. In that way we help and encourage others.




Two Plus One Reasons to Write Poetry - #2

The second primary reason to write poetry is to heal, oneself first of all, and others secondarily, if they able to read your words and take strength from, and identify with, your situation. Healing and poetry have been soul mates from  the beginning: the god Apollo was the god of healing and the father of the Nine Muses of poetry, and specifically, inspiration.

We need to bear in mind that there are three fundamental desires of the human spirit, or soul if you will: the desire for meaning, for truth, and for beauty. And these three intangible concepts are not isolated systems or mutually exclusive; at their greatest moments all three are present in the greatest works of art and poetry, and they interact with each other. A simple example would be looking at a stupendous scene of nature: we are overwhelmed by its beauty perhaps in the first place, but oftentimes we also sense that that beauty stems from a deep meaning or purpose in the heart of things.

For now, if we consider the primary reason of healing for writing poetry, then it is clear that we write in that way for meaning and truth, and that the beauty – the sheer art of poetry – is less evident and important. In fact it is the focus on the beauty that constitutes our third primary reason, which we will discuss in our third blog on this topic.

So, writing poetry in order to heal oneself – how is this possible? One way of approaching this is to go in reverse and ask ourselves why we are sick? In dysfunctional families two conditions always appertain. First, the expression of what one truly feels is always forbidden; your own feelings must be subordinated to the feelings and welfare of others. This is particularly true and pernicious  when one is a very young child and a parent or parents severely stricture, and so eventually prevent, the child from saying what he or she feels. It is unacceptable, for example, to dislike one’s sibling, or to express anger towards some obnoxious relation who provokes one regularly; and one consequence will be the parent induces guilt and shame in the child for such feelings. The result of all this is a disconnect between what you think and what you feel – and what you feel is invalidated, which means you are invalidated.

Alongside this, dysfunctional families always have ‘secrets’: these are things – usually to do with the (mis-)behaviour of family members – that cannot be spoken about. The family wants to appear normal, like other people, like other families – as ‘good’ as them - and so there is an unwritten code that this must be never discussed. In short, there is a suppression of the truth of what is really going on; another disconnect in other words.

What has this to do with the healing of poetry? Everything! What poetry is doing is providing a mechanism in which the self can express freely, truthfully and accurately what it has heretofore repressed or kept only in the conscious mind – the conscious mind being limited and furthermore a source of anxiety. This is not easy; the more clogged the conscious mind is with suppressing feelings, repressing truth, and trying to counter the meaninglessness that results from such activities, then the more it is likely – if it is writing at all – to resort to cliché and banality to express itself. However, poetry is a discipline – given the time and the silence to go deep, and given line breaks and the freedom to experiment with language as a condition of the art, people can truly come to express themselves, sometimes for the first time, and then on and ever in real terms in their lives.

Poetry, then, becomes the medium for meaning and for truthfulness, and this is cathartic. It washes away negative emotional and sometimes negative spiritual residue. Furthermore, it is compelling, because the poet has become an author – a writer is an author, and an author is an authority; it is the same root word. We are becoming the authors of our own lives; this is empowering and simultaneously energising. And as we read our own words – if they are words of meaning and truth – we can believe them, and so we begin that slow process of hypnotising ourselves into the good and better life that is possible. A life where we are healed and healing. The words on the page – the poem – become the record of our journey, and what a journey that is for all of us: to find meaning and to experience truth in our essential being – that is healing.

In the third and final blog on the primary reasons to write poetry I shall discuss poetry as art, which is as much as to say, the expression of the truly beautiful.



Seven More Questions to Stimulate Motivation

Following my blog on seven questions to help you stimulate motivation with your staff, let me suggest seven more ideas that have impact.

First, do you take a personal interest in your people? This is more than a mere hope you are well, or what time of day is it, interest. Have you considered whether the right people are in the right jobs? It is astonishing the difference this makes; it’s like asking a right-handed person to do something important with their right hand! Most of the time staff are being fitted into job-moulds for which they are not ideally suited and the result is discomfort, poor performance and low motivation; they are having to work with their non-dominant hand, as it were. A small consideration, then, with big implications for productivity.

