Holding Patterns

On a recent flight across the pond I was lucky enough to sit next to a very interesting fellow passenger. He was a highly regarded and renowned surgeon. On our approach into Heathrow, he turned to me and confided ‘ I hate this bit’. ‘Which bit’, I replied, the crew were tidying up at the time, ‘the landing, we’re in a holding pattern and I’m not in control’. An acutely candid admittance, I couldn’t help but notice. I too, hate ‘ that bit’, from years working in the airline industry I am well aware that calamities, shall we say, mostly occur on take off or landing. Anyway, my concerned neighbour didn’t need to know that, so in the moment, I just reassured and chatted until the landing gear hit the tarmac.

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Prior to this moment of honesty, we had been discussing leadership in a clinical environment, and he had talked about how some surgeons occasionally ‘lose it’ in theatre. This surprised me. He was about to receive an acutely candid concern from me at this point but I held it in. He was talking about highly talented surgeons that occasionally succumb to stress, and that unfortunately this often plays out in a high-risk theatre scenario. He went on to say that with a strong team there would usually be someone who would step in and disperse the tension. Of course, the surgeon takes the lead in an operation and this scenario can impact not only on the outcome for the patient, but also the performance and productivity of those around him or her. Some may feel able to call something out and others not.

Of course, this doesn’t only occur in a theatre situation, we see it play out daily with the senior leaders responsible for large corporations and huge numbers of employees, small businesses and politically, where the consequence for a nation and its people are immense.

Recent events have given rise to many feeling utterly shaken by the uncertainty and complex times in which we currently live. It is therefore understandable that people may feel disorientated and anxious about the future.

However, our futures aren’t entirely based upon the actions and decisions of other people. Humans are remarkably resilient, flaws and all, and history has documented it. So, whether you agree or disagree with what’s happening in the world, you do have a choice over how you tackle your own challenges and the things that you can influence. You are utterly in control of your own thoughts and actions, if you choose to be.

We can sit in a metaphorical holding pattern and hope that someone else will provide a lifeline in whatever guise that takes, or take an action ourselves. As a friend said to me yesterday, the best way to tackle fear is to get out there and get busy.

Sometimes it takes guts and a dollop of bravery, but to coin one of my favourite quotes, as Eleanor Roosevelt herself said, ‘ Humans are like teabags, you never know how strong they are until you put them in hot water!’

As for my new surgeon friend, he continues to champion good leadership in a clinical setting and personally he doesn’t have to get on a plane for at least three months so he’s happy.

Get comfortable with discomfort and leave the holding pattern.

Wishing you every possibility,

Kate

Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Coach to executives and leaders across the world in both large corporations and small cutting edge businesses, and author of The Art of Possible.

Procrastination is okay and curiosity is a winner….

Here in the UK we’re having something of a heat-wave ; for those of us in climate controlled environments we’re probably chilled, if possibly longing to be in the warmth and sunshine. Those of us in less ‘well-equipped’ environments are keeping cool as best we can. Either way the weather in the UK creates an extraordinary amount of conversation, action and indeed inaction.

Having not written a newsletter for some long months, it was in fact icy when the last one was written, I have been asked for an explanation.

A couple of years ago I found myself completely on my own, astride an off-road motorbike, slightly terrified, in the foothills of the Pyrenees with a 45 degree slippery slope to ascend on my bike. That particular experience turned out to be the catalyst to writing a book. It was to be a two-year journey of writing, and meeting and interviewing some extraordinary people. Individuals that I feel hugely privileged to have met or worked with, that have been successful or overcome some incredible difficulties and hardship to reach their potential. People from all walks of life, business, sport, the charitable sector and everything in between.

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What is it that irrespective of wealth or talent, successful people do that is open to us all? That is what I set out to find out and share, from observations of the incredible people that I have worked with and those that I interviewed and met in the last few years.

Along the way, I met a neuroscientist who contributed the science and rigour to what it is that we do that enables us to flourish and grow, and of course the actions that cause the opposite effect. If we harness our brains and work together, anything is possible. As someone once said, ‘Everything is impossible until someone makes it possible’.

Turns out that procrastination is okay, it occurs due to a lack of information and our brain is signaling that you need to do a bit more research. Curiosity is undoubtedly a winner and I have certainly seen this quality in the greatest leaders and the elite in sport.   What will continually grow our brains however and enable us to reach our potential is constantly seeking out the new and different, our brains work harder and create new cells in doing so. Finally, the power of deliberate action – there’s no denying what can be achieved.

