Keep your edge

I asked my youngest daughter (age 6) last evening what she was up to, she had a snail in one hand and a windfall pear in the other. “I’m being a being” she responded. “Fantastic”, I replied and off she skipped.
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It reminded me of a CEO that I work with who is actively encouraging everyone in his organisation to do nothing or just be, for 5 minutes every day. ‘Simple’, I hear you say, well yes, but surprisingly hard to actually effect. The way we live, work and play today is all about doing. He is leading the way and finding it hard. What he espouses to his team and organization is just being; watching, listening, observing, looking, tasting, touching, even smelling ( the roses or the coffee!) . Indulging those senses, letting the mind wander and then bringing it back to the here and now.

‘Just being’ is a form of mindfulness, becoming more present and in the here and now.

The interesting upside of just ‘being’ for a moment or two is that you will ultimately become more productive and likely less stressed. This is because the brain gets to a place called homeostasis – calm yet alert and energetic and we have greater access to our knowledge and experience. Stanford professors have proven that mindfulness does indeed have the ability to rewire the brain, it has a positive impact upon health as well as productivity. Happiness is a by-product too!

Now, far from being a soft touch, you can be mindfully cross or even mindfully angry but what it will potentially enable is a more conscious and thoughtful response to whichever anger prompting event or action has (or hasn’t) occurred.

Try it;
If possible find a nice space for you, inside or outside
Focus on your breathing, the in and out of your breath, your mind will wander, let it, and then bring it back to the present and the in and out of your breath.
Indulge your senses: What can you see? What can you hear? What can you feel? What can you taste? What can you smell?
Enjoy.
Businesses from Apple, Google, General Mills and Chase to the NHS, that have embraced mindfulness are experiencing increases in productivity, absenteeism plummeting and noticeable business improvement.

This weekend I was honoured to jetty marshall at the Mapple 35+ European Waterski Championships. I couldn’t help but notice in the moments before the competitors allocated slot, they would just be, admittedly with nerves, face in the sun (or the wind or rain), some mentally practicing and visualizing but very much in the moment and the present here and now. As they left the jetty, the concentration and focus kicked in when it mattered the most.
The late Andy Mapple OBE, one of the greatest water-skiers of our time, was known for saying ‘ leave nothing on the dock’. When those world-class skiers left the dock (jetty) nothing was left behind and they absolutely had their edge – literally – when they needed it.

Are you allowing yourself to ‘just be’ for a few moments each day so that when the time comes and you need your clarity, focus and edge – it’s all there, poised and ready?

We are, after all, human beings!

If you would like to speak with us about Executive Coaching, nurturing and developing your people or introducing mindfulness to your organization, do contact us for a preliminary session.

Be bold and have a fabulous Autumn.

My warmest wishes,

Kate

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

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Kate Tojeiro is an executive coach and facilitator to senior executives and teams at some of the world’s largest global organisations and some of the most cutting edge start-ups. She is a regular on BBC radio and a voice in the media.
Find her at http://www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

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

Who are ‘they’ anyway?

“But they said we had no choice!”, I overheard a rather frazzled individual say to another in the reception of a rather large organization. “Turns out we did. It was an unmitigated disaster!”

My client then appeared so I know not how the dialogue continued.

‘They’ seem to be quite a powerful bunch, I couldn’t help but wonder.

When we don’t know who specifically is responsible or accountable, the collective ‘they’ tend to appear with punishing regularity and untold influence.  In the same way that when we’re perhaps anxious about a significant event, we start considering, sometimes unrealistically, what ‘they’ will think.   Do we stop to think who ‘they’ really are? Not always.

The media is currently awash with news about what ‘they’, collective politicians, company executives, did or didn’t, will or won’t do.

When ‘they’ becomes a specific individual, it is so very much easier to make progress and identify who is doing what. Useful when it’s all going swimmingly, even more so when it’s not!

I wonder if those executives at Tesco knew who ‘they’ were , the ones that were supposedly accounting for what was going on financially and should maybe have been accruing more effectively?

They (!) evidently hadn’t come across the salutary little poem ‘Who’s job is it’.

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it.  Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it.  Somebody got angry about that, because it was Everybody’s job.  Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have.

Do you know specifically who is doing what for you in your organization or personally?

It seems that ‘they’ have a little too much power in the world. Is it timely to start reclaiming some of it back and redressing the accountability and responsibility balance.

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After all when people are given autonomy, generally individuals rise to the challenge and deliver……very, very well. Richard Branson knows this and has recently announced that his employees can choose exactly when and for how long they take a vacation.  Productivity will soar.

People are very able and have names with history and heritage, let’s be specific and perhaps the collective ‘they’ might just start to go away or at the very least have a little less influence.

Have a fantastic week.

Is abandoning ship a cop out?

On watching some of the exciting Cowes week action, one couldn’t help observe that it is a sport that is well supported by the financial services industry. Barclays has long been a sponsor of sailing and for a number of years the Global Challenge round the world yacht race.  
Now, I’m no round the world racer however I do sail and know for sure that the captain of a ship will do absolutely anything within his or her power to save their vessel and the lives of the crew and passengers within (for the moment we shall park the captain of the ill-fated Concordia, he was a rarity for sure).  
The banking industry being such a key sponsor and supporter of all things ocean, the abandoning ship tactic of Bob Diamond when the proverbial storm hit, loomed in large and stark contrast to the typical characteristics and values of a captain, be it of a 20ft vessel or larger. Admittedly many people have been baying for the resignation and there were multi-faceted reasons for and against.  However, it is a pitiful current day trait that when trouble appears, and it invariably does at one point or another in even the most robust of organisations, the current standard practice of those at the top; politicians, chief execs… is to abandon ship.  
Now, it may be me but that doesn’t show a great deal of resilience, commitment or grit.  If I may indulge the sailing analogy a little further, if a storm hits, you split your mainsail, take on water, lose your rudder, crash your vessel into a pontoon or whichever, the chances of the captain jumping overboard are exceedingly unlikely.  Not to mention if aforementioned captain does abandon ship in challenging seas, the likelihood of him or her spending the rest of their days with the mermaids is quite possible.    
Being captain of a vessel, cruising yacht through to enormous ocean going cargo ship requires immense skill, expertise and talent, notwithstanding the ability to deal effectively in a crisis.  A captain will do utterly all that is necessary to save vessel and all lives on board. Salvaging law another debate entirely. Being at sea in a storm in challenging circumstances is not for the faint-hearted and if I may use a hackneyed expression it does separate the men from the boys (women from the girls). A challenging situation, risk, potential loss, collateral and/ or physical damage requires analytical skills, short term risk assessment, decision making skills, confidence, communication and strategic planning, to mention just a few.  On a vessel in a storm this will all happen in minutes, they’ll be a process and a plan of action to get out of said troubled water.  Now, these skills are hardly a rarity in business, they’re constantly trained for, studied for and gained through experience and endeavour.  Bob Diamond, for one, would have all (and still does) of these skills in abundance. 
Surely, if we’re really going to change our banking culture, Bob Diamond with his undoubted capabilities would have been the best man for the job.  Whilst he may not have been directly responsible, the buck most certainly stopped with him.  As the master of a ship, captains are in that position not for the high days and watching the dolphins but actually when a crisis hits; manmade, natural or otherwise, it is their responsibility to get it sorted using all the aforementioned skills.  If we are nationally to develop those phenomenal skills of dealing effectively in a crisis, and demonstrate resilience, grit and commitment to the next generation then perhaps the first step is to shift this characteristic of quitting at the top when it gets tough (really tough).  
After all, as a nation, we used to be globally renowned for it.