Further, and second, how does discipline work in your company - is it behavioural and private? That is to say, is it about what they do rather than who they are.  The former is amendable and improvable, and the latter is not. And, are staff humiliated publicly? Nothing is worse for motivation than public humiliation by an authority figure; reprimands should be discreet and kept that way.

Third, are your teams well briefed? The number one problem in virtually every company in the world finally comes down to one word: communication, or more exactly, the lack of it. How often do these briefings occur and how effective are they? Are you measuring this? How – you ask? Through feedback and surveys – more communication, indeed.

Fourth, can people get to innovate? Staff – people generally - love being at the cutting edge, being where the new is formed and given shape. The reason for this is simple: creativity is inherently meaningful – is inherently god-like – and purpose is a central driver of human nature. Given half a chance most people want to innovate and make improvements, but mostly people don’t get that half chance. As Deming put it: "Put a good person in a bad system and the bad system wins, no contest". What is your system doing?

Fifth, and this is a real crunch issue: do your meetings address real issues or they management-speak and jargon? The fact is, alongside emails, meetings are almost universally considered to be the biggest waste of time within all organisations! How can that be? Surely, we need them in order to operate, to function, especially as teams? If your organisation is one of the few that structures meetings so that they are purposeful and productive, you will gain the eternal gratitude of your staff and motivate them at the same time. One pointer that can make a real difference here is very simple: incorporate into every meeting time to review the facts of the situation and how people FEEL about those facts. It is the expression and release of feeling that seriously contributes to enhanced motivation.

Sixth, what perks are there? We all expect our wage – that’s a minimum, and the obligation on the staff for a wage, the minimum, is that we do a good job. But what happens when we do an excellent job, or an outstanding job? What more is there that can spur us on and keep us buzzing away collecting the organisational pollen? Perks are in reality an inexpensive way of retaining and motivating staff, and it’s an area in which deep creativity can be exercised.

Finally, what social activities are there? Here we must ask: are these ones your staff want or activities you like? The Christmas dinner springs to mind. So many things are done because they have always been done that way, and nobody now can remember why they did that. Once perhaps it was a good idea, but now? Give your staff social activities they want – let them initiate, and then support them. Remember, your ideas of what they want are likely to be wrong – you like golf, maybe, but they want football!

You know have another seven ideas on motivating your staff. Which of these resonates with you? Where do you need to take action? Small steps can make huge differences if applied consistently, and consistency is a core and overarching idea to supplement all fourteen ideas in these two blogs. When staff perceive that you are serious about their welfare in a persistent and consistent way, that alone helps raise their motivation level – so there is the fifteenth idea. Go, do!


Two Plus One Reasons to Write Poetry - #1

There are two plus one primary reasons to write poetry, which is not to say three; all numbers may or may not be equal, but reasons certainly are not. There are good reasons, and less good ones for all sorts of things. I am excited myself by good reasons to write poetry, and groan when I encounter the wrong reason.

To deal with the negative first: the bad reason for writing poetry, which is really a reason to not write it, is the ego. Poetry written from and by the ego, pure and simple. This is bad because the ego cannot write poetry, and when it does it subverts it, and puts in place an ersatz product which deceives, much like a medicine or a food which actually in the long term poisons.

The ego wants to write because it perceives that poetry is status-laden and a way to the prizes that it seeks; one crucial prize being immortality – the idea that life is short but art is long, and so there is some perpetuation of its own existence through the glory of words. Quite apart from that, the immediate credibility that being a poet bestows on anyone so recognised is well worth the ego’s investment of time and trouble - and self-deception. Poets are creators, makers, prophets, visionaries, men and women ahead of their time; those with a deep inisght into the nature of reality, philosophers, and those who are wise and emotionally perceptive. And so we could go on – and even in the West, this still holds true.