Whatever the weather (wherever you are) what can you do today that is new or different that will shape your future?

‘The Art of Possible – new habits, neuroscience and the power of deliberate action’ is out now on Amazon in hardback and eBook, on iBooks for iOS devices, or click on the picture below.

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Look forward to seeing you very soon.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

Small is big….

 

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The millions of small droplets of moisture that came together to form an extraordinarily tough layer of ice on my windscreen this morning was stunning. Though thinking about the year ahead I couldn’t help but notice the analogy to never underestimate the power of lots of small things coming together to make something amazing, albeit thick ice in this case. It was early!

It is the time of year when the goals, resolutions, new targets and horizons have been envisioned and set. It’s exciting, often bold and usually big.

However hurtling towards the end of January, sometimes those goals and perhaps even dreams might appear a bit too bold, too big or too exciting. And that’s when we have to up the effort and energy to make progress.

I believe it was Vincent Van Gogh said, ‘great things are done by a series of small things brought together’. Small changes can indeed translate into the most profound successes in your single and wider endeavours – both professionally and personally.

As humans though, we aren’t terribly good at change and inevitably big, bold newness is going to require it. There is a remarkable human reluctance to change and as a great deal of psychological research attests, a monumental amount of discomfort people can tolerate before they acknowledge the need for change.

Change is invariably uncomfortable, even if it’s magnificently for the better, at least at the beginning.

So, in leading the change to follow those goals and ambitions for yourself, your team, your company, ponder the following to help you hone the effort and energy required to manifest them.

• Anchor yourself in the future. Constantly have the big picture in mind especially whilst doing the small things. It will ensure that all the small things are going in the right direction to make the big thing happen.
• Transform your narrative. Many would say that we are our story. Not so much the story of our lives but the story we tell about the role we played in the events. Does it need a re-write?
• Constantly break all your big dreams and goals into smaller more manageable and ultimately achievable actions, which you can do on a daily basis.
• And finally – be here, now. Not one single technique or inner evolution is as powerful an antidote to the past and a potential springboard to the future as the capacity to be in the present in the here and now.

Staying fresh, evolving and being current looks seamless and often effortless but like the swan there is a huge amount of drive, tenacity and hard work at play, notwithstanding, out of sight.

Jaeger faced bankruptcy three years ago and the first thing that CEO, Colin Henry tackled when he joined in 2013 was to strip the brand back to the foundations and improve quality. In early 2013 there were just 15% of the clothes made in natural fibres now it’s nearly 80%. Small, incremental and daily changes have brought the brand back to its former glory. The last reported quarterly figures state that sales are up 8.3 % and online sales up 78%. For Jaeger, 2015 is looking big, bold and exciting.

And don’t forget, as I rediscovered last night, the powerful maxim of Winnie the Pooh “ Remember, you’re braver than you believe and stronger than you seem and smarter than you think.”

Have a fabulous 2015 and if you would like some assistance with the big, the bold and the exciting, you know where we are.

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Kate Tojeiro is an Executive Performance Coach and Managing Director of X fusion.

On the run….

Is there something of a feeling of being constantly on the run…..? Leading, tweeting, speaking, emailing, reading, exercising, building, posting (new age not postman styley), inspiring, eating, drinking, socializing, friends, family, travelling, ticks off the list, YOLO of course and then there’s sleeping…. Unless we physically turn stuff (technical term) off, it will happily buzz, bleat & chirrup news, info and more stuff ad infinitum….

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We’ve heard recently about people attending ‘digital detox’ programs, however is this perhaps missing the point. For all the distractions and disadvantages to our time from the digital world, the advantages and new ways of living, communicating, helping others and running businesses are extraordinary. Is it perhaps as it ever was, just different?

Carving out time to just ‘be’ has perhaps always been tricky in a busy life.

Not for nothing did WH Davies write the poem Leisure…..’What is this life if, full of care, we have no time to stand and stare’……..in 1911.

