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.
MensSlalom
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.

Books
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

Your game, your turf, your rules…..

A few clients have been talking about public speaking over the last couple of days.The BAFTA’s and the fabulous awards and celebrations of the King’s Speech got me thinking……

There is a line in the movie, “my game, my turf, my rules” where Lionel, the speech therapist, is gently pushing at the boundaries of protocol when Albert comes to him for assistance with a speech impediment that has blighted him since childhood or perhaps because of his childhood.

An observation, as an executive coach, is that when we speak from the heart, our words, opinions and ideas are very often not only heard but also understood.When we say what we think we ought to say or should say, the sincerity and passion is somewhat diminished and therefore we may invariably give a mixed message or indeed the message won’t be heard at all.Why- when we speak from the heart about things we believe in – it may be the annual strategic plan or succession planning and growing talent- people will hear our voice because there will a real connection with the audience- be it 2 or 200 people.Speaking with ‘your game, your turf and your rules’ in mind will lead to that all important authenticity.

Tips:-

Use your words, if you have a speech-writer- make sure you attune it to your language- the words that ‘you’ would use

Boost your confidence a few moments prior to speaking by thinking about a time when you were at your most confident

Practice – if you don’t have a willing listener, practicing and going through it in your head is just as useful

Be succinct- know your main points to address – the forthcoming nominated potential Oscar winners have been told that if they win- they have 45 seconds speech time!

Answer questions directly, know your elevator pitch or company message or values that you can reinforce if need be

Remember ‘your game, your turf, your rules’ and if need be King Albert if that will help!

Something in reserve…..

Some of you may be aware that I have just embarked upon a challenge on an endurance motorbike across the Pyrenees to raise money for KidsCo and Great Ormond Street Hospital.I haven’t ridden a motorbike for 14 years!

As some of you will know, my current challenge is that when I stall (a rather regular occurrence) I find it an almighty effort to kick start the bike again – partly due to the height of an enduro bike (high – due to the suspension required for rough terrain) and my lack of technique, welly, strength, something or other……

So, when after umpteenth attempt to start the bike again late yesterday I was on the verge of thinking perhaps I’d over-challenged myself- it was pointed out to me that perhaps I was out of fuel and needed to switch to the reserve tank! Switched to reserve tank, slighted exhausted attempt at kick-start and voila! Big roar, two stroke fumes and off we go……. A lesson learnt even if I did feel somewhat daft (one word to describe it anyway?)…….

It got me thinking about the challenges that individuals and companies face on a regular basis and sometimes the blindly doing what went before even though we don’t get the results- that is until metaphorically or truly speaking some-one points out that we need to switch to reserve or change something!

In a difficult trading period, economic climate, time of low morale et al, as leaders it is so important to listen and harness observations from others.There is a little story, if you will, of taking a group of people out to a garden with a statue in the middle and asking each to describe the statue.Each individual will of course have a slightly different view and standpoint – however the important thing is that their view is nonetheless valid and real.

So, how do we ensure that as leaders we capture the imagination and perhaps hearts of our teams and people.If we have a way of being that enables others to offer feedback and share views of our product, sales process, what competitors are doing, what we could do better – this will give a business the competitive edge.

It is being regularly researched and we so commonly hear that if a business combines its technical prowess and its emotional intelligence- it will stand stronger and very oft be much more successful.

Combining commercial pragmatism and passion can be a challenge, for some effortless and for others a step that they’ll think about but won’t actually make.

One of my clients, the CEO of a software company, oft says; ‘People can only be productive when they have balance in their life!’

By this he isn’t talking of the over –used work/life term but his team having a balance between their technical capabilities and their individuality, their personality- what they as unique people bring to the team, the company.He is particularly good at harnessing the creativity , innovation and passion in his people and runs a very successful business.

As business leaders, how can one harness the commercial pragmatism and the passion. I did a quick internet definition of the two:- ‘pragmatism- originally developed by Peirce and James / – a practical , matter-of-fact way of approaching or assessing situations or of solving problems’ and ‘passion – any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling, as love or hate’.

So, a few ideas on how to bring pragmatism and passion together:-

Listen- truly listen (it doesn’t mean you have to agree all the time!)

Establish a culture where people are ‘genuinely’ able to fail or just mess up, brush themselves off and onto the next thing

Have regular meetings that have no agenda- the amount of creativity and innovation that comes from these is quite extraordinary

Know your people , know your business – when was the last time you ’walked the floor’ …

Passionate and creative individuals are vats of innovation – seeking better and often fixated on better solutions to problems.It might be something technical or something more personal but either way it evokes an emotion that the person really needs to feel.

Like it or not, our best judgements and decisions are most often anchored in how we truly feel about something- even in the most clinical of us!

As for reserve tanks, I started writing this on a train to Newcastle and spotted a horse trotting along the fence of its field.Horses always leave a bit in reserve – they are flight animals – so whatever eventuality may transpire they will always have a little energy in reserve, a means to escape, make a change whichever – even highly tuned racehorses.If horses don’t epitomise the practical with the passion I don’t know what does!

Is your business bringing together the pragmatism and the passion……………?