Poetry from the ego can be difficult to spot because of its variety, but there are three major classifications. First, there is pure doggerel: rhymed couplets of a banal variety written by someone who has never read more than six poems yet thinks they can write poetry because ‘poetry rhymes’.  The ego is demonstrated in the first place in their thinking they can write at all without any knowledge or study of any kind. Their work never improves – Mcgonagall -like they continue to pour out volumes of the stuff on any occasion.

The second type does study and know poetry but is limited to versification; this can be highly skilled, very entertaining and enjoyable in itself. But it is not actually pure poetry because of its source: the ego. The ego likes constructing clever words, just as one might like doing a crossword puzzle. Occasionally, this can astonish, but it is not poetry because it does not come from poetry’s source – the Muse, the inner psyche, where order is not ordered because a deeper order is at play. And we realise it is not true poetry because we do not ‘feel’ it – it cannot stab itself into our being and become part of who we are; for the Muse arrests the reader as well as the poet.

Third, and arguably most dangerous of all, is the type of poetry that really does get mistaken for real poetry. It’s faddish – it latches on to movements and cultural groundswells – and so always appear relevant and of the moment and contemporary. Currently, it’s ‘post-modern’, post-feminist, post-name-your-ism. Often its populated by professors of literature and academics who specialise in jargon and self-reflexivity; and merely writing unstructured, self-reflexive, sardonic, obscurely allusive doodlings is enough to show one is a poet. But all these creations are non-creations, which nobody much reads now, and will not read fifty or a hundred years hence. But the delusion is strong, and so are the cultural imperatives that feed it – behind such ugly poetry (lines, actually) is a negative and cynical philosophy of life, for the ego likes nothing better than to be superior.

But to turn from this, what are the two positive reasons for writing poetry? My next blog will examine the power of poetry to heal.

Seven Questions to Stimulate Motivation

The issue of motivating staff will not go away; in fact, with the rise of technology and the increasing levels of distance and impersonality, the how-to-manage-them question gets larger and larger. In such a context Motivational Maps are essential since they do supply on-line so much of the information that an effective manager or leader needs. But in the absence of the Maps, what should managers do? Here are 7 questions to get you thinking about next steps.

One, think about the quality of your leadership. How good is it? What you do speaks much louder than what you say! At its simplest level, do you walk the talk, or are you an armchair critic locked away in ‘important’ meetings the ‘plebs’ can never understand? If you want to improve your leadership skills, get feedback – quality feedback from those who experience your leadership, from those working alongside you, and from those who lead you. What do they say – what points of improvement are there for you to pursue?

Second, have you set achievable targets? You know the formula: SMART, but do you use it? I have been a trainer and consultant in hundreds of businesses and I am always staggered by the sheer number of managers who do not seem to understand what a Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Relevant and Time-trackable target is. So much target-setting is wishful thinking.

Third, does training figure strongly in your company? As the say in the USA, want to earn more? Then learn more! One cannot stress enough the importance of ongoing learning, development and training. Even if your organisation does not invest in you, you are well advised, as Brian Tracey recommends, to spend at least 3% of your income on yourself – you will reap the rewards, as every organisation who invests wisely in their employees does.

Fourth, are you stimulating people by varying their tasks, by involving them, and by improving the environment in which they work – in which they operate on your behalf? One fundamental need of human being is for variety, and too much ‘sameness’ stifles creativity and also leads to more errors as a result of boredom. Furthermore, improving the environment says something about how much you value and respect them – and about your real values too. Are you really people-centric or is that just mission mish-mash?

Fifth, do you give people ample recognition for their contributions? Especially their creative contributions – the points of innovation are particularly where recognition is required if you are to have a thriving company. One only has to think of certain IT companies and their celebration of individuals’ creativity to begin to realise what is possible. The sad truth is: so often someone’s bright idea becomes their manager’s, and this is so de-motivating. Staff treated in this way tend not to innovate again; they tend to just do their job instead.