I’m working in collaboration with a neuroscientist and I discussed with her that there appeared to be greater need for people to stop and pause even if just for a few moments. With a wry smile, she looked at me and said, no, for the brain to truly reinvigorate not a pause or a stop, after all our brains don’t stop or pause, unless of course something wholly terrible has occurred, just observe, take time to just look, observe and notice. It clarifies thinking and gives the brain a ‘rest’ – layman’s (my) term.

So, with permission from the pinnacle of current neuroscience to be nosy, I mean curious, perhaps we could all do with a little ‘time to stand and stare’.

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After all, a key component of the vast majority of successful businesses is watching, listening and learning about customer, employee and client activity and then doing something about it. Hard to do if we don’t know what ‘it’ is.

Have a wonderful summer.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

And if you have time for the whole poem, here it is….

Leisure by W.H. Davies:-

 

What is this life if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

 

No time to stand beneath the boughs

And stare as long as sheep or cows.

 

No time to see, when woods we pass,

Where squirrels hide their nuts in grass.

 

No time to see, in broad daylight,

Streams full of stars, like skies at night.

 

No time to turn at Beauty’s glance,

And watch her feet, how they can dance.

 

No time to wait till her mouth can

Enrich that smile her eyes began.

 

A poor life this if, full of care,

We have no time to stand and stare.

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

 

My first boss was fond of saying “it’s the little things that make big things happen”. 

More specifically noticing the little things, the details, and also intuitively spotting how others feel. 

 

In the course of the last few months I have interviewed some extraordinary people for my forthcoming book; a young lady who, from a very hard childhood indeed, now has an apprenticeship and is studying for a degree and is possibly one of the most uplifting people I’ve ever met, the CEOs of several Fortune 100 companies, and some elite sportsmen and sportswomen from netball to racetrack.  I have felt humbled, awestruck, slight terror and excitement, as the passenger of a well-known former racing champion on a track. And huge inspiration. 



2013 BTCC Media Day. #5 Rob Collard (GBR). E-Bay Motors. BMW 125i MSport.These people all notice, they notice lots (or have learned to). One trait they all shared almost palpably was the sheer ruthlessness around attention to detail.  Be it personal fitness, technical excellence, product detail or superb team communication, nothing was left to chance.  Nothing that is, that was within their control.  It was the racing driver who articulated it most powerfully. Listening to him, it was evident that he went to incredible lengths to ensure that everything that was within his control was exactly that, under his control.  Can’t control the weather, track conditions or what other drivers are doing but you can know exactly what’s going on with you and with your car. 
 


Nasty Gal is a $100m, 7 year old, online vintage retail company with more than 350 employees.  Sophie Amoruso, the straight-talking, irreverent and fabulous CEO and founder, talks compellingly about attention to detail, the painstaking attention that goes into styling, sourcing and curating outfits.  Most importantly noticing the customer, ‘ignore your customer, at your peril’.  If an item sells – they stock more items that are similar, if it doesn’t or a customer complains, that’s it – they don’t go near it ever again. 


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There are countless examples of organizations that haven’t listened to the customer and certainly not minded the little things so that the big things take care of themselves. 
 


As Giorgio Armani succinctly put it ‘to create something exceptional, your mind must be relentlessly focused on the smallest detail’.
 


Do you need to pay attention to any little things today? 
 


My warmest wishes,
 


Kate Tojeiro

 

Having built up a string of prestigious FTSE 100 and Fortune 100 clients over the last 15 years, Kate Tojeiro works as an executive coach with the boards, senior leaders and teams of some of the world’s most illustrious organisations and some of the most cutting edge, organically-grown start ups.

Contact her at www.the-x-fusion.co.uk. 
 

 

Nasty Gal, the devil’s in the detail….

When the going gets tough……

When the going gets tough ….
My eldest daughter was recently somewhat embarrassed to hear that I love “When the going gets tough…” by Billy Ocean and the occasional power ballad! It wasn’t just the admission, it was that I happened to air this guilty pleasure while being interviewed on the radio.

She then went on to say, musing a little, ‘It’s cool to say what you like though’. And that, was that.

I couldn’t help but ponder later: ‘When the going gets tough, the tough get going’ is something of a mantra for the best leaders out there. Their words, of course, might be very different. The fine line between successful leaders and less successful one’s, is nearly always evident when the going gets tough. The same can be said of great sportsmen and women who, under great physical and mental stress make things look effortless. But you know for sure that a massive amount of hard work, energy and effort has gone into honing that ability, even if it’s on a foundation of natural skill. They practice daily!

