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

The Power of Passion

People are willing to go a long way for things they are passionate about and some things out there do produce irrepressible passion; sport, business, fashion, something that’s got your blood up, so to speak, the sheer joy of a sunny day or a smile from a loved one (or indeed a stranger). 
 
However, is that passion always allowed to come out? 

I had a fascinating conversation with a friend about values, personal values that we sometimes sideline in favour of doing the supposed ‘right thing’ which may be because of other commitments in our lives, families, friends, financial pressures and so on.  We then went on to talk about spirituality in business, yes really…. how some businesses base their whole culture and ethos around spiritual values.
 
USA Today cites that 6 out of 10 employees believe that people would benefit from working in an environment that has a greater sense of spirit.  For some, this means honesty, integrity and good quality work. For others it’s treating co-workers and customers in a responsible and caring way.  For others it may ‘just’ be being a bit more kind to other people, whether they’ve metaphorically rubbed you up the wrong way or not.  Now this isn’t 6 out of 10 enjoying that environment it’s 6 out of 10 knowing (instinctively perhaps) that it would make a difference.
 
The renowned Saatchi ‘lovemarks’ were born from the question “What makes some brands inspirational, while others struggle?”
 
“Lovemarks” are essentially brilliant stories about people and about products and about services of excellence, of inspiration, of extraordinary emotional connections. They embrace the passion of your heart and your mind and inspire loyalty beyond reason.  In fact they go so far as to say, take away a brand and people will find another, take away a ‘lovemark’ and people will protest its absence. 
 
I had the joy of listening to the phenomenal songwriter Nile Rodgers (We are family; Sister Sledge, Get Lucky; Daft Punk) talking in an interview about his life, music and brush with cancer.  He talked of the ‘getting your affairs in order’ conversation that kept happening with doctors.  To him, getting his affairs in order meant getting out there in concert and playing his music, how great for all of us.
 
He also talked of the day he was in the urinals at a club with two very tall transvestites either side of him and how he ran outside to his friend and said I need to write a song called “I’m coming out’. Many sternly warned Diana Ross that if she sang that song her career would finish in an instant!  It continues to be one of her best sellers.
 
When we stand for what we are truly passionate about the results speak for themselves, others see the passion, we excel and generally succeed, overcoming the hurdles thrown in our way.  We all have a passion for something though I concede for some it may require a little searching.
 
Have you allowed your passion to come out? 

Kate is an executive coach to some of the world’s most successful leaders in some of the world’s largest and smallest companies.  You can contact her at www.the-x-fusion.co.uk

Happy Happiness Day!

If you’re happy and you know it…….……..you know the rest of the song.
 
Today, March 20, is the first ever International Happiness Day – various government figures are talking about Gross National Happiness (GNH); the promotion of equitable and sustainable socio-economic development, the preservation and promotion of cultural values, the conservation of the natural environment, and the establishment of good governance. 

Now that’s all very well and I do heartily agree with the need for an equitable and sustainable way of moving forward as a race.
 
However, I wonder if, as with many things,  it also starts small and local, maybe even at your breakfast table this morning. Ask kids about happiness and they’ll often talk about wonder, sweeties, fun or as my eldest daughter commented, quite unprompted when hearing the news ‘I feel happy when I’ve helped make some-one else feel happy’. That brought a tear to my eye and made me feel happy I can tell you…..
 
To feel happy with self-esteem and confidence about oneself is a wonderful thing (though sadly not a given).  It is life-enhancing and enables us to gets through the rough times as well as the good. 
 
I heard Dr.Charles Eugster, the 93 year old, former dentist turned bodybuilder talking on the radio earlier and if he can’t teach us all a lesson about the right attitude to life, I don’t know who can.  His mission was to turn the heads of the 70 year olds on the beach  (way to go!) when at 87 he thought he was getting overweight, this led him to hire a former Mr Universe to build his body and he’s done just that. 
 
The exuberance, passion and general joie de vivre that exuded from him was extraordinary.  His message on life in a few seconds –
 
·          *   Be passionate about something
·          *  Have a reason or relevance in your life
·          *  And exercise
 
He said of his recent experience ‘ It changes your appearance, it changes your energy and it changes the way you think’. Now that’s a fabulous reason to be happy. 
 
If this all sounds slightly kooky to you, it’s also the Spring Equinox today so longer days are on the way and that’s definitely something to be happy about. 
 
As a friend said recently, the day comes when we only regret the chances we didn’t take……and invariably it’s the taking chances that leads to happiness.  
 
Have a very happy Happiness day, whatever you’re up to….
 
Kate 

What’s your passion?

This weekend I felt very privileged to attend The Goodwood Revival meeting in West Sussex.  A veritable hotbed of exquisite historic cars, aeroplanes, fashion, music and memorabilia of a bygone era, not the mention the superb motor racing for which the event has an unrivalled reputation.
I believe it was Fangio, the Argentinean Formula One racing driver of formidable achievement who said, “You need great passion, because everything you do with great pleasure, you do well”.
From a spotless original 1965 Ford Transit, The Shelby Cup, a tribute to Dan Gurney to a grid value of c £300,000,000 worth of historic race Ferrari’s  – the magic and sparkle one could almost hold.   Now for those of you who are not particularly interested in things ‘petrol-head’, this is not the purpose of the post.

 

It was the passion and unbridled enjoyment that was palpable. Not only for the cars, the planes, the history, the racing, the clothes (that’s another post entirely) the atmosphere at this event was inspiring and extremely pleasurable. I met people from all walks of life, had conversations with more strangers in a day than I’ve done for ages and met one or two celebrities to boot. The passion of individuals for their cars, racing, the era, the clothes or just to enjoy a day at Goodwood House, was incredible.

 

I don’t think there was one vehicle, plane or person there that wasn’t immaculately turned out, well maybe one or two, but you get my point.

 

It may be the legacy of the success of the Olympics, the sheer passion and attention to detail for this event by Lord March and his team, or the sunny day that made the difference.  However, living in challenging times, with volatile markets and economies, if finding our passion for what we care about makes such a big difference; to us, our friends and families, our companies, motor-racing events, then surely that’s the way to go.

 

As Disraeli said “ Man (or woman) is only truly great when he acts from his passions”.

 

 
What’s yours?
 

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……………?