Sixth, do you allow real responsibility without constantly interfering? Another way of putting this is: stop micro-managing staff, most hate it! Micro-management always disempowers staff. Naturally, if staff ask for help, give it freely. But the avoidance of micro-management involves the following steps: set clear objectives for members of staff – tell them WHAT you expect them to achieve, but – unless they ask – do not them HOW to do it. You may feel important, they won’t.

Finally, seventh, is there a realistic career path for your people? What systems are in place to help people develop? There is a strange, unspoken belief that somehow people working in a company are there forever – as if it were a marriage! In today’s world, especially, what could be further from the truth? People move on, people want careers, and unless your organisation is geared to provide optimum satisfactions, then it is highly likely staff will move on sooner rather than later. Bizarrely, providing them with good career support is likely to slow down their exit strategy, because it is an optimum satisfaction to know that one is going ‘somewhere’ – which is what realistic career paths articulate.

Give yourself a score out of ten – ten meaning this is done excellently well by your organisation and one meaning this is a mess – for each of the seven motivational ideas. How do you rate? Which one area is your lowest score? That is where you need to get to work – one piece at a time. And if you do, you will find motivation of staff starts increasing, and so will performance – and performance gains lead to productivity gains, and these lead to … more profit! Go for it.



Four Plus One Reasons Not to Change

It would appear that change is ubiquitous and unavoidable, and the net result of that is that everyone – who has a mind – wishes to control it, to get on top of it, to be a master of change rather than its victim. The Earl of Salisbury was in quite another era when he said, "

Change? Change? Why do we need change? Things are quite bad enough as they are"! But change is difficult and perhaps the great quality guru, Philip Crosby, put his finger on the pulse when he said, "Good ideas and solid concepts have a great deal of difficulty in being understood by those who earn their living by doing it some other way". And there are so many people who earn their living by doing things another way.

In the UK alone in the last three years the attempt by Government to bring down its spending and reduce public debt has been spectacularly ineffective. Why? Because at least 50% of the working population has been earning a living by doing things another way. Earning is perhaps too strong a word, for – from bankers above to unionized workers below and the public sector in the middle – we have huge swathes of unproductive employees who expect to make a living without being productive. And that doesn’t even account for the numbers of people who are paid long-term for not having any job at all. As the Arabic proverb says, "The person who really wants to do something finds a way. The other person finds an excuse."

However, when we come down to the reality on the ground we find there are four main change stoppers that over and above the ‘I am already comfortable Jack, thanks’ philosophy really do stymy progress or effective change.

First, is what is called the dependency culture. This is associated with hierarchical management – all too common in organisations worldwide; and its consequence is people who lack information, skills, confidence, or power; they cannot make the changes and so accept second or even third best. The key antidote to this is the development and promotion of the core skill of delegation. Can bosses actually let go, and let others?

Then, there is, second, the busy-busy management style which is symptomatic of authoritarian types. You know them? The perennially busy leader or manager who never stops to ask  - why? Why are we so busy? Why are we always firefighting, living on the edge of adrenalin rushes and crises? The hope here is possibly that such leaders at some deep level know their inadequacy and want, desperately, to have credibility. This can make them open and receptive to the latest fads and ideas, which may produce change enhancements if not overload. The two key skills to develop are listening as a skill and planning as an activity.

Third, there is isolation through the cultural climate or communication systems. Thus, without access to others' ideas, individuals become more resistant to change. In this respect it is easy for leaders to ignore implications of  simple geographical layout in terms of effective communications. So, the core skill to develop here is communications: systems comms, one-to-one comms, presentation and written skills.

Finally, there is blaming, an too familiar phenomenon, and something which the effective leader never does. For blame destroys a creative, risk-taking culture; it also reduces the effectiveness of the individual, and in any case subordinates harbour grudges even when the blame is justified. The antidote to blame is to focus on what needs to be done  - and how it might still be done despite some temporary setback. One has to believe at a fundamental level that making a mistake is the most effective form of learning. Thus, the key here and  to blame generally is developing a systems approach within your organisation.