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For many of the banks, the going appears to be getting even tougher, and the proposed PFIZER takeover of Astra Zeneca is proving challenging for many, at industry, city and even government level.

‘Getting going’ when it’s hard, navigating a path through uncertainty, challenge and difficulty, means taking into consideration all those involved around you. I recently discovered through a fascinating discussion with a neuroscientist, that through rigorous research it is understood that ‘successful people’ do indeed have a very high level of self-awareness and that of others.

Whilst dealing with complex technical scenarios, compliance, product issues, markets, the press et al, they are also very aware of the impact a challenge is having on the individuals involved. And they subsequently take the actions and interventions needed to make it easier for them. Sometimes, just admitting that it’s tough goes a very long way too.

Some years ago, I was at a company meeting with the CEO of a tech company that was six months from running out of cash. They were only just making payroll each month. The CEO got the team together every single morning, in person/ via teleconference call/ Skype and candidly told everyone what was happening and what needed to be achieved in order to turn the company around. He also told them how much he believed in them. He shared a document weekly that quite clearly stated how much money the company had, or didn’t have, too!

Six months later, with a few new deals and an investor on the horizon, things were looking better. He now lives in Boston, MA and the company thrives, they still fondly remember the engine room, as it was called, over a shop on Oxford Street in London when the company nearly went to the wall.

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When the going gets tough or even when it doesn’t, do you know what your strengths are? And do you practice for whatever it is that you want to achieve daily?

As Yogi Berra eloquently put it: In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is….. Successful people practice….. a lot.

And of course, if you’d like some support and assistance through the tough ‘stuff’, you know where we are.
My warmest wishes,
Kate

Kate Tojeiro is Managing Director and Executive Performance Coach at X fusion.

Why fit in when you were born to stand out

 Why fit in when you were born to stand out.

Having spent some of the weekend with nieces, nephews and assorted friends under eleven, Pharrell William’s ‘Happy’ is still playing in my head. I can’t claim to know the words, as the kids all had slight variations to Pharrell’s original lyrics. The ‘ Happy, Happy, Happy……’ was a consistent and a constant though.ImageWhen life is throwing various shades of excitement and challenge sometimes the ‘happy’ bit seems a bit hard to find. Whether you’re the CEO of a global business with hundreds of thousands of employees or running a neat charity full of volunteers, one thing I’ve observed clearly is that the most content and comfortable in their own skin perhaps, are more often than not being ‘themselves’.

What I mean to say is; they say what they think, are not afraid to challenge the status quo and maybe, in fact often, put themselves out on a limb, so to speak. This can take bravery and courage and of course, we are all bound by certain processes, systems and rules however those that work the rules so that they can be themselves rather than be or do or say what they think others wish them to be are generally happier and achieve whatever it is that they’ve set out to achieve. Do we really ever know what others think anyways?

I met with the founder and CEO of a well-known fashion label a few weeks back, the company had just been offered a significant amount of growth funding. ‘I can’t take the investment, Kate’ he said, ‘it would suck out our soul and we wouldn’t be who we are’. It just didn’t feel right. So, they didn’t take it and whilst to some, that might seem a harder path, it’s their path and it works for them and innovation and creativity (without pots of cash) is thriving.

Divine Chocolate is a brilliant brand known for standing for what it believes, once awarded for “its courageous and creative marketing stance in favour of fair trade in the highly competitive chocolate confectionery market”. Way to go!

An amazing lady, Steph Jeavons left the Ace Café in West London yesterday to travel around the world on her 250cc motorbike with £5 a day to spend on food. The challenge; living, learning and enjoying by circumnavigating 42 countries across at least 6 continents and following her dream. Just fantastic!

She’s being herself . When we do the thing that is utterly what we believe and syncs with our purpose (even if we don’t know it on a conscious level) but it just feels right, the results speak for themselves.

As Sir Martin Sorrell, of WPP once said, ‘impossible is nothing and nothing is impossible’.

And as As Dr Seuss beautifully put it ’why fit in when you were born to stand out’.

ImageHave a fantastic Spring and if you need a little help putting a little bounce in your stride, you know where we are.

If you were truly being yourself today, what would you do differently, now?

Alternatively……a little bit of ‘Happy, happy, happy…..’ goes a long way…….

My warmest wishes,

Kate