Let’s bear in mind, then, as Guiseppe di Lampedusa  said, "If you want things to stay the same, they have to change". That isn’t going to be easy, but it is necessary, and if we bear in mind the guidelines above we have some chance of success.

Why "Layering" Your Business is Important

If we are entrepreneurs and are in business we all want to run a successful business and one of the major obstacles to that happening is the competition taking our idea and creating their own version of it and so depleting us of customers. This is a very real threat, and it happens over the most basic commodities. You have a taxi or a mobile ice cream parlour in a successful patch and the next thing you know ten others have suddenly sprung up. In my local area the £1 shop went bust when literally across the street the 99p shop opened up. Hmm – so much for customer loyalty.

But aren’t I a professional, providing professional services, and isn’t it different there – more relationship driven? Well, it’s different, but the customer still wants the best deal, and wants it yesterday, so taking client loyalty for granted is a huge mistake. If we are going to have a sustainable business we need to create something special, and that is where my concept of "layering" comes in. I say my concept – that is what I call it; perhaps somewhere else it has a more technical name; it doesn’t matter, what’s important is the principle.

To contextualise this: I was a trainer, coach and consultant for ten years, ten great years, doing great work with some wonderful clients. But I began to realise that I was only self-employed, and not running a real business because as soon as I stopped billing hours the income ceased! Thus I made the big decision to be entrepreneurial – to create passive revenues stream whether I did hours or not. And so I got to my first big mistake: namely, to train others as licensees of my innovate mentoring and coaching toolkit. Over ten years I had created some simple, but powerful and original tools. Other coaches and trainers loved them – the trouble was, after the initial agreement was signed and the training and sharing delivered, all those who signed up seemed to have perfectly reasonable reasons why – thanks James but would you mind if … - they might withdraw from the agreement! The training and the innovative tools could not so easily be revoked. I could have, but I didn’t want to spend my life in litigation, so I let it pass.

Then, it became clear that one of my special tools that I had developed – on paper – might make a brilliant on-line product, and this would mean … it could be protected. And here is where layering comes in. Think: initially, a paper questionnaire with 36 questions, moving to an online diagnostic producing a 4 page report. Seven years later we have moved further: first, to 45 questions and a ten page report; and further a 15 page team report. But then to a complete revision of the initial map to a 15 page report and the team map to 22+ pages. All the algorithms revised and more powerful; and to take one example, the algorithm we use to tiebreak equal scores has now 8 levels of complexity, which means that even if all 9 motivators are scored 20 points each (an event which has occurred only once in over 10,000 maps!), the program can determine the correct order. And, not to stop, an organisational map is the next step.

But what’s the point of this? Twofold, with two seemingly contradictory intentions. First, though, one needs to say that if someone is determined to copy you, they probably will; so what I am about to say is about securing a mote around you to discourage them. The first intention is to simplify your product/service for the client/customer so they increasingly are delighted by what they receive and can more readily perceive its value. In effect, they are always getting more for either the same amount or less.

And here’s the "layering" bit: at the same time as you are intending to simplify the product for the client, you intend to complicate the behind the scenes workings, so that it becomes fiendishly difficult to emulate. There is in fact then layer on layer of complexity that is hard to unpick, much less grasp how it works. Think of an antique table you want to preserve: you layer with varnish, again and again, and eventually the varnish is so thick the layers provide complete insulation from any knocks or chips. That is "layering" for you.

If you have a service or product open to competition and emulation, are you layering your intellectual property? Remember, the more simple it is for the user, the more complicated it needs to be inside its guts. Good luck – solving this problem can give you a real competitive edge.

CEOs, Motivation and Pay

A survey in the Guardian put being head of a major organisation – the CEO - as the best paid
job in Britain; and, interestingly, even being a 'senior local government official' ranked tenth. CEOs, then, have it – the best paid jobs. This despite the research from Eversheds which found – in a survey of 241 companies around the world between January 2007 and December 2009 – that there was no link between pay and stock price performance. In other words no link between the added value and the cost paid to acquire it by shareholders.

I have also had a fascinating debate on a Linkedin forum with the Managing Director of a consultancy producing 'research' results that demonstrate what the top CEOs of the big corporates excel in: results, strategy, taking risks, tenacity, legacy, people, communication, being resourceful, learning and self-knowledge. Phew! No wonder they earn their money – and thank God that we have such talented people running our companies, albeit it would appear their salaries are not commensurate with their share price achievements. Then, again, as I pointed out to the MD of the consultancy: is this really research about CEOs of companies or is this a dream list of competencies? Or, more likely, is this simply brilliant PR – those at the top banging on about the skills they must have to be at the
top, so we at least can stop worrying? Or, most likely of all, is this simply consultancy suck-up for future CEO work? Hey, we think you’re great!

Lucy Kellaway, the regular, brilliant and acerbic columnist of the Financial Times expressed things differently in her article in the Financial Times. She said, the three worst traits of CEOs were "a lack of self-knowledge, a lack of self-knowledge and a quite extraordinary willingness to give themselves the benefit of a doubt". Further, she went on to say: "I have spent 15 years studying them and common "sins" are: control freakery, dithering and bullying. They are also vain, poor listeners and afraid of conflict. Most can't even conduct a half decent conversation." So, so much for the 'learning', the 'communication', the 'self-knowledge'; I could go on, but I guess I would agree with the 'taking risks', especially where that appertains to other people's money – think banks.

The truth is that we must never forget the psychological reality of being human, particularly being a top dog human. What we need to be clear about is that everybody who reaches the top likes to believe they did it on merit, and then attempts to get facts to conform to this view. We are  conditioned to show respect to our superiors, our bosses, and as an employee it is difficult not to; but when this tendency spills out into public life, when deference is shown just because one is at the
top, no matter how half-baked the performance and the results, then one – the country – is in serious trouble. It is so easy to give examples of CEOs who were deified in the business press at the time, only to find their real achievements very different as the slow mills of time or God grind out their
true value: Sir Fred the Shred, Lord Safety-First Browne, Supermarkets led by Horse-Meat Eating CEOs now - and so on.

We note the titles, the formality and consolidation of their reputations even when the reputation
itself is in tatters. Two points immediately emerge: the first is obvious – that very few CEOs add real value to mammoth enterprises; that being smaller gives greater accountability, and allows more dynamic change if things are not going well. The quite recent strictures on the Energy cartel is a case in point – the six or so CEOS have all nicely cuddled up to give the consumer NOT the best deal. (And on that basis let me remind you of a favourite theme of mine: European political membership is voting for these cartels. The referendum if we get it is late in coming.)

Further, the honours system in this country that bakes these brittle and crusty pies that contain
little nutrition needs reforming. We need to be in this sense more American, more democratic in wanting success and achievement rather than titles and power. Bo Burlingham's brilliant book, Small Giants, gives a template on how that is achievable at least at the small business level.

And a great new book on Engagement by David Bowles and Cary Cooper’s latest book, The High Engagement Work Culture, Balancing Me and We, makes the point vividly that most CEOs are simply employees, not entrepreneurs – not Richard Branson or Steve Jobs – in other words, not people who create value or even have a vision to do so. They sign on to do a job and the next thing you know the whole organisation exists to feed their ego and their bank balance. As Bowles and Cooper point out: the ego is a psychological virus and like a computer virus it can entirely destroy the host organism. De-motivating or what?

Finally, whilst being a die-hard capitalist myself, and eschewing all forms of communism, I do see on
this salary issue that the pay is out of control, is socially divisive, and is not promoting capitalism but pure greed. And it saps the morale and motivation of ordinary people – the people who actually create the wealth, the business, and the country. I think it is the John Lewis Partnership in the UK that has the right idea: the pay of the CEO is capped at a relatively low multiple of the lowest paid member of staff (partner) and all get an equal percentage of the bonuses. In America, Bowles and Cooper cite John Mackey of Whole Foods who has capped his salary (and all executives in his company) at 19:1 to the average workers’ pay. This against the corporates who increased their multiple from 47 to 81 times the average  (not lowest) earnings of staff in recent years – and yet crucially without increasing the value of their company stock. (Bowles cites evidence in the USA
of 525 times greater!!!)

In his book Drive, Daniel Pink provided conclusive and irrefutable evidence that for all but the most
mechanical of tasks money – pay – was a demotivator in terms of performance. If people are working for money, especially at the top, then they are obviously running on empty, and their performance will ultimately reveal that. Isn’t time we nailed this money and motivation issue once and for all – if not for our countries, then at least for our future?



Choosing the Right Job

I recently coached a friend of mine who was in a joyful an unusual position: he had three jobs he had been offered in a week, and when he saw me he had to decide which one he was going to accept! Hmm – nice. And it may be not as unusual as we think; talented people are going to be besieged by offers because they are talented and because talent can make a massive differnce to the bottomline. What did we do then to resolve the issue?

First, we did a Motivational Map and established that my friend’s top three motivators were, in rank order, making a difference, freedom and autonomy, and belonging. So the question then was to examine each of three job offers in some detail and ask, How likely were they to be able to fulfil each motivator in turn. In fact we drew a grid: across the top heading the three columns were the names of the companies, A, B and C. And in the three rows down the lefthand side we had the names of the three respective motivators. In Map language they are called, respectively, Searcher, Spirit and Friend.

The question then was: based on your knowledge of these three companies and your visits/interviews with them, out of ten, how would you rate your likelihood of a. being able to make a difference (in each of the three companies), being able to have freedom and autonomy in your work, and finally to feel that you will ‘belong’, have a home at work as it were, where you will feel valued?

This produced a remarkable set of results. For the Searcher the scores were: A/4, B/5, and C/6; for the Spirit, A/3, B/5 and C/8; and finally for the Friend, A/6, B/6 and C/7. We then tallied these scores and from a maximum of 30 points possible (high being better), company A scored 13, company B 16 and company C 21. What had been an agonising puzzle, suddenly became crystal clear, and my client and friend went on to take company C’s offer.

A couple of points are worth observing about this process. First, that we all really know the answers to our problems – know deep down, but accessing this information is not always easy. A good coach combined with a good self-perception inventory like Motivational Maps can make a huge difference in terms of outcomes. For Motivational Maps prides itself on being a diagnostic that makes the invisible, visible: that’s right – we see the 10% of the iceberg which is us, but beneath the surface the real us, the 90%, is not so clear or visible. Motivational Maps can bring this to the surface.

Second, the Map technique highlighted which of the motivators was likely to cause the root problem. In this case it was the second – company C’s score for freedom was 8, significantly ahead of the A and B, whereas their scores for Searcher and Friend were more closely bunched. Thus, this really can aid in client self-awareness, for it will be highly likely –as it proved to be in this case – that lack of freedom and autonomy is persistent problem in employment that had never been addressed. Indeed, had been accepted as that is just how work is – a reality of life. This belief when one starts analysing in more detail is clearly false – it is possible to work and achieve freedom, but one has to be more selective.

I recommend all coaches and consultants use Motivational Maps if they are helping clients make the right career choices – it is invaluable.


High Engagement at Work - David Bowles and Cary Cooper

I have just had the pleasure of reading David Bowles and Cary Cooper’s latest book, The High Engagement Work Culture, Balancing Me and We, and a super book it is. Not only does it contain up-to-date information on the latest research, and that not just from academic publications but widely sourced from the Internet too, but as the word ‘balancing’ in the title indicates their approach is balanced, is ‘fair’ (to use one of their favourite words), and so one can be confident in reading the book that one is not listening to evangelists babbling on about road to Damascus experiences, and wouldn’t the world just be a better place if we all followed them. No, the information and the ideas are measured, and yet passionately presented too; for at stake, and it would no understatement to say it from their perspective, is the future, if future there be, of Western capitalism. And finally, it is worth saying: this is an extremely well written book; it may sound obvious but many academics cannot write, or at least submerge themselves in impenetrable jargon that makes huge demands on the reader, and renders their real meaning unclear or ambiguous. This is not the case here: the prose is fluent, easy and accessible. They want to be understood and they want debate on their core ideas.

What then are they saying? Firstly, they survey the Crash of 2008 and locate some of the causes down to factors within organisations, specifically financial ones in this instance. They show that the culture of me-first, of individualistic heroes, of winning per se without any regard to the wider consequences eventually and inevitably leads to losing! That competition on its own is not enough to create a vibrant organisation, culture, or society; that collaboration is necessary too, and that when you marry competition to collaboration you do get one piece of jargon, but one that is easy to accept: "co-opetition".

Further they demonstrate through detailed research that engagement and high morale (values is perhaps their third most important word) are crucial to performance: individually and in terms of the profitability and longevity of an organisation.  They are candid: "Engagement is a choice, and not everyone is capable of making it, no matter how great the environment" and for them Engagement is "a behaviour". Morale, on the other hand, is "an inner state of well-being belonging to an individual or group". But like a hand in a glove, these two elements – external and internal – are related: "high morale makes it much more likely that people will engage with the organisation and their jobs".

So, they make the critical point that engagement is not something that can be done to staff; on the contrary, management can only "create an environment that is sufficiently attractive to their workers that these people will choose to engage". Clearly, then, as they candidly admit, recruitment is essential in getting the right people in the first place. Also, they show what can be done in two excellent case studies of the leadership at BMW (Germany) and at Whole Foods Market (USA). These are both fascinating case studies, showing how the highest levels of company performance are possible through engagement and co-opetition. The Whole Foods Market is especially interesting as there is a lot about its founder, John Mackey, whom I had not encountered before, and who is obviously a major thought-leader in this field.

The best chapter of all, though, in my opinion, is Chapter 3, which deals with the Ego at Work  - which they rightly call the elephant in the room; for we all know what this is about. This is possibly the best short analysis of ego problems in the work place that I have ever read – and I read a lot! It’s so clear, so a-ha, and so quotable: "ego acts like a psychological virus" – brilliant! And it goes on to make to crucial points in dealing with this, although it admits that perhaps ‘mitigating’ its effects may be the best we can do.

Much more could be said, but in this brief review what critique could be made about their position on Engagement? I think there are two major points I would bring to their attention.

The first is their own unease about an anomaly in the data. Quite simply, Germany has one of the lowest engagement levels in the West – 13% versus 29% in the USA. Yet Germany consistently outperforms other Western countries. Bowles and Cooper put this anomaly down to "management" and suggest just how much more profitable German companies could be if they engaged more – but there is no getting away from an awful fact. Here is the most successful country in Europe and their staff are not engaged! All the other data seems special pleading in the light of this admitted anomaly.

My other charge, however, is even more serious. It is the omission of the word ‘motivate’ or its derivatives (motivation, etc.) from the text. Or, to be precise, the word is not in their Index, but does occur 6 times in actual fact. The first four uses of it, though, are simply in quotations or extracts from their two stars from BMW and Whole Foods Markets. Finally, in the last 3 pages of the book they talk of "preserving individual imitative and motivation" and speak of the need for "fun and motivation" in the work environments. In short, the nebulous concept of ‘high morale’ has high-jacked the much more specific language and metric of motivation. Their whole issue of performance being linked to engagement and motivation would be so much more powerful with the accompanying metrics that motivation supplied – and this itself would obviate the need for too many ‘surveys’; instead staff could receive motivational reports which directly benefited them, as well as the organisation – what the morale was would be obvious from the scores.

These caveats aside, this is a book that is superbly written, will repay much re-reading and should be every CEOs and HR directors’ bible as they contemplate change that is going to be meaningful in the future of their